The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced that the final Sundown Wild Forest and Vernooy Kill State Forest Management Plan is available and outlines plans to improve opportunities for outdoor recreation on the lands and waters in the southern Catskills. The plan encompasses 34,568 acres of land in the towns of Denning, Olive, Rochester, and Wawarsing in Ulster County, and the town of Neversink in Sullivan County.
“Working with key stakeholders, DEC developed this management plan for these two forests in the southern Catskills,” said Regional Director Kelly Turturro. “DEC is excited to provide new and expanded outdoor recreational opportunities for residents and visitors to the area as we work to implement the proposals detailed in these plans.”
The State lands covered by the plan currently offer many recreational opportunities including hiking, camping, picnicking, swimming, nature observation, fishing, hunting, trapping, snowshoeing, and biking. Proposals in the plan include:
- Construction and expansion of additional multiple-use trails and parking areas to facilitate public use;
- Expanded opportunities for snowmobiling, equestrian use, hiking, mountain biking, camping, and opportunities for people with disabilities throughout the unit;
- Construction of 10.1 miles of new trail that will re-route a section of the Long Path. The proposed re-route will enhance hiker experience by eliminating a 9.6-mile stretch of the Long Path that runs along public highways; and
- Construction of a 30-40 car parking area near the Peekamoose Blue Hole and construction of a 1,500-foot accessible trail to connect the parking area to the Peekamoose Blue Hole.
Three land acquisitions within the Catskill Park have been formally classified as wild forest as a result of the adoption of the plan:
- 1,314 acres of the former Lundy Estate;
- 231 acres formerly known as the Camp Pine property along the Neversink River; and
- A 136-acre inholding known as the Malloy property in the Peekamoose Valley.
Upon acquisition by the state in 2002, 3,686 acres of the former Lundy Estate outside the Catskill Park were designated as Reforestation Area, creating the Vernooy Kill State Forest.
To view the final plan, go to: https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/51950.html.