News: NYSDEC Announces Forest Preserve Classification of 2011 Big Indian Acquisition in the Catskill Park, Increasing Access and Recreational Opportunities

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that the lands of the 2011 Big Indian Acquisition in the Catskill Park have be classified by the DEC, with portions of the acquisition to be included in parts of the Big Indian Wilderness Area, the Shandaken Wild Forest and the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center Intensive Use Area.

Lands under this new classification include:

  • Shandaken Wild Forest: 630 acres on the eastern ridge of Belleayre Mountain, including all lands acquired east of Giggle Hollow Brook and north of the Belleayre Ridge, including some lands in Lost Clove. The classification will allow several existing wood roads in the area to accommodate recreational activities such as bicycling the classification will allow the development and grooming of improved cross-country ski trails on the property, which is in close proximity to the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center. Grooming will be limited to the use of a snowmobile with a drag. 
  • Big Indian Wilderness: Approximately 300 acres in Lost Clove, including the Lost Clove Trail, will be classified as Wilderness and added to the Big Indian Wilderness Area. This classification will protect important natural resources and the character of these lands, while providing non-motorized or mechanized recreational use such as hiking and hunting. 
  • As part of a draft revision of the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center’s UMP, which DEC released in May of 2013, DEC has also proposed to classify 270 acres of the Big Indian Acquisition as intensive use and add these lands to the Ski Center. Also under the draft Belleayre UMP, 150 acres would be reclassified from intensive use to wilderness and added to the adjoining Big Indian Wilderness. These proposed revisions are still being reviewed as part of the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center UMP revision.

DEC is responsible for managing the constitutionally protected Forest Preserve in the Catskill Park. The Catskill Park State Land Master Plan, developed by DEC, applies a classification system that ranges from wilderness to wild forest to intensive use and provides guidelines for the management of those lands. Classifications are based on the physical character of the lands and their capacity to accommodate human use, including recreational activities.

Now that the classification of these lands has been completed, the next step will be to undertake an amendment or revision of the Shandaken Wild Forest Unit Management Plan (UMP) to reflect the addition of the newly added lands to this unit, and to make management proposal such as the development of trails on the property.   The DEC hopes to begin that process later this year.

For the full press release from DEC, visit their site.
For the full language of the approved amendment, visit the CSLMP site.

To learn more about the Trail Programs in the Catskills, visit the Trail Conference's Catskill Programs Page.

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Catskill TrailsCheck out our Catskill Mountain Information Page for hikes, advice, travel and planning information.  Need a hiking map for your hikes in the Catskills?  We recommend the Trail Conference's Catskills Trails 6-Map Set.  These maps are some of the best available for hiking and outdoor adventures in the Catskills and the Catskill Park.  How about a guidebook?  Both AMC and ADK publish trail guides to the Catskill Region and thAdventures in the Outdoors Bookstore carries many more books and maps for hiking and exploring the Catskill Mountain region.

AMC Catskill Mountain Guide, 2nd: AMC's Comprehensive Guide to Hiking Trails in the Catskills (Appalachian Mountain Club)