More campers planning Catskill hikes this year

By Jay Braman Jr.
It might be the economy, or perhaps fuel prices, or even the lure of the region or all of the above, but one thing is for sure: there will be more visitors to the Catskills this summer.
The State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced an increase in reservations for campsite space statewide, both in the number of campers and the length of stay planned.
And while reservations are up about seven percent across the Empire State, some local sites are seeing huge increases.
Lori Severino, a DEC spokesperson, said this week that the campsite in Woodland Valley, which had 242 reservations at this point last year, has 312 this year. And those reservations last year were for 591 nights. This year’s reservations are for 821 nights.
In the Catskills, the state operates seven campsites. Besides Woodland Valley in Phoenicia there are the Beaverkill in Roscoe, Mongaup Pond in Livingston Manor, Kenneth Wilson in Wittenburgh, North/South Lake in Haines Falls, Devils Tombstone in Hunter and Little Pond in Andes.
“These reservation numbers indicate New York campgrounds have strong appeal to New York families and visitors in tough economic times,” said Carol Ash, commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation “Whether they’re providing families with an inexpensive vacation option, helping parents connect their children to nature, or simply offering a comfortable cabin for a rustic getaway, New York’s campgrounds offer wonderful opportunities for escape and exploration.”
Officials also announced that the 2009 New York Camping Guide is now available online and in print. The guide has been redesigned with new information and eye-catching photographs to give vacationers a better look and feel for the campgrounds.
“More than ever, people want to connect with the outdoors and our new camping guide will help get them there,” said DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis. “We’ve redesigned the guide in a user-friendly way that will help travelers research and plan summer getaways. They can find it all – from lush forests to waterfalls to beaches to miles and miles of hiking trails – in the new guide.”
Bear Spring Mountain, a campsite in Downsville, will not be open this year, the victim of budget cuts.
“In response to the continuing fiscal crisis of New York State, three DEC campgrounds with very low occupancy rates will not open for the 2009 camping season,” Severino said. “ These campgrounds are Bear Spring Mountain, Poke-O-Moonshine, and Poplar Point.”
More than 100,000 reservations have been booked at state campgrounds statewide, and those who are coming plan to stay a little longer. Advance reservations at campgrounds operated by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) are up 5.2 percent and the number of nights reserved at the properties are up 7 percent over last year.
The guide is on State Parks’ Web site at www.nysparks.com and the DEC Web site at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/camping.html.