FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE04-06
Visit New DEP Hunting Area Near Ashokan Reservoir In Its First Year
New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner
Christopher O. Ward announced today that the DEP’s new Ashokan North
hunting area at the Ashokan Reservoir has proven very popular with local
hunters, who visited the property by the hundreds for the eight weeks
of archery, regular and muzzleloader seasons from October to December
“The response to the new Ashokan North Unit in Ulster County has
been very positive,” said Commissioner Ward. “Our staff has
spoken with many hunters who expressed appreciation for this opportunity.
Well, we’re happy to have them. Hunters have been responsible visitors
to City water supply lands, which is very encouraging for the future of
hunting and our forests.”
Commissioner Ward noted that nearly 32,000 acres of City-owned water
supply land is open for deer hunting this year, an increase of over 18,000
acres in the past five years. “The success of past seasons and the
City’s commitments with watershed towns under the 1997 Memorandum
of Agreement have played an important role in increasing hunting opportunities,”
The Ashokan North Unit is 1,556 acres on the north side of the Ashokan
Reservoir in the town of Olive. It is available for bow, regular gun and
muzzleloader hunting during season to those with hunting tags from DEP.
First-come first-served parking is available on Reservoir Road and Route
28 in limited areas to avoid possible overcrowding of the area. Hunting
activities were carefully monitored by DEP staff. It is expected that
this area will be available again for the 2004 season.
Bow hunter Doug Downie, 39, is one local resident who enjoyed a successful
season on the new hunting area. The West Shokan resident, who had hunted
on other water supply lands prior to this season, shot a 10-point buck
with a dressed weight of 175 lbs. on the Ashokan North Unit during the
opening week of bow season.
“I saw one doe earlier that day, and then the buck came through”
Downie said. “There were always a lot of deer along the reservoir.”
Downie, who grew up in the area, has fished on the Ashokan Reservoir for
many years. He noted that the many deer in the area are one reason he
is glad to have the new hunting opportunities on the Ashokan.
“It’s good they got it open after all these years,”
he said. “The browse line is high; the deer stand up to eat the
leaves and you can clearly see the browse line. In the Adirondacks some
trees have leaves right down to the ground, but not here.” Research
studies by DEP foresters support this observation and have established
the effects of the deer herd as a significant threat to forest health
and water quality throughout the New York City watershed. Severely damaging
browse ratings have been observed on 93% of all forest inventory plots
studied over the past several years.
To combat overbrowsing by deer, DEP Land Managers encourage hunters to
harvest does whenever possible. Although many hunters still set out each
season to “get their buck,” studies have shown that harvest
of does is one of the most important factors determining the size of deer
population and, potentially, herd health and browse impact. One male can
mate with many females, so bucks can remain at much lower numbers than
does without reducing herd size. This can be detrimental both to the health
of all of the deer and the plants they rely on for survival. Surveys of
hunters using water supply lands indicate six or more does to every buck.
The City has opened over 43,000 acres of its watershed land to public
recreation, including over 27,000 acres of the land acquired under its
Land Acquisition Program. The DEP has issued over 67,000 Public Access
Permits and over 6,300 hunting tags to people wanting to use City watershed
property for recreation. There were also almost 10,000 boat tags issued
in 2003 for people to take boats on City reservoirs.
Commissioner Ward urged those hunting DEP lands to return their end-of-the-season
hunting surveys again this year. “We appreciate the time the hunters
take to fill out those hunting surveys. They give us a good sense of the
effect we’re having on the deer herd and they provide feedback about
these hunting opportunities,” Ward said.
Hunters submitting their completed 2003 surveys by the January 22nd deadline
will be automatically supplied with new 2004 hunting tags next year, provided
their Access Permits remain valid. For more information visit the DEP
Web site at nyc.gov/watershed or call (800) 575-LAND.