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Friday, February 5, 2016

News: Support Catskill Park Coalition Efforts to Build and Maintain a Modern Catskill Park

ARKVILLE, New York--According to the Catskill Park Coalition and its supports, the Catskill region deserves a modern park. Recently the Catskill Park Coalition, made up of dozens of organizations representing the Catskill region, has met with NY state’s legislators to request equitable support for the Catskill Park and Forest preserve, as well as the larger Catskill region. Providing a vastly improved recreational experience for residents and visitors alike will improve the health of our public lands, our people and the economy.

You can join the Catskill Park Coalition on Tuesday, February 9th in Albany for Catskill Park Awareness Day as they ask for continued support for our beloved Catskill region! For detailed information and to RSVP please visit catskillcenter.org/awareness-day.

The Coalition has had success in helping support our region’s Forest Rangers, to open the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center in Mt. Tremper, and to garner support for marketing the Catskills. During the 2015 legislative session, through the support of Senators Seward and Amedore, the Catskill Park Coalition secured a $500,000 line item in the Department of Environmental Conservation’s “Aid to Localities” budget, an historic budget item for the region that should have shovels in the ground soon. Working on a variety of projects throughout the Catskill Park and Forest Preserve, we’re working to build a modern park.

On Tuesday, February 9th, dozens of organizations will join the Catskill Park Coalition to request support for: a $300M budget for the Environmental Protection Fund, with $4M set aside for the Catskill Park and Forest Preserve for planning, infrastructure maintenance and improvements, and community grants for Catskill towns; support for the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Division of Lands & Forests to fill Forest Ranger vacancies and expand the division’s budget to properly manage and oversee the Catskill Park; support for capital projects at the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center (pavilion, amphitheater, fire tower, trails, solar arrays, electric vehicle charging stations) as well as operational support and funding to grow visitorship and increase visitors services; and increase the Environmental Protection Fund to support priority land acquisition projects to knit together public lands for enhanced recreational opportunities and to increase access in the Catskills; and support for public/private stewardship partnerships such as the Catskill Conservation Corps, the Catskill Summit Stewards program, Fire Tower Stewards program, and the Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership, to counteract resource degradation from increasing visitors and invasive species.

Learn more at the Catskill Center's Catskill Park Awareness Day page

The Catskill Park Coalition is an alliance of like-minded groups committed to working together to broaden public appreciation for the Catskill Park and seek additional resources to enhance, maintain, and make available to the public the extraordinary opportunities the Park and its surroundings offer and can offer.


Need more information on hiking and planning your 
trips to the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park?


Read up on the Catskill Park at our Catskill Mountains Information Page for hikes, advice, travel and planning information.  

We have a Guide to Hiking in the Catskills available and on our sister site, ReviewThis is a Guide to the Catskill Park.

Need a hiking map for your hikes in the Catskills?  We recommend the Trail Conference's Catskills Trails 6-Map Set.  These maps are the best available for hiking and outdoor adventures in the Catskills and the Catskill Park.  

How about a guidebook?  Both AMC and ADK publish trail guides to the Catskill Region and thAdventures in the Outdoors Bookstore carries many more books and maps that will help you as you hike and explore the Catskill Mountains region.

If you are looking for more information about the extensive history of the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park, we would suggest reading The Catskills, From Wilderness to Woodstock and The Catskill Park, Inside the Blue Line.

   

Thursday, February 4, 2016

News: NYC Department of Environmental Protection Opened Thousands of Acres of Catskills Watershed Lands in 2015

Thanks to additions in 2015, now more than 130,000 acres of New York City watershed lands west of the Hudson River are now open for fishing, hiking and other low-impact recreation.  In 2015, the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) announced that more than 2,800 additional acres of city-owned property across the watershed were opened for public recreation for the first time. The new lands opened for recreation this year put the total over 130,000 acres for the first time, more than half of which is now open for access without the requirement of a DEP Access Permit.

“For nearly a decade, DEP has sought to expand, improve and simplify recreational access to our reservoirs and the scenic lands that surround them,” DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd said. “We are proud that New York City water supply properties now include some of the best hiking trails, fishing opportunities and hunting lands anywhere in New York, attracting local residents and visitors from throughout the northeast. In 2016, DEP will continue to work with our partners to examine our existing programs, add at least one new hiking trail in the Catskills, and support the state’s first Catskill Challenge this coming summer.”

“Making DEP land accessible to the public is a huge financial boost to our local economies throughout the Catskill Mountain region,” said Delaware County Chamber of Commerce President Ray Pucci, who also leads the regional group Catskill Area Tourism Services. “The quality of the recreation available on these properties is outstanding and is attracting more visitors every year to the area.”

“The Catskill Center applauds DEP’s continuing effort to open watershed lands for public recreation,” said Jeff Senterman, Executive Director of the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development. “Highlighting the region’s natural beauty and multitude of fun recreational opportunities, is a sustainable way to boost our region’s economy while protecting the environment.”

