Boat the Cannonsville Reservoir in August, earn a badge

Above: The Cannonsville Reservoir in 2012. Photo by Flickr user David, shared in the Watershed Post Flickr pool

This summer, the Catskills Outdoor Guide is partnering with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the Catskill Watershed Corporation to bring you our new Catskill Reservoir Paddler embroidered badge, which you can only earn by paddling a specific reservoir each month.

In August, the spotlight is on the Cannonsville Reservoir. Paddle the Cannonsville anytime between August 1 and 31, send in your proof, and a Catskill Reservoir Paddler badge will be yours. Click here or scroll down for full redemption instructions. 

The Cannonsville reservoir is the most remote of the Catskill reservoirs. At the northwestern edge of Delaware County, it's in the middle of nowhere, just the destination for someone looking for a little on-the-water solitude.

The Cannonsville also has a whopping seven boat launches studding its 61-mile shoreline, which makes it the easiest reservoir to thoroughly explore. That's because the recreational boating program made its debut on the Cannonsville in 2009 before expanding to the other reservoirs in NYC's Catskill system. There's been lots of time to build out the infrastructure. 

For a detailed map of the Cannonsville and its boat launches, click here.

The Cannonsville was the last of the city's Catskills reservoirs to be constructed. It was finished in the 1960s, forcing five communities to evacuate.

Some reminders remain under the waters. A twin-span iron bridge that once spanned the West Branch of the Delaware River was submerged along with the abandoned towns, according to a newspaper clipping reproduced on the blog Ghost Lakes

You can get your boat steam-cleaned for the Cannonsville at Rainbow Lodge (607-865-7534, 440 Rainbow Lodge Road, Walton), JMT Enterprises (607-865-7801, 1724 Chamberlain Brook Road, Walton), Backus Farms (607-865-6639, 7377 County Highway 27, Trout Creek), and Warner Enterprises (607-349-5105, 69 Main Street, Deposit). And you can rent a boat or get it steam-cleaned at Hawk Mountain Guide Service (607-865-7830, 751 McLaughlin Road, Sidney Center). 

For our five-step guide to boating NYC's Catskills reservoirs, click here. 

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Rudi's Big Indian ashram to reincarnate as retreat center

Above: A ten-foot-tall granite statue of Mariamma, a south Indian rain goddess, at a dedication ceremony at the former ashram in Big Indian on Sunday, July 27. Photos courtesy of the Bodhivastu Foundation.

A ten-foot-tall, 10,000-pound statue of a Hindu rain goddess arrived in Big Indian on Sunday celebrate the reopening of a long-dormant Catskills ashram.

The Poughquag-based Bodhivastu Foundation is planning to open a Buddhist spiritual retreat center at the site of an ashram founded by legendary Catskills guru Swami Rudrananda -- known as Rudi -- in 1968.

John Mann, the owner of the parcel located at 126 Lost Clove Road in the Ulster County town of Shandaken, donated it to the foundation, according to Lama Rangbar Nyimai Özer, the spiritual leader of the Bodhivastu Foundation.

According to Ulster County real estate records, the property was sold on February 25.

"We explained our intention to him about making [it] a spiritual sanctuary retreat and healing center," said Lama Rangbar, who is also known as Adam Friedensohn. "It was very much in line with Rudi's original intention."  Read more

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Police: Oneonta man raped acquaintance in Davenport

An Oneonta man was arrested yesterday on several charges, including rape, following an investigation into a sexual assault that occurred early Monday in the Delaware County town of Davenport, according to a press release from the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office.

On Wednesday afternoon, July 30, Delaware County Sheriff's deputies arrested 19-year-old William J. Hilgers, who is accused of engaging in sex with an acquaintance by “forcible compulsion” while the victim was "physically helpless," according to the press release. 

Police said that Hilgers restrained the victim in an attempt to prevent the person from fleeing or ending the assault.

Hilgers was charged with rape in the first degree, criminal sexual act in the first degree, a class B felony, sexual abuse in the first degree, also a class B felony, and unlawful imprisonment in the second degree, a class A misdemeanor.

He was arraigned in the Town of Davenport Court and remanded to the Delaware County Correctional Facility in lieu of $10,000 cash bail or $20,000 bond.

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Woman dies after fall at Kaaterskill Falls

Above: Kaaterskill Falls in April 2014. Photo by Paige Patunas, shared with the Watershed Post via our Flickr pool.

A Dutchess County woman died yesterday evening after she fell from the top of Kaaterskill Falls, a popular Greene County tourist attraction that is one of the tallest waterfalls in New York State. (At 260 feet, it's much taller than Niagara's 170 feet.) 

The Daily Mail reported that 23-year-old Ariana Bedka of Wappingers Falls apparently lost her balance at the top of the falls and fell 150 feet to the bottom at around 7 p.m. on Tuesday, July 29.

