Feb 2nd-DEC Hearing on Management of State Forests in Eastern Cortland Co.

The DEC will hold an open meeting on the use of  State Forests including Gee Hill, Hoxie Gorge and Baker SchoolHouse in the eastern portion of the County at 6:30 p.m. on Thurs. Jan. 28th (postponed to Feb. 2nd)  at the McGraw High School Caffeteria.  Oil and Gas leasing is now a part of the Management plans for many state forests.  More complete story on p. 3 in the Jan. 27th issue of the Cortland Standard.  Written comments will be accepted until March 1, 2010  (see details below). 

I was recently made aware by the town supervisor in Freetown (where I live) of a postcard notifying of a public meeting at McGraw HS next Thursday, 1/28, 6:30 PM to provide information and gather public comment on an upcoming review of a Unit Management Plan (UMP) for the Taylor Valley Unit.  Not having any clue what this meant, I phoned and talked to Henry Dedrick of the local DEC office and got more information.  He was very friendly and accommodating.  He also sent me (to my McGraw school email address) more information about the upcoming meeting, information about the Taylor Valley Unit, and a pdf file of the “scoping document”.  All this is attached below.
I asked him how this meeting was publicized.  He said he sent out “over 300 postcards” and also press releases.  The press releases “go through Syracuse” so he didn’t know where they were sent.  I called the Cortland Standard and they knew nothing about it, but they were very interested and were going to pursue it.  As far as postcards are concerned, I wouldn’t have known about any of this if it weren’t for the alert town supervisor of Freetown.  I can imagine how many postcards (not exactly an attention grabber) got buried or tossed.
The DEC recently issued a finding of “no significant environmental impact” for a UMP for a state forest unit (Chenango Trail Unit) in Chenango County.   The document includes reference to gas drilling ( http://www.dec.ny.gov/enb/20100113_not7.html ).  There is more general information about UMP’s at   http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/4979.html.  This site lists all the UMP’s.  You can see a draft UMP for the Muller Hill Unit which includes a little of Cuyler at   http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/61585.html .  This particular  UMP is 100 pages long.  By the way, the DEC website says there is public input on the Muller Hill draft plan in January 2010 but doesn’t say how or where.  It is being handled through the Sherburne Office of the DEC, whose address is found in the draft UMP document which can be downloaded at the Muller Hill webpage.  The Taylor Valley Unit is being handled through the Cortland DEC office. Oh, by the way, the DEC hasn’t gotten around to listing the Taylor Valley Unit on the schedule of approximately 100 UMP’s on its UMP webpage!
I think it is important that there is a good turnout at this public meeting.  This meeting is only one step in a long process.  After gathering public input, a draft UMP will be issued.  That can take over a year.  Then there is another public comment period.  It’s my impression, however, that this is the first UMP being initiated since the Marcellus issue exploded onto the scene, so the dynamic could be very different.
Jim Weiss

Mr. Weiss,   The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will hold a public meeting on Thursday, January 28, 2010 at 6:30 p.m. at the McGraw High School cafeteria to discuss future management of state lands within the Taylor Valley Unit. The school is located at 10 West Academy Street in the Village of McGraw. If McGraw Schools are closed, for adverse weather conditions (check local TV and radio stations) the meeting will take place on Tuesday, February 2, 2010, from 6:30 to 9:00 p.m. at the McGraw High School cafeteria.   The Taylor Valley Unit consists of 10,194 acres of state lands within the Cortland County towns of Cuyler, Cincinnatus, Cortlandville, Freetown, Solon, Taylor, Truxton, and Virgil.   It includes Taylor Valley, Hoxie Gorge, Baker Schoolhouse, Donahue Woods, and Gee Brook State Forests and Papish Pond Multiple Use Area. The purpose of the meeting is to provide information about the Unit, discuss its history, ecology and current uses, and to exchange ideas about long term forest management. Information gathered at the meeting, data collected during a forest inventory, and other sources of data and information will be used to develop the Taylor Valley Unit Management Plan (UMP). The UMP will guide management actions for the Unit to help achieve our goal to provide healthy, sustainable and biologically diverse forest ecosystems, using the principles of ecosystem management.   The meeting will be an open house format where attendees will have the opportunity to talk one on one with DEC staff to discuss their concerns, ideas, and opinions about the future management of the Taylor Valley Management Unit. There will also be a short presentation that will provide a brief overview of the Unit and the planning process. You do not need to attend the meeting to provide comments. Written comments will be accepted by email, letter, comment card (available at the meeting), and by easel (available at the meeting). To aid in the development of the Draft UMP, please provide written comments by March 1, 2010. After the Draft UMP is completed, the DEC will hold another public meeting to present the plan and solicit public comments regarding the Draft UMP.   The meeting location is accessible for individuals with mobility impairments. Please contact us at least one week prior to the meeting date if you require special accommodations.   Attached is a facts, statistics, and anticipated issues document for the Unit. We would greatly appreciate hearing from you regarding your concerns, ideas, and opinions about the future management of the Taylor Valley Management Unit.   Please provide written comments to the following:

Henry C. Dedrick Jr.
Senior Forester, Region 7
NYS DEC, Division of Lands & Forests
1285 Fisher Ave.
Cortland, NY 13045
Phone: (607)753-3095 ext. 218
1-800-388-8244 ext. 218
Fax:      (607)753-8532
e-mail:   hcdedric@gw.dec.state.ny.us

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