Sullivan campground among 6 to be closed
DEC cost-cutting move shuts Beaverkill site
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ROSCOE — The state Department of Environmental Conservation announced Friday that it will close six of its campgrounds for the 2009 season, including the Beaverkill Campground in northern Sullivan County.
The decision to close the camps, all of which had relatively low occupancy rates, was the latest cost-cutting measure pitched by state officials.
"As Governor (David) Paterson has made clear, New York is facing a large budget deficit and must make many hard choices," DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said in a statement.
"Closing these facilities for the 2009 season is one such hard choice, but is one that is necessary in these tough economic times."
The DEC operates 52 campgrounds across the state. It did not say how much money would be saved by closing six of them, but said the camps could reopen in 2010. The other shuttered camps were in Delaware, Essex and Hamilton counties.
The Beaverkill Campground, 2 miles northeast of Roscoe, includes one of the only public fishing spots along the Beaverkill River, famed as the birthplace of fly-fishing in North America. The camp had 12 percent occupancy in 2007, and 20 percent last year.
Local residents and business owners said the campground funneled travelers into Roscoe and nearby Livingston Manor. They purchased gas, groceries, dinner and recreation equipment.
"We’re a recreation, tourism kind of village, and a lot of the people in town depend on that trade," said Miriam Stone, who runs a gift shop in Roscoe.
The DEC announcement comes after a banner year for campgrounds in Sullivan County. Camp owners said 2008 was their most profitable season in roughly 20 years, largely because the sour economy stopped families from traveling to far-off destinations. Instead, the opted for so-called "staycations," or places they could reach on one tank of gas.
Because one tank often landed them here, in the Catskills, locals say the closure comes at a bad time.
"Coming to the campgrounds up here was an inexpensive way to have a family vacation," said Elwin Wood, a Sullivan County legislator and business owner in Roscoe. "Closing them doesn’t make much sense."