Hudson Valley News
12:12 am
Thu January 24, 2013

Study Puts Figures to Catskills Open Space

Credit Andy Arthur

There’s a new study that puts a dollar figure on the economic value of Catskills recreation land. The full report will be released next week, during a public forum.

The study was commissioned by the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development; Catskill Mountainkeeper; and Catskill Heritage Alliance, and it estimated visitor totals and the economic impact for surrounding communities generated by outdoor recreational activities in the central Catskills - in the Catskill Park and New York City Department of Environmental Protection watershed lands, and privately-held lands open to the public. Those from the non-profit groups behind the report say the findings validate what they already thought, a high number of visitors come to the region to hike, ski, paddle, and the like. And, according to the study, the economic impact amounts to more than $46 million from 1.7 million visitors annually, supporting 980 jobs.

Kathy Nolan is the Regional Director for the High Peaks with Catskill Mountainkeeper, and explains how the study will be useful.

And, she says, having such figures in a study can offer help in another way.

She says the study has implications for the proposed Belleayre Resort, but she says the proposed resort was not a main reason to commission the study. She says initiatives, like the Route 28 Scenic Byway,

Gary Gailes is a consultant for Crossroads Ventures, the developers of the proposed The Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park.  He said he had not yet seen the study, but would soon review it.

As for where the Belleayre project stands today, a project that was originally proposed in 2003, he says the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will release a supplemental environmental impact statement, possibly in the next month or two, at which time, the DEC will also release the details of a unit management plan proposed for the Belleayre Ski Center. And the public will see a third report on the cumulative impacts of both the proposed Belleayre Resort and the proposed improvements at the ski center. The Belleayre Resort has been much revised and downsized since the initial proposal.

The full report from the three Catskills organizations will be released January 31st, during a public forum at the Olive Town Meeting House in Shokan. (4:30 p.m. -6 p.m.)

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