wp-content/uploads Gunks.com » Letter to Minnewaska Planners

Here’s my letter to the Minnewaska State Park Master Planners. Did you send yours?

    Minnewaska State Park is the ‘sleeping giant’ of the Hudson Valley. Within it’s bounds lay some of the finest recreation opportunities to be found in this or any state. Beyond recreation, the Park’s vastness offers a rare opportunity for visitors to leave a busy world behind, and discover unaccustomed solitude, beauty and peace.

    Yet all too often, we’ve found the Minnewaska experience blighted by policies that have limited our enjoyment, often without apparent reason. For years, we’ve known Minnewaska as the Park that says “NO”. “No” to swimming on 90 degree days after Labor Day. “No” to climbing on the most spectacular cliffs in the Park. “No” to taking home the blueberries we pick….

TO: Fred Williams, Deputy Director, Palisades Region, NYS OPRHP
Thomas B. Lyons, Director, Resource Management, NYS OPRHP

RE: Minnewaska State Park Master Plan

Minnewaska State Park is the ‘sleeping giant’ of the Hudson Valley. Within it’s bounds lay some of the finest recreation opportunities to be found in this or any state. Beyond recreation, the Park’s vastness offers a rare opportunity for visitors to leave a busy world behind, and discover unaccustomed solitude, beauty and peace.

Yet all too often, we’ve found the Minnewaska experience blighted by policies that have limited our enjoyment, often without apparent reason. For years, we’ve known Minnewaska as the Park that says “NO”. “No” to swimming on 90 degree days after Labor Day. “No” to climbing on the most spectacular cliffs in the Park. “No” to taking home the blueberries we pick.

All too often we’ve seen Park policies that seems to want to “herd” users into small activity areas and then inundate those areas with rules that are required by the small area provided (ex. swimming & climbing). While we recognize and support the Park’s mission to preserve the natural environment, we feel that past policies have summarily barred or severely restricted many activates without considering their actual impact.

But in this new Master Plan, we see the first rays of light that encourage us to believe that Minnewaska can live up to it’s vast potential.

Though financial resources for this Plan will be difficult to find in the current environment, we feel that the Park can still make substantial progress by working more openly with established community resources. There is a wealth of experience, labor and enthusiasm in user groups such as the Gunks Climbers Coalition, Gunks Mountain Biking Association, Fats in the Cats, Minnewaska Distance Swimmers Association, NY-NJ Trails Conference, just to name a few, that can be used in lieu of state dollars. In addition to providing development help, these organizations’ members can supply the Park with invaluable eyes and ears for areas that a small staff would be hard pressed to cover.

It would be a tragedy to have the Park’s treasures locked away from our friends, neighbors and children for another 12 – 15 years because of financial decisions made a world away, when the resources to open the Park are available here in our community.

With this view in mind we advocate for the following projects as top priorities in the Minnewaska Master Plan:

1. The construction of the Shawangunk Gateway Campground should be a priority 1 objective. The current plan call only for completion of design in the first 5 – 10 years of the Master Plan.
2. The Distance Swimming Program should be allowed to operate without a lifeguard on duty. The lifeguards are too far away to be of assistance in an emergency, and the MDSA has proven that it can manage its beach to keep unaffiliated swimmers out of the water. With the ubiquity of cell phones (and service) at the park, help is now adequately available by phone should it ever become necessary. A distance swimming program at Awosting should be developed.
3. We agree that traffic mitigation at the main Route 209 entrance must be a priority in the plan. The current set up encourages visitors to block the highway waiting to enter, or make U-turns in the areas where visibility is limited. This situation unnecessarily encourages “road rage” between drivers, and causes regular delays to Kerhonkson, Accord and Ellenville residents.
4. Rock climbing should not be limited to any specific areas under the Master Plan. The proposed expansion to Dickie Barre is not regarded as an enhancement to climbing by the climbing community. Instead the Park should continue to develop a separate Climbing Management Plan that would ideally develop both rock and ice climbing areas in the finest crags of the park. The park should work closely with the GCC and Access Fund to reproduce successful programs that are in place across the country.
5. We support development of a single track trail in the Awosting Reserve section of the Park, but would hope that the trail system would be connected to the existing carriage road system. The number of mountain bikers far exceeds the proposed lot capacity at Awosting Reserve, and this would encourage illegal parking and other problems.
6. Cross Country Skiing needs to be better supported under the Master Plan. More regular grooming, including maintenance of a connection to the Mohonk Preserve’s trails is an opportunity to make the ridge the premier destination for x-c skiing and snowshoeing in the Northeast.
7. The Park needs to open it’s doors earlier 2 days each week. The current 9am opening on weekdays precludes hundreds of users the opportunity to run, bike, hike, ski or bird watch in morning.

Thank you for considering our views. We stand by ready to assist you in any way we can.

Sincerely,
Evan Marks
Gunks.com, webmaster

One Response to “Letter to Minnewaska Planners”
  1. Right on, Evan.

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