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For Release: Friday, May 23, 2014

DEC State Lands & Facilities in The Adirondacks and Catskills Are Open for The Memorial Day Weekend

Residents and visitors planning to recreate on the lands and waters of the Adirondacks and Catskills this Memorial Day Weekend will find the vast majority of facilities and backcountry infrastructure available for outdoor recreation, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today.

"New York's Forest Preserve offers great opportunities to camp, hike, bike, fish, boat, paddle, picnic or whatever outdoor recreation activity one chooses," said Commissioner Joe Martens. "DEC has worked hard to prepare the campgrounds, boat launches, access roads, trails and other infrastructure after this long tough winter and the facilities are ready for residents and visitors to safely enjoy the outdoors. While most are open for this weekend, those using DEC lands and facilities should check conditions of sites and trails before going afield."

The Adirondack Forest Preserve is defined as the 2.6 million acres of state land within the Adirondack Park. These public lands, which range from remote backcountry to DEC-operated campgrounds, include more than 1,800 miles of marked trails available for people of all interests and abilities. In the Adirondacks 2,300 miles of hiking trails, hundreds of lean-tos and primitive campsites and more than 200 boat launches and waterway access sites on more than 2.6 million acres of Adirondack forest preserve land and 770,000 acres of conservations easement lands; and 373,000 acres of water surface on 3,000 lakes and ponds and thousands of miles of rivers and streams.

The Catskill Forest Preserve is defined as the 287,500 acres of state land within the Catskill Park. These public lands are primarily forested, but also include meadows, lakes, rivers, wetlands, waterfalls, cliffs, and many species of fish, wildlife, and plant life. Afforded Constitutional protections that prevent the removal of timber, lands within New York's Forest Preserve provide an abundance of both recreational opportunity and plant and wildlife habitat. In the Catskills, there are approximately 300 miles of hiking trails, 33 lean-tos, 187 primitive campsites, 21 fishing access sites, several hand launch boat launch sites and over 60 miles of Public Fishing Rights (PFRs) along some of the most famous trout streams in the world.

Campgrounds - DEC operates 52 Campgrounds and six Day Use Areas in total.

All of DEC's campgrounds and related day-use areas, including Prospect Mountain Highway and Lake George Beach, will be open this weekend. Some day-use areas are operating on a reduced schedule and will only be open until 4:30 p.m. this weekend. DEC expects normal operating hours until 9 p.m. to be in effect before the start of summer.

While water, bathrooms and showers are available at all campgrounds, some bathroom and shower buildings remain closed due to the large number of burst pipes. The long cold winter caused frost to develop much deeper in the ground than usual.

All campgrounds are expected to be full. Campers will have a safe and enjoyable experience if they follow DEC rules and regulations. DEC has a zero tolerance policy for underage drinking and public intoxication. Fireworks are illegal in New York State and quiet hours are from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. Campers should read and follow the rules and regulations provided to them when they register at the campground. DEC Forest Rangers, Environmental Conservation Police and campground staff will patrol campgrounds throughout the weekend.

Black bears are plentiful in the Adirondacks. Food and coolers should be stored securely and out of sight in either a car trunk or the passenger area of truck with the windows closed.

Help slow the spread of Emerald Ash Borer and other invasive insects do not move untreated firewood - buy local or kiln dried firewood instead. New York State's firewood regulations restrict the movement of untreated firewood to 50 miles to prevent the spread of infested wood. Campers must certify that firewood they are transporting complies with regulation.

Boat Launches, Locks and Waters

All boat launches are open and have their docks installed.

The reconstructed Second Pond Boat Launch Site on the Saranac Lake Chain of Lakes is open for use. Work still continues on the improvements for this site but the launch is operable.

A boat launch on Great Sacandaga Lake that has been upgraded with a concrete ramp and docks is also open for use.

Both the Upper and Lower Locks in the Saranac Lakes Chain are open and will be staffed for the weekend.

Rivers and streams are running at spring time highs and water temperatures are cold. Cold water temperatures increase the risk of hypothermia and drowning if you should fall into the water. Personal floatation devices (PFDs) should be worn by all people on boats and while boarding or exiting the boat.

Access Roads

Work on the state-owned section of Beach Road in the Town of Lake George which provides access to DEC's Lake George (aka Million Dollar) Beach is completed. The work included the use of porous asphalt and other storm water management features so that DEC's section of Beach Road is similar to the previously completed Town section. Beach Road now provides a mile of state of the art storm water management practices and water quality protection for Lake George. This project was funded through New York Works.

Some Adirondack back country access roads remained closed to public motor vehicles due to washouts and muddy conditions brought about by the harsh winter and heavy spring rains. Use caution when driving on seasonal roads, watch for muddy areas and rough spots. Pickup trucks, SUVs and other high axle vehicles are recommended, four-wheel drive vehicles are even better. Access and backcountry roads that remain closed at this time include:

  • Essex Chain Road and the Cornell/Deer Pond Roads in the Essex Chain Primitive Area in the Town of Newcomb, Essex County.
  • Piseco-Powley Road through the Shaker Mountain Wild Forest in the Town of Arietta,
  • South Meadow Lane in the High Peaks Wilderness in the Town of North Elba, Essex County.
  • Otter Brook Road, Indian Lake Road and Rock Dam Road in the Moose River Plains Road System in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest, in the Town of Inlet, Hamilton County. (The main Moose River Plains Road between Limekiln Lake and Cedar Lake is open)
  • West Creek Road at Big Brook Bridge, Black River Wild Forest off Route 8 near Noblesboro, Herkimer County
  • Wolf Lake Landing Road in the Black River Wild Forest off Route 28 in McKeever, Herkimer County
  • The Lake Lila Road in the Town of Long Lake, Hamilton County

Biting Insects

"Bug Season" has begun. Black flies are present almost everywhere and mosquitoes and ticks may be found in many locations. Minimize the nuisance of biting insects by wearing light colored clothing, long sleeve shirts and long pants; tucking shirts into pants and the bottom of pant legs into socks; buttoning or rubber banding sleeves at the wrist; wearing a headnet when insects are thick and using an insect repellant with DEET.

Adirondack Backcountry Conditions

High numbers of people can be expected on the trails and waterways of the backcountry. This is especially true in the Eastern High Peaks where trailhead parking lots and interior campsites may reach capacity by Friday evening. Hikers and paddlers should plan accordingly and seek out recreational opportunities on less used areas of the forest preserve.

DEC has issued a muddy trail advisory and urges hikers to postpone hikes on trails above 3,000 in the Dix Mountain, Giant Mountain and High Peaks Wildernesses until early June. Trails and vegetation in the higher elevations are most vulnerable at this time of year when melting snow saturates thin soils found on the steep slopes of the mountains.

Wet and muddy conditions are likely to be encountered at some point on all trails. Hikers should wear waterproof footwear and gaiters, and remember to walk through - not around - mud and water to prevent eroding and widening the trail.

Regulation requires the use of bear-resistant canisters by overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. DEC encourages the use of bear resistant canisters throughout the Adirondacks.

More details regarding conditions of backcountry infrastructure can be found on the Adirondack Trail Information web pages, along with links to current weather forecasts, regulations, and safety tips.

For more information on New York's Forest Preserve, visit the DEC website.

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