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Celebrating the trout

The 25-foot-long Giant Brook Trout, a creation of local artist Bud Wertheim, is a regular at Livingston Manor’s annual Trout Parade. Photo by Tyler Young; courtesy of Manor Ink (manorink.com).

The Catskills region is renowned as the cradle of American dry fly-fishing. It’s the place where, in the 1800s, local anglers first began to alter English flies into shapes and patterns that mimic our own native insects.

Today, the fly-tier’s art thrives in the Catskills. Roscoe, known as “Trout Town, USA,” boasts several excellent fly-fishing shops and many local fishing guides. Phoenicia, where an important angling history collection was gutted by a 2011 fire at the local library, is now home to a digital trove of local fly-fishing lore, with a detailed hatch chart that tracks the dates of local hatches and the flies used to mimic them (catskillanglingcollection.org).

But in the Catskills, it’s not just fly-fishers who revere the trout. The native brook trout and stocked browns and rainbows that run through the cold, clear waters of the Catskills’ many creeks are part of the soul of the community — and when fishing season rolls around, everyone celebrates.  Read more

The winners of the 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest

Each year, we ask readers of the Watershed Post and our Catskills Outdoor Guide to send us their best photos of the Catskills great outdoors. This year, 68 talented photographers from around the Catskills region entered our 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest

Thanks to our contest sponsor, Peekamoose Restaurant & Tap Room in Big Indian, who generously offered a dinner for two to our grand prize winner. 

Grand Prize Winner

"Eagle Landing," taken in Narrowsburg by Harry Rampe (shown above). 

Second Place

"Kids and Kids," taken at the West Branch Creamery in Delaware County by Dave Turan.

Third Place

“Mt. Utsayantha,” taken from the top of the Mt. Utsayantha Fire Tower in Stamford by Christopher Mooney.

Fourth Place

“Big Indian Leaves,” taken in Big Indian by Michael LoBianco.

Editor's Prize

A special Editor’s Prize goes to Susan Sainsbury, whose photo “Canoeing at the Roxbury Swamp” appears on the 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide cover.

Honorable Mentions

Honorable mentions go to the following photos, which appear in this year’s print Catskills Outdoor Guide: “World Cup Mountain Bike Races at Windham” by Karl Anshanslin, “Newman’s Ledge on the Escarpment Trail” by Jessica Wilson, “Canoe On The Lake” by Courtney Ross, “Kayak Fishing on the West Branch” by Ryan Brown, “Delaware River, July 2013” by Jody Bryan and “Diane ‘n Fish” by Sonny Somelofski.

This article originally appeared in the print version of the 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide, our annual publication covering recreation in the Catskills great outdoors. The Catskills Outdoor Guide is distributed across the Catskills region and at select locations in the NYC metropolitan area. Find a copy near you here. 

Below: A Flickr slideshow of all of the entries in the 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest.

  Read more

A five-step guide to boating the Catskills reservoirs

Above: The largest of New York City’s reservoirs, the 15-mile-long Pepacton Reservoir in Delaware County supplies almost a quarter of the city’s drinking water. Photo by John Kocijanski of Catskills Photography.

Four of New York City’s six reservoirs in the Catskills — Pepacton, Schoharie, Cannonsville and Neversink — are open to canoes, kayaks, rowboats and small sailboats from Memorial Day to Columbus Day. The reservoirs hold drinking water for roughly 9.4 million people, and New York City’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is pretty vigilant about keeping them clean. So before you get out on the water, you’ll have to jump through a few hoops.

To boat the reservoirs, you must have a free DEP access permit; if you’re planning on boating more than one reservoir, you’ll need a separate access permit for each. You’ll also need a boat that has been steam cleaned by an authorized steam-cleaning vendor. (Steam cleaning helps stop the spread of invasive plants, animals and other organisms that could harm water quality or the ecology of the reservoirs.) And you must use a DEP-designated launch area for putting in and taking out your boat, which can be only a kayak, canoe, rowboat, scull or small sailboat: No gas-powered boats allowed.  Read more

A view of history: Catskills fire towers

Hunter Mountain Fire Tower. Photo by Gordon Hoekstra, chairman of Friends of the Hunter Mountain Fire Tower.

Once upon a time, 23 steel fire towers dotted the high peaks of the Catskills. They were staffed by fire tower observers, who scanned the horizon for smoke and filled their downtime with shimmying up the steep steel struts, taming bears and sharing space with pet snakes. (Those stories and other fire tower tales are collected in the book Fire Towers of the Catskills by Martin Podskoch, published by Purple Mountain Press.)

The job of the fire spotter vanished decades ago, and the towers fell into disrepair. But between 1997 and 2000, thanks to the efforts of Catskill Fire Tower Project volunteers, five of the original fire towers of the Catskill Park were renovated and opened to the public.

They are:

Balsam Lake Mountain in Hardenburgh
(3,723 feet)

Red Hill in Denning
(2,990 feet)  Read more

Hail in Hamden, tornado warning in Albany

See video

Above: Video of hail falling in the Delaware County town of Hamden on Thursday afternoon, taken by local videographer Jess Vecchione. 

