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For Release: Wednesday, May 23, 2018

DEC Seeks Input on Updates to Hewitt-Cayuga Highlands Unit Management Plan

Open House Meetings Scheduled for June 7

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will host two public meetings to provide information, answer questions, and accept public input for updates to the Hewitt-Cayuga Highlands Unit Management Plan (UMP). A highlight of the update is development of an accessible trail to view Upper Carpenter Falls in the town of Niles, Cayuga County.

DEC will open the 60-day comment period on the UMP with two public information sessions on Thursday, June 7, 2018, from 2:00 to 4:00 p.m., and 6:00 to 8:00 p.m. in the Community Room at the Niles Town Hall, 5923 New Hope Road, Moravia, NY 13118.

"The Hewitt-Cayuga Highlands offer considerable recreational opportunities including skiing, horseback riding, mountain biking, and birdwatching," said Region 7 Director Matthew Marko. Additionally, these lands provide vital water quality protection for the watersheds of Cayuga, Owasco, and Skaneateles Lakes and the Susquehanna River, critical wildlife habitat, and essential access to forest-based resources."

DEC will accept comments on the plan until Tuesday, August 7, 2018, and invites the public to attend one of the two meetings on June 7 to share ideas about what they would like to see included in the UMP. Each meeting will begin with an open house (meet and greet format) followed by a brief presentation, and conclude with an open forum to provide written comments and discuss ideas and issues directly with DEC staff.

The Hewitt-Cayuga Highlands Planning Unit covers 9,539 acres of State Lands in Cayuga and Cortland counties, including Bear Swamp State Forest, Carpenter Falls Unique Area, Frozen Ocean State Forest, Hewitt State Forest, and Summerhill State Forest. The current plan and additional information are available on DEC's website.

DEC manages state lands for multiple benefits to serve the people of New York State. The Hewitt-Cayuga Highlands UMP will be updated to: a) address overall management and maintenance activities on these State Lands; b) maintain healthy, sustainable, and biologically diverse ecosystems for fish and wildlife; and c) provide continued opportunities for forest product sales, recreational use, environmental education and research.

State Lands covered by the updated plan offer many recreational opportunities including hiking, camping, snowmobiling, horseback riding, hunting, trapping, fishing, picnicking, cross‐country skiing, snowshoeing, bird watching, geocaching, and mountain biking. Bear Swamp and Summerhill State Forests are designated as Important Bird Areas by Audubon New York and Bear Swamp is listed as a New York State Bird Conservation Area.

DEC will also accept comments via email with the subject line "Hewitt-Cayuga Plan" to R7.UMP@dec.ny.gov, and by U.S. Mail or phone to:

Dan Little, Senior Forester and Land Manager
NYSDEC Region 7
1285 Fisher Avenue
Cortland, New York 13045
(607) 753-3095 ext. 217

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