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Economic impact of public lands; Study shows reservoirs are helpful

The Neversink Reservoir and other public holdings by the NYC Department of Conservation generate revenue for local municipalities.
TRR photo by Fritz Mayer

By Fritz Mayer
February 6, 2013

REGION — The New York City Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) is touting the beneficial impacts of its reservoirs and other holdings on the Catskills, which are highlighted in a new study commissioned by the Catskill Center for Conservation and Development (CCCD), Catskill Mountainkeeper (CMK), and Catskill Heritage Alliance (CHA).

According to the study, outdoor recreational activities that rely on public and protected lands attract a total of 1,717,927 visitors annually. These visitors had an estimated economic impact on the region’s economy of $46,207,000 and supported 980 jobs. Furthermore, all outdoor recreational activities, including both those that rely on public and protected lands and those that rely on private lands, attracted a total of 2,496,753 visitors. These visitors had an estimated economic impact of $114,768,000 on the region’s economy and supported 2,413 jobs.

“This economic impact study confirms with hard data the exceptional economic potential of this landscape of mountains, forests, streams, farmland and villages,” said Kathy Nolan, chair of the Catskill Heritage Alliance. “It shows the choice before us in dollar terms: erode what nature gave us and undermine our economic sustainability, or build on the potential to strengthen the economic future of the region.”

“The new numbers confirm what we’ve known for a long time,” echoed Ramsay Adams, founder and executive director of Catskill Mountainkeeper. “The natural beauty of our region is a unique, world-class asset.”

Carter Strickland, the commissioner of the DEP, which employs nearly 1,000 people in the watershed, said, “We are proud that our efforts to encourage recreation throughout the watershed have strengthened the tourism economy that has been a hallmark of the Catskills for decades. New York City currently owns 114,833 acres in the Catskills that are open for fishing, hiking, boating and other forms of low impact recreation that attract people from other regions of the state and country. In the past five years alone, we have removed the permit requirements from 52,198 acres of that recreation land, making it even easier for our neighbors and visitors to enjoy.”

The economic impacts generated by recreational activities, and of the operations of organizations that protect and manage the natural areas of the Catskills, were estimated using the Money Generation Model (MGM) economic impact. These models were developed for the National Park Service and have been used for similar evaluations of many parks around the country.