Campsites on the Finger Lakes National Forest (FLNF) are now open. Leaves are emerging, birds are migrating and wildflowers are now blooming. In the past several weeks U.S. Forest Service employees have been working hard to prepare camping facilities.
The forest offers several recreational opportunities including picnicking, camping, hiking, backpacking, fishing, hunting and canoeing. While campers may find some wet spots, forest roads and trails are in very good shape.
The FLNF expects the number of visitors from New York and from in and around New England to be up this season due in part to high fuel costs.
Here are some things to keep in mind when planning your camping trip.
Camping on the FLNF is on a first come, first serve basis in the Blueberry Patch Campground and by reservation only at Potomac campground. Visitors camping at the Backbone Horse camp must have horses.
There is a maximum stay of 14 days in a 30-day period.
Please do not transport firewood into New York from out of state.
You can camp anywhere on the forest unless the area is posted closed to camping, and with the exception of pastures when cattle are grazing.
Please leave the campsites clean by using the Leave No Trace Principles – “carry out what you carry in.”
Whether you’re roughing it in a tent or planning a family outing on the National Forest, there are many ways to make sure your experience is fun and safe.
Pack a first aid kit. It can prove invaluable if you or a member of your group suffers a cut, bee sting or allergic reaction. Pack antiseptics for cuts and scrapes, tweezers, insect repellent, bug spray, pain relievers and sunscreen.
Bring emergency supplies including a map, compass, flashlight, knife, waterproof fire starter, personal shelter, whistle, warm clothing, high energy food, water and insect protection.
Before you leave, find out the weather forecast. When you arrive at the site, watch the skies for changes and carry a compact weather radio. In inclement weather, find shelter until the worse passes.
Stay dry – wet clothes contribute to heat loss. Also, keep sleeping bags and important gear dry at all times.
Arrive early. Plan your trip so that you arrive at your actual campsite with enough daylight to check over the entire site and to set up camp.
Check for potential hazards. Be sure to check the site thoroughly for glass, sharp objects, branches, poison ivy, bees and hazardous terrain.
Avoid areas of natural hazards. Check the contour of the land and look for potential trouble due to rain. Areas that could flood or become extremely muddy can pose a problem.
Inspect the site. Look for level land with enough room to spread out all your gear. A site that has trees or shrubs on the side of prevailing winds will help block strong, unexpected gusts.
Pay attention to local regulations, particularly concerning campfires.
Build fires in a safe area. Your open fires and fuel-burning appliances must be far enough away from the tent to prevent ignition from sparks, flames, and heat. Never use a flame or any other heating device inside a tent. Use a flashlight or battery-powered light instead.
Make sure your fires are always attended. Be sure you have an area for a fire that cannot spread laterally or vertically. A grill or stone surface is ideal. Put the fire out by drowning it with water, making sure all embers, coals and sticks are wet. Embers buried deep within the pile have a tendency to reignite later.
Watch out for bugs. Hornets, bees, wasps and yellow jackets are a problem at many campsites. Avoid attracting stinging insects by wearing light-colored clothing and avoiding perfumes or colognes. Should such an insect approach, do not wave wildly and swat blindly. Instead, use a gentle pushing or brushing motion to deter them. Perform tick checks regularly.
Beware when encountering wildlife. To ward off bears, keep your campsite clean, and do not leave food, garbage, coolers, cooking equipment or utensils out in the open. Remember that bears can potentially be dangerous and unpredictable – never feed or approach a bear. Use a flashlight at night – many animals feed at night; the use of a flashlight may warn them away.
Beware of poisonous plants. Familiarize yourself with dangerous plants that are common to the area. If you come into contact with a poisonous plant, immediately rinse the affected area with water and apply a soothing lotion such as calamine to the affected area.
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