Officials working to save Catskill Region campgrounds
Arkville — Elected officials and several regional organizations have joined together in an effort to save two campgrounds located in the Catskill Mountain Region from closure. Citing budget restraints, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced in February plans to close six state campgrounds, including Beaverkill in Sullivan County and Bear Spring Mountain in Delaware County, due to low occupancy.
In 2008 the DEC announced that state campground reservations had increased by more than 15 percent. Data indicates the state would save approximately $50,000 from the two closures. The Arkville based Catskill Center for Conservation and Development (CCCD) and the Delaware County Chamber of Com-merce have sent letters to DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis requesting the opening of the state campgrounds for the 2009 season.
“At a time when ecotourism and stay-cations are on the rise, New York State should be emphasizing the value of our state campgrounds, not closing them,” said Lisa Rainwater, executive director of CCCD. “Catskill communities continue to struggle during these challenging economic times and are looking toward spring and summer tourism to add a jolt to our regional economies. The closure of Beaverkill and Bear Spring Mountain will have a direct impact on our local businesses.”
The Beaverkill campground, located near Roscoe, is adjacent to the historic Beaverkill stream, known as the birthplace of American fly-fishing. In 2008 New York State held a dedication ceremony for the Beaverkill Covered Bridge, built in 1865, in honor of its inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places.
The Bear Spring Mountain campground, located in the Town of Walton, is at the western end of the Catskill Forest Preserve and offers 24 miles of multi-use trails and a “one-of-a-kind facility” for horse riding enthusiasts. Launt Pond is a popular recreational spot for kayaking, fishing and swimming.
This summer the New York City Department of Environmental Protection is set to launch a pilot program that will allow recreational boating on the NYC-owned Cannonsville Reservoir, in the vicinity of the Bear Spring Mountain campground. Under this three-year pilot program, nonmotorized boating will be allowed on the reservoir from Memorial Day through Columbus Day. An increase in ecotourism dollars is anticipated, as new recreationists visit the region and seek accommodations.
“The closure of Bear Spring campground will save DEC approximately $38,000 but will be a much greater loss to Delaware County,” noted Mary Beth Silano, executive director of the Delaware County Chamber of Commerce. “With the Cannonsville opening up for nonmotorized boats, this camping facility needs to be opened for the outdoor enthusiasts.”