June 2, 2009, Mid-Hudson News: DEC offers tips to help prevent encounters with black bears

DEC offers tips to help prevent encounters with black bears

link to complete article is here: http://www.catskillsnews.com/News/2009/June09/02/bears-02Jun09.html

ALBANY – The state Department of Environmental Conservation Monday reminded campers, hikers and homeowners to take precautions against unwanted encounters with black bears while enjoying the outdoors.

There are between 1,800 and 2,500 bears living in the southern bear range, which includes the Catskills and parts of central and western New York. Bear populations, particularly in the southern bear range, have been increasing in number and expanding in distribution over the past decade.

Black bears will become a nuisance and can cause significant damage if they believe they can obtain an easy meal from bird feeders, garbage cans, dumpsters, barbecue grills, tents, vehicles, out-buildings or houses. When bears learn to obtain food from human sources, their natural foraging habits and behavior are changed.

Once a bear becomes a problem, DEC is often asked to intervene. However, bear relocations are rarely effective at solving the problem. Relocated bears often return to their original capture site or simply continue their bad habits at a new location.

If the circumstances that led to the original problem are not corrected, other bears will quickly be attracted to the site and the problems will persist. Bears that become accustomed to obtaining food from humans will often become bold and assertive in their quest for food, potentially leading to property damage or dangerous situations for humans. Unfortunately, this often results in DEC having to euthanize the bear, echoing the adage, "a fed bear is a dead bear."


May 20,2009, Market Watch: Leave The Hot Concrete For The Catskills

May 20, 2009, 5:52 p.m. EST

Leave the hot concrete for Cold Spring

It takes just a short trip to find respite from the city that never sleeps

link to complete article: http://www.marketwatch.com/story/story/print?guid=7E1AE76E-AD03-4031-8F54-E862BAA6DD15
By Bao Ong, MarketWatch

The Catskills

The concrete jungle of New York City, especially during the heat of summer, can be oppressive. After a few weeks of crowded trains and sidewalks, not to mention the stench of trash, who doesn't want to get away for some fresh air?

Only about 100 miles north of cramped New York is the Catskill region, with more than 6,000 square miles of mountains, forests, rivers and parkland.

Your best bet is to rent a car to make the two-hour drive to the Catskill -- you'll want a car to get around once you're there -- but buses and Amtrak are an option.

Once you arrive, the 700,000-acre Catskill Park and Forest Preserve is a must-see. There are 35 mountain peaks, some reaching elevations of 3,500 feet. Any outdoor activity you can imagine is here -- fly fishing is particularly popular. The preserve is filled with green forests, farmland, waterfalls and six major river systems. The hiking and biking trails are first-rate, rock climbing is abundant and there's plenty of skiing to be done.

But the outdoor activities aren't the only options. Antique shops, yoga retreats, luxurious spas and charming restaurants dot the area. There are also quaint co-ops and farms to visit -- a great family activity.

A House Around the Bend
The view from Overlook Nook, a vacation home for rent in the Catskill Mountains.

If you need a place to stay, consider Innstow, a restored Victorian mansion once owned by railroad tycoon Jay Gould. Rooms start at $110 a night, and breakfast is included. Don't miss the homemade cocoa zucchini cake. See the site.

You can also look into A House Around the Bend if you're interested in a renting a small cottage with a wood-burning stove or fireplace. Prices vary but a two-night stay for two starts at $300. See the site.


May 5, 2009, Schenectady Gazette: Tourism in region increases despite economy

Tourism in region increases despite economy
Tuesday, May 5, 2009
link to complete article is here:

— Tourism throughout the area increased in 2008 despite the flagging economy, but like the rest of upstate, it still accounts for only a small portion of New York state tourism activity, a study found.

In terms of visitor spending, the Central Leatherstocking region makes up 3 percent of the state's tourism, the same percentage as the Capital and Saratoga regions. The Adirondacks represent 2 percent of the state's tourism. In comparison, New York City accounts for 63 percent of the state's tourism, according to a study conducted by Pennsylvania-based consulting firm Tourism Economics.

