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OSI's 4-H Camp Pine Purchase Allows Public Access to World-Renowned Fishing

April 4, 2008 - New York, NY - The Open Space Conservancy (OSC), the land acquisition affiliate of the Open Space Institute, announced the purchase today of the 232-acre property known as 4-H Camp Pines.  

The property was originally acquired in December 1949 by what is now known as Cornell Cooperative Extension Association of Sullivan County and, until 1980, was used as a rustic outdoor educational facility. For the past two decades, Cooperative Extension has managed the land as a working forest in accordance with a forestry management plan approved by both the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, as the property sits within the Catskill Park and the New York City watershed. When the property is conveyed to DEC, public access will be allowed.

The 4-H Camp Pines property has more than 4,400 feet of frontage along both shores of the upper Neversink River, one of the five primary rivers in the Catskill Region and the source for the Neversink Reservoir.  Along with the Beaverkill, Willowemoc, Esopus, and Rondout, the Neversink River is linked to the birth of American fly fishing.  Theodore Gordon, the legendary fly fishing journalist, developed the dry fly there. 

This stream has been the home waters of many other famous anglers of the past century, including Edward R. Hewitt, William Chandler, Herman Christian and “Rube” Cross to name a few, and is well known to today's fly fishers.  

One of the most renowned writers on Catskill fly fishing, Ed Van Put, writes in his most recent book, Trout Fishing in the Catskills

"Theodore Gordon, the legendary Catskill fly fisher and journalist, caught his first brown trout in the Neversink in the summer of 1889."  

Van Put notes that since the late 1800s the general public has been excluded from fishing along the upper Neversink and its branches by private landowners and fishing clubs.  While New York State has acquired many miles of fishing rights easements on a number of quality trout streams in the Catskill region during the past several decades, opportunities for the public to fish in the Neversink Valley upstream of the reservoir are quite limited and available only at the extreme headwaters of the West Branch where a stretch runs through Forest Preserve lands, and then a very short section (approximately 200 feet) of the East Branch, also at the headwaters. 

For many years, DEC unsuccessfully sought to acquire easements along the Neversink River following the stocking of salmon in the Neversink Reservoir in 1973. With the cooperation of the New York City Board of Water Supply, salmon were introduced into the reservoir creating a unique fishing opportunity for Catskill anglers. 

Van Put writes that DEC received a good deal of criticism from organized sportsmen following this stocking; they argued that the salmon would only benefit private landowners who post their property since the salmon leave the reservoir and ascend this almost completely private section of the Neversink in the fall.  However, since salmon could be fished for in the reservoir via New York City watershed permits, DEC has continued this stocking program to the present day.

Now, 35 years later, the public will finally get their chance to fish streamside on the only body of water where salmon can be found in the Catskills.  

“I think this is great news for anglers to have land opened up on the Upper Neversink. We’ll be able to fish for native brook trout as well as wild browns. The Camp Pine property has a pristine piece of river to fish, which is relatively uncommon for public waters in New York State. I’d like to thank Commissioner Grannis, Ed Van Put and OSI for making this possible,” said Bert Darrow, president of Theodore Gordon Flyfishers.

Thanks to a strong partnership with DEC, under the visionary guidance of Commissioner Pete Grannis, OSC will acquire the 232-acre parcel and eventually convey it to DEC. 

“OSI is thrilled to have worked with DEC on the successful protection of this outstanding recreational resource, and we’re eager to make it available for everyone to enjoy,” said Joe Martens, OSI’s President.  

Once in public ownership, this property will be available for public use and enjoyment with a formal parking area and identified angler access points. OSC acquired the property with funds from the Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Endowment.

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