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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE08-16

June 11, 2008

CONTACT:

Michael Saucier / Mercedes Padilla (718) 595-6600

Proposed Amended Rules to Expand Recreational Use in Watershed

NYC DEP to Hold Hearings on Proposed Amendments Providing Greater Accessibility

The NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has proposed amended rules to provide greater accessibility and expanded recreational opportunities on City-owned land in the watershed. The new rules are being promulgated primarily to allow New York City to open certain lands without the need for a DEP Access Permit in a manner that is consistent with recreational uses permitted on New York State-owned recreational lands managed by the NYS Department of Conservation (DEC). Under the amended rules, the only authorization needed on these City lands will be the applicable DEC hunting, fishing and trapping licenses for conducting these activities.

“The City of New York is committed to working with its partners in the watershed to improve recreational and economic development opportunities,” said DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd. “It is important that recreational access is expanded while vigilantly protecting the high quality of New York City's water supply.”

“New York State is pleased to join in a partnership to open over 20 square miles of New York City-owned land to hunting, fishing, hiking and trapping in exactly the same manner as is allowed on State-owned land,” said Commissioner Pete Grannis of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). “Commissioner Lloyd is to be commended on putting forward this important program. Low-impact public recreation encompassed in this program comports fully with the long-term protection of the high-quality New York City drinking water supply, while significantly promoting local economic vitality.”

“My hat is off to the DEP and the Coalition of Watershed Towns for having successfully negotiated many positive changes to relax the old regulations,” said James E. Eisel, Delaware County Chairman. “While the changes may not satisfy everyone's concerns it's a gigantic step in the right direction. We particularly look forward to the opening of the Public Access Areas. Overall, these changes can only improve tourism, increase recreational activities and long term economic development for Delaware County.”

"We are very pleased that Catskills residents and visitors will have access to some City lands and not worry about whether they are trespassing without a permit,” said Alan Rosa, Executive Director of the Catskill Watershed Corporation. “It makes sense to treat publicly-owned lands the same, whether they are owned by the State or by New York City, and we commend the DEP and the DEC for reaching this important agreement.”

Dennis Lucas, Supervisor of the Town of Hunter and Chairman of the Coalition of Watershed Towns, said, “I applaud this positive move by DEP. It is further evidence of the strong partnership between the City and the people of the Catskills. That partnership is helping to achieve our common goals of preserving and enhancing the economic vitality of watershed communities, while protecting important natural resources in the region. Today's announcement will ensure that Catskill residents and visitors alike can continue to enjoy the abundant recreational opportunities on many City-owned parcels, without having to secure permits in advance.”

The amended rules will create a new property designation, “Public Access Area,” where public hiking, fishing, hunting, and trapping would be allowed without any DEP permits. Initially, this category will include the majority of City lands adjacent to DEC-managed properties. The City plans to expand this category to include certain additional lands which are not immediately adjacent to DEC-managed properties. Some of these additional lands, mostly in Delaware County, will also be open by the 2008-2009 hunting season. A DEP Access Permit is still required until these rules are finalized and individual City lands are posted as Public Access Areas.

“Designated Use Area” is another new property designation proposed where DEP may designate specific recreational uses (e.g. hiking and rollerblading). In Designated Use Areas, a DEP Access Permits will not be required.

Hunting will be expanded to include all legal species, seasons, and implements allowed under State law. Trapping will be permitted on certain designated properties. Under the proposed rules, the eligible hunting age is lowered to 12 years old, consistent with State law. However, gun hunting is prohibited within 500 feet of a reservoir or controlled lake.

Under the new rules, boat fishing season will be expanded to year-round as long as no ice is on the water, on Amawalk, Bog Brook, Boyds Corner, Cross River, Croton Falls, Diverting, East Branch, Middle Branch, Muscoot, Titicus, and West Branch Reservoirs, and on Lake Gilead and Lake Gleneida and on ponds located in Hiking Areas, Public Access Areas and certain Designated Use Areas as indicated by DEP on sign postings.

NYC DEP will hold hearings on the proposed rules on the following dates and locations:

Location Date Time
Putnam County
112 Old Route 6
Carmel, NY
Monday, June 23, 2008 7 p.m. -
9 p.m.
NYCDEP
59-17 Junction Blvd., 6th Fl.
Flushing, NY
Tuesday, June 24, 2008 10 a.m. -
noon.
Belleayre Ski Mountain
181 Galli Curci Road
(Garden Room)
Highmount, NY
Wednesday, June 25, 2008 7 p.m. -
9 p.m.

More Information

NYC Department of Environmental Protection
Public Affairs

59-17 Junction Boulevard
19th Floor
Flushing, NY 11373

(718) 595-6600