Visitor spending grew 3.6 percent in the Central Leatherstocking region, 3.1 percent in the Capital Region and Saratoga and 5.8 percent in the Adirondacks.

Visitors to the Capital and Saratoga Region spent $1.67 billion in 2008 "” $909 million in Albany County, $392 million in Saratoga County and $202 million in Schenectady County.

In 2008, visitors spent $41.9 million in Schoharie County and $37.3 million in Montgomery County, which are part of the Central Leatherstocking region.

Charles Steiner, president of the Schenectady County Chamber of Commerce, said people tend to stay closer to home during poor economic times.

He said most people visiting the county are coming from 15 to 100 miles away, and are coming to the area for recreational opportunities such as the Mabee Farm, Proctors and the Schenectady Museum and planetarium. Also, the county's heritage and historic attractions bring people into the area, along with various festivals such as CanalFest, most of which are free or low-cost activities.

Steiner said Union College also brings visitors into the area regardless of the economic climate.

Michele Vennard, president of the Albany Convention and Visitors Bureau, said business travel has decreased dramatically during the end of last year and the beginning of this year, but the diversity of the area has helped keep tourism steady despite the bad economy.

"We actively work on every segment of travel, from business to meetings, conventions, special events, group tours and sports," she said. This year's tourism season is also looking good for the area, Vennard said, because of the Henry Hudson quadricentennial events.

"Hopefully that will give leisure travel a bump," she said.

Ellen Ganci, tourism coordinator for the Schoharie County Chamber of Commerce, attributes the increase in tourism spending in her area to people wanting to stay closer to home.

"They aren't canceling their vacations, they are just staying closer," she said.

Howe Caverns is the biggest attraction in Schoharie County, Ganci said, but people also come to see the New York Power Authority and Gilboa Dam, views of the valley, especially in the spring and summer, and for the various festivals and wildlife.

"Most of the stuff here is free, so that is nice," Ganci said.

Ganci said the Schoharie County Chamber did not start any new or different marketing strategy or campaign that would have attracted people, however the chamber is starting a Web advertising campaign this year.

Deborah Auspelmyer, director of the Montgomery County Chamber of Commerce, said the tourism department has been focusing on the Canadian market a little more.

The goal of tourism is to get people to stay overnight to reap the benefits of the county's bed and sales tax, Auspelmyer said, so the chamber tries to market Montgomery County as the halfway point to places like New York City.

The area's tourism season runs from Memorial Day to Labor Day, Auspelmyer said, and a little bit into October with people coming up from New York City to see the fall foliage and take advantage of the region's rich agriculture attractions, such as fresh farm stands and pick-your-own apple orchards.

Auspelmyer said the Chamber is optimistic for this coming tourism season and has stepped up its marketing efforts with a new tourism Web site, which allows potential visitors to create an online itinerary and displays all the county's attractions, including the biggest ones like the Arkell Museum and Auriesville Shrine.

The chamber is also doing more Web advertising.

Ganci said she is optimistic for the coming year's tourism season because people's wallets are still pinched and they are looking for inexpensive entertainment and recreation.

"They need respite from the day-to-day stresses so they will continue to seek stress relief and they can find it real close by," Ganci said.


Didymo Alert: Nuisance & Invasive Species Found in Catskills Streams and Rivers

Didymo Alert

What is didymo?

Didymo covered rock.

Didymo (Didymosphenia geminata), also known as "rock snot," is a non-native invasive microscopic algae (diatom) that can produce large amounts of stalk material to form thick brown mats on stream bottoms. Didymo threatens aquatic habitat, biodiversity and recreational opportunities. Native to northern North America and Europe, didymo has rapidly expanded its range, invading streams in several western states before moving east. Didymo has been found in several major New York water-based recreational rivers.

