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December 2012 Outdoor Discovery

DEC Outdoor Discovery is published by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

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A climber scaling an ice waterfall.

New York State has wonderful recreational opportunities which will be highlighted for you each month. Get ready to start planning your next adventure!


DEC Events

Select Recreation Events
Small game seasons open on Long Island - 11/1
Outdoor Skills at Reinstein Woods - 11/10
Watchable Wildlife: White-Tailed Deer at Five Rivers - 11/17
Turkey Trek at Reinstein Woods - 11/23
Nuts You Should Know About at Five Rivers - 11/24
Catch-and-Release Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass Season - 12/1

See more upcoming events


Nature Notes

A frozen waterfall.

How do waterfalls freeze? When the temperature drops, the activity of water molecules slows, and the spaces close between them. These molecules then become stuck together and form ice crystals. Ice crystals grow larger as more and more water molecules stick to them, building upon one another and eventually forming a frozen waterfall.


Safe and Sound

A fire contained in a fire pit.

Pack easy to use, reliable fire starters before you go hiking. Try making these:
- Dip a ball of dryer lint in melted wax, and let the wax harden.
- Cut several sheets of newspaper into three-inch strips, roll into long tubes and dip them into melted wax.
- Saturate large cotton balls with Vaseline. Tease out some long strands before igniting. Protect your fire starters in a water-proof container.


Featured Video

Bird tracks in the snow.

A favorite outdoor activity for the whole family is to find animal tracks in the snow. Learn what to look for and how to identify animal tracks on DEC's YouTube page.


Explore for FREE

You can explore many state lands free of charge. However, some state campgrounds and day-use areas charge a small fee, depending on the season (campsite rentals extra).


Let Us Know

We hope you enjoy this newsletter and will share your favorite hiking spot, recreation activity or outdoor tip with us. Your feedback is always welcome. Contact us at:
NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation
625 Broadway
Albany, NY 12233-4500
E-mail us

If you like this newsletter, please forward it to your friends.


Photo Credits

Top banner: Adam E. on Iceclimbingphotos.com
Turkey: Bill Banaszewski

Campers setting up camp in the snow at a lean-to.

Winter Camping in a Lean-to

If the thought of trekking into snowy woods on a cold winter's day and setting up camp in a rustic log shelter appeals to you, then you may be one of those hardy souls who would enjoy winter camping in a lean-to. Gone are the crowds, rain and bugs of summer, replaced by sparkling mantles of white, welcome solitude and the pristine beauty of winter woods.

New York State offers hundreds of lean-tos in the Adirondack and Catskill mountains for adventurers who enjoy the challenges and rewards of winter camping. Search for the words "lean-to camping" on DEC's website for locations. Then, see the Conservationist article "Waking in a Winter Wonderland" for great winter camping tips.


Peekamoose Valley's Frozen Waterfalls

A climber climbing a frozen waterfall.Waterfalls in the high peaks region of Ulster County become cascades of ice during the winter. To view this spectacular seasonal scenery, bundle up and visit the Sundown Wild Forest in the Catskills. Take Ulster County Route 42 through a cool valley with steep slopes and impressive waterfalls. Water cascading down Samson, Van Wyck and Peekamoose mountains drops into the Rondout Creek through a series of spectacular waterfalls. Those who want a closer look at the beauty of this 30,000-acre forest can use the cross-country ski trails and snowmobile trails that pass by many of these wondrous waterfalls.


Hike of the Month: Snowshoe Trekking at Cranberry Lake Wild Forest

A man snowshoeing at Cranberry Lake Wild Forest.

For an exhilarating Adirondack experience, strap on some snowshoes and hike the Peavine Swamp Ski Trail (8.5 miles) in St. Lawrence County's Cranberry Lake Wild Forest. The ungroomed trail's moderate ups and downs add interest, and its three loops enable you to tailor a hike to your own schedule and energy level. The trail's second half passes through stands of huge, venerable hardwoods, spruce and hemlock. If you are quiet and observant, you may glimpse deer, coyotes, turkeys and ruffed grouse. Access the trail from State Route 3, west of the Village of Cranberry Lake. Snowshoeing is great exercise and fun for all ages (if you can walk, you can snowshoe), and beginners can try it at these DEC environmental education centers: Five Rivers (Albany) and Reinstein (Buffalo).


Gift Subscriptions to the Conservationist

December 2012 Conservationist cover: wolf diorama at American Museum of Natural History.

This holiday season, consider giving friends and family a gift that shares your passion for New York's outdoors and environment. Conservationist magazine's dazzling photography showcases the unique beauty of each region of our state. Entertaining and informative articles shed light on everything from fishing, hunting, hiking and wildlife watching, to what New Yorkers are doing to preserve our priceless natural resources. A gift of the Conservationist is also a great way to connect a young person or teacher on your gift list to the wonders of New York.

So this year, for holidays and every occasion, give the gift of nature: gift subscriptions to the Conservationist.

Gift subscriptions are available online.


Watching Wild Turkeys at Reinstein

Wild turkey walking in the snow. Wild turkeys are intelligent and interesting animals, and you don't have to drive for hours or hike into a forest to see them up close. One great place to view wild turkeys is Reinstein Woods Environmental Education Center, nicknamed "Buffalo's Backyard Wilderness."

Reinstein Woods is a unique 292-acre complex of forests, scrub swamp, ponds and wetlands surrounded by suburban development.

Turkeys prefer mixed areas of forest and farmland and are found throughout the state. They may form large flocks in the winter and congregate in farm fields, feeding on waste grain. When there is snow cover, look for their distinctive and large tracks, and follow them to see where the turkeys eat and rest. If you find their favored foods--acorns and beechnuts--you are likely to find turkeys.

Other great places to view wild turkeys include North-South Lake in the Catskills, Montezuma National Wildlife Refuge in central New York and Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center in the Hudson Valley.

December 2012 DEC Outdoor Discovery Newsletter © New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

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