Number of reservoir boaters grows; majority are locals

Above: A paddler heads down to the shore of the Pepacton Reservoir during the 2014 boating season. Photo via the NYC DEP's Flickr page. 

In the three years since the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) opened four of its upstate reservoirs to recreational boating, the number of people taking advantage of the program has steadily grown.

On Nov. 13, the DEP released its statistics for the 2014 season, which lasted from Memorial Day to Labor Day, with the announcement that visits to the Pepacton, Neversink, Schoharie and Cannonsville Reservoirs have hit a new all-time high of 1,182. 

In 2013, the total number of visits to all reservoirs was 1,074. That's a 10 percent rise, which is better than the average stock market return.

Those numbers are much higher than they were in 2012, the first year of the program, when only 355 boating permits were issued for all of the reservoirs combined. That was before the DEP allowed boat rental companies to operate on the reservoirs, a progam that began in 2013. 

The Pepacton Reservoir in Delaware County, which produces the "champagne" of the DEP's water for downstate consumption in New York City, remains the most popular reservoir among recreational boaters, with 701 boating visits in 2014.

The Neversink Reservoir in Sullivan County was the next most popular, receiving 266 visitors. The Schoharie Reservoir in Schoharie County came in third, with 116 visits, and the remote Cannonsville Reservoir in northern Delaware County came in last, with 99 visits.

One interesting finding: The DEP's data show that the majority of boaters on the Catskill's reservoirs are locals, instead of out-of-the-area tourists:

More than 59 percent of the recreational boating tags issued by DEP went to residents of the five watershed counties, including Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan, and Ulster. About 15 percent of the tags were issued to residents of New York City or Long Island. Visitors from nine states also received tags, including Arizona, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Forty-eight boaters, including three generations of one family, proved that they paddled one of the reservoirs in 2014 in order to redeem the snazzy Catskill Reservoir Paddler patch, which the Watershed Post produced in partnership with the Catskill Watershed Corporation.

Above: The Catskill Reservoir Paddler patch. Photo via the NYC DEP's Flickr page

Previous coverage:

Scout's Honor: Earn Catskills Badges

Pepacton the hottest spot for new reservoir boating program