Catskill Forest Preserve
By Ted Waddell
SULLIVAN COUNTY June 16, 2000 -- On Wednesday, June 7, the Catskill
Center for Conservation and Development of Arkville
teamed up with the NYS Department of Conservation (DEC)
to conduct a day-long tour of selected sites within
Sullivan County which are included in the Catskill Forest
The non-profit environmental conservation organization
was retained by DEC to set up the tour, one of the
recommendations of the August 1999 Catskill Forest
Preserve Public Access Plan.
As a DEC initiative, we organized the tour and they
led it, said Helen Budrock, assistant director of
the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development.
It was a partnership effort to increase awareness
and educate people as to whats available [in the
The center covers six NYS counties: Delaware, Greene,
Otsego, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster.
The Catskill Forest Preserve was created on May 15, 1885
when Governor David B. Hill signed a law requiring that
All the lands or now owned or which may hereafter
be acquired by the state of New York (in three Catskill
and 11 Adirondack counties) be forever kept as wild
A century later, the DEC completed a Catskill Park State
Land Master Plan to implement recommendations of the
Catskill Study Commission. The Catskill Park was created
in 1904 and today includes about 700,000 acres of public
and private land within the boundaries delineated on maps
by a line usually referred to as the blue
There are 292,100 acres (41 percent) of publicly owned
forest preserve lands within the park: Ulster County
(152,716 acres), Greene (78,869), Delaware (42,196) and
Perhaps it was because Sullivan County has the smaller
amount of acreage within the preserve, or maybe it was
because the tour was scheduled during the middle of the
week, but whatever the reason, only a handful of people
showed up for the tour of the forest preserve. At times,
it seemed as if participants were outnumbered by their
A mixed bag of people took the tour: Michael Austin,
owner of a New York City public relations firm; Amy
Brewer of the Sullivan County Department of Public Works (DPW); Rich
Caraluzzo, the countys DPW director of
parks, recreation and beautification projects; Elaine
Carpenter, a business owner from Downsville; Herk Clark
of the Sullivan County Visitors Association; Dave
Collins of Century Manor Farms, whose family farming
roots are more than 150-years deep in Sullivan County
soil above the Beaverkill; Shirley Fulton of the
Livingston Manor Chamber of Commerce; and Becky Perry,
education director at the Catskill Forest Association.
When we started this [in the mid-1980s], people
were saying You cant talk to them state
people, you cant do this and you cant do
that!, but today weve got an excellent
relationship, recalled Collins, who was active in
the creation of the master plan governing the preserve
and efforts to dispel fears surrounding the states
natural resources management agency.
Asked what he thought of the turnout, the blunt-spoken
69-year old farmer replied, Pretty poor! I
dont know whats the matter with local people,
whether its ignorance, laziness or fear of the
state. I cant figure out why people wont come
out to see whats going on in their backyard.
They dont understand that this is in their
backyard, and its all free, added Collins.
In this area, tourism is their business. If they
want people to come here, they got to know where
everything is and explain to people what we got to
Caraluzzo said he took the tour to keep informed on
whats out there in the county.
In my position, I receive a lot of phone calls
about different facilities in the county, and we want to
be able to reply with current information, he said.
As a member of the Livingston Manor Chamber of Commerce,
Fulton takes care of the organizations information
When people call up or stop by, its nice to
know what youre talking about, she said.
The tour began when participants met at the Catskill Fly
Fishing Center & Museum (CFFC&M) along the
Willowemoc outside Livingston Manor.
Following an introduction to the CFFC&M by the
state-of-the-art facilitys director Paul Dahlie,
and introductory remarks about the forest preseve and
access plan by Jeffrey Rider, a senior DEC forester,
folks boarded a bus and headed off to tour the wilds of
The first stop was at the DEC Fish Hatchery complex at DeBruce. Hatchery manager Scott Covert, a DEC fisheries
culturalist, explained how the hatchery raises trout for
stocking local fishing waters.
Next on the agenda was a short walking tour of the
Mongaup Pond Campground. Participants got their boots wet
while walking along a muddy trail next to the pristine
pond, but it was worth it as they learned about the
complexity of resource management operations from the DEC
Julie Harjung, a DEC forest ranger, talked about the
importance of protecting the environment from
people, and people from the environment, as well as
explaining the law enforcement, emergency medical
services (EMS) and search and rescue (SAR) duties of a
forest ranger. Fish and wildlife technician Carl Lindsley
described hunting, fishing and other wildlife
opportunties in the publicly owned forest preserve.
Rider talked about hiking, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, mountain biking and horseback riding.
Campground personnel Chris Olney and Helen Buddrock
provided a thumbnail sketch of their operations.
After lunch, the tour resumed with Ranger Harjung leading
a journey to the spectacularly breathtaking Mongaup
Falls. At the falls, she met Richard Crisera, a fisherman
from Portland, Oregon. Crisera is part of a group of avid
fishermen from all over the country who once a year take
a week off from the workaday world to go fishing.
Upon leaving the sparking falls behind, the tour climbed
out of the little gorge and reboarded the bus for a visit
to the DeBruce Environmental Education Camp.
The final stop of tour was at the Willowemoc Creek
Special Access Site.
Mike Flaherty, a DEC fisheries biologist, explained the
importance of public access to local waterways and
Forests are a big escape for city people,
said DEC fish and wildlife technician Lindsley.
Rudge, a supervising forester with the DEC described the
Willowemoc as a world class fishing stream with
tremendous access possibilities.
One of our goals is to promote tourism and the use
of publicly owned lands...state owned campgrounds are
gateways to the Catskills, said Rider, summing up
the mini-tour of Sullivan County highlights in the
Catskill Forest Preserve.
For information about the Catskill Forest Preserve and
its endless recreational opportunities, call DEC
foresters Jeff Rider at 256-3083 or Bill Rudge at
256-3111, at the NYS DEC Region 3 headquarters in New Paltz.
Please see an in-depth look at the Catskill Forest
Preserve and more photos in Tuesdays Democrat.