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February 2014 Outdoor Discovery

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

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A group of kids snowshoeing.

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

Cover of the February 2014 Conservationist.

Don't miss the February issue of Conservationist. In it, you can explore outdoor adventures available in New York's state parks and forests; celebrate winter in the Adirondacks through the beautiful photography of Carl Heilman II; view iconic images by famous photographer Ansel Adams, on display at The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls; learn about the wildlife that can be found in Manhattan's Central Park; and much more! Subscribe online or call 1-800-678-6399.


Sporting License Changes


Hunters and anglers:
New lower license fees and expanded license dates became effective on February 1.


DEC Events

Select Recreation Events
Winter Birds at Norrie Point - 2/15
Winter Wildlife Snowshoe Walk at Reinstein Woods - 2/18
Adirondack Winter Carnivals throughout February

See more upcoming events


Nature Notes

A Grouse in the snow.

Ruffed grouse, also known as partridges, are year-round residents of New York State.


Safe and Sound

An avalanche.

While avalanche danger increases during and immediately after major snowfalls and during thaws, avalanches can occur in any situation where snow, slope and weather combine to create dangerous conditions. See DEC's Avalanche webpage for more information.


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: Albany Pine Bush, Krishna Hill
Central Park: Central Park Conservancy
Owl at APB: Wendy Craney
Sportsmen Ed: Jim Clayton
Grouse left: Megan Skrip
Grouse right: John Major

I LOVE NY logo.

Governor Announces New Outdoor Recreation Initiatives

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

An outdoorsman himself, Governor Cuomo continues to make improving recreational activities and boosting tourism a top priority. Resident and visiting sportsmen and sportswomen and other outdoor enthusiasts will welcome the latest additions to the Governor's "NY Open for Fishing and Hunting" initiative. This includes streamlining the hunting and fishing licensing process and reducing license fees, improving access for fishing at various sites across the state, and increasing hunting opportunities.

Governor Cuomo this year has proposed the creation of 50 new land access projects, which will connect hunters, anglers, bird watchers and others who enjoy the outdoors to more than 380,000 acres of existing state and easement lands that have gone untapped until now. These new access projects include building new boat launches, installing new hunting blinds and building new trails and parking areas.


New Adventure License!

New icons for NYS driver's licenses.

The Governor has now made it easy for New Yorkers to show their lifetime commitment to hunting or fishing. All lifetime license holders can now choose to have their hunting and/or fishing license credentials added to a New York State Adventure License. The Adventure License is a driver's license that includes icons for all of a person's lifetime licenses. You can also add your Boater Safety Certification and the new State Parks Empire Passport.

Learn more about the optional Adventure License and Lifetime Licenses.


DEC Summer Camps: Creating a Lifetime of Outdoor Memories

A counselor instructing kids at DEC Summer Camps.

Camp registration is now underway via our new online registration system, where you can register campers and receive a confirmation immediately.

At DEC's four environmental education camps, campers ages 11 through 17 enjoy a balance of environmental education, sportsman education and outdoor fun. Games, lessons and hands-on activities teach kids about forests, water quality and other aspects of nature. Swimming, hiking and canoeing are on the agenda, too, as campers learn new outdoor skills. Ultimately, kids leave camp with a new passion for nature and a dedication to stewardship of our natural resources.

Register your child now; camps are filling up fast!


Cross-Country Skiing Centennial Recreation Trails

A man cross-country skiing.

If you are a fan of cold white fluffy stuff, you'll find plenty of it on the Centennial Trail system, 48 miles north of Utica in the heart of New York's snow country. Located within the Independence River Wild Forest in Lewis County, two intersecting trails enable cross-country skiers to customize the degree of difficulty for their personal skill level and experience.

Check the driving directions, map and trail descriptions on DEC's website to choose a gently rolling novice route or the more challenging intermediate path with steep downhill runs. Both options offer scenic views.


Happy Valley Great for Hunting Ruffed Grouse

A ruffed grouse.

Happy Valley Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in Oswego County provides excellent ruffed grouse hunting. Licensed small-game hunters can enjoy pursuing this secretive bird through February on nearly 9,000-acres of wetland, brush and forest habitat.

Part of the reason for good grouse hunting at Happy Valley is because DEC has worked to improve grouse habitat there for several years. Ruffed grouse are the second most popular game birds in New York State, after wild turkey. Hunters may take up to four birds per day. See Happy Valley WMA and Ruffed Grouse Hunting on DEC's website for more information.


Watchable Wildlife at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve

A owl in a tree.

Explore this rare inland pine-barrens ecosystem to see fishers, white-tailed deer, cottontail rabbits, red and gray foxes, and coyotes, as well as smaller mammals and several species of birds. About 18 miles of trails are available for cross-country skiing or, in the absence of snow, hiking. Either activity provides greater opportunity for viewing wildlife.

Because of fluctuating temperatures in late winter, dress for the cold by layering clothing. Visitors can warm up in the fully accessible Discovery Center (free admission), located at the entrance to the preserve. The Discovery Center is a state-of-the-art interpretive center with interactive exhibits that introduce visitors to everything that makes the preserve rare and adventurous. Trail information and maps are available in the center, and interpretive signs about natural features at the preserve are located outdoors nearby.


Become a Sportsman Education Instructor

A sportsmen ed class.

by Mary Grose, a reader

Hunting represents family and tradition. Growing up in the Mohawk Valley of New York State, I took hunting for granted, something everyone did. I was privileged enough to have several family members who hunted and passed down the tradition to me.

This past summer while checking upcoming hunting season regulations, I came across information on becoming a certified hunter education instructor through the Department of Environmental Conservation. I took the course which was a rewarding experience and included 12 hours of classroom time and an apprenticeship. Throughout the process, I learned that hunting is more than finding the biggest buck. It is about spending time with family and friends and strengthening relationships with each other and the environment


Hiking Central Park

A snow covered bridge in New York's Central Park.

In the heart of Manhattan, Central Park is one of the most enchanting places to enjoy a snowy winter day. This 800-acre swath of trees, meadows, streams, lakes and ponds is an inspiring combination of architecture and landscape design, with a surprising variety of natural habitats. A wonderful place for cross-country skiing, Central Park offers beautiful scenery for snow lovers.

Hike the park's 90-acre North Woods or 38-acre Ramble to evoke the feeling of forest in the midst of a metropolis. As you explore, it's easy to forget you're in one of the world's most populous cities.

Watch for overwintering songbirds, squirrels and rabbits, or visit the various monuments found throughout the park. See DEC's Great Winter Hikes webpage for other locations throughout the state.

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

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