OKed For Catskills
however, the DEIS’ release has generated heated debate, pitting
local environmental organizations concerned that the state will not ban
drilling inside the New York City watershed, or the Catskill Park, against
state legislators from the region who say what’s been written may
be the best we’ll get.
At the same
time, the Catskills’ most noted geologist, Dr. Robert Titus of Hartwick
College, has said that as far as he can surmise, the Route 28 corridor,
including Shandaken and Olive, is outside the effected area, and a more
productive shale area under Utica to the north and west may end up rendering
most of the concerns about the Marcellus moot, in the long run.
He did add,
however, that citizens should report whenever they are approached by gas
companies about drilling to this paper, and his office, anonymously if
need be, so as to better chart where drilling companies are looking.
As for the
main fact that the DEC’s proposed laws don’t seem intent on
protecting the Catskill Mountain area that supplies drinking water to
9 million people, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said in a
news release following the DEIS release last week that, “The state’s
mitigation proposals are half measures. I believe the choice is simple:
we either correct this error and ban drilling now, or soon enough the
officials entrusted with protecting our environment will be asked to explain
why they were asleep at the switch when it mattered most.”
Catskill Mountainkeeper, meanwhile, noted that the Draft Supplemental
Environmental Impact Study offered some limited protections concerning
the New York City watershed and disclosure of chemicals being used, “But
overall, this report clears the way for the commencement of large scale
gas drilling in New York State in 2010 without adequate protection for
the general public in the Catskill region, the New York City watershed,
the Catskill Park and in other environmentally sensitive areas.”
elected officials, the media and especially the public speak out powerfully
and quickly the entire state of New York and our region, in particular,
is going to be put at extreme and unnecessary levels of risk,” continued
Ramsay Adams, Executive Director of Catskill Mountainkeeper. “In
the last year and a half since the commencement of drilling, there have
been an extraordinary number of reported accidents connected to gas drilling
in nearby Pennsylvania. It is highly questionable whether local authorities
will be prepared to handle the wide variety of responsibilities for monitoring
and tracking accidents as well as preparing local police, firefighters
and healthcare institutions to adequately respond to emergencies…
The impending gas exploration and drilling is the single biggest industrial
undertaking in the history of New York State.
various fishing and other organizatyions throughout the area, meanwhile,
started e-mailing about images and stories concerning massive fish kills
in areas where the new gas drilling technology has been used around the
By early this
week, though, some defenders of the DEC were lining up. State Senator
John Bonacic said on Monday that he supports the DEC’s “generic”
environmental impact study, noting that “natural gas is our own
backyard is something that should be extracted” and how drilling
would boost local economic vitality.
you can worry about everything, but you have to make intelligent, balanced
judgments, and in my mind, we have done that,” he said. “We
have strengthened DEC to impose these very strict regulations and at the
same time, we are allowing the process to continue to enhance our domestic
energy supply to become more independent of foreign oil.”
Kevin Cahill, who head’s his legislative body’s powerful Energy
Committee, sent out a press release the day after the DEIS’ release
that said that tapping the Marcellus Shale formation for a short term
natural gas supply would provide New York with the opportunity to develop
a reliable indigenous fuel supply. “
We have to
recognize that we are using natural gas, and even if it is a transitional
fuel as we move toward energy independence in New York State, we will
need to use natural gas,” he said. “Isn’t it better
that we extract it responsibly from New York State and have it here at
our doorstep than have it shipped across the country from places like
Louisiana where its coming out of swamps with virtually no environmental
regulations or coming out of places like West Virginia where their idea
of how you get at a mineral is to blow the top off a mountain.”
in the proposed laws would make New York State’s environmental protections
more stringent than those in many other drilling areas, the document’s
New York Gov.
David Paterson the new study in July, 2008 after media investigations
found that the DEC had told state legislators that hydraulic fracturing
was safe, even though the agency had not studied or discussed the sometimes
dangerous chemicals that it uses and that later wind up in its waste.
has made the Marcellus Shale and other difficult-to-reach deposits of
gas accessible to drillers. The process shoots millions of gallons of
water, sand and chemicals underground at high pressure to break up rock
and release gas. According to some estimates being touted by those seeking
permits for drilling, the Marcellus holds enough gas to meet the country’s
natural gas needs for more than 20 years.
Titus, however, wonders how far the Marcellus actually goes… and
whether it reaches our area.
farther east you go, the more likely that the Marcellus has been metamorphosed
(‘cooked’) during New England mountain building events. That
drives the gas out of the shales,” he wrote in an e-mail this week.
