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For Release: Monday, April 22, 2013

DEC Launches New York Watchable Wildlife Program with Wildlife-Related Events Across the State

Release of Guide Detailing Watchable Wildlife Opportunities in New York State Set for May

More than 110 New York State sites are featured in the New York Wildlife Viewing Guide, a book that maps out and details many of the locations across the state for viewing wildlife, state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Joe Martens announced today as part of DEC's weeklong celebration of Earth Day. The Guide, available now for pre-order, highlights the best areas for bird watching, nature walks, where varieties of fish can be found and places visitors can see wildlife rescued by DEC-licensed wildlife rehabilitators.

To highlight the Guide, DEC will host a series of Watchable Wildlife events and Earth Day celebrations at outdoor recreation sites across the state. Commissioner Martens today marked the first event in the series at Peebles Island State Park in Waterford, Saratoga County with state Office of Park, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) Commissioner Rose Harvey.

"As the Guide demonstrates, New York State has a strong conservation tradition and appreciation for wildlife that is growing even stronger, which is good for the environment and our economy," said Governor Andrew Cuomo. "The protection and improvement of our natural environment is more than just an investment in the quality of life for all our citizens; it benefits local economies in all corners of the state."

"The Watchable Wildlife Program invites everyone to enjoy the diverse fauna that New York has to offer," said Commissioner Martens. "I encourage people to visit New York's great outdoors to see the wildlife described in the new expanded, updated New York Wildlife Viewing Guide, and DEC's Watchable Wildlife web pages. The Guide and events are examples of cooperation among state agencies to encourage tourism and promote New York's greatest assets, its natural resources."

DEC developed the Guide with the help of partners including State Parks, Empire State Development, Audubon New York, The Nature Conservancy, ORPHP and NYC Parks and the Urban Park Rangers. All partners participated in the selection and review of the sites and more than 30 state parks are included in the Guide. The Guide is now available for pre-order at www.Amazon.com (link in the right column) and will be available for purchase in bookstores in mid-May. The New York Guide is also one of the first wildlife guides available in an E-reader version.

"Wildlife viewing can be a sure-fire way to connect young families to nature and draw even more tourists to New York State," said Rose Harvey, Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. "The New York Wildlife Viewing Guide is a striking and user-friendly introduction to New York's great outdoors. I'm grateful to Commissioner Martens and the Department of Environmental Conservation for developing this great resource, which will help deepen the appreciation people have for our parks, preserves, sanctuaries and wilderness areas."

"The New York Watchable Wildlife Program is another step taken towards a more vibrant and thriving tourism sector of New York State, keeping in line with Governor Cuomo's efforts to revitalize the economy," said Empire State Development President, CEO, & Commissioner Kenneth Adams. "The Wildlife Viewing Guide, in particular, will give nature enthusiasts the opportunity to take pleasure in the natural beauty our state has to offer, while helping to support and grow our tourism economy."

Wildlife Recreation Provides Economic Benefits

The 2011 National Survey of Fishing, Hunting, and Wildlife-Associated Recreation found that more than 90 million U.S. residents over 16 years of age participated in wildlife-related recreation. During that year, 33.1 million people fished, 13.7 million people hunted and 71.8 million people participated in at least one type of wildlife-watching activity including observing, feeding, or photographing wild animals in the United States.

At least 53 percent of New York State residents participate in outdoor recreation each year. The state's abundant supply of open space makes outdoor recreation accessible to the public. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, in New York State, outdoor recreation generates:

  • $33.8 billion in consumer spending
  • 305,000 direct New York jobs
  • $12.5 billion in wages and salaries
  • $2.8 billion in state and local tax revenue

At the core of the outdoor recreation economy are outdoor consumers, who seek meaningful outdoor experiences in their backyards and in the backcountry. They are all genders, ages, shapes, sizes, ethnicities and income levels. They live throughout the state and the nation, and view outdoor recreation as an essential part of their daily lives.

