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Cannonsville Recreational Boating Pilot Program


In 2008 DEP began developing a 3 year pilot program to expand recreational boating opportunities at the Cannonsville Reservoir. The purpose of the program is to improve regional recreational opportunities for watershed residents and visitors and to promote environmentally sound economic development. Previous to this program only qualifying metal row-boats could be used for the purpose of fishing only and once cleaned and registered had to remain at the reservoir. A committee was formed to initiate the development of the pilot program and was made up of many stakeholders. The committee used a collaborative, consensus building approach as it studied the issues and constructed the program. The committee analyzed the mission, researched facts, conducted site visits, developed and analyzed alternatives, and formulated their recommendations. The committee sought and obtained input from numerous stakeholders at invitational meetings and throughout the process. The committee considered all input from all sources to better refine the program. The first season for this pilot program was in 2009. The 2010 boating season (as described below) will be the second season of the pilot program.

Pilot Program Summary

  • Who may participate? – any person with a valid NYCDEP Access Permit or Guest Pass
  • What is allowed? – participants with a valid NYCDEP boat tag can conduct recreational boating using rowboats, canoes, kayaks, sculls and small sailboats. Boat tags are available from several local vendors (see link below to authorized steam cleaning vendors). Recreational boating includes but is not limited to fishing with a valid NYS fishing license. See the link to the Recreational Rules for complete information on the program rules
  • Where is this pilot program? – this program is at the NYC Cannonsville Reservoir in Delaware County launching from one of 9 designated sites. See program brochure and/or use area map links below.
  • When can you participate? – daily from sunrise to sunset starting the Friday of Memorial Day weekend through Columbus Day each year 2009-2011.

2009 Season Summary

May 22nd, 2009 opened the first season of this pilot program. Overall the first season was a resounding success and 407 boat tags were issued to 185 permit holders with the majority of the permit holders from outside of Delaware County. Of the 407 boat tags issued 276 were for kayaks, 106 for canoes, 19 for rowboats and 6 for small sailboats. Program participants submitted positive comments to the local media (insert link here), there were no significant impacts from program violations, rescues, vandalism or refuse. Most importantly, early indications are that there were no negative impacts to water quality which is a key program objective (a comprehensive analysis of the water quality data collected during 2009 is currently in progress). As a result of the early success and stakeholder input the area of the reservoir open to recreational boating will be expanded westward from the Cannonsville Bridge to 500 feet from the Cannonsville Dam opening up approximately 5 more square miles of reservoir and 10 more miles of shoreline to program participants. This additional area will be open to all recreational boating authorized watercraft including small sailboats. A new launch site will be constructed at Roods Creek (see map) to support this westward expansion.

Study Consultant

This past fall the Catskill Watershed Corporation contracted with Mathew D. Rudikoff Associates, Inc. (MDRA) to conduct a study of the pilot program. The purpose of the study is to determine the degree of success of the program in meeting its mission to improve regional recreational opportunities while promoting economic development in an environmentally sound manner. The study consultants have begun to collect baseline and first season data and will provide annual interim reports and a final report in 2012.

Program Brochure

A brochure has been developed to provide additional information including program details, a map and a list of steam cleaning vendors. You may wish to print the brochure however these are also available at the steam cleaning vendors, reservoir launch site kiosks and various other outlets.

Personal Flotation Device (PFD) Requirements

It is a requirement to have a wearable Personal Flotation Device (PFD) for each person on the boat. Children under the age of 12 must wear them. For your own safety we highly encourage you to wear your US Coast Guard approved wearable PFD. Floating seat cushions do not satisfy the "wearable PFD" requirement.


Recreational boating will be allowed annually from Memorial Day weekend to Columbus Day weekend. This program began in 2009 and will last 3 seasons concluding in October 2011 after which the pilot program will be evaluated for potential permanent implementation and potential expansion to other reservoirs.

Allowed Vessels

Several different types of watercraft including kayaks, canoes, rowboats, sculls and sailboats may be used and launched from several specified sites around the reservoir. Canoes, sculls, sailboats with removable center/dagger boards and rowboats must be at least eleven feet five inches (11'5") in length and kayaks must be at least nine feet (9') in length.

Launch Sites and Use Areas

Launch sites were coordinated with the NYSDEC to prevent conflict with nesting eagles and were coordinated with the NYSDOT for public safety for access along NYS Route 10. Signs will be installed along the road to help identify launch areas, see below for an example of one of these signs.

At this time, the entire reservoir will not be open for this recreational boating pilot program. The map below identifies the various launch sites and use areas.

The bounds of the use areas are designated by signs. Look for these signs along the reservoir shoreline and please do not go beyond these points.

DEP Access Permits and Recreational Boat Tags

Individuals 16 years and older wishing to participate will be required to obtain a DEP Access Permit. You will be asked to show your DEP Access Permit (or apply for one on the spot if you don’t have one) in order to be given a Recreational Boat Tag Application. This application must be completed and upon doing so, you will then be eligible to have your vessel steam cleaned. Below is a printable version of the Recreational Boat Tag Application you may print and complete.

All vessels, including oars, paddles and sails, must be steam cleaned before they are placed on the reservoir. This can be done at a variety of DEP-approved private vendors (for Temporary Passes 1-7 days)or at the DEP Downsville office (for Full Season Passes). A list of DEP-approved vendors is below.

Upon having your boat steam cleaned by a DEP-approved vendor or the DEP Downsville office, you will be given a Recreation Boat Tag to place on your boat. This tag must remain on your boat while on the reservoir. Examples of the 2009 boat tags are below.

Recreational Boating Rules

Recreational Boating Rules are covered in the Rules for the Recreational Use of Water Supply Lands and Waters:

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