Almanack Contributor NYS DEC

Information attributed to NYSDEC is taken from press releases and news announcements from New York State's Department of Environmental Conservation.

Tuesday, April 5, 2022

Catskills Fire Tower Challenge: DEC encourages experienced hikers to visit all 6 fire towers during 2022

For nearly a century, observers watched the forests of New York State–including the Catskill and Adirondack forest preserves– from more than 100 fire towers perched atop the highest peaks, searching for the dangerous, telltale signs of forest fires. The Catskills Fire Tower Challenge encourages experienced hikers to visit the region’s remaining five historic fire towers, as well as a new sixth fire tower that was opened at the Catskills Visitor Center in the fall of 2019.

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Saturday, April 2, 2022

Be on the Lookout for Amphibians Crossing the Road

amphibiansWith the arrival of spring temperatures, amphibians have begun their annual migrations to woodland pools to breed. Often, they must cross roads to reach these pools. In New York, this migration usually occurs on rainy nights in early April, when the night air temperature is above 40 degrees. When these conditions exist there can be explosive, “big night” migrations, with hundreds of amphibians on the move. Volunteers can help document these locations and help amphibians like wood frogs, spotted salamanders, American toads, or spring peepers safely cross the road. Drivers on New York roads are encouraged to proceed with caution or avoid travel on the first warm, rainy evenings of the season. Amphibians come out after nightfall and are slow moving; mortality can be high even on low-traffic roads.

Photo of wood frog by Laura Heady. 

Friday, April 1, 2022

Outdoor conditions (4/1): Even though it’s April Fool’s mud season is no joke

outdoor conditions logoThe following are the most recent notices pertaining to public lands in the Adirondacks. Please check the Adirondack Backcountry Information webpages for comprehensive and up-to-date information on seasonal road statuses, rock climbing closures, specific trail conditions, and other pertinent information.

High Peaks Wilderness:

  • Trails are a mix of ice, slush and mud. Higher elevations have 6-12 inches still on trail. Snowshoes are still required at high elevations. Crampons and gators should be carried and worn when needed.
  • Snow report as of 03/31: There is just over 2 feet of snow at the Lake Colden Outpost. Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden have spots of open water and slush and are considered unstable in parts. Rivers are crossable but hazardous.

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Thursday, March 31, 2022

ECOs help catch bank robbers, assist with ice fishing contest

ECOs iceRecent NYS Environmental Conservation Officer actions:

Walleye Challenge – Great Sacandaga Lake, Fulton/Saratoga/Franklin/Essex Counties
On Feb. 18, ECOs and Sheriff’s Deputies in Fulton and Montgomery counties conducted patrols on Great Sacandaga Lake the evening before the annual Walleye Challenge ice fishing contest. Officers checked ice ridges on the lake and alerted event organizers about safety hazards and open water. On the morning of Feb. 19, ECOs were joined by local law enforcement from the New York State Police, Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office, and Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office to monitor the challenge, which drew 2,000 participants. Using snowmobiles, ATVs, and UTVs, the Officers focused on public safety. Throughout the day, the ECOs responded to four calls for machines and individuals through the ice and into the water; all who fell through made it out safely. A half-submerged snowmobile was recovered, as well.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Rangers take part in avalanche training at Whiteface Mountain

forest ranger report

Recent NYS DEC Forest Ranger actions:

Town of Mayfield, Fulton County, River Search:

On March 21 at 3:40 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance with a potential search after a kayak was seen floating down the Kennyetto River. Forest Rangers Kerr, Morehouse, Nally, Scott, and Thompson were joined by New York State Police, the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Department, and Mayfield Fire. At approximately 5:30 p.m., the kayak was retrieved.

The search concluded after Rangers determined the kayak had been tied to a tree and likely broke free after the ice melted.

