Albany, NY - April 4, 2014 - Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced that the annual Spring Family Fishing Festival will be held on Saturday, April 5th at Belmont Lake State Park on Long Island, hosted by the State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP).
The event is part of the Governor Cuomo's NY Open for Fishing and Hunting initiative, an effort to improve recreational activities for in-state and out-of-state sportsmen and sportswomen and to boost tourism opportunities throughout the state. This initiative includes the streamlining of fishing and hunting licenses and reducing license fees, improved access for fishing at various sites across the state, stocking as much as 950,000 pounds of fish, expanding fishing clinics and increasing hunting opportunities in various regions.
“The Belmont Lake Festival is a chance for New Yorkers to enjoy the great outdoors and freshwater fishing for free," Governor Cuomo said. "We’re making it easy for families to try their hand at freshwater fishing and learn about all the recreational activities New York has to offer.”
During the Belmont Lake Fishing Festival, people can learn about freshwater fishing opportunities on Long Island and activities offered by local fishing clubs, and children can participate in a casting contest and other fun activities. No fishing license is required to participate in festival activities.
Festival activities begin at 10 a.m. and are provided free-of-charge. Activities will include open fishing, fishing instruction, fly casting demonstrations and fish cleaning services. Additionally, a display area will be set up by DEC and local fishing clubs. Loaner rods and free bait will be available throughout the day. The supply of loaner rods is limited, however, so participants are encouraged to bring their own fishing tackle if they have it. Freshwater fishing license requirement for anglers age 16 and older has been suspended for this free fishing event.
Children’s activities also begin at 10 a.m. and will include an inflatable slide (weather permitting), the “Spring Fling” casting contest, and hands-on educational displays by the DEC’s Education Unit. Children participating in the casting contest will have a chance to win great prizes from DEC’s I FISH NY Program, OPRHP, the Fisherman Magazine and The Natural Heritage Trust.
Additional sponsors for the fishing festival include the Natural Heritage Trust, the Fisherman Magazine, and radio stations 106.1 WBLI and 102.3 WBAB.
The festival will also highlight DEC’s spring trout stocking program in Nassau and Suffolk counties. Prior to the festival, Belmont Lake will be stocked with approximately 4,000 brown, brook and rainbow trout by DEC and OPRHP. In addition, DEC will also stock trout in Upper Twin Pond in Wantagh, Oyster Bay Mill Pond, Massapequa Creek and Reservoir and 17 other Long Island lakes, which will provide excellent prospects for spring fishing on Long Island.
DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said, “When you teach someone to fish, they usually get hooked on the sport and fish throughout their life. Governor Cuomo recognizes the important role of fishing and other outdoor activities have for regional economies and the quality of life for New Yorkers, and this free fishing festival is a great way to develop the next generation of anglers.”
Commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Rose Harvey said, “Fishing a great way for New Yorkers – especially our young people – to discover the outdoors and learn to be better stewards of the natural world. I’m pleased to join Governor Cuomo in welcoming anglers to New York State Parks, which offer easy access to magnificent lakes, ponds, streams and rivers across the state for and host special events to introduce people to fishing or help them improve their skills.”
Also under the NY Open for Fishing and Hunting initiative, just this year New York State has:
- Unveiled the new NYS Adventure License to allow outdoor enthusiasts, boaters, anglers and hunters to consolidate their recreation licenses and benefits onto their New York State Driver’s License (please visit the NYS License Center website for more information on licensing or to apply for an outdoor recreational license);
- Introduced New York State Adventure License Plates, featuring nine plate designs available for free to those buying new lifetime hunting, fishing or park licenses in 2014, discounted for existing lifetime licensees and at cost for annual license holders;
- Secured $6 million for 50 new access sites throughout the state to connect hunters, anglers, bird watchers and other outdoor enthusiasts to 380,000 acres of untapped State-owned lands across New York;
- Secured $4 million in funding to address critical infrastructure repair needs in the state’s 12 fish hatchery systems that produce and annually stock a combined average of 950,000 pounds of fish into New York’s waters;
- Reduced prices for fishing licenses from $31 to $28 for non-residents and $13 to $12 for residents; an increase in the number of authorized statewide free fishing days to eight from two; and authorization for DEC to offer 10 days of promotional prices for hunting, fishing and trapping licenses. These reduced prices build upon efforts last year, which saw successfully streamlined fishing and hunting licenses, reduced fees, and made fishing licenses valid for one year from the date of purchase;
- Debuted the Lifetime Empire Passport, which offers visitors to State Parks the option of paying a one-time fee to experience all that New York State Parks has to offer throughout their lifetime; and
- Authorized crossbow hunting, except on Long Island and Westchester County, for hunters 14 years of age or older for small game, and for big game throughout firearms seasons and during portions of archery season.
Recreational and sporting activities generate significant economic value across New York State. According to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation, sportsmen and women spent $4.95 billion on hunting and fishing in New York in 2011 and support more than 56,000 jobs across the state. In addition, spending by sportsmen and women in New York generated $623 million in state and local taxes in 2011. According to a recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service survey, in 2011, New York State was second in the nation in total angler spending on fishing-related items and sixth in non-resident angler spending. This spending generated an estimated $108 million in state and local taxes. New York State remains a clear leader in the number of paid angler licenses, with nearly one million licenses purchased.
In the event of inclement weather, people should call I FISH NY at (631) 444-0283 or Belmont Lake State Park at (631) 667-5055 to confirm if the event is still being held. A vehicle use fee of $8 will be in effect. Parking is free for Empire Pass holders. The 2014 Empire Pass can be purchased for $65 at state park offices, online or by phone at 518-474-0458. The three year, five year, and Lifetime Empire Passport can also be purchased online or at park offices.