Category Archives: News

I Love My Park Day at the Catskill Interpretive Center | May 7th

Volunteers at this event will plant trees, install riparian vegetation, help with the removal of invasive species, and partake in some light trail maintenance. Volunteers should wear appropriate clothing and footwear for planting activities and bring lunch, water and snacks. All ages are welcome.

For more information, contact Ian Dunn via email or phone: 845-256-3083

Location: Catskill Interpretive Center

Start time: 9:00 AM
End time: 4:00 PM

To register please visit: http://www.ptny.org/events/i-love-my-park-day/events

Free Lean-to Maintenance Workshop!

The Trail Conference and the Catskill Conservation Corps will be hosting this workshop that is open to the public and will provide information on Catskill Park Lean-tos, the Trail Conference’s volunteer maintenance effort of those lean-tos and the work that the Trail Conference is doing in the Catskill Mountains.

This workshop will cover the skills necessary to maintain a shelter (lean-to) so that it is ready for use by campers and is harmonious to its surroundings. Students will learn how to do an assessment of the overall shelter condition, cleaning and clearing the area, the proper use of tools and how to report the shelters condition. The entire workshop will be held at the Elm Ridge Lean-to for some hands-on experience.

No previous experience is necessary and beginners are welcome.  The workshop is free to attend and open to the public, however you must register.

All participants should wear sturdy hiking boots, snacks and plenty of water for the hike.Refreshments and snacks will be provided in the morning.  You should bring your own bag lunch to eat while at the lean-to.

The workshop will be help Sunday March 20th from 10 to 2.  To Sign up please visit: http://nynjtc.org/workshop/intro-shelterleanto-maintenance-trail-u-1037

Department of Environmental Protection Announces 2015 Reservoir Cleanup Day

DEP will partner with watershed community groups to remove litter and recyclables from public recreation areas at nine reservoirs in the Catskills and Hudson Valley

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced that it will team up with school groups, business leaders, local nonprofits and citizens across the watershed to remove litter and recyclables from public recreation areas at nine reservoirs in the Catskills and Hudson Valley. More than 150 volunteers are expected to participate in Reservoir Cleanup Day on Oct. 4 to remove debris from areas that are generally used for fishing and boating access. The effort is co-sponsored by the Catskill Watershed Corporation, which will provide gloves and bags for the volunteers.

This year’s cleanup follows a successful effort in 2014, which removed an estimated 2,500 pounds of recyclables and debris from dozens of miles of shorelines at Cannonsville, Kensico, Lake Gleneida, Neversink, Pepacton and Rondout reservoirs. Volunteers last year collected 114 bags of debris that had blown onto reservoir property from nearby roads, or had washed ashore from recent storms. Some had also been left behind at public access areas for fishing and boating.

DEP’s Reservoir Cleanup Day is among dozens of similar events happening across the state as part of the American Littoral Society’s annual New York State Beach Cleanup, which organizes volunteers to remove debris from beaches, lakes and other popular bodies of water. DEP is among the government agencies, businesses and foundations that sponsor the statewide effort. In 2014, the New York State Beach Cleanup included more than 6,800 volunteers who removed some 46 tons of debris from 245 miles of shorelines across the state.

“I would like to thank the outdoor enthusiasts, school groups, local business owners and other volunteers who are pledging their time for Reservoir Cleanup Day,” DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd said. “The pristine nature of our reservoirs and forests attracts thousands of people, including local residents and visitors, to enjoy fishing and boating each year. We’ve been able to keep these natural resources free of debris thanks to this annual event and the year-round work of our dedicated staff at DEP.”

“In keeping with our tradition of providing supplies and tokens of appreciation to groups and individuals who keep our streams litter-free, the CWC is very happy to participate in the Reservoir Cleanup,” said Alan Rosa, Executive Director of the Catskill Watershed Corporation. “We all have a stake in clean water, and it’s everyone’s responsibility to make sure it stays that way.”

