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Frequently Asked Questions

If you are unclear about recreational use of Water Supply lands or recreation permits, the information below may help. These are answers to the most common questions that we receive:

General Permit Questions

Permit Issuance Questions

Hiking Questions

Fishing Questions

Boat Tag Questions

Hunting Questions

General Questions

Can I recreate on Water Supply lands?

Yes, certain Water Supply lands are available for limited low-impact recreational uses such as hiking, fishing and hunting in accordance with DEP’s Rules for the Recreational Use of Water Supply lands and Waters, to those who possess valid DEP Access Permits.

Where can I recreate?

You can recreate on Water Supply lands specifically designated for recreational access. Areas available for recreational use by those with valid Access Permits are generally identified by DEP signs stating “Entry by Permit” or, for fishing-only access, “No Admittance Except for Fishing Under Permit”. Areas not available for recreation are closed to public access, and are generally identified by signs stating “No Trespassing” or “Restricted Area”. Other areas, called “Public Areas”, are available for recreational use without permits.

What things can I do on Water Supply lands?

Hiking, fishing and hunting are permitted uses of certain Water Supply lands open for recreational use. Open lands may not be available for all three types of recreational use. Fishing is allowed on all reservoirs, but hiking and hunting are only allowed on certain designated lands. Hiking includes cross country skiing, bird watching, snowshoeing, nature observation, and photography.

Who can recreate on Water Supply lands?

Any valid Access Permit holder, or child under the age of 16 who is accompanied by a valid Access Permit holder over 18 years of age may enter and use designated recreation areas.

What is an Access Permit?

A DEP Access Permit grants an individual permission, in accordance with DEP’s Rules for the Recreational Use of Water Supply lands and Waters, to access designated City-owned areas to:

  • fish on City reservoirs
  • hike and fish on specially designated City lands
  • apply for a Boat Tag and store and use a boat on a City reservoir;

A DEP Access Permit allows the holder to hike, fish, hunt, and obtain additional DEP permits for fishing by boat.

Is there an age requirement for Access Permits?

Children under the age of 16 do not need an Access Permit. They may enter City-owned Water Supply lands if accompanied by a valid permit holder over the age of 18. Minors between the ages of 12 and 18 may apply for an Access Permit with the permission of their parent or guardian if they would like to use Water Supply lands without the presence of an adult. Those 16 years of age or older must apply for a permit to use City-owned Water Supply lands.

Is my “lifetime” fishing permit still valid?

No. All DEP fishing, hiking, and hunting permits issued prior to January 1, 2002 have been revoked. You may keep your "lifetime" fishing permit card, but you must obtain a new Access Permit in order to continue using City reservoirs. Your assistance in registering with us and updating your information is greatly appreciated.

How long is an Access Permit good for?

All new Access Permits are five-year permits. In order to stagger future renewals, the expiration dates on Access Permits were varied. The day of expiration is your birthday and is printed on the face of your Access Permit.

How can I renew my Access Permit?

A renewal form will be mailed to you, via electronic or regular mail, approximately one to two months before your Access Permit is due to expire. To renew your permit, complete the renewal form and mail it to:

NYC DEP - Access Permits
71 Smith Avenue
Kingston, NY 12401

For more information, call 1-800-575-LAND (5263).

Does it cost anything to get a permit?

There is no charge for an Access Permit.

Can I bring friends onto Water Supply lands with me?

Yes. In order to access Water Supply lands, visitors must have a valid Guest Pass and be accompanied by an Access Permit holder 18 years or older.

What is a Guest Pass?

A Guest Pass is required for any person over 16 years of age who will temporarily be using designated Water Supply lands for any type of recreation except hunting. When using Water Supply lands, the guest must be accompanied by an Access Permit holder over 18 years of age. A Guest Pass is valid for 7 consecutive days. Guests can also use their completed Guest Pass to apply for an Access Permit by mailing it to the address on the form.

