New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that DEC’s annual celebration of ‘Outdoors Day’ will be held on multiple days this summer and at locations across the state to accommodate social distancing and other COVID-19 precautions.
New York’s Outdoors Day coincides with National Get Outdoors Day, an annual event to encourage healthy, active outdoor fun. Outdoors Day is traditionally held on June 12. At events across the state, participants are encouraged to discover new skills and try out a range of introductory outdoor recreation activities such as fishing, nature walks and hikes, birdwatching, archery, camping, paddling, and more. Participants can also learn important skills for enjoying the outdoors safely and sustainably. New this year is also an event focused on accessible outdoor recreation.
DEC is hosting family-friendly Outdoors Day events throughout the state throughout the month of June, with most activities on Saturday, June 12. Some programs and demonstrations are scheduled at specific times. Details, including schedules and registration requirements, can be found on DEC’s website. Participation is limited and registration is required for most events and not all activities are available at all locations.
Activities at DEC facilities include the following:
- Fishing: The I Fish NY program will offer free catch-and-release fishing clinics for all ages. Learn about fishing equipment, techniques, regulations, consumption advisories, and good places to fish. Participants may bring their own gear, but rods and reels will also be available for loan.
- Camping 101: Visitors can try their hand at camping basics by pitching a tent on the lawn and learning how to pack for a camping trip. When the day is complete, participants will be prepared for an outdoor adventure of their own.
- Paddling: Participants can learn the basics of this fun fast-growing sport and try getting out on the water.
- Archery: Participants can try getting a bullseye with a bow and arrow and learn important safety tips.
- Birdwatching: Participants can learn how easy and fun it is to enjoy birdwatching almost anywhere.
- Hiking: Participants can take a short hike and learn the basics of finding the perfect trails on their own.
- Outdoor safety: Learn the basics of being prepared and safe so all outdoor adventures are good ones.
- Adaptive outdoor recreation: Experience and learn about adaptive outdoor recreation in the Adirondacks with pontoon boat rides, an adaptive fishing clinic, camping demonstrations, interpretive hikes, and more.
The need for outdoor recreation has never been greater. Childhood obesity has doubled over the past 20 years and the average American child spends as few as 30 minutes in unstructured outdoor play each day, and more than seven hours each day in front of an electronic screen. During the COVID-19 pandemic, New Yorkers turned to the outdoors and public lands for a nature break, which is good for physical and mental health. Outdoors Day events support New Yorkers in trying healthy outdoor activities.
DEC manages nearly five million acres of public lands, including three million acres in the Adirondack and Catskill forest preserves, 55 campgrounds and day-use areas, more than 5,000 miles of formal trails, and hundreds of trailheads, boat launches, and fishing piers. Information to help plan your next outdoor can be found on DEC’s website.
To improve public safety and encourage visitors to State-owned and managed lands to practice responsible recreation, DEC recently launched the ‘Love Our New York Lands’ campaign. The campaign is responsive to the steady increase in the number of visitors to state lands, both during the COVID-19 pandemic and in the decade prior, as more and more New Yorkers and visitors from other states and countries discovered the natural beauty of New York State lands, particularly the Adirondack and Catskill parks.
The campaign bolsters ongoing State- and partner-led efforts to educate the public about how to responsibly enjoy outdoor recreation on public lands without negatively impacting natural resources. The campaign will implement a variety of multi-media and in-person strategies to promote Leave No Trace principles, hiker preparedness and safety, sustainable use, and responsible trip planning, as well as reinforce the role of DEC professionals who protect public lands and manage public access, including DEC Foresters, Natural Resource Planners, Forest Rangers, Assistant Forest Rangers, and natural resource stewards. For details and more information, visit the Love Our New York Lands webpage.