Catskills Fourth of July: Fireworks

Above: Fireworks at the Monticello Raceway on July 4, 2014. Photo by John of Catskills Photography, shared in the Watershed Post Flickr pool.  

Independence Day in the Catskills means barbecue, waters warm enough to swim in, and lots of time spent outside. But we know that you're really here for the fireworks. Here's our five-county lowdown on where to see fireworks in Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster counties over the 2015 Fourth of July weekend.

DELAWARE COUNTY  Read more

10 Catskill mountain waterfalls worth visiting

Above: Old Mill Falls in Platte Clove (number 1 on the list below). Photo by Joshua Trupin.

Steep slopes and restless streams make the Catskill Mountains rich waterfall territory. Here are 10 falls worth visiting, winnowed down from the dozens and dozens to be found in the region. Some are a cool reward at the end of a rugged hike, while others plunge just a few yards from the road.

While most waterfalls in the Catskills are located in the high escarpment in the east part of Greene County, there are cascades, plunges and cataracts in each of the counties that make up the region -- Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster. All five counties are represented on this list, so there's a waterfall here close to you.   Read more

Woodstock Writers Radio with Martha Frankel and guests

Mountain Top Arboretum project holds out hope for embattled ash trees

Above: The sign near the entrance of the Woodland Walk at the Mountain Top Arboretum informs visitors of the devastation caused by the emerald ash borer beetle. Photos by Laney Salisbury.

Many trees along Route 23C leading up to the Mountain Top Arboretum in the Greene County village of Tannersville don't stand a chance. They are ash trees, victims of the ongoing Catskills invasion by the emerald ash borer, and they loom over the road like skeletons pinned against the sky.

But turn right onto Maude Adams Road into the natural sanctuary on the mountaintop and here, in an experimental strategy, volunteers are giving a large stand of ash trees a chance to defend itself. 

Begun last year, the research project plans to treat about 160 ash trees on several acres with a systemic insecticide that protects ash trees against the non-native emerald ash borer, which researchers say is the most destructive forest insect to invade the U.S.

The insecticide is emamectin benzoate, which many U.S. communities are using but on a small landscape scale, such as one tree at a private home or five trees along a street.  Read more

State legislators approve Delaware County's bed tax

Above: The Roxbury Motel, one of Delaware County's largest hotels, will be affected by the proposed new two percent bed tax. Photo via the Roxbury. 

A bill that will establish a two percent occupancy tax on room and hotel rentals in Delaware County finally passed both houses of New York's state legislature on Wednesday, June 24, in the last days of a legislative session that just never seems to end.

The bed tax bill "passed the assembly yesterday," said Jeff Bishop, a spokesman for Senator James Seward, who sponsored the legislation in the New York State Senate. "We were supposed to be done last week, but [the legislative session] is still going."

The bed tax bill was approved by the Senate last week, on Wednesday, June 17, and got the thumbs up from the New York State Assembly yesterday, Wednesday, June 24. State Assemblyman Clifford Crouch sponsored the bill in the assembly.  Read more

Franklin family's lamb found decapitated after compressor meeting

Members of a politically active Franklin farming family found one of their lambs decapitated outside their home on June 2, according to an article in the Daily Star.

In act reminiscent of the "horse head" scene in the movie "The Godfather," the lamb was reportedly found headless outside the home of Linda and Pete Bevilacqua.

The Bevilacquas say that they had returned home​ after a rancorous town meeting about a proposed gas pipeline compressor station slated to be built in the Delaware County town of Franklin, which the Bevilacquas oppose.

According to reporter Joe Mahoney, the Bevilacquas suspect that there is a political motivation for the slaying:  Read more

NY Post: "Catskills are the new Montauk"

Above: Catskills v. Hamptons T-shirts on The Graham & Co.'s Instagram page in 2013

The "Year of the Catskills" continues: On Tuesday, June 23, the New York Post's Page Six gossip column quotes an "NYC nightlife guru" as saying that, yes, the Catskills are the new Hamptons:  Read more

Legislature approves the Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway

It's taken seven years, but Route 28 in Ulster and Delaware counties has finally received legislative approval to become the Catskill Mountains Scenic Byway, according to a press release from New York State Senator James Seward.

Seward made the announcement on Tuesday, June 23, in what officials hoped was the last day of the legislative session, which has run close to a week over its normal schedule this year. 

The 65-mile byway runs along Route 28 from the Ulster County town of Olive to the Delaware County town of Andes, with short jogs along Route 212 and Route 42, through Shandaken, Middletown and Andes. It still must receive Gov. Andrew Cuomo's signature to become law.

