In 2006, on a back porch looking out over a pristine Catskills vista, the idea for Catskill Mountainkeeper was hatched among friends. At the time, a proposal for five casinos dotting Highway 17 had been proposed as a promising economic development strategy and the sound bites were gaining momentum. Casinos, especially five of them, are incongruous with the Catskills in spirit and in operation, they thought. People should come here to soak in the great outdoors, not to flush their money down the drain in an airless conference room injected with flashing lights and cheap liquor. Even then they were well aware that casinos were not the only evil on the horizon.
Since then, Catskill Mountainkeeper, the quintessential underdog in a world of perpetual Goliaths, has succeeded time and again. Casinos. Reduced from five to just one. Extreme energy extraction. No fracking way!
They aren’t just naysayers either. They also build networks to get Catskill farmers’ vegetables to your table, including two summer farmers’ markets in Monticello and Liberty. They educate politicians. They protest. They champion. They partner. Catskill Mountainkeeper is small but mighty.
When you look out across the the Catskills — and yes, they take the same broad view of its range that I do — thank your lucky stars for Catskill Mountainkeeper. They are there, day and night, standing watch over our streams and reservoirs, our farms and our communities. Even honeybees love Mountainkeeper, as they work to protect pollinators and to promote solar power (together in a joint program).
With the Catskill Park and its Forest Preserves, Mountainkeeper created a coalition that is working to protect the park and to help it get its share of state resources. This is a daily grind for Mountainkeeper and if you’ve hiked here or splashed around in one of the cool, clear waterholes, you have Mountainkeeper to thank. Shout it from the mountaintops!
If you want to stop in on Mountainkeeper, you can visit their office in Livingston Manor. If you want to join an environmental organization that has its priorities straight and its sleeves rolled up, I encourage you to join Catskill Mountainkeeper’s Keeper program along with the likes of Farm Girl, Mark Ruffalo, John Adams (awardee of the Presidential Medal of Freedom and “the Earth’s lawyer” according to Rolling Stone Magazine), Debra Winger and more.
XOXO Farm Girl
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