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March 2013 Outdoor Discovery

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

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Sap buckets attached to Maple trees.

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

February 2013 Conservationist cover: waterfall at Split Rock Falls in the Adirondacks.

In the February issue of Conservationist, follow biologists as they track short-eared owls, explore NY's waterfalls, see how central New York students make maple syrup, and much more! Subscribe online or call 1-800-678-6399


DEC Events

Select Recreation Events
Hudson River Striped Bass Fishing Opens - 3/16
Camp Santanoni Winter Weekends - 3/16-17
Maple Sugar Open Houses at Five Rivers - 3/16, 23, and 30

See more upcoming events


Nature Notes

Maple syrup being poured onto pancakes.

Sap from the sugar maple tree is boiled to make maple syrup. It takes 40 gallons of sap to produce just one gallon of syrup.


Safe and Sound

An avalanche about to hit some pine trees.

Avalanche danger increases with heavy snows and spring thaws. Be prepared and get information about avalanche danger and safety precautions, available on DEC's website.


Featured Video

A group of childen watching an instructor extracting sap from a tree into a bucket.

It takes a lot of work (and trees) to bring this sweet treat from the woods to store shelves. Learn how maple syrup is made 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.
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Photo Credits

Top banner: Pierre Tourigny
Alley Pond Trail: Daniel Avila City of New York, Parks and Recreation
Maple Syrup: Eric C Snowdeal III

A handler with an owl perched on his arm.

Watchable Wildlife - Winter Raptor Festival at Ft. Edward

Search for owls, hawks and falcons while enjoying a guided snowshoe hike or cuddled up on a horse-drawn sleigh ride. The annual Winter Raptor Fest, held at Gallup Ridge Farm in Ft. Edward, gives people the opportunity to meet the birds that rely on this area for their survival. In addition to the outdoor activities, there are live bird-of-prey programs, flight demonstrations, crafts and vendors.

The Washington County Grasslands Important Bird Area (IBA) provides a vital habitat for many endangered and threatened birds. The Raptor Fest is sponsored by the Friends of the IBA and is scheduled for Saturday, March 23 and Sunday, March 24. Read more about this event in an article from Conservationist magazine.


Cross-Country Skiing at Barnes Corners

Cross-country skiers on a trail.

With Tug Hill's heavy winter snowfall, outdoor enthusiasts have many opportunities for cross-country skiing at Barnes Corners Trails. Trails range from level and slightly uphill/gentle downhill to more challenging climbs and downhill runs. They travel through northern hardwoods and conifer plantations to open wetlands, past deer yards (used by over-wintering deer) and cross above Fish Creek. Some trails offer spectacular views of Inman Gulf, a 300-foot-deep canyon.

Skiers should be cautious when crossing roads used by automobiles and look for snowmobiles on shared trails. A trail map and guide for this and other state lands within DEC Region 6 is available by calling regional headquarters in Watertown at 315-785-2263, or Lowville Field Headquarters at 315-376-3521.


Hike of the Month: Alley Pond Park

A trail at Alley Pond Park.

Shake off the winter blues with an early spring jaunt in this natural gem of a park in the middle of northeastern Queens. Seven short, easy trails and a paved bicycle path wind through oak-hickory forests and past kettle-hole ponds created by huge chunks of melting glaciers. You'll see thick flocks of migrating birds, and you're likely to spot muskrat and red fox, too.

Visit the "Alley Pond Giant," a 130-foot high tulip tree with a trunk more than 18 feet around and estimated to be 350 to 450 years old. The north end of the park boasts splendid salt marsh views. Visit the Alley Pond Park website for more information and directions.


Visit Five Rivers in March for a Sweet Treat

Children checking a bucket for sap.

As winter slowly relaxes its icy grip and days begin to lengthen, sap rises from the roots to the crowns of sugar maples, nourishing buds waiting to bloom in spring. During these few weeks, when nights are still frosty and days begin to warm, it's maple sugaring time!

Five Rivers Environmental Education Center welcomes one and all to the Maple Sugar Open Houses on the last three Saturdays in March. Learn how to tap a tree and collect and boil the sap until it becomes sticky, sweet, amber syrup. A local maple producer will be on hand to answer questions and sell maple products. Groups are welcome but asked to call Five Rivers at 518-475-0291 to register.

You can learn more about maple sugaring in the February issue of Conservationist.


Sign of Spring: Wild Leeks

Leeks in a bucket.

Wild leeks, also called "ramps," are among the first native plants to emerge from winter's icy grip. This hardy plant has edible white lower leaf stalks and broad green leaves with a distinctive oniony-garlicy taste and smell. People enjoy wild leeks in a variety of recipes but you should ALWAYS positively identify any wild plant before eating it.

For more information on finding and cooking with wild leeks, see the article in Conservationist magazine. And whether you're a confirmed ramp addict or still among the merely curious, you'll want to mark your calendar now for the Ramp Festival held in the City of Hudson in May 2013.

March 2013 DEC Outdoor Discovery Newsletter © New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

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