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From: "Stewards of Stewart" <tomgus@warwick.net>
Subject: Stewards of Stewart Notes from SSF mtg of 11-24-15
Date: Mon May 16 16:13:44 2016

The following are my random recollections of the highlights of the Stewart State Forest user meeting hosted by the NYS DEC on 11/24/15. These are my recollections and editorial comment. No doubt, other topics of interest were discussed but forgotten by me. Matthew Paul and Jeff Weigert of DEC presented a summation of projects completed by DEC during the year. Completion of the Great Swamp Walkway and associated projects for trail access and improvements to trails suffering from lack of use due to erosion, mud wallows and other drainage issues were major accomplishments. Thank you DEC for these accomplishments that are greatly appreciated. Matt and Jeff emphasized that Stewart State Forest is a Forest and not a State Park thus different policies and practices apply to Stewart than to parks. Monthly calendars were available for users to select their desired date(s) for large events. The intention is for users to identify conflicting dates with other users so discussion can occur early on for users to mutually resolve these conflicts before the official filing date for TRP’s (February 1, 2016). Otherwise, DEC will decide who’s TRP for that date will prevail. The 10-year Unit Management Plan for Stewart expires in 2015. This will be replaced by a 10-year regional plan that includes Stewart as one of the many properties in our DEC’s region. More information will be forthcoming and the entire process from initiation to completion is expected to take about two years. Requests, suggestions and comments are most important in the development of this plan. If you have requests and suggestions it is important for you to participate in this process or lose out on the opportunity to have your ideas become part of the new plan. You can start the process now by sending your written requests for what you would like included in the new plan to the attention of Matt Paul in the Region Three DEC at New Paltz and by following through as the process proceeds. The “Shawangunk Ridge Draft Unit Management Plan”: http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/93937.html was mentioned by the DEC as a model of what we will experience in the development of the new regional plan that will include Stewart State Forest. A biker asked about the possibility of working in conjunction with DEC for grants from mountain bike organizations to construct sustainable trails in the forest. The DEC comment was that bikers have plenty of trails now. Keep in mind that the maps on the Stewards of Stewart website represent the trails that DEC recognizes. Bikers know more trails exist and in particular the very popular trail called Ant Hill is not recognized. The December, 2015, issue of Bike Magazine has an article called “Sucker Punched” that all mountain bikers should read. The head line reads: “Bikes are banned in wilderness, despite congress’ original intentions. Science doesn’t support the ban.” The clear message is that if you (bikers) are not vigilant and involved then don’t be surprised if you lose trail access. Please participate in developing the new 10 year plan that will include Stewart State Forest. Thank you.