How can I get more information about Access Permits or recreational use?

The most up-to-date information is on this website. Information is also available by contacting DEP at or by calling 1-800-575-LAND (5263). For information about Water Supply recreation opportunities in a certain area or on specific recreation units, please call the Land for that area:

Ashokan Reservoir: (845) 657-2663
Schoharie Reservoir: (607) 588-6231
Rondout and Neversink Reservoirs: (845) 334-7152
Cannonsville and Pepacton Reservoirs: (607) 363-7009
East of Hudson Reservoirs: (914) 232-1309

I can’t get a map from the website to print from my computer

Maps of recreation areas are available on the website for valid Access Permit holders to download and print. You must have Adobe Reader installed on your computer to open and print these maps. Click here to obtain this free software. If you have the correct software installed on your computer but still cannot print maps, you may need to change your computer’s settings, re-install the software, or print from a different computer.

Permit Issuance Questions

Can you mail me an application?

Applications for Access Permits and Guest Passes are widely available. You can print an application here or apply online In order to focus our attention on reviewing and accepting submitted applications, we cannot accommodate individual requests for copies to be mailed out.

Where can I get an Access Permit and Guest Pass application?

You can fill out and submit an Access Permit application electronically here, or click here for an Access Permit and Guest Pass application to download and print. Applications are also available at most Town Halls and participating bait and tackle shops in the watershed. There are also copies at the following DEP Offices where they are: available 24/7 in boxes outside the office

East of Hudson Reservoirs, 54 Croton Falls Road, Mahopac, NY 10541;
Ashokan Reservoir, Beaverkill Road and Route 28A, Shokan, NY;
Schoharie Reservoir, 3700 State Rt. 990V, Gilboa, NY;
Rondout & Neversink Reservoirs, Route 42, Grahamsville, NY;
Pepacton & Cannonsville Reservoirs, NYC Highway 30A, Downsville, NY;

DEP Offices in the City:

During normal business hours Monday-Friday:
Bureau of Customer Services, 1250 Broadway (8th Floor), New York, NY;
One-Stop Center (First Floor), 96-05 Horace Harding Expressway, Corona, NY.

DEP Police Precincts

Ashokan Precinct, Route 28A, Shokan, NY 12481;
Beerston Precinct, 21939 State Highway 10, Walton, NY 13856 (near Beersbrook Rd.);
Croton Precinct, 900 Croton Lake Road, Yorktown Heights, NY 10598 (Route 129, 1.5 miles southeast of the Taconic Parkway);
Downsville Precinct, 22 NYC Highway 30A, Downsville, NY 13755;
Neversink Precinct, corner of Route 55 and Route 42, Grahamsville, NY 12740;

How do I get a Guest Pass?

The Guest Pass and Access Permit application are the same form, available on our website for download and printing. Guests should fill out the form completely, including the Access Permit number and name of their sponsoring Access Permit holder and the date. Guest must carry the completed form and their photo identification with them at all times while on City water supply recreation areas. The completed and signed form is the Guest Pass; no other form is required.

Can I copy the application for my friends?

Yes. You may copy the blank Guest Pass and Access Permit application for further distribution.

If I don't have a driver's license, can I still apply?

Yes, you can still apply using a non-drivers ID from your state’s Department of Motor Vehicles - additional information for New York is available here. Either a driver’s license or non-driver’s ID must be provided.

How can a 12 or 15 year-old without a driver’s license apply?

They may use their non-drivers ID to apply. Some states, including New York, issue non-drivers IDs to minors even if they reside in another state.

Do I need a NYS Fishing License to get a permit?

No, you can get your permit without a license but you must have a valid NYS Fishing License when fishing on a City-owned reservoir or stream, and the appropriate NYS Hunting License when hunting, in order to comply with State Law. For more information on New York State licenses, please visit the Department of Environmental Conservation.

Once I apply, how long will it take to get my Access Permit?

