Park Connect: January 2017

Header January 2017

January 2017, Issue 34

Rose snowmobiling

Message from Commissioner Harvey to our Friends, Volunteers and Partners

Dear Friends,

As a new year begins I would like to extend my deepest appreciation to you for your unwavering dedication, commitment and partnership to making our state parks and historic sites the very best they can be.

We have so much to celebrate. Our visitors are experiencing first-hand the renaissance and transformation of our magnificent park system.  Throughout the summer, Governor Cuomo and Lieutenant Governor Hochul visited State parks and historic sites nineteen times to dedicate and admire new and improved park facilities from athletic fields, trails, visitor and nature centers to restored historic sites, reopened bathhouses, gardens and re-established dunes, forests, and meadows. All of these improvements have been made possible by our collective efforts and funding.

And with this capital revitalization, it is your programs, ambassadors, events and expertise that leverage our ability to teach outdoor recreational skills, to interpret our history, to provide amenities like concerts, food and lodging so that everyone can fully enjoy and connect to our parks and historic sites. Our partnership helps deepen the visitors’ experience, connect parks and people and incorporate recreation, nature and history into our daily lives. Read more 

empire trail

Governor Cuomo Proposes 750-Mile Empire State Trail

Governor Cuomo proposed completing the Hudson River Valley Greenway and Erie Canalway trails by 2020 to create the Empire State Trail, the largest state multi-use trail in the nation. The state will develop 350 miles of new trail to create a statewide pathway for hiking and biking along scenic vistas and through charming, historic communities. The Empire State Trail would span from the New York Harbor up through the Adirondack Mountains to the Canadian border – and from the shores of Lake Erie along the historic Erie Canal to the heart of the Capital Region. Learn more


Sixth Annual First Day Hikes Welcome Record Numbers: Nearly 4,000 hikers kick off the New Year in the outdoors

On New Year’s Day, state parks and historic sites welcomed 3,974 people to the popular First Day Hikes program held across New York.  Participants at the 50 host locations hiked a total of 7,903 miles as they celebrated the first day of 2017 in the outdoors.  From smaller groups to the hundreds who showed up at several larger parks, hikers of all ages enjoyed camaraderie, mild weather and the expertise of park staff and volunteers.

 This year's programs included a seal walk, guided history tours, snowshoe waterfall hike, pet-friendly treks, gorge walks, canal artifacts, nature detectives and more.  New hikes were held at the Jones Beach boardwalk, Gilbert Lake's wilderness trail, Green Lakes' hike around the lakes, Seneca Lake and the Cayuga-Seneca Canal, exploring Grafton's lakes and following along the Old Croton Aqueduct.

 In its sixth year, First Day Hikes is part of a national effort to connect people with the outdoors, discover a new park  -- or visit an old favorite -- and partake in a healthy, family-friendly activity.   Mark your calendars and celebrate with us next year!

wildwood cabin

Vacation Cabins and Cottages Coming to Long Island

The new rentals are being built at Wildwood State Park on the Long Island Sound and Heckscher State Park on the Great South Bay. The high-quality overnight lodging will provide visitors with a hub to visit the region's beaches, wineries, and cultural destinations.

The cottages will feature both one- and two-bedroom units, as well as a bathroom, kitchenette, screened outdoor porch and furnishings. Construction on the Wildwood State Park cabins will take place first and should be completed for the 2018 season. Read More

allegany VIDEO pic

Winter Adventure Calls

From cross-country skiing to ice skating to snowmobiling, there’s a lot to do in winter in New York. Visit our calendar of events for ideas about fun things to do in state parks.

Governor Cuomo is also welcoming visitors to New York’s snowmobile trails.  The state’s annual free snowmobiling weekend will be held in communities statewide on Friday, February 3, through Sunday, February 5, for all out-of-state and Canadian snowmobilers. Registration fees will be waived for properly registered and insured out-of-state snowmobiling enthusiasts wishing to explore New York’s 10,500 miles of trails. 


Saratoga Spa State Park to Get Creekside Classroom

Saratoga Spa State Park is transforming an unused building near Geyser Creek into a new multi-purpose facility featuring an indoor classroom for the park's environmental education programming. The classroom will be a great place for visitors to learn about the park’s famous springs and “spouters.” The facility will also include an outdoor fire ring with seating, a rain garden area and benches, and serve as a warming hut during the winter months. The project is scheduled to be completed for Summer 2017. Once the project is completed, the classroom will provide the necessary multi-purpose space to host school groups for all types of events. The project was made available through Governor Cuomo's NY Parks 2020 Program. Read More


Connect Kids to Parks

Teachers! Thinking about a spring field trip to a state park or historic site?  Check out our Connect Kids to Parks Transportation Grant program. For more information on eligibility and an application visit:

connie barone

Behind the Scenery with Connie Barone

Site Manager, Sackets Harbor Battlefield State Historic Site

 How long have you been with the agency? Since 2002, after serving 24 years as director of a history museum in New York’s Southern Tier.

 What does someone in your position do? My role as Site Manager focuses on the property’s preservation and interpretation through guided tours, living history costumed interpretation, hosting groups, research, collections, interactive exhibits, collaborating with a variety of partners and buildings and grounds maintenance and restoration.

What’s one of the coolest thing you’ve ever seen or done? Years planning the War of 1812 Bicentennial Crown Forces monument, with so many partners in the US, Canada and Britain, culminated in the monument’s dedication August 2013. Hosting representatives from each nation, the re-enactors, and today’s military, truly epitomized the authentic story of the Sackets site.

Is there a destination at the site you’d recommend to someone? One of my favorite places at Sackets is on the shore at the Navy Yard by the former stable building with Black River Bay in view, but looking west at the expanse of Lake Ontario. I’ve seen dramatic weather patterns, watched eagles soar and observed a mink bounding along the rocky shore.  

What inspired you to work in the park system? After years being away from my home, Sackets Harbor, it was a surprise to learn of an employment opportunity in my career field right on the property where my mother grew up! In fact, my office is in my mother’s former bedroom! Being the current caretaker for the site has brought me many incredible experiences.