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'Blue Hole' Visitors Reminded to Follow Rules
New York Ag Connection - 06/16/2017

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Thursday was reminding visitors to the overused Blue Hole swimming area to follow regulations for the Blue Hole and Peekamoose Valley in the town of Denning, Ulster County. The regulations increase public safety and reduce impacts to the swimming area located on Rondout Creek in the Sundown Wild Forest. This unique natural resource is at risk from overuse due to its popularity. The area is in the New York City drinking water watershed.

"State regulations for Blue Hole are necessary to protect public health and encourage the safety and general welfare of both users of the property and nearby residents," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "DEC encourages visitors to enjoy this incredible resource safely and responsibly."

In the summer of 2015, day use of the area referred to as the "Blue Hole," a large, deep and cold swimming hole in Rondout Creek immediately upstream of the camping area, increased exponentially. The increase in visitors was due in part to social media coverage, including national magazines, touting the Blue Hole as "one of the best swimming holes in the nation." As many as 700 people have crowded into the small area on a single day. This dramatic increase in usage has resulted in an uptick of human waste, refuse, fires, and broken glass, and overuse of the parking area, spilling out along Peekamoose Road. Blue Hole's neighboring communities have expressed concerns about safety if the road is not passable for emergency service vehicles due to blockage by illegally parked cars, as well as concerns about the number of visitors.

State Regulations for Blue Hole include:

- Restrict hours the area is open (except for the nearby designated camping area) to one half hour before sunrise to one half-hour after sunset;

- Require the use of the portable restroom facilities for human waste disposal and the dumpster for all other waste;

- Prohibit camping, all fires (including charcoal fires, wood fires, gas grills, propane stoves, or other portable stoves) and the use of portable generators at the Blue Hole. Limited use of the above will be allowed at the nearby designated camping area only;

- Limit parking to designated parking areas (parking along the shoulder of the road is already prohibited by the Town and is a Tow Away Zone); and,

- Prohibit glass containers, radios, and other audio devices.

DEC will continue to consult with local officials and the public to increase public safety and protect this overused resource to provide a safer and more enjoyable experience for all visitors and nearby residents of the town of Denning.

Because of heavy use of this area, DEC encourages users to enjoy nearby state lands. Additional site-specific information is available on DEC's website directly at Peekamoose Blue Hole web page at www.dec.ny.gov/lands/109922.html.

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