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Friday, March 25, 2022

Outdoor conditions (3/25): Roads closed for mud season

outdoor conditions logoThe following are the most recent notices pertaining to public lands in the Adirondacks. Please check the Adirondack Backcountry Information webpages for comprehensive and up-to-date information on seasonal road statuses, rock climbing closures, specific trail conditions, and other pertinent information.


High Peaks Wilderness:

  • Snowshoes or skis are now required to be worn as snow depths exceed 8 inches.
  • Snow report as of 03/16: There is almost 3 feet of snow at the Lake Colden Outpost. Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden are frozen. Rivers are crossable but hazardous. Channels with high flow are soft or melted. Ice is currently falling off rock faces. People should take care around Avalanche Lake. Note: Conditions may have changed since the last report.

Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: All snowmobile trails are closed.

Debar Mountain Wild Forest: All snowmobile trails are closed.

Wilmington Wild Forest: The Wilmington Snowmobile Trail is now closed.

Sargent Ponds Wild Forest: All snowmobile trails are closed.

Lake George Wild Forest:

  • Jabe Pond Road and Lily Pond Road are closed to vehicle traffic for spring mud season.
  • Dacy Clearing Road in Shelving Rock is closed to vehicle traffic for spring mud season.

Adirondack Rail Trail: The trail is now closed to snowmobile use for the season.

Region 6 is closing all mud gates to snowmobile trails and seasonal access roads on Forest Preserve, State Forest, and Conservation Easement lands due to spring thaw and muddy conditions.

Kushaqua and Sable Highlands Easements: Mud locks will be in place by April 1st to protect the integrity of the roads until further notice.

Watson’s East Triangle Wild Forest (Croghan & Oswegatchie Conservation Easement Tracts): All mud gates in Watson’s East Triangle Wild Forest as well as those on the Croghan Tract and Oswegatchie Conservation Easement will be shut starting the week of 3/21/2022.  Roads will be reopened when they are dry and firm enough to support motor vehicle traffic.

Independence River Wild Forest (Stillwater Reservoir, Big Moose & Three Lakes Conservation Easement Tracts): DEC staff will begin shutting mud gates in the Independence River Wild Forest the week of 3/28/2022.  Roads will be reopened when they are dry and firm enough to support motor vehicle traffic.

All snowmobile gates on Macomb State Forest, Taylor Pond Campground, and Taylor Pond Wild Forest have been closed for the season.

Ferris Lake Wild Forest: Powley Road is closed for mud season until further notice.

Moose River Plains Wild Forest:

  • The entrance gates to the Moose River Plains are closed for mud season until further notice.
  • The seasonal portion of Cedar River Rd. which accesses the Wakely Mtn Trailhead is closed for mud season. The road is closed where the pavement ends, approx. 7 miles from Route 30.
  • A 200’ section of the West Mtn Trail is flooded due to beaver activity at the Beaver Brook crossing in Moose River Plains Wild Forest. Until the flooding is addressed, it is recommended to access the West Mtn summit from the Constable Pond trailhead off Higby Road (Pigeon Lake Wilderness).

Silver Lake Wilderness: West River Rd. that provides access to Whitehouse/Northville Placid Trail is closed for mud season until further notice.

All snowmobile trails in the town of Newcomb are closed (C8A & C7B)

Essex Chain Lakes: All mud gates are closed.

Vanderwhacker Mountain Wild Forest: The Campsite Road gate is closed for mud season

Corinth Edinburg Conservation Easement: Snowmobile trails in the western Saratoga County area are now closed. (Saratoga Snowmobile Club)

Speculator Tree Farm Perkins Clearing Conservation Easement, Jessup River Wild Forest: Snowmobile trails in the Speculator region are closed as of Saturday, March 19.

General Notices

Visit the main Adirondack Backcountry Information page for more trip-planning resources, including travel information, weather resources, and seasonally-specific information about Adirondack recreation.

