A new ordinance put in place by local officials will limit Plattburgh State student access to Rugar Woods, a 50-acre forest bordering the Fieldhouse and Saranac River, through special surveillance between 9 p.m. and 5 a.m.
Entrance to Rugar Woods will be restricted to those without authorization from a school officials. Students can request to have access through a school faculty member, but the request has to be authorized by University Police.
University Police Chief Arlene Sabo attributed these new restrictions, adopted by a partnership between University Police and Plattsburgh City Police, to attempting to maintain the safety of Rugar Woods and those who intend to use the area for authorized purposes.
“[This ordinance] restricts unauthorized use that serves no purpose or that is not affiliated with a program on campus,” Sabo said.
Signs will be posted bordering the area with the restricted times.
Unauthorized activities include but are not limited to camping, bonfires and consuming alcoholic beverages or illegal drugs.
The change came this past summer when, according to Sabo, two parties were broken up in the area.
Sabo said that although University Police hasn’t seen an increase of calls within Rugar Woods, the Plattsburgh community is always looking for ways to monitor and improve the area.
In addition to better monitoring public safety, this ordinance will help to preserve the sensitive plant areas, various wetlands and wildlife habitats that are used for research purposes within several different academic programs on campus.
Danielle Garneau, an associate professor in the earth and environmental science department and ecology researcher, said she is pleased with the new ordinance because she has seen firsthand how destructive human behaviors within the woods can affect the ecosystem.
“We think it will limit the destructive behaviors, the cutting down of trees for bonfires … there would also be less foot traffic,” Garneau said. “We think having this limited access will reduce the risk of fire — fires can be extremely dangerous and could potentially wipe out these habitats. I feel the restriction will aid the cause and continue the research.”
Sabo said she was asking for the Plattsburgh community’s help to keep the area safe, and requested that if anyone hears of or sees any suspicious or dangerous activity within Rugar Woods, for them to contact University Police.
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