The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the release of the Catskill Strategic Planning Advisory Group’s (CAG) Immediate Action Recommendations Report for public review and comment.
The report includes proposed actions that DEC and its State and local partners could undertake, pending available funding and continued partnership, to balance increasing and diverse recreational use of the Catskill Forest Preserve, protecting the park’s natural and historic resources, and ensuring the experience of using the Park is welcoming, accessible, and inclusive.
In October 2020, DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the formation of the Catskill Strategic Planning Advisory Group (CAG) comprised of stakeholders with expertise in local government, recreation, natural resource protection, business, tourism, and other priority areas. The members collectively provide advice to DEC on how to balance critical issues associated with increased public use in the Catskill Park in order to protect the area’s natural resources for future generations.
The CAG has been meeting throughout the past year to develop this Interim Report with recommendations for immediate actions along the Route 23A corridor in the vicinity of Kaaterskill Clove as well as long-term park-wide management strategies that include:
- Educate all users of the Catskill Park about responsible recreation, protecting natural and historic resources, and Leave No Trace™ principles;
- Coordinate consistent messaging and communication for the Catskills Park on different mediums;
- Implement park-wide traffic and parking management strategies;
- Incorporate diversity, equity, inclusivity, and justice (DEIJ) principles in recreational, educational, and operational frameworks and the economic benefits provided in the Catskill Park; and
- Establish a Catskill Park Coordinator position to collaborate among entities and streamline parkwide efforts.
DEC encourages the public to submit their comments on the report to CatskillPark@dec.ny.gov by February 3rd, 2022. The Interim Report can be found on DEC’s website.
Due to the ongoing collaborative process to address issues affecting sustainable use, DEC and its State and local partners are taking action on many of the recommendations of the Catskill Advisory Group’s interim report. For example, DEC recently named a Catskill Park Coordinator who was recently invited to the CAG’s deliberations as the group prepares the final report. The CAG will continue to develop its recommendations and other topics in the coming months as it works to review public comments on the interim report and complete the Final Strategic Framework.
Other recommendations acted on in 2021 to improve public safety and sustainably manage use of the Catskill Park during the summer months include:
- Worked with Catskill Center, Catskill Mountain Keeper, NY/NJ Trail Conference, 3500 Club and others to increase the Stewards interacting with the public;
- Increased public awareness and education through the Love Our NY Lands campaign;
- Addressed increased use of the Mongaup Access to the Delaware River across agencies including DEC, the National Park Service, the Upper Delaware Council, and the town of Lumberland;
- Helped address parking issues in Claryville at a very popular fishing access site on the Neversink by working with Sullivan County;
- Implemented a number of strategies along the Route 23A corridor including: enhanced parking enforcement, variable message boards and Mountain Top Historical Society allowed for alternate parking options.
In the 2022 State of the State Address on January 5th, Governor Kathy Hochul committed to additional Forest Preserve protections and investments, including actions to address sustainable use through comprehensive planning for the future, and enhancements for trail safety and climate resiliency. DEC’s press release says these efforts will include support for increased stewardship programs.