Hike Smart NY can help you prepare with a list of 10 essentials, guidance on what to wear, and tips for planning your trip with safety and sustainability in mind

Check the Weather: Check the forecast for your destination and pack and plan accordingly. Check the National Weather Service Northern Adirondacks and Southern Adirondacks Mountain Point Forecasts for select summit forecasts. Check both daytime and nighttime temperatures and remember that temperatures will drop as you gain elevation. Check wind chill temperatures and prepare for colder, windier summits.

Spring Conditions: Be prepared for a mix of winter and spring conditions. Snow and ice are still present throughout the region, but warmer temps have brought high waters and muddy trails in low elevations. Be prepared with warm, waterproof layers, extra layers, and proper gear for snow and ice, including snowshoes, microspikes and crampons. In the High Peaks Wilderness, snowshoes or skis are still required to be worn where snow depths exceed 8 inches. Remember that conditions will change as you gain elevation, and cold, wet weather poses a significant risk of hypothermia.

Avalanche Advisory: Backcountry downhill skiers, snowboarders, and all outdoor adventurers who may traverse slides or steep, open terrain should be aware of and prepared for avalanche conditions. If you are planning a trip to avalanche-prone territory, research the route ahead of time and contact a local DEC Forest Ranger for specific safety and conditions information, or contact a local guide. Before going into the backcountry, be equipped with avalanche safety tools and knowledge, such as participation in an avalanche safety course. Additional information on avalanche danger, preparedness, and safety precautions is available on DEC’s website.

Muddy Trails & Monorails: As snow begins to melt on lower elevation trails, be prepared for mud and monorails. Monorails are thin strips of hardpacked snow and ice in the center of trails, surrounded by minimal or no snow on the sides. Monorails can create difficult walking conditions. Microspikes and trekking poles can assist with traction and balance. Where trails are muddy, walk directly through mud instead of around it to help minimize trail widening and trailside damage.

Seasonal Roads: Some seasonal access roads are beginning to close for spring mud season, while others are still open for snowmobile use only. Where seasonal access roads are open to public motor vehicles, the use of four-wheel drive vehicles is strongly recommended.

Snowmobiles: Be prepared for variable conditions. Visitors are advised to plan ahead and check local club, county, and state webpages and resources, including the NYSSA Snowmobile web map, for up-to-date snowmobile trail information.

Pack & Prepare: Winter hikes can be lots of fun, but they can also be dangerous if you’re not prepared. Take a moment to watch DEC’s How To Pack and Prepare for a Winter Hike video for a review of what gear to pack and the steps to take as you plan your hike.

Layer Up: Temperatures can change significantly depending on your location, the time of day and your elevation. Stay safe and warm by wearing non-cotton, moisture-wicking base layers, insulating layers, and waterproof, windproof outer layers. Wear a hat, mittens or gloves, and a buff. Gaiters can help keep your lower legs warm and prevent snow from getting in your boots. Bring additional layers. Wear sturdy waterproof boots that are already broken in. Learn more about layering for cold weather by watching DEC’s How To video.

Share the Trails: Many multi-use trails are enjoyed by a variety of users in the winter. Be respectful of everyone’s experience by following winter trail etiquette. Wear snowshoes to prevent postholing and keep ski and snowshoe tracks separate when possible. Move to the right to let faster users pass and yield to downhill traffic. When stopping, step to the side of the trail to make way for other users. Snowmobiles should ride single file, keep to the right, pass on the left only when the trail is clear, and yield the right-of-way to skiers, snowshoers and other non-mechanized forms of travel as well as those passing or traveling uphill.

Thursday, March 24, 2022

$1.35 Million Available to Conserve Forested Land

newly conserved land on Upper Saranac Lake courtesy Adirondack Land TrustDEC Announces New Forest Conservation Easements for Land Trusts Grant Program

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the first round of competitive grants for the Forest Conservation Easements for Land Trusts (FCELT) Grant Program. In partnership with the Land Trust Alliance, a total of $1.35 million in grant funding is available for DEC to award to eligible, accredited land trusts to purchase conservation easements on forested land for the purpose of protecting these lands from future development. The goal of the grant program is to increase the pace of forest land conservation to keep forests as forests and combat climate change.