Applications submitted on our Internet website are processed immediately, allowing you to print your Access Permit right away. Applying via the Internet is the fastest way to get an Access Permit. It generally takes up to two weeks to process an Access Permit application received via regular mail. Permits applications will be issued in the order in which they are received.

Will DEP give or sell any of my information to a third party?

The information submitted on your application is for agency purposes only. It will not be sold or shared with any third party without your permission. It may be disclosed if required pursuant to the New York Freedom of Information Law or a valid subpoena or court order; in connection with any administrative or legal proceeding pertaining to a violation of DEP's rules; or as required to remedy an emergency situation.

I mailed in my application a while ago and have not received it yet, what should I do?

We process applications as quickly as possible in the order received. Not infrequently there are errors, omissions, or illegible writing on the applications. An effort is made to contact and follow-up on every problem application, but due to lack of a phone number or unclear address, this is not always possible. The Land Management Office can look up the status of your application if it has been more than four weeks since you submitted it, but please keep such requests to a minimum as it slows down the process.

If I mailed in an application but didn’t get my permit back yet, can I apply again on-line and print it right away?

If your application was received and processed by regular mail, you will not be able to get an Access Permit via the internet. Your permit should be in the mail on its way to you. If you wait more than four weeks to receive your permit, please contact the Office for assistance at 1-800-575-LAND (5263).

What if my Access Permit application information (i.e., name or address) changes, or is printed incorrectly on my permit?

Requests for such corrections or updates should be submitted in writing to DEP by mail or e-mail. Please use the Access Permit Update Form. Please keep your contact information on file with us current in order to receive permit renewal information, important notices and newsletters.

I lost my permit or my vehicle tag, what should I do?

If you lose your permit or vehicle tag, mail or e-mail a note including your name, address, Access Permit number and phone number to NYC DEP - Access Permits, 71 Smith Avenue, Kingston, NY 12401 requesting a replacement. Replacement requests must be received in writing. If you obtained your permit and vehicle tag via the website, you may reprint them from there.

Hiking Questions

What are the rules for hiking on City land?

It is the responsibility of the Access Permit holder to know and abide by the following rules for hiking: Rules for the Recreational Use of Water Supply lands and Waters.

Can I hike around the reservoirs?

No. The reservoirs, their shorelines, and adjoining lands are open for fishing, and, in some cases, hunting, but not hiking. Hiking is only allowed on designated hiking areas that are usually distant from the reservoirs.

How do I know where it's okay to go hiking?

A list of areas open for hiking is available on our website.

Where can I get maps of hiking areas?

Maps of most Recreation Units are available for Access Permit holders to download from our website.

Is hunting allowed in hiking areas?

Yes, in most hiking areas, hunting is also allowed. Hikers are advised to avoid hunting areas and must wear safety orange during hunting seasons. A list of areas open for hunting can be found on our website.

Fishing Questions

What are the rules for fishing on City reservoirs?

It is the responsibility of the Access Permit holder to know and abide by the following rules for fishing and boating: Rules for the Recreational Use of Water Supply lands and Waters.

Where are good places to go fishing?

Good fishing opportunities are available on many of the City-owned reservoirs. Further information about fishing in New York State is available from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) or by phone for DEC Region 3 at (845) 256-3000 and DEC Region 4 at (518) 357-2234.

Can I ice fish on City lands?

Ice fishing is allowed on ponds at hiking or fishing areas and at the following reservoirs and controlled lakes only:

  • Amawalk
  • Bog Brook
  • Boyds Corner
  • Cross River
  • Diverting
  • East Branch
  • Muscoot
  • Titicus
  • West Branch
  • Croton Falls
  • Middle Branch
  • Lake Gilead
  • Lake Gleneida

Sometimes unsafe ice conditions require DEP to close certain ice fishing areas. Please pay attention to any posted notices regarding any ice fishing closures. A minimum of three to four inches of solid ice is the general rule for safety. Ice thickness, however, is not uniform on any body of water, including New York City Reservoirs. Please visit the New York Department of Environmental Conservation website for guidance on ice fishing and ice fishing safety. Any reservoirs not listed above are closed to ice fishing due to changing water levels and public safety concerns.

