Above: A poster for the Windham Chamber Music Festival, just one of the events happening this Labor Day weekend in the Catskills.
Don't look now, but the leaves are already turning in the highest peaks of the Catskills. That and the arrival of Labor Day weekend confirms it: Summer is ending. Go out with a bang -- in some cases, a literal bang, with fireworks -- with these great events from around the region.
Above: Bill Lonecke with his wife, Barbara (left), and daughter, Cindy (right), standing where their Maplecrest house used to be. It was washed away during Tropical Storm Irene by the Batavia Kill, which is 50 yards away to the right. Photo by Christopher Auger-Domínguez. Read their story in our Faces of the Flood Project, here.
If you're anything like us here at the Watershed Post, anniversaries sneak up on you.
Three years ago today, Tropical Storm Irene blasted the Catskills with intense flooding, killing several local people and washing away homes and businesses in towns across our region. Read more
Above: The lit-up Berry Hill fire tower in Chenango County near Norwich during the 2013 lighting of the fire towers event. (The Berry Hill tower isn't one of the five Catskill fire towers that will earn you a badge, but it sure is pretty.) Photo by Warren Johnsen.
There's no weekend like this weekend to hike up a Catskills fire tower. Not only can you earn one of our coveted Catskill Fire Towers badges if you do (see details here or below), but you'll also get a rare treat: the sight of a fire tower cab glowing from within.
Once a year, the volunteers who maintain the Catskills fire towers hike lights into the cabs at the top of the towers, making them visible for miles around.
The event is meant to commemorate the time when fire towers were staffed by lonely and intrepid fire tower watchers who stood vigil night and day, scanning for signs of fire.
About 13,250 Central Hudson customers in Greene and Albany counties were left in the dark late Monday night, after a downed wire cut power to a large area.
The outage occurred around 9:30 pm on Monday night, and was restored by around 1 am Tuesday, according to Central Hudson spokesperson Denise VanBuren.
The outages are still under investigation, VanBuren said, but the problem was traced to a phase wire that came down on Paul Saxe Road in Catskill, impacting several substations.
As of 10:30 pm on Monday, according to Central Hudson's outage map, power was out in most of the households in Cairo, Durham, Greenville, New Baltimore and Tannersville, and parts of Athens, Catskill, Coxsackie and Hunter.
The eastern Catskills -- Ulster, Schoharie and Greene counties -- are under a flash flood watch issued by the NWS's Albany office. The rains are expected to begin close to midnight tonight, Tuesday, August 12. The flood watch expires at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, August 13. Read more
Brace yourselves: The Catskills are having their biggest moment since the height of the Borscht Belt resorts in the '50s.
Hudson Valley Magazine has dedicated its entire August issue to the region, declaring that "The Catskills Are Back," and featuring the pool at Phoenicia's The Graham & Co. hotel on its cover.
[T]he big story of the day is that the Catskills have seemingly overnight transformed from a sleepy, somewhat rundown region to a hip ’n happening hangout for all types of urban culture vultures and — dare we say it — hipsters.
What is this we hear? It seems that every season, at least one new boutique hotel throws open its doors — and more and more city folk flee upstate to the forest. Cultural offerings abound, gastropubs serve up farm-to-table fare, you can even stay in a luxury yurt. Yes, glamping has come to the Catskills. Read more
Above: Jazz pianist Marcus Roberts at the 2013 Catskill Jazz Factory. Photo courtesy of the 23Arts initiative.
Piers Playfair and his wife Lucy believe that the arts are the key to economic development in the Catskills.
“It’s important we have a strong artistic spine,” Playfair said.
The couple decided to bring renowned jazz musicians to the Catskills two years ago, when they founded the Catskill Jazz Factory -- a series of performances, workshops, and master classes -- in the Greene County hamlet of Tannersville.
The Jazz Factory, which kicks off its 2014 season tomorrow night, was such a success that the Playfairs are making it the highlight of new organization that plans to run year-round arts programming in and around Tannersville.
The new initiative, which launched this summer, is called the 23Arts Initiative (23Ai for short), and is named after Route 23A, which runs through Tannersville. Read more
Outdoor recreation opportunities abound in the Catskills, running the gamut from strolling on rail trails to expert-only wilderness bushwhacks. Whatever your adventure level — or your dog’s — there’s plenty to do with a pup in tow here in the Catskills.
What to do
HIKE. Most dogs love to hike, and the many trails that wend through Catskills forests are wonderful places for you to enjoy nature: balsam firs, bald eagles, tumbling cascades and vistas that have inspired generations. Be sure to match your outing to your buddy’s current level of fitness.
Catskill Park regulations do not require dogs to be leashed at all times. Voice control is acceptable in many areas; check the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s website (dec.ny.gov) for details. Some great trails to try are Overlook Mountain (watch out for timber rattlesnakes), Slide Mountain, Giant Ledge and Rochester Hollow. Read more
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
Longtime Catskills wilderness guide Charles “Sonny” Somelofski has earned a few more gray hairs since this photo was taken — and caught countless more fish. Photo courtesy of
Catskill Outdoor Adventures (catskilloutdooradventures.com).
Charles “Sonny” Somelofski of Catskill Outdoor Adventures in Margaretville (catskilloutdooradventures.com), remembers when the licensing process to become an outdoor guide in New York state was a simple paper questionnaire with a $2 fee that asked whether he could swim, handle a boat, and read a map and compass.
“That was it, back then,” Somelofski says. “Bang! I was able to take people out and do it all.”
Today, being a state-licensed outdoor guide requires a bit more: taxable income disclosure forms, a physician’s statement, and certifications in first aid, CPR, and water safety. Those are the just the basics. Guides can be licensed in a number of different categories, ranging from camping and fishing to whitewater rafting and ice climbing, each with different licensing requirements.
The heart of guiding, however, has remained the same: proving to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) that you can reliably take paying customers out into the great outdoors and bring them back again in one piece. Read more