Tannersville Assistant Fire Chief Stephen Tuomey told the newspaper hat the woman was visiting the falls with a friend — she was unfamiliar with the terrain and shoeless at the time of her fall.  Read more

Belleayre Resort will fail unless scaled back, Catskill Heritage Alliance claims

Above: A rendering of the planned hotel and lodge buildings at Highmount -- part of the proposed Belleayre Resort project -- from a supplemental draft environmental impact statement released in April 2014 by the DEC.

The Catskill Heritage Alliance, a local environmental group that has long been critical of the proposed Belleayre Resort project in Highmount, has released a study that claims the resort will fail unless scaled back.

The study, commissioned by Washington, D.C.-based firm Public and Environmental Finance Associates, takes aim at another study commissioned last year from national hotel consultants HVS by resort developer Crossroads Ventures. In documents prepared in 2013 for the state's ongoing review of the project, Crossroads relied on the HVS study to make a case for the resort's financial viability and economic benefits to the region.   Read more

Ulster County Fair opens in New Paltz

The 127th Ulster County Fair gets underway. Source: Ulster County Fair's Facebook page.

The Ulster County Fair opened today for the 127th time, offering fireworks, magic shows, live music, fair food and other festivities.

The fair, held at the county fairgrounds on Libertyville Road in New Paltz begins Tuesday at 4 p.m. and will end on Sunday, Aug. 3.

This year’s fair will feature headline musical performances from Mister Kick, Neal McCoy, Chris Cagle, The Lost Trailers, Katie Armiger and Josh Thompson.

Daily entertainment will come in the form of the Kent Family Magic Circus, the Two by Two Zoo, a pig race and a different horse show each day of the fair, as well as an array of rides and games.

A variety of competitions will take place during the week, including an antique tractor pull, a truck pull and garden tractor pull.  Read more

Oorah wins a key court decision in tax battle with Jefferson

Oorah, a New Jersey-based nonprofit that runs summer camps for Jewish children in the Schoharie County towns of Jefferson and Gilboa, has won a major victory in a longstanding legal battle with the town of Jefferson over whether Oorah was entitled to an exemption from local property taxes. 

The battle between Jefferson and Oorah has been fierce, and there is much at stake for both sides. In 2009, Oorah bought the former Scotch Valley ski resort to run as a summer camp. In 2012, Oorah applied to be exempt from paying property taxes on its upstate properties, which in the town of Jefferson amounted to over $200,000 a year in annual tax revenue for the town, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal. Rather than grant Oorah the exemption, the town of Jefferson opted to fight the matter in court.  Read more

Police: Skeleton found in Monticello woods belongs to missing woman

A body found in the woods behind a Sullivan County housing complex was the remains of a 31-year-old woman who disappeared in May, the Monticello police said last week.

According to the Times Herald-Record and Mid-Hudson News, the village of Monticello's police department issued a statement on July 25 reporting that a body found near the Sleepy Hollow Apartments in Monticello on June 10 belonged to April Parker, who had been missing since May 26.

From the THR

The remains were positively identified as Parker's by DNA testing performed at the New York State Police Forensic Identification Center in Albany, police said. An autopsy determined that the manner of death was homicide, but authorities did not release any other details.

Monticello police said they do not believe Parker was the victim of a random act of violence.

TMI Project: Voices in Action plays Rosendale

Above: TMI Project stage manager Erica Pivko, left, talks with founder Julie Novak. Photo courtesey of the TMI Project. 

"I had constructed these pants when I was in one of my nuthouses," Joanee Tarshis says in a video produced by the TMI Project. "I had been refusing to make a wallet in occupational therapy. Only crazy people make wallets."

Stories like this, from mental health patients, at-risk teens, and domestic violence survivors, are the heart of "Voices in Action," a monologue show produced by the TMI Project that comes to the Rosendale Theatre on Tuesday, July 29.  Read more

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Transition Catskills proposes 'Catskills dollars,' tool libraries, and farmers' markets

Above: A design for a local Catskills currency created by members of Transition Catskills.

About two dozen people attended the first public forum of Transition Catskills, a group dedicated to making the Catskills more economically resilient, on Wednesday night at the Open Eye Theater in Margaretville.

“This was our first effort to organize a conversation,” said Jeff Tomasi, a former partner at Goldman Sachs who helped found the group.

There will be another film screening and public forum for the Transition Catskills movement on Saturday, July 26, at 4 p.m. at the Roxbury Arts Center in Roxbury.

Tomasi, who owns a second home in the Delaware County town of Middletown, also lives in London, where he first got word of Transition, an initiative that began in England around 2006 and addressed issues of oil dependence and economic instability.

“I’m not a leader, I’m a facilitator,” Tomasi told the group. “I’m not here to tell people how to live. Just here to start the dialogue.”  Read more