Report makes recommendations for newly crowded Catskill Park
Roger Hannigan Gilson reports in the Times Union that the Catskill Advisory Group believes the 700,000-acre Catskill Park needs "intensive management" because of so many new visitors since the beginning of the pandemic. Attendance in the park doubled between 2018 and 2021, according to the report from the group. Locally, this can be seen in the town of Hunter where hundreds of cars illegally park along both sides of the narrow Route 23A just before Kaaterskill Falls throughout the summer and fall. All those visitors, the report says, "has resulted in the degradation of certain natural resources, public safety hazards on mountainside roads, overcrowding at trailheads, litter, illegal camping and more," and has "stretched thin local services such as fire, ambulance, police, and mountain rescue teams." The group was formed in October 2020 with town leaders, local businesspeople and members of conservation groups, to study and make recommendations about the increase in visitors. But the Department of Environmental Conservation, which manages the 700,000-acre Catskill Park, has staffing levels similar to the 1980s. The report recommends the DEC continue to use permit systems in the most crowded areas of the park, and adding a small AM radio station to alert arrivals of important information. Read the full story in the Times Union.