“Conventional logic states that very little exploration will occur
in Ulster or Greene counties. The chances of good gas plays increase as
you approach the Pennsylvanian border. Plays are likely to be pretty good
as you pass through Schoharie, Delaware and Otsego counties. And people
are very optimistic about the Utica Shale, which may have even more gas
than the Marcellus. Most of it is north of the Mohawk River.”
however, that the key now is to keep an eye on what gas drilling companies,
which have been hitting major stalls due to chemical spills and other
problems in nearby Pennsylvania, are up to.
Mountainkeeper is urging people to read what they can of the proposed
DEIS and make comments to the state however they can. “
does not believe that gas drilling should commence until it is proven
that it can be done safely. The DEC report does not do enough to ensure
that goal,” Adams said in a second e-mail following the DEC release
last week. “We are urging all elected representatives and residents
of New York State to educate themselves as quickly as possible. When the
trucks are rolling it will be too late to begin to understand the reality
of what we’ve allowed ourselves to get into. We have to act now.
This is our last chance to do something to mitigate or stop gas drilling.”
Aileen Gunther of Sullivan County, meanwhile, has announced that the Assembly
Standing Committee on Environmental Conservation will hold a single hearing
on the Draft Supplemental Generic Environmental Impact Statement governing
natural gas drilling on the Marcellus Shale formation in Sullivan County
and the Southern Tier of New York on Thursday, October 15, in Albany,
starting at 9:00 AM in the Legislative Building.
The SGEIS is
available at http://www.dec.ny.gov/energy/47554.html
period on the draft will be open until November 30.
to the event went out over a week ago from this publication, which will
also be sponsoring a similar Olive event the morning of Shandaken’s
crowded candidate field makes statements and fields questions from what
is expected to be an SRO audience.
Cindy Bell of the League will serve as moderator for the event, which
is expected to take two hours.
The basic format starts with lots drawn to determine the order of speakers
for opening remarks, which will be kept to two or three minutes, as well
as a reading of LWV rules Audience members will be provided with index
cards and writing implements with which to write questions that are not
to include any statements, personal remarks, or personal issues.
The moderator will choose questions and paraphrase for clarity and appropriateness,
and not repeat questions that repeat similar issues and themes. The candidates
will have one minute to answer. Candidates are urged to take notes so
as to be able to answer points raised by other candidates in their closing
remarks, if needed.
Each candidate will then have a 2 or 3-minute closing statement.
Candidates are encouraged to bring one stack of campaign literature, to
be placed on a table set up outside the room for the purpose of distributing
The League, as well as the format of the event, tries and dissuade audience
participation beyond the index card questions in the event, asking all
to withhold applause and comment until the debate’s end.
Candidates expected for next Saturday’s event include incumbent
Democratic Supervisor Peter DiSclafani and Republican challenger Robert
Stanley, currently a town councilman in his last term. For town council,
incumbent Doris Bartlett and planning board member Barbara Redfield on
the Democratic ticket, school administrator Jack Jordan and attorney Pat
Ellison on the Republican ticket, and Conservative Party candidate Randy
Ostrander. For town highway superintendent, incumbent Eric Hofmesiter,
on the Democratic line, against former highway super Keith Johnson on
the GOP line. For town justice, Democrats Mike Miranda, an incumbent,
and Amy Brown against incumbent Tom Crucet and planning board member Charles
Frasier. Finally, for town assessor, there will be incumbent appointee
Pete DiModica and Carol Seitz on the Dems line versus John Horn and Linda
Arnold for the GOP.
Several elections ago, the town’s GOP refused to come out for a
League Meet The Candidates event, and even attempted to impugn the venerable
organization’s Mid-Hudson Chapter as being illegitimate. But the
last three elections have seen the events proceed smoothly, and become
key to the local races, lending them a sense of civility backed up, more
recently, by bans on political advertising signs until after the Columbus
Also, as has become tradition locally, expect a Voters’ Guide listing
all candidates, their basic backgrounds, stated stands on issues, and
quotes culled from the coming Meet the Candidates’ events in our
See you on the 17th…
Join The Marches
The crowd silently waited
15 minutes, when union leader Corey Cavallaro spoke in anger.
“This is why we are two years without a contract, there is absolutely
zero respect for us tonight,” he said. “They knew —
the board and superintendent — that we were going to be here tonight
at six o’clock and this is how they treated us, not me - us.”
Cavallaro said the Onteora administration has “sowed seeds of
distrust.” He said the board has asked for more time, but accused
them of stalling.
At 7:00 PM, the board entered into public session. School board president
Laurie Osmond immediately made a public statement.
“I want to make a point – this is a new board, three of
us are new to the board within 14 months; four of us in less than six
months,” she said. “This board respects our teachers and
our staff. This summer this board replaced the negotiating attorney
with our district attorney who has decades of successful experience
Osmond continued, “The two parties met last night, including our
newly appointed attorney and three board members who were at the table.”
She said they want to resolve the negotiations “as quickly and
fairly as possible.”
