Watertown, NY, December 15, 2011 - His attire is festive, but, as seen in this clip from Watertown, NY-based WWNY TV 7, New York Sea Grant's Dave White has some serious messages. White talks about the importance of wearing live vests and being careful of natural resources when involved in winter recreational activities.
"Whether you're enjoying your paddle sport of canoeing or kayaking, out hunting or out fishing, there is a law in New York State that you have to wear a life jacket throughout the entire winter season - from November 1 through the end of April." says White.
And, while there are different kinds of life jackets and float suits to choose from, White says there are two things you need to remember to be classified as wearing a life jacket during your coastal recreational activities - it has to be fully zipped up and fastened and it has to say U.S. Coast Guard-approved.
"Having the life jacket handy is great, but the key is having it on," he says. Duck hunting, for example, is a popular winter sport, one that you may still want to consider wearing a life jacket. "A lot of folks when they duck hunt or will do so from shore and then they'll have to go in the water to get [the duck]. So, they'll just hop in the canoe or the kayak." White says that while these recreational users may not think about themselves as boaters, they should reexamine that thought process because at some point they are likely to be on the water, where safety is essential.
In New York's North Country (a term often used to refer to the area in and around Oswego and Jefferson Counties), there lies a 17-mile stretch of dunes and wetlands along the eastern Lake Ontario shore. It's a popular year-round location for recreational activities. To that end, White says, "A lot of times when we think about winter recreation, it puts us in a different frame of mind. While we may be more aware of the fragility of the dunes in the summertime, it's important to realize that this resource can be really negatively impacted during the wintertime, especially now without a good snow cover. So, as we begin to head into the winter season, people who are out in the resource doing recreation - whether it's cross country skiing, snowmobiling or using their snow shoes - should be mindful of the environment that they're in, staying on the trails and off the dunes."
"What people may not realize is that, come spring, you can go back out in the resource and see a lot of the damage from winter recreation. A lot of the practices that we have from the summer, such as 'carry in/carry out,' still apply. This way, people can continue to enjoy the outdoor resources for years to come."
New York Sea Grant is one of 32 university-based programs under the National Sea Grant College Program of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a cooperative program of the State University of New York and Cornell University. The National Sea Grant College Program utilizes this network of the nation's premier universities in conducting scientific research, education, training and extension projects designed to encourage science-based decisions about the use and conservation of our aquatic resources.