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For Release: Friday, July 31, 2015

Expanded and Improved Recreational Activities to Be Offered at DEC's Tug Hill North Unit

DEC Releases Final Management Plan Detailing Strategy for Unit's Future Use and Enjoyment

Expanded recreational activities will be offered at the Tug Hill North Unit under the final Unit Management Plan (UMP) released today by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Acting Commissioner Marc Gerstman.

"Throughout the planning process, the community and other stakeholders expressed support for goals set by the UMP," Acting Commissioner Gerstman said. "The plan provides for sound stewardship of healthy, sustainable and biologically diverse forests while creating greater opportunities for forest-based recreation that will bring economic benefits to local communities and residents. The Tug Hill North UMP has been well-received locally and in particular by those who enjoy snowmobiling, mountain biking, hunting, fishing, trapping, cross-country skiing, hiking, and other outdoor activities."

The UMP launches a series of actions including to:

  • Build three new snowmobile trails that will eliminate the need for snowmobiling on plowed town roads. Snowmobiling is one of the major economic recreational uses of the Tug Hill area. The improvements will facilitate safer more enjoyable snowmobiling opportunities in the area.
  • Develop a new "single track" mountain bike trail system. Mountain biking is one of the fastest growing outdoor pursuits. The system will be developed through a partnership with a group of avid cyclists from Watertown under a Volunteer Stewardship Agreement (VSA) agreement with DEC.
  • Improve public access to state lands by maintaining existing Public Forest Access Roads. The plan calls for the rehabilitation and improved maintenance of public access roads to State lands. This access is for hunting, fishing, hiking, camping and other activities.
  • Improve the Barnes Corners Ski Trail system with new ski trail bridges and a universally accessible trail to the rim of Inman Gulf. This trail system is heavily used for skiing, snow shoeing, hiking and some mountain biking. Improvements will enhance visitor's enjoyment of the system. The accessible trail to Inman Gulf will provide a universally accessible route to a 200-foot-deep gulf.
  • Implement sound silvicultural practices to allow the continued flow of forest products from state lands. Forest management activities on State lands provide many benefits to the local economy as well as providing diverse, healthy forests for recreation.
  • Create early successional habitat to favor game species such as grouse, woodcock and hare. These habitat types will help sustain and increase populations of certain game species, providing additional opportunities for hunting and trapping.

The Tug Hill North Management Area is comprised of eight state forests (SF) and one wildlife management area (WMA). The unit is a patchwork of state-owned parcels located west of Lowville, south of Copenhagen and east of Adams in Lewis and Jefferson counties. The following list of state lands are all included in the UMP:

  • Sears Pond SF: 5,708 acres
  • Grant Powell Memorial SF: 8,137 acres
  • Cobb Creek SF: 2,203 acres
  • Lookout SF: 3,996 acres
  • Granger SF: 737 acres
  • Pinckney SF: 2,166 acres
  • Tug Hill SF: 12,306
  • Gould's Corners SF: 2,043 acres
  • Tug Hill Wildlife Management Area: 5,112 acres

Throughout the development of the UMP, DEC encouraged public participation and assessed the natural, physical, social and recreational resources of the unit's state forests. Information obtained and reviewed through the planning process helped build a solid foundation to support specific goals, objectives and management actions. The goals of the unit are to provide: a healthy, sustainable and biologically diverse forest; opportunities for forest-based recreation; economic benefits to local communities and residents, and sound stewardship.

The Unit is home to seven beautiful deep gullies and ravines that have been carved over thousands of years and provide breathtaking views. The forests of the unit help to buffer and protect the 9,470 acres of wetlands and 180 miles of streams. Hunters, trappers and anglers enjoy the many acres of suitable habitat to pursue their interests. Recreationists can use the developed multi-use trails; 54.6 miles of foot trails, 48.2 miles of cross-country ski trails, 39.6 miles of bike trails, 18.1 miles of equestrian trails and 120.6 miles of snowmobile trails.

The UMP contains proposed maintenance projects for roads, boundary lines and other facilities. A detailed schedule of other activities such as timber harvest schedules, mowing, survey requests and facilities inventories are also included in the plan.

Carolyn D. Fitzpatrick, Chair of the Jefferson County Board of Legislators said, "What a wonderful opportunity for our North County families to enjoy winter sports, as well as greater opportunity for hunting, fishing, camping, hiking and mountain biking. And what a plus for tourism too, especially winter tourism."

Governor Cuomo's NY Works program guides the state's planning to improve recreational opportunities for sportsmen and sportswomen and to boost tourism activities throughout the state. In support of this initiative, last year $10 million in NY Works funding went toward fish hatchery repairs and 50 new land and water access projects such as boat launches, hunting blinds, rails and parking areas.

Under the initiative, the 2015-2016 Enacted Budget included an additional $8 million for state land access projects and an additional $4 million for the state's hatcheries in NY Works funding. The Budget also creates 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.

The UMP is available on DEC's website. Copies of the plan on compact disk (CD) are also available at the following locations:

DEC Region 6 office at 317 Washington Street, Watertown (315-785-2263), or DEC Lowville Sub-office at 7327 State Hwy 812, Lowville, New York 13367.

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