Historically, didymo has been found in cool, clear, nutrient poor waters but has expanded its worldwide distribution to include nutrient rich waters. Rivers with stable, regulated flows are particularly at risk.

How do I know if I find didymo?

  • Color - tan, brown or white (not green); may form long white "tails"
  • Texture - like wet wool (not slimy)
  • Strength - firmly attached; does not fall apart when rubbed between fingers

What are the Impacts of didymo?

Unlike many other aquatic invasive plants, didymo grows on the bottom of both flowing and still waters. It is characterized by the development of thick mat-like growths (blooms), which can last for months, even in fast flowing streams. During blooms, these mats may completely cover long stretches of stream beds, altering stream conditions and choking out many of the organisms that live on the stream bottom, which can affect trout and other fish by limiting their food. For the recreational user, footing can become very difficult due to the heavy growths.

Where has didymo been found in The Catskills?

Didymo has been confirmed in the following rivers in the Catskills:

  • East Branch Delaware River below Pepacton Reservoir (Delaware County)
  • West Branch Delaware River below Cannonsville Reservoir (Delaware County)
  • Mainstem Delaware River (Delaware and Sullivan Counties)
  • Esopus Creek downstream of the Shandaken Portal (Ulster County)

May 7, 2009, Press Release: DEC REVISES CAMPGROUND CLOSURE PLAN Four of Six Facilities to Open for Shortened Season

For Release: IMMEDIATE            Contact: Yancey Roy

Thursday, May 7, 2009                 (518) 402-8000

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Four of Six Facilities to Open for Shortened Season 

      Working in collaboration with local governments, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has revised its original plan for closing six campgrounds for the 2009 season, Commissioner Pete Grannis announced today. The new plan will allow the state to capitalize on peak camping times while reducing operational costs. 

      Under the new plan, DEC will operate four of the six campgrounds for shortened seasons, from June 26 through Labor Day. In addition, after partnering with local officials, DEC will substitute one Piseco Lake-area campground in Hamilton County on the closure list for another. At the campgrounds that will remain closed, DEC will allow use of its hiking and horse trails and climbing routes. 

      “New York is facing tough economic times and closing campgrounds was not an easy choice. With the help of local officials, DEC has devised a way to soften the impact,” Commissioner Grannis said. “Each of the targeted facilities historically suffered from low occupancy over the course of a full season. By shortening the season, we can open the campgrounds during traditional peak occupancy periods. This plan will help local tourism and provide opportunities for affordable getaways while still reducing our annual operating costs.”  

The revisions for the 2009 season are: 

In the Catskills 

Beaverkill, Roscoe, Sullivan County.

      The campground will be operated under an abbreviated season – from June 26 through Labor Day. DEC will operate the facility with assistance from Sullivan County, upon adoption of a cooperative agreement. 

Bear Spring Mountain, Walton, Delaware County.

      The previous decision to close the camping area within this facility remains in effect.  However, numerous horse and hiking trails and associated trailhead parking areas at this popular Wildlife Management Area will continue to be available for public use. There will be no fee for parking. 



In the Adirondacks 

Point Comfort, Arietta, Hamilton County.

      The campground will be operated under an abbreviated season – from June 26 through Labor Day.  However, DEC will not open Poplar Point, which is also in the Piseco Lake area, for 2009.  DEC will explore options to work cooperatively with Arietta officials to continue to potentially offer a day-use facility at Poplar Point in future years. 

Sharp Bridge, North Hudson, Essex County.

      The campground will be operated under an abbreviated season - from June 26 through Labor Day. 

Tioga Point, Raquette Lake, Hamilton County.

      The campground will be operated under an abbreviated season – from June 26 through Labor Day.   

Poke-O-Moonshine, Keeseville, Essex County.

      The previous decision to close this facility remains in effect.  Hikers, rock climbers and other recreational users will be able to access hiking trails and climbing routes by parking in the entrance area.  No fee will be charged for parking. 

      DEC will work closely with ReserveAmerica, the state’s camping reservation service contractor, to contact visitors whose reservations were previously cancelled, to offer them their original reservations and to re-open the camping site inventory to them before it is made available to the general public. DEC will cover the cost of the reservation fees to lessen the impact to the visitors that will be affected.  

      DEC is responsible for managing 52 campgrounds and 7 day-use areas in New York’s Adirondack Park and Catskill Park. 

      “I appreciate the cooperation of Commissioner Peter Grannis, the DEC and local officials working together to operate the Beaverkill,” said State Senator John Bonacic. “The State has an obligation to the people of the Catskills to ensure the assets the State owns are operated and accessible to the public.  I want to particularly commend Sullivan County Legislative Chairman Jonathan Rouis and Legislator Alan Sorensen for their efforts and initiative in relation to the Beaverkill.” 

      “I’m very happy the Department of Environmental Conservation listened to our concerns and worked with local officials to revise their plan,” said State Senator Betty Little.  “A cooperative approach ensures the best outcome in tough times.” 



May 5, 2009, Oneonta Daily Star: Hydro project nixed

Hydro project nixed

By Patricia Breakey
Delhi News Bureau
link to article is here: http://www.thedailystar.com/local/local_story_125041544.html

The Delaware County Electric Cooperative is ending its proposed hydroelectric energy project at four reservoirs, citing insurmountable obstacles presented by New York City.

The proposed Western Catskills Hydro Project was introduced in May 2008 by the DCEC in its application to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission for a permit. The Cooperative would have utilized water released by the city from area reservoirs.

DCEC proposed building projects at the Cannonsville, Pepacton, Schoharie and Neversink reservoirs.

The group was hoping to use water spilling from the reservoirs to generate enough electricity to power 15,000 typical homes.

DCEC is a nonprofit electricity cooperative that serves 5,100 members in 21 towns in Delaware, Otsego, Schoharie and Otsego counties using 800 miles of lines.

"This is a very unfortunate situation," Greg Starheim, DCEC chief executive officer, said in a media release. "We understand and were willing to agree to terms the city proposed that would ensure protection of their water-supply interests, but despite complying with their requests, they still fought us on it."

Mercedes Padilla, DEC spokeswoman said, "We remain interested in working with the Delaware County Electric Cooperative. We believe that there is a path to allowing for hydroelectric development at the NYC reservoirs in the Catskills that would be mutually beneficial to New York City and DCEC; however, if DCEC has made a business decision to no longer pursue discussions, then we will respect their decision."

The city Department of Environmental Protection submitted a competing application for the project in November. The DEP is the New York City agency that oversees city-owned reservoirs.

FERC awarded the city the permit in March while denying the DCEC's application, citing preference to municipal applicants.

DCED appealed the FERC decision in April, but the DEP protested the appeal.

"We understood the city was interested in DCEC developing the project for the benefit of watershed communities as long as their water-supply interests were protected," Frank Winkler, DCEC president, said in the release. "Unfortunately, their actions were inconsistent with our discussions."

The DCEC's proposed Western Catskills Hydro Project would have involved installing modular-design independent intake structures on the reservoirs' dams, Starheim said.

But in a statement released in November, DEP Commissioner Emily Lloyd cited dam safety, concern about maintaining operational control of the reservoirs and the need to meet obligations set by the Supreme Court, including flow management agreements, as the reasons behind the city's application to harness hydro power.

Starheim said previously the DCEC's plan is environmentally sound and safe. It would also generate more electricity than what the DEP is proposing, which he said is based on a design from two decades ago, Starheim added.

DCEC was hoping to get final approval in 2011 and have the hydro plants open within a year or two after that.

The DEP's $600 million renovation project for the Gilboa Dam was the impetus for the idea, Starheim said.

Starheim said there are no generating facilities at the four dams included in the project.

The project was part of the DCEC's effort to explore ways to secure its entire electricity supply using renewable local energy sources.

