Thanks for your letter, Mr. [Kevin] Case, [Mohonk Preserve President and Chief Executive Officer]. Glad you are on the team and look forward to your tenure. I am a long-time member and live in New Paltz and wanted to share my thoughts with you on the Mohonk Preserve closure.
I am disappointed and think that is was a mistake, and one that leaves our community without a major outdoor resource. I do understand the concerns — social distancing, large crowds, parking issues, staff issues and so on. However, all the local rail-trails are open — the River-to-Ridge Trail is open, state parks are open, including Minnewaska. In short all county, state, and not-for-proﬁt sites are open except the Mohonk Preserve.
Highly used sites that cannot be managed, like Kaaterskill Falls, are closed, which makes perfect sense. However, Mohonk has limited parking (hence limited access), over 100 miles of carriage roads and trails, and 8000 acres. The move to close was done quickly and early, and I understand the staff felt overwhelmed. Now some time has gone by, perhaps a plan can emerge on how to re-open.
Some ideas include, limiting access to highly used spots like Split Rock, opening for free and no checking cards by staff like at Minnewaska. Or opposite, limit use to members only, have police enforce parking regulations so no parking outside Mohonk’s designated areas. In this way, the number of users could not be more than the parking spots.
I am sure the preserve could develop such a reopening plan.
In closing, the preserve used governor [Andrew] Cuomo’s stay-inside guidelines as justification to close. However, what the governor actually said was stay inside, and when going out limit your activities to walking and hiking, not playing basketball.
You can start your tenure as a hero and bring our outdoor resource back. It has never been needed more.