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NYSDEC Proposes to close Beaverkill Campsites
Beaverkill Covered Bridge Future at Risk [WGN NY-53-02]

      The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation plans to close up to six state parks including Beaverkill Campsites.
      Donna Freeland, President of the New York State Covered Bridge Society writes: I want to ask your help in a late breaking and very relative issue. It has been decided that in the interest of budget cuts, Beaverkill Campsites, on the far side of the Beaverkill Covered Bridge, is going to be closed. I have received emails from Ramsay Adams, executive director of Catskill Mountain Keeper about signing a petition accessible from their website at which would be great if everyone who has a computer could sign.
      Another thing that can be done is contact the NYSDEC, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-0001 or and also the local DEC person who is William Janeway, Region 3 DEC, 21 South Putt Corners Rd. New Paltz, NY 12561-1696 or phone him at 845-256-3033 or fax him at 845-255-3042.
      What I think our main concerns would be is the possible loss of the money that's been allocated, but not delivered, to fix the bridge because they might feel not enough use will be served by the bridge. Also security might be an issue if there are very few people around, and fewer in charge of maintaining, the chances of vandalism of this property now on the National Historic Register increases dramatically.
      I have been on the phone with several people at Sullivan County, letting them know if there is anything we can do as an organization, to please let us know. I have secured the pavillion at Livingston Manor for our meeting on July 12th and Ramsay Adams will be our guest speaker. So whatever we can do to let the powers that be know how concerned we are about them closing the campground, with the covered bridge as an attraction, and what that would mean to the future and the security of this bridge would be great.
      Following is a press release revealing that Sullivan County is proposing to lease the property and run the campground at no cost to the state. They expect to hear within the next couple of weeks:

March 10, 2009 - Sullivan County Proposes to Operate Beaverkill Campground- In a letter sent on behalf of the Sullivan County Legislature to NYSDEC Regional Director Willie Janeway, Sullivan County Manager David P. Fanslau proposed Sullivan County enter into an agreement with the NYSDEC to operate and manage the Beaverkill Campground for a multiple year arrangement, similar to the County's current arrangement with the Palisades Parks Commission to operate and manage Lake Superior Park.

District Three Legislator Elwin Wood, who last week sponsored a resolution opposing the campground"s closure said, "It was obvious through our conversations with officials from the DEC that this closure was eminent, and I'm pleased that through creative thinking and some initiative from the Legislature, the DEC is willing to consider a lease with Sullivan County that would allow the campground to remain open and available to the traveling public, and for the benefit of our local economy."

The County's proposal calls for an agreement between the County and NYSDEC, similar to the agreement between the County of Sullivan and the Palisades Interstate Park Commission regarding the operation and management of the Lake Superior State Park in Bethel, New York. The County would be granted a license by NYSDEC and or other appropriate state agency to operate and manage the Beaverkill Campground, and the revenues realized by Sullivan County related to the operation and management of the Beaverkill Campground through the rental of campsites would be used to offset the costs associated with the campground's operations.

Legislature Chairman Jonathan F. Rouis said, "Legislator Wood, Ramsay Adams and the Catskill Mountainkeeper organization, and the local Chambers of Commerce in Roscoe and Livingston Manor have made compelling arguments for keeping this facility open, and as a Legislature, we need to explore any and all options that protect our economy and promote our local communities, particularly if we can do so with no financial burden on our taxpayers."

Sullivan County would not seek to take title to the Beaverkill Campground, and the long-term ownership and improvements options would remain with the NYSDEC. The County's proposal does not seek any state funding to operate and manage the Beaverkill Campground, and Sullivan County expects to break even or generate modest income through this proposal.

County Manager David Fanslau said he hopes to hear from the NYSDEC within the next few weeks, particularly since the campgrounds traditionally open on May 1st.

For more information about this press release, please contact Alexis Eggleton, Legislative Aide, at 845-794-3000, ext. 3305.

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Joe Nelson, P.O Box 267, Jericho, VT 05465-0267
This file posted 03/12/2009