Applicants may apply for up to $350,000 to fund the acquisition of conservation easements on forest land in New York State. To apply, a 25 percent match of grant funding requested is required and land trusts must be accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.

Funding for the grant program is provided by the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). In the 2022-23 Executive Budget, Governor Hochul proposed increasing the EPF to $400 million, the highest level of funding in the program’s history. The EPF provides funding for critical environmental programs such as land acquisition, farmland protection, invasive species prevention and eradication, enhanced recreational access, water quality improvement, and an aggressive environmental justice agenda.

FCELT grants will further goals/strategies identified in the New York State Open Space Plan, the New York State Wildlife Action Plan, the New York State Forest Action Plan, and/or other local, regional or statewide land protection plans.

FCELT has a two-step application process, which includes a letter of interest followed by a full application. Letters of interest are now being accepted and are due by May 16, 2022. Full applications are by invitation only. Applicants invited to submit a final application will be notified by June 13, 2022, after which final applications will be due by July 28, 2022. Complete details about this grant opportunity including eligibility requirements and other program elements can be found on the FCELT webpage.

Photo: Land conserved on Upper Saranac Lake, courtesy of Adirondack Land Trust

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Rangers recover body of man who died in Trap Dike

forest ranger report

Town of North Elba
Essex County
Search and Recovery:
 On March 16 at 12:30 p.m., Ray Brook Dispatch requested Forest Ranger assistance in the search for a subject overdue from hiking in the High Peaks. The 63-year-old subject’s car was located in the Adirondak Loj parking lot with the trail register entry on March 11, stating his destination of Mount Colden via the Trap Dike with an anticipated return of March 13. In partnership with State Police Aviation, DEC Forest Rangers deployed air, sled, and foot operations and were joined by NYSP Investigators, DEC Emergency Management, New York State Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services, and Trained Rescue Climbers on March 16 and 17, with no result. On March 18, a Forest Ranger and volunteer rescuer located the subject, Thomas Howard, deceased in the Trap Dike. The subject was packaged and lowered to Avalanche Lake using a steep angle rescue system. The NYSP helicopter transported the deceased to Lake Placid Airport and the County Coroner. Twenty-seven Rangers worked tirelessly on this recovery mission over three days.

trap dike

DEC photo

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

DEC Summer Camp Registration to Open April 10

dec summer campDEC Seeking Counselors, Lifeguards, and Cooks for the 75th Anniversary Season

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced that the start of registration for the 2022 DEC Summer Camp season is opening Sunday, April 10, 2022 at 1 p.m. (rescheduled from earlier in March)

In addition, due to current staffing challenges, this summer’s camp program offerings have changed. Camp Rushford and Pack Forest will open for a seven-week season. DEC may open registrations for Camp DeBruce if additional staff become available this spring. Camp Colby will remain closed until 2023 to complete major renovations to the camp.

Updates and changes can be found on the DEC Summer Camps webpage, on DEC’s Facebook page, and the Summer Camps Facebook page. Campers and camp families can contact with any questions.

DEC’s Summer Residential Camps are now hiring counselors, lifeguards, and cooks for the 2022 season. These are great opportunities to be involved in the education and enrichment of New York’s youth at locations designed to create a life-long passion for nature and a dedication to environmental stewardship. Employment at camp begins in mid-June and ends mid-August, and all positions include room and board. Visit DEC’s website to learn more about the qualifications and opportunities as a DEC camps staff member.

Monday, March 21, 2022

DEC Announces Falconry, Wildlife Rehabilitator, and Leashed Tracking Dog Examinations

dec logo

Exams Online April 1; Registration Deadline March 25

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently announced that examinations for individuals seeking a license to practice the sport of falconry, become a volunteer wildlife rehabilitator, or use leashed tracking dogs to find wounded or injured big game animals are scheduled for Friday, April 1. The registration deadline for these free exams is Friday, March 25. To provide broad access to these examinations, DEC is offering them exclusively online.

