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DEC now charging to swim at Peekamoose Blue Hole

Jul 05, 2021 5:45 am

Christopher Cicchiello is reporting for the Times Union the previously free permit to swim at Peekamoose Blue Hole in the Catskills of Ulster County, now costs $10 a day. Once a local spot to cool off, the swimming hole became a viral sensation in 2015. To control the increase in visitors, in 2018 the state Department of Environmental Conservation introduced New York’s first day-use permit system for a swimming hole on DEC land. Free permits were required on weekends and holidays between May 15 and Oct. 15. But fast forward to May 2021, the DEC announced a change in policy, declaring the permits would now cost $10. “This expanded permit system for the Peekamoose Blue Hole and Rondout Creek area will both protect public safety and the environmental health of this unique and irreplaceable resource,” DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said. Like many parks and hiking trails during the early months of the coronavirus pandemic, the Blue Hole saw a massive spike in visitors. At that point, visitation more than doubled to 24,281 people, according to the Catskill Center and the highest single day climbed back to around 1,000 people for the season. “What the state found,” Executive Director of The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development Jeff Senterman said, “and what we found being there, was that [for] almost 50 percent of the permits that were requested, people weren't showing up for. And if the permits weren’t being used, then sort of half the capacity was not being used, and we were turning people away that didn’t have the permit, even though there was space at the Blue Hole...” With so many registered people not showing up despite having permits, the DEC realized it needed to incentivize visitors to follow through on their reservation while the DEC covered expenses. From that, the $10 permit was born. Not only do the permits now come with a price, they are required seven days a week, and only 60 are issued daily to hikers, campers, picknickers and anglers. The permits are also required to park along the Peekamoose Valley and can only be obtained up to a week in advance. Since the system was implemented in mid-May, the attendance rate per registration has increased from 50 to 85 percent. Read the full story in the Times Union

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