The New York City Department of Environmental Protection has outlined a phased plan to reopen its boat offices throughout the city's watershed, and to start the recreational boating season at select reservoirs in the Catskills.
The opening of boat offices and the recreational boating program was delayed by several weeks this spring because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Both will open at select locations starting next week, in accordance with regional re-opening plans designated by the state, according to a Thursday media release.
The use of boats on New York City’s reservoirs is split between two programs. The first program allows the use of rowboats for fishing on all 19 of the city’s water supply reservoirs.
Each rowboat must be registered and steam-cleaned at a DEP boat office. Boat offices in Downsville and Gilboa will begin accepting appointments by phone on Tuesday, May 26, to steam clean boats that will be used and stored at Cannonsville, Pepacton or Schoharie reservoirs. Those offices will not clean boats to be used and stored at other reservoirs. The boat office in Downsville can be reached at 607-363-7009; the Gilboa office can be reached at 607-588-6231.
Anglers with a valid boat tag and a rowboat already stored alongside the reservoirs may continue to use them. The reservoirs are also open to shoreline fishing for anyone with a state fishing license and a free DEP access permit, the release said.
The second program allows the use of recreational boats — kayaks and canoes — at the Cannonsville, Neversink, Pepacton and Schoharie reservoirs. To protect water quality in those reservoirs, the recreational boating program relies on a network of trained businesses that steam-clean the boats before they are used each spring. DEP will allow the businesses to begin cleaning recreational boats on Friday, May 29. Businesses that provide pre-cleaned rental boats at the reservoirs will also be permitted to start rentals that day.
The program will begin with recreational boating at Cannonsville, Pepacton and Schoharie reservoirs only. A complete list of steam-cleaning businesses and rental vendors can be found on the Catskill Watershed Corporation website at cwconline.org/reservoir-boating/.
DEP also reminded anglers and boaters to follow guidance from federal, state and local health authorities. According to the release, those who use the reservoirs should continue to maintain physical distance from others, vigorously wash their hands or use hand sanitizer, and wear face coverings if they anticipate coming into close contact with others.