2016-11-09 / News

Reservoir boating was up; Pepacton was busiest site

By Brian Sweeney

Recreational boating on the New York City’s reservoirs set a new record during the 2016 season, according the city’s Department of Environmental Protection (DEP).

Statistics from the DEP show a total of 1,668 boats were used for recreational boating on the four city-owned reservoirs on which non-motorized boating is permitted — Cannonsville, Pepacton, Neversink and Schoharie. This number shows a 14 percent increase in use from the previous year when 1,463 boats were used on the reservoirs. In 2014, total boating figures were 1,172.

During the first two years of the program (started in 2012), recreational boating was only open to boat owners. For the past three seasons, the use of rental boats from authorized businesses has also been permitted.

The recreational boating season extends from Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day. DEP figures indicate that 2016 marks the first time kayaks and canoes rented from local businesses made up the majority of the boat usage.

A review of the numbers shows that the Pepacton was again the most utilized reservoir with 510 tags issued to boat owners and 346 boats rented for a total of 856. This figure was up slightly from last season’s 840 and an increase from 691 in 2014.

The DEP statistics indicate that boat rentals from local businesses increased by 34 percent, to a total of 912 rentals.

Overall numbers

A breakdown of this year’s boating season on all four reservoirs shows a total of 756 tags issued to boat owners. The boats being utilized by owners included 543 kayaks, 164 canoes, 40 rowboats and nine sailboats.

The figures also show that almost 40 percent of the tags were issued to boat owners who live in the five watershed counties — Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster. Approximate- ly 24 percent of the tags went to residents of New York City and Long Island. Out-of-state tags went to residents of Arizona, Connecticut, Florida, Idaho, Massachusetts, Maine, Michigan, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Texas.

A breakdown of boating use on the other three reservoirs showed: Neversink 550, Schoharie 191 and Cannonsville 71. These figures include both tags issued and rentals.

This marked the third year that rental boats were available from 10 launch sites on the shores of the four reservoirs.

A DEP release indicates that a survey of businesses in the watershed that included recreational boating as part of their marketing efforts showed more visitors were adding a boat rental on the reservoirs as part of their stay at local campsites, lodges or other overnight facilities.

The Margaretville-based Cats- kill Watershed Corporation (CWC) plays an important role in assisting the DEP with administering the rental program. This year, the CWC funded the acquisition of 30 storage racks for rental boats. The organization administers the process to vet and approve businesses that apply to participate in the rental program.

Started with pilot program

Recreational boating on the reservoirs began in 2009 with a three-year pilot program at the Cannonsville Reservoir. In 2012, recreational boating on the four reservoirs was opened to owners of non-motorized boats. All boats used on the reservoirs are required to be inspected and steam cleaned as a means of avoiding the spread of invasive species.

DEP officials continuously monitor reservoir water quality and have concluded there has not been a detrimental impact from recreational boating.

A DEP analysis of the recreational boating program made the notes that kayaks and canoes rented from local businesses in the Catskills accounted for the majority of boats used on the four reservoirs forecasts “a trend that underscores the program’s support of local tourism and outdoor recreation economies.”

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