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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

New Mount Tremper farmstand to open on Route 28 this spring

Above: Kham and Jamie Nguyen putting siding on their new Mount Tremper farmstand, which is scheduled to open in April. Photo by J.N. Urbanski. 

A new roadside farmstand is slated to open in the Ulster County town of Shandaken this spring, next door to where the controversial Hanover Farms farmstand operated for nine years before being closed by court order in 2013.

Tremper Hill Farms will be located at the junction of Route 212 and Route 28 in Mount Tremper, on the property of Kham and Jamie Nguyen. The Nguyens have built a new structure on their roadside property to house the farmstand, just downhill from their house.

An exact opening date has not been set, but the Nguyens are hoping to begin selling produce by the end of April. They are inviting local farmers, producers and small-scale growers to contact them via email at [email protected].  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

Police: Route 28 traffic stop finds 400 decks of heroin bound for Oneonta

Over 400 bags of heroin were found in a car heading from New York City to the Otsego County city of Oneonta on Sunday, March 13, according to the Ulster County Sheriff's Office.

Sheriff's deputies pulled over 20-year-old Oneonta resident Francesa Lorusso in the Ulster County town of Hurley for a traffic violation on Sunday and reportedly found that she was driving with a suspended license, police say.

When deputies searched the car, they found over 400 bags of heroin hidden inside the vehicle, policy say.

Lorusso and her two passengers, 34-year-old Ricardo J. Korianski and 36-year-old Jason E. Blass, were then arrested and charged with felony possession of a controlled substance, police say. The three were "transporting a large amount of heroin from New York City to the City of Oneonta," an Ulster County Sheriff's Office press release states.

All three are being held in the Ulster County Jail on $25,000 bail, police say.

“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

Smokin Boars BBQ burns in Phoenicia

Above: Local fire companies stationed at Smokin Boars BBQ on Route 28 in Phoenicia on Thursday evening, Feb. 25. Photo by Lissa Harris.

Smokin Boars BBQ, a new barbecue restaurant that opened three months ago in the Ulster County hamlet of Phoenicia, caught on fire on Thursday, Feb. 25, police and witnesses say.

The fire began around 5:30 p.m. on Thursday, according to Chad Storey, the chief of the Shandaken Police.

Storey said that someone driving by the plaza on Route 28 where Smokin Boars is located noticed "a huge columm of smoke" rising up from behind the building.

The driver stopped and informed one of the neighboring business owners in the plaza, who called 911, Storey said.

The Phoenicia Fire Department was on the scene until 10 p.m., Storey said. The fire was put out relatively quickly, and the rest of the businesses in the plaza were spared any major damage, he said. 

"There is some smoke damage to the other business, but no other damage," he said.

Phoenicia Fire Chief Gary Carr did not immediately return a call for comment on the fire.  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. 


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