Hot Spot

Catskill Park

Peekamouse Blue Hole - Catskill Park, NY

The Peekamoose Blue hole is a gem of the northeast. The cool, spring-fed water keeps this swimming hold a stunning blue color. Lined by shale ledges, 3-5′ in height, this wild geological formation is used to as a front country swimming hole in a very remote location. The 3/4 of an acre area sees anywhere from 600-2000 visitors in a weekend. With its rising fame, Blue Hole is seeing an increase in impacts including soil erosion, trampled vegetation, trash, human waste, pet waste, social trails, and wildlife impacts. The growing popularity of Blue Hole has caused a need for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYDEC) to station forest rangers and Environmental Conservation Officers (ECO) at the swimming hole, ticketing up to 100 people in a given week. Peekamoose Blue Hole was selected as a 2017 Hot Spot in part because rules and regulations have not been effective at addressing the area’s impacts.

During this Hot Spot, we educated hundreds of visitors, worked with 40 local volunteers to clean up the Blue Hole, and worked with NYDEC rangers on the value of Authority of the Resource of Authority of the Agency.

Solution

Throughout the Hot Spot, the Traveling Trainers spent time at the swimming hole making educational contacts with every visitor. They informed each individual about the visitor-created damages to the resources at the swimming hole, and armed them with crucial Leave No Trace information, info on other swimming areas to visit, and a trash bag. The majority of the visitors the team spoke with were highly engaged and interested in helping to protect Blue Hole. This exercise allowed the NYDEC rangers and ECOs to directly see the benefits of education of citations. They did not have to issue a single ticket during this on-site education.

The Leave No Trace team worked with 40 members of the local community for a cleanup at Peekamoose Blue Hole. They cleaned up the entire corridor around the swimming hole, removing a large amount of trash including three abandoned grills and several parking lot signs that had been vandalized. At the end of the week, Leave No Trace staff sat down with 15 stakeholders from various government entities and nonprofits who are charged with caring for Catskill Park and Blue Hole. They discussed the recreation-related issues in the area as well as the problems they needed to address in order to take steps toward preventing future impacts. The portion of the group that was once skeptical of the efficacy of educational efforts came to support further incorporation of Leave No Trace education into management plans.

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