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For Release: Wednesday, August 28, 2013

DEC Encourages Public to Participate in the Development of Management Plans for Westward Waters and the Independence River Wild Forest

Unit Management Plans Offer Opportunity to Enhance Public Access and Provide Regional Benefits

Individual and Groups Can Share Ideas At Public Meetings on September 18 & 19

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation's (DEC) Region 6 Lowville office is encouraging public input as it prepares unit management plans (UMPs) for the Westward Waters Unit, which is comprised of 17 state forests in Lewis County, and the Independence River Wild Forest area, forest preserve in Lewis and Herkimer counties.

The purpose of the meetings is to provide information about the unit, discuss its history, ecology and current uses, such as forest product sales and recreational use, and to exchange ideas about long-term management. DEC invites municipalities and community members to play an active role in establishing a long-range vision and specific goals for management of these lands, including enhanced access to the lands, which would promote recreational activities such as hiking, mountain biking, hunting, fishing, horseback riding, and more, that benefit the regional economy.

Because of the close proximity and shared facilities of the two units, DEC will hold separate public meetings for the individual units:

  • Westward Waters Unit - Wednesday, September 18 from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. in the Lowville Fire Department, Parkway Drive, Lowville, NY.
  • Independence River Wild Forest - Thursday, September 19 from 6 p.m. until 9 p.m. in the Lowville Fire Department, Parkway Drive, Lowville, NY.

The Westward Waters unit includes state forests in: Balsam Creek, Beartown, Bonaparte's Cave, Frank E. Jadwin Memorial, High Towers, Hogsback, Independence River, Indian Pipe, Lowville Demonstration Area, Onjebonge, Otter Creek, Sand Bay and Sand Flats State Forests. These lands total 38,637 acres and are located in the Lewis County towns of Lyonsdale, Greig, Watson, New Bremen, Croghan, Lowville, and Diana.

The Independence River Wild Forest totals 79,519 acres and consists of State Forest Preserve lands in the Lewis County towns of Lyonsdale, Greig, and Watson, and the Herkimer County town of Webb. This UMP will be a revision of the existing plan completed in October 1986 and will incorporate several amendments added over the years.

Portions of the two units border each other and share common facilities such as the Otter Creek Trail System and several snowmobile trails.

Public input gathered at the open house, along with input received by mail and email, data collected during forest inventories and other sources of data and information will be used to develop the UMP. The UMP will guide management actions for each unit to achieve the goal of providing healthy, sustainable and biologically diverse forest ecosystems.

Input or comments can be submitted by mail to NYSDEC, 7327 State Route 812, Lowville, NY, 13367, or via e-mail at r6.ump@dec.ny.gov . For additional information, people should call (315) 376-3521. All comments and ideas received prior to finalizing the draft UMP will be considered.

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