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Groups unite for Beaverkill Campground

A plan to keep the campground open

By FRITZ MAYER

BEAVERKILL, NY — The Beaverkill Campground is one of six state-operated campgrounds in New York that is slated to remain closed this year due to budget considerations. But community groups, county agencies and officials are working diligently to keep it open.

A meeting hosted by Catskill Mountainkeeper in Livingston Manor on March 7 drew members of various organizations who pledged to lobby officials in Albany to open the facility, which contributes to the economic health of area. Ramsey Adams of Mountainkeeper said that the closure would save the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), which operates the campground, perhaps $10,000 to $15,000, but the loss to the region would be far greater.

The DEC has said that the campground has been very much underutilized in the past three years, but campground advocates point out that the past three years have each seen historic floods rampage through the area.

County manager David Fanslau said in a phone interview on March 9 that he is working on a proposal whereby the county would assume operational control of the facility. Under the arrangement, the DEC would not pay for the operation of the campground; the revenue from campground fees would be used to cover expenses.

The county currently has such an arrangement with the Palisades Parks Conservancy (PPC) regarding the public beach at Lake Superior in the Town of Bethel. Under the contract the county has with PPC, the county department of public works runs the facility primarily using seasonal employees.

Under this scenario, according to Roberta Byron-Lockwood, president and CEO of the Sullivan County Visitors Association, her agency would be able to more effectively market the campground on its website and in various publications, and she has signed on to the effort to keep the campground open.

It’s a cause that has widespread support from officials.

On March 5, the Sullivan County Legislature passed a resolution urging the DEC and commissioner Pete Grannis to reconsider their position on the campground. And lawmaker Alan Sorensen issued a press release saying that he not only wants to keep the campground open, but he wants to apply to the state for stimulus dollars to fund other eco-tourism projects like the O&W rails-to-trails initiative and the Upper Delaware Scenic Byway.

Sorensen said the fight to keep the Beaverkill campground open “should also be used as a start to actually expand our efforts to build our ecotourism industry in conjunction with the bed-and-breakfast industry, Bethel Woods and even our farming industry.”

The Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development has also called to keep the campground open and is urging members to write to William Janeway, director of DEC Region Three, 21 South Putt Corners Road, New Paltz, NY 12561 to advocate for the campground.

Go to www.catskillmountainkeeper.org for an online petition urging the DEC to keep the campground open.

Contributed photo
Pete Grannis, commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), fourth from left, visited the Beaverkill Covered Bridge in August 2008 in recognition of the bridge being placed on the National Register of Historic Places. The bridge sits alongside the Beaverkill Campground, which under current DEC plans will not open this summer. (Click for larger version)