DEC releases final Hemlock-Canadice plan


Pretty much out of the blue, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has released its final Hemlock-Canadice State Forest unit management plan, and simultaneously announced the addition of 165 acres to the preserve. The state bought the land at Burch Hill Road and County Route 37 in Canadice earlier this month from Barbara Christoff, who wanted to make sure that the public has access to the property, according to a DEC press release.

The draft plan was released in February 2013, and was almost immediately met with massive public criticism because it didn't clearly prohibit oil and gas drilling on or near the land. Of particular concern was the potential for horizontal drilling underneath the forest surface, as well as high-volume fracking. But state officials have since decided to prohibit high-volume fracking in New York.

The final Hemlock-Canadice plan, which is 259 pages long and meant to guide the DEC for the next 10 years, directly addresses the issue of oil and gas drilling. This excerpt is from pages 25 and 26 of the document, in a section on mineral resources:
As previously stated, protecting water quality is the most important function of this property. Furthermore, In December 2014 the Governor and the Commissioners of the Department of Health (DOH) and DEC announced that the DOH had completed its public health review of NYS DEC’s SGEIS on the Oil, Gas and Solution Mining Regulatory Program and recommended that high-volume hydraulic fracturing should not move forward in New York State. Therefore, consistent with the reason for state acquisition of the property, and the findings enumerated in the Final SGEIS, no drilling for oil or gas will be allowed on Hemlock-Canadice State Forest for the duration of this UMP.
In simpler terms, the document says that fracking on or near the forest lands is a non-issue, since the extraction technique is now prohibited in New York. And the DEC won't allow oil and gas drilling on the forest lands because it wants to protect the water in Hemlock and Canadice Lakes. In 2010, the state bought approximately 6,700 acres of land surrounding Hemlock and Canadice lakes from the City of Rochester, which uses the lakes for its drinking water supply. Hemlock and Canadice are the only Finger Lakes with completely undeveloped shorelines.

The plan, as well as a DEC summary of it, is available here.