DEP opened 2,810 additional acres of land for recreation use in 2015, all of which are public access areas that can be used without a permit. Use of some water supply properties—especially those near reservoirs—still requires an access permit that is available free of charge on the DEP website. The newly opened properties include 2,260 acres in Delaware County, 424 acres in Greene County, 79 acres in Schoharie County, and 47 acres in Ulster County. DEP also removed permit requirements from 209 acres in the Catskills, making them even easier for the public to enjoy. DEP first established public access areas in 2008 to allow recreation without permits on certain watershed lands. Since then, the number of acres open for recreation without a permit has more than tripled, from 20,009 to 66,480. In total, DEP has opened 130,653 acres of lands and reservoirs for fishing, hiking, hunting and other forms of low-impact recreation.

Many of these recreation areas are open year-round, including during winter for activities such as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. Those using the recreation areas should pay careful attention to posted signs that outline the allowable uses. That information, along with a list of recreation areas, can also be viewed on the DEP website by clicking here.

In addition to expanded access across the watershed in 2015, some of DEP’s popular recreation programs also experienced an increase in participation. They included:
  • The recreational boating program at Cannonsville, Neversink, Pepacton and Schoharie reservoirs tallied 1,463 total visits, an all-time high and the largest year-over-year increase for the program since it began in 2012. That total includes 683 visitors who rented a kayak or canoe from one of the six watershed businesses that store and rent boats from alongside the reservoirs—an increase of 92 percent from the 355 rental visits in 2014. The rental program is administered with significant help from the Catskill Watershed Corporation, which funded 30 storage racks for the boats and administered the process to vet and approve the rental businesses.
  • 2015 was the third year for a pilot program that allowed the use of electric trolling motors for fishing at Cannonsville Reservoir. The program issued 152 tags to fishermen this year, exactly double the number of tags that were issued in 2014 (76). DEP had circulated a survey to anglers at other reservoirs in the Catskills to gauge their interest in an expanded trolling motor program. DEP plans to continue the trolling motor program at Cannonsville in 2016.
  • The number of state-certified outdoor guides offering fishing, hiking and other expeditions on city-owned property also expanded in 2015. A total of 34 guides are now permitted by the city to offer guided outdoor trips that have long been a hallmark of the Catskills. That’s up from 23 guides that registered when the program began in 2013. The state certification process requires the guides to know first aid, CPR, and water safety.
Learn more about DEP's recreational programs in the watershed on their Watershed Recreation page.


Need more information on hiking and planning your 
trips to the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park?


Read up on the Catskill Park at our Catskill Mountains Information Page for hikes, advice, travel and planning information.  

We have a Guide to Hiking in the Catskills available and on our sister site, ReviewThis is a Guide to the Catskill Park.

Need a hiking map for your hikes in the Catskills?  We recommend the Trail Conference's Catskills Trails 6-Map Set.  These maps are the best available for hiking and outdoor adventures in the Catskills and the Catskill Park.  

How about a guidebook?  Both AMC and ADK publish trail guides to the Catskill Region and thAdventures in the Outdoors Bookstore carries many more books and maps that will help you as you hike and explore the Catskill Mountains region.

If you are looking for more information about the extensive history of the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park, we would suggest reading The Catskills, From Wilderness to Woodstock and The Catskill Park, Inside the Blue Line.

   

Sunday, January 24, 2016

News: One of a Kind Platte Clove Artist in Residence Program Accepting Applications in the Catskills

Home to one of the most unique Artist Residence Programs in the nation, the Catskill Center has recently announced that is accepting applications for the 2016 Platte Clove Artist-in-Residence Program.

The residency, the only one in the country situated in the historic landscapes which were the inspiration for the Hudson River School, provides a tranquil and rustic workplace and is a retreat for artists, working in a variety of disciplines, located in the living landscape where American art began. The residency is open to visual artists and performing artists who have an affinity for the natural world.

The residencies run from July through September and artists can choose to stay from a couple days to a full week, depending on availability. The work produced should foster an appreciation for the environment and participants are encouraged to submit works for the biannual Platte Clove art exhibit at the Catskill Center’s Erpf Gallery.

Participants stay in a rustic cabin in the Platte Clove Preserve - 208 wild, pristine acres full of hiking trails, multi-tiered waterfalls, and old growth forests. Hiking trails to Indian Head and Overlook mountains begin near the cabin and the 60-foot Plattekill Falls is a short walk from the cabin.

Artists are selected by a jury comprised of representatives from local arts organizations as well as the Catskill Center. Artists working in all mediums are encouraged to apply. The application deadline is Friday, April 8.

For more information and an application, please visit the Catskill Center web site or contact Katie Palm at kpalm@catskillcenter.org Applications are due by Friday, April 8, 2016.


