Fences to be installed at Kaaterskill Falls

Above: Kaaterskill Falls shot from behind in January 2014 by Dave Hebb, who shared the photo in the Watershed Post Flickr pool.  

After two people fell to their deaths off Kaaterskill Falls in Greene County this summer, the New York State Department of Conservation will install fences and warning signs at the waterfall, according to a letter from DEC chief Joseph Martens obtained by the Daily Freeman

The fences will be constructed in the early fall, a DEC spokesman wrote in an email to the Daily Freeman, and other safety measures will be taken as well: 

DEC (Department of Environmental Conservation) will work with state elected officials to identify additional funding options for local and state emergency response needs,” Georgeson wrote. “The New York state Office of Fire Prevention and Control will provide rope rescue training for local first responders and DEC will coordinate joint emergency wilderness rescue exercises with local first responders. DEC is also working with Greene County to improve emergency dispatch protocols to provide more efficient and timely responses by state, county and local first responders.

The changes come after a series of meetings about the danger at the falls led state assemblyman Pete Lopez, state senator Cecilia Tkaczyk, Hunter town supervisor Daryl Legg, and Greene County Legislature chair Kevin Lewis to send a letter to the DEC asking for safety improvements, the Freeman reports

Not everybody likes the idea of fences at Kaaterskill Falls. Geologists and authors Robert and Johanna Titus, who write a column for the Catskill Daily Mail, warn that a fence at the falls would be "an abomination."

The proper fix for the safety issues would be to install a wooden staircase instead, they write

During the 19th century, when the Falls were in private hands, there was a wooden stairway. People didn’t climb up the slopes; they climbed the stairs. That protected the slopes from erosion and the people from dangerous falls. We argue that a set of stairs should be restored to Kaaterskill Falls.

Below: A screenshot of a letter from DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens to state and Greene County officials regarding safety at Kaaterskill Falls. See the entire letter here