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.

Saturday, April 23, 2022

Signs of Spring: Fiddlehead ferns

fiddlehead fernsHave you spotted curly corkscrews emerging from the forest floor this spring? Look closely as the woods begins to “wake up” this season, and you’re likely to see some fiddleheads. Fiddleheads are the frizzy furls of a young fern that will unroll into a fresh frond. Most species of ferns go through this brief stage, which gets its name for its resemblance to the coiled end of a string instrument.

In folklore, ferns are often described as possessing magical qualities because of their “invisible” reproduction. Having been around for 300+ million years (well before the dinosaurs!), this ancient group of plants preceded flowering species and instead reproduces with spores. These spores can be spotted on the underside of the fern’s fronds after the fiddlehead unfurls.

Please note: many of NY’s native ferns are protected species and should never be taken from the wild unless you have the permission of the landowner.

DEC photo

Friday, April 22, 2022

Outdoor conditions (4/22): Renewed snow conditions, muddy trails

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

This Earth Day, Give Back by Getting Involved

Earth Day, April 22, is a wonderful time to assess how we interact with our natural world. Do you Leave No Trace while recreating outdoors? Do you pick up trash along trails or your street? Our outdoor spaces give us so much – fresh air, a place to recreate, an opportunity to slow down and disconnect – just to name a few. We rely on the earth for everything, so it’s important that we also consider how we can give back to it.

This Earth Day, find out how getting involved with Leave No Trace can help you give back. Whether it’s participating in a volunteer day, attending an event, taking a training, or supporting a program – there are many ways to join Leave No Trace in making a positive difference for our outdoor spaces as well as current and future visitors.

» Continue Reading.

Thursday, April 21, 2022

Love My Park Day seeks volunteers

logoJoin us for the 11th I Love My Park Day on Saturday, May 7

I Love My Park Day, held the first Saturday in May, attracts thousands of volunteers from across the state to participate in cleanup, improvement, and beautification events at New York State parks, historic sites and public lands. Join us to celebrate New York’s park system and prepare our public lands for spring by cleaning up park lands and beaches, planting trees and gardens, restoring trail and wildlife habitat, removing invasive species, and working on various site improvement projects.

Click here to volunteer and/or create an event at a park near you

Wednesday, April 20, 2022

Head injury on Rondaxe; fires in Washington and Warren counties

forest ranger reportRecent NYS DEC Forest Ranger actions

Town of Webb
Herkimer County
Wildland Rescue:
 On April 11 at 1:07 p.m., Raybrook Dispatch received a call from Herkimer County 911 advising that a hiker had sustained a head injury near the summit of Rondaxe Mountain. Forest Ranger Lt. Hoag and Rangers Evans, McCartney, Milano, Miller, Shea, and Thomes responded. EMTs from Old Forge Ambulance administered care to the 57-year-old hiker from Sherrill. Rangers conducted the technical rope work necessary to safely lower the subject down the mountain through four steep-angle locations to an ambulance. The hiker was transported to Old Forge Airport where Mercy Flight flew him to the hospital. Also assisting in the rescue were members of DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement, Old Forge Fire, Inlet Fire, Eagle Bay Fire, and Webb Police. Resources were clear by 4:30 p.m.

» Continue Reading.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Youth turkey hunting weekend set for April 23, 24

New York State offers several youth hunting opportunities to allow young hunters time afield with experienced adult hunters outside of the regular hunting seasons. As a result, they gain the necessary knowledge and skills to become safe and responsible members of the hunting community. This spring, the youth turkey hunt is April 23 and 24.

If you’re an experienced, licensed hunter, please consider taking a youth out! The youth season is open throughout upstate New York and even in Suffolk County. Several non-profit groups sponsor specific events, and we encourage experienced hunters to reach out and take a kid hunting.

