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April 6, 2013

A view from above

Fire towers' views, history draw tourists


Local fire towers are well documented in several books, the best known of which is “Fire Towers of the Catskills Their History and Lore” by Martin Podskoch. Published in 2000 by Purple Mountain Press in Fleischmanns, the book includes historical and more-recent photos  along with a data and wealth of recorded oral history of the 23 original fire towers of the Catskill Mountain region. 
The personal stories Podskoch collected give insight in to the great service that fire tower rangers provided, not only with fire alerts but helping lost hikers, educating visitors on conservation and fire suppression as well as providing welcomed orientation information about views from the tower. The rangers supplied a wealth of statistical information about weather, number of visitors, vegetation and wildlife.
Information about fire towers is also collected by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, and can be found online, or by calling (845) 256-3000 to request a free brochure.  
The Catskill Center for Conservation and Development also provides information on fire towers on its website,, or by calling 652-7365. Together the DEC and CCCD helped establish the Catskill Fire Tower Project in 1997 that provides fire tower volunteer programs to rehabilitate and preserve the historical towers. 
Beyond New York state, The Forest Fire Lookout Association gives information on fire towers throughout the country on its website, 

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