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State releases plan for Hemlock, Canadice 

The State Department of Environmental Conservation has released a draft plan outlining how it will manage its land around Canadice and Hemlock Lakes.

The DEC will accept comments on the draft unit management plan – available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/68822.html – through April 15. And it has scheduled a public information session for 6:30 p.m. on March 14 at Springwater Fire Hall, 8145 South Main Street, Springwater. DEC representatives will give a presentation at 7 p.m.

Hemlock and Canadice are the only two Finger Lakes with undeveloped shorelines. Rochester uses the lakes for its drinking water supply and started buying the land surrounding them in 1896. In 2010, the state bought approximately 6,700 acres of land, now known as the Hemlock-Canadice State Forest, from the city.

One of the plan's key functions is to help the agency balance recreational use and ecosystem preservation and restoration within the forest, says regional DEC spokesperson Linda Vera. The 10-year plan lays out goals and objectives for the forest, and also includes recommended actions and policies to meet them.

For example, the plan recommends a carry-in-carry-out policy for garbage, continued monitoring of bald eagle nesting sites, stocking the lakes with fish as needed, and stocking pheasants for public hunting. It also recommends continuing to harvest timber to encourage plant and tree diversity.

But one section of the plan that will probably receive significant public attention deals with oil and gas drilling. The plan doesn't plainly state whether DEC will allow drilling on the forest lands, though it suggest that it won't. The regional DEC office did not respond to a request for clarification in time for publication.

The DEC has a policy not to allow surface drilling in areas with intensive recreational use or sensitive habitats, including wetlands and steep slopes, the plan says. Much of the Hemlock-Canadice forest land will fall under the "exclusion zones," and further assessment will probably result in a recommendation not to allow surface drilling in the park, the plan says.

One section of the plan that will probably receive significant public attention deals with oil and gas drilling. The plan doesn't plainly state whether DEC will allow drilling on the forest lands, though it suggest that it won't.

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