Other details of the youth turkey hunting weekend are as follows:

  • Eligible hunters are youth 12, 13, 14, or 15 years of age, holding a hunting license and a turkey permit.
  • All youth hunters must be accompanied by an adult, as required by law for a junior hunter.
    • Youth 12 or 13 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or person over 21 years of age, with written permission from their parent or legal guardian.
    • Youth 14 or 15 years of age must be accompanied by a parent, legal guardian or person over 18 years of age, with written permission from their parent or legal guardian.
  • The accompanying adult must have a current hunting license and turkey permit. S/he may assist the youth hunter (including calling), but may not carry a firearm, bow or crossbow, or kill or attempt to kill a wild turkey during the youth hunt. Crossbows may not be used by licensees who are under 14 years of age.
  • The youth turkey hunt is open in all of upstate New York (north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary) and Suffolk County. Shooting hours are from 1/2-hour before sunrise to noon.
  • The bag limit for the youth hunt is one bearded bird. This bird becomes part of the youth’s regular season bag limit of two bearded birds. A second bird may be taken in upstate New York (north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary) beginning May 1.
  • All other wild turkey hunting regulations remain in effect.

Photo at top: A youth turkey hunting participant. DEC photo. 

Sunday, April 17, 2022

Happy International Bat Appreciation Day

batApril 17th is International Bat Appreciation Day
Bat Day is a great time to appreciate New York’s nine bat species. When spring temperatures become warm enough, bats will leave their hibernation sites and may be seen flying in search of insects. Unfortunately, many species of bats, including little brown bats, have faced severe population declines due to White-nose Syndrome.

Some bat facts:

  • They are insect-eating machines, eating thousands of mosquitoes and other flying insects in a single night!
  • Bats use echolocation (rapid pulses of sound that bounce off an object) to detect and catch insects.
  • Bats are more closely related to primates than to mice.
  • They are the only mammal that can fly.

To view bats, check out your local park or forested area, especially near water and along trails. Even your own backyard can be a great place to view bats if you have trees near your home!
Learn more about bats in Bats of New York State (PDF).

Photo by Al Hicks.


Friday, April 15, 2022

NYS DEC issues annual muddy trail advisory for Adirondacks

Mud Season Muddy Trail Adirondacks (Adirondack Mountain CLub Photo)

Hikers advised to temporarily avoid high elevation trails and prepare for variable conditions on low elevation trails.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today urged hikers to postpone hikes on Adirondack trails above 2,500 feet until high elevation trails have dried and hardened. DEC advises hikers on how to reduce negative impacts on all trails and help protect the natural resources throughout the Adirondacks during this time.

High elevation trails: Despite recent warm weather, high elevation trails above 2,500 feet are still covered in slowly melting ice and snow. These steep trails feature thin soils that become a mix of ice and mud as winter conditions melt and frost leaves the ground. The remaining compacted ice and snow on trails is rotten, slippery, and will not reliably support weight. “Monorails,” narrow strips of ice and compacted snow at the center of trails, are difficult to hike and the adjacent rotten snow is particularly prone to postholing.

» Continue Reading.

Friday, April 15, 2022

Outdoor conditions (4/15): Snow and mud

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

High Peaks Wilderness: Snow Conditions, 04/11: Snowshoes are still required for most higher and north-facing trails where snow remains deeper than 8 inches. Crampons and microspikes are advised for all trails above 2,500 feet. Please avoid all trails above 2,500 feet while DEC’s muddy trails advisory is in effect.

» Continue Reading.

Wednesday, April 13, 2022

Rangers locate lost hiker on Cat, Thomas mountains

forest ranger reportTown of Bolton
Warren County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On April 10 at 8:15 p.m., Warren County 911 requested Forest Ranger assistance regarding a group hiking Cat and Thomas mountains. One of the members got separated and called for help. Ranger Kabrehl responded to the coordinates provided by 911 and located the subject approximately one-half mile from the Edgecomb Pond trailhead. Ranger Kabrehl assisted the 18-year-old from the Bronx to the trailhead where the subject was taken by ambulance to the hospital. Resources were clear at 11:30 p.m.

» Continue Reading.

Monday, April 11, 2022

NYS DEC issues guidance to reduce conflicts with bears

On April 5, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) reminded New Yorkers to take down bird feeders and secure garbage to avoid potential conflicts with black bears.