Starheim was out of the area and couldn't be reached for comment Monday.

Patricia Breakey can be reached at 746-2894 or at [email protected].


May 4, 2009, TImes Herald-Record: Steve Israel: Creative suggestions pour in for Sullivan

Steve Israel: Creative suggestions pour in for Sullivan
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Sullivan County sure has a lot to celebrate this year, its 200th birthday.

Mountains that touch the vast blue sky. Fields and forests so green and rich. Flowing rivers, blue lakes and more rushing streams than you can count. Some of the most passionate and talented people around.

But as anyone who lives here knows, Sullivan's future is not as inspiring as that lush landscape. Empty storefronts fill our largest eastern towns. Enrollment in every school district except one is plummeting. Our kids are leaving Sullivan because there aren't many good jobs.

So I asked you for suggestions for Sullivan's future. And boy, did you come up with answers. They did not, for the most part, include Sullivan's long-promised but never-delivered savior, a casino.

But virtually all included something Sullivan has, but hasn't taken advantage of — a plan. It's a plan — Sullivan 2020 — that aims to take advantage of its wide open spaces.

Or as Andy Weil of Summitville writes:

"Agri-tourism is what young and not-so-young want today. Not the empty promise of 'winning it big' (casinos)."

Weil mentions such attractions as the D&H Canal Park, the Basha Kill Wildlife Preserve and "easy access to several well-known trout streams."

And that's just in Sullivan's gateway town, Mamakating.

"I have lived here most of my 71 years and the era of the resort is gone," writes Doris Booth of Thompsonville. "I think local government is stuck in a time warp. All they think about is resorts."

How about capitalizing on some of Sullivan's living history, writes Barbara Hahl of Roscoe. With her senior club, she visits all sorts of places and learns so much about local history.

Why not here?

"...the Minisink Battlefield, Fort Delaware, the fly fishing, the hotels of the Borscht Belt, and especially the golden egg of them all, Bethel Woods ... I'll bet they would love to see an eagle soar while enjoying a picnic lunch at Stone Arch Park (in Jeffersonville) or Lake Superior (in Bethel)."

The tours would create jobs in restaurants and hotels, says Hahl, and that would mean sales and room tax.

Speaking of taxes...

Sullivan should lower its rates, says Robert Donahue of Fallsburg. Donahue, who wants casinos "for "the jobs and tourism (that) will be the greatest economic boom the county has ever seen," also wants Sullivan to make every landowner pay taxes.

As for desolate downtowns?

Monticello's Pete Gozza, the former executive director of the Sullivan County Partnership for Economic Development, says Sullivan must make itself a place others want to visit. And that means cleaning up the litter along roads, sprucing up downtowns with something as simple as flowers and creating business improvement districts for more security, maintenance and beautification — just like they're doing in Middletown or Albany.

"How long are we going to wait for the silver bullet?" he asks. "We've got to change this place ourselves. Then the investment community takes notice."

Sullivan already has so much. Its 200th birthday is the perfect time to spiff itself up, put its plan in action and celebrate itself to the world.

Steve Israel's column appears Mondays. Reach him at [email protected].


May 4, 2009, Reuters UK: Gas drillers battle Pennsylvania pollution concerns


Gas drillers battle Pennsylvania pollution concerns

Mon May 4, 2009 12:12am BST

By Jon Hurdle

link to complete article is here:  http://uk.reuters.com/article/environmentNews/idUKTRE5422TG20090503?sp=true

HICKORY, Pennsylvania (Reuters) - U.S. energy companies rushing to exploit Pennsylvania's massive natural gas reserves have launched a public relations campaign to calm fears the bonanza is contaminating water with toxic chemicals.

Drillers are holding public meetings to assure people the chemicals used to help extract gas from Pennsylvania's majority share of the Marcellus Shale cannot escape into drinking-water wells.

Though scientists have yet to find definitive evidence that drilling chemicals have seeped into ground water, there are dozens of anecdotal reports from around the state that water supplies in gas-production areas have been tainted.

