DEC encourages guests to the Catskills to ‘Love Our New York Lands’ and follow secure, sustainable recreation | Native Bulletins

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ALBANY — New York State Department of Environment (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos is reminding visitors to the Peekamoose Blue Hole and other popular areas, including Kaaterskill Clove, to enjoy safe and responsible outdoor recreation on public lands without compromising public safety endanger or degrade nature’s resources. This season, increased visitation to these popular areas leads to unsafe parking and hiking, as well as increased rescue operations, trash and other environmental damage. DEC encourages all New Yorkers to practice safe and responsible recreational activities to protect themselves and others.

“The Catskills offer beautiful natural resources that draw people from across the state and country, and DEC wants to continue sharing those experiences,” said Commissioner Seggos. “So we continue to work with our partners to promote sustainable use and ensure we protect this special place. Being prepared to meet local and state requirements for public lands and preventing damage to our trails and waterways are among the steps visitors can take to protect themselves and the Catskills for generations to come.”

DEC is seeing a continued increase in Peekamoose Blue Hole traffic from unauthorized users, unsafe parking and litter. Last year, DEC updated the regulations as part of ongoing efforts to improve public safety and reduce the area’s environmental impact. A permit is required for all visitors to the Peekamoose Blue Hole and the nearby corridor along Rondout Creek, including campers, picnickers, hikers and anglers. Visitors require a permit seven days a week including the bank holidays from May 15th to September 15th. Current regulations include:

Visitors must obtain a permit through Reserve America for a $10 fee consistent with fees for other DEC recreational areas in the Forest Preserve;

The permit must be shown on site;

Parking only in designated parking areas. Curb parking is prohibited by the city and a tow-off zone;

Permits must include the names of all members of the visiting group at the time of reservation. Names can be changed up to one day in advance;

Prohibit alcohol and coolers larger than 12 inches at the Blue Hole. Limited use is only permitted at nearby designated campsites; and

Camping permits are now required to reserve primitive tent sites in the lower, middle, and upper fields. Visit the Reserve America website to make a reservation.

The Blue Hole is open to permit holders from half an hour before sunrise until half an hour after sunset, with the exception of designated campgrounds nearby. Users must use portable toilet facilities for human waste disposal and the dumpster for all other waste. In addition, the following activities and items are prohibited (with limited use only allowed at the nearby designated campsite):

All fires (including charcoal fires, wood fires, gas grills, propane stoves, or other portable stoves);

use of portable generators;

radios and other audio devices.

DEC continues its expanded reach to engage with visitors before they plan and prepare their visit, including:

Offering the DEC website in Spanish, English and other languages;

Providing information about the permitting system for sites that highlight the Blue Hole;

Coordinating with the New York State Department of Transportation to place variable notice boards on both roads leading into the Blue Hole with information about permit requirements; and

Development of signs in English and Spanish at the parking lot and at the Peekamoose Blue Hole trailhead.

DEC continues to work with many partners, including the Catskill Visitor Center, which provides the public with valuable information about the permit system and obtaining a permit prior to their visit. The center also produced a radio advertisement that was broadcast in the area to explain the permitting system. In addition to the DEC Forest Rangers and Assistant Forest Rangers who patrol and are stationed at the Blue Hole, the Catskill Center has two on-site stewards five days a week, including weekends and holidays. Law enforcement officials check permits, provide information about special regulations, and advise visitors who arrive at these sites without permits on how to obtain them for their next visit.

“Educating visitors about responsible recreation in the Catskills is what we do at the Catskills Visitor Center and through our Catskill Stewards program in high traffic areas in Catskill Park, including the Peekamoose Blue Hole. We heard directly from our staff how challenging this year is with an increasing number of visitors, especially visitors who are unfamiliar with the permitting system,” said Jeff Senterman, executive director of the Catskill Center. “We look forward to strengthening our partnership and collaboration with the DEC to better educate and guide visitors both before they arrive in the Catskills and after they arrive. We urge all visitors to Catskill Park to make the Catskills Visitor Center in Mount Tremper their first stop. There they will find helpful staff, informative exhibits and free information to help them responsibly redesign Catskill Park.”

The specific requirements for the Peekamoose Blue Hole are part of a broader effort DEC launched earlier this summer to promote safe and sustainable use in the Catskills and Adirondacks. This includes DEC’s Love Our New York Lands campaign, which educates visitors so they can do their part to protect state lands by promoting sustainable use and inspiring shared stewardship and ownership of these resources. Additionally, the campaign interprets the seven Leave No Trace™ principles, which provide a framework for minimal impact practices for all who visit the great outdoors, particularly unfamiliar audiences who may be new to hiking.

If Peekamoose Blue Hole permits are not available for a specific day, DEC encourages visitors to make a list of alternate locations for their outdoor adventure. Examples of recreational opportunities within 75 miles of Blue Hole include:

Belleayre Beach; Kenneth L. Wilson campsite; Minnewaska State Park Preserve; Mongaup Pond Campground; Bear Spring Mountain Campground; Little Pond Campground; Lake Superior State Park.

Visitors are encouraged to get the latest information on this and other destinations in the Catskills by checking the DEC and New York State Parks websites and the Catskills Visitor Center at 5096 Route 28 in Mt. Tremper, NY; 845-688-3369; https://catskillsvisitorcenter.org/.

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