By Jeff Senterman, Director of Catskill Conservation Corps & Trail Conference Senior Program Coordinator
Since its launch in June, the Catskill Conservation Corps (CCC) has been hard at work bettering the outdoor experience in the Catskill Mountains. The CCC is a partnership between the Trail Conference and the New York State Dept. of Environmental Conservation (DEC) that provides volunteer opportunities to the public on projects that protect natural resources and enhance outdoor recreation opportunities in the Catskills while helping the DEC manage volunteers throughout the region.
The CCC website and presence on Facebook and Twitter were quickly established to help spread the word. (Six press releases have also been generated since June to promote the Corps.) The CCC’s first workshop focused on volunteer leadership training. Work trips tackled trail building at the future site of the Catskill Interpretive Center and litter cleanup at Kaaterskill Falls and along Route 23A in Kaaterskill Clove. An appreciation picnic was held for all Catskill volunteers in October; at the event, we were able to thank many people for their service to trails, lean-tos, and the natural and recreational resources of the Catskill Mountains.
The CCC is working closely with the DEC to develop and prioritize future workshops and work trips to ensure a steady stream of opportunities and training for volunteers in the region. It is our hope that the CCC will increase its support of all volunteer activities on state lands in the Catskills, including the work of the Trail Conference and others, such as the Catskill Center’s Fire Tower Steward Program. The CCC provides an opportunity for all organizations who have a volunteer agreement with the DEC to promote their activities and inform the public about the many ways that volunteers support natural and recreational resources in the Catskill Mountains.
Since launching the Corps, we have heard from dozens of new volunteers through the CCC website and outreach events. These volunteers have participated in everything from trail crew work with the Trail Conference, to Fire Tower stewardship opportunities, to invasive species work. Even more people have asked to be kept up to date with what the CCC is doing in the Catskills.
Thanks to the DEC contract that created the CCC, the Trail Conference has been able to expand its staff in the Catskills. We have hired a new Catskills Assistant Program Coordinator, Heather Rolland, whose job is to assist in the day-to-day operations of the CCC and better support our existing volunteers in the Catskills. In 2015 we look forward to moving into a new, dedicated office space for our staff to further support the Trail Conference’s Catskills Community Trails Program and the CCC.
Catskill Conservation Corps Director Jeff Senterman has been working with a number of partners and other organizations to make the CCC a success. He was most recently on radio station WIOX during their Catskill Chronicle program discussing the CCC and reaching out to the public to get involved.
If you’d like to learn more about the Catskill Conservation Corps and be contacted about volunteer opportunities and news throughout the Catskills, please visit catskillconservationcorps.org/volunteer and submit the form with your information. We will be in touch shortly afterwards with the info you request and will add you to the electronic mailing list for CCC updates.