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For Release: Wednesday, November 5, 2014

DEC Issues Draft St Lawrence Flatlands Unit Management Plan to Enhance Recreational Use, Protect Natural Resources

Public Meeting to Be Held Dec. 1 at the St. Lawrence Central High School Auditorium; Comments Will Be Accepted Until January 15

Greater public access and more recreational opportunities would be offered in the St. Lawrence Flatlands area under a proposed Unit Management Plan (UMP) released today by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). DEC will accept comments on the draft plan through January 15 and will hold a public meeting on December 1 in Brasher Falls (St. Lawrence County).

"The draft UMP furthers Governor Cuomo's NY Open for Hunting and Fishing initiative by offering greater land access for sportsmen and sportswomen as well as other outdoor recreationalists," DEC Regional Director Judy Drabicki said. "The plan develops recreational access to forest lands, increases public awareness of outdoor opportunities on these state forests in Northern St. Lawrence and Franklin counties and ensures sustainable forest management. Under the UMP, DEC would manage these state forest lands to promote a healthy ecosystem and enhance landscape biodiversity while protecting soil productivity and water quality."

The meeting will be held on Monday, December 1, from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. at the St. Lawrence Central High School Auditorium, 1039 State Highway 11C, Brasher Falls. The first half hour will be an open house format to allow for an informal discussion of the draft plan with DEC staff. At 7 p.m., there will be a brief presentation of the draft plan highlights. Following the presentation, the public will have an opportunity to comment on the plan.

The state forests included in the Unit are Brasher, Bombay, Buckton, Fort Jackson, Grantville, Knapp Station, Lost Nation, Raymondville, Sodom and Southville. The state forest lands total 30,810 acres and are located in the Franklin County towns of Bombay and Moira, and the St. Lawrence County towns of Brasher, Madrid, Norfolk and Stockholm. The unit also includes six widely scattered parcels of detached forest preserve lands located in the towns of Lisbon, Louisville, Massena, and Waddington in St. Lawrence County. These properties range in size from three to 350 acres.

During development of the draft plan, DEC invited public participation and assessed the natural, physical, social and recreational resources of the unit's state forests. Information obtained and reviewed through the planning process helped build a solid foundation to support goals, objectives and management actions. The goals of the Unit are to provide: a healthy, sustainable and biologically diverse forest; forest-based recreational opportunities; economic benefits to local communities and to the state of New York; and sound stewardship.

The draft UMP reflects Governor Cuomo's NY Open for Hunting and Fishing Initiative, an effort to improve recreational activities for in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and sportswomen and to boost tourism opportunities throughout the state. This initiative includes the streamlining of hunting and fishing licensing and reducing license fees, improved access for fishing at various sites across the state, and increasing hunting opportunities in various regions.

The Draft St. Lawrence Flatlands Unit Management Plan contains proposed actions for the unit over a 10 year period, including recommendations for improvements to infrastructure, timber management, and recreational facilities development. These state forests offer many recreational opportunities, including: hiking, skiing, mountain biking, hunting, fishing, trapping, birdwatching, snowmobiling and horseback riding. Also proposed are several new access points along the Deer and St Regis Rivers, parking areas, kiosks, and trails for persons with disabilities. Some habitat will be managed for early successional stages to benefit specific wildlife species such as songbirds and game species.

A new multi-use recreational trail (including ATVs) is proposed through the central portion of Brasher State Forest. An approved route will be selected from the options that are presented. Trails and roads would require maintenance including improved drainage, surface hardening, and improved wetland crossings to provide access for motorized recreational use.

The draft plan is available on DEC's website. Copies of the plan on compact disk (CD) are also available for public review at the following locations:

  • DEC Region 6 Headquarters office, 317 Washington Street, Watertown, 13601 (315-785-2263)
  • DEC Potsdam Sub-office, 6739 US Highway 11, Potsdam, NY, 13676 (315-265-3090)

Those unable to attend the meeting are invited to submit comments to the DEC by mail to: NYSDEC, Division of Lands and Forests, Attn: Aaron Graves, 6739 US Highway 11, Potsdam, NY, 13676 or by e-mail and put St Lawrence Flatlands in the subject line. Written comments will be accepted until January 15.

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