New Regulations for Blue Hole

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New Regulations for Blue Hole

New postby dave » Wed May 25, 2016 7:50 pm

The NYS DEC has just enacted new temporary regulations for the Blue Hole in Sundown (Peekamoose Valley). The temporary regulation were enacted today, May 25, 2016, and will stay in effect for 90 days. The DEC will then hold hearing to determine what should be done in the future. Local town officials have put up No Parking signs to allow only a few people to access the Blue Hole. This is the same thing that was done to all the rest of the swimming holes in the Catskills which resulted in all of them no longer being available to use.

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The Blue Hole (2015)

The Blue Hole has been used extensively for the past 50 years by young people as a place to swim and cool off. Approximately 30 years ago, there was a large slab of rock at the top of the Blue Hole that allowed swimmers to jump off of it. Then one Winter the slab of rock slide off into the Blue Hole, and no one could use it after that. Over the next couple of years. the slab of rock broke up, and the Blue Hole became available for Swimming again.

Over the past couple of years, the DEC, local officials, and law makers have changed the regulations to shut down many of the swimming holes. This has been done thru DEC tickets, No Parking signs, and other subversive methods. They have shutdown ALL of the major swimming holes in the Catskills with the exception of the Blue Hole. Therefore, all the kids have now converged on the Blue Hole. So, there are too many kids using the Blue Hole. Now, they want to close down the last major swimming hole in the Catskills. Some organizations proposed ways to allow kids to swim in the holes without the problems we are now having. But, law makers refused to read the proposals.

The primary fear of Catskill Mountaineer is that this will push the kids into the Devil's Kitchen and Hell's Hole, where there will be many deaths.

Here are the new temporary regulations enacted by the DEC:

DEC Issues Emergency Regulations for the Blue Hole
Significant increase in Visitors Lead to New Regulations to Make the Popular Blue Hole Swimming Area Safer and Cleaner While Protecting New York City's Public Water Supply


The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is implementing emergency regulations effective May 25, 2016 for the Blue Hole and Peekamoose Valley in the Town of Denning, Ulster County. The purpose of the emergency regulations is to increase public safety and reduce impacts to the environmental resources of this very popular swimming area located on Rondout Creek in the Sundown Wild Forest. The area is also in the New York City drinking water watershed.

In the summer of 2015, day use of the area referred to as the "Blue Hole," a large, deep and very cold swimming hole in Rondout Creek immediately upstream of the camping area, increased exponentially compared to previous years. This was due in part to social media coverage and numerous websites, including national magazines, touting the Blue Hole as "one of the best swimming holes in the nation." As many as 700 people have crowded into the small area on a weekend day. This dramatic increase in usage has resulted in rampant human waste, refuse, fires, broken glass and an overwhelming of the parking areas which spilled out all along Peekamoose Road. The local communities have expressed safety concerns with the road not being passable by emergency service vehicles due to blockage by illegally parked cars and concerns with the sheer number of visitors.

"The immediate implementation of Emergency Regulations for this property is necessary for the preservation of public health, safety and general welfare of both users of the property and nearby residents," said Acting DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "DEC encourages all interested visitors to enjoy this incredible resource responsibly."

The Emergency Regulations will:

1. Restrict hours that the area is open (except for the nearby designated camping area) to one half hour before sunrise to one half-hour after sunset;

2. Require the use of the portable restroom facilities for human waste disposal and the dumpster for all other waste;

3. Prohibit camping, all fires (including charcoal fires, wood fires, gas grills, propane stoves or other portable stoves) and the use of portable generators at the Blue Hole. (Limited use of the above will be allowed at the nearby designated camping area only);

4. Limit parking to designated parking areas (parking along the shoulder of the road is already prohibited by the Town and is a Tow Away Zone); and,
Prohibit glass containers, radios and other audio devices.


"The emergency regulations implemented by New York State are part of a collaborative plan to ensure safe public access to the Blue Hole area while also protecting the creek and the wild forest that surrounds it," New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) Acting Commissioner Steven Lawitts said. "Throughout the summer DEP will partner with the state to greet visitors at the Blue Hole area, share information about the new regulations and explain the important role that this watershed area plays in the New York City drinking water system," said Lawitts.

The emergency regulations are in effect for 90 days and will be in place before the upcoming Memorial Day weekend. The development of permanent Site Specific Regulations for the property, that mirror the emergency regulations, is currently underway. The development of Site Specific Regulations will include the opportunity for the public to provide input and will include a public meeting. The public meeting will be scheduled as soon as possible and will be held in the Town of Denning area.

DEC has been consulting with local stakeholders since last summer to gather input and develop regulations specific to this property that would protect the environment of this overused resource and provide a safer and more enjoyable experience for users of the property and nearby residents of the Town of Denning.

All visitors to the Blue Hole should note that parking is extremely limited in the area and Law Enforcement will take necessary actions to maintain safety for visitors and local residents.
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Re: New Regulations for Blue Hole

New postby rkugel » Thu May 26, 2016 7:40 am

Good Morning Dave,

Will the closure of Blue Hole in any way affect the ability to park at the trailhead for Peekamoose Mountain or the ability to park at Buttermilk Falls (about a mile north of the Peekamoose trailhead)? Hopefully, these areas will not be closed to hikers.

Thank you most kindly in advance for any information you can share.

It is quite sad and regrettable that a location as beautiful as Blue Hole has to be closed (or at least severely restricted). On the other hand, this is what happens when people show complete disrespect for an area by leaving trash and other waste. It is absolutely disgusting and inexcusable.

While I completely agree with your post lamenting the closure of swimming holes all through the Catskills, as much as I hate to say it, sometimes people bring these things onto themselves. It is truly a shame.

Rich
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Re: New Regulations for Blue Hole

New postby mike » Thu May 26, 2016 6:18 pm

Hi Rich - They are not closing the Blue Hole. Only restricting it to swimming for a few people. Cannot really picnic there either. I don't think there are any restrictions for Peekamoose Mtn trail or Buttermilk Falls.

It boils down to too many people for too little swimming space.
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Re: New Regulations for Blue Hole

New postby rkugel » Fri May 27, 2016 7:22 am

OK thanks Mike. Nice to know that the trailheads are still open. I'm also glad to see you're getting out more and posting more trip reports. Hopefully, the issues with your foot are now fully healed.

Rich
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Re: New Regulations for Blue Hole

New postby mike » Tue May 31, 2016 10:52 pm

My feet are finally healed. Been doing some 5 milers with alexis.
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Re: New Regulations for Blue Hole

New postby DaveT » Tue Jun 07, 2016 2:30 pm

I hate to say it, but I think these new restrictions are necessary and overdue. The situation last summer was completely out of control, with human waste and food spread everywhere, boom boxes blaring loudly,and people with charcoal grills right in the streambed. You could hear the din from a mile up the Peekamoose trail.
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