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.

Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Rangers, ECOs help out with COVID vaccinations

Rangers assist with vaccinesNew York State has begun the process of opening up COVID-19 vaccination centers over many parts of the state. ECOs, Forest Rangers, and other DEC experts are on the front lines assisting federal, state, local and non-government entities build and support vaccination sites at multiple locations, filling various key positions in the incident command structure up to the highest level of incident commander and working closely with other DEC staff and partners in this important mission.

SUNY Albany
New York State COVID-19 Vaccination Center:
 On Jan. 9, two Forest Rangers were deployed to assist the State’s efforts to stand up a mass vaccination site at the SUNY Albany Campus. Forest Rangers fill critical roles in the Incident Command System (ICS) structure that are crucial in the success of the mission, including serving as Operation and Planning Section Chiefs. On Jan. 15, the mass vaccination site was established, capable of handling more than 1,000 patients a day. At this site and others across the state, Rangers are joined by other DEC staff from more than a dozen divisions, as well as representatives from multiple state agencies.

Operation Back Road – Statewide
DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement released the results of “Operation Back Road,” a recent statewide detail targeting illegal hunting from roads. During the 2020 hunting season, ECOs used technology, local intelligence, and 147 robotic decoy deer over 300 hours to catch poachers hunting from vehicles or along roadways, putting communities in danger. During the detail, ECOs apprehended 19 suspects for shooting at the decoys from roadways and issued tickets for 37 misdemeanors, 29 additional violations of the Environmental Conservation Law (ECL), and seven charges outside the ECL. Officers conducted the Operation Back Road detail during the last two weeks of the Northern Zone and last three weeks of the Southern Zone hunting seasons. During the 2020 fall hunting season, ECOs statewide issued more than 244 tickets for road hunting-related offenses.

Forest Ranger Gullen at the SUNY Albany Mass Vaccination Site/DEC photo


Tuesday, January 26, 2021

DEC gives update on fight against hemlock wooly adelgid

Hemlock with HWA egg masses_Connecticut Agricultural Experiment StationThe New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and partners issued an update about ongoing efforts to limit the spread of the invasive pest Hemlock Wooly Adelgid (HWA) on Forest Preserve lands in Washington County as part of an ongoing, multi-year initiative. DEC confirmed the HWA infestation in August 2020, and began treatment in October on affected hemlock trees in the Glen Island Campground on the shores of Lake George.

Treatment began Oct. 6, 2020 along the shorelines of Lake George and was conducted over a four-week period by DEC staff. DEC prioritized the infestation at Paradise Bay due to the site’s size and levels of infestation. Crews treated 2,374 trees with insecticide on 138 acres of Paradise Bay and injected insecticides directly into the trunks of 80 trees close to sensitive areas. In addition, the New York State Hemlock Initiative released 620 Laricobius beetles, a biological control for HWA, in the treatment area to feed on HWA.

» Continue Reading.

Monday, January 25, 2021

DEC Encourages New York Anglers to Try Ice Fishing

ice fishingNew Yorkers to get outside this winter and safely enjoy ice fishing this season. There must be at least four inches of solid clear ice for anglers who wish to access the ice on foot. The thickness of ice can vary on waterbodies, and even within the same waterbody. If you wish to walk on ice, be cautious of areas moving water and areas around boat docks and houses where bubblers could potentially be installed to prevent the formation of ice.

Testing the ice  can be done with an auger or spud bar at various spots, and for extra safety, make sure you aren’t alone. Local bait and tackle shops are a good resource to find safe ice and learn where other ice-anglers are going.

Gov. Andrew Guomo’s NY Open for Fishing and Hunting initiative has designated a free fishing weekend on February 13-14. A fishing license is not required during the designated weekend, making it a great opportunity to get out on the ice and give ice fishing a try. Beginners may want to check out some resources available on the DEC’s ice fishing webpage.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Recreation Highlight: Winter Tracking

tracksNow is a great time to search for winter tracks (PDF) or other animal signs visible in the snow. It can be fun to be a detective and figure out what animals have been walking through your yard or across a trail. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Snow conditions can make a difference in a track’s appearance—wet snow captures a print better than powdery snow.
  • Members in the dog family (coyote, fox, or dogs) will usually leave claw prints above the toes, while the cat family (bobcat, housecat) will not. You should see four toes on both front and back feet for both families.
  • Rodents, such as squirrels, chipmunks, mice, muskrats, and voles, usually have four toes on the front feet and five on the back. Claws may or may not be seen.
  • Bring a notebook, camera, or field guide with you.
  • Sometimes an animal’s droppings, or scat, can help you identify it—a rabbit’s looks like small balls of sawdust.

