FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE06-41
August 14, 2006
Contact: Ian Michaels
New Recreation Rules Vastly Expand Access and Activities on City Water Supply Land
Access Permits Now Available Instantly On The Web
New small game hunting program to begin September 1st
The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is significantly expanding recreational access to its water supply lands, announced DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd. DEP has amended its watershed recreation rules and beginning immediately there will be increased opportunities for hunting, fishing, boating and the use of motor vehicles. In addition, beginning Monday, August 14, Access Permits will be available instantaneously through the Department’s watershed Web site: nyc.gov/watershed.
The DEP has increased its hunting areas this year by over 4,000 acres and now has over 36,000 acres open for deer hunting. The Department’s new hunting program for small game, turkey and bear will take place on 21 parcels totaling over 7,700 acres, and will be expanded next year. A total of over 74,000 acres of DEP lands are open to the public, with over 25,000 acres and 21 reservoirs or controlled lakes available for fishing.
The announcement was made this morning at the booth DEP shares with the Watershed Agricultural Council (WAC) at the Delaware County Fair in Walton, where Commissioner Lloyd demonstrated the new online permit system.
Joining Commissioner Lloyd were Alan Rosa, Executive Director of the Catskill Watershed Corporation, and members of the West of Hudson Sporting Advisory Committee, which was created as part of the 1997 Watershed Memorandum of Agreement to advise the City on watershed recreational issues.
Today’s news comes three months after the DEP announced a new hunting program for small game, turkey and bear on City watershed lands. The 2006-2007 program will run from the opening of squirrel season on September 1 to the close of spring turkey season at the end of May 2007. Previously, only deer hunting had been allowed. Next year, the Department intends to extend the new hunting program to all City watershed lands where deer hunting is currently allowed, except in cases where individual towns, villages or counties object.
“Preserving New York City’s watershed land is a crucial aspect for maintaining a clean, healthy water supply for more than nine million residents of New York State, but these lands are also beautiful, inviting natural spaces,” said DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd. “For the past several years, the Department has been working with local and county governments and sporting groups to expand recreational activities and access to DEP land. In making these changes, we are eager to work with upstate communities and organizations to expand the role that New York City watershed lands can play in encouraging tourism and economic development in the Catskills.”
“The move to increase access to City lands is good news not only to hunters and sportsmen, but to hikers, snowshoers, birdwatchers, cross country skiers – everyone who enjoys the outdoors,” said Alan Rosa, Executive Director of the Catskill Watershed Corporation. “This will boost economic development by bringing in tourist dollars as well.”
The new permit system on the DEP’s watershed recreation Web site at nyc.gov/watershed now makes it possible for any person to instantly receive a new Access Permit and a Vehicle Tag for parking cars on DEP land. (The Department is currently working to make its hunting permits available online.)
Other parts of the new Recreation Rules lower the minimum age for eligibility to receive an Access Permit and provide for Group Access Permits to sporting clubs and other organizations. Another provision of the new Rules will provide for continuing public access to trails which have traditionally been used by local communities and that now cross City property.
The new Rules:
Lower the minimum age for Access Permit and Hunt Tag eligibility from 16 to 14, with parental consent;
Permit hunting with handguns in accordance with State regulations;
Create a Public Area designation that will allow entry to historic use areas without an Access Permit. This provision will enable groups such as snowmobile and hiking clubs to continue to use certain trails on newly acquired DEP land, and will also make it easier to open DEP land to uses such as municipal ballfields;
Allow Group Access Permits to be issued to allow access to all the members of a particular organization;
Permit the storage on DEP property of certain equipment used for fishing by boat and permit certain boat maintenance on-site;
Allow unleashed dogs on DEP lands under certain conditions.
The rules will be accessible on the DEP Web site at nyc.gov/watershed. Copies will also be available at the DEP’s five Land Management offices throughout the watershed: Ashokan (845) 657-2663; Downsville (607) 363-7009; Gilboa (607) 588-6631; Grahamsville (845) 985-0386; Mahopac (914) 232-1309. For more information see the Web or call DEP Land Management at (800) 575-LAND. Questions can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Over 100,000 people currently hold free Access Permits. Over 11,000 people received Hunt Tags from the DEP in 2005 and around 10,000 people currently have permits to use rowboats on City reservoirs.