DEP: Artists, come get our driftwood

Above: "Driftwood Cove" in the Ashokan Reservoir. Photo via the NYC DEP.

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection is hosting an odd event this Friday, Jan. 23: A driftwood giveaway.

The DEP has a driftwood glut on its Ashokan Reservoir, one of the city's upstate lakes that supplies NYC's drinking water. A portion of the reservoir's west basin is dubbed "Driftwood Cove" because of the large amount of wood that piles up along its shores after washing down the Esopus Creek through the Catskills, according to a DEP press release. 

For years, the DEP has given its driftwood away to artists, who use it in sculptures and crafts. But in that past, the DEP has also burned some driftwood, which has disappointed some artists who wanted as much of the wood as they could get.  Read more

Without Valentine's Day...

February would be, well.....January!

Jim Gaffigan

 

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Shandaken gets one more chance to weigh in on Belleayre Resort

See video

Above: The first of a three-part video from the Shandaken Planning Board's public hearing on Crossroads' proposed Belleayre Resort project. Source: Town of Shandaken's YouTube channel

For the past fifteen years, the public debate surrounding the Belleayre Resort project, a 629-unit luxury resort slated to straddle the line between the towns of Shandaken and Middletown next to the Belleayre Ski Center, has been fierce and bitter. 

But at a public hearing held Monday, Jan. 12 by the Town of Shandaken's Planning Board, at which the board took public comments about resort developer Crossroads Ventures' application for a special use permit from the town, little of that public acrimony was on display. There was plenty of standing and sitting room among the crowd of roughly 50 people who gathered for the hearing. Just 14 people spoke, there was little heckling, and the meeting lasted only about an hour.   Read more

Ulster County makes new move toward eviction of Catskill Mountain Railroad

Above: Families board a Thomas the Tank Engine train in Kingston during a Catskill Mountain Railroad event in September. Photo via the Catskill Mountain Railroad Facebook page.  

Ulster County is preparing to file more litigation in an attempt to evict the Catskill Mountain Railroad from county-owned train tracks, according to Ernie Hunt, the spokesman for the railroad, and Ulster County Legislator David Donaldson. 

Hunt said that the railroad’s lawyers received notice on Tuesday, Jan. 13 that Ulster County would soon appeal a September decision by Ulster County Supreme Court Judge Richard Mott that prevents the county from evicting the railroad.  Read more

This weekend: Grand opening party for the rebuilt Phoenicia Library

Above: The Phoenicia Library's snazzy new sign, via its Facebook page

After the Phoenicia Library burned down on March 19, 2011, it took almost four years for it to rise from the ashes. But rise it did, with the close-knit Shandaken community raising $800,000 to support the rebuilding project with state grants, insurance monies, bake sales, restaurant fundraisers, and large donations from neighbors.  

The library re-opened in its totally restored 48 Main Street building on Jan. 2. The structure now boasts a state-of-the-art design that cuts its energy costs to the bare minimum, and a lot of exciting architectural and technological bells and whistles. From a press release from the library's director, Liz Potter:   Read more

Family of three left homeless by Oliverea fire

Above: The charred and ice-covered remains of a double wide trailer on Route 47 in Big Indian. Photo by Julia Reischel.

A family of three, including an infant, was left homeless by a fire that completely destroyed their double wide trailer home on Oliverea Road in the Ulster County hamlet of Big Indian in the early morning hours of Wednesday, Jan. 14.

The two parents, a three-month-old baby and multiple pets escaped unharmed, but the home at 33 Oliverea Road was a total loss, according first responders.

“It was an accidental fire caused by a woodstove,” said Big Indian and Oliverea Fire Department Chief Jody Rossitz.

The fire was called in around 3 a.m. by one of the homeowners, who drove down to the firehouse in Big Indian and pressed the fire alarm button, sounding the station’s siren.

The homeowners could not be reached in time to report this story, but Rossitz said that they have relatives who live nearby and that the Red Cross has been alerted to their possible needs for shelter and clothing.

Assistant Chief Chuck Perez was the first firefighter to arrive at the scene around 3 a.m, when the temperature in the Oliverea Valley was below 0 degrees.

“I could see the glow as I left my driveway,” said Perez, who lives nearby. “It was quick.”  Read more

New early bear hunting season may have led to record kill numbers 

Above: A bear snacks on birdseed after smashing a bird feeder at a home in Andes in 2006. Photo by Peter Possenti (using a telephoto lens.) Used with permission

The spot Tim Meservey found at the base of a tree early one Saturday morning in September was a hunter’s dream. On a rise, it faced a gully that is a country lane for wildlife. A few hundred yards away is a farm where bears strip sweet, young corn from the stalk when no one is looking. 

Usually, bears are not on Meservey’s big game list. Not as plentiful as deer, they are also elusive, and it was rare to see one in the woods by the time regular hunting season arrived in November in Greene County, where the 39-year-old hunter and middle school art teacher lives. 

“They tend to head back up in the mountains in fall,” Meservey said.

But when the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) initiated an early bear season that started on Sept. 6 – the regular season opened Nov. 15 – Meservey said he finally saw an opportunity.  Read more

Valentine's Day Raffle Returns

The New York Times jumps on the visit-the-Catskills bandwagon

Above: A double rainbow over the Ashokan Reservoir in July 2014. Photo by Rebecca Balzac, shared in the Watershed Post Flickr pool. 

Joining the likes of Travel + Leisure and Fodor's, the New York Times has listed the Catskills as one of "52 Places to Go in 2015."

"Not your Bubbie and Zadie’s getaway," the NYT writes, ranking the Catskills #39 on its list. The paper names a series of Catskills establishments that have been enjoying fantastic press recently, including The Graham & Co. and the Phoenicia Diner in Phoenicia and Cucina and Woodstock Way in Woodstock--all of which were also recently lauded in a feature in Vogue.

There's also the inevitable comparison to Brooklyn:   Read more

Westwind Orchard's raw honey wins a 2015 Good Food Award

Above: Raw honey made by bees at Westwind Orchard in Accord. Photo via the Westwind Orchard website

Westwind Orchard, an organic farm in the Ulster County hamlet of Accord, has won a 2015 Good Food Award for its raw unpasteurized honey.

Farmers Fabio Chizzola and Laura Ferrara, city transplants who have spent twelve years turning their derelict apple orchard into a popular U-Pick apple attraction, should be proud.

Bees and apple blossoms go together well, according to Chizzola on the Westwind Orchard website  Read more


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