As the Catskills Grow Into a Premier Destination, Outdoor Recreation on Protected Lands Supports the Region
Kingston, NY--Open space recreational lands in the Catskills are worth millions of dollars annually to the local economy, an update to an earlier study confirms. Research concluded that recreational opportunities on publicly owned lands in the Catskill Park and the Catskill-Delaware Watershed, plus private lands open to the public, draw over 2.7 million visitors annually. These visitors spend an estimated $170,031,580, while creating an additional economic impact of $123,889,686 and supporting 1,882 jobs. The full report is online at catskillmountainkeeper.org/reports.
“These new numbers show how great ecotourism and outdoor recreation are for our local communities, and illustrate how important it is to protect, preserve, and invest in this premier destination,” said Ramsay Adams, Founder and Executive Director of Catskill Mountainkeeper. “The natural beauty of our region is a unique, world-class asset that made the Hudson River School of painting famous in the 19th century and is the key to our future in the 21st. Preserving our open space and community character is an environmental imperative, but it’s also clearly an economic one. This update provides more evidence that if we want to grow economically, we have to do it in a sustainable way that protects what draws people here: our spectacular natural environment.”
The findings released on December 11, 2019, update an earlier report, “Economic Valuation Study for Public Lands in the Central Catskills” prepared in 2013 by Brian Zweig of Business Opportunities Management Consulting. Commissioned by Catskill Mountainkeeper, the Catskill Center, the Catskill Heritage Alliance, the Catskill Mountain Club, the Catskill 3500 Club, the Woodstock Land Conservancy, and the New York New Jersey Trail Conference, the update, like the original report, assesses the economic impact of outdoor recreation in our region by analyzing publicly available data. The update confirms earlier results and serves as a baseline for assessing future economic activity generated by newly opened outdoor recreational opportunities, such as the Ashokan Rail Trail and new hiking and mountain biking trails in the Bluestone Wild Forest.
Although other studies and plans have addressed the economic impacts of outdoor recreation in the Catskills, none of them, Zweig says, “have provided a comprehensive estimate of the number of visitors and the economic impact associated with outdoor recreational activities in the Central Catskills region.”
"The public lands of the Catskills are a vast economic outdoor recreation engine for the communities and residents of the Catskills," said Jeff Senterman, Executive Director of the Catskill Center. "Millions of visitors each year travel from as close as the Hudson Valley to as far as countries from the other side of the globe to visit our spectacular region and engage in a myriad number of outdoor recreation opportunities on our protected lands. By ensuring that these lands and the recreational opportunities on them are properly managed, maintained, protected and improved, we are sure to continue the growth of our local economy based on such outdoor recreation pursuits. The Catskill Center is proud to help lead these efforts by bringing stakeholders together to maintain and improve our recreation resources and by partnering with New York State to manage and operate the Catskill Park's 'Catskills Visitor Center.'"
"This economic impact study demonstrates with hard data the exceptional economic potential of the rich landscape of mountains, forests, streams, farmland, and villages in the Catskills,” said Roger Wall, treasurer and past co-chair of the Catskill Heritage Alliance. “It shows the choice before us in dollar terms: erode our natural world and undermine our economic sustainability, or build on the potential provided by our open space lands to strengthen the economic future of the region."
Maxanne Resnick, Executive Director of the Woodstock Land Conservancy reported,"in the first six weeks since the opening of the Ashokan Rail Trail and our launching of the Volunteer Trail Steward program, along with Ulster County and NY-NJ Trail Conference, we’ve counted more than 15,000 users on the trail." She continued, "recreational use of our Catskills bounty continues to increase and along with that, as confirmed in this report, are beneficial economic impacts region-wide, along with powerful public health benefits. With the Ashokan Rail Trail our Stewards are observing a new phenomena as well, that of social connection and community building. We see trail users enjoying the remarkable beauty of the trail and the Ashokan whilst mingling with others – running into friends, family and colleagues, enjoying interactions with people they don’t know. The Ashokan Rail Trail exhibits the positive impacts of our recreational outdoor trails region-wide.”
"This updated economic impact study is a valuable reference tool as we in the Catskills try to understand the growing importance to our communities of outdoor recreation," said Wendell George, Executive Director of the Catskill Mountain Club. "With this knowledge we will be better equipped to plan for future improvements to services and infrastructure, and we will be better prepared to serve visitors' needs in an environmentally responsible and sustainable way."
An executive summary as well as the full economic impact study are posted online at http://www.catskillmountainkeeper.org/reports
Katherine Nadeau, Catskill Mountainkeeper, 585.944.4024, [email protected]
Andy Mossey, Catskill Center, 845-586-2611 [email protected]
Experts named in this release are available for interviews on request. To arrange an interview, please contact Katherine Nadeau, 585.944.4024, [email protected]