To register for any of these exams, visit the NYSDEC Special Licenses Unit webpage. The link to the registration website (leaves DEC website) is provided on each of the individual license webpages, along with directions on how to register. An email acknowledgment of registration will be sent to applicants along with an additional one-time link to access the website on the day of the exam.

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Saturday, March 19, 2022

Watchable Wildlife – From Backyard Birding to the NYS Birding Trail

birds at feeder

Soon it will be time to put the bird feeders away as spring is approaching. But fortunately, birding and watching wildlife are year-round activities. Whether you are birding in your backyard or visiting a location on the New York State Birding Trail – here are some tips to help you get the most out of watching and enjoying birds:

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Friday, March 18, 2022

Outdoor conditions (3/18): Seasonal road closures

outdoor conditions logoThe following are the most recent notices pertaining to public lands in the Adirondacks. Please check the Adirondack Backcountry Information webpages for comprehensive and up-to-date information on seasonal road statuses, rock climbing closures, specific trail conditions, and other pertinent information.

» Continue Reading.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Rangers take part in rescue training exercises

forest ranger reportRecent NYS DEC forest ranger actions:

Town of Clifton
St. Lawrence County
Flat Ice Rescue Training:
 On March 7, 14 Forest Rangers conducted the annual Flat Ice Rescue Training at DEC’s Cranberry Lake Complex. Four members of DEC’s Division of Environmental Remediation Spill Response Unit also attended. The classroom portion of the training included pre-planning, response, and coordination of flat ice rescue incidents. The field portion of the training highlighted self-rescue techniques, along with reach, throw, and go responses. The Region 6 airboat was deployed to provide operators and crew with additional training to deliver personnel to the scene and safely transition victims from the water to the deck of the airboat. The Region 6 airboat was recently used in the rescue of stranded subjects in Lyonsdale, Lewis County.

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Monday, March 14, 2022

Spring burn ban starts March 16


Spring Burn Ban Reduces Wildfire Risks, Protects Lives and Property

The annual statewide ban prohibiting residential brush burning will begin March 16 and run through May 14. Since 2009, DEC has enforced the annual brush burning ban to prevent wildfires and protect communities during heightened conditions for wildfires each spring.

Even though some areas of the state remain blanketed in snow, warming temperatures can quickly cause wildfire conditions to arise. Open burning of debris is the single-largest cause of spring wildfires in New York State. When temperatures warm and the past fall’s debris and leaves dry out, wildfires can start and spread easily, further fueled by winds and a lack of green vegetation. Each year, DEC Forest Rangers extinguish dozens of wildfires that burn hundreds of acres. In addition, local fire departments, many of which are staffed by volunteers, all too often have to leave their jobs and families to respond to wildfires caused by illegal debris fires. DEC will post the Fire Danger Map for the 2022 fire season on DEC’s website once there is a moderate risk anywhere in New York.

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Friday, March 11, 2022

Outdoor conditions (3/11): Coreys Road gate closed for mud season

outdoor conditions logoThe following are the most recent notices pertaining to public lands in the Adirondacks. Please check the Adirondack Backcountry Information webpages for comprehensive and up-to-date information on seasonal road statuses, rock climbing closures, specific trail conditions, and other pertinent information.

High Peaks Wilderness:

  • Snowshoes or skis are now required to be worn as snow depths exceed 8 inches.
  • Snow report as of 03/10: There is approximately 2.5 feet of snow at the Lake Colden Outpost and 3 feet of snow at higher elevations. Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden are frozen solid. The trail to Marcy Dam features some rough spots with packed snow and a thin layer of new snow. From Marcy Dam to Lake Colden there is more snow packed and minimal rough spots. Microspikes or crampons are recommended. Note: Conditions may have changed since last report.
  • The gate on Corey’s Road in Harrietstown is now closed for mud season.

» Continue Reading.

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