“We are pleased to have the New York City Department of Environmental Protection participate in the New York Beach Cleanup,” said Don Riepe, Director of the American Littoral Society’s Northeast Chapter. “This year we are celebrating 30 years of organizing this annual event, which is the largest volunteer event affecting the shorelines and waterways of New York State. By cleaning the city’s reservoirs and the protected lands that surround them, DEP is providing a great example of environmental stewardship.”

Cleanups this year will happen at Ashokan, Cannonsville, Kensico, Lake Gleneida, Muscoot, New Croton, Neversink, Pepacton and Rondout reservoirs. Each cleanup at these locations will begin at 1 p.m. and is expected to finish no later than 3 p.m. Volunteers will meet at central locations designated for each reservoir, which are listed below.

To help reach potential volunteers DEP has worked with local nonprofits, schools and community groups to establish captains for the cleanup effort at each reservoir. The captains will help recruit volunteers from their groups and others in the communities that surround the reservoirs. Those who wish to volunteer can also reach out to DEP by calling (800) 575-LAND or by emailingrecreation@dep.nyc.gov.

The captains and central meeting places for each reservoir are:

Ashokan Reservoir: The cleanup effort will be led by the Rondout Valley High School Community Service Club, Catskill Mountainkeeper, the Ashokan Center, and Friends of the Catskill Mountain Rail Trail. Volunteers will meet at the Olivebridge Dam parking area on Route 28A.

Cannonsville Reservoir: The cleanup effort will be led by Tina James, who leads the Future Farmers of America program at the Walton Central School District. Volunteers will meet at Cannonsville Bridge on Route 10, just north of Sands Creek Road.

Kensico Reservoir: The cleanup effort will be led by members of Trout Unlimited NYC and the organizers of WestchesterFishing.com. Volunteers will meet at the Kensico Laboratory located at 19 Westlake Drive in Valhalla.

Lake Gleneida: The cleanup effort will be led by the Carmel Civic Association. Volunteers will meet on Route 6 near the Sibyl Luddington Statue.

Muscoot Reservoir: The cleanup effort will be led by the Watershed Agricultural Council and the Lewisboro Land Trust. Volunteers will meet at the end of Old Bedford Road, near Goldens Bridge.

New Croton Reservoir: Volunteers will meet at Boat Area 20 on Route 100, located about one-quarter mile from Muscoot Farms.

Neversink Reservoir: The cleanup effort will be led by Jim Rafferty of Bradley Boat Rentals. Volunteers will meet at the information kiosk on Route 55.

Pepacton Reservoir: The cleanup will be led by Ann Roberti of the Catskill Mountain Club and Diane Galusha of the Catskill Watershed Corporation. Volunteers will meet at the Shavertown Bridge Boat Launch.

Rondout Reservoir: The cleanup will be led by Brenda Sloan from the Tri-Valley Central School. Volunteers will meet at the universal access parking lot located on Route 55A.

At each site, DEP and volunteers will keep a tally of the type and quantity of debris that is collected throughout the day. Data will be reported back to the American Littoral Society at the end of the event.

In recent years, DEP has continued to expand recreational access and programs on many of its water supply lands and reservoir. More than 126,000 acres of city-owned land and water are currently open for recreation, including fishing, hiking and boating. Of that, more than 63,000 of those acres, known as public access areas, can be used by outdoor enthusiasts without a DEP access permit. More information about recreation in the watersheds can be found by clicking the “Watershed Recreation” link on the DEP homepage.

DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing more than one billion gallons of high quality water each day to more than 9 million New Yorkers. This includes more than 70 upstate communities and institutions in Ulster, Orange, Putnam and Westchester counties who consume an average of 110 million total gallons of drinking water daily from New York City’s water supply system. This water comes from the Catskill, Delaware, and Croton watersheds that extend more than 125 miles from the City, and the system comprises 19 reservoirs, three controlled lakes, and numerous tunnels and aqueducts. DEP has nearly 6,000 employees, including almost 1,000 scientists, engineers, surveyors, watershed maintainers and other professionals in the upstate watershed. In addition to its $70 million payroll and $157 million in annual taxes paid in upstate counties, DEP has invested more than $1.7 billion in watershed protection programs—including partnership organizations such as the Catskill Watershed Corporation and the Watershed Agricultural Council—that support sustainable farming practices, environmentally sensitive economic development, and local economic opportunity. In addition, DEP has a robust capital program with nearly $14 billion in investments planned over the next 10 years that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year. For more information, visitnyc.gov/dep, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Litter Pickup along Peekamoose/Sundown Road near Blue Hole on Monday, September 7th

