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May 2013 Outdoor Discovery

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

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People sitting under some blooming trees in New York City's Central Park.

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

Close up on the skin of a Brook Trout.

Check out the April 2013 Conservationist magazine to learn how to avoid black bear encounters, discover where to watch wildlife, and find out what's shown in the picture above. (We'll give you a hint: look at page 3!) Subscribe online or call 1-800-678-6399


DEC Events

Select Recreation Events
Turkey Season Open Upstate - 5/1
Earth Day in May - 5/4
Family Fishing at Norrie Point - 5/11
Family Fun: World Turtle Day - 5/25
See more upcoming events


Nature Notes

A person holding a Crappie fish.

Using his tail to create a nest in gravel underneath water that is 10 to 24 inches deep, the male crappie then guards both fertilized eggs and young crappie.


Safe and Sound

A picture of safety supplies such as a compass, topographic map, and a GPS.

Learn how to read a topographic map and use a compass, and carry them with you in case the battery in your GPS dies or is too weak to provide guidance during your outdoor adventure.


Featured Video

A person holding a GPS.

A great way to explore the outdoors, geocaching is gaining popularity in New York State. Visit DEC's YouTube page to learn more about this interactive game.


Get Outdoors

A couple with their child hiking around a lake.

Explore springtime in New York's outdoors! The Great Spring Hikes web page lists some of DEC staffers' favorite spring hikes. Selections span the state from New York City to Jefferson County and range from short and easy to long and challenging.


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: Daniel Avila, City of New York, Parks and Recreation
I Love My Park: Central Park Conservancy
High Rock Park: City of New York, Parks and Recreation

NY's Best Wildlife Viewing Spots

Cover of the New York Wildlife Viewing Guide.Have you seen the New York Wildlife Viewing Guide? In it, you'll find more than 100 of the state's best sites for seeing wildlife near your home or while traveling. New York has millions of acres of state parks and forests, preserves and wildlife management areas (WMAs), each offering tremendous opportunities for viewing wildlife and nature.

Take the New York Wildlife Viewing Guide on your next outdoor adventure! Available soon for your e-reader and other electronic devices, or purchase a copy on the Web, in bookstores or at a discount from watchablewildlife.org.

As a special offer for wildlife enthusiasts, subscribe to Conservationist and you'll get the Guide (a $14.95 value) for FREE! It makes a great gift!


Watchable Wildlife: High Rock Park

Deck on a pond at High Rock Park.

Often referred to as one of the most tranquil places in New York City, High Rock Park is noted for its quiet ponds and deep woods. It is one of nine parks in Staten Island's 2,500-acre Greenbelt and has been recognized as a Natural Environmental Education Landmark. Different habitats support a diverse array of plants and wildlife. Visitors can see stands of red maples, highbush blueberries and patches of skunk cabbage along the six walking trails. As you stroll the trails, look for egrets, muskrats, snapping turtles and white-tailed deer.

Find a Watchable Wildlife site near you.


Spring Crappie Fishing

A woman holding a Crappie fish.

With spring upon us, many anglers are looking forward to getting out on the water. A popular species commonly sought is a member of the sunfish family, crappie. Crappie have a compressed diamond-shaped body and can reach sizes exceeding 14 inches. They are dark green to golden brown in color, with mottled patches of black scales. Crappie are common in many waters throughout New York State that have abundant vegetation and cover.

When seeking crappie, focus your attention on areas with shallow water near weed beds, downed trees or brush piles. Use popular rigs such as a bobber and minnow combination or a small jig fished on light tackle. Saratoga Lake in Saratoga County is a favorite choice of anglers searching for springtime crappie.


Orienteering and Geocaching

A group of people out geocaching.

What combines racing, map reading and treasure hunting? The popular activities of orienteering and geocaching do, and they are both family friendly and widely available.

Orienteering requires navigational skills (the ability to use a map and compass) to get from point to point. It can be enjoyed on a hike at your own pace or in a competition, where the terrain is often difficult and speed is required. In organized events, participants receive a special orienteering map that shows a series of control sites numbered in the order they must be visited. You can also create your own orienteering course for your family and friends. Visit DEC's Places to Go to find public lands near you. Many state lands and parks offer programs on orienteering, including NYC Parks and Beaver Island State Park on Grand Island.

Geocaching uses GPS satellite signals (you need a hand-held GPS for this activity) to find previously hidden caches. Thousands of geocaches are hidden in New York State alone. To participate, visit the Official Global GPS Hunt Site to get coordinates of caches in your region. You often will find "treasure" inside a cache and a log book to record your discovery. Read more about geocaching in the February 2005 Conservationist.


Hike of the Month: Randall Pond Nature Trail, Brookhaven, Suffolk County

Picture of the trail at Randall Pond.

The Randall Pond Nature Trail, located at Ridge Conservation Area, is a great place to get outdoors and start enjoying spring weather. The site provides 184 acres of mixed wooded and open habitats, including 85 acres of forest and four acres of fishable ponds which serve as habitat for deer, box turtles and other wildlife. Along with a large figure eight-shaped hiking trail along the pond, the site also has areas for dog training, birdwatching and falconry.

The Randall Pond site has several accessible features. A picnic area is located near DEC's field headquarters, and the trail that follows the shore of Randall Pond has designated parking at one end. In addition, there are three accessible fishing piers along the trail. Visit the Rocky Point Natural Resource Management Area for more information and directions. Be sure to check for ticks after your walk.


Celebrate "I Love My Park Day" on May 4

A mother and daughter cleaning up trash at a park.

Many beautiful parks and campgrounds exist throughout New York State, from the shores of Lake Erie to Long Island. Help keep these special places beautiful by participating in I Love My Park Day, an annual statewide event to improve New York's state parks and historic sites. Volunteers clean up park lands and beaches, plant trees and gardens, restore trails and wildlife habitat and remove invasive species. Parks & Trails New York and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation coordinate this event, and park staff and local friends groups work with volunteers and oversee activities.

Find an event near you and volunteer for I Love My Park Day on Saturday, May 4.

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

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