In a separate meeting Cavallaro said the three board members were trustees
Anne MacGillicuddy, Tom Hickey and Osmond. When Cavallaro was asked
if Monday’s meeting proved fruitful he said, “If it were
promising we wouldn’t be doing what we are doing tonight.”
In other business this week, the school board welcomed Jennifer O’Connor
as Onteora’s new Middle School principal. She replaces Andrew
Davenport who resigned after a year with the district. O’Connor
is well known from having served as Onteora’s High School assistant
principal. Her salary will be $103,500 a year.
Bus drivers who transport high school students to BOCES for vocational
training complained to the school board following incidences of unruly
student behavior that they believed went unchecked. According to Transportation
Director Dave Moraca, part of the problem is when drivers write up referrals,
there appears to be a communication breakdown between the driver and
the district. The drivers are not aware if any disciplinary actions
The board requested that the district improve its line of communication
with Moraca who will forward information to his drivers.
On two occasions bus drivers heading to BOCES were stopped by police
because of unruly student behavior. In one incident a student threw
trash out the window, landing on a police car, and in another a student
opened an emergency exit door. There has also been damage done to seats.
Moraca said he would like to get more cameras to install on buses for
monitoring, but he does have one bus at his disposal for problem route.
2 Percent Too Much?
plan was presented at a decidedly ill-attended town hall meeting Monday
night, Councilman Rob Stanley, who is challenging incumbent Supervisor
Peter DiSclafani for his post in this year’s election, asked
the board to follow his lead and agree to reduce the budget even more
by not giving town employees the standard three per cent raise DiSclafani
plans. Stanley also said that the town board members, to show that
they are trying to help taxpayers in these tough times, actually take
a pay cut next year.
Under the plan as proposed by DiSclafani, the Supervisor would receive
$31,954 and the other four town board members would get $9,273 each.
Stanley wanted those figures dropped, with the Supervisor getting
$30,000 and board members $9,000.
“This is coming on the backs of our neighbors and friends,”
Stanley said of the proposed budget.
After some debate, board members Tim Malloy and Vince Bernstein agreed.
DiSclafani agreed as well. During the official vote on the idea only
Councilwoman Doris Bartlett, who is seeking re-election this year,
voted against the pay cut.
No decision was made about the planned three percent raise for town’s
non-union employees, although Stanley noted that nearby governments,
such as the Delaware County Board of Supervisors, are planning on
not handing out raises next year.
As the budget proposal currently stands, spending is actually down
from $4.3 million this year to $4.1 million in 2010, although a drop
in expected revenues will have to made up by taxpayers. Even allowing
for that, town taxes will rise 1.76 percent in the general fund and
2.32 percent overall.
All departments showed small to no changes. Some went up a few hundred
dollars, others went down a few hundred, and still others stay the
The departures from this pattern are, most notably, the ambulance
department and, to a lesser degree, the police department, seeing
increases of $33,000 and $14,500, respectively.
Substantially lower next year will be the cost for the tax assessors
department, which will go down from $94,304 to $78,618, a reduction
of $15,686. Building maintenance would also go down next year by $3,500,
to $147,500. Insurance premiums drop $25,000 next year as well, down
to $80,000 from this years $105,000.
The town board will now get to work on the proposed budget. Adjustments
such as the salary drops for the town board will be calculated in
and a final budget plan will be introduced at a budget hearing set
for Wednesday November 4th at 6:00 pm, the day after upcoming elections.
In other town financial news, Assessor Heidi Clark informed the town
board that her department has collected and cataloged the data on
about 80 percent of the town’s tax parcels. Once the remaining
20 percent has been completed, the town would have sufficient data
to begin a town wide revaluation.
About $35,000 has been spent by the town so far on the task. Clark
said that if the town board decides to do a revaluation, it could
be done with the help of the State’s Office of Real Property
Services, or ORPS. Should they choose to go down that road, she said,
it would cost about another $7,000.
DiSclafani said a revaluation might be something the town should do
in the next year or so.
Wilderness Bob took his
first long hike, of 2,147 miles, from April 4 to September 20, 2005,
when he completed the Appalachian Trail south to north. He did the 2,650
mile Pacific Crest Trail two years ago, taking from April 20 to September
30. In between he walked Vermont’s Long Trail and, with his wife
Brenda, the 480 mile Colorado Trail… to keep in shape.
On this last one, he crossed the headwaters of the Snake and Missouri,
the Rio Grande and Arkansas rivers. He went back and forth over the
Gila River, in New Mexico, over 100 times in one day, and 200 times
Up in the Wind River Mountain Range of Wyoming, Bob picked up a copy
of an old trail journal by the early mountain man Osborne Russell and
matched it to his own trail journal. He took a detour to climb what
Russell called Sweetwater Mountain, now known as Mt. Gannett, the state’s
highest at 13,800. 15 miles in for resupplies afterwards, 15 miles back
out to the CDT; but what’s a five day excursion in the bigger
plan of things?