Some of the litter cleaned up from the Kaaterskill Falls Trailhead
Some of the litter cleaned up from the Kaaterskill Falls Trailhead at a prior litter pickup event!

The Catskill Conservation Corps will be leading volunteers in a litter pickup and trail cleanup along the Peekamoose/Sundown Road near the Blue Hole, Peekamoose Trailhead and Sundown Primitive Camping area.  The work trip will be from 2 to 5pm and volunteers will be removing litter from along the roadside, trails, campsites and vicinity.

Please make sure to wear your hiking boots; dress appropriately for the outdoor conditions and our trail work activities; pack plenty of water to stay hydrated; and bring work gloves.  The Catskill Watershed Corporation is graciously donating trash bags and work gloves for the work trip.  Thank you to our friends at the Catskill Watershed Corporation!

We will be meeting at the Olive Town Hall/Park at 45 Watson Hollow Road, West Shokan, NY 12494 at 1:45pm and then carpooling over to the Lower Field parking area.

The public is welcome to join the crew and you do not need to be a member of the Trail Conference to take part.

No experience is necessary, we will provide the tools and the training on site before we get started.

Please register below for this event, call 518-628-4243 or email catskills@nynjtc.org.

The Wildberry Whippersnappers

Ask me what my favorite part of the CCC’s Wildberry Whippersnapper Day was and I’d be hard pressed to select just one moment. Was it the pouncing coyote we passed on the way to the trailhead? Maybe learning that the volunteer working side by side with me had to hurry off by noon because she was volunteering at the Glimmerglass Opera House later that evening? It might have been the sense of triumph upon reaching our other team’s end point, deep in the forest, and knowing that we’d cleared the entire trail. But it also might have been that wonderful feeling of accomplishment when I used my new folding saw to carefully and safely remove fallen trees from the trail.

weapons of blackberry destruction
weapons of blackberry destruction

Blackberries and raspberries, while thoroughly delicious, are tough, invasive, and very thorny. They do not make good hiking companions. Cutting them back involves metal weed whips, eye protection, long sleeves, and a sense of humor – hence the Wildberry Whippersnapper epithet. Our trusty mascot, Miss Peeka Mouse, was not in attendance as swinging sharp metal blades was deemed a bit risky for the pup. Safety first, as always!

They look so innocent...
They look so innocent…

We were blessed with great weather and a great crew and a job well done. Next up for the CCC? Ashokan 2: The Revenge has been rescheduled – the new date is August 13. Come on out for another full day of fun and games and hard work and cookies on Ashokan High Point on the 13th, and clear your calendar on Sunday, September 6 for a litter pick up and campsite clean up at Blue Hole. And finally – don’t forget the volunteer picnic on September 12 at the Catskill Interpretive Center. Celebrate a great season of volunteering with your fellow volunteers!

AHP 2: The Revenge on Thursday August 13, 2015

New date! There are so many volunteer opportunities and so much trail work to be done, I guess a collision every now and then is inevitable! We crossed wires with another trail maintenance effort, but hey — no big deal – we’re flexible! The new and improved date for AHP2: The Revenge is August 13, 2015 — and we have some very special news about this trip! Read on for all the details!

Sequels are a time honored tradition, and who are we to argue with tradition? We had such a great day on AHP at the Trail Marking Clinic, the Catskill Conservation Corps invites volunteers to come back to this peak for another trail maintenance day on Thursday, August 13, at 9:30 a.m. to finish what we started. Side clipping, clearing waterbars, removal of brush and blowdowns, and installation of new trail markers are our tasks and we look forward to another fun-filled day on a gorgeous peak! And — this just in — volunteers will assist DEC staff in clearing a vista — so come on out and enjoy the view!

