Letter to the Editor: The Catskill Mountain Club views the Catskills as a region, not a conglomeration of competing interests

To the Editor:

The Catskill Mountain Club (CMC) views the Catskills as a region, not as a conglomeration of disparate counties and chambers of commerce competing for their own recognition among tourists.

We are trying to sponsor activities not only to the four counties in and near the State Park or Blue Line, but also to outlying counties in the region including Otsego, Schoharie and even Southern Albany counties. These activities involve any outdoor non-motorized activity, including hiking, biking, paddling, skiing, family walks, and educational and social events.

Based on recent research done by The Central Catskills Chamber of Commerce, visitors to the Catskills almost unanimously selected organized outdoor recreation as the major draw to our area. The location of the activities within the region was not a factor. Over the past couple of years, this research has challenged us to accelerate our website’s growth and expand our board of directors to represent all counties in our region. The NY/NJ Trail Conference and Finger Lakes Trail Conference are both represented.

The CMC was formed in 2004, simultaneously with the 100th anniversary of the Catskill Park or “Blue Line” (700,000 acres of land, of which about 300,000 acres are owned by the State as part of its forest preserve). We felt the Adirondacks, Green Mountains and Appalachian Mountains have clubs, and the Catskills certainly deserved to have their own outdoor organization dedicated to enjoyment of one of the most beautiful regions in the country. Our growth has been steady and we’re now a not-for-profit corporation.

We just completed our 9th Annual Lark in the Park 10-day celebration which inspired 300 people to participate in 42 events, including paddles on newly opened Pepacton Reservoir and our first through hike – this one from Margaretville to Downsville on a little-known spur of the Finger Lakes Trail. The event is now co-sponsored by The Catskill Center and New York/New Jersey Trail Conference. There’s no doubt about it, the “region” IS becoming a destination and we’re experiencing the trend, firsthand.

To better serve this growth and tie the region together, we’re now offering our website – www.catskillmountainclub.org -- to any outdoor group wanting to let others know about their upcoming activities free of charge in return for listing some of our activities on their websites.

We’re providing advertisers exposure on both the Lark In the Park’s websites and ours for only $50 a year. And, any outdoor organization, county or chamber of commerce wishing to promote their outdoor events can publicize them on our website at no cost! So if your group is involved in hiking, biking, paddling, bird watching, outdoor education, family picnics, etc., please contact us.

We’re always looking for volunteers to lead events as well as new members. And we’ve been relying on donations to cover our costs. Now that we’re a not-for-profit organization with plans to become tax-exempt, community support is more important than ever. Please visit our website to learn how you can make a tax-exempt donation now; join us in our activities, and help the Catskills continue to grow as a destination!

Steve Berg
Catskill Mountain Club