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From the April 2012 Conservationist

Morning light shining through the trunks of pine trees

Celebrating New York's Forests

Winners of the Year of Forests photo contest

Forests enrich our lives. They provide clean air and water, habitat for fish and wildlife, open space for public recreation and enjoyment; they protect watersheds, and contribute to our economy through the forest products industry. Within our cities and urban areas, trees beautify streets, parks and yards, and make our communities more livable.

New York State is blessed with an abundance of forests. In fact, currently 63 percent of the state's landscape is covered with trees, making New York one of the most heavily forested states in the country. This is due in large part to the state's longstanding history of protecting and restoring its forests, which continues today. The Empire State is committed to "Keeping Forests as Forests."

To celebrate the importance of our forests and to raise awareness on issues of sustainable management, sustainable development, and conservation of all types of forests, the United Nations declared 2011 to be the International Year of Forests. Governor Cuomo furthered this effort by proclaiming 2011 as the New York Year of Forests.

In honor of these declarations, DEC's Division of Lands and Forests held a photo contest titled "Celebrating New York's Forests." We accepted photos in five categories: Nature, Enjoying the Forest, Trees Where We Live, Forest Products, and State-owned Forests.

Here are a few of the best of the more than 500 photos we received. You can view others online here.

Fiddleheads of ferns emerging from the forest floor


"Fiddleheads in the Forest" by Joanne Hihn
Catskill State Forest Preserve, Sullivan County
Fiddlehead ferns had recently pushed their heads through the damp, rich forest soil. A misty morning enhanced the ethereal scene.


A railing made of natural branches and trunks with The Wild Center buidling in the background

"The Wild Center" by Richard L. Endres
Tupper Lake, Franklin County
This railing in the back walkway of The Wild Center shows great use of natural forest products in everyday life.

Young children and one adult stand around the base of a tall tree

"Around the Grandmother's Tree" by Wayne Jones
Warrensburg, Warren County
The white pine known as the Grandmother's Tree at Pack Forest is a famous and historic tree in New York. Four kids and Grandpa couldn't reach around it!


A maple seedling just sprouted

"Legacy" by Kim Kiefer
Whitesboro, Oneida County
A sprout emerges from the last batch of seeds dropped after her
favorite climbing tree was cut down from her grandparents' yard.

Panorama of the Adirondack High Peaks in Essex County in autumn

"Forever Wild" by Wayne Jones
High Peaks, Essex County
Snow clouds cover Algonquin Peak after the first snow of autumn. This iconic, expansive view from Adirondack Loj Road extends from Mt. Colden (left) to Wallface (right).

Two moose standing chest deep at the edge of a lake

"From out of the Trees" by Anne Brewer
Rainbow Lake, Franklin County
Anne Brewer was kayaking alone when two moose emerged from the woods and into the lake. When they re-entered the forest, they seemed to vanish!


An aerial view of a mountain and forest in fall color

"Harriman" by Mark Kalan
Bear Mountain, Rockland County
An aerial view of Harriman State Park and Route Six from Perkins Memorial Drive.


Two bald eagles sitting on a pine branch
"Eagles" by Kathryn Andrews
Saranac Lake, Essex County
A pair of bald eagles rests in a tree on Upper Saranac Lake.


A solitary fly fisherman in the middle of a misty river surrounded by forested hills
"Fishing the Mist" by Michael Linse

West Branch of the Delaware River at Hale Eddy, Delaware County
A solitary fly fisherman stands in the mist as the Delaware River flows through verdant woodlands.


A person and a dog walking on a leaf-covered, tree-lined path in fall

"On the Towpath"

by Troy Bishopp
Marshall, Oneida County
Walking along the Marshall Towpath (formerly the Deansville Railroad Station area) on a sunny, fall day.


The woods in fall and a dark, cloudy sky reflected in a pond
"Lost Pond" by Wells Horton

Charles Baker State Forest, Madison County
A secluded pond remains untouched under a dark, autumn sky.

Photo: at the topof the page by Wells Horton entitled "Brookfield Woods" (Charles Baker State Forest)