Recreational Use Regulations for NYC Watershed Lands

P5260781smMany New York City water supply reservoirs and lands are open to the public for low-impact recreational activities.

In order to responsibly provide recreational access to City property, DEP issues a comprehensive permit “The Access Permit” that allows for fishing, hunting and hiking on certain designated areas in the watershed. Other areas are referred to as “Public Access Areas” and are open to all without a permit. Access permit holders may also obtain a DEP boat tag for keeping a rowboat or sailboat at one of the reservoirs. You can now obtain a NYCDEP access permit online! Just fill out the online form here and print out your permit from NYCDEP’s Watershed Recreation webpage. It’s that simple.

Fishing

Boating for the purposes of fishing is allowed on NYC reservoirs to those with the appropriate DEP permits. Anglers must store their fishing boats at designated storage areas. All boats must be approved and registered with DEP. People who want to register a new boat must first obtain a valid access permit and then call the Land Management Office near the reservoir of interest to make a steam cleaning and registration appointment (There is no cost for this service, which must be performed by DEP):

Ashokan Reservoir: (845) 657-2663
Schoharie Reservoir: (607) 588-6231
Rondout and Neversink Reservoirs: (845) 985-0386
Cannonsville and Pepacton Reservoirs: (607) 363-7009

Fishing is allowed on City-owned reservoirs, lakes and streams as designated by specific DEP signs and according to all applicable New York State regulations. Most City-owned reservoirs offer excellent fishing opportunities for both warm-water species such as smallmouth and largemouth bass, as well as cold-water species such as trout. City-owned reservoirs are open for fishing from shore and with fishing boats, and it is common for many reservoirs to produce 4-5 pound bass and lake trout exceeding 15 pounds! In addition to its reservoirs, DEP also offers City-owned watershed lands that border excellent trout fishing streams such as the Batavia Kill, West Branch Delaware River, Esopus Creek, and many smaller tributaries. Boating for the purposes of fishing is allowed on New York City reservoirs to registered individuals having the appropriate DEP Access Permit and Boat Tag. Angler maps can be found here.

Recreational Boating

DEP allows recreational boating (canoes, kayaks, sailboats, etc.) at the Cannonsville Reservoir, the Pepacton Reservoir, the Neversink Reservoir and the Schoharie Reservoir. What do you need to participate? A permitted vessel, a Personal Floatation Device(s) (PFD), a Free DEP Access Permit, a DEP Recreational Boat Tag (Temporary or Season Tag). What do you need to do? Have your vessel steam cleaned at a participating DEP-approved steam cleaning vendor. Steam cleaning vendors may charge a fee for the steam cleaning services. Some vendors now keep rental boats on site at the reservoirs. Renters need to visit the vendor to pay, get paddles and get PFDs. More details, including maps and locations of steam-cleaning locations can be found here.

Hunting

DEP allows both big and small game hunting on designated city-owned watershed lands. Designated hunting areas are available for bow, shotgun, rifle, handgun, and muzzleloader hunting where permitted by New York State regulations. Hunters and trappers must possess a valid New York State hunting license and they must follow all applicable New York State hunting regulations, including weapons restrictions, species restrictions, and hunting during the proper seasons for the allowed game. Although DEP no longer issues separate hunting tags and DEP Access Permits are no longer required on “Public Access Areas,” DEP Access Permits are still required on those properties posted with signs that read “Entry by Permit”. To learn more about the program, click here.

Hiking

photo(1)Although hiking is not allowed immediately around New York City reservoirs, hiking (including cross country skiing and snowshoeing) is allowed on many City-owned watershed lands that are marked with DEP signs stating “Entry by Permit” or “Public Access Areas.” All recreational users should pay very close attention to the types of signs that are present because properties marked with “No Trespassing” or “Posted” signs are not open for public use.

Some watershed lands have been improved to allow for better access and parking. In addition, many old logging roads exist that are well-suited for hiking, cross country skiing, or snowshoeing. Hikers are encouraged to visit designated hiking properties where they can often discover hidden treasures such as scenic waterfalls and breathtaking vistas. Dogs are generally allowed on City-owned lands but they must be well-behaved and controllable. Any animal waste should be promptly cleaned up and removed. To see maps of the open parcels click here and to learn more about the program, click here.

6 Comments

  1. Terrance Singleton
    Terrance Singleton October 17, 2014 at 10:19 am . Reply

    I filled out my application on line about 1 month ago for a water shed permit. I have not received it. Thank you

  2. Carole Baker
    Carole Baker July 21, 2016 at 10:23 pm . Reply

    Are single rowing sculls allowed on Ashokan reservior with proper cleaning and permit?

    1. wgcmc
      wgcmc July 24, 2016 at 12:39 am . Reply

      Recreational boating is not allowed on the Ashokan Reservoir, with the exception of approved fishing boats. You may use rowing and sail boats on the Pepacton, Neversink, Schoharie and Cannonsville Reservoirs if steam cleaned and displaying the sticker issued with the cleaning and with a recreational access permit, which can be applied for and printed online. Bring the permit with you on your paddle. See the DEP regulations page on the CMC website for links.

  3. Matthew
    Matthew October 15, 2016 at 4:48 pm . Reply

    Are dogs allowed?

    1. wgcmc
      wgcmc October 20, 2016 at 3:40 pm . Reply

      Dogs are generally allowed on City-owned lands, but they must be well-behaved and controllable. Use a leash when approaching other hikers.

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