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Notes from the North Woods

For members of the non-skiing public, the region still has plenty to offer for the coming weekend. There will be action on the ice in many local communities with Ice Fishing Derbies scheduled in Schroon Lake, Cranberry Lake, Long Lake and Saranac Lake, where the 27th annual Colby Classic will be hosted on both Saturday and Sunday.

It's never too soon to plan for camp

Although budget concerns had threatened operations at numerous state campgrounds across New York last year; the DEC and local communities rallied both the will and the funding to keep the public campgrounds open for the season.

Due to the slump in the national economy, interest is camping has grown and sleeping out in a tent, which is far cheaper than a hotel room, has blossomed in recent years.

According reports from the Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association Outdoor, camping's popularity jumped 7.4 percent between 2007 and 2008. And overnight backpacking was up by over 18 percent, during the same timeframe.

According to recent reports, there are an estimated 33.7 million campers in the United States, where surveys indicate that one out of every seven citizens, take to the woods on an annual basis. North of the border, researchers indicate that one out of every three Canadians take an annual camping trip.

Although most campgrounds don't open until late May or early June advance reservations for the coming summer season are already pouring in. The long winter may have prompted this early surge, or it could be an indication of the dismal economy.

Last year, at this time, the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation reported campground reservations were up by 6 percent, and the Department of Environmental Conservation experienced a similar 7 percent increase.

The NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation oversees 67 campgrounds with more than 8,000 campsites, 800 cabins and 41 vacation rentals. Basic campsite rentals start at $15 per night on weekdays and $19 on weekends.

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