News from State Parks


May 2018, Issue 45

I love My Park Day Volunteers

I Love My Park Day, Saturday May 5th 

More than 135 state parks and historic sites are participating in the 7th annual Parks & Trails NY and New York State Parks I Love My Park Day on Saturday, May 5. Join your friends, family and neighbors and sign up today to volunteer at your favorite state park or site. From beach clean-ups to trail restoration and tree and flower plantings, hundreds of events are planned to spruce up our parks and get them ready for the summer season.

Slots are filling up, but there’s still plenty of places to volunteer. Register today

First Time Camper

First-Time Camper Weekends 
Register May 10-13 for a chance to camp! 

State Parks and Department of Environmental Conservation are again providing free First-Time Camper weekends this summer. Due to its success and high demand, the program is being expanded to seven weekends and includes a new, online lottery system selection process. The application signup period runs from May 10 to May 13. Participants will be randomly selected to fill first-time camper slots.

Families that have never camped before will have the opportunity to see if they enjoy sleeping under the stars before investing in their own gear by registering for a fully stocked campsite at select state campgrounds one weekend.

New York's First-Time Camper program makes trying camping easy by providing a turnkey camping experience for families, especially those from underserved communities that have never camