The Watercraft Inspection Program is a public education program whose goal is to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species through voluntary watercraft inspections and educational outreach.
In 2018 our volunteers and members, broken down into nine different teams, visited almost 50 individual legislators, along with representatives from the Governor's office and state agencies, to stress to all of them, the importance of the Catskill Park during the New York State budget negotiations.
Catskill Park Day is an annual advocacy event organized by the Catskill Center and our partnering organizations within the Catskill Park Coalition. The Catskill Center and Catskill Mountainkeeper co-chair the coalition, that includes more than 30 organizations dedicated to improving the Catskill Park and our communities.
This year represented the 6th year that the Catskill Center was in Albany, leading others to advocate for our Catskill Park and for our Catskills communities! In that time we have made great progress as we have spoken up for the region. Successes for the Catskills include:
- The Catskill Interpretive Center was built and is now open
- Increased spending on trail crews to repair trails
- New comprehensive recreation plan being developed for the Catskill Park
- Mountain biking study completed for Belleayre Mountain
- New access and trails on Overlook Mountain
- Improvements to our state campgrounds across the Catskills
- The Adventure NY program providing funding to improve our infrastructure, promoting outdoor activities and wise natural resource stewardship by those visitors
- Continued funding of the Catskill Conservation Corps
- Work to address overuse issues at Kaaterskill Falls and
Every year the Coalition works hard with its members and stakeholders throughout the Catskills to identify needs within the Catskill Park and from its communities. Each year after review and consideration, the Coalition identifies its priorities for the upcoming New York State budget and works to advocate for those priorities. Catskill Park Day is the cornerstone of those events, but far from the only work that is done to raise awareness about the Catskills.
This year, the Catskill Center and Coalition members brought the following priorities to Albany, which make up what is called the Catskills Package:
- Providing a Catskills Economic Development funding line in the amount of $500,000 directed towards the Catskill Watershed Corporation for shovel-ready access and stewardship projects across the Catskill Park
- $10 million in funding to support Catskill Park stewardship, education, improvements and infrastructure maintenance by the NYSDEC;
- Continuing the Adventure NY Program;
- Supporting stewardship line in the Environmental Protection Fund
- Continuing Campground and DEC facility improvements;
- Funding Smart Growth Grants for Catskill Park communities;
- Continuing the Catskill Conservation Corps, Professional Trail Crews and Summit/Trail Stewards programs with partners;
- Implementing mountain biking plan at Belleayre Mountain; and
- Feasibility study to connect Empire State Trail to Catskill Trail networks
- Supporting the Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center as the Visitor Center for the Catskill Park and the gateway to the Catskills region with funding for new exhibits and operations by supporting the new language in the Governor's FY 2019 budget request (Governor’s Capital Projects Appropriation Bill: Page 147 - 09CC0BER). Continue advancing NYSDEC projects (ie., fire tower, cabin, road sign, green infrastructure) on site.
- Increasing the budget and staffing for the NYSDEC’s Division of Lands and Forest to better manage Catskill Park. Holding annual Forest Ranger Academies to maintain and grow Ranger force to maintain public safety ($1,000,000)
- Funding to support the “Save the Hemlocks” initiative led by Cornell University to reduce the impact of Hemlock Woolly Adelgid on hemlock trees by developing effective biocontrols ($1,500,000)
- Pushing for carbon neutral/green infrastructure in new projects across the Catskill Park including electric vehicle charging stations and solar panel installations at State Campgrounds, the Catskill Interpretive Center and at Belleayre Ski Center ($500,000)
- Supporting continued funding of the Belleayre Ski Center Unit Management Plan for projects not related to private resort expansion
- New funding for Catskill Park Scenic Byways to support regional byway coordination and management efforts led the Mountain Cloves Scenic Byway and the Catskill Mountain Scenic Byway organizations ($250,000)
While Catskill Park Day has passed, the work to provide important funding for the Catskills has not been completed. The Governor has released his budget, which includes several critical pieces of funding for the Catskills:
- Catskill Interpretive Center funding directed to the Catskill Center for new exhibit installation and operational costs
- $100,000 for the Catskills Science Collaborative to be directed to the Cary Institute for Ecosystem Studies to allow for continued coordination and management of scientific work in the Catskills
- $500,000 of funding for the Save the Hemlocks initiative led by Cornell University, where effective bio-controls are being produced to knock back Hemlock Wooly Adelgid and prevent the loss of all Hemlock trees across the state.
As we move ahead towards a final budget, we need to let the Governor and the Legislature know that we want these items in the final budget. We also need to let them know that all of the priorities of the Catskill Park Coalition remain important for us.
The best way to do that?
- Call the Governor's office at 518-474-8390 and thank him for supporting the Catskill Interpretive Center, Catskills Science Collaborative and the HWA Bio-Control Lab at Cornell in his budget and urge him to make sure that these items make it into the final budget. While you're on the phone, let him know that you support the entire Catskills Package and the priorities of the Catskill Park Coalition.
- Write to your Assemblymember and your State Senator and tell them that you support the language in the Governor's budget for the Catskill Interpretive Center, the Catskills Science Collaborative and the HWA Bio-Control Lab at Cornell and that you want to see them in the final budget. Also let them know that you support the entire Catskills Package and the priorities of the Catskill Park Coalition.
The Maurice D. Hinchey Catskill Interpretive Center (CIC) is a partnership between the Catskill Center and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC). Since opening in July 2015, the CIC has welcomed tens of thousands of visitors to the Catskill Park and region.
The result of decades of effort to develop a visitor center for the Catskill Park and the greater Catskills, the public-private partnership between the Catskill Center and New York State has allowed the CIC to flourish as the gateway to the region.
Mile-a-minute vine (Persicaria perfoliata) is a particularly aggressive invasive plant, with Asian origins. Its name is very apt, as it can grow incredibly quickly - up to 6 inches a day in optimal conditions.
On its stem, it has small recurved barbs that allow it to climb over any nearby plants. Unmanaged, this vine can shade out anything it climbs. It can be identified by its noticeably triangular leaves, bright blue berries, and round modified leaves called ocreae that grow around nodes on the stem.
Mile-a-minute vine isn’t widespread in the Catskill region.
This fact, and its highly invasive tendencies, are why it is so important for hikers, anglers, and other citizen scientists to report it when they see it.
In neighboring areas, mile-a-minute is more widespread, but populations in the Catskills watershed are still low enough that together we can keep this plant from establishing a foothold.
Many of the known mile-a-minute populations in the Catskill region have been reported by knowledgeable landowners.
On August 5th, Catskill Center staff held an educational workshop on invasive species identification and management at the Phoenicia Library.
During the Q&A, someone brought up a list of questions their friend, Jane Simmons, had given them – along with the assertion that their friend had been dealing with mile-a-minute at her house!
Through follow-up conversations, Catskill Center staff confirmed what were unmistakable pictures of mile-a-minute crowding its way into planted gardens and fields of milkweed. We spoke with Jane and secured permission to survey her property and treat any mile-a-minute vine we could find.
This citizen scientist didn’t stop with reporting her own property though. Here is where she launches into true superstar status: she went above and beyond, spreading the mile-a-minute word to her friends throughout the area.
It wasn’t long before someone mentioned, "That sounds like something I’ve been pulling in my garden!" These landowners contacted us, and also agreed to a survey of their property. Staff at the Catskill Center’s invasive species program — The Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) — found and pulled all of the mile-a-minute on this property too.
We have since reached out to surrounding landowners, seeking permission for surveys on the nearby properties as well. So far, we have found limited movement of mile-a-minute from that site.
We have controlled these infestations and are committed to continuing control until the plant is eradicated at these sites.
But this superstar still wasn’t done! Jane kept spreading the word, and an eagle-eyed friend of hers reported an errant vine only a few miles down the road, near a local highway. We again surveyed this property and found the single reported vine – just 10 inches long, behind a shed. CRISP staff pulled the plant and will return in 2018 to monitor the area.
This goes to show the power of citizen scientists in reporting invasive species, particularly species that are currently uncommon in the region. Without this superstar citizen scientist, these infestations of mile-a-minute might have gone unnoticed or unreported for several more years, growing entrenched and spreading with each growing season. With landowner help, we have been able to locate these populations while they are small enough to be easily managed and start control early.
The CRISP program also mass-mailed a mile-a-minute information card to homeowners in the town of Woodstock, with contact info on how to report the plant via iMapInvasives and to CRISP staff at the Catskill Center.
The response to the mailing has been overwhelming and encouraging! So many landowners have become keen citizen scientists, watching for invasive vines and eager to report any that they see in their neighborhood. Sometimes the reports end up being other invasive vines like Eurasian bittersweet, but those landowners still receive best management advice for whatever species they report.
Our next steps for the management of mile-a-minute in the Catskills are to continue education through workshops, and to continue surveying and controlling it where CRISP staff find it. But citizen scientist superstars are just as vital to this effort as is CRISP staff!
Without Jane in Woodstock and others like her, CRISP wouldn’t be able to track and control these newly-arrived species. Partnerships like these multiply the number of eyes watching for mile-a-minute and other invasive species and the earlier these newcomers are found, the easier they are to deal with.
We're raising funds to support Catskill Park Day 2018 / advocacy in Albany.
They come in a number of modern shapes and fun colors. On the front is a hemlock image on the front that's ringed with "Catskill Park Day 2018. For the Love of the Catskills." The back is printed with the members of the Catskill Park Coalition.
Get them while you can — they're only available until January 28th.