Need more information on hiking and planning your 
trips to the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park?


Read up on the Catskill Park at our Catskill Mountains Information Page for hikes, advice, travel and planning information.  

We have a Guide to Hiking in the Catskills available and on our sister site, ReviewThis is a Guide to the Catskill Park.

Need a hiking map for your hikes in the Catskills?  We recommend the Trail Conference's Catskills Trails 6-Map Set.  These maps are the best available for hiking and outdoor adventures in the Catskills and the Catskill Park.  

How about a guidebook?  Both AMC and ADK publish trail guides to the Catskill Region and thAdventures in the Outdoors Bookstore carries many more books and maps that will help you as you hike and explore the Catskill Mountains region.

If you are looking for more information about the extensive history of the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park, we would suggest reading The Catskills, From Wilderness to Woodstock and The Catskill Park, Inside the Blue Line.

   

Sunday, January 3, 2016

Hiking: Indian Head Mountain - Devil's Path Challenge with Hal Brodie & Alan O'Mara - November 24, 2015

Icy crack the author and his companion
traversed as they hiked over Indian Head
The Devil's Path Challenge with Hal Brodie and Alan O'Mara

Hal and I decided to mix the Intermediate RIP hikes, with more challenging hikes in alternate weeks. We picked the Devil’s Path as a challenge we could do in segments. I had done all the peaks, but except for Sugarloaf, they were done as an out and back.

Indian Head is the first peak on the Devil’s Path, so that’s where we started.We were at the Prediger Road Trail Head, and on the trail at 9:10 AM.  Temperatures ranged from 26 to 36 degrees, and as the day was clear with no wind, it was perfect.

We went up the Devil’s Path, turning left and hiked 1.8 miles to where the trail intersected with the Overlook Trail. Rolling hills, and flat terrain made it a good warmup & pleasant start to the hike. We only went up 60’ or so, so that gave us an idea of how steep the rest to the hike would be. I’ve done Indian Head before, but only as an up and out from Jimmy Dolan Notch. After a short distance the Devil’s Path turned north and we started to climb. The trail was very steep & icy in spots, especially one about 35’ crack where Hal had to pull me up onto the top ledge.

On the way to the summit there were many open views thru the bare trees, and one small outcropping with great vistas. We had lunch on a huge outcropping, right on top of the icy crack. There were great views of the Hudson River, Overlook Mountain, the Shawgunks, and the Taconics.

We met three young guys from Brooklyn, who maneuvered the crack in about one quarter of the time it took us. We told them we were doing a loop over Indian Head, and they liked that idea better than going back the way they came.

At 1:30 PM after the lunch stop of 30 minutes, we were back on the trail. One steep part remained before we crossed the ridge to reach the summit. On the way down to Jimmy Dolan Notch, after crossing the summit, we had to be very careful, because of multiple icy patches.  We reached the Notch, and worked our way back about 1000’ on the Jimmy Dolan Trail, which is one of the rockiest that I remember in the Catskills. It seemed like it took forever before we were back at Prediger Road, arriving around 5 PM. It was getting dark & the moon was visible.

The hike was exhausting & challenging, but we were very satisfied because of what we had accomplished.
 
7:55 hours on the trail
6.9 miles
Total Ascent of 1893’
Maximum elevation of 3575’,
Descent of 1928’
Minimum elevation of 1991’

Read about Hal and Alan's adventure and challenge on Twin Mountain, the next peak along the Devil's Path.











Alan O'Mara is a member of the Catskill 3500 Club, and the Rip Van Winkle Hiking Club (RIP's). He leads intermediate hikes for the RIP's, and alternate weeks do other mostly more challenging hikes with a close group of friends who are all retired, and hike on Wednesday's to avoid the crowds on the trails.  Alan is 72 years old and started doing the 35 Catskill Peaks in 2009 at 65. I finished the requirements for the 3500' Club membership in 2012 at 69. Alan has 16 Winter Peaks done, and plans to work on more this winter.


Need more information on hiking and planning your 
trips to the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park?


Read up on the Catskill Park at our Catskill Mountains Information Page for hikes, advice, travel and planning information.  

We have a Guide to Hiking in the Catskills available and on our sister site, ReviewThis is a Guide to the Catskill Park.

Need a hiking map for your hikes in the Catskills?  We recommend the Trail Conference's Catskills Trails 6-Map Set.  These maps are the best available for hiking and outdoor adventures in the Catskills and the Catskill Park.  

How about a guidebook?  Both AMC and ADK publish trail guides to the Catskill Region and thAdventures in the Outdoors Bookstore carries many more books and maps that will help you as you hike and explore the Catskill Mountains region.

If you are looking for more information about the extensive history of the Catskill Mountains and the Catskill Park, we would suggest reading The Catskills, From Wilderness to Woodstock and The Catskill Park, Inside the Blue Line.