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Volunteers should be sure to wear hiking boots and clothes that you don’t mind getting a bit dirty. Dress appropriately for the weather and activities; pack plenty of water and a bagged lunch; and bring work gloves if you have them. CCC staff will provide the tools, tips and tricks, enthusiasm, good cheer, and some yummy treats!

And if your heart is set on being in the woods on August 6, no worries: click here for volunteer opportunities led by the Catskill Mountain Club on that date!

Register using the form below, or email Heather at hrolland@nynjtc.org. Pre-registration is required.

We Came, We Saw, We Marked: The CCC Hosts a Trail Marking Clinic on AHP

Trail Marker

“That first hiker out here after a deep snow, maybe it’s their first time on this trail, and let’s say it’s also just starting to get dark. That’s the hiker I keep in mind when I work on marking a trail,” suggested DEC Forester Ian Dunn, as he led a crew of 8 through the process of selecting the best tree, and attaching the marker. “There’s definitely an art to it,” he acknowledged. Sighting from marker to marker, managing tricky curves in the trail, and explaining the differences between marking a trail in the wild forest versus the wilderness were all fully explained by Forester Dunn. A hands-on approach meant that elegant solutions to onsite challenges were crafted as the group worked together to mark a solid mile or so of trail.

The Forest as Classroom
The Forest as Classroom

Participants with connections to every major hiking club in the region attended this trail marking clinic and trail work day. Clipping, lopping, pruning and digging for approximately 4 miles and many more hours on the scenic Ashokan High Point trail in Olivebridge, NY, the volunteers worked side by side with Forester Dunn and CCC coordinator Heather Rolland. Over a dozen waterbars were cleared, ensuring their continued functionality and thus the prevention of erosion. Pesky and tenacious laurels were clipped back to allow comfortable passage through the beautiful forest. And breath-taking views, good food, and hiker chat (do copperhead snakes *really* smell like cucumbers?) made for an all around fabulous day in the Sundown Wild Forest.

Awesome crew!
Awesome crew!

Are you bummed that you missed out on this peach of a day? Don’t be – just join us next time! Stay tuned for upcoming adventures in volunteering! Who knows – you too could find yourself tussling with the CCC’s mascot, Peeka Mouse, over a Rogue hoe!

"I am an innocent puppy. I have no idea what you mean about that Rogue hoe."
“I am an innocent puppy. I have no idea what you mean about that Rogue hoe.”

Notes from the field: Dealing with the Devil

The Devil’s Path, Indian Head Project

Thank you, Hurricane Sandy: what had once been an interesting and challenging scramble had, over the years become an all but impossible spot to negotiate. Fallen trees combined with a large rock ledge to create the perfect storm of a mess. The DEC operations crew removed the downed trees and made the area passable once more, but ultimately the decision was made to improve the treadway in that spot.

blowdown from Sandy on the Devil's Path
blowdown from Sandy on the Devil’s Path

I know what you’re thinking: difficult scrambles make the Devil’s Path what it is – a tough and exciting trail to hike. No argument here. But when an area on a popular trail becomes too difficult for folks, they start seeking alternative ways around… and that can be a problem. In a sensitive, high elevation ecosystem, making the trail the most attractive place to put your boots has real merit. Besides protecting slow-growing and unusual plants and limiting the impact on bird nesting habitat, a well-designed trail with good tread prevents erosion and holds up to heavy use. The Devil’s Path is a backpacker destination, and every weekend sees hordes of heavily laden back country campers huffing and puffing up these pitches. Making the trail the best option is worth the effort.

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Cal Johnson and the SCA intern crew, plus canine assistant

The instructions to volunteer team leader Cal Johnson were simple: improve the tread without sacrificing the rugged and wild quality of the trail. Do not attempt to tame the Devil’s Path! Two full work days and 4 interns later, the tread improvement project has been completed. Five rock steps were installed in the lower area, approaching the ledge. The footing is solid and secure, and the area is still challenging but doable. You will still need to lift small dogs and children, but the rest of us human and canine hikers will be able to manage just fine. Oh, and did I mention that it looks great?

halfway finished!
halfway finished!