The public outcry threatens to impede exploitation of the 44-million-acre (18-million-hectare) Marcellus Shale, which geologists say might contain enough natural gas to meet U.S. demand for a decade.

People in gas-drilling areas say their well water has become discolored or foul-smelling; their pets and farm animals have died from drinking it; and their children have suffered from diarrhea and vomiting.

Bathing in well water can cause rashes and inflammation, and ponds bubble with methane that has escaped during drilling, they say.

That's the challenge facing Matt Pitzarella, a spokesman for Texas-based Range Resources Corp who recently told around 150 residents at the Hickory fire hall that new drilling techniques are much less damaging to the landscape than traditional ones, and that energy companies are subject to strict environmental regulations.

Other companies such as Chief Oil & Gas and Chesapeake Energy Corp have held community meetings.

Over a dinner of beef stew, baked beans and coleslaw hosted by Range, Pitzarella said the company encased its drilling shafts in layers of steel and concrete to ensure that chemicals used to help fracture the gas-bearing rock cannot escape into aquifers.

"There are zero reports of chemical contamination of groundwater," he said.

Ron Gulla, who said his land has been polluted by Range's gas drilling, was incredulous.

"I have never seen such a bunch of liars in my life," he shouted at Pitzarella, to scattered applause. "You have put me through hell."

This is how the battle lines are being drawn in the U.S. struggle to reduce dependence on foreign oil and cut carbon emissions. Marcellus is the largest of the U.S. shale gas reserves, which are trapped in sedimentary beds making it more costly to extract. (For a map of shale reserve estimates, click: link.reuters.com/fur74c)


In rural Clearville, south-central Pennsylvania, Spectra Energy Corp is drilling to establish an underground gas storage facility.

Sandra McDaniel, 63, said federal authorities forced her, though eminent domain laws, to lease about five acres (2hectares) of her 154 acres to Spectra to build a drilling pad on a wooded hilltop.

McDaniel watched from the perimeter of the installation as three pipes spewed metallic gray water into plastic-lined pits, one of which was partially covered in a gray crust. As a sulfurous smell wafted from the rig, two tanker trucks marked "residual waste" drove from the site.

"My land is gone," she said. "The government took it away, and they have destroyed it."

Back in Hickory, Pitzarella acknowledged that water quality was the "No. 1 concern" but denied there was any escape of chemicals used in hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking."

Drilling injects chemicals thousands of feet below the aquifers, and companies haul away waste water for treatment when the operation is finished, Pitzarella told the meeting.

Residents say escaped methane has caused some well water to become flammable, and its buildup has led to at least one explosion in a drinking water well. Many people in drilling areas drink only costly bottled water.

Pennsylvanians say they have not found fracking chemicals in their water only because they have not known what to test for, and because of the cost of testing.

Although the state's Department of Environmental Protection publishes a list of 54 chemicals that may be used in fracking, companies won't disclose what goes into the fluid, calling the information proprietary.

The composition of fracking fluid has been unregulated since the oil and gas industry won exemptions in 2005 from federal environmental laws including the Clean Water Act and the Safe Drinking Water Act.

According to the Endocrine Disruption Exchange, a Colorado research group that has investigated the health risks of fracking chemicals, about a third may cause cancer; half could damage the brain and nervous system, and almost 90 percent have the potential to harm skin, eyes and sensory organs.

Fracking chemicals include benzene, a carcinogen, plus toluene, methanol, and 2-butoxyethylene, a substance that can reduce human fertility and kill embryos, according to Damascus Citizens for Sustainability, a group that opposes drilling.

Range's Pitzarella said the chemicals make up only 0.05 percent of the fracking mixture, and that they include unspecified substances commonly used in households such as a friction reducer like that used in contact lenses and a biocide disinfectant used in swimming pools.

