DEC Proposes New, Day Use Permitting System for Visitors to the Blue Hole

No-Cost Permits Will Protect Popular Blue Hole Area and Reduce Overuse Issues

Proposal Would Require Permits on Weekends and Holidays DEC Accepting Comments on Blue Hole Proposal through May 28, 2018

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced a proposal to establish a no-cost, day use permitting system requiring visitors to obtain a permit to access the Blue Hole, located in the Sundown Wild Forest of the Catskill Park in the town of Denning, Ulster County, on summer weekends and holidays. This proposal is designed to allow DEC to strike a balance between ensuring State lands are open and accessible to the public, reducing environmental damage, and enhancing public safety. DEC is accepting comments on the proposed permitting system through May 28, 2018.

"The Blue Hole is a unique and special place in New York and the proposal released today is designed to keep it that way for future generations," said Commissioner Seggos. "DEC encourages the use of our state lands, but this tiny area has been drawing up to 1,000 visitors a day. This is simply too much traffic for this postage stamp-sized area. DEC is actively working to preserve the Blue Hole and protect visitors while reducing trash, damage to vegetation and trees, and soil erosion. We want visitors to continue to enjoy this incredible resource safely and responsibly for generations to come."

Under the proposed, no-cost permit system, visitors to the Blue Hole would need to obtain a permit on weekends and holidays from May 15 through October 15. DEC would issue up to 40 permits per day and each permit would allow entry for up to six individuals, including children, allowing for a maximum of 240 people to access the Blue Hole each day. DEC is proposing the new permit system by amending the Peekamoose Valley Regulations, and as the regulations are finalized, DEC will share additional information about how to obtain permits with the public.

Existing State Regulations to address overuse at the Blue Hole will remain in effect and include: restricting hours the area is open to one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset; requiring the use of portable restroom facilities; prohibiting all fires and grills and the use of portable generators; limiting parking to designated parking areas; and prohibiting glass containers, radios, and other audio devices.

Despite these regulations, visitor use and interest in the Blue Hole has continued to increase and necessitated DEC to propose this new permitting system.

Additional actions taken by DEC to address overuse include using social media to notify the public of the issues and recommend alternative areas and maintaining a law enforcement presence on weekends. DEC continues to work with Leave No Trace and other partners to reduce overuse impacts at the Blue Hole. The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is a national organization that protects the outdoors by teaching and inspiring people to enjoy it responsibly.

Comments on the proposed day use permitting system are being accepted until May 28, 2018, and may be submitted to DEC by email or in writing to: NYSDEC, Attn: Blue Hole Comments, 21 South Putt Corners Road, New Paltz, NY 12561.‎

Visitors can find out more information on these and other destinations in the Catskills by contacting or visiting the Catskill Interpretive Center at 5096 Route 28 in Mt. Tremper, NY, 12457 - phone: 845.688.3369 or visit Catskill Interpretive Center website (leaves DEC webpage).

For the 2018 season, the Catskill Center is working with the NYSDEC, the NYCDEP and the Neversink-Rondout Watershed Program to launch a Stewards program at the Blue Hole to help improve the area and better educate visitors. The Peeakmoose Blue Hole Stewards will help educate visitors about the uniqueness and fragility of the Blue Hole ecosystem, provide information on Leave No Trace principles and help guide visitors to other locations in the Catskill Park that offer swimming and recreation. Please become a member of the Catskill Center to help us continue stewardship efforts like this!