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Students Collect Inventory of Scenic Resources in the Catskills

People wearing orange safety vests on a highway shoulder taking photos of surrounding hillsides
Students (L-R) Jenna Rice, Tong Wu, Owen MacDonnell, and Quinn Otto-Moudry document an agrarian landscape along NYS Rte 23A in the Town of Catskill. photo / George Frantz

Over the weekend, students in Associate Professor George Frantz’s Land Use and Environmental Planning class traveled to the Town of Catskill, New York, to conduct field studies as part of a scenic resources inventory. The class has been conducting inventories with the financial support of the Hudson River Estuary Program since the spring semester of 2016, with an aim to protect scenic resources. This semester’s class logged some 125 miles of driving on the highways and byways of the 60-square-mile municipality, located on the Hudson River about 95 miles north of New York City.

Scenic resources are locations or features in the landscape that are viewed, visited, and enjoyed by the general public for their aesthetic quality. They can range from farm fields and orchards along local roads and highways to panoramic views toward or from hilltop locations to distinctive or historic structures and main streets to small micro-landscapes such as those found along streams.

Scenic resources can be protected in a number of ways, including through local land use regulations, vegetation management programs along roads and highways, purchase of conservation easements, and, in some instances, outright acquisition by the government or a land trust.

red barn near a body of water, immediately backed by a hill
Example of a scenic resource photograph: enclosed view of an old barn across Kaaterskill Creek backed up by a wooded hillside. photo / George Frantz

The Town of Catskill was selected for the study because of its location between the Hudson River on the east and the Catskill Mountains on the west, including parts of the New York State Catskill State Park and Catskill Preserve. A substantial number of historic structures and sites inhabit the Village of Catskill as well as rural areas and hamlets beyond the village.

In addition to their field work, students also hosted a community open house Saturday afternoon in Catskill village, during which they discussed the data collected to date and the scenic resource inventory process and solicited suggestions for scenic resources from community members.

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