Where can I get maps of the reservoirs?

You can view angler maps for all New York City Reservoirs using our Interactive Recreation Map or by directly downloading our Reservoir Angler Maps.

Can I use a boat to fish on City Reservoirs?

Yes, fishing by boat is permitted in rowboats that have valid DEP Boat Tags.

Are there any prohibitions on the use of wader?

No, not at this time. However, waders should be cleaned and inspected to ensure invasive species are not spread.

Boat Tag Questions

What is a DEP Boat Tag?

The Boat Tag has replaced the former system of boat permits and boat validations. The Boat Tag is a sticker that must be displayed on all boats on City water. It has the boat number, reservoir, and owner’s Access Permit number on it and displays an expiration date. Boats without valid tags on them will be removed at the owner’s expense.

Is there an age limit for Boat Tag applicants?

All valid Access Permit holders aged 16 or older who own a boat are eligible to receive a Boat Tag.

How do I register a new boat?

New boats must be inspected and cleaned by DEP before they can be issued a Boat Tag. To put a boat on a City reservoir or lake, please call the DEP office near the reservoir of interest and make an appointment.

Ashokan Reservoir: (845) 657-2663
Schoharie Reservoir: (607) 588-6231
Rondout and Neversink Reservoirs: (845) 334-7152
Cannonsville and Pepacton Reservoirs: (607) 363-7009
East of Hudson Reservoirs: (914) 232-1309

Can I get a Boat Tag on the web site?

No. Boat Tags are of special adhesive material and cannot be printed on regular paper.

How do I get a renewal Boat Tag?

A Boat Tag Renewal Application will be mailed via electronic or regular mail to all registered boat owners in the spring before the Boat Tag is due to expire. If renewing by regular mail the completed application should be mailed to NYC DEP - Access Permits, 71 Smith Avenue, Kingston, NY 12401 along with one self-addressed, stamped, legal-sized (#10) envelope for each boat. The - Access Permit Office will send you a new Boat Tag by mail. Other DEP Offices cannot renew Boat Tags.

When should I get a renewal Boat Tag?

Boat Tags Renewal Applications are sent to registered boaters starting in early spring of the expiration year. Boaters are urged to get and apply their renewal Boat Tags to their boats early in the season.

How long are Boat Tags good for?

DEP Boat Tags are two-year tags and are valid until the expiration date printed on the face of each Tag.

Where is fishing by boat allowed?

Fishing by boat is allowed under permit in DEP inspected and registered vessels on the following City reservoirs and lakes.

  • Amawalk Reservoir
  • Ashokan Reservoir
  • Bog Brook Reservoir
  • Boyds Corners
  • Cannonsville Reservoir
  • Cross River Reservoir
  • Croton Falls Reservoir
  • Diverting Reservoir
  • East Branch/Sodom Reservoir
  • Kensico Reservoir
  • Lake Gilead
  • Lake Gleneida
  • Middle Branch Reservoir
  • Muscoot Reservoir
  • Neversink Reservoir
  • New Croton Reservoir
  • Pepacton Reservoir
  • Rondout Reservoir
  • Schoharie Reservoir
  • Titicus Reservoir
  • West Branch Reservoir

When can I use my boat to fish?

Boats registered and stored on Water Supply lands may be placed on the water on April 1st of each year or when ice leaves the reservoirs, lakes and ponds, whichever is later. No boats may be placed on the water after December 1st of each year.

How many boats are allowed at each reservoir?

For reasons of resource protection, public safety and to promote high-quality fishing opportunities, the number of boats permitted in storage areas and reservoirs or lakes is set by DEP and may be limited. Boat storage areas may be moved, closed to new boats, or closed permanently for reasons of security or resource protection.

