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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

Constitution delays pipeline opening date

Above: The cover of a federal impact statement for the proposed Constitution Pipeline.

Opponents of a proposed natural gas pipeline are cheering the news that its opening will be delayed at least into next year.

Constitution Pipeline Company LLC announced on Thursday, March 10 that it is updating its “in-service date projection” from the fourth quarter of 2016 to the second half of 2017 in response to a March 31 deadline for felling trees.

While clearing of trees has nearly been completed in neighboring Pennsylvania, Constitution has been unable to begin such operations in New York because the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has not issued a permit required under Section 401 of the federal Clean Water Act. New York's lack of action has also delayed a second permit, which must be issued by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.  Read more

“Living in paradise:” The economics of Catskills outdoor recreation

Above: Aaron Bennett speaks about the East Branch of the Delaware River at a lively forum about outdoor recreation and economic development in the Catskills on Saturday, Feb. 27. Photos by Rebecca Andre.

Dozens of Catskills residents attended the second of a four-part series of economic growth forums took place on Saturday, Feb. 27 at the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development in the Delaware County hamlet of Arkville.

Fifty-two people attended the forum—more than double the attendance at January’s event—to discuss outdoor recreation being key to economic development in the Catskills.

Geddy Sveikauskas, the founder of the Woodstock Times newspaper and a member of the board of the Catskill Center, moderated the lively two-and-a-half hour discussion.

Local outdoor guides, chamber of commerce members, hotel employees and a representative from the New York City Department of Environmental Protection all spoke about the importance of outdoor recreation in the region.  Read more

SALT to study possible 38-mile trail along Schoharie Creek

Above: Blenheim Town Council member Renee Grabowski (right) makes a point to a University of Albany graduate student who is working on the Schoharie Creek trail project. Photo by Timothy Knight.

To kick off a yearlong feasibility study about constructing a 38-mile trail along the Schoharie Creek, Schoharie Area Long Term, Inc. (SALT) hosted more than two dozen town of Schoharie residents and public officials in a community meeting at the Schoharie United Presbyterian Church on Monday, Feb. 23.

Proposed to stretch from Esperance to Blenheim, the trail's preliminary concept is being designed as a project by the University of Albany's Graduate Planning Studios. 

Students from the program addressed the audience with a brief presentation that cited economic impact, real estate values, quality of life and community health as possible trail benefits.

Members of the audience broke into small groups following the presentation and filled out questionnaires with their ideas for the trail.  Read more

Heavy rains cause minor flooding across Catskills

 

There is minimal flooding at the West Branch of the Delaware River at the Delaware County Fairgrounds in Walton this morning. This is a view facing Kraft.

Posted by The Walton Reporter on Thursday, February 25, 2016

Above: The Walton fairgrounds flooded on Thursday, Feb. 25. Photo via the Walton Reporter's Facebook page.

The heavy rains that fell across the Catskills on Wednesday, Feb. 24 and through the night into Thursday, Feb. 25 have caused minor, localized flooding across the region.

The West Branch of the Delaware River is flooding several towns along its banks on Thursday morning, including the towns of Hamden and Walton, according to hydrographs and eyewitness reports. 

In Hamden, Basin Clove Road in is closed from Route 10 to the intersection of Back River Road due to water across the roadway, according to the Delaware County Department of Emergency Services.

In Walton, muddy floodwaters have covered the county fairgrounds, according to the Walton Reporter. Flooding in Walton was predicted to peak around 11 a.m. at 10 feet, according to Walton's hydrograph. Flood stage for the West Branch of the Delaware River in Walton is 9.5 feet, according to a flood warning alert issued by the National Weather Service in Binghamton

Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster counties are under a hazardous weather outlook warning for flooding through Thursday evening, according to NWS Binghamton and NWS Albany. The weather service reports that "widespread river flooding is not expected" in those counties. 

There was minor flooding of the Schoharie Creek in the town of Prattsville on Wednesday evening, according to the river's hydrograph, but waters have already fallen well below flood stage on Thursday morning. 

The Esopus Creek in Ulster County was under a flood warning on Wenesday and Thursday issued by NWS Albany. The Esopus overspilled its banks at 20.51 feet on Wednesday evening in Mount Marion, according to the Mount Marion hydrograph, and had dropped back to 19 feet by 11 a.m. on Thursday morning.

In Cold Brook, the Esopus crested 12.39 feet on Wednesday night, a level where water overflows the creek's banks above the Ashokan's Reservoir but causes little damage, according to the Cold Brook hydrograph. The water level at Cold Brook has also dropped down quickly on Thursday morning. 

NYNJTC Is Hiring: Catskills Summit Stewards

In this seasonal, part-time, position on weekends from Memorial Day through Columbus Day, Summit Stewards are responsible for patrolling the Catskill Park summit areas of Slide, Wittenberg and Cornell Mountains as well as other locations throughout the region. Summit Stewards provide the public with educational information that will ensure the safe and responsible use of hiking trails in the area. The Stewards have no enforcement responsibility.

The Summit Stewards work to encourage the best behavior on the part of hikers and campers, to facilitate a positive trail experience (particularly for those who are poorly prepared). They discourage and mitigate misuse of the trails, illegal camping and the surrounding lands by performing educational and public- relations functions and work to educate the public on fragile mountaintop ecosystems.  Read more


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