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For Release: Monday, April 22, 2013

Introducing Punkeyville State Forest

Forestport Elementary Students Have Contest To Select Name for New State Forest

The area's newest state land parcel is named Punkeyville State Forest, uniting the forest with local history, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Tug Hill Commission (THC) and Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust (THTLT) announced today as part of DEC's weeklong celebration of Earth Day. That name was selected through a "Name the State Forest" contest at the Forestport Elementary School.

The 518-acre state forest located in the Town of Forestport, Oneida County was purchased late in 2012. It protects almost one mile of the Black River shoreline, expanding recreation and forest management opportunities on lands in the foothills area between the Tug Hill Plateau and the Adirondack Park.

"Punkeyville State Forest is a great name. It provides a strong historical link since Punkeyville was the early name of the settlement that is now called Forestport," Judy Drabicki, DEC Region 6 Director said.

To help foster awareness and stewardship of this newly acquired land, the idea of a naming contest was developed cooperatively between DEC, two area conservation organizations and the Adirondack Central School district. It is the State's policy to name state forests after popular local, historical or geographical features. On March 11, representatives of THTLT, THC and DEC did a presentation at Forestport Elementary School on the newly acquired state forest to describe its history, geologic, geographic and natural resource features. They outlined the contest process and policy for naming State Forests and asked students to put on their thinking caps and come up with a name that best suits the property.

Linda Garrett, Executive Director of THTLT said, "Today's children are tomorrow's stewards and this is a great opportunity to get them excited about a natural place they can visit right in their back yard."

State Senator Joseph A. Griffo, a member of the NY Senate Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation Committee, said, "The new name for this State Forest is a fitting and appropriate one that reflects the history of the Mohawk Valley and of our ancestors who helped settle the region. I recognize the creativity of the Forestport Elementary students and I commend the efforts of those at the DEC, THC and THTLT for putting together the final details to make Punkeyville a reality."

Assemblyman Ken Blankenbush said, "It's important for our future generations to be involved in this process as it provides ownership and a sense of community stewardship. I applaud the students' name selection as a reflection of the past and a sustainable future."

Submissions were collected and whittled down by the organizations to the top State Forest names. After the final decision was made, the awards were presented to students by Smokey Bear and Woodsy Owl at a ceremony at the school on Earth Day, April 22. The two winners, Phoenix Swasey (5th grade) and Dylan Cabic (4th grade), the runner up, Joshuah Guernsey (5th grade), and the school were all presented plaques with the name of the State Forest. The second place submission was "Wildcat State Forest."

Everyone was invited after the school ceremony to Punkeyville State Forest to hang the brand new state forest sign.

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