Interested in learning rock moving techniques? Want to learn how to build awesome stone steps like the ones Cal and the SCA interns built? Think you’d like to help out on another section of the fabled Devil’s Path? Contact the CCC to learn about upcoming opportunities in rockwork! Click here, fill out the form, and put “rockwork” in the comment section. Looking forward to rocking out with you!

CCC Mascot, PeekaMouse, says "Volunteering makes you look fabulous!" We tend to agree!
CCC Mascot, PeekaMouse, says “Volunteering makes you look fabulous!” We tend to agree!

Litter Pickup along Peekamoose/Sundown Road on Sunday, July 5, 2015

Some of the litter cleaned up from the Kaaterskill Falls Trailhead
Some of the litter cleaned up from the Kaaterskill Falls Trailhead at a prior litter pickup event!

The Catskill Conservation Corps will be leading volunteers in a litter pickup and trail cleanup along the Peekamoose/Sundown Road near the Blue Hole, Peekamoose Trailhead and Sundown Primitive Camping area.  The work trip will be from 1 to 3pm and volunteers will be removing litter from along the roadside, trails, campsites and vicinity.

Please make sure to wear your hiking boots; dress appropriately for the outdoor conditions and our trail work activities; pack plenty of water to stay hydrated; and bring work gloves.

The public is welcome to join the crew and you do not need to be a member of the Trail Conference to take part.

No experience is necessary, we will provide the tools and the training on site before we get started.

Please register below for this event, call 518-628-4243 or email catskills@nynjtc.org.

Read the full press release for this event

Notes From The Field: Welcome, Summer!

Summer solstice, Father’s Day, and some super Catskill Conservation Corps activities made for a busy and fun weekend in the Catskills!

On Saturday, June 20, a star-studded cast of characters taught and learned side by side on the scenic trails of the Southern Escarpment. NYS DEC Ranger Rob Dawson and the Trail Conference’s Catskill Program Director Doug Senterman, along with Heather Rolland of the Catskill Conservation Corps (CCC) taught the Introduction to Trail Maintenance course on the trails. Hands on learning at its finest, volunteers assessed blowdowns and used a variety of tools to remove them, cleared water bars and learned about their construction, and clipped encroaching branches. In total we cleared about 3 miles of popular trails, and enjoyed some killer views as well. We were joined by two hardworking Student Conservation Association (SCA) interns, Kalvin Murphy and Louis DiLorenzo, who helped out and learned alongside our volunteers.

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June 21 became an impromptu “undergraduate litter picking day” as the SCA interns returned with a volunteer from SUNY Geneseo! Heather led these intrepid litterpickers through the mess just off the trail at Overlook Mountain, removing 10 bags of nasty stuff from the woods. The ugly eyesores have were removed amid shouts of “hey! Look at this! Dude! Look what I found!” and as always, lots of laughter. Afterwards ice cream and people watching in the village of Woodstock rounded out the day.

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The CCC wishes to thank DEC and Ranger Dawson for the advance planning regarding the Introduction to Trail Maintenance course. In order to learn in the field, we needed a number of different problem types and learning opportunities. Ranger Dawson made sure we had a great trail to work on – plenty of all manner of challenges with amazing views to enjoy. It was perfect!

Read the full follow-up press release for our workshop

Another big thank you to the SCA interns and their supervisor, NYS DEC forester Ian Dunn, for their role on Saturday – helping to fetch and carry, as well as pitching in and participating in the workshop. They also get kudos for working hard on a miserably muggy Father’s Day, picking up trash and swatting mosquitoes with good cheer.

Our next event is another litter pick up, this time near Kingston, NY, at Onteora Lake on July 5. Stay tuned for all the details on how you too can make friends, whistle while you work, and have a blast while making a difference. Volunteering in the Catskills is cool, even on the hottest of summer days!

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