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For Release: Wednesday, February 11, 2015

DEC Seeks Public Input on Draft Amendment to Expand Trails at Elm Ridge Wild Forest

Public Comment Period Runs Through March 13

The public is invited to comment on a proposal by the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to create new multi-use recreational trails at the Elm Ridge Wild Forest in the town of Windham, Greene County, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. Comments will be accepted until close of business on March 13.

The Elm Ridge Wild Forest is a 1,355-acre parcel designated as wild forest in the Catskill Forest Preserve. DEC has proposed a draft amendment to the Elm Ridge Wild Forest Unit Management Plan (UMP) to add approximately five miles of multi-use trails that would expand mountain biking opportunities and create additional access for hiking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and trail running. DEC would also add signage to assist in navigating the trail network.

"DEC is committed to implementing Governor Cuomo's goal to expand and improve recreational access across New York State, and this plan amendment would enhance public use and enjoyment of the Catskill Forest Preserve," said Commissioner Martens. "As mountain biking has grown in popularity in the Windham area, DEC has received requests to expand biking opportunities. We will continue to work with stakeholders and the public to develop strategies to integrate diverse recreational activities on state-managed lands."

The Catskill Park State Land Master Plan identifies the Elm Ridge Wild Forest as an area where there are opportunities to increase bicycle use. Within the past six years, growth in the recreational use of this unit has increased, particularly by mountain bikers. In response to the master plan and the increase in the popularity of mountain biking, DEC completed an amendment to the Elm Ridge Wild Forest UMP in 2009 that called for the design and construction of new multiple-use recreational trails. Last summer, DEC completed all of the recommended trails called for in the 2009 amendment.

The additional trails in the proposed UMP amendment would build on actions implemented through the 2009 amendment. The layout of the additional trails would maximize the user experience, while still conforming to wild forest guidelines. All of the proposed trails would be open to multiple non-motorized uses, including hiking, mountain biking and cross-country skiing.

Comments can be sent to Josh Borst, 65561 State Highway 10, Suite 1, Stamford, NY 12167, or via email at: mailto:R4.UMP@dec.ny.gov. To view the draft amendment, visit DEC's website.

Additional information about the Elm Ridge Wild Forest area is available on DEC's website.

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