The Catskill Park is in the Catskill Mountains in New York in the United States. It consists of 700,000 acres (2,800 km) of land inside a Blue Line in four counties: Delaware, Greene, Sullivan, and Ulster. As of 2005 there are 287,514 acres (1,150 km), or 41 percent of the land within, owned by the state as part of the Forest Preserve; it is managed by the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Another 5% is owned by New York City to protect four of the citys reservoirs in the region that lie partially within the park and their respective watersheds.
There are bobcats, minks and fishers in the preserve, and coyotes are often heard. There are some 400 black bears living in the region. The state operates numerous campgrounds and there are over 300 miles (480 km) of multi-use trails. Hunting is permitted, in season, in much of the park. It has approximately 50,000 permanent residents, bolstered somewhat by second-home ownership on weekends and in the summer, and attracts about half a million visitors every year.
The park is governed by Article 14 of the state constitution, which stipulates that all land acquired within cannot be sold or otherwise transferred (absent amending the constitution, which has been done on several occasions), may not be used for logging and must remain “forever wild.”
Currently there are four: the Slide Mountain and Big Indian-Beaverkill wildernesses in Ulster County, and the Indian Head and West Kill wildernesses in Greene County. The updated Master Plan would add more wilderness in Greene County, most notably the Blackhead Range and Escarpment.
It has also been informal DEC policy to treat all lands in its possession in the Catskill Park above 3,100 feet (944 m) in elevation as de facto wilderness. The proposed update would not only make that rule official, it would extend it as much as possible to all land 2,700 feet (823 m) and higher.
The Catskill Park Intensive Use
Most of these areas save one, Belleayre Mountain Ski Center, are state campgrounds, meant for heavier, higher-impact use.
The campgrounds are generally far smaller units, with many sites and basic facilities available, sometimes abutting wilderness and wild forest areas, and paved roads offering easy vehicle access. North-South Lake, however, is a vast area (New York’s largest public campground) including not only many sites but swimming areas at both lakes, the former Catskill Mountain House site at Pine Orchard and many of the historic trails around it.
Similarly, Belleayre’s property extends well east of its ski trails and includes some of the hiking trails in the region as well.
Other campgrounds include Beaverkill, Devil’s Tombstone, Kenneth L. Wilson, Mongaup Pond and Woodland Valley.
There are at least two Day Use Areas, within the park, one near Belleayre and the other at the Catskill Interpretive Center site. These are small tracts with picnic tables and sites where camping is forbidden, much as one would find in a small local park.