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November 13, 2014

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Department of Environmental Protection Announces Record Year for Recreational Boating on Catskills Reservoirs

Paddling and sailing led to more than 1,100 visits in the Catskills in 2014

Photos can be viewed on DEP’s Flickr Page

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today announced that its recreational boating program on four reservoirs in the Catskills led to 1,182 visits this year, an all-time high for the program since it began in 2012. The results from this year represented a 108-visit increase over 2013. The visits included 827 that received a temporary or seasonal pass from DEP, and 355 visitors who rented a kayak or canoe from one of six businesses in the Catskills that store rental boats alongside the reservoirs. The rental program, administered in partnership with the Catskill Watershed Corporation (CWC), began in 2013 to provide easier boating access for visitors to the Catskills. It has also helped support local businesses by injecting thousands of dollars in new revenue into the economy. The recreational boating program complements the traditional use of metal rowboats for fishing, which has been permitted for decades.         

“The recreational boating program offers a unique opportunity for residents of the watershed, the five boroughs of New York City, and states beyond the metro region to enjoy the scenic beauty of the Catskills,” DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd said. “We are happy that more people are paddling and sailing on our reservoirs each year. DEP will continue to work with tourism and economic development agencies throughout the region to expand the program’s visibility and ensure it continues to support the tourism and outdoor recreation economies that thrive in the Catskills.”

“Once again, the CWC is pleased to have been part of this program to shine a light on these beautiful reservoirs, and to encourage people to get outdoors for some healthy exercise,” CWC Executive Director Alan Rosa said. “This year we provided locally made Catskill Reservoir Paddler patches to 48 people, including six members – three generations – of one family.”

DEP issued 827 tags to boaters in 2014, including 535 kayaks, 236 canoes, 43 rowboats, and 13 sailboats. Including boat rentals, Pepacton Reservoir attracted 701 boating visits, the most of any reservoir, followed by 266 at Neversink, 116 at Schoharie, and 99 at Cannonsville.  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.

For the second year, rental boats were available from 10 launch sites alongside the four reservoirs and the six businesses that participated rented 355 boats. The rental program is administered with significant help from the CWC, which funded the acquisition of 30 storage racks for the rental boats beginning last year. The CWC also administers the process to vet and approve businesses that applied to participate in the rental program.  In 2014, CWC also partnered with the Watershed Post to provide a commemorative Catskill Paddler Patch to those who boated on at least one of the reservoirs during certain times of the recreational season.  

2014 marked the third year of the expanded recreational boating program, which followed a three-year pilot that began in 2009 at Cannonsville Reservoir.  Prior to 2009, DEP only issued tags for metal rowboats that were used and stored at the reservoirs for the purpose of fishing. That original program remains popular, with more than 12,000 tags currently issued to anglers who have rowboats at the reservoirs. Regular water-quality monitoring at each of these reservoirs has shown no impact from recreational boating. DEP’s invasive species experts have surveyed every boat launch site and found no sign of aquatic plants or animals that can harm drinking water quality.  Every boat that is used on the reservoirs is required to be inspected and steam cleaned to avoid the spread of invasive species.

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 others 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 nearly $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
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