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DEC is accepting applications for summer camps by Ron Kolodziej

Wednesday, January 25, 2012 - Updated: 7:09 AM

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will begin accepting applications for its 2012 Summer Camp program today. This program offers one-week adventures in conservation education for youngsters ages 11-17 at one of four residential camps operated statewide by the agency.

Camp Colby in Franklin County, Camp DeBruce in Sullivan County, Camp Rushford in Allegany County and Pack Forest in Warren County offer opportunities for youngsters ages 11-13. Pack Forest and Camp Rushford also feature Teenage Ecology Week, an environmental studies program for 14- to 17-year-old campers.

Attendees at these camps learn about environmental stewardship through hands-on experience in the outdoors. They participate in a wide variety of activities including fishing, fly-tying, archery, canoeing, hiking, camping, orienteering and hunter safety education, to name a few. They also learn about fields, forests, streams and ponds through enjoyable first-hand experiences in these habitats.

There are a few changes in camp enrollment this year, namely the ages of attendees at regular summer camps and the Teenage Ecology Workshops as cited above: all four camps will run for seven weeks beginning July 1; youngsters who have attended camp in the past may register for any of the weeks within their age range and they may attend for more than one week. The fee for the total number of weeks must be included with the application. The cost remains $350 per week, per camper.

DEC continues to encourage hunting and fishing clubs, civic groups and environmental organizations to sponsor one or more youngsters for a week’s stay at camp. Any group that sponsors six paid campers will receive one free scholarship if all applications are sent together.

For complete information visit DEC’s website at www.dec.ny.gov/education, or you can call (518) 402-8014. If you prefer, you can also contact the agency in writing at DEC Camps, 2nd Floor, 625 Broadway, Albany NY 12233-4500.

As a “graduate” of two of these DEC camps more years ago than I care to admit, I can personally attest to the quality of the instruction and the value of the experience.

GOOD NEWS

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s budget message contained some good news for sportsmen. I’ll cover several of these items in future columns, but one of the more popular items relates to the dissolution of the COBIS program.

Last March was the 10th anniversary of New York State’s Combined Ballistic Identification System  (COBIS) program. Under this program, all new handguns sold in the state had to be test-fired and the shell casings imaged and entered into a databank for possible use in crime scene investigations.

Since its inception in 2001, more than 350,000 shell casings have been cataloged at an estimated cost of some $4 million per year, for a total of over $40 million over the past decade.

Now, you might ask, what has that investment brought the taxpayer? The answer is zip, nothing, nada - not a single crime had been solved because of this program.

DETERMINED

Now the same people who swore COBIS was the cure-all and end-all may be back pushing for mandatory micro-stamping again, which is essentially just another ballistic imaging scheme based upon expensive and unproven technology.

Another $40 million (or more) boondoggle in the works? Probably, and can we afford that now? There’s a lot more to tell you about micro-stamping, but I’ll save it for a future column since it will likely become an issue again in a few months.

NATIONAL BOARD

Assuming Cuomo’s desire to terminate COBIS actually happens, it will be replaced by a similar program administered by the National Integrated Ballistic Information Board. In reality, IBIS apparently doesn’t work that well either, because records show this more sophisticated program only showed about 1,100 matches of ballistic evidence  found at crime scenes out of almost 170,000 bullets and casings included in the database nationwide.

The good news here is that inclusion in this program won’t cost the New York taxpayers anything for administrative costs.

     

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