New plans for Catskills recreation are taking shape / Hudson Valley One

by Paul Smart for Hudson Valley One

Just as the face of entrepreneurial business in the Hudson Valley has shifted to one that’s long-bearded and surrounded in plaid flannel, the new look of land stewardship in the Catskills is moving towards something much more active and popular-based than the flyfishing and solo hiker experiences that have characterized the state’s forest preserve parks for a handful of generations.

New plans to expand mountain bike and cross country ski trails throughout the Catskills are coming forth this spring in the form of a proposed revision to the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Unit Management Plan (UMP) for more than 6,106 acres of forest preserve lands in the Shandaken Wild Forest, which is located in the central Catskills within the Ulster County town of Shandaken and adjacent Greene County town of Lexington. But the shifts in the state’s 2005 UMP appears to be but the tip of a larger shift in land use for the entire region, as well as the massive Adirondack Forest Preserve, that’s in keeping with major changes in the ways younger generations are approaching nature and their relationship with it.

“DEC is seeking public input on how to best manage these lands while providing access to a variety of outdoor recreational activities consistent with the Catskill Park State Land Master Plan,” reads last week’s press release from Region 3 Regional Director Kelly Turturro on the UMP revisions. “DEC’s goal is to protect the natural resources, provide outdoor recreational opportunities for residents and visitors, and ensure the Forest Preserve is an asset to the communities and a benefit to local economies.”

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