Blue Hole in the Catskills with trash in the foreground


It’s a story that’s repeating itself all over the country: a beautiful natural place, pristine and virtually unknown, is discovered on the internet. Suddenly, visitors abound, trash proliferates, and the wild nature of the place seems forever lost.

This could have been the story of Catskill Park’s Peekamoose Blue Hole. Located in New York’s Ulster County, the Peekamoose corridor was a quiet fishing area and popular local swimming hole in a remote part of the Catskill Forest Preserve. That all changed in recent years, owing to the internet. According to New York State officials, the swimming hole has seen up to 1,000 visitors a day, and by mid-summer 2017 this formerly pristine area, once prized for its beauty, had become significantly degraded.


On August 20, the New York Times described the transformation:

…The effect of the influx has been profound. Over the last two or three years, cars have parked haphazardly on the shoulder of County Road 42, which runs past the       pool, and revelers have hauled boom-boxes, portable grills and coolers full of beer to its banks. The surrounding area has been strewn with garbage and,
sometimes, human waste.

The article written by Colin Moynihan, titled “A Tranquil Swimming Hole is Overwhelmed by Its Own Internet Fame.”

Thanks to you, the story of the Blue Hole isn’t a tragedy. A leading voice in responsible recreation, ADK promotes Leave No Trace outdoor skills and ethics in all of our educational programs. ADK is also a partner with the Leave No Trace Center for Outdoor Skills and Ethics. As such, we nominated the Peekamoose Blue Hole for attention and assistance as an environmental “Hot Spot” in 2017. The Hot Spot program recognizes natural places across the country that are being “loved to death,” enabling environmental educators to bring training, hands-on conservation, and planning assistance to land managers and stakeholders in those communities.

Your Education and Advocacy staff coordinated planning for the Hot Spot week this past August, worked with stakeholders, facilitated trainings, and participated in a clean-up at the Blue Hole. We were on site for the week with the Subaru Leave No Trace Traveling Trainers, sharing tips for keeping the Blue Hole and other wild areas clean, handing out trash bags, and inspiring new visitors to enjoy and protect our natural world.

“It worked.” That was the sentiment expressed by Bill Rudge, Natural Resources Supervisor for DEC Region 3 in New Paltz, regarding the successes at the Blue Hole. “The Leave No Trace Hot Spot program has demonstrated the value of education and the power of a team effort to address the overuse issues we have at the Peekamoose Blue Hole in the Catskills.”

Blue Hole in the Catskills


The Blue Hole is not the only iconic natural area that needs you. As more visitors seek peace and recreation in our wild places, our role in promoting responsible recreation has never been more important.

At the High Peaks Information Center, staff and volunteers share Leave No Trace outdoor skills to help visitors stay safe while protecting the outdoor places they love. Atop the mountains, with outstanding success, Summit Stewards inspire visitors to care about alpine plants. Despite a massive increase in visitors to these delicate environments, the alpine habitat has thrived and expanded. However, as more and more hikers come to the peaks, we will not be able to protect these summits, and the trails that lead to them, without you.

Over the past year, with your help, we’ve spread the message to new audiences in new ways: through video, social media, summits, new training, and blogs. We’ve taken our expertise and shared it throughout New York State. You’ve shared stories of what you’ve seen, inspired and educated new audiences, and pledged to protect these iconic places. However, more work must be done if we want our pristine areas to remain unspoiled.

Every day, new visitors experience our wild lands for the first time. Each new visit is an opportunity to share the message of responsible recreation and stewardship. With your help, we can reach these new audiences, grow and sustain a culture of outdoor ethics, and make sure our outdoor stories are successes like the Blue Hole.
Your gift gives ADK the tools to continue this valuable work of expanding Leave No Trace skills and ethics outreach to the multitudes of hikers who visit the Catskills, the Adirondacks, and parks across the state. We need your help to continue down this path toward our treasured, shared goal: protecting the wild places we hold dear.

Your gift enables ADK to spread the Leave No Trace message and protect all of New York State Public lands.