December 2017, Park Connect

December 2017  |  Issue 42

Schunnemunk State Park

New York Adds Public Parkland in the Hudson Valley

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo recently announced the addition of 400 acres to Schunnemunk State Park in Orange County, increasing the size of the scenic park to 3,300 acres. Schunnemunk State Park offers more than 20 miles of trails with stunning ridge-top views of the Hudson Highlands to the east, and the Shawangunks and Catskills to the west. The new parcel will expand of the region's recreational trail network, preserve scenic views, protect the area from overdevelopment, and expand New York’s rich tradition of environmental stewardship. Read more

First Day Hikes

Celebrate the New Year Outdoors with a First Day Hike

Kick off the New Year by exploring the outdoors at one of the 75 “First Day Hikes” being held at state parks, historic sites, wildlife areas, forest preserves and trails across the Empire State on January 1.  First Day Hikes have become a popular tradition for families and friends to celebrate the New Year amidst the stunning beauty of our state’s most scenic places.  Guided hikes will be hosted by New York State Parks and the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) as part of the seventh annual First Day Hikes program. 

Many host sites will be offering refreshments, giveaways and a drawing for a 2018 Empire Pass.  For details about hike locations, length, terrain and registration visit:

2017 Preservation Awards

2017 New York State Historic Preservation Awards

The New York State Preservation Awards are given each year to honor excellence in the protection and rejuvenation of New York's historic and cultural resources. The 2017 winners include four distinctive rehabilitation projects, a neighborhood organization, and the Women’s Suffrage Commission. The awards demonstrate the ways historic preservation is an important tool for community renewal, economic development and job growth in New York. Read more  

NY State Parks Playgrounds

Twelve New Playgrounds Coming to State Parks

Playgrounds encourage families with children to engage in healthy, active and creative play, and nurture a love of parks and recreation. That’s why New York has committed $2.6 million to build or improve 12 playgrounds at 10 State Parks across the state - as part of a goal to modernize 100 State Park playgrounds as part of Governor  Cuomo’s NY Park 2020 initiative. Under the initiative, State Parks will replace outdated playgrounds at the parks with modern, code-compliant equipment, improve accessibility for children with disabilities, and create distinct areas for young and older age groups. Playground improvements will be coupled with site improvements, including shade trees or canopies, seating, water fountains and walkways. Learn more.   

Empire Pass Card

Resolved: Save Money and Spend More Time Outdoors

Looking for more outdoors adventure in the New Year? The 2018 annual Empire Pass Card is now available online for the discounted price of $65 through March 31, 2018. The annual pass provides unlimited day-use entry to more than 250 individual state parks, historic sites, recreational trails, boat launches and more. The wallet-sized plastic card can also be shared among family members including parents, grandparents, caregivers and more. After the sale, the Empire Pass Card will be available for its regular price of $80. Learn more

Montauk Point Light House

Light Your Way to a State Parks Lighthouse

From Lake Erie to Montauk Point, State Parks are home to six historic lighthouses. Check out these unique lighthouses and plan a visit. Read More

Allegany State Park Volunteers

Volunteer Project Spotlight: Allegany State Park Trails

In 2017, Allegany State Park launched a trail steward program to work with volunteer crews to construct new and improve existing trails throughout the park. The program has trained volunteer trail stewards who over the last year have overseen more than 2300 hours of volunteer efforts by over 260 volunteers.  In addition to individual projects, several large trail volunteer days were held at the park including on I Love My Park Day; National Trails Day; Salamanca High School Work Day; and National Public Lands Day. 

Collectively, in just one year the Allegany trail volunteers volunteers have:

  • Installed 3,400 trail markers trail markers
  • Cleared 293 trees from trails
  • Brushed, cleared and signed 206 miles of trail           
  • Installed or replaced 20 wooden and stone trail structures  
  • Resurfaced 2.5 miles of trail with fabric and gravel
  • Installed 24 wooden directional signs at trail intersections
  • Installed 20 “Share the Road” horse signs on seasonal roads
  • Cleared 23 miles of ditch 
  • Installed 400 feet of raised puncheon and turnpike 

Anita Pidala, Director, National Purple Heart Hall of Honor

Behind the Scenery with Anita Pidala, Director, The National Purple Heart Hall of Honor

How long have you been with the agency? I began working for the Agency in 2005 and have had the honor to be a part of the Hall’s development since it first opened to the public on November 10, 2006.

What does someone in your position do? Although my position as Director requires me to focus on responsibilities, I like to take as many opportunities as I can to spend time in the galleries.  I look forward to those opportunities to observe the visitor experience and connect with them.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever seen or done? Getting the opportunity to play such an integral role in the redesign of our exhibit galleries which were unveiled in August of 2015.  I was excited to be able to select some of the stories and objects for display which had special meaning to me due to my personal connections with visitors to the Hall.

Is there a destination in the park/region you’d recommend to someone? We would love for you to visit the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor and, while you are in the area, plan on visiting the New Windsor Cantonment State Historic Site, Knox’s Headquarters and Washington’s Headquarters

What inspired you to work in the park system? Having worked for a nonprofit for over 20 years, the idea of working at the Hall of Honor in support of its mission to collect, preserve and share the stories of Purple Heart recipients really resonated with me personally.

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