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Access Is April Focus for Catskill Park Advisory Committee

Bluestone, Sundown, and Vernooy Kill Wild Forests management; Mountain Clove and Kaaterskill Clove access initiative; Big Indian land acquisition, trailhead parking, and the Catskill Interpretive Center: these were among the topics discussed April 9 when 30 members of the Catskill Park Advisory Committee (CPAC) met at the Belleayre Ski Center to talk about the Catskill Park.

CPAC is chaired by the Trail Conference and the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development and brings together communities, nonprofits, and agencies-including the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the New York City Department of Environmental Protection-to discuss issues facing the Catskill Park. (CPAC is a subcommittee of the state's Forest Preserve Advisory Committee (FPAC), of which the Trail Conference is a voting member.)

At the April 9 meeting, DEC updated the group on several new access projects announced by the Governor in his State of the State address (accessible trails at the Interpretive Center; trail plan for Sundown/Vernooy Wild Forest), the status of the Catskill Interpretive Center (breaking ground in June), and staffing levels for the department during the 2014 work season (significant cuts to assistant forest ranger program). DEP provided an overview of its recreational boating program on their reservoirs in the Catskill Mountains over the past year. Officials indicated that they were generally pleased with the results last year and will be continuing the program and looking to make a few improvements to make it easier for people to enjoy recreational boating on the reservoirs.

Many issues on this month's agenda related to access, including overcrowding and a lack of parking at many trailheads. Work being done by the Mountain Cloves Scenic Byway group in the Town of Hunter to tackle chronic parking and pedestrian issues in the popular Kaaterskill Clove was a focal point. The group also looked ahead to planning for the 2014 Lark in the Park celebration in the autumn.

Generally, CPAC meetings are dry-eyed affairs. But at this meeting, committee members formally thanked Frank Parks, Region 4 Senior Forester, for many years of dedicated and cooperative service and bid him an official farewell. Frank is preparing to retire and will be much missed, especially by those from the Trail Conference who have worked closely with him for many years.

Trail Conference volunteers Peter Senterman and Gordon Hoekstra spoke at length about the great relationship between Frank and our volunteers in the Catskills. Jeff Senterman, our Senior Program Coordinator in the region, added his words of appreciation and presented Frank with a certificate on behalf of the Trail Conference and the Catskill Center for his work in the region.

The Trail Conference looks forward to helping facilitate and co-chair Catskill Park Advisory Committee meetings as part of our efforts to spur local economic development by making public open space in Catskill Park more accessible and appealing, and by engaging local residents in the stewardship of Catskill Mountain Region's trails.

If you'd like more information on the CPAC, the agenda items from our most recent meeting, or would like to get involved, please contact Jeff Senterman, the Trail Conference's Senior Program Coordinator, at [email protected] or 518-628-4243.
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