Group wants to preserve Catskills, legacy

6-5-2007

By Patricia Breakey

Delhi News Bureau

A group has formed to unite residents of the Catskill region in preserving the quality of life.

Catskill Mountainkeeper started with the idea that an advocate was needed for the 6,000-square-mile region that encompasses Delaware, Greene, Otsego, Schoharie, Sullivan and Ulster counties and a portion of Albany County, Wes Gillingham, organization spokesman, said last month.

"The Catskill Mountains have a regional identity that other areas in the state don’t have," Gillingham said. "We can take advantage of that by creating a regional task force."

Gillingham, a vegetable farmer, said he wants to work to protect the Catskills.

"I live here, I farm here, and I love living and working here," Gillingham said. "I want the Catskills always to have a quality of life my family and neighbors can enjoy.

"The last thing my neighbors and I want to do is fight traffic and see the farms and forest land taken over by haphazard development," he continued. "Some parents talk of wanting a better life for their children. I just want my kids to have some of the simple freedoms I had as a child.

"These mountains have really shaped the kind of people we are here in the Catskills, and now it is time for us to shape what these mountains will look like in 20 years and beyond," Gillingham said. "That’s why I decided to take on what I see as a crucial job for our region’s future."

Another Catskills farmer, Amy Kenyon, said recently that she "is hoping to work to give the people who live and work here a voice in what’s happening in their town. I want to see local folks getting involved. It’s their community, and it’s their issues." <!-- /* You may give each page an identifying name, server, and channel on the next lines. */ var titl=document.title; var re= new RegExp("?",'gi'); titl=titl.replace(re,''); var re= new RegExp("&rsquo;",'gi'); titl=titl.replace(re," "); var s_pageName=titl; if (s_pageName=="LeatherStocking Ad"){ var s_pageName="";} var s_server="thedailystar.com" var loca=window.location.pathname; var loca_array=loca.split("/"); if (loca_array[3] == "obits") { var s_channel="Obits"; var s_prop2=""; var s_prop3=""; if (loca_array[4] != "index.html"){ var s_prop1=loca_array[4];} else { var s_prop1="";} } else { if (loca_array[2] == "stories") { var s_channel="News Stories"; if (loca_array[3] != "index.html"){ var s_prop1=loca_array[3]; var s_prop2=titl; var s_prop3="";} else { var s_prop1="";} } else { if (loca_array[1] == "lifestyle") { var s_channel="Lifestyle Stories"; if (loca_array[2] != "index.html"){ var s_prop1=loca_array[2]; var s_prop2=""; var s_prop3="";} else { var s_prop1="";} } else { if (loca_array[1] == "sports") { var s_channel="Sports Stories"; if (loca_array[2] != "index.html"){ var s_prop1=loca_array[2]; var s_prop2=""; var s_prop3=titl;} else { var s_prop1="";} } else { if (loca_array[3] == "blotter") { var s_channel="Police Blotter"; if (loca_array[2] != "index.html"){ var s_prop1=loca_array[4]; var s_prop2=""; var s_prop3="";} else { var s_prop1="";} } else { if (loca_array[1] == "opinion") { var s_channel="Opinion"; if ((loca_array[3] != "index.html") && (loca_array[3] != "lisa") && (loca_array[3] != "simonson")){ var s_prop1=loca_array[3]; var s_prop2=""; var s_prop3="";} else { var s_prop1="";} } else { var s_channel=""; var s_prop1=""; var s_prop2=""; var s_prop3="";}}}}}} if ((s_prop1!="2006")&&(s_prop1!="2005")&&(s_prop1!="2004")&&(s_prop1!="2003")&&(s_prop1!="2002")&&(s_prop1!="2001")&&(s_prop1!="2000")&&(s_prop1!="1999")&&(s_prop1!="1998")){ s_prop1="";} var s_pageType="" var s_prop4="" var s_prop5="" /********* INSERT THE DOMAIN AND PATH TO YOUR CODE BELOW ************/ //--><!-- /* You may give each page an identifying name, server, and channel on the next lines. */ var s_pageName="LeatherStocking Ad"; var s_server='thedailystar.com' var s_channel='LeatherStocking Ad' var s_pageType='' var s_prop1='' var s_prop2='' var s_prop3='' var s_prop4='' var s_prop5='' /* E-commerce Variables */ var s_campaign='' var s_state='' var s_zip='' var s_events='' var s_products='' var s_purchaseID='' var s_eVar1='' var s_eVar2='' var s_eVar3='' var s_account='cnhithedailystar' //-->

  

Kenyon, president of Farm Catskills, a Delaware County-based group intended to strengthen farming in the region, added, "If our rural character is to survive, we need a good regional vision that protects our region’s wonderful vistas, open spaces and farmland _ the things that make us different."

Gillingham added that because the area is so large, "it’s hard to keep track of what’s happening on the other side of the mountains," so the group plans to utilize the Internet to keep in touch.

"We have a modern, capable website where people can register and become part of the group," Gillingham said.

Ramsay Adams, executive director, in a media release said, ``Our goal is to bring together people who have never talked with each other and have them join in the fight to preserve the Catskill way of life.’’

On its website, http://www.catskillmountainkeeper.org, the group will post updates on regional development news, operate online discussion boards and provide campaign-organizing advice and tools.

Registration is free, Gillingham said.

"Residents of the Catskills are as diverse as in any place on earth," Joe Martens, group chairman, said in a media release. "But one thing everyone can unite on is that this is a special region that needs its people speaking up so that its tremendous cultural and natural resources stay intact."

The group’s priority is to push for a comprehensive, regional vision that takes into account thinking about smart growth and wise use of the area’s natural resources, Martens said.

"We all know there’s a great deal of development pressure on the Catskills, but we also know there are good and bad options under review this very moment," Tom Alworth, a Catskill Mountainkeeper board member and Catskill Center for Conservation and Development executive director, said in a media release.

___

Patricia Breakey can be reached at 746-2894 or at stardelhi@stny.rr.com.

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