It's cold. Really cold. Tonight and tomorrow night, temperature lows are going to be well below zero across the Catskills, according to the National Weather Service. On Sunday night in Kingston, the mercury will go down to -8; in Ellenville, it will hit -7; in Delhi, the temperature will be -14. Don't stay outside too long this weekend unless you know what you're doing.

NYC DEP to cull forests in Andes, Boiceville, and Wawarsing

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection sent out a press release today announcing that three stands of trees on three different parcels of city-owned upstate land will be the focus of a new forest management program.

The three sites are 50 acres in Andes near the Pepacton Reservoir, 45 acres in Boiceville near the Ashokan Reservoir, and 60 acres in Wawarsing on the Roundout reservoir. The idea is to cull diseased and sickly trees while boosting the health of the rest, on the theory that healthy forests lead to healthy drinking water. From the press release:

Healthy, vigorous and rapidly growing trees use more nutrients from the soil, which diverts them from running into streams and reservoirs. A healthy and diverse forest also helps reduce impacts of disturbances such as fire or pest outbreaks.  Read more

In a pickle: Local historian serves up tasty Catskill-Carpathian connections

Linda Norris, an independent museum professional based in Treadwell, first set foot in Ukraine in the dead of winter two years ago. One of the first things she noticed was that it wasn't that different from January in the Catskills.

Over the months since, as she's visited the country as a consultant, the similarities between Ukraine and the Catskills kept appearing -- especially in the Carpathian Mountains, a rocky region of small villages and second homes, or dachas, as they are called in Ukraine.

Norris has also been fascinated by the differences between Ukraine and the U.S., particularly when it comes to food, farms, and ways of living off the land. Back in the United States, Norris is hoping to bring a little Ukranian experience and wisdom home.   Read more

The Swarmatron: Artisanal instrument of the electronic age

In an increasingly digital age, when so many time-honored skills and crafts seem poised on the lip of the dustbin of history, it's refreshing to know that there are a few traditional craftspeople still keeping the faith.

Take, for instance, analog synthesizers. In the world of electronic music, it doesn't get much more old-timey than a guy etching his own circuit boards.

Meet the Dewans: cousins Brian and Leon, inventors of the Swarmatron, and the subjects of a fantastic Talk of the Town piece in the latest issue of the New Yorker. (There's a local connection, of course; Brian's a Catskill resident, and Leon lives in New Rochelle.) Here, New Yorker writer Nick Paumgarten takes a peek at the wonders of Leon's parlor:  Read more

Land acquisition: A future for the Catskills?

For the nine million people who drink New York City water, the city buying a few thousand acres of upstate land each year hardly registers as news. But in the towns whose fields and forests make up New York City's million-acre Catskill/Delaware watershed, there is scarcely an issue as politically charged as that of land acquisition.

Under the terms of a permit granted by the federal EPA, which allows New York to drink unfiltered water, the city must perpetually buy land around its six west-of-Hudson reservoirs to protect the quality of their water. Each year, the watershed towns cede a little more ground to the region's largest landholder -- ground that's lost to potential development, since the city will never sell or build on the land.

For many Catskills locals, land acquisition evokes the still-fresh memory of another, more rapacious era of city expansion: the building of the reservoirs, in which whole towns were taken by eminent domain, over the protests of unwilling landowners.  Read more

Tomorrow morning: Local farm show makes its radio debut

If you're one of those people who just can't get enough of cows, barns, fresh eggs and homegrown tomatoes -- and, let's face it, you probably wouldn't live here if you didn't have an endless capacity for these things -- you might want to tune into WJFF tomorrow morning at 7:30. Radio Catskill, which broadcasts on 90.5 from Jeffersonville and streams live on the internet, is introducing a new show: Farm and Country. From the Catskill Chronicle:

Segments will include News You Can Use (updates about meetings, deadlines and issues affecting the area), Fun Farm Animal of the Week (interviews with farm animals and the kids who love them), Farmers Almanac, the Garden Girl and cooking features. In addition, there will be special segments on cheese making, economic issues, and profiles of local farmers selling their products in New York City.

Hosted by John Nordstrom, contributors include Acadia, Spike Appel, John Bachman, Sonja Hedlund, Amy Miller, Adrianne Picciano, Beth Stevens, Adam Weinreich and Ed Zwirn.  Read more

When water came to NYC

The Croton Reservoir: Wikimedia CommonsThe Croton Reservoir: Wikimedia CommonsThe New York Times had a neat article yesterday about the history of the New York Public Library building, which stands on what once was the Croton Reservoir.

The reservoir opened for business in 1842 as the city's first central water system. The article sets the scene of the reservoir's opening day delightfully:  Read more

Missing ingredient prompts propane recall in 14 states

If you bought propane gas -- or got it delivered -- between February 25 and September 30 of last year, be warned: Distributor Aux Sable announced a massive recall today, after it was discovered that some of the gas they shipped (sold under a variety of brands) was missing the odorant that allows people to smell a leak. From WalletPop:

The fuel was sold to consumers under a variety of brands in Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, Vermont and Virginia.

If your most recent purchase of propane occurred between Feb. 25 and Sept. 30, you are urged to contact Aux Sable at (866) 473-7612 or visit the recall site to see if you're affected and eligible for a free inspection.

From the recall website:  Read more

Ice kills natural gas service to 1,000 in Kingston

The AP is reporting that icing problems are forcing Central Hudson to turn of its natural gas service to hundreds of customers in Ulster County for several days, just in time for a very cold snap.

The Ulster County Red Cross is opening an overnight shelter in Midtown Kingston to house families that are being displaced by the shutoff.

The Daily Freeman has posted a map of the affected neighborhoods on Scribd, which you can read below.  Read more