Do I have to wear a life jacket?

Every boat in use on City Property must have at least one wearable personal flotation device for each person on board. Children under 12 must wear an appropriately-sized personal flotation device while on board.

How can I transfer ownership of my boat that is on a City reservoir to someone else?

To transfer ownership of a boat already on City water that is not being removed from the property, the current owner must complete and sign a Boat Transfer of Ownership Form and mail it together with the new owner’s completed Boat Tag Application to NYC DEP - Access Permits, 71 Smith Avenue, Kingston, NY 12401. A new Boat Tag will be mailed to the new owner.

What do I have to do to remove my boat from City water?

To remove your boat from City property, please contact the appropriate DEP Office and advise them of your plans to remove your boat. They will record this in our database and advise DEP Environmental Police of the removal. You cannot remove your boat and bring it back without having it re-inspected and steam cleaned at the appropriate DEP Office.

Why does DEP require steam cleaning of all boats?

Steam cleaning removes organisms, including zebra mussels, and substances from boats that might otherwise contaminate the water supply.

How can I move my boat from one City reservoir to another?

To move your boat from one reservoir or lake to another, please notify the appropriate DEP Office that you are removing your boat, and schedule a processing appointment for the new location. All boats that are removed from City water must be re-cleaned and inspected before being returned. This is to prevent contamination of the water supply.

Why do I have to leave my boat at the reservoir?

Boats registered for use on City reservoirs must be stored at the reservoir due to the threat of water supply contamination. Boats removed, used on other waters, and returned to City reservoirs without re-inspection and steam cleaning are at high risk for introducing detrimental organisms or substances, such as zebra mussel larvae.

Does my boat have to stay in the boat storage area assigned to it upon registration?

From April 1 to September 30, boats may be temporarily stored at any other boat storage area on the same reservoir or lake, provided space is available there for additional boats and the move is approved by DEP. Anglers should contact the DEP Office for that reservoir to learn which areas are available. From October 1 to March 31, boats must be stored in the boat storage areas for which they were originally assigned.

How should I store my boat while it is on City land?

Boats must be stored on their assigned reservoir in assigned locations determined during the registration process. All boats must be stored hull up (upside down) at all times. Boats must be stored at least 10 feet back from the high water mark and should be secured to living trees at least 11" in diameter, or on installed hitching facilities where available. Use cable or covered chains, wrapped once loosely around trees to secure your boat; tightly wrapped chains kill trees.

Will the City prevent my boat from being stolen from the boat area?

Although DEP staff regularly inspect and supervise boat areas, DEP is not responsible for boats left on City land. You may secure your boat to hitching posts or to living trees greater than 11" in diameter.

Can I let my friends us my boat on a City reservoir for fishing?

Yes, as long as they have a valid Access Permit. We recommend that boat owners give those with permission to use their boat a photocopy of the owner’s Access Permit to carry with them, too.

Hunting Questions

Can I hunt for wildlife other than deer?

Yes. At designated hunting areas you may hunt bear, turkey and small game as well as deer. A list of hunting areas may be found on our website.

What about doe hunting?

Does and antlerless deer may be taken on City-owned water supply lands open for hunting. DEP encourages hunters to take doe before buck to help reduce overbrowsing of watershed forests. Please refer to hunting maps and the list of hunting areas for information regarding Wildlife Management Units; this information is needed to apply for extra doe permits from NYS DEC.

I heard that DEP has additional doe tags to give to deer hunters—how can I get one?

DEP sometimes receives additional antlerless deer tags under the NYS DEC Deer Management Assistance Program (DMAP). DEP distributes these tags to eligible hunters through a lottery drawing. The tags may be used by the selected hunters on specific hunting areas for the harvest of does only. Click here for more information.

Update: DEP did not secure any DMAP Permits for the 2009 hunting season, but hopes to have a program in place for the 2010 hunting season.

