CHENANGO COUNTY — The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is encouraging the public to give input on draft updates to the Chenango Trail Unit Management Plan (UMP).
State lands covered by the draft plan offer many recreation opportunities including hiking, camping, bird watching, fishing, hunting, trapping, snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and all-terrain vehicle (ATV) access by permit for visitors with mobility impairments.
New York State DEC Public Participation Specialist Kerry McElroy said, “On Bobell Hill State Forest, DEC will build a 0.25-mile section of road to provide better access for forest management from Bowbell Road.”
“At Oak Ridge State Forest, DEC will construct an off-road parking area and a 0.3 mile public forest access road, west of Elm Drive, to provide public access and improve authorized access to internal portions of the forest for various management activities. At both sites, an access gate will be installed to prevent unauthorized motor vehicle access, but both roads will remain open to foot traffic year-round,” she said.
McElroy said, “The management plan is not a plan for trails in Chenango County. The unit management plan is named for “The Chenango Trail,” which was a path for troops cleared by the British Army during the Revolutionary War that cut across the center of the unit and portions of future State forest lands.”
“Only portions of the trail exist today. Some of it is still in use as segments of modern road while other portions are hidden by fully regrown forests and early discernible. The path eventually played an important role providing access to the area for settlement after the war. The pathway came to be referred to as The Chenango Trail, from which the unit derives its name,” she added.
“The draft plan and additional information are available on DEC’s website. All public comments will be reviewed and responded to in an appendix of the plan. If needed, changes to the draft plan based on provided comments will be made to the final draft and submitted for approval by the Commissioner. New projects proposed will not begin until at least 2024, depending on other State forest priority projects throughout the region,” explained McElroy.
DEC is focused on improvements which allow year round access, preserving the natural environment, and protecting fish and wildlife habitats by creating a mosaic of different forest types to provide a variety of habitat conditions that are sustainable for many different wildlife species to use for hunting, cover, foraging, and breeding. Other areas are protected from harvesting activities to buffer trails, streams and wetlands.
Acting Region 7 Director Dereth Glance said, “Public input helps guide that process and I encourage people to provide comments by July 23 to help shape priority management activities on our picturesque rural forests.”
The State Forests included in The Chenango Trail unit includes Bobell Hill with 2,156 acres, Beaver Flow with 1,028 acres, Bumps Creek with 527 acres, Coventry with 1,168 acres, and Oak Ridge with 576 acres; totaling 5,455 acres. These trail units are in towns of Colesville, Afton, Bainbridge, Coventry, Greene, and Oxford.
According to the Chenango Trail Unit Management Plan Draft, the New York State DEC-Bureau of State Land Management received Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) certification under an independent audit conducted by the National Wildlife Federation - SmartWood Program in 2000.
This certification includes more than 780,000 acres of state forests and continues under the most current FSC standards.
Forest products derived from wood harvested off State Forests from this point forward may now be labeled as “certified” through chain-of-custody certificates. Forest certified labeling on wood products may assure consumers that the raw material was harvested from well-managed forests.
DEC is part of a growing number of public, industrial and private forest landowners throughout the United States and the world whose forests are certified as sustainably managed. The Agency’s State Forests can also be counted as part a growing number of working forest land in New York that is third-party certified as well managed to protect habitat, cultural resource.
Public input on the draft plan will be accepted until July 23, 2023 by email with the subject line “Chenango Trail Unit” to R7.email@example.com , by mail to Senior Forester Jason Schoellig, NYSDEC, 2715 State Route 80, Sherburne, NY 13460, or by phone at (607)-674-4017.