Catskills Campgrounds Suffer Devastating Losses
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By now, you've probably seen the pictures: Bridges washed away and roads and homes destroyed by Tropical Storm Irene.
"Everywhere in the Catskills, as you know, not just the communities, all the homes and the businesses, that the flood waters really damaged," explained Capt. Dan Walsh, the Region 3 Emergency Response Coordinator for the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
And then, there's the part of the Catskills where access makes it difficult to document the devastation; but it doesn't mean the devastation doesn't exist.
"A lot of the back country really suffered a lot of damage at the same time," added Walsh.
Spread out across more than 250,000 acres, there's downed trees and other debris, trails in need of repair and back country bridges needing to be replaced. DEC officials said the conditions are unsafe.
"All the hiking trails that the DEC lays out and maintains in Ulster County are officially closed," said Walsh.
DEC-run campgrounds in the Catskill-region are also closed.
"We're just urging people to stay away from the Catskill Forest preserve," he said.
Walsh said generally, the campgrounds close after Columbus Day weekend. Now, there's no time frame for when or if they'll reopen this year. But the DEC said the Beaverkill Campground is already shut down for the season.
Keeping people out of the woods, Walsh hopes, will keep them off the roads.
While crews will work to make repairs in the Catskills, many communities are still working to rebuild, themselves.
"Right now, we're really focusing on helping the recovery efforts. We have people who lost homes, had their homes damaged, businesses, trying to get the infrastructure back," Walsh said.
And the NY NJ Trail Conference is working to help the DEC, get the trails back. They're recruiting volunteers to help with cleanup and raising money to replace bridges.