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For Release: Friday, April 17, 2015

DEC Expands Public Fishing Access in Bethlehem

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has acquired almost 7,000 feet of public fishing rights along the Onesquethaw Creek, including a 1,375-foot access trail and a new angler parking area on Rupert Road in the town of Bethlehem, DEC Commissioner Joe Martens announced today.

"I'm very pleased to make this announcement as this acquisition will significantly improve public access to the Onesquethaw Creek," Commissioner Martens said. "The Onesquethaw Creek provides excellent fishing opportunities and is one of the premier trout streams in the area. We invite anglers of all backgrounds and abilities to come down and enjoy this new fishing access site."

"The collaboration between DEC and Bethlehem town staff, along with not-for-profit organizations like Trout Unlimited has provided a valuable asset for the town and the region," said Bethlehem Town Supervisor John Clarkson. "Fencing and other improvements were made available through good old fashioned low-key cooperation among the staffs and it's a big win that we now have safe and legal public access to this great fishing location."

The easements provide permanent public access to the Onesquethaw Creek for fishing and include a footpath that provides access to the creek. In addition, crews built a new angler parking lot on Rupert Road next to the town of Bethlehem's transfer station. Anglers can also park in the South Bethlehem town park on county route 53, as some of the newly acquired public access sites are within the park. The public fishing areas are spread out over 1.6 miles of the stream within the town and are marked with DEC signs.

DEC acquired the access sites from the town of Bethlehem and a private property owner for about $21,000, using funds from the Environmental Protection Fund.

Last year, DEC sampled portions of the stream in the vicinity of the newly acquired fishing access sites and found multiple year classes of Brown Trout ranging from three to 17 inches. DEC stocks the creek each year with about 1,200 Brown Trout 1.4 miles upstream of the new public fishing areas.

The public is reminded that public use for activities other than fishing is not allowed without landowner permission. Anglers should limit access to the stream banks, respect private property and carry out what is brought in.

Future Onesquethaw Creek restoration and improvement projects are being planned by the Clearwater chapter of Trout Unlimited, with additional financial support being provided by the CSX Corporation and the Lafarge cement company.

Governor Cuomo's NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative is an effort to improve recreational opportunities for sportsmen and women and to boost tourism activities throughout the state. This initiative includes streamlining fishing and hunting licenses, reducing license fees and providing Adventure Plates for license holders.

A significant component of the NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative is the improvement of access for fishing and increasing hunting opportunities in New York State. NY Works has dedicated a combined $22 million in funding for fish hatchery repairs and more than 50 new land and water access projects such as boat launches, hunting blinds, trails and parking areas.

In addition, over $6 million has been invested over the past five years in developing new and renovating existing boat launches. The 2015-16 budget provides an additional $8 million for state land access projects and an additional $4 million for the state's hatcheries in NY Works funding. This year's budget also created a new capital account which along with federal Pittman-Robertson funds will be used to manage, protect and restore fish and wildlife habitat, and to improve and develop public access for fish and wildlife-related recreation.

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