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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

Guide me a river: The art of Catskills wilderness guiding

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

Here comes the rain again...and wind, too

Look out, Catskills: Yet another round of thunderstorms is taking aim at the region, with the possibility of high winds, damaging hail and even the chance of a tornado. 

As of late Tuesday afternoon, a line of storms is organizing in western New York and Pennsylvania, and moving steadily eastward across the region. A severe thunderstorm watch is currently in effect across Central New York, including Delaware County in the Catskills region, until 8 p.m.

Storm trackers at the National Weather Service caution that there is a slight chance the storms could spawn a tornado or two as they swirl across Central New York. 

The eastern Catskills are not yet under severe weather watch, but thunderstorms are expected this afternoon and evening. Locals should keep an eye on the weather as the storms move eastward.   Read more

Catskills under flash flood watch, but the Fourth should be sunny

Above: Forecast detail from the National Weather Service in Albany.

The forecast for Fourth of July weekend in the Catskills looks bright and clear -- but before Friday arrives with cooler temps and sunnier skies, another round of intense thunderstorms has the region under flash flood watch. 

All five of the Catskills counties in our coverage area -- Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster -- are currently under flash flood watches issued by the National Weather Service offices in Binghamton and Albany. In the western Catskills, Delaware and Sullivan counties, the flash flood watch will last until 9 p.m. The eastern Catskills, which will see storms later into the evening, are under flash flood watch until midnight  Read more

Storm floods Jeffersonville, knocks out power to thousands in Catskills

Main Street/Route 52 in Jeffersonville at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 2. Photo by Tiffany Karen Denier.

Heavy rains and thunderstorms on Wednesday afternoon caused major flash flooding in the Sullivan County village of Jeffersonville, and widespread power outages across the region.

The flooding in Jeffersonville was intense enough to bring swift-water rescue teams to the village. Eyewitnesses in Jeffersonville reported about two feet of water on Main Street, and deeper water in some areas.

Above: Main Street/Route 52 in Jeffersonville at 2:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 2. Photo by Tiffany Karen Denier.

Above: Main Street/Route 52 in Jeffersonville at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, July 2. Photo by Tiffany Karen Denier.  Read more

Cycling the Catskills: From steep trails to smooth sails

A cyclist takes a break for the panoramic view from Castle Point on the Shawangunk Ridge, at the southeastern edge of the Catskills. Photo courtesy of Riding the Catskills (ridingthecatskills.com).

Climb up and over the rocky Shawangunk Ridge to a spectacular vista overlooking the Hudson Valley. Meander along hundreds of miles of carriage lanes and trails through the Mohonk Preserve. Ride through rolling pastureland on 19th- century dirt roads, lined by mossy stone walls and shaded by tunnels of overarching trees. Travel winding country roads for hours without seeing more cars than you can count on your fingers.

The Catskill Mountains were made for cycling. And if you’re not here already, they’re easier to get to than you might think. From New York City, in less than two hours by car, you can leave urban sprawl far behind and discover a cycling utopia. You don’t even need a car to get here: Bring your bike on a scenic 90-minute Metro-North train up the majestic Hudson River to Poughkeepsie, cycle across the Walkway Over the Hudson, and you’re practically in the Catskills.  Read more

Flash flood watch issued for western Catskills

Above: National Weather Service radar shows two bands of thunderstorms headed eastward across central New York. Screenshot taken at 3:25 p.m. on Friday, June 13.

Bands of thunderstorms and heavy rain are headed eastward across western and central New York, prompting National Weather Service forecasters in Binghamton to issue a flash flood watch for south-central New York and the western Catskills.

Forecasters are expecting over two inches of rain to fall over a period of less than three hours on Friday afternoon and evening, which could cause flooding in small streams and areas of poor drainage.

Included in the flood watch are Delaware and Sullivan counties. The watch will remain in effect until midnight. 

Below: A forecast posted on Facebook by NWS Binghamton forecasters.

   Read more

Horseback riding in the Catskills

Riders head out on the trail. Photo courtesy of Bridle Hill Farm.

Strapping on your hiking shoes isn’t the only way to see the Catskills: You can also hit the trail on horseback. Trail-riding companies operate throughout the region, and they offer an alternative way to enjoy the spectacular views and fresh mountain air that make the Catskills a paradise for hikers.

Novice and experienced riders alike should have a pre-ride safety check with the trail ride leader, says Laura Phoenix, a riding coach and equestrian specialist at Country Meadows Equine in Delaware County. Before embarking, beginning riders should be shown how make their mount turn left or right — and most importantly, how to stop.

As you ride, the group should set the pace at the comfort level of the most inexperienced rider, in order to ensure a successful ride for everyone in the group.

After horse and rider have gotten acquainted, it’s time to sit back and enjoy the views.

Spring is a great time to take a trail ride, Phoenix says.  Read more

Green Door closes

Green Door, a Liberty-based quarterly magazine about Catskills life and culture, is shutting down.

It's been a good run; in their three years and 13 issues, Green Door's founders have launched a multi-use art space on Liberty's Main Street, popularized the word "hickster," gotten a nod from the New York Times for their "Narrowsburg Not Williamsburg" T-shirts, and earned plenty of love from the local arts and business community. But, as the sage says, sometimes love just ain't enough.

Founders Ellie and Akira Ohiso announced the news on the magazine's website and Facebook page on Tuesday:  Read more

This Weekend: Livingston Manor's 11th Annual Trout Parade

Above: Jenny Lytton and Eric Hirsch, who were joined in "Holy Mackerel-mony" at the 2006 Trout Parade, marching together in fin-ished regalia. Photo by Tyler Young; courtesy of Manor Ink.

One fish, two fish, red fish, 25-foot-long giant segmented puppet fish.

All this and more can be found at the 11th Annual Trout Parade, Saturday, June 14 at 1 p.m., on Main Street in Livingston Manor.

The parade features the art and wit of local businesses who create trout-themed costumes, floats, puppets, signs and more. This year's o-fish-al theme is “steampunk,” offering up a science fiction twist to the community fixture. Folks can expect monocled and top-hatted fish and gears galore, among the cast of festival fare.

“Think Jules Verne on Mars, or Sherlock Holmes with a steam-powered robot sidekick,” reads the parade’s website  Read more