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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE99-37

June 3, 1999

Contact: Geoffrey Ryan (DEP) (718/595-5371)

New York City Celebrates National Trails Day By Opening New Watershed Lands To Hiking

Commissioner Joel A. Miele Sr., P.E., of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced today that the City is celebrating National Trails Day 1999 by opening up the first of its newly-acquired lands in the watersheds for hiking. The same parcels will be available for snowshoeing and cross-county skiing during the winter.

Commisioner Miele (center) hands out the first hiking permits to Annmarie K. Baisley, Supervisor, Town of Kent, and Robert J. Bondi, County Executive of Putnam County during the Putnam County Hospital Fair.
Commisioner Miele (center) hands out the first hiking permits to Annmarie K. Baisley, Supervisor, Town of Kent, and Robert J. Bondi, County Executive of Putnam County during the Putnam County Hospital Fair.

"As spelled out in the Watershed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA), DEP has been purchasing lands at fair market prices from willing sellers to protect the quality of water in the streams, wetlands and reservoirs of the watershed," said Commissioner Miele. "On April 1st, opening day of the trout fishing season, DEP opened eight of these properties to anglers. Today, I am pleased to make 1,374 acres on seven parcels available to the public for hiking on June 5th, National Trails Day 1999. They offer a wide range of hiking opportunities in six watershed counties. In keeping with our commitments under both the letter and spirit of the MOA, we will open some of the City's newly-acquired lands to hunting, later this year. As we acquire new properties, we will continue to make make many of them available for a variety of recreational uses compatible with protecting water quality.

One of the newly-opened parcels is in the East-of-Hudson watershed; six are in the Catskill/Delaware watershed, west of the Hudson. In the Putnam County Town of Kent, a 247-acre parcel provides varied hiking terrain, including rolling meadows, forest and riparian areas. In Ulster County, a 502-acre parcel in Woodstock provides a diversity of hiking opportunities from flat open fields to steep woodlands; a sloping 17-acre parcel in Shandaken provides a link to New York State Catskill Forest Preserve Wilderness lands; an 81-acre parcel and a 15-acre parcel in Olive provide a range of more level hiking opportunities. In the Greene County Town of Windham, a 116-acre parcel provides access to the views from Van Loan Hill. In the Delaware County Town of Middletown, an 82-acre parcel provides access to Catskill Forest Preserve Wild Forest at Dry Brook Ridge. In the Sullivan County Town of Neversink, a 314-acre parcel provides steeper opportunities for more experienced hikers.

The City advises that there are no maintained trails on any of these properties at this time, so hikers with permits enter these parcels at their own risk. The City is seeking stewardship partners, who may be interested in developing and maintaining trails. Parking is limited in all areas and generally restricted to roadsides, as no parking is currently available on the City-owned lands. Permitted hikers are asked to exercise caution when parking along roads, and to adhere to all local and applicable parking regulations.

To hike on the newly-opened properties through May 1, 2000, it is necessary to apply for an hiking permit, which will be accompanied by maps of the individual parcels. The permits are free of charge. During the year 2000, a comprehensive recreational permit system will be established so that users will only need to apply once for any of several possible uses on City-owned lands open to recreation. While hikers with permits are welcome to use these new sites, current rules include restrictions on the disposal of garbage, trash and human waste; on bathing or swimming; on camping, picnicking and building fires; and on the use of any motorized vehicles. Additionally, for those who wish to fish on City-owned properties, the City requires that anglers obtain fishing permits, which are also free of charge.

"It is important that visitors to City properties observe these rules to demonstrate that recreational uses on City-owned lands can be compatible with protection of water quality in the streams and reservoirs of the watershed," said Commissioner Miele. "We also ask that anyone visiting City-owned properties review maps and topography carefully to ensure personal safety and to prevent inadvertent trespass on the private property of neighboring landowners. Hikers are encouraged to bring site maps with them until they learn the boundaries and access points of each parcel.

"Finally, I want to point out that each of these sites has gone through the local consultation process, in which the City makes recommendations for recreational uses appropriate to individual parcels and local town officials and citizens respond with their suggestions. This process has helped enhance communication between the City and watershed communities."

Prior to instituting the City's Land Acquisition Program under the MOA, the City owned 80,275 acres which were available for use by permitted anglers; 9,500 of those acres in Delaware County were also open for hunting. As of May 18th, the City had acquired or signed purchase agreements on 14, 881 acres in the eight watershed counties. Of the 11, 930 acres which the City had reviewed for possible recreational uses, 5,799 were deemed appropriate for access to fishing opportunities, 9,952 for hiking and 9,433 for hunting. Only 1,566 hydrologically sensitive acres were to be set aside solely for water quality protection purposes.

In honor of National Trails Day, Hiking Permits will be available at the DEP booth at the Putnam County Hospital Fair on June 5th and 6th. Hiking Permits, as well as City Fishing Permits, may be obtained at DEP's permit offices in the watersheds and in New York City. Applications for Hiking Permits may be downloaded from DEP's Website (www.ci.nyc.ny.us/dep); they also will be sent by mail to those who phone 1-800-575-LAND (1-800-575-5263). Applications will also be available at municipal offices of the towns in which lands are located — Kent, Middletown, Neversink, Olive, Shandaken, Windham and Woodstock. Copies of detailed site maps and hiking regulations will be given to all permit holders.

The City's Hiking and Fishing Permit offices are open from 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM, Tuesday through Saturday, March 15th through October 15th, at the following watershed locations:

Croton System Office
1 Belden Road and Route 6
Carmel, NY 10512
914/232-1309
Catskill District Office
Route 28A
Shokan, NY 12468
914/657-2663

Delaware District Office
(Sullivan County)
Route 42
Grahamsville, NY 12740
914/985-2524 & 7749
Delaware District Office
(Delaware County)
Route 30
Downsville, NY 13755
607/363-7009 & 7010

The following Hiking and Fishing Permit Offices in New York City are open during normal business hours, Monday through Friday:

NYCDEP
Customer & Conservation Services
1250 Broadway (8th Floor)
New York, NY 10001
212/643-2215
NYCDEP
One-Stop Center (First Floor)
96-05 Horace Harding Expressway
Corona, NY 11368
718/595-7778

 

More Information

NYC Department of Environmental Protection
Public Affairs

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

(718) 595-6600