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For Release: Tuesday, August 17, 2021

DEC Releases Draft Niagara Frontier Unit Management Plan for Public Review

Proposed UMP Promotes Responsible Recreation, Protects Natural Resources

Complements New Emergency Regulations to Promote Public Safety at Zoar Valley Multiple Use Area

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced the release of a draft Niagara Frontier Unit Management Plan (UMP) for public review and comment. The draft UMP proposes improvements to State lands in Erie and Cattaraugus counties, including the Zoar Valley Unique Area (UA) and Multiple Use Area (MUA). The UMP will guide management of these properties over the next 10 years. DEC is accepting comments on the draft plan until October 15, 2021. The release of the draft UMP complements the recent release of emergency regulations to improve public safety at Zoar Valley and Onondaga Escarpment Unique Area and support DEC's ongoing efforts to improve the visitor experience at Zoar Valley.

"The Niagara Frontier is home to some of New York's most unique natural landscapes, particularly Zoar Valley with its breathtaking vistas, rushing waters, and diversity of plants and wildlife," said Commissioner Seggos. "DEC is committed to improving visitors' experience on State Lands and today's announcement advances our goals by updating management plans and instituting regulations to improve them and make them safer for everyone."

The Niagara Frontier Unit covers 4,412 acres of State lands in Erie and Cattaraugus counties, including the Zoar Valley UA/MUA in the town of Collins, Erie County, and the towns of Persia and Otto in Cattaraugus County; the East Otto State Forest in the towns of East Otto and Otto, Cattaraugus County; and the Onondaga Escarpment Unique Area in the town of Newstead, Erie County.

State lands on the Niagara Frontier Unit will be sustainably managed by promoting ecosystem health, enhancing landscape biodiversity, and protecting soil productivity and water quality. In addition, these lands will continue to provide recreational, social, and economic benefits for visitors and local communities.

Highlights of the plan include:

  • Amended use regulations to improve health and safety, protect natural resources, and enhance visitor experience;
  • Trail construction and parking improvements at the Valentine Flats parking area at Zoar Valley;
  • Trail map kiosk enhancements at Zoar Valley;
  • Improved emergency response infrastructure; and
  • Implementation of sustainable practices for forest management.

The draft plan and additional information are available on DEC's website.

DEC invites the public to attend a Niagara Frontier UMP Virtual Public Meeting via WebEx (leaves DEC's website) on Wednesday, Sept. 15, 2021, from 6:30 - 8 p.m. The meeting will include a DEC staff presentation about the Niagara Frontier Unit Management Plan followed by a question and answer period. To register for the meeting, visit the WebEx Event Information page (leaves DEC's website).

DEC will accept official public comments on the draft Niagara Frontier UMP until October 15, 2021. It is not necessary to attend the Virtual Public Meeting to comment on the draft Niagara Frontier UMP. Official comments will not be recorded during the Virtual Public Meeting. All comments must be submitted in writing via email with the subject line "Niagara Frontier Unit" to, and by U.S. Mail to: Daniel Shaffer, Principal Forestry Technician, DEC - Region 9, 182 E. Union, Suite 3, Allegany, NY 14706.

In addition to the UMP, DEC advanced public safety improvements and natural resource improvements at the Zoar Valley MUA and UA and the Onondaga Escarpment Unique Area through new emergency regulations. The regulations formally prohibit visitor access from hazardous areas at Zoar Valley, including upstream on the South Branch of Cattaraugus Creek from the Forty Road bridge, within 15 feet of cliff edges, and from scaling or climbing cliff walls at the Zoar Valley UA/MUA. At the Onondaga Escarpment Unique Area, the regulations establish hours of use from one-half hour before sunrise to one hour after sunset, and prohibit fires, camping, bathing, and swimming, and restrict horseback riding and motor vehicles, including snowmobiles and off-road vehicles, as well as require parking of motor vehicles in designated sites only.

Comments regarding the proposed emergency regulations will be accepted through Oct. 3, 2021. Comments may be made in writing by email to and by U.S. Mail to: Patrick Marren, Regional Forester, NYS DEC, Attention of State Land Comments, 270 Michigan Ave., Buffalo, NY 14203.

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