State approval means that the byway will be designated on maps and will be eligible for federal grant money. It also means that someday soon you'll see the byway's signature logo, which features a bobcat paw print (above), along the roadway from Olive to Andes.   Read more

New life for Kutsher's resort as a yoga retreat center

Above: The groundbreaking of the Z Living/Veria Nature Cure & Ayurvedic Wellness Center. From left to right: Mike McCormack, LMV Architecture, LLP; Chrissy Schiff, representative for Congressman Chris Gibson; Sullivan County Legislative Chairman Scott B. Samuelson; Town of Thompson Supervisor Bill Rieber; Mark Kutsher; Walter Garigliano; Sullivan County Partnership President and CEO Marc Baez; Sullivan County Visitors Association President and CEO Roberta Byron-Lockwood; hotel magnate Sant Singh Chatwal; and Dr. Subhash Chandra, the media mogul behind the project. Photos courtesy of Z Living and the Veria Nature Cure & Ayurvedic Wellness Center.

A billionaire Indian media mogul's plans to build a wellness retreat center and resort on the bones of the defunct Borscht Belt Kutsher's Country Club in the Sullivan County village of Monticello became reality during a groundbreaking ceremony held on Sunday, June 21, according to media reports and a press release.  Read more

Suspicions swirl around resort plans for Andes

Above: The Andes General store, which has been closed for a year. Photo by Julia Reischel.

In 2006, when word spread that Aman Resorts was going to build a high-end retreat in the Delaware County town of Andes, the locals were thrilled.

A resort, especially one run by one of the world’s most elite brands, meant local jobs, more tourists and a stronger tax base for the Andes school, which is one of the state’s smallest.

But the years went by and no resort appeared. Instead, mysterious groups of investors began to buy up the most prominent buildings on Main Street in the picturesque hamlet. After the purchases, some of the buildings that once housed retail businesses stood empty for months at a time, accumulating broken windows and other damage.

Then Hogan’s, the hamlet’s general store, closed. The building, which was bought by one of the investment groups, has been shuttered for a year, leaving Andes residents with no place to buy gas, beer or a newspaper in the hamlet.   Read more

This weekend: Learn to maintain a trail

Above: Trail maintainers and volunteers work on a new section of the Shandaken Long Path, which opened in 2014. Photo courtesey of the NYNJTC.

It takes a lot of work to keep the 350 miles of hiking trails in the Catskill Park clear and hike-able. Do your bit by volunteering with the Catskill Conservation Corps this weekend to learn the basics of trail maintenance in the park.

The Conservation Corp is hosting a day-long workshop on Saturday at the trails around the North and South Lakes in the Greene County hamlet of Haines Falls. According to a press release, participants will:  Read more

Taste of Country security guard arrested for assault at concert

A security guard working at this year's immensely popular Taste of Country Music Festival at Hunter Mountain in the Greene County town of Hunter has been charged with assault for causing "serious facial injuries" to a 21-year-old man, police say.

Left: Bruce D. Belfer. Photo via the New York State Police. 

Fifty-two-year-old Bruce D. Belfer, a New Jersey resident, allegedly kicked the man in the face and struck him "with a blunt object," according to a press release from the New York State Police.

Belfer was charged with second-degree felony assault and criminal possession of a weapon, a misdemeanor. He was arraigned in the village of Tannersville Court and has been released on bail.

Son of woman who died in Rock Hill parade kills himself during encounter with police

The 43-year-old son of a woman who was killed during Rock Hill's St. Patrick's Day Parade in March shot himself during an encounter with police in Rock Hill on Wednesday, June 17, according to MudHudson News and the Times Herald-Record

Richard Bernstein, who originally grew up in the Sullivan County hamlet of Rock Hill, was the son of Susan McCormick, police say.

Left: Richard Bernstein in his Collier County mugshot. Via the Collier County Sheriff's Office

McCormick was a 56-year-old Rock Hill resident who died after she fell off a float in the parade and was run over on March 14.

Bernstein, a resident of Naples, Florida, spoke at his mother's funeral; the Times Herald-Record has photos of him at the ceremony. 

In May Bernstein was arrested in Collier County, Florida on criminal charges related to having a sexual relationship with a young teenage girl, according to the Naples Daily News. 

  Read more

Where to pick your own strawberries in the Catskills

Above: The first strawberries of the season at Dressel Farms on June 6. Photo via Facebook. 

It's strawberry season, that momentarily magical time of year when you can eat fat, juicy, locally-grown berries by the bucketfull at U-Pick farms around the Catskills.

We're smack in the middle of the picking season this week. For most farms, the season begins at the start of June and lasts about four weeks, sometimes stretching into the first week of July. The higher up into the mountains you go, the later the season runs.

We've done our homework, and the strawberries are ripe and ready at all the Catskills farms listed below. Happy picking!

GREENE COUNTY

Story Farms
4640 Route 32, Catskill
518.678.9716
Story Farms had its first U-Pick day on June 5, and is selling them for $2 per pound. 

SCHOHARIE COUNTY  Read more

Brew in Rock Hill: Coffee by day, beer by night

Brew, a combination coffeeshop, bar and drive-through in Rock Hill. Photo by Janel Bladow.