Find out more in the Become a Winter Wildlife Detective (PDF) issue of Conservationist for Kids.

In case you missed it, check out the recent Winter Wildlife Tracks and Scat Identification Video on DEC’s Facebook page.

Photo by Sandy Van Vranken.

Friday, January 22, 2021

Outdoor Conditions (1/22): Wind chill warning, unstable snow pack for high peaks

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:

  • Weekend Weather Warning: There is an extreme wind chill warning for Friday night into much of Saturday at elevation. Additional snowfall is also forecast. Check the National Weather Service Northern Adirondacks and Southern Adirondacks Mountain Point Forecasts for selected summits.
  • Unstable Snowpack: There have been several reports of unstable snowpack on open slopes. Practice safe travel when crossing exposed areas.
  • Colden Caretaker Report 01/20/21: Two feet three inches of snow have accumulated at the Colden Caretaker cabin. Three to four feet of snow have accumulated on summits. Snowshoes are needed on all trails, starting at parking lots. Skiing is in, including the ski trail, South Meadows Road and the trail to the Flowed Lands. Both Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden are frozen.

» Continue Reading.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

DEC annual tree and shrub seedling sale now open

DEC’s Colonel William F. Fox Memorial Saratoga Tree Nursery has announced its annual spring seedling sale, which is open to the public and runs until May 12. Each year, the tree nursery offers for sale dozens of low-cost, New York-grown tree and shrub species to help implement large-scale conservation plantings across the state.

The tree nursery has more than 50 conifer and hardwood species available in bundles of 25 or more, plus several mixed-species packets for those looking for a variety. For more information, including how to order, visit the Spring Seedling Sale webpage on DEC’s website. Some species sell out early; DEC encourages the public to place orders by phone for the most up-to-date availability information.

In addition, applications are now being accepted for the tree nursery’s School Seedling Program. From now until March 31, schools and youth education organizations across New York State may apply to receive up to 50 free tree or shrub seedlings to plant with students.

Thursday, January 21, 2021

Rescue at Cobble Hill

wilderness rescueTown of North Elba
Essex County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Jan. 18 at 8:57 a.m., Forest Ranger Acting Lt. Burns was notified of a hiker with a possible hip dislocation on Cobble Hill in the Saranac Lake Wild Forest. Three Forest Rangers responded to assist. Once on scene, Forest Rangers evaluated the 52-year-old woman from Lake Placid. After placing her in a vacuum splint, the Rangers packaged the subject into a litter and sled. The hiker was brought to the trailhead and transferred to the Lake Placid Volunteer Ambulance Service for additional medical treatment. All Rangers were back in service 10:24 a.m.

Photo: Wilderness Rescue in the Saranac Lake Wild Forest/DEC

Be sure to properly prepare and plan before entering the backcountry. Visit DEC’s Hike Smart NYAdirondack Backcountry Information and Catskill Backcountry Information webpages for more information.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

DEC to hold virtual public meeting on upcoming polystyrene ban

The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, in partnership with the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute (NYSP2I), invites stakeholders to attend a one-hour virtual public meeting about NY’s Expanded Polystyrene Foam Container and Polystyrene Loose Fill Packaging Ban.

Thursday, January 21, 2021 at 11 a.m. EST: The NYSDEC, in partnership with NYSP2I, will provide an informational presentation with interactive stakeholder engagement regarding the recently enacted law.

Beginning January 1, 2022, no covered food service provider or store (retail or wholesale) will be allowed to sell, offer for sale, or distribute disposable food service containers that contain expanded polystyrene foam in New York. In addition, no manufacturer or store will be allowed to sell, offer for sale, or distribute polystyrene loose fill packaging (commonly referred to as packing peanuts) in the state.

Registration is required to attend the virtual public meeting. Learn more about the law and sign up to receive the latest information.

For questions, email [email protected]

A polystyrene burger box pollutes a the reeds by the side of the river. DEC photo

Monday, January 18, 2021

Keep Standing Dead Trees in your Woodlot

Some of the most important trees in your woodlot are the ones that are no longer alive. Large, standing dead or dying trees—called snags—are an important part of healthy forests and a critical habitat feature for wildlife. They provide places for many birds and mammals to forage, den, nest, perch, and roost. Snags are very important for cavity-nesting birds like woodpeckers, nuthatches, and chickadees; for bats that roost within cavities, crevices, and flaky bark; and for countless species that rely on insects, fungi, and lichens as a food source. As long as they aren’t in a hazardous location such as near a road or building, consider leaving snags for wildlife.

In woodlands where snags are sparse or absent, it’s possible to create a few by topping, girdling, or simply leaving several mature trees as legacy trees that may become snags in the future.

Biologists recommend having at least three large snags (>12” diameter) per acre to benefit wildlife. These stately spires also add structural complexity, provide an element of visual interest, store carbon, reflect a forest stand’s past, and will enrich soils in the future.

Photo by Katherine Yard.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Public hearings on Debar coming up Jan. 19

debar pond lodgeDebar Mountain Complex Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement (DGEIS) and Draft UMP Public Comment Opportunities: DEC and APA will be conducting two virtual public hearings on Tuesday, January 19, 2021. Due to restrictions related to COVID-19, these hearings will not be held in person. To participate, please select one of the hyperlinks below at the scheduled time:

  • From 1:30 p.m. – 4 p.m:
    • To receive a call back, provide your phone number when you join the event, or call the number 1-518-549-0500 and enter the access code: 179 267 0779
  • From 6 p.m. – 9 p.m:
    • To receive a call back, provide your phone number when you join the event, or call the number 1-518-549-0500 and enter the access code: 179 337 3417

Friday, January 15, 2021

Outdoor Conditions (1/15): Dress for success

The 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:

  • Colden Caretaker Report 01/13/21: Eleven inches of snow has accumulated at the Colden Caretaker cabin. Sixteen inches of snow has accumulated on summits. Snowshoes are needed, including to get to Avalanche Lake. The Marcy Dam truck trail is skiable with some thin sections. Snowpack on the Van Hoevenberg trail to Adirondack Loj is very thin but is skiable. Both Avalanche Lake and Lake Colden are frozen.

» Continue Reading.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

DEC launches ice fishing survey on Lake Champlain

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos has announced an ice fishing creel survey, conducted on the waters of Lake Champlain until March 2021. The survey is part of a two-year effort to gather data from both ice and open water anglers to server as a foundation to help DEC Fisheries to better understand their expectations. The survey’s will also benefit management actions on Lake Champlain.

The DEC will survey 4 access points: The Plattsburgh Boat Launch on Cumberland Bay; Willsboro Bay Boat Launch; Bulwagga Bay Campground; and South Bay Boat Launch. As anglers finish off a day of fishing, they will be asked to participate by providing information about that day and allowing for creel agents to collect biological data about their catches, including target species, the number caught, and the size. Participation is voluntary and gives those who choose to engage a chance to help Lake Champlain make more informed management decisions.

Follow this link to access the Lake Champlain Ice Fishing Creel Survey

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Start 2021 off on the right foot with recycling

A few simple changes can have a positive impact for your local recycling program. By learning the “ins and outs” of your local program, you can recycle right this year and help clear up confusion about items that cause contamination in recycling streams across NY.

Before you throw an item in the trash, take a second to search some alternative ways to use or manage it. Can it be reused? Can it be donated? Does your recycling program accept it?

» Continue Reading.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Hiker gets lost on Erebus Mountain

forest ranger reportsLatest NYS DEC Forest Ranger actions:

Town of Dresden
Washington County
Wilderness Rescue:
 On Jan. 9 at 5:16 p.m., DEC’s Ray Brook Dispatch received a call from a 28-year-old hiker from Ballston Spa who became disoriented and lost the trail while hiking Erebus Mountain. Three Forest Rangers responded to assist. Ranger Hess entered the Lake George Wild Forest at the end of Shelving Rock Road while Rangers Donegan and St. Claire entered by boat from the Green Island Maintenance Center. At 9:30 p.m., Rangers located the lost hiker and proceeded to warm her and assess her injuries. The hiker was safely escorted down to the boat for transport back to the maintenance center and given a courtesy ride back to her vehicle at the trailhead. Rangers were cleared of the scene and back in service at 10:55 p.m.

Friday, January 8, 2021

DEC Recreation Highlight: Foxy Brown X-Ski Trail

The Foxy Brown X-Ski Trail is a 5.6-mile trail located within the Jessup River Wild Forest. After traveling along the Piseco Airport runway, the trail routes users primarily through a northern hardwood forest. To complete the loop, users must cross the runway, so be sure to check for oncoming aircraft before traveling back to the trailhead and parking area.

In 2019, DEC entered into a Volunteer Stewardship Agreement with Piseco Lake Association (PLA) allowing PLA to maintain the trail. During the 2020 field season, DEC Lands & Forest staff and PLA volunteers made the following improvements:

  • Construction of a 150’ ski bridge
  • Replacement-in-kind by the PLA board of a 25’ ski bridge
  • Repairs to an existing bridge
  • Brushing and blowdown removal on the 6.2-mile trail
  • Installation of new signage and trail markers, including mileage markers every quarter-mile
  • Removal of foot snags and large rocks from the trail tread

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