It's so hard to believe. Where does that time go?
2017 was a year of exciting accomplishments for the Catskill Center. This past year we:
- Embarked on a redesign of the exhibits at the Catskill Interpretive Center
- Finalized our new strategic plan, which will clarify our direction as we head towards our 50th anniversary in 2019
- Secured more than $7 million for the Catskill Park via our advocacy efforts
- Reconstructed and rehabilitated the cottage at the Thorn Preserve, which will increase our ability to hold events and have a caretaker present at the Preserve
- Invested in public access improvements at the Platte Clove Preserve (thanks to support from the New York State Conservation Partnership Program)
- Held an amazing variety of events including: Taking Flight 2017, a Catskill Book Fair, the Catskill Cuisine series and the 2017 Membership Series which offered our members exclusive access to top-notch researchers and scientists from across the Catskills
- Welcomed our new Catskill Interpretive Center Director and Communications Director to the team
- Greeted tens of thousands of visitors to the Catskill Park through the Catskill Interpretive Center, the Catskill Fire Tower Project and at our Preserves
- Officially began the process of becoming an accredited land trust to help steward our preserves and conservation easements
- Brought our members, friends and supporters together at our Summer Gathering and at our Fall Gala.
When I think about how much we accomplished in 2017, I know it was only possible because we have assembled what has to be the finest team of staff and volunteers in the Catskills, if not anywhere.
We’re supported by a dedicated Board of Directors and most importantly by our members and donors. Our work to conserve, protect and improve the Catskills and its communities is your work, and we are grateful for your generosity.
Your donation powers our work across the region and the Catskill Center is only as strong as those who support us and share our vision that "Conservation Creates Opportunity" here in the Catskills.
Our success is your success. I ask you to be part of the Catskill Center and to support our work.
And thank you for all that you do,
Holiday season panic, we all experience it.
How much food do I buy? Is this turkey big enough? Are you sure we have enough food? Where am I going to put all of these leftovers? Who is going to eat all of these leftovers?!
Millions of pounds of leftover food is thrown away every year. In fact, it is estimated that Americans throw away 204 million pounds of turkey meat during the Thanksgiving holiday (Natural Resources Defense Council, 2016). What if there was a way to plan more accordingly and load off some of those leftovers? To reduce wasted food this holiday season...
- Plan ahead: Have an accurate head count to plan portions accordingly. Use Save the Food's new Guest-imator calculator to help estimate how much food you will need based on the head count and number of desired leftovers.
- Cook with imperfections: Purchase imperfect produce to use in cooked dishes, such as bruised apples for apple pie.
- Share: Encourage your guests to bring a container they can take leftovers home in.
- Make creative leftovers: Enjoy your Thanksgiving leftovers days after by creating new dishes like turkey soup or hot turkey sandwiches.
- Freeze: Be realistic about the leftovers you can eat; freeze the extra that won't last in the fridge.
From our family to yours, be grateful and not wasteful this holiday season and help us reduce wasted food in New York State.
Need some creative leftover recipes? Catskill Center staff are providing their favorites to creatively use Thanksgiving leftovers!
Stuffing Egg Nests: Too much stuffing leftover, check out this recipe from Collin Adkins on our staff:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
Coat a muffin tray with a thin layer of olive oil or non-stick spray.
Scoop stuffing to into each cup of the tray 3/4 full.
Press the stuffing to the edges of the cup to form a small basin.
Crack an egg into each cup. Season with salt and pepper.
Bake 10 minutes for slightly loose yolks, 15 for hard-cooked.
Pumpkin/Sweet Potato Muffins: Lots of sweet potato or pumpkin left over? Here's a great recipe from Sarah McGinnis!
Adapted from Smitten Kitchen - https://smittenkitchen.com/.../promise-keeper-pumpkin-eater/
1 1/2 c flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
1 - 1 1/3 c mashed pumpkin or sweet potato (canned works too - just make sure it's 100% pumpkin, not sweetened pie filling)
1/3 c unsweetened applesauce
2 large eggs
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
(optional) - raw sugar for sprinkling on top
Preheat oven to 350. Put liners in a standard 12-cup muffin pan.
Whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and cinnamon in a medium bowl.
In a larger bowl, whisk pumpkin, applesauce, eggs and brown sugar.
Add dry ingredients to wet and stir until just combined. Spoon batter into muffin cups (about 3/4 full)
(optional) sprinkle the tops with a little raw sugar
Bake 25-30 minutes (rotating muffin pan halfway through the bake time) until golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean.
Cool in pan for a few minutes before serving or moving to a cooling rack.
* Can easily be made vegan by substituting flax eggs or other egg substitute
The Catskill Center works tirelessly across the Catskills and is your voice in Albany for the region. It is our goal to ensure the wellbeing of the environmental, cultural and economic resources of the Catskills.