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December 2013 Outdoor Discovery

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

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A moose in the woods.

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

December 2013 Conservationist cover.

Check the December 2013 Conservationist ! In it, you can enjoy the playful antics of river otters; celebrate winter on Long Island through beautiful photography; explore Herkimer County Community College's Natural History Museum; learn about an incredible array of gulls that spend the winter at Niagara Falls State Park; and much more! Subscribe online or call 1-800-678-6399.


DEC Events

Select Recreation Events
Late Bowhunter and Muzzleloader Big Game Season Opens in Southern Zone - 12/9
Friday the 13th Myth-busting Hike at Reinstein Woods - 12/13
Family Fun: Watchable Winter at Five Rivers - 12/14
Christmas Bird Count at Reinstein Woods - 12/14
Family Fun: Snowshoe Outing at Five Rivers - 12/21
Winter Tree ID at Norrie Point - 12/21
Varying Snowshoe Hare Season opens in Western and Central NY - 1/1
New Year's Day Bird Count at Five Rivers - 1/1
See more upcoming events


Nature Notes

A squirrel.

The squirrel family includes a lot of members that don't usually come to mind, including chipmunks, woodchucks and prairie dogs.


Safe and Sound

A woman wearing layers out in the cold.

Frostbite injury can range from superficial redness of the skin, slight numbness or blisters, to skin discoloration, obstruction of blood flow or blood clots. Rubbing frostbitten skin, once a popular "remedy," can cause further damage.


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

Banner: william Rudge
Winter Camping: Carl Heilman II
Snowshoeing: SUNY ESF
Frostbite: Northshore Univ. Health System

I LOVE NY logo.

Winter Camping at Letchworth State Park

Frozen falls at Letchworth State Park. Frozen waterfalls, the roaring Genesee River and snow-covered forests turn the renowned Letchworth State Park into a winter wonderland.

The park, nicknamed the "Grand Canyon of the East" because of its deep gorge, and cliffs that soar hundreds of feet above the canyon floor, is open to camping year-round. Winter activities include snow tubing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling and interpretive programs.

The park operates the Maplewood Lodge and winterized cabins. The lodge is ideal for snowmobilers because of its connection to the NYS snowmobile trail system. Contact the park directly at 585-493-3600 for reservation information. For those who like more creature comforts than the lodge or cabins offer, winter accommodations are available at businesses nearby.


Watchable Wildlife at Sapsucker Woods

Mourning Dove laying in the snow.

On the grounds of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, Sapsucker Woods is home to the yellow-bellied sapsucker, one of more than 225 bird species found here.

In winter, the trails, boardwalks and observation platforms may offer views of white-throated sparrows, black-capped chickadees, northern cardinals, tufted titmice, downy and pileated woodpeckers, white-breasted nuthatches, dark-eyed juncos, blue jays and mourning doves. In addition to numerous bird species, you may see white-tailed deer, minks, muskrats, red and grey squirrels and chipmunks.

Use the Winter Trail Guide to find the best places for viewing this season's wildlife.


Squirrel Hunting Popular at Stewart State Forest

A squirrel in a tree.

Gray squirrels are one of New York's most plentiful small game species, and Stewart State Forest is one of the state's most popular places to hunt small game with air gun or shotgun. December is right in the middle of squirrel season, and you'll find these ubiquitous furbearers venturing out of their treetop nests on calm winter days.

Stewart's 6,700 acres include dozens of parking areas for hunters. Located in Orange County close to Interstate 84 and other nearby roads, Stewart is an easy drive from the New York City area and neighboring states.


Hike of the Month: Exploring Five Rivers' Nature Trails

Snowshoer on the Wild Turkey Trail.

Five Rivers Environmental Education Center comprises more than 450 acres of broad fields, towering forests, and tranquil wetlands visitors can enjoy year-round. There are seven interpretive trails, two of which are favorites during the winter months for hiking, skiing, snowshoeing and watching wildlife.

North Loop (2-mile loop)
Go the distance on this skiing/hiking boundary trail through broad fields and forests of pine and northern hardwood. Stately trees, dense brush and dynamic views lend a sense of wilderness.

Wild Turkey Trail (2-mile loop)
Another great skiing and hiking trail, this one traverses old fields and extensive grasslands on the way to an enchanting wooded ravine of the Phillipinkill. Be sure to scan the grasslands for northern harrier in winter. There's also a good chance you'll see owls and turkey in the deep woods.

Brochures for interpretive trails are available at the Visitor Center and at trailhead kiosks.


Snowshoeing at the Adirondack Interpretive Center

Snowshoers at the Adirondack Interpretive Center.

At the Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC), snowshoe, ski or hike the R.W. Sage Jr. Memorial Trail, Rich Lake Trail, Peninsula Trail, or Sucker Brook Trail, all of which begin at the AIC building. Comprising nearly four miles of the 236-acre property, these trails take recreationists through diverse habitats, including lakeshore, river, mixed forest and wetland ecosystems.

The Sucker Brook Trail is particularly good for seeing wildlife, including otters sliding in the snow near the Rich Lake outlet. Trails are open every day from dawn to dusk, and a Winter Trail Map on the AIC website is available for downloading.

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

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