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2018-07-11 / Outdoor Life

DEP Announces Proposed Update To Watershed Recreation Rules

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has announced a proposal to update rules that govern access and activities on more than 135,000 acres of water supply properties that are open for recreation in the watershed. The proposed rules will be the subject of a public hearing on Thursday, July 26 at 6 p.m. at the Margaretville Telephone Company office.

Some of the most significant changes that are proposed include:

• The season for recreational boating will be expanded by approximately six weeks, running from May 1-Oct. 31. It currently begins on Memorial Day weekend and ends on Columbus Day each year;

• The use of sailboats will no longer be permitted on reservoirs that allow recreational boating;

• The term for fishing boat tags will be extended from two to four years;

• DEP has always recommended that fishing boats should not be stored within 10 feet of the high water mark at any reservoir or lake. This will now be a requirement;

• Rules related to the transfer of fishing boats will be updated;

• The proposed rules will also allow DEP to set limits on the number of fishing boats that one person can store alongside the reservoirs. While the vast majority of anglers own one or two boats for reservoir fishing, about one percent own eight or more boats that are stored alongside the reservoirs. The rules contain a “grandfather” provision for existing owners of multiple boats. Nobody will be asked to remove their boats as part of this particular rule. This change is meant to improve access for more visitors, as some of the most popular boat storage areas currently have a waiting list of nearly 500 people;

• Hunters will now be allowed to use trail camera for scouting game;

• DEP will require that hunters wear blaze or safety orange for both big and small game hunting, with limited exceptions;

• Anglers who use some east of Hudson reservoirs for ice fishing would be allowed to use electric augers. Previously, only hand augers were permitted;

• Service dogs will be permitted on recreational lands;

• School-issued identification, IDNYC and passports will now be accepted as forms of identification to receive a DEP access permit;

• Prohibits the launching and landing of drones from city property, target shooting, and horses;

• Prohibits smoking, including electronic cigarettes on city property to promote public health, safety and cleanliness of our natural resources.

The city’s watershed recreation rules apply to water supply properties in Delaware, Sullivan, Ulster, Greene, Schoharie, Dutchess and Westchester counties. Over the past decade, DEP has worked in partnership with local government officials, nonprofits and outdoor recreation groups to improve and expand access for recreation. DEP currently owns more than 135,583 acres of land and are open for recreation in more than 400 locations throughout the watershed. A DEP access permit is required for recreation on the reservoirs and their immediate buffer lands. That permit can be obtained and printed from home by using DEP’s online system at www.nyc.gov/accesspermit. Thousands of acres are open for recreation without a permit.

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