Catskill Park Coalition Gathers

Posted by on Feb 4, 2014 in News | 0 comments

On December 4, 2013, representatives of 20 organizations (joined by four others via speaker phone) came together at the Catskill Center in Arkville to formally establish a new Catskill Park Coalition.  With groups as diverse as the 3500 Club, the Theodore Gordon Flyfishers and the tourist offices of Ulster, Greene and Delaware Counties represented, participants spent over two hours discussing the role and goals of the Coalition and developing an agenda for the future.

As a first specific step, the Coalition is sponsoring a Catskill Park Awareness Day in Albany on February 25, 2014, to meet with legislators and members of the executive branch and press the case for additional State funding for the Park. We are looking to our member groups to turn out between 30 and 50 individuals to participate in the Albany Awareness Day.

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The idea of the Coalition is the outgrowth of efforts by the Catskill Center, the Catskill Mountainkeeper and Natural Resources Defense Council to seek additional resources for the Park. In the course of these efforts, it became clear that there needed to be a broader, longer-term campaign to advocate for increased funding for the Park and speak on its behalf.

The result is the Catskill Park Coalition – an alliance of like-minded groups working together towards this goal. To date, 20 groups have joined as members, and outreach is continuing. Representatives from the Catskill Center, Mountainkeeper, NRDC, the Catskill Heritage Alliance and the Catskill Mountain Club make up the founding five-person steering committee, which will act as a kind of quasi-staff and help implement group decisions.

Through the Coalition, we want to highlight the extraordinary natural resources of the Park and broaden public appreciation of all it has to offer. At the same time, the Coalition is initiating a campaign to increase State funding allocated to the Park, including funding for land acquisition, increased DEC staffing, stepped-up maintenance and public outreach to raise the profile of the Park and attract more visitors.

At the initial members’ meeting, which Alan White of the Catskill Center chaired, we discussed the opportunities the Coalition should focus on in reaching out to the Governor and the Legislature, including the urgency of additional funding for rangers and other DEC staff for the Park.  We also identified four key tracts that we will urge the State to acquire and had a wide-ranging and valuable discussion about advertising the Park, which is at the center of a tourist industry that is one of the largest generators of economic activity in the counties encompassed by the Park. The key role played in Park and trail maintenance by volunteers organized by groups such as the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference was another subject of discussion, along with the importance of impressing this on the State and possibly seeking a volunteer coordinator within DEC. There is no reason that the Catskill Park should not be regarded as the equal of the Adirondack Park, and we see the Coalition as a way to make that a reality.

Primary Coalition contacts for wishing to join or seeking additional information are Alan White at the Catskill Center and Ramsay Adams at the Catskill Mountainkeeper.

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