Stephanie Hallowich, 37, a mother of two, said she and her husband Chris moved to the outskirts of Hickory from suburban Pittsburgh 18 months ago for a quiet rural life but are now closely surrounded by four gas wells, a three-acre (1.2 hectare) reservoir containing water for drilling, a liquid extraction plant, and a gas compressor station.

Concerned about noise, air quality and her children's health, Hallowich would like to move but can't believe anyone would buy her house.

"I don't want to find out in five years' time that my kids have cancer," she said.

Wayne Smith, 52, a Clearville farmer, said he made about $1 million in royalties over three years from gas taken from under his 105 acres, but he now wishes he never signed the lease and wonders whether tainted water is responsible for the recent deaths of four of his beef cattle, and his own elevated blood-iron level.

Smith would like to get his water tested for the full range of fracking chemicals but he can't do that without specifics on the fluid's composition. "We don't know what's in it," he said. "They won't tell us."

(Editing by Daniel Trotta and Eric Walsh)


April 30, 2009, Jewish Exponent: Do You Remember Woodstock?

Do You Remember Woodstock?

If you don't, maybe you were really there: It's time to get ready for its 40th birthday ... man
April 30, 2009
link to complete article is here: https://www.jewishexponent.com/article/18740/
By the time you got to Woodstock ...
40 years ago
Ben G. Frank
Jewish Exponent Feature

In late summer of 1969, 17-year-old Steven Buchwald, then working in a Catskill Mountains resort, received a phone call to attend a concert in a town called Woodstock.

Even though he knew that he'd lose his end-of-season-tips, Buchwald -- back then a self-described hippie with long hair and dressed in torn jeans and T-shirt -- literally "flew" out of the resort for the concert.

Today, Buchwald, dressed in slacks, shirt and business jacket, heads a $5 million flower and event company. And he doesn't regret a thing.

"We accomplished something; we moved society to open up a little," he said of that landmark concert.

In Chicago, Gale Liebman, a retired teacher and community activist, does not cringe when the word "hippie" is mentioned. She recalled that for her, Woodstock was "fabulous."

"I celebrate that I've had that opportunity ... of peace, love and beads," she said.

The Woodstock Festival, originally called an Aquarian Exposition, did not occur in the village of Woodstock, but in Bethel -- more than 40 miles away and 50 miles from New York City. A half-million young people gathered for the three-day music festival in August 1969.

Today, as the 40th anniversary of the event approaches, those fields have been transformed into a $100 million performing-arts center, including a Museum at Bethel Woods.

Woodstock in a way was a microcosm of the decade of the 1960s. Its impact of changed lifestyles had a longtime influence on the health of a nation -- how we saw ourselves when re-evaluating long-held values and beliefs.

"That community spirit still resonates with me," said Liebman, who pointed out that she is certainly "committed to social consciousness and multicultural diversity."

Was It Good for You?

Liebman's former husband, professor Sheldon Liebman, chairman of the humanities department of Wright College in Chicago who was at Woodstock with Gale, said he believes that "it's always worthwhile to be part of something for the good of society."

Reflecting on the hippie atmosphere at Woodstock, the professor described the event as having the theme that "things are changing."

Many were very committed to political change, he added.

Buchwald remembered that the leadership of the hippie and similar movements always had a disproportionate number of Jews.

Buchwald and Gale Liebman, both Jewish, stressed that the event was peaceful, though the 1960s were anything but.

But did it mean change was healthful for the nation?

Mort Fleischner, a retired TV-news producer at ABC-TV in New York, recalled that those years "seemed like one rebellion after another," with "kids smoking pot, half-naked, rock groups. Many did not know what they wanted; they were all caught up with the culture of their time."

Yehuda Nir, a New York psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry at Cornell University Medical Center, noted that many of his patients who joined in the trauma of the '60s "simply don't like to talk about it."

Sheldon Liebman agreed that those who were not involved in hippie activities and were "very serious" about political activities might not be as reticent to discuss those days.

