Shandaken

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Three years since Irene

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

This Weekend: See the lighting of the fire towers and earn your badge

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.

From the event's organizers:   Read more

Ulster County legislators vote for trail over rail

Above: Catskill Mountain Railroad equipment repairing a portion of the track on the old Delaware & Ulster corridor last week. Photo by John Marino and posted on the CMRR's Facebook page.

In the long-running battle of rails versus trails in Ulster County, the trails just won big. 

In an 18 to 4 vote, the Ulster County Legislature passed Resolution 275 on Tuesday, August 19, supporting the conversion of an old Ulster & Delaware railroad right-of-way between Kingston and Boiceville into a hiking, walking and biking trail.

The Catskill Mountain Railroad (CMRR), which runs a tourist railroad on the rail corridor and holds a lease on the right-of-way that expires in 2016, has been lobbying hard to keep railroad tracks running all the way from Kingston to the town of Shandaken at the other end of the county.  Read more

Flash flood watch for eastern Catskills

Above: A post from the Albany office of the National Weather Service's Facebook page today. 

Parts of the Catskills could get "torrential" rainfall of as much to 1 to 2 inches per hour tonight, according to the National Weather Service.

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

Injured Esopus tuber prompts wild goose chase

Above: First responders near the Esopus Creek on Sunday, August 10, searching for an injured person who had allegedly already driven himself away from the scene.

Dive teams, firefighters, and first responders mobbed the Esopus Creek in the Ulster County village of Phoenicia on Sunday afternoon in what turned out to be a wild goose chase.

A report of an injured person in the creek on August 10 prompted a massive emergency response, according to an email from George Neher at the Shandaken Police Department.

Traffic was slowed to one lane on Route 28 as ambulances and first responder vehicles, several pulling boats, lined the roadway near the creek around 2 p.m.

But the first responders did not find any injured person in or near the creek. A police officer directing traffic told a reporter that it all seemed like a false alarm. 

As it turned out, the injured person had already left. A tuber had injured his hip and lost his inner tube while tubing the Esopus that day, prompting someone nearby to call the police, according to Neher. 

But the man left the creek himself before emergency personnel found him. Witnesses told the police that he walked to his car, which appeared to be a Mercedes-Benz, and drove away, according to Neher.   Read more

The Catskills are hot (again)

The cover of August's Hudson Valley Magazine.

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

The Catskills with a dog in tow

Writer Heather Rolland with a few four-legged hiking companions. Photo by Candid Canine Photography.

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

Rudi's Big Indian ashram to reincarnate as retreat center

Above: A ten-foot-tall granite statue of Mariamma, a south Indian rain goddess, at a dedication ceremony at the former ashram in Big Indian on Sunday, July 27. Photos courtesy of the Bodhivastu Foundation.

A ten-foot-tall, 10,000-pound statue of a Hindu rain goddess arrived in Big Indian on Sunday celebrate the reopening of a long-dormant Catskills ashram.

The Poughquag-based Bodhivastu Foundation is planning to open a Buddhist spiritual retreat center at the site of an ashram founded by legendary Catskills guru Swami Rudrananda -- known as Rudi -- in 1968.

John Mann, the owner of the parcel located at 126 Lost Clove Road in the Ulster County town of Shandaken, donated it to the foundation, according to Lama Rangbar Nyimai Özer, the spiritual leader of the Bodhivastu Foundation.

According to Ulster County real estate records, the property was sold on February 25.

"We explained our intention to him about making [it] a spiritual sanctuary retreat and healing center," said Lama Rangbar, who is also known as Adam Friedensohn. "It was very much in line with Rudi's original intention."  Read more

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Belleayre Resort will fail unless scaled back, Catskill Heritage Alliance claims

Above: A rendering of the planned hotel and lodge buildings at Highmount -- part of the proposed Belleayre Resort project -- from a supplemental draft environmental impact statement released in April 2014 by the DEC.

The Catskill Heritage Alliance, a local environmental group that has long been critical of the proposed Belleayre Resort project in Highmount, has released a study that claims the resort will fail unless scaled back.

The study, commissioned by Washington, D.C.-based firm Public and Environmental Finance Associates, takes aim at another study commissioned last year from national hotel consultants HVS by resort developer Crossroads Ventures. In documents prepared in 2013 for the state's ongoing review of the project, Crossroads relied on the HVS study to make a case for the resort's financial viability and economic benefits to the region.   Read more

TMI Project: Voices in Action plays Rosendale

Above: TMI Project stage manager Erica Pivko, left, talks with founder Julie Novak. Photo courtesey of the TMI Project. 

"I had constructed these pants when I was in one of my nuthouses," Joanee Tarshis says in a video produced by the TMI Project. "I had been refusing to make a wallet in occupational therapy. Only crazy people make wallets."

Stories like this, from mental health patients, at-risk teens, and domestic violence survivors, are the heart of "Voices in Action," a monologue show produced by the TMI Project that comes to the Rosendale Theatre on Tuesday, July 29.  Read more

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