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March 25, 2010

 

DEC forest plan open for public review

April 7 meeting will outline improvements to the 6,981-acre Muller Hill Unit

By CATHERINE WILDE
Staff Reporter
cwilde@cortlandstandard.net

A state plan to expand and maintain trails within a state forest that extends through parts of Chenango, Madison and Cortland counties will be open to public review at 7 p.m. April 7 at the Otselic Valley Elementary School.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation is holding a meeting on its plan to maintain trails in state forests within the 6,981-acre Muller Hill Unit.
The unit lies in the three counties and consists of four forests: Three Springs State Forest, Muller Hill State Forest, and two forests in Mariposa State Forest.
Jason Schoellig, a forester for the state DEC Division of Lands and Forests, said the department oversees trail maintenance and tree care in this unit.
Only about 10 percent falls in Cuyler, in Cortland County where there are snowmobile trails.
About 90 percent of the land lies in DeRuyter and Georgetown in Madison County and Otselic and Lincklaen in Chenango County.
The plan is a 20-year outlook for the area, outlining proposed trails and schedules for controlling tree growth.
Schoellig said the plan lays out which parts of the forests to manage for “a particular set of conditions we want.”
For example, in some areas lower quality trees may be removed for the overall health of the forest. Steep slopes may also be repaired to protect springs.
The department started studying what to include in the plan two years ago, examining what treatment was needed in each forest and getting feedback from trail groups and public officials, Schoellig said.
The department is proposing creating a 7-mile long horseback riding trail that would run from the southern end of Muller Hill State Forest to the northern end of Three Springs State Forest.
A short interpretive trail loop is proposed for the northern part of Muller Hill State Forest, Schoellig said.
A section of the Finger Lakes hiking trail runs through this area and there are state historical markers along it that can be expanded upon to “provide the public an opportunity to visit a historical site,” Schoellig said.
Schoellig said the plan does not propose anything that is controversial and he does not expect public feedback to be negative.
“The plan basically says we’ll maintain existing trails on the unit,” Schoellig said.
Schoellig said the public may suggest expanding parking areas.
Once comments are compiled the department will adjust the plan to address the comments.
A final plan will be presented to the public sometime next year, Schoellig said.
“We work on management plans in the wintertime. We won’t do too much with it until later this fall or early winter, then we have to go through the review process internally and print the plan,” Schoellig said.

 

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