DEC's Division of Lands and Forests manages more than 800,000 acres of State Forests. Unlike the Forest Preserve, State Forests are located throughout New York State - except within the Adirondack and Catskill Parks - and include Reforestation Areas, Multiple-Use Areas, Unique Areas and State Nature and Historic Preserves.
These lands are highly valued for the recreational opportunities they provide and for their contributions to ecosystem health. Thousands of miles of recreational trails are available for hiking, mountain biking, snowmobiling, horse riding, snow shoeing and cross country skiing. These properties are enjoyed by campers, hunters and trappers as well as by orienteering and geocache enthusiasts.
On some of these lands, timber management is used as a tool to enhance biodiversity, to create habitat features, and to harvest wood for products such as lumber, pulp, poles, and even baseball bats. Other portions are managed to protect and enhance rare, threatened or endangered species. Management of these multiple uses is guided by DEC's Strategic Plan for State Forest Management and by individual unit management plans.
In addition, the Division of Lands and Forests manages more than 900,000 acres of Conservation Easements. These easements have been purchased on lands that still remain in private ownership. The purposes of conservation easements vary, but can include the protection of open space, public access, working forests, unique habitats, and rare and endangered species.
For a full listing of state-managed recreation lands, including descriptions and maps, see the Places To Go web page.
Tips for Using State Forests - Anyone enjoying the use of State Forests must observe certain rules which protect the public and the forest environment.
Hunting, Trapping and Fishing on State Forests
State forests are open to public hunting, except in intensive use areas. Big game hunters seek white-tailed deer and black bear in the fall, while others lie in wait for ducks or pursue ruffed grouse and other small game like the snowshoe hare. Furbearers such as beaver, fisher and river otter are sought by trappers.
The many lakes and ponds, rivers and streams support thriving communities of game fish. In many remote ponds, DEC is working to restore and maintain the native brook trout. Suitable waters are managed for other "salmonids" such as lake trout, brown trout, rainbow trout and kokanee salmon. Anglers can also find an abundance of feisty "warm water" fish, like smallmouth and largemouth bass, northern pike, yellow perch and bullheads.
Hunting, trapping and fishing licenses are sold at town offices and numerous retailers of outdoor equipment, where you may also obtain regulation booklets. For more information regarding hunting, places to hunt in New York, trapping or fishing on state lands, please see the Outdoor Activities web page or contact the appropriate DEC Regional Office.