As a side project, Wilderness Bob notes, he’s been trying to get
up to each of the 50 states’ highest points. He’s made 33
so far – all of the East and much of the south and southwest,
with the flatter Midwest and truly high Alaskan and Hawaiian peaks to
There’s also that trail he heard about from a man he met hiking,
running 4500 miles horizontally across the country from the Finger Lakes
to the Dakotas. The hiker’s trail name? Nimblewood Nomad.
“When I got to the Green River I was surprised to find that it
wasn’t named for anyone named Greene, but was actually the color
green,” he said, as excitedly as if he were still witnessing this
“I’m a Catskill native, born in Kingston. Spent a lot of
time up here in the Catskills hunting and fishing as a kid. Lived in
Mt. Tremper for a while. Now I’m over Olivebridge-ways,”
Bob explains. “As an 18 year old I left for the military, where
I ended up having a 24 year, 4 month, and 5 day career.”
That included 19 years in the Green Berets and tours in each Iraq War,
plus every other conflagration our country’s been involved in
since the mid-1980s.
So what happened?
During time stationed in Europe, Wilderness Bob picked up Bill Bryson’s
popular “A Walk In The Woods” and started talking to folks
about the Appalachian Trail. When he “got out,” as they
say, he started training around the reservoir, on local roads and trails,
and then took off on the Appalachian Trail, meeting numerous folks from
his new sub culture of long distance walkers along the way. Like an
84 year old half-way, or a couple of 70 year olds. One triple Triple
Crowner said you could never do just two of the big trails… you
had to do them all.
That first time, he learned about over-training, and how to prepare
for losing 40 pounds over a hike’s length. But he also learned
how to handle a 65 pound pack with ease, learn how to gauge water usage
and carrying weights, how to mail supplies ahead of oneself as one hikes,
how to know when a few days in a motel made sense, as well as how to
think things out day after day by oneself on a trail. How to face down
and win over one’s demons.
“One of the things I’ve accomplished on these hikes is to
come to terms with the life I led in the military,” Wilderness
Bob says. “You can’t hide from things, but you can learn
to live with them.”
He tells of how he met up with his son along his hike, as well as his
daughter. The three of them, along with his son-in-law, climbed Arizona’s
highest mountain, Humphries Peak, together. Then did several other reunions
as well, with Brenda – his second wife – along.
In addition to covering 14,000 miles of the country with her on his
Harley, Bob says he’s been getting her confidence up on mountain
hiking on her own.
“It’s all a system,” he says of hiking as he now does.
“You set distances. Use what you can, pass on what you don’t
Take his time in the Chihuaha Desert. He carried a giant golf umbrella
with him for months. Eventually, in the Great Basin of Wyoming, he handed
it off to an old man who had become a follower, catching up with he
and other hikes along the Divide Trail to deliver goods, aid, a friendly
And it’s all a cache of great stories…
Like spending time at Georgia O’Keefe’s Ghost Ranch in New
Mexico, or getting lost for days in the San Juans. In past days he’d
take an IPOD with him, loaded down with a 1000 songs. But this past
time Wilderness Bob listened to the world he was passing through, one
of about two dozen to hike this trail each year.
He tells about the pocket knife he left in Colorado a year ago while
hiking with his wife. Found it this time after weeks thinking about
just where it would be. On a rock… right where he figured it would
be. Same with a pair of sunglasses in a bush, which he then lost again
a few days later. And will likely find, in another bush, next time he’s
up near Pike’s Peak a few years hence.
There were many animals. But also ghosts… “which you can
think about 40 ways before laying back to rest. This very conversation
we’re having was thought out many times along that trail this
So what now?
Wilderness Bob’s thinking about utilizing the new G.I. Bill to
get a new degree. Maybe move to Alaska for a bit. But also maybe start
stewarding some local trails. See what he can do to finally get New
York State’s own Long Trail usable.
He’s got his eyes on the Superior Lake Trail in Michigan. And
going through his journals. Maybe piecing a book together.
He notes that some ask him why he’s not joined the Catskill 3500
Club and climbed the local peaks. That’s for his retirement days,
But then he adds something very deep.
“I know one day I’m going to be back at some of these places
with my grandchildren and I’ll be able to tell them how there
used to be a glacier here, a grove of trees there,” he says, noting
how many forests have disappeared out west from invasive species, let
loose by climate change. “I think, all the time, of the old naturalists,
of seeing what they saw. This wilderness is a treasure. That’s
why I walk these trails.”
For more on Wilderness Bob, and other great hikers like him, visit www.trailjournals.com
and look him up.
And get out there and hike a bit, yourselves…