ALBANY -- All New York State Department of Environmental Conservation-operated campgrounds in the Adirondack and Catskill parks are officially open for the summer camping season.

Each year, millions of people visit DEC facilities in the constitutionally protected Forever Wild campgrounds.

This year, DEC campsite reservations have soared, with an increase of more than 15 percent from last year.

According to ReserveAmerica, about 39,000 camping reservations have been taken so far for DEC facilities for the 2008 camping season.

DEC operates 52 campgrounds and seven day-use areas in the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserves.

The summer camping season runs through Labor Day, with some facilities remaining open during fall foliage and hunting season.

Sites are available on a first-come, first-served basis and range from $16 to $22 a night.

"DEC campgrounds offer a unique opportunity to enjoy some of the most beautiful natural resources in New York state," Commissioner Pete Grannis said in a news release.

"In addition to hiking and fishing, DEC campground facilities offer a wide range of outdoor recreational and camping opportunities and activities which the whole family can enjoy."

For more information, including a list of campgrounds and their schedules, visit the Web site and go to the camping link under the outdoors-recreation section or call DEC's Bureau of Recreation at 457-2500.

To make reservations, call ReserveAmerica at 1-800-456-CAMP (2267) or visit

DEC asks people not to transport firewood to campgrounds or parks in order to limit the spread of invasive-insect species and improve forest health. People may not be aware they are moving the eggs or larvae of these pests, which may be hidden on or under the bark or buried deep within the logs.

Campers are urged to use only firewood from local sources.

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