New York City set to open more watershed land for use

New York City intends to open more of its watershed land in Schoharie County for recreational purpos

New York City intends to open more of its watershed land in Schoharie County for recreational purposes and allow more boats to use the Schoharie Reservoir, where two new boat launches are planned.

Up until now, the city’s Department of Environmental Protection has allowed people to access the reservoir only for fishing and only in metal row boats.

But under a plan announced Friday, people won’t have to be fishing to use the reservoir and they will be able to use rowboats, canoes, kayaks, sculls and small sailboats.

The change follows a pilot program on one of the DEP’s other water supply reservoirs, the Cannonsville Reservoir, which proved successful, DEP Commissioner Carter Strickland said in a news release.

“The results of this collaborative approach are clear. More families and visitors will now be able to take advantage of the beautiful, pristine reservoirs and will potentially help boost tourism and economic activity across Delaware, Sullivan, Greene and Schoharie counties,” Strickland said.

The expansion is being applied to the city’s Neversink and Pepacton reservoirs as well.

The effort is being funded by the Catskill Watershed Corporation, a local development corporation dedicated to protecting the city’s watershed west of the Hudson River.

CWC spokeswoman Diane Galusha said the CWC board approved $65,000 toward the project. That money will help pay for boat launches, portable toilets and informational kiosks.

The Schoharie Reservoir will get two new boat launches. Precise locations for the boat launches will be set once possible sites are reviewed by the state Department of Environmental Conservation to make sure bald eagle nests aren’t disturbed.

The pilot program at the Cannonsville Reservoir was “universally considered to be a success,” Galusha said.

There were no emergencies, no problems with water quality or garbage nor any conflicts between people looking to go fishing and those who just wanted to go boating.

“It went really, very well,” Galusha said.

The CWC will be putting out requests for proposals to make sure steam cleaners are available in an effort to keep the city’s water supplies free of invasive species.

During the Cannonsville Reservoir pilot program, there were five vendors available to clean and certify the watercraft, which have to be kept on site to prevent any zebra mussels or other invasive species from tagging along.

The DEP also announced plans to open more of its watershed lands to outdoor recreation such as hiking and hunting.

In Schoharie County, the DEP plans to allow access to an additional 114 acres.

Officials are aiming for late May to hold opening ceremonies.

Categories: Schenectady County

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