NYS DEC, NYC DEP, The Catskill Center and Rondout Neversink Stream Program Annouce Peekamoose Blue Hole Stewardship Program

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), in coordination with the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP), the Catskill Center, and Rondout Neversink Stream Program, today announced a new stewardship program to aid in the preservation of the Peekamoose Blue Hole, a popular swimming hole located in the Sundown Wild Forest of the Catskill Park in the town of Denning, Ulster County, during spring and summer 2018.

DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “The Blue Hole is a unique and special place in New York and DEC is working to keep it that way for future generations. DEC encourages the use of our state lands, but after ‘going viral’ on the internet, 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. Today’s announcement complements the State’s ongoing efforts to help 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 years to come.”  

The new stewardship program was developed to help protect natural resources, including water quality, while ensuring public safety. Two stewards will be stationed at the trailhead of the Blue Hole to interact with visitors and provide information on how to enjoy the Blue Hole responsibly. The Adirondack Mountain Club is providing Leave No Trace training to the stewards in preparation for the summer season. Leave No Trace principles protect natural resources and help ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for visitors to natural areas like the Blue Hole.

In 2017, the Peekamoose Blue Hole was selected and nationally recognized as a Leave No Trace Hot Spot. Last August, Subaru/Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers spent a weekend at the Blue Hole to educate visitors about Leave No Trace principles. The successful weekend led to the creation of this year’s summer stewardship program. DEC, NYC DEP, the Catskill Center, and Rondout Neversink Stream Program are providing $42,000 to fund the program.

“Stewards will help to ensure the ecological health of the creek which is an important tributary to Rondout Reservoir and the water supply for more than 9.6 million New Yorkers,” said Paul Rush, Deputy Commissioner at the New York City Department of Environmental Protection. “We thank our partners at DEC, the Catskill Center, the Rondout Neversink Stream Program and the Adirondack Mountain Club for all of their support for this important work.” 

"We believe that through partnerships, collaboration, and well implemented regulations, we can begin to address overuse issues throughout the Catskills. The Catskill Center sees our Peekamoose Blue Hole Stewards as the first step in that process at the Blue Hole and hope that it can become a model for the rest of the Catskills. We look forward to greeting visitors, helping those visitors responsibly enjoy the outdoors, and helping inspire a lifelong appreciation for the Catskill Park and Forest Preserve," said Jeff Senterman, Catskill Center Executive Director.

"The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) is pleased to provide Leave No Trace training for the Peekamoose Blue Hole stewards this season. ADK believes that Leave No Trace education is the best means of ensuring that the public learns its role in protecting the wilderness experience at the Blue Hole. ADK has previously provided Leave No Trace to all DEC staff responsible for protecting the Blue Hole. ADK is ready to provide additional LNT support for the Blue Hole stewards if needed this summer," said Neil F. Woodworth, Executive Director of ADK.

“Increasing people to people outreach to improve water quality is the goal,” said Karen Rauter, Coordinator at Rondout Neversink Stream Program, which provided an education grant to help fund the stewards this summer.

On a busy summer weekend, about 1,000 people visit the Peekamoose Corridor and the three-quarter acre footprint of the Blue Hole. Over the past several years, the area has been drastically affected by the presence of large crowds on summer weekends. Increased visitation has resulted in severe impacts to the natural resource and posed a threat to public safety. Impacts include soil erosion, trampled vegetation, litter, food waste, human waste, pet waste, social trails, and wildlife impacts (bears).

This new stewardship program complements a DEC proposal released in March 2018 to establish a no-cost, day use permitting system that would require visitors to obtain a permit to access the Blue Hole on weekends and holidays from May 15 through October 15. 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. Under the proposed, no-cost permit system, 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 currently reviewing public comments on the proposed permitting system that were submitted during the public comment period.

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 that:  

  • Restrict hours that the area is open (except for the nearby designated camping area) to one half hour before sunrise to one half-hour after sunset;
  • Require the use of the portable restroom facilities for human waste disposal and the dumpster for all other waste;
  • Prohibit camping, all fires (including charcoal fires, wood fires, gas grills, propane stoves or other portable stoves) and the use of portable generators (limited use of the above will be allowed at the nearby designated camping area only);
  • Limit parking to designated parking areas (parking along the shoulder of the road is already prohibited by the Town and is a Tow Away Zone); and,
  • Prohibit glass containers, radios and other audio devices.

DEC encourages visitors to the Blue Hole to practice Leave No Trace principles. The Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is a national nonprofit organization that protects the outdoors by teaching people how to enjoy it responsibly. For more information, visit the Leave No Trace website. 

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 the Catskill Interpretive Center website.

For Immediate Release: 05/29/2018
Contact: Wendy Rosenbach | (845) 256-3018 | DEC Region 3 Office | r3Admin@dec.ny.gov