Shawangunk

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WJFF: NOMINATE A COMMUNITY LEADER!

 On Saturday, August 20th WJFF will honor volunteers and community members who have made an extraordinary impact on the WJFF listening area at a special Awards Night at Mr. Willy's in Monticello, NY.  Read more

New York Invasive Species Awareness Week

The mission of New York Invasive Species Awareness Week is to promote knowledge and understanding of invasive species to h elp stop their spread by engaging citizens in a wide range of activities across the state and encouraging them to take action. Please join in the fun and help out with the effort!  Activities of all kinds take place July 6th- July 12th. Check out nyis.info and click on the logo for more information!

Shandaken Community Gardens Seeks Gardeners

Would you like to grow your own food, flowers and herbs?

Cultivate community?

Share knowledge about sustainable gardening?

Collaborate in the creation of an exciting, new project?  Read more

Millions granted for broadband infrastructure in Catskills

Above: The podium at Gov. Andrew Cuomo's August 3 announcement about $54.2 million in grants slated for broadband internet service across New York State. Photo via the governor's Flickr page.

Hundreds of miles of remote rural roads and thousands of local homes, businesses and anchor institutions will be lifted from the telecommunications Dark Ages following the announcement of new NY Broadband Program grants

Round one award winners in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s initiative to connect every New Yorker to the fiber optic 21st century were announced on August 3.

The grants were part of an intensive $500 million plan from Governor Andrew Cuomo to modernize the entire state by the end of 2018.  Read more

New York Gov. Cuomo plugs Catskills with Robert De Niro

Above: A poster promoting Lake Wawaka in the Delaware County hamlet of Halcottsville, one of six ads that will promote the Catskills region in the NYC public transit system this summer. To see all six posters, click here. 

Gov. Andrew Cuomo pulled out all the stops to promote the Catskills region this week. As his staff bombarded social media with a media blitz about the charms of the Catskills region, the governor spent a day hitting Catskills tourism hotspots, at one point appearing with movie star Robert De Niro at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts in Sullivan County, the site of the 1969 Woodstock Festival.

De Niro, who owns 78 acres in the Ulster County town of Gardiner, cracked Borscht-Belt-style jokes while extolling his love of the Catskills.

“I wanted to change my name from Robert De Niro to Rugelach De Goldfarb De Niro Steinberg, and spend the summers in the Catskills telling jokes,” De Niro said, according to the Times Herald-Record.

Above: Robert De Niro delivers a tribute to Borscht Belt-style jokes. Video via New York Upstate.com.

“If there is a region of the state that has more potential for tourism activity, it is the Catskills,” Cuomo said, according to a transcript of his remarks issued by his office. “Mr. De Niro and I were talking on the way up, it is still basically a secret for generations of New Yorkers.”

Above: Actor Robert De Niro, who has a home in Ulster County, delivers one-liners at the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts on June 30 as part of the Catskills Challenge. Photo via the Gov. Andrew Cuomo Flickr page. 

On Wednesday, June 29, Cuomo was scheduled to take a “Ride the Catskills” motorcycle ride from Windham to Roscoe, stopping at Woodstock Harley-Davidson and Belleayre Mountain Ski Center along the way. But, according to the Catskill Mountain News, Cuomo himself wasn't in the convoy of bikers that made the trip. 

On Thursday, June 30, the governor did show up at the “Catskills Challenge,” a day of activities modeled after a similar event his administration launched in the Adirondacks three years ago.

The Catskills Challenge began with the appearance with Robert De Niro in Bethel and ended with the governor racing state legislators in rafts on the Delaware River. (Naturally, the governor won, according to the Times Herald-Record.)

  Read more

How to stay safe in Catskills black bear country

Above: A black bear in the Catskills. Photo by Rebecca Andre.

Spring in the Catskills is a breathtaking season of roaring waterfalls, eagles taking flight and pastures covered in blooming wildflowers—and, thanks to our resident black bear population, of overturned trash cans, destroyed bird feeders and dented vehicles.

In May, Region 4 of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, which covers a portion of the Catskills, received dozens of complaints about bears, according to Joshua Choquette, a DEC wildlife technician. By May 23, the agency had received 54 complaints about bears from its nine counties, Choquette said.

The majority of the complaints the DEC receives each year are calls from homeowners reporting that their trash or bird feeder is being feasted upon by a local black bear, according to Choquette.

But about 20 percent of the calls each year are of a more serious nature, with a bear causing damage to vehicles, property or agriculture, he said.

Above: A black bear and a cub stop traffic in the Ulster County hamlet of Phoenicia around 8:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 8. Photo by Burr Hubbell.  Read more

Dozens of Memorial Day events kick off summer in the Catskills

Above: An honor guard leads the 2015 Liberty Memorial Day Parade. Photo by John Kocijanski of Catskill Photography, shared in the Watershed Post's Flickr pool.

Memorial Day Weekend 2016 brings a flood of enticing opportunities to come together, celebrate, and get the Catskills summer season started off right. Here’s our five-county guide to what’s happening where from Friday, May 27 to Monday, May 30.

DELAWARE COUNTY

Parades and Ceremonies:

Roxbury 

Parade: May 30, 9:30 a.m., Route 30 North

Grand Gorge 

Parade: May 30, 11 a.m., Route 23 West  Read more

John Faso: Experienced politician faces voters who are fed up with "insiders"

Above: John Faso. Image via the Faso campaign.

In the increasingly negative race to replace retiring Republican Congressman Chris Gibson in New York's 19th Congressional District, former State Assembly Minority Leader John Faso has all the hallmarks of a traditional general election contender. But that might not help him, because 2016 is no traditional election year.