Intense, fast-moving thunderstorms are moving through the Catskills region, bringing rain and, in some places, hail. 

Around 3:39 p.m, forecasters at the National Weather Service in Albany declared a tornado warning for parts of Albany, Montgomery, Saratoga, Schenectady and Schoharie counties, in effect til 4:15 p.m. A second tornado warning was issued, in effect until 4:30 p.m.

Severe thunderstorm warnings have been posted for Delaware and Schoharie counties, where forecasters were calling for quarter- to ping-pong-ball-sized hail. The rest of the Catskills region is under severe thunderstorm watch

Got hail or other intense weather in your neck of the woods? Let us know at [email protected].

Below: Live social-media reports of weather in the Catskills and Capital Region. A tornado may have touched down near Delanson, where a home was destroyed, and two tractor-trailers were overturned on I-88.

 

  Read more

Our guide to a Catskills Memorial Day Weekend

In Tannersville, Memorial Day means it's time once more for rubber ducks and crazy boats. Photo from the Great Northern Catskills website.

Everybody knows when summer really starts: this weekend. Monday will be marked by official Memorial Day observances in many towns, but all weekend long, there’s plenty of unofficial fun to be had, from music fests to boat races to town-wide yard sales. Here’s our five-county guide to the good times.

AROUND THE CATSKILLS

The five restored fire towers of the Catskill Park open for the season this weekend: Balsam Lake Mountain in Hardenburgh, Red Hill in Denning, Tremper Mountain in Shandaken, Overlook Mountain in Woodstock and Hunter Mountain in Hunter. Volunteer staffers will be at the towers every weekend from now through Columbus Day, to help fill you in on fire tower history, mountain know-how and more. Lace up your hiking boots and dust off the binoculars for those 100-mile views.  Read more

Foreclosures cancelled on Fleischmanns junkyard properties

Above: The VW Parts property at 717 Wagner Avenue in Fleischmanns that is owned by William Hrazanek. Photo by Julia Reischel. 

Developer Kenneth Pasternak has cancelled a foreclosure sale of two Fleischmanns junkyard properties owned by William Hrazanek, who owes Pasternak more than $1 million in unpaid mortgage payments. The parcels are eligible to be purchased with federal disaster funds by FEMA, but are also allegedly contaminated with pollutants that may bump them out of the buyout program.

The foreclosure sales were scheduled to take place on May 20 on the courthouse steps in Delhi.

"It was cancelled," said Dennis Metnick, Pasternak's lawyer in the foreclosure case. "That is all I can say."

An April 2 foreclosure judgement against Hrazanek for his unpaid debts is still in force, Metnick added.  Read more

Local school budgets pass

Voters went to the polls Tuesday to decide the fate of local school budgets, and elect members to school boards

In the five counties of our Catskills coverage area -- Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster -- all school budgets passed, most with wide margins. 

In last year's school elections, voters rejected school budgets in Marlboro, Middleburgh and Cairo-Durham. All three districts saw their budgets pass this year; the narrowest vote of the three was in Marlboro, whose budget passed 1,102-1,026.

Here are a few links to detailed coverage of local school election results:

All Ulster budgets get voter approval - Times Herald-Record)  Read more

Catch up with Catskills food trucks

Above: Heather Williams of Pippy's Hotdog Truck greets customers in Palenville. Photo by Clancy Nolan.

The geographic spread of the Catskills region creates often-daunting distances between would-be diners and their dinner plates. One solution to that problem: mobile meals. The food truck scene is growing exponentially here, both in numbers and in variety of cuisine. Artisanal hot dogs, all-sliders-all-the time, Alsatian flammkuchen—there’s a food truck specializing in each of those things, traveling the hills feeding hungry customers. During warm months, they gather for a monthly rodeo in Saugerties called the Hudson Valley Food Trucks Festival; during the winter, many of them operate as catering kitchens that come right to your work or home for parties and events.

Specializing in roasting whole pigs to serve hungry throngs at weddings and parties in Delaware County and beyond, Catskill Mtn. BBQ is a mobile unit (formerly parked in Gilboa), now open in a permanent spot in Grand Gorge also. Pork, brisket, chicken and ribs are marinated and slow-smoked for 14 to 24 hours. Grand Gorgecatskillmtbbqteam.com

Black-Eyed Suzie’s is a travelling food stand and caterer with a local, seasonal menu that changes weekly, celebrating the seasons and using fresh, beautiful local ingredients from neighboring farms. Woodstockblackeyedsuziesupstate.com @BESupstate

  Read more

School voters go to the polls

Tuesday, May 20 is election day for school districts across New York State. Today, voters go to the polls to decide the fate of school budgets, elect candidates for local school boards and vote on school propositions. 

Statewide, increases in school taxes are slowing, according to a report from the NYS Association of School Business Officials (NYSASBO). Schools are under pressure to keep tax increases low because of a statewide tax cap passed in 2011, which restricts the growth of the annual tax levy unless voters pass an override at the polls. The average school tax levy increase in the state this year is 1.8 percent -- the lowest increase in six years, according to NYSASBO. 

Here are a few of the most interesting school races around the region this year:   Read more