The Catskill Park
The Catskill Park is a mountainous region of public and private lands in Ulster, Green, Delaware and Sullivan Counties. 98 peaks over 3,000 feet from an impressive skyline. Its blend of public and private lands is typical of large parks in Europe, where people and unique lands have coexisted for centuries. This special and often remote mountain landscape was only occasionally used by native Americans. Later it was settled and heavily exploited by the Dutch, English, Irish and Germans. Its rich history includes logging, blue stone quarrying, leather tinning, wintergreen and blueberry harvesting, trapping, fishing, mountain house tourism, railroads, and even World War II pilot training. Over 60% of the lands in the Catskill Park are privately owned, the home of about 50,000 year round residents; the rest is publicly-owned " forest preserved. "
The Catskill Forest PreserveThe Catskill Forest Preserve is the state land within the Catskill Park. Since its creation in 1885, it has grown from 34,000 to almost 300,000 acres. An 1894 amendment to the New York State Constitution (now Article 14) directs " The lands of the State now owned or hereafter acquired, constituting the forest preserve as now fixed by law, shall be forever kept as wild forest lands. They shall not be leased, sold or exchanged, or be taken by any corporation, public or private, nor shall the timber thereon be sold, removed or destroyed. " The forest preserve has thousands of acres of forests with meadows, remnants of old farmsteads, lakes, rivers, springs, waterfalls, cliffs, fire towers, bears, rattlesnakes and other wildlife, rare plants and animals. Also, there are hundreds of miles of abandoned wood roads and trails to enjoy. Today, it serves as watershed, recreation area and ecological and scenic reserve.
GeologyThe gray sandstone of the area formed some 360-400 million years ago when the Catskill region was a shallow sea filling up with clay and silt washing off the high mountains to the east. The sandstone have now been up lifted high above sea level, but the layers formed in a shallow sea are still visible. Streams have eroded valleys into this high plateau, forming the Catskill Mountains. Continental and valley glaciers have also left their mark, repeatedly covering the Catskills from two million to 10,000 years ago.