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DEC Introduces New Day Use Permit System for Blue Hole Visitors
No-Cost Permits Will Protect Popular Blue Hole Area and Reduce Overuse Issues
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos today announced a new no-cost, day use permitting system requiring visitors to obtain a permit to access the Blue Hole, located in the Sundown Wild Forest of the Catskill Park in the town of Denning, Ulster County. The new permitting system is designed to strike a balance between ensuring state lands are open and accessible to the public while reducing environmental damage and enhancing public safety.
How to Get a Permit
A permit is now required to visit the Blue Hole on weekends and holidays between May 15 and October 15. Permits can be acquired from the Reserve America website. Permits are free of charge, but must be acquired at least 24 hours in advance and cannot be acquired more than a week in advance. Only advance registrations will be accepted, no walk-in registrations are available. Visitors will not be permitted to book consecutive days, there must be 7 days between reservations. Each permit is limited to 6 individuals. Visitors will be required to list the names of all members of their party when making the reservation but will have the ability to change the names up to one day in advance. Visitors must have a permit with them at all times. Photo ID is required for each visitor over the age 18.
Permit System Details
Commissioner Seggos said, "The new Peekamoose Blue Hole permit system and regulations announced today are designed to preserve this unique location for future generations of visitors. The new permits support DEC's ongoing efforts to preserve this natural resource by reducing environmental impacts like trash, damage to vegetation and trees, and soil erosion. We continue to encourage the safe and responsible use of state lands."
Under the new no-cost permit system, visitors to the Blue Hole are required to obtain a permit on weekends and holidays from May 15 through October 15 every year. DEC will issue up to 40 permits per day and each permit allows entry for up to six individuals, including children, allowing for a maximum of 240 people to access the Blue Hole each day. Permits must be acquired at least 24 hours and no more than one week, in advance. Only advance registrations will be accepted at the site, and walk-in permits are not available. Visitors will be required to list the names of all members of their party when making reservations, but can update names up to one day in advance. Visitors must have a permit with them at all times.
The proposed permitting regulation was released for public comment in May. DEC has reviewed a total of 185 comments on the proposed regulation, and most of the comments support the permit system.
Existing State Regulations to address overuse at the Blue Hole will remain in effect and include:
- restricting hours the area is open to one half hour before sunrise to one half hour after sunset;
- camping is prohibited in the vicinity of the Blue Hole;
- requiring the use of portable restroom facilities;
- prohibiting fires and grills and the use of portable generators;
- limiting parking to designated parking areas; and
- prohibiting glass containers, radios, and other audio devices.
Additional actions taken by DEC to address overuse include introducing the new Peekamoose Blue Hole Stewardship Program with the Catskill Center, additional social media and outreach to notify the public about the new permit system and need to protect this site from overuse, recommending alternative areas to visitors, meeting with elected officials, and maintaining a law enforcement presence on weekends. DEC continues to work with the partners such as the Trail Conference to reduce overuse impacts at this popular site.