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February 15 , 2000

Contact: Geoff Ryan (718/595-5371)

Successful Deer Hunting Season On City's Watershed Properties

Commissioner Joel A. Miele Sr., P.E., of the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) gave a brief report today on the 1999 deer hunting season on the City's watershed lands. While the City has allowed hunting on 10,300 acres at the Cannonsville Reservoir for over 20 years, 1999 was the first year that the City had opened up some of its newly acquired watershed properties, as well as some original buffer land near the Pepacton Reservoir.

"When the City signed the historic Watershed Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) in January 1997," said Commissioner Miele, "DEP agreed to review with local communities, the Sporting Advisory Committees, the State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Federal Environmental Protection Agency all newly acquired lands for possible recreational uses and to make recommendations for appropriate activities. DEP also agreed to review lands the City owned prior to the MOA for possible recreational purposes. I am pleased to report that DEP made lands available for hunting, hiking and fishing this past year and that, based on the success of the programs so far and our continuing progress in acquiring lands in the watershed, we expect to open more areas to the public for recreational opportunities later this year."

On April 1, 1999, in addition to the traditional fishing activities at the reservoirs, DEP allowed access to 1,395 acres of post-MOA land for fishing purposes. In June, DEP opened 1,374 post-MOA acres for hiking. In November, in addition to the 10,300 acres of land at the Cannonsville Reservoir, DEP expanded public opportunities for hunting to five new areas totaling over 3,100 acres — 2,200 acres of pre-MOA lands and 930 acres of post-MOA lands. The hunting areas — totaling 13,416 acres, or 24% of all City water supply lands — are located in the towns of Kent (Putnam County); Olive and Shandaken (Ulster County); Andes, Colchester, Walton, Tompkins, and Deposit (Delaware County).

Martin Donnelly, Andes Town Supervisor, said, "Mayor Giuliani promised to review access to the Pepacton Reservoir for deer hunting this year. Then, kept his word that, if it was possible, it would be opened up. Commissioner Miele and his staff at DEP worked together with the Tremperskill Hunting and Fishing Club to make this program run at the Pepacton Reservoir. We applaud Mayor Giuliani, Commissioner Miele and his staff for their vision and for their cooperation with New York State sportsmen."

In 1999, DEP issued 930 hunting permits and 415 hiking permits. The newly opened fishing areas were open to holders of City fishing permits. All areas were monitored by DEP Police, Inspectors and Stewardship staff. Additionally, members of the Tremperskill Hunting and Fishing Club helped out by advising visitors to the Flynn Brook area — the 2,200 acres at the Pepacton Reservoir — about good access points, parking areas and the rugged terrain at the site.

"Hunter turnout appeared to be relatively low," said Commissioner Miele, "probably due to unseasonably warm weather. With few exceptions, compliance with permit conditions was good. DEP Police, in conjunction with a State Environmental Conservation Officer, confiscated two deer and a rifle and issued summonses to hunters who lacked appropriate permits. Additionally, two hunters were issued summonses for trespassing on City-owned lands that were not open for hunting. Other than these and a couple of other minor violations of City regulations, the season passed without incident.

"While the primary purpose of opening lands for hunting was to expand recreational opportunities in the watershed," Commissioner Miele continued, "reducing the size of the deer herd may also benefit water quality. DEP Ecologists, Foresters, and Wildlife Biologists have observed signs of excessive browsing pressure by oversized deer herds at reservoirs around the watershed. When saplings, shrubs and other plants of the forest understory are overgrazed by deer, soil is easily eroded, vegetation no longer filters out pollutants, and the ability of the forest to regenerate is seriously damaged. A healthy forest and stable soils are crucial to the maintenance of drinking water quality."

"I can say without reservation that the 1999 deer hunting program on City-owned lands proved to be successful, and we look forward to future seasons with expanded opportunities."


More Information

NYC Department of Environmental Protection
Public Affairs

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

(718) 595-6600