"The Nature Conservancy is proud to be a partner with New York State on this important effort," said Stuart F. Gruskin, Chief Conservation and External Affairs Officer for The Nature Conservancy in New York. "As the owner and manager of more than 100 preserves around the state, The Nature Conservancy knows first-hand how important New York's open space and habitat conservation programs are. These programs provide economic benefits to our communities and support hundreds of thousands of jobs. A 2012 study found that every $1 invested in land and water conservation through the state's Environmental Protection Fund returns $7 to the state's economy. The Watchable Wildlife Guide will help us make the most of our conserved natural resources by highlighting areas that are prime for nature-based tourism and outdoor recreation."

"We commend Governor Cuomo, Commissioners Martens and Harvey and ESD President Adams for launching this important initiative to capitalize on the growing popularity of bird and wildlife watching," said Erin Crotty, Executive Director of Audubon New York. "Birds are big business in New York, and this nature based recreation is an important and growing segment of the tourism economy, contributing an estimated $4.2 billion each year. As more people are traveling locally and looking for opportunities to recreate closer to home, the new Watchable Wildlife Guide is an important tool to showcase the best local destinations in the state."

"The New York Wildlife Viewing Guide will give wildlife lovers across the state another resource for spotting the wondrous wildlife here in New York City," said NYC Department of Parks and Recreation Commissioner Veronica M. White. "From sharp-eyed Red-tailed hawks to our gregarious squirrels; from the sleek harbor seals to the endangered Piping Plover, New York City offers abundant opportunities to view wildlife. This guide will put people on the right path to finding it."

"I applaud the DEC for its creation of the Watchable Wildlife Program," said state Senator Mark Grisanti, Chair Environmental Conservation Committee. "This program will direct our citizens to over 110 of the best locations in New York to enjoy wildlife and nature, programs like these are a key component to getting individuals to understand and appreciate the natural bounty New York has to offer."

"New York's vast natural resources are important assets to the state in many ways" said Assembly Member Robert K. Sweeney, Chair, Environmental Conservation Committee. "The wildlife habitat and recreational areas that are outlined in this new Watchable Wildlife Viewing Guide will help residents and tourists explore and discover some of these prime outdoor areas across the state. I commend the DEC and its partners in their efforts to highlight these resources for the public."

Watchable Wildlife Events Scheduled Statewide
DEC Region Date/Time Watchable Wildlife Location
1 (Long Island) Saturday, 4/27
1:30 p.m.
Heckscher State Park - Spring Festival
Most East End Of Southern State Parkway
East Islip, NY 11730
2 (New York City) Friday, 4/26
11:00 a.m.
Maspeth Creek, Queens - Birding Event
49th St. & Maspeth Ave.
3 (Lower Hudson Valley) Tuesday, 4/23
3:00 p.m.
Bashakill Wildlife Management Area -
Wildlife viewing event with hike
South Rd. Access (Boat Launch), Wurtsboro
(Town of Mamakating)
5/6 (Adirondacks) Tuesday, 4/23
11:00 a.m.
Wild Center (Natural Museum of the Adirondacks) -
Wildlife viewing event with hike
45 Museum Drive, Tupper Lake, NY 12986
7 (Central NY) Saturday, 5/4
10:00 a.m. - 3:00 p.m.
Announcement: 11:00 a.m.
7th Annual Wildlife Festival - "Celebrating
Important Bird Areas" with hike
Montezuma Audubon Center
2295 State Route 89, Savannah, NY 13146
8 (Western Finger Lakes) Wednesday, 4/24
10:00 a.m.
Mendon Ponds Park, Wild Wings
95 Douglas Road, Honeoye Falls, NY 14472
9 (Western NY) Monday, 4/22
2:00 p.m.
DEC's Reinstein Woods Environmental
Education Center - LEED Building
Certification with Wildlife viewing event with hike
93 Honorine Drive, Depew, 14043

Reporters can obtain a sample of what the Guide includes by emailing Lori Severino.

For more information on New York's Watchable Wildlife and where to purchase a Guide, visit Watchable Wildlife web page.