Nationally, maverick candidate Donald Trump has ousted more traditional Republican candidates from the race for president. In the race for the 19th Congressional District, which represents the Catskills and Hudson Valley, Faso’s opponents hope to do the same to him.

Faso, a Republican, began his campaign for Congress with high name recognition and a time-tested fundraising apparatus. He spent 16 years in the New York State Assembly from 1987 to 2002 and made an unsuccessful GOP gubernatorial bid in 2006 against Democrat Elliot Spitzer.

Now, Faso's status as an experienced politician and elected official has become both a blessing and a curse.  Read more

Presidential primary day in the Catskills

Above: Photo by Justin Grimes, via Flickr. 

For New York state voters who are registered with a political party, today--April 19, 2016--is the day to vote in New York state's presidential primary election.

It's one of the most exciting primary races in years, with Donald Trump expecting a landslide of Republican votes in his race against Ted Cruz and John Kasich while Hilary Clinton dukes it out with Bernie Sanders for the state's Democratic voters. 

The national and international press is watching New York voters--including some in the Catskills--as they go to the polls today.  Read more

Catskill Park passed over in New York budget, again

Above: Rick Roberts, the president of the Catskill Mountain Club, advocating for dedicated funding for the Catskill Park in the 2016-2017 New York state budget in Rep. Kevin Cahill's office on Feb. 9, 2016. Photo by Julia Reischel. 

Despite months of fierce lobbying in Albany, advocates for the Catskills region of New York did not convince lawmakers to earmark a package of funds for the Catskill Park in the 2016-2017 New York state budget, which was hammered into agreement in the wee hours of Friday, April 1.

Advocates for the Catskills spent the first months of 2016 lobbying hard for the state to create $4 million line item for the Catskill Park in the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), a request they have repeated for years. 

On Feb. 9, during a Catskill Park Awareness Day lobbying event, about 60 people representing the Catskills went door-to-door among legislative offices in Albany to urge lawmakers to commit dedicated funding to the region.   Read more

Trout season opens across the Catskills

Above: "Peter with a Brown Trout,” by Joan Challacombe, one of the runners-up in the 2015 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest. (The 2016 photo contest ends tonight, so enter now!) 

It's the first day of fishing season in the Catskills, and the oddly warm weather should be especially inviting to anglers across the region today.

The annual first cast at Junction Pool on the Beaverkill happened this morning in the Sullivan County town of Roscoe--aka "Trout Town USA"--at 7:30 a.m., and the celebrations continue all weekend with dinners and fly-tying celebrations, according to the Roscoe NY website.

Trout Unlimited - The Way of a Trout from Bill Strockbine on Vimeo.

Above: A vintage 1969 video made by Trout Unlimited about the life cycle of the trout. Thanks to the Ashokan-Pepacton Watershed Chapter of Trout Unlimited for sharing. 

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation 2016 Coldwater Fishing Forecast reports that fishing in the East and West Branches of the Delaware River in the western Catskills should improve this year because of improvements to the stream habitats for fish: 

Two new in-stream habitat improvement structures were installed in the East Branch tailwaters near Shinhopple and the Tomannex State Forest. The rock and wood structures are intended to provide cover where trout habitat has historically been marginal. Additionally, a large scale restoration project was completed on Sands Creek. A number of habitat structures and floodplain reconnection work was conducted along a one mile stretch of Sands Creek. Sands Creek is an important spawning tributary to the West Branch Delaware River.

The DEC also reports that the "the tailwaters of the West Branch continue to be one of the most productive fisheries for trophy trout in the northeast," but adds that some of those streams between the villages of East Branch and Hancock in Delaware County don't open for fishing until April 16 this year. 

To get you in the mood for fishing, the Ashokan-Pepacton Watershed Chapter of Trout Unlimited is sharing several trout fishing videos in their newsletter, including a vintage 1969 video made by Trout Unlimited about the life cycle of the trout (see above).

For a more modern take on the atmospherics of trout fishing, watch a short film about fishing on the Esopus Creek in Ulster County near Phoenicia, below. Look closely and you'll see some familiar Route 28 sites like the Phoenicia Diner.

Below: "Autumn Tailwaters - Fall Fishing & Wild Trout in the Catskills," was produced by Day Trip Films in partnership with Orvis in 2015.   Read more

See video

Catskills sugarhouses open for Maple Weekend

Above: Maple syrup on pancakes at Buck Hill Farm in Jefferson. Photo by Heather Phelps-Lipton. 

Shake off the late-winter blahs and come celebrate Maple Weekend--actually two weekends of open houses--in the sugar shacks of the Catskills. The first of the two weekends of maple events begins tomorrow, Saturday, March 19 and runs through Sunday, March 20. The second weekend is on April 2 and 3.

Last year’s maple syrup crop was outstanding, with 601,000 gallons of the sweet sticky stuff flowing from New York producers, according to the New York Times.  Read more

St. Patrick’s Day in the Catskills

Above: The full Irish treatment awaits at Gavin's Irish Country Inn this weekend in East Durham. Image via the Gavin's Irish Country Inn Facebook page.

The Irish love affair with the rocky, rolling green of the Catskills spans generations. In the Greene County hamlet of East Durham, especially, immigrants with roots in Ireland have made the region a second home.

So it’s only natural that our communities celebrate the season of St. Patrick in fine style. Here’s our five-county guide to celebrations of St. Patrick’s Day (Thursday, March 17) that are happening this weekend.

Want an introduction to the long history of the Irish in the Catskills? A new documentary that premiered last week, "The Irish Catskills: Dancing at the Crossroads," tells the story of the inns, hotels and bungalows that have catered to Irish Americans throughout history--you can buy the DVD or watch it at Narrowbackfilms.com. 

DELAWARE COUNTY  Read more

Shawangunk Letters