Are there any deer harvest restrictions in effect on DEP hunting areas?

Yes, on the Knapp Road Unit, West Branch Headwaters Unit, Richardsville Road Unit, and Boyds Corner North Unit in the Town of Kent and Putnam Valley in Puntam County. This is part of a Quality Deer Management Program in this area. Click here for more information.

Are hunting regulations on DEP Hunting Areas the same as New York State hunting laws and regulations?

Yes. All New York State hunting laws and regulations apply and are enforced on City-owned hunting areas. Additional DEP regulations also apply and are enforced on DEP hunting areas Rules for the Recreational use of Water Supply Lands and Waters. Each hunter is responsible for familiarizing him or herself with, and abiding by, both the NYS and DEP hunting restrictions.

Where can I get the DEP hunting rules?

Rules for hunting are available here Rules for the Recreational Use of Water Supply lands and Waters.

Are the City-owned hunting areas also open for hiking and fishing during hunting season?

Yes. Most hunting areas are also open to hiking and fishing under DEP permit. All visitors to hunting areas during big game gun hunting season must wear blaze orange for safety. Big game gun hunting seasons are generally mid-October through mid January in Delaware, Dutchess, Green, Putnam, Schoharie, Sullivan, and Ulster Counties. Visit the NYS DEC website for season dates. Please take every precaution to ensure the safety of all visitors to City Water Supply lands.

Do I have to wear blaze orange when hunting?

All visitors to DEP hunting lands during big game gun hunting seasons, including hunters, must wear blaze orange in the form of a vest, jacket, or hat at other times, blaze orange is optional, but recommended, if possible.

I have a NYS bow permit. Can I hunt with a bow on City-owned watershed hunting areas?

Yes. DEP Hunting Areas are open for bow hunting during the appropriate New York State bow hunting seasons.

I have a NYS permit to hunt with a gun. Can I hunt with a gun in Putnam County?

All New York State laws and regulations apply on DEP lands. Thus, for example, hunting with a rifle on DEP lands in Putnam County is not permitted, but shotgun hunting is allowed. Permit holders must know and abide by all applicable State laws and regulations.

Can I hunt with a handgun on City hunting areas?

Yes, handguns are permitted for purposes of hunting in accordance with NYS law.

Can I use tree stands or blinds?

Temporary, portable tree stands and hunting blinds may be placed at Hunting Areas beginning on the first day of pre-season scouting (14 days prior to opening day of deer season). All tree stands and blinds must be marked with the user’s name, Access Permit number, and telephone number. Tree stands and hunting blinds must not damage trees and must be removed at the end of the season.

What about hunting with dogs?

Dogs may be used for hunting in compliance with NYSDEC regulations. Dogs shall be under the control of their handlers at all times. Dogs cannot be used for tracking injured deer.

Can I clear shooting lanes?

Hunters may cut tree limbs smaller than 2 inches in diameter that are within 25 yards of their tree stand. Limbs may only be cut using a hand tool; the use of chainsaws or other motorized equipment is not allowed. Cutting or removal of vegetation is otherwise prohibited.

Where can I get maps of the City-owned hunting areas?

Maps are available to Access Permit holders here.

How can I replace my lost Access Permit, or Vehicle Tag?

New documents will be issued to replace those lost upon written request to NYC DEP - Access Permits, 71 Smith Avenue, Kingston, NY 12401, or e-mail to

Do I have to wear my NYS Hunting tag?

Yes. Hunters on City-owned lands are in accordance with State law, required to have and display the appropriate NYS hunting back tag. It must be displayed on the hunter's back so that all writing is clearly legible.

What if my Access Permit application information (i.e., name or address) changes, or is recorded incorrectly on my permit?

Requests for such corrections must be submitted in writing to NYC DEP - Access Permits, 71 Smith Avenue, Kingston, NY 12401 or at