When I was young, my parents managed to scrape together enough money to take us on a week’s vacation nearly every summer, usually to somewhere within reasonable driving distance from our home in southeastern New York. Several of these vacations were in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, but some of our other trips were to the Catskill Mountains, a much shorter drive away. While I have only vague memories of a small rustic cabin shadowed by huge pine trees, the highlight of our trips to the Catskills, for me, was a visit to Catskill Game Farm. The game farm was a small zoo, complete with lions, llamas, monkeys, English fallow deer, giraffes, zebras, sheep, goats, etc. Being very small, my favorite part of the visit was feeding the deer and goats. One could buy a handful of feed from a dispenser, and immediately be surrounded by a small herd.
Although our visits to the Catskills centered primarily around the Game Farm (which, sadly, closed down in 2006 after 73 years of entertaining families), the Catskill Park itself offers a whole lot more. The entire park consists of 700,000 acres, about 300,000 of which is the publicly-owned Catskill Forest Preserve. The Preserve was established in 1885, starting with 34,000 acres. Situated just to the west of the Hudson River, its rounded, heavily-forested mountains, valleys, waterfalls and streams provide a home to black bears, bobcats, bald eagles and other wildlife. The park’s large landscapes and small, secluded ecosystems are a photographer’s dream. Its reservoirs and streams provide much of the drinking water for New York City.
Unfortunately, with its proximity to the Marcellus Shale, this pristine area is now under threat of being tainted by proposed fracking activity. The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) has put out an alert to try to stop New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo and the NYSDEC from allowing fracking in the Catskill area. The public comment period on the Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) expired on January 12th, but there is still time to sign the NRDC’s petition to save yet another irreplaceable national jewel from being ruined. This is an area that is near and dear to me personally.
and I hope that you’ll all add your signatures for this worthwhile cause.
UPDATE: Apparently only New York State residents can sign the petition, but perhaps an email to Governor Cuomo might help, for those of you who also treasure the Catskills.
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