Bears are emerging from their dens, and now is the time to take steps to reduce potential conflicts throughout the spring and summer. Bird feeders, unsecured garbage, and outdoor pet and livestock feed can attract bears and lead to potential conflicts for homeowners. Repeated access to bird feeders and garbage can make bears bolder, seeking additional sources of human-related foods inside vehicles or buildings, particularly when natural foods are scarce.

Feeding bears intentionally is illegal. Unintentional feeding through bird feeders and unsecured garbage also has consequences for communities and may ultimately be deadly for the bear if the bear becomes a greater threat to people and property after exposure to these sources of food. It is important to properly manage attractants to avoid human-bear conflicts.

The DEC advises everyone residing in or visiting bear country (most of upstate New York) to remove any attractants. People should take down bird feeders and clean up any remaining bird seed now, begin storing garbage inside secure buildings until the morning of collection, and feed pets indoors. By taking these simple steps, New Yorkers can help ensure bears will find food naturally, which protects people, property, and bears.

For more information, please visit DEC’s webpage on reducing human-bear conflicts.

An interview with DEC Wildlife Biologist Jeremy Hurst discussing ways to avoid human-bear conflicts and a video of a bear destroying a bird feeder can be found on the DEC’s website, interview/video coverage courtesy of the NYS DEC.

Photo at top: Black bear in Raquette Lake. Photo by Jeff Nadler, archive photo. 



Saturday, April 9, 2022

DEC to offer free waterfront lifeguard course April 19-22 in Fulton County

On Wednesday, March 23, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced a free waterfront lifeguard course will be offered April 19 through 22 in Gloversville, Fulton County. Individuals looking for seasonal summer employment who enjoy the outdoors are encouraged to learn more about DEC’s summer recreation opportunities.

“Joining the team of lifeguards at DEC campgrounds and day use areas during the summer season offers an excellent opportunity to help visitors safely enjoy the great outdoors in New York’s beautiful Catskill and Adirondack forest preserves,” said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. “I encourage all eligible New Yorkers with a passion for nature and an interest in becoming a lifeguard to learn more.”

» Continue Reading.

Friday, April 8, 2022

Outdoor conditions (4/8): Muddy trails but still snowy on mountain tops

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.

Muddy Trails Advisory: DEC today issued a muddy trail advisory for Adirondack trails, especially those over 2,500 feet in elevation. Please avoid the following high elevation trails until trails conditions have dried and hardened:

» Continue Reading.

Thursday, April 7, 2022

How to Scrape Spongy Moth Eggs

spongy mass eggsHave you noticed spongy moth egg masses in your neighborhood? Last year was a boom year for spongy moth (formerly known as gypsy moth) caterpillar populations, especially in Central and Western NY. Egg masses contain 600-700 eggs each and will hatch around May. If you find them now, you can scrape them off trees or buildings and drop them into a container of detergent to prevent the eggs from hatching.

Spongy moths are non-native, but are naturalized, meaning they will always be around in our forests. They tend to spike in numbers roughly every 10-15 years but outbreaks are usually ended by natural causes such as predators and disease. Removing their egg masses is not a cure for spongy moth infestations, but it is a small step you can take to help protect trees in your neighborhood. To learn more about this species and management efforts throughout the year, visit our website.

Pictured: spongy moth egg masses on a tree

Wednesday, April 6, 2022

Injured hikers on Big Slide, Auger Falls trails

forest ranger reportRecent NYS DEC actions:

Town of Keene
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On April 3 at 9:30 a.m., Forest Rangers Evans and Lewis responded to a call for an injured hiker on Big Slide Mountain. At 11:25 a.m., Ranger Evans found the 34-year-old from Scotia, splinted the hiker’s injured shoulder, and helped her to the trailhead. Ranger Lewis and Keene Valley EMS were hiking up from the Garden trailhead and met the group to provide pain medication. Rangers assisted the subject back to the trailhead at approximately 1 p.m.

» Continue Reading.

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.

» Continue Reading.

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