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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!

Dance-A-Thon Benefit & Silent Auction!!!

On March 16th 2013, the H.E.L.P. Organization (Helping Everyone Live Post-Disaster) will be hosting a Dance-A-Thon Benefit & Silent Auction at Fitness Concepts located at 363 Rt. 296 in Hensonville, NY.

H.E.L.P. for Columbia & Greene Counties is dedicated to being good stewards; to facilitate disaster recovery, simplify access to resources, and to advocate for those most vulnerable. 100% of proceeds collected will be disbursed to families recovering from Hurricane Irene & Storm Lee.

The cost of the event is $15 per person with early registration and $18 at the door. Early registration is suggested to secure a spot within one or both the classes. The event begins at 8:30 light breakfast included; 1st class begins 9:30-10:15 light snacks will be provided prior to 2nd class; 2nd class begins 10:45-12:00. Each participant will be entered to win a door prize!!! (Free event T-Shirt while supplies last)

For more information contact Maria at (518) 728-0897 or email us at helpforcg@gmail.com

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

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

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

A few good Catskills paddles

Photo by Courtney Ross; submitted to the Watershed Post's 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest.

Water is everywhere in the Catskill Mountains, even their name: The “kill” in “Catskills” is a Dutch word for “creek.” There’s plenty of open water to go around for kayakers, canoers, sailors and rowers — especially now that four of New York City’s vast reservoirs have been opened to recreational boating, a development in the past few years. (See our guide to boating the reservoirs.)

Another aspect of the Catskills great outdoors that’s improving: our bald eagle population. If you spend time on our rivers and creeks, you’re likely to have a close encounter with one of these fish-eating eagles, who have been brought back from the verge of extirpation over the past few decades and are now a common sight near Catskills waterways.

Catskills creeks have a tendency to be broad and shallow, and water levels can vary a lot depending on recent rainfall and reservoir releases. When preparing to go boating on running water, check out the water level, or ask a local boat rental company, to make sure there’s enough water to keep you from running aground.  Read more

U-pick while you can: Strawberry fields not forever

Squeezed between the end of spring and the beginning of summer, strawberry season in the Catskills emerges for a brief but illustrious period.

For most farms, the season begins in June and lasts about four weeks, sometimes stretching into the first week of July. In the higher elevations, the season tends to run later. This year's cooler spring could also make for a later strawberry season, according to farmer Jim Story of Catskill's Story Farms.

Listed below are farms around the Catskills region that will be open this summer for U-pick strawberries and other seasonal fruits, including raspberries and blackberries.

DELAWARE COUNTY

Greenane Farms
196 County Route 10, Meridale
607.746.8878
Open for U-Pick between 10 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday.
Strawberries available late June through July; blackberries and raspberries available July through October.

GREENE COUNTY  Read more

Year-round mountains: Ski centers shine in all four seasons

Above: The UCI Mountain Bike World Cup at Windham Mountain, the only event of its kind in the U.S., draws pro athletes from around the globe. Photo by Karl Anshanslin, an honorable mention in the 2014 Catskills Outdoor Guide Photo Contest.

One World Cup mountain biking competition featuring 7,000 riders from 35 countries. Three days of yoga. Car and motorcycle shows, skateboard races. Summer concerts starring Buddy Guy, Gretchen Wilson and the brothers Allman and Avett. A chance to taste more than 300 beers made by 70 New York state brewers, zoom above the trees on a zipline or take your kids geocaching.

Welcome to the Catskills ski region, where resorts whose main attractions involve the fluffy white stuff have increasingly morphed into four-season recreation centers with wildly diverse offerings — both indoors and out.

“You have this huge asset — you can’t just shut your doors and wait for it to snow again,” says Troy Ketcham, the sales and marketing director at Windham Mountain in Greene County. “Every mountain is really a year-round mountain.”

Mother Nature smiled upon the winter sports season in 2013-14, with early cold temperatures and bountiful snowfall. Fans of downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding and snow tubing had little to complain about as the snowpack endured into early April.  Read more

This Weekend: Celebrate National Trails Day

Above: The view from Cross Mountain on a brand-new section of the Long Path Trail, which opens to the public on Saturday, June 7. Photo courtesy of the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference.

For 21 years, the first Saturday in June has been reserved for appreciating the nation’s mountain trails and greenery. This Saturday, June 7, Catskill area parks will observe the 22nd annual National Trails Day by hosting outdoor celebrations — welcoming residents and visitors to participate in hikes, runs and restoration projects, as well as the opening of several brand-new trails.

Below: Volunteers install a sign on the new Palmer Hill Trail in Andes. Photo by Ann Roberti.

Palmer Hill Trail opening, Andes, Delaware County  Read more

Windham Letters