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For Release: Friday, May 22, 2015

DEC: Be Sure to Properly Prepare for Enjoying Spectacular Outdoor Recreation Activities in New York State

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) reminds people who enjoy New York's abundant and spectacular natural resources to properly prepare for their hiking, camping, wildlife watching, boating or paddling adventures. Outdoor enthusiasts should remember to be aware of their surroundings and take proper precautions to ensure they have a safe outdoor experience.

Popular hiking areas, such as the Adirondacks High Peaks and other sites with rugged terrains, offer exceptional opportunities for outdoor recreation, but conditions, such as jagged rocks or muddy conditions, may present certain safety risks. In cases where there is potential danger associated with specific outdoor activities, the state may issue guidelines or restrictions - always heed these warnings.

DEC also reminds people to be strong environmental stewards when boating or paddling to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species that can damage ecosystems. Under regulations adopted in June 2014, boaters and paddlers are required to remove all visible plant and animal materials from their boats, trailers and associated equipment and drain boats prior to launching at or leaving from DEC lands. The regulations pertain to all DEC boat launches, fishing access sites and other DEC lands where watercraft such as boats, kayak or canoes, can be launched into the water.

"We want all people to take advantage of the great natural resources and outdoor activities available on state lands, but safety should always be the top priority," DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said. "Common sense and appropriate preparation are essential for individuals going on outdoor excursions, especially families with young children. If you are prepared, you can avoid problems and have a great experience in New York's wonderful outdoors."

Below are some general guidelines and tips you should follow prior to embarking on an outdoor adventure:

  • Plan ahead and learn about the areas you will be visiting - read guidebooks if available, always sign in and sign out at trailheads. You can also find information by downloading the free NYS Fishing, Hunting and Wildlife app, which provides advanced GPS mapping features and up-to-date information on fishing, hunting, wildlife watching and other outdoor adventure opportunities in New York State. The app can be download on the Apple App Store or by going to the Pocket Ranger website
  • Make sure a friend or family member knows your schedule and itinerary so they can call for assistance for you, if needed;
  • Know your limits physically - and that of others in your group - and don't overexert yourself or attempt any dangerous stunts;
  • Pay attention to all posted signs and warnings, and don't ignore signs that prohibit travel on specific lands or trails;
  • Wear or carry appropriate clothing, including suitable shoes for your excursion, and be prepared for storms or sudden weather changes such as heavy rains or dramatic temperature shifts;
  • Carry essential equipment including maps, water, first aid materials (e.g., bandages, an ice pack, epi pen), a flashlight, and cell phone. Also, bring a list of emergency contacts just in case you become lost or need assistance, and have important information on your group's members such as any allergies or other medical conditions they have;
  • Be cognizant of your surroundings: stay on trails, avoid muddy slopes and don't venture too close to steep drop-offs where footing may be treacherous. In addition, be aware of the time of day and don't overextend your trip so that you have to travel in darkness.

Following a week of intense training, DEC deployed 23 backcountry stewards and 18 assistant forest rangers on state lands and wildlife management areas (WMAs) across the state to protect New York's natural resources and assist hikers and campers. The backcountry stewards and assistant forest rangers completed their training this week and will be in the field to monitor land use and provide visitor services.

Additional information on hiking safety.

Campgrounds - DEC's 52 Campgrounds and Six Day Use Areas Open This Weekend

All 52 DEC campgrounds and six day-use areas will be open this holiday weekend and you can expect them to be busy. DEC wants campers of all ages to have a safe and enjoyable experience. Campers must abide by rules and regulations handed out at registration, which are designed to promote safety and a pleasant stay. These include a zero-tolerance policy for underage drinking and public intoxication. DEC also reminds visitors that fireworks are illegal in New York State and camps have quiet hours between 10 p.m. and 7 a.m. To further ensure camper safety, DEC Forest Rangers, Environmental Conservation Police and campground staff will routinely patrol campgrounds throughout the weekend.

In the Adirondacks, food and coolers should be stored securely and out of sight in either a car trunk or the passenger area of truck with the windows closed, so the food doesn't attract one of the many black bears in the park.

New York State's firewood regulations restrict the movement of untreated firewood to 50 miles in order to slow the spread of Emerald Ash Borer and other invasive insects from infested wood. Campers are encouraged to buy local or kiln dried firewood, and must certify that firewood they are transporting complies with regulation.

Additional information on camping.

Boat Launches, Locks and Waters

All boat launches are open and have their docks installed.

Rivers and streams are running and water temperatures are cold. Cold water temperatures increase the risk of hypothermia and drowning if you should fall into the water. Personal floatation devices (PFDs) should be worn by all people on boats and while boarding or exiting the boat.

As part of a new campaign to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species in the Adirondacks, inspection stewards and decontamination stations will be located along highways corridors that have high boat-trailer traffic and also near waterbodies with significant aquatic invasive species concentrations. The stewards, trained and hired by Paul Smiths College, will show boaters how to identify signs of possible invasive threats on their watercraft and trailers, and will also use high pressure, hot water contaminations units to clean boats that were not previously cleaned and drained. Participation in this program is voluntary, but highly recommended.

DEC also advises all boaters and anglers to check their boat, trailer and other fishing and boating equipment for any plants or animals that may be clinging to it, as well as debris, and dispose of this material in an upland area or receptacle provided for this purpose. Also, drain the boat completely, including bilge areas, live wells and bait wells. Water ski and wake board boat operators should be sure to drain all ballast tanks. Because many aquatic invasive species can survive in as little as a drop of water, it is imperative that all water is removed.

Additional information on boating.

  • Contact for this Page
  • Peter Constantakes
    DEC Press Office
    625 Broadway
    Albany, NY 12233
    518-402-8000
    email us
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