Paul Jay Fink, professor of psychiatry at Temple University Medical School, whose office is in Bala Cynwyd, said that former hippies "have good memories" of those days.

"It was an exciting time for young people," he said. "Everyone I know who was at Woodstock had a wonderful experience."

And the 40th anniversary may bring another concert, although everything is still in the formative stages. Indeed, a new Web site has been put together dealing with all things Woodstock: Woodstockstory.com.

Professor Liebman offered this: "Woodstock was an icon, a major concert ... with first-rate musical artists. It was a wonderful time to be alive ... and now to be able to say, 'I was there.' "


April 29, 2009, Kingston Daily Freeman: Belleayre Resort foes fear money misdirected

link to complete article is here:

Wednesday, April 29, 2009


HIGHMOUNT — A citizens’ group staunchly opposed to the proposed Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park is viewing with a jaundiced eye a request for federal stimulus money to expand the state-owned Belleayre Mountain Ski Center next door.

The Catskill Heritage Alliance asserts that, in some way, a portion of the $62 million requested for the ski center would be funneled to the private resort. But representatives of Crossroads Ventures, the developer of the $400 million resort, say nothing could be further from the truth.

Ulster County Legislature Chairman David Donaldson, D-Kingston, has urged Gov. David Paterson to allocate federal stimulus money to the Belleayre expansion.

“I am concerned that the Obama ‘economic stimulus package’ will pass by without the needed expansion of the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center being included,” Donaldson wrote in a letter dated April 9. “The ski center’s expansion was approved by the voters of New York state by a constitutional amendment 20 years ago. I hope you agree this is long overdue, and I ask you to finally make the Belleayre Mountain Ski Center expansion a reality as requested by both our constituents.”

In a recent telephone interview, Donaldson said his request was intended exclusively for the ski center and that he does not want to see stimulus funds go to the resort, which he called “a private project.”

The same request for Belleayre funding appeared on the state’s official wish list for stimulus money, but not as a request from Ulster County — where Belleayre is located — but from Delaware County, which the ski center abuts along the town of Middletown line.

It is not clear who in Delaware County submitted the request. County Board of Supervisors Chairman James Eisel and Economic Development Director Glenn Nealis both denied involvement.

The Catskill Heritage Alliance says it is troubled by the language of the funding request, which asks for the $62 million to be used for Belleayre’s expansion “and with it, the development of the privately owned Belleayre Resort.”

“Diverting stimulus funding to the highly controversial resort would be an abuse of the stimulus program,” alliance Chairman Richard Schaedle said in a prepared statement last week. “It’s an exclusive, private ski condo to be built on a sensitive mountaintop. It is nowhere near ‘shovel ready.’

“If advocates succeed in getting stimulus funding for the ski center, and some of that gets funneled to the resort, it would seriously undermine the ongoing environmental review process,” he said. “It would represent a kind of federal end-run around it, a prejudgment that the resort will get built despite its serious negative environmental and fiscal impacts, and its lack of positive economic development impacts.”

Gary Gailes, a consultant for Crossroads Ventures, said he didn’t even know about the Delaware County request. He said Crossroads has not asked for stimulus money and does not intend to.

Belleayre’s expansion plan has received considerable community attention since 2007, when it was linked to the resort project. If the resort is approved, the state has agreed to build new lifts and trails next to the resort on 78 acres the state would purchase from Crossroads, and provide resort visitors with “ski in-ski out” benefits.

If stimulus money does show up, Schaedle said, it would be difficult to tell if any ends up benefiting Crossroads. “The resort’s developer has so closely linked the public ski center expansion with the private, luxury, steep-slope resort, that even experts have trouble telling where one ends and the other begins,” he said.

Joe Kelly, chairman of the Coalition to save Belleayre, called the Catskill Heritage Alliance “political vultures” and said now is not the time to be trying to keep stimulus money out of the area.

“We’re parsing words here while no one else in the country is,” he said. “No area needs help more than ours.”


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