Love and marriage. Horse and carriage. Coffee and beer.

Yes, in a small Sullivan County café coffee and beer go together like a marriage made in marketing heaven.

Brew, just off Route 17 at exit 109, has lived up to its motto – coffee by day, beer by night – so well that the Rock Hill hot spot is celebrating its first anniversary this week.

On Saturday, June 20, its First Birthday BBQ is a customer appreciation bash starting at 1 p.m. with free coffee, beer tastings, barbecue food specials, giveaways from beer glasses to T-shirts and live music by Paul Kean and Will Hoppey.

“What better way can was say thank you to all those who supported us over this year,” said co-owner Randy Resnick. “Three local breweries — Catskill Brewery, Roscoe Beer Company and Newburgh Brewery — are giving free samples and bringing stuff to give away. It should be a lot of fun.”  Read more

Farmstead gelato maker Lazy Crazy Acres closes

Above: Lazy Crazy Acres gelato.

Karen and Jake Fairbairn, the owners of the Arkville-based "cow-to-cone" gelato maker Lazy Crazy Acres, announced in a blog post on Tuesday, June 16 that they are shuttering their gelato business. 

The Fairbairns have run Lazy Crazy Acres since 2010. (Read our interview with them from 2012.) They are part of a new generation of Catskills dairy farmers attempting to keep their family farms going in an era of low milk prices by making "value-added" products with their milk. For them, farming came first; the gelato was a way to support their "farming addiction." 

Yesterday's announcement sheds a grim light on the hope that value-added products will save many ancestral Catskills dairy farms.   Read more

Delhi pool project in peril

Above: An artist's rendering of a proposed Delhi swimming pool may have been rendered obsolete by bids on the project, received and rejected last week.

The 12-year effort to build a new community swimming pool in the Delaware County town of Delhi was dealt a setback last week when bids for the project came in well above estimates and available funds.

Two bids were received for the project and were opened at the town council meeting on Monday, June 9. Councilman Al Perkins opened the bids and announced that Patterson-Stevens Inc. of Tonawanda had bid $1,322,000 for the pool, $155,000 for a pool house and $13,000 for a heating system.

MidAtlantic Construction and Design of Trenton, New Jersey offered bids of $1,314,000, $248,640 for the pool house and $10,000 for the heating system.

Both bids are far above the committee's $896,000-to-$900,000 estimate, according to Scott Oles, the chairman of the West Branch Aquatic Center – a committee that was formed as an independent organization and later adopted as a committee of the town.  Read more

Treasurer stole $80,000 from Liberty cemetery, police say

After a two-month investigation, the New York State Police have arrested the 61-year-old treasurer of the Liberty Cemetery Association for reportedly pilfering over $80,000 from the cemetery's accounts.

Left: Deborah Lyden, via the New York State Police.

Police arrested Deborah Lyden of Liberty on Saturday, June 13 and charged her with felony grand larceny in the second degree, according to a press release.

Lyden was arraigned in the town of Rockland Court and is free after posting $25,000 bond, police say.

The Liberty Cemetery is located on Cold Spring Road in the Sullivan County village of Liberty.  Read more

NYC media outlets dive deep into the Catskills watershed

It's unusual for New York City-based media outlets to pay much attention to the Catskills, and even more unusual for them to examine the long, often painful history of how exactly New Yorkers get their water, more than a billions gallons a day of it, from the Catskills watershed. 

But this week, WNYC radio and a news website called CityLimits.org are diving deep into the story of the Catskills watershed in their week-long The Cost of Our Water collaborative investigative series. They're airing thoughtful radio pieces and publishing long articles about the sometimes fraught relationship between the NYC Department of Environmental Protection (DEP), which runs the vast system of reservoirs that dominates the Catskills, and upstate residents.   Read more

Flash flood watch in Delaware County tonight

Above: A hydrograph showing Trout Creek's brief spike into flood stage early on Monday, June 15. More rain on Tuesday, June 16 may cause flash flooding around the Catskills. 

A series of heavy rains over the past few days have added much-needed inches of water to streams and rivers across the Catskills.

But tonight and early tomorrow, Tuesday, June 16, more rain on saturated ground may cause some flash flooding.

From 2 a.m. Tuesday morning until Tuesday afternoon, heavy rain will fall in Delaware and Otsego counties -- sometimes as much as an inch an hour, according to an alert issued by the National Weather Service in Binghamton.  Read more

New summer, new antlers

John of Catskills Photography captured this young buck posing with some velvety new antlers in the Sullivan County hamlet of Rock Hill on June 2 and shared it in the Watershed Post Flickr pool.

Correction: An alert reader points out that deer have antlers, not horns. Forgive me -- I wasn't on my fact-checking game this morning. For more on the difference between antlers and horns, check out the National Park Service's helpful fact sheet. - Julia