CATSKILL — The state Department of Environmental Conservation has adopted new rules for public use of Kaaterskill Falls in state lands around it to improve safety and users' experience, the agency announced Wednesday.
The two-stage, 230-foot waterfall off state Route 23 in Hunter has grown in popularity, especially since DEC several years ago constructed access from the north that lets hikers avoid the steep climb from Route 23.
The new rules restrict the use of campfires or stoves to designated campsites, prohibits possession of alcohol except when traveling to or at designated sites, bans the use of audio devices without headphones or earbuds except at designated sites, and prohibited people from going within six feet of the falls, except on designated trails.
The falls have been the site of four deaths in recent years, two each in 2014 and 2016.
"We want people to visit New York’s natural areas and state lands, but we want them to visit responsibly and be mindful of their surroundings," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos.
The new regulations apply to all or parts of four areas; the Kaaterskill Falls Riparian Area in Hunter, the Kaaterskill Clove Riparian Corridor in Hunter and Catskill, the Platte Clove Riparian Corridor in Hunter and Saugherties, and the Colgate Lake Wild Forest Area in Jewett.
The regulations also prohibit the possession of portable generators in all those areas except at designated campsites.
DEC has invested more than $1.25 million primarily from the Governor's NY Works program as part of a comprehensive effort to make the Kaaterskill Wild Forest area a safer and more enjoyable destination to visit, DEC officials.
Kaaterskill Falls is about 60 miles south of Schenectady.