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For Release: Monday, May 6, 2013

DEC Seeks Input on Draft Management Plan Amendment

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has proposed a draft amendment to the Kaaterskill Wild Forest Unit Management Plan (UMP) that would allow for expansion of the Kaaterskill Rail Trail across state land in Greene County, DEC Regional Director Gene Kelly announced today.

"We are very pleased to propose this plan amendment, which will allow for improved public enjoyment of the forest preserve," said Kelly. "Once completed, this rail trail extension will run from the hamlet of Haines Falls to the site of the former Laurel House Hotel and then connect with trails leading to DEC's North/South Lake Campground."

In all, one mile of newly designated multiple-use trails in the Kaaterskill Wild Forest are proposed which would allow for non-motorized recreation such as hiking, running, bicycling, snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing.

This UMP amendment permits the continuation of the trail across the Kaaterskill Wild Forest. Specifically, the draft UMP amendment proposes the following management actions:
• Designation of 0.6 miles of abandoned rail bed as a multi-use trail;
• Designation of 0.2 miles of abandoned town road as a multi-use trail;
• Creation of 0.2-mile multi-use loop trail around site of former Laurel House; and
• Construction of a bridge over Spruce Creek to connect new trails to the existing trail system in Kaaterskill Wild Forest and the North/South Lake Campground.

In 1999 the town of Hunter established a rail trail on sections of an abandoned rail bed to the west of the hamlet of Haines Falls. In 2012 the Kaaterskill Rail Trail Committee secured a route from the Historic Rail Station in Haines Falls east to the Kaaterskill Wild Forest.

The trail system would be developed in two phases: the first phase would entail construction of the trail between Haines Falls and the Old Laurel House site at the south end of Laurel House Road; the second phase would continue the trail to the east and require construction of a bridge across Spruce Creek. Local user groups plan to raise funds and apply for grants to fund bridge construction.

This initiative has broad community support, with partners and supporters including the town of Hunter, the Mountain Top Historical Society, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, and the Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District. The Mountain Top Historical Society owns the former Ulster and Delaware Railroad Depot in Haines Falls which would serve as a trailhead for the proposed trail. This proposal is also supported by the Catskill Forest Preserve Public Access Plan. Proposed actions within the Access Plan include the pursuit of trail linkages from communities to Forest Preserve lands, including those along Catskill rail corridors.

DEC is accepting comments on the plan until May 17. Comments can be sent to Frank Parks, Senior Forester, NYSDEC, 65561 State Highway 10, Suite 1 Stamford, NY 12167, or via email at: r4.ump@dec.ny.gov. The Draft Unit Management Plan amendment is posted on DEC's website at: www.dec.ny.gov/lands/80993.html.

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