Down near the Rush-Avon border sits a state-protected swath of prairie-like land, where grasses, hedges, and wildflowers are interspersed with oak trees. It's an oak opening, and there used to be places just like it all across the Midwest and this part of New York.
But the 228-acre Rush Oak Openings Unique Area is the last such spot in New York. And recently, the State Department of Environmental Conservation released a new, tentative plan for how it'll manage the public land, situated between State Route 15 and Honeoye Falls Five Points Road. In short, there will be no major changes, according to DEC Region 8 spokesperson Linda Vera.
But that also means that the agency will continue to allow hunting on the property, a use that a handful of Rush residents previously asked the DEC to prohibit.
"If hunting is permitted, there are several months when families cannot safely use this land," wrote Jim Chaize, whose comments were published in the draft plan.
Other comments echoed that thought. And most of them referenced a 2014 hunting accident in which a 71-year old man was fatally shot by his friend's son.
The Rush Oak Openings are included in a multi-site unit management plan developed by the DEC. The other sites are in surrounding counties
The department is holding a public information meeting on the plan at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, August 15, at the Region 8 headquarters, 6274 East Avon-Lima Road, Avon. DEC representatives will give a half-hour presentation and then answer questions. Staff will be available through 8:30 p.m. to take comments.
The agency is also accepting comments through September 18; they can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org or NYSDEC, 7291 Coon Road, Bath, NY 14810. The plan can be viewed at http://www.dec.ny.gov/docs/lands_forests_pdf/nflump2016draft.pdf.