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January 2014 Outdoor Discovery

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

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A pheasant laying in the snow.


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

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A close-up of the jaw of an opossum.

Check the December 2013 Conservationist to follow Forest Rangers as they rescue survivors from a wintry plane crash, take an indoor nature walk at Herkimer County Community College, learn about the river otter, and find out what's shown in the picture above. (We'll give you a hint: check page 33.) Subscribe online or call 1-800-678-6399.

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DEC Events

Select Recreation Events
New Year in Nature at Reinstein Woods - 1/4
Guided Snowshoe Walk at Five Rivers - 1/4
Suffolk County Special Firearms Deer Season Begins - 1/6
Full Moon Snowshoe Walk at Reinstein Woods - 1/14
Night Life Evening Walk at Five Rivers - 1/17
See more upcoming events

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Nature Notes

A pheasant.

Today, wild pheasants are difficult to find. Most are found in the Lake Plains of western New York. DEC releases raised pheasants during the hunting season.

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Safe and Sound

A car that broke through some ice.

A minimum of three to four inches of solid ice is the general rule for safety. Ice thickness, however, is not uniform on any body of water.

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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).

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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.
E-mail us

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

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Photo Credits

Banner: Clifford Dayton
Watchable Wildlife seal: National Park Service
Whitney Pt. pheasant/Reinstein Woods: Jim Clayton
New York Botanical Garden: NY Botanical Garden
Safe and Sound: Minnesota DNR

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I LOVE NY logo.

Camp Santanoni Winter Weekends

For a unique winter experience, join other cross-country skiers and snowshoers for three Winter Weekends/Open Houses at Camp Santanoni, a 19th-century Adirondack Great Camp. Snowshoes will be available for loan. Open Houses for 2014 are scheduled for Jan 17-20, Feb 15-17 and March 15-16, but trails are open year-round.

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Ice Fishing

A group of people posing with their catch from ice fishing.

Don't think fishing is done for the year just because it's cold and snowy. Some of the best fishing will be available soon. If you haven't tried ice fishing yet, now's the time to do it.

There are advantages to ice fishing, especially if you're used to being a shore-bound angler. Thick ice gives you access to an entire body of water, depending on how far you're willing to walk. Many fish species congregate at this time of year. When you find them, the action can be fast and furious.

You'll need some special equipment for ice fishing, and you must use caution and pay attention to ice conditions. DEC's website has more information on equipment, ice safety and regulations.

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Hunt Pheasant through February at Whitney Point

Mourning Dove laying in the snow.

Pheasant hunting in New York State is steeped in tradition. Since the first hunting season for pheasants was designated in 1908, New York sportsmen and sportswomen have held the ring-necked pheasant in high regard.

Whitney Point Multiple Use Area in central New York is stocked with pheasant from the time of the Pheasant Youth Hunt weekend in October through mid-November. Pheasants are plentiful, and hunting for this popular game bird is excellent. Most of the field and brush areas that pheasant prefer are located on the northern end of Whitney Point Reservoir and continue upstream along the Otselic River. No special access permits are required to hunt here, just a small game license. DEC's Whitney Point, pheasant hunting, and pheasant release webpages have more details.

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Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve and Environmental Education Center

Children snowshoeing at Reinstein Woods.

Reinstein Woods is known as "Buffalo's Backyard Wilderness." As you snowshoe or ski around its nearly 300 wooded acres, you soon forget you're surrounded by suburban neighborhoods. Hiking trails take you through snowy forest, past frozen ponds and around marshes adorned in lacy hoarfrost.

The center offers snowshoe and cross-country ski adventures and rents skis at nominal cost to adults and kids 10 and up. Snowshoes are available for little children through large adults.

Look for white-tailed deer, muskrat, cottontail rabbits, squirrels, pileated woodpeckers, wild turkeys and other overwintering birds as you hike, ski or snowshoe the more than three miles of open trails.

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Watchable Wildlife on Fire Island

A seal laying on the beach.

Despite cold and snow, there's still plenty of wildlife for viewing on and near Fire Island, including white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbits, red foxes, harbor seals and even the occasional whale. Of the more than 330 bird species recorded here, a number stay around through the winter. Enjoy the solitude of the park as you watch for loons, horned grebes, Canada geese, mute swan, Bonaparte's gull and northern cardinal. A barrier island off the coast of Long Island, Fire Island is accessible by car in the winter, but many park facilities have limited hours or are closed for the season.

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Visit the New York Botanical Garden in Winter

People looking at flowers at the NY Botanical Garden.

Just because it's cold and frosty doesn't mean you can't enjoy the "outdoors" in comfort. Visit the New York Botanical Garden (NYBG), which occupies 250 acres of dramatic rock outcroppings, rolling hills, waterfalls and ponds. Indoors, the centerpiece of the NYBG is the Enid A. Haupt Conservatory. There are 11 interconnected galleries within it, each representing a different habitat, from tropical rainforests to African deserts.

The Holiday Train Show, an enchanting display of more than 140 famous NYC landmarks under thousands of twinkling lights, runs through January 12. Structures are made to scale of natural materials: bark, twigs, seeds and pinecones. More than a dozen large-scale model trains travel around the scene, across rustic bridges and past waterfalls and flowing creeks.

Learn more about New York City's botanical gardens in the June 2012 issue of the Conservationist.


January 2014 DEC Outdoor Discovery Newsletter © New York State Department of Environmental Conservation

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