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May 16, 2014

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Department of Environmental Protection Announces Recreational Boating Season Begins Next Friday at Four City Reservoirs in the Catskills

Thousands of boaters from the watersheds, New York City and beyond have enjoyed reservoirs during the first two years of the program

Rental boats, incentive patch encourage more people to participate in unique outdoor experience

New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Commissioner Emily Lloyd today announced that the 2014 recreational boating program will begin Friday, May 23, on four city reservoirs in the Catskills. The popular outdoor program, now in its third full year, following a pilot program, has attracted thousands of boaters to paddle or sail on the Cannonsville, Pepacton, Neversink and Schoharie reservoirs. 2014 will also mark the second year of the boat rental program, administered by the Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC), which allows local businesses to store and rent recreational boats alongside the reservoirs. The convenience of rental boats attracted more than 300 boaters last year, supported local businesses with thousands of dollars in new revenue, and significantly improved access for visitors to the Catskills. Boaters this year will also have the opportunity to earn a Catskill Reservoir Paddler patch from CWC to commemorate their visit to the reservoirs.

“We encourage all our neighbors in the watershed, residents of New York City, and visitors from neighboring counties and states to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Catskills through this unique boating opportunity on our reservoirs,” DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd said. “DEP’s expansion of recreational boating, hiking trails and other outdoor experiences underscores our commitment to boost the tourism economy that supports so many families who live and work in the watersheds.”

“We’re looking forward to seeing boats on the reservoirs again this season, and to sending the new Catskill Reservoir Paddler patch to many boaters, proof that they've found a paddler's paradise,” CWC Executive Director Alan Rosa said.

“The Sullivan County Catskills is delighted to team with DEP to afford our residents and visitors this unique experience of enjoying all the wonderful recreational opportunities on our reservoirs amidst the backdrop of our beautiful Catskills scenery,” Sullivan County Visitors Association President Roberta Byron-Lockwood said. “This has brought new visitation to our county and the entire region.”

“As we approach Memorial Day, it is exciting to think about once again opening the reservoirs for the recreational boating season,” Delaware County Tourism Director Jim Thomson said. “At the Governor’s annual tourism summit, I participated in a business-to-business session where I had a chance to promote the area directly to more than 30 travel wholesalers. When I described the unspoiled beauty of the reservoirs combined with the open access to other New York City lands, it certainly peaked an interest in Delaware County that did not exist before.”

“The opportunity for paddling on these beautiful reservoirs presents a great new way to enjoy the Catskill Mountain Region,” said Alan White, Executive Director of the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development. “We are thankful to NYC DEP for continuing to make this more accessible.”

Last year, DEP issued 757 tags to boaters, including 505 kayaks, 189 canoes, 33 rowboats, 25 sailboats and five sculls. Nearly 63 percent of those tags were issued to residents of the five west-of-Hudson watershed counties, including Delaware, Greene, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster. About 14 percent of tags were issued to residents of New York City or Long Island. Visitors from six states also received tags, including Alabama, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey and Pennsylvania.

Access to the reservoirs for recreational boating was made easier last year by the start of a rental program that allowed businesses to rent kayaks and canoes from 10 launch sites alongside the four reservoirs. The number of businesses participating in the rental program in 2014 has increased from seven to 11. The program is administered with significant help from CWC, which funded the acquisition of 30 storage racks for the rental boats. CWC also oversees the process to vet and approve businesses that apply to participate in the program.

Boaters in 2014 will have an added incentive to paddle or sail on the reservoirs. CWC is partnering with the Watershed Post to offer the Catskill Reservoir Paddler patch to those who boat on at least one of the reservoirs during certain times of the recreational season. The patch, designed by Nicole Pajor Moore and produced by Stucki Embroidery of Boiceville, can be sewn onto a backpack, jacket, hat, or pinned to your office wall to show that you’ve boated New York City’s reservoirs. CWC and DEP hope the patches will help spread the word about recreational boating and encourage more people to participate. Patches will be sent to those who boat on at least one of the reservoirs according to the following schedule:

  • Schoharie Reservoir, May 26-June 30
  • Neversink Reservoir, July 1-July 31
  • Cannonsville Reservoir, August 1-31
  • Pepacton Reservoir, September 1 – October 13

Please note that all four reservoirs are open during the entire recreational boating season, and the dates above are only for the purpose of receiving a patch. More details about the process for receiving a patch can be found at The patch is made possible through the Watershed Post’s annual outdoor guide, which includes information on other recreational activities in the watersheds and surrounding Catskills.

Recreational boating season in the Catskills begins the Friday before Memorial Day and lasts until Columbus Day, from dawn till dusk. Boaters must have a DEP access permit that is available free of charge on DEP’s website by clicking here. All boats used on the reservoirs must also be steam cleaned by one of the 17 DEP-certified steam cleaning vendors conveniently located across the watershed. A list of those vendors is available on the DEP website. Steam cleaning helps protect against invasive plants, animals, and microorganisms that can harm water quality and fisheries. If a recreational boat is taken off reservoir property, it must be steam cleaned again before it can reenter the reservoir. Throughout the course of the recreational boating program, DEP has continuously tested water quality to ensure that none of the recreational activities has an adverse effect on New York City’s drinking water supply.

Since 2003, DEP has significantly expanded the amount of City properties within the watersheds that are open for recreation. There are now 122,205 acres open for recreation, including 88,313 acres of land and 33,892 acres of reservoirs. Of that, 59,211 acres of land are in public access areas that are open to hiking, hunting and other forms of low-impact recreation without a DEP access permit. More information about recreation in the watersheds can be found by clicking the “Watershed Recreation” link on the DEP homepage.

DEP manages New York City’s water supply, providing more than one billion gallons of high quality water each day to more than 9 million New Yorkers. This includes more than 70 upstate communities and institutions in Ulster, Orange, Putnam and Westchester counties who consume an average of 110 million total gallons of drinking water daily from New York City’s water supply system. This water comes from the Catskill, Delaware, and Croton watersheds that extend more than 125 miles from the City, and the system comprises 19 reservoirs, three controlled lakes, and numerous tunnels and aqueducts. DEP has nearly 6,000 employees, including almost 1,000 scientists, engineers, surveyors, watershed maintainers and other professionals in the upstate watershed. In addition to its $70 million payroll and $157 million in annual taxes paid in upstate counties, DEP has invested more than $1.7 billion in watershed protection programs—including partnership organizations such as the Catskill Watershed Corporation and the Watershed Agricultural Council—that support sustainable farming practices, environmentally sensitive economic development, and local economic opportunity. In addition, DEP has a robust capital program with over $14 billion in investments planned over the next 10 years that will create up to 3,000 construction-related jobs per year. For more information, visit, like us on Facebook at, or follow us on Twitter at

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NYC Department of Environmental Protection
Public Affairs

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