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For Release: Monday, September 16, 2013

DEC to Release Land Classification Proposal for Big Indian Acquisition

Public Meeting to be Held on September 17, 2013, Written Comments Accepted Until September 30, 2013

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has completed a proposal to classify recently acquired Forest Preserve lands in the Catskill Park, DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens announced today. The property encompasses approximately 940 acres of Forest Preserve on the eastern ridge of Belleayre Mountain in the Town of Shandaken, Ulster County, and adjoins the State's Belleayre Mountain Ski Center.

DEC is responsible for management of the constitutionally protected Forest Preserve in the Catskill Park. The Catskill Park State Land Master Plan, developed by DEC, applies a classification system that ranges from wilderness to wild forest to intensive use and provides guidelines for the management of those lands. Classification will determine the potential recreational opportunities that can be considered in the development of future management plans for the property while ensuring protection of natural resources. For a comprehensive explanation of state land classifications and a copy of the classification proposal, visit DEC's website.

In December 2011, New York State acquired 1,200 acres on Belleayre Mountain, commonly referred to as the Big Indian acquisition, as an addition to the Catskill Forest Preserve. Earlier this year, DEC released a draft revision of the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center's Unit Management Plan (UMP) that included a proposal to classify 263 acres of the Big Indian Acquisition as Intensive Use, to be added to the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center. In addition, the revised Ski Center UMP proposes to reclassify 149 acres of the Ski Center property, currently classified intensive use, to wilderness and add it to the adjoining Big Indian Wilderness. This proposal classifies the remainder of the new acquisition, approximately 940 acres. DEC proposes to classify approximately 361 acres in Lost Clove, inclusive of the Lost Clove Trail, as wilderness, which would be added to the Big Indian Wilderness Area. With the proposed 149 acres of intensive use being added to wilderness, this would add 510 acres to wilderness. DEC also proposes to classify approximately 542 acres on the eastern ridge of Belleayre Mountain, including all lands acquired east of Giggle Hollow Brook and north of the Belleayre Ridge, as Wild Forest, which would be added to the Shandaken Wild Forest.

A public meeting to present a summary of the classification proposal and to receive public comments will be held on Tuesday, September 17, 2013 from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. at the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center Overlook Lodge located on County Route 49A in Highmount, NY. The meeting will provide an opportunity for the public to meet with DEC staff and share their thoughts, ideas and suggestions regarding management of the newly acquired State lands. Comments on the draft revision of the plan can be submitted to DEC at the Region 3 office: NYS DEC, Region 3, 21 South Putt Corners Road, New Paltz, NY 12561 or by e-mail at wprudge@gw.dec.state.ny.us. Written comments will be accepted until September 30, 2013.

At the conclusion of the public comment period, DEC staff will review all comments received and may make changes to address substantive comments as deemed appropriate. A final classification decision will then be prepared for the Commissioner's review and approval.

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