DEC issues a new recreational plan

A man canoes near the beach front at the New York State Department of Conservation Campgrounds in Caroga Lake. (The Leader-Herald file photo)

FULTON COUNTY — The state Department of Environmental Conservation issued a plan on Wednesday to create more recreational opportunities for state forest in the county while preserving and protecting natural resources.

According to a press release, the DEC issued the final Unit Management Plan for 5,850 acres of state forest lands in Fulton County. The UMP includes Lassellsville State Forest, Peck Hill State Forest and Rockwood State Forest, which are located in the towns of Ephratah, Oppenheim and Johnstown.

“This final Unit Management Plan will continue to provide outdoor recreation, social, and economic opportunities by connecting communities to New York’s magnificent outdoor resources while ensuring the productive use and preservation of working forests,” said Bob Stegemann, DEC region 5 director. “The plan advances DEC’s commitment to managing State Forests for multiple purposes-public recreation, protection of water quality, wildlife habitat, maintenance of forest health and timber production, and for the environmental, social, and economic benefit of the people of New York state.”

According to the press release, state forests in Fulton County on the Fulton County State Forest Unit will be managed in a sustainable manner by promoting ecosystem health, enhancing landscape biodiversity and by protecting soil productivity and water quality.

Natural resources in the Fulton County Unit that DEC plans to protect include Timmerman Creek, Rockwood Lake and Willie Wildlife Marsh. Recreational opportunities and uses would include hunting, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, mountain biking, camping, fishing and bird and wildlife watching.

Projects in the 2019 Final Management Plan have included: the installation of a steel locking gate on the south side of Rockwood State Forest to prohibit public motor vehicle access while allowing individuals with a Motorized Access Program for People with Disabilities permit to access a designated route; additional locking steel gates to prevent illegal motor vehicle access on Peck Hill and Lassellsville state forests; the installation of a privy in Rockwood State Forest to accommodate campers at nearby primitive campsites; the designation of a primitive campsite in Peck Hill State Forest near the County Road 101 trailhead; the construction of single-track mountain bike trails in Peck Hill State Forest through a volunteer stewardship agreement with a local mountain bike club; and commercial timber harvests.

The final Unit Management Plan for Fulton County State Forests is available to view and download on DEC’s website.