Trash in/trash out

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Yes, for sure, it is beastly hot. Could stay that way for a while. 

And people need to get cool and we have beautiful streams and pools in which to do it. 

But folks who are using our facilities, like Big Deep and Little Deep, have got to stop trashing the places. 


The town has wrestled with this problem for years. It is out-of-towners? Tourists? Airbnb renters? Woodstockers? (We’d hope that it isn’t locals, who know to treat their own town a bit better. Or who know where more private out of the way swimming spots exist and stay away from the guidebook places.) 

One of the proposed solutions was to require a free permit to use the swimming holes. The Town Board approved requiring permits as a way to curb a rampant trash and noise problem at the swimming holes after town maintenance employees spent several hours cleaning garbage earlier this year. But there is a problem with it. Once you begin to regulate the usage of such places, you then accept liability. With that comes the responsibility to provide safety measures, including requiring a lifeguard, and likely furnishing bathrooms. Those measures have great expense, money that can’t simply be collected from townspeople’s property taxes. So you’d have to have considerable fees associated with the permits for the facilities, not to mention administration the entire program. 

Running into those problems some years ago, the town simply closed the facilities. Posted them with ‘no swimming’ signs. But as years passed the town decided to try again, because people wanted to go there. 

But there are a lot more people staying in town these days. Short term rentals, like Airbnb, have increased the overnight and weekend, or weeklong population of the town. The Town Board is wrestling with those expansion pains, too.

The better solution for keeping open the swimming holes is for everyone who uses them to take your trash with you when you leave. Don’t start fires, don’t build anything, don’t clog the facilities, don’t stay all day. 

Respect Woodstock, Shandaken, Olive, West Hurley and the people who live here.

There are 2 comments

  1. Lea Boyer

    Good thoughts.

    Would add that the trash comes with inappropriate use of The Big Deep and other swimming holes. Wild places were never meant to accommodate high intensity recreational use like large parties and keggers. This problem will get worse no matter how many people sleep in town. The problem is lack if land stewardship. Over accommodation always leads to destruction. “Build it and they will come” is so true. Add garbage cans people will naturally over fill them. Upscale to dumpsters and they will invite more to the party. Port-a-sans and more and more parking spaces mean the death of something beautiful.

    Stewardship allows all to have equal access while protecting the resource. Limiting parking naturally selects for short stays, less overall users in a day and less garbage. Activities like dog walking, a dip in the stream, hiking, bird watching, strolling with the family all are low intensity activities that leave almost no trace on the trail. These can be done with 4 or 5 parking spaces in the parking lot. (The other spaces need to be blocked with logs or rocks.

    The Big Deep is a totally ileagal swimming hole. It’s got high bacteria counts and has run off from the golf course. Any signs, regulations, permits that draw the town i to the question will close it in a heart beat.

    Rearanging a few logs to reduce parking spaces is legal, easy, requires no permit, ordinance, or acknowledgement by the town. Some industrious land steward could head over there tonight with a few logs and save The Big Deep.


    These swimming holes attract tourists and locals alike. If they are owned by the public, then the public has a right to enjoy them. As far as trash is concerned, it’s only common sense and decency to take out what you bring in. Regardless, there will always be fools that don’t respect simple stewardship of these precious places. However inconvenient trash pickup, parking, and noise may be, these are natural assets that belong to us all.

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