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For Release: Wednesday, September 30, 2015

DEC and State Parks Announce $1.8 Million in Outdoor Recreation Access Projects in Central New York

Operational Visitors Center and 2016 Fishing Contest to be Added to Onondaga Lake

Largest Piece of Undeveloped Public Property on Cazenovia Lake to See Investment

As part of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's Capital for a Day in Central New York, the Department of Environmental Conservation and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (State Parks) today announced $1.8 million in important projects which will improve access to several popular state-owned recreational sites across Central New York. New York State will provide $750,000 to complete additional extensions on Onondaga County's Loop-the-Lake trail. In addition, NY Works will support $300,000 in projects to enhance public access to state lands and lakes for persons and families of all abilities.

Acting DEC Commissioner Marc Gerstman said, "Governor Cuomo has a deep appreciation for New York State's unmatched natural resources and is committed to opening the door to the many wonders New York's magnificent outdoors hold for all to enjoy."

"Governor Cuomo's investment in public access across New York State promotes healthy, active outdoor recreation, connects people with the outdoors, rejuvenates our world-class park system and sustains New York's natural environment all the while helping energize local economies," said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey.

After extensive outreach to sportsmen, outdoor enthusiasts and other stakeholders, DEC worked to identify ways to enhance public access and improve recreational opportunities for all Central New Yorkers. The result produced targeted investments into projects which speak directly to the expressed needs of the community.

Onondaga Lake Boat Launch/Visitors Center/Loop-the-Lake Trail

Onondaga Lake, once known as the most polluted lake in the United States, is now a recreational asset through the work of many state and local partners to clean up the lake. Through critical upgrades to Onondaga County's wastewater treatment operations, along with significant remediation work in the area by Honeywell, Onondaga Lake is meeting water quality standards for swimming in the northern two-thirds of the lake. The lake is now supporting a range of human recreation uses, including a diverse fishery. A total of 53 species of fish have been identified in the lake since 2000.

Projects designed to showcase this national environmental success story include:

  • Loop-to-Lake Trail Extension: New York State will provide $750,000 to extend the Loop-to-Lake Trail between the Lake View Amphitheater and the Onondaga Lake shoreline, including docking for boat access to the amphitheater and trail system. Onondaga County is designing plans to connect the current terminus of the West side trail near the State Fair Parking lot to the boat launch site. Future plans include continuing the trail southward from the boat launch, eventually connecting to the City of Syracuse Creekwalk.
  • A Public Boat Launch and Visitor Center: Design and construction of the launch are being funded by Honeywell as part of a previously negotiated Environmental Benefit Project. Plans include ADA-compliant accessible shoreline fishing access, a trailer boat launch, car top/kayak launch and parking for approximately 30 vehicles with trailers with additional parking for cars only. The visitor Center will be operated at the site on the West shore of Onondaga Lake at the end of Route 690 Exit 7 near the State Fairgrounds and maintained through a partnership between DEC and Onondaga County. Construction will commence after completion of the Honeywell remediation project, likely in 2017. The preliminary plans offer opportunity for further public input on the design and features of the site. The proposed designs will be posted on DEC's website and comments can be made by emailing: Info.R7@dec.ny.gov.
  • Onondaga Lake Fishing Tournament: To build upon increased recreational opportunities on the lake including the Lakeview Amphitheater, West Shore Trail and the proposed boat launch, Governor Cuomo announced intentions to conduct a fishing tournament on Onondaga Lake in 2016.

$630,000 in Central NY Access Projects:

  • Mudlock Boat Launch (Cayuga County): NY Work will provide $300,000 for a total facility reconstruction of the Mud-Lock boat launch located on the North Shore of Cayuga Lake. The project includes enhanced design for an improved traffic pattern creating more efficient boat staging, launching and tie-down area with an invasive species cleaning and disposal area. Additionally, the parking area will be redesigned to provide for an improved traffic pattern and additional lighting.
  • Sandy Pond Boat Launch (Oswego County): DEC will complete construction of a year-round universal fishing access and boat launch site on Sandy Pond which connects to Lake Ontario. The facility will feature designated parking, a boat ramp dock and will also feature an accessible floating canoe/kayak launch dock. The $250,000 project was funded through DEC's Natural Resource Damages program (NRD) and will be ready for ice fishing this winter.
  • Improved access to Cazenovia Lake at Helen L McNitt State Park (Madison County): State Parks will complete a $90,000 project to improve access to Cazenovia Lake at Helen L. McNitt State Park in Madison County as part of Governor Cuomo's NY Parks 2020 plan. The project will include a stone dust walkway from the parking area to a set of wooden stairs and a boardwalk which will connect to a platform to be used for canoe and kayak launching, scenic viewing, bird watching and will provide universal access to the lakefront. The walkways and stairs will also help protect the natural shoreline from erosion and lake sedimentation that occurs from the existing trail to the water's edge. The platform will be constructed parallel to the shoreline to help minimize its visibility. The Town of Cazenovia designed the project and State Parks will oversee construction which is expected to begin next spring. The 133-acre Helen L. McNitt State Park is currently the largest piece of undeveloped property on Cazenovia Lake.

To date, more than $1.6 million in NY Works funding has been invested to provide and promote access to Central New York's great outdoors including such projects as: Skaneateles Lake Fishing access; Three Rivers WMA hunting and observation blind; Deer Creek Marsh WMA boardwalk and docks; Cleveland Dock Fishing Access; Redfield Island Boat Launch and the Tinker Falls Trail.

The projects are part of Governor Cuomo's NY Open for Fishing and Hunting Initiative to improve recreational opportunities for sportsmen and woman and to boost tourism activities throughout the state. This includes streamlining fishing and hunting licenses, reducing license fees, improving access for fishing and increasing hunting opportunities in New York 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.

Under Governor Andrew M. Cuomo's leadership, New York State is making a historic commitment to improving and expanding access to outdoor recreation. The Governor's NY Parks 2020 program is a multi-year commitment to leverage $900 million in private and public funding for State Parks from 2011 to 2020. The Governor's 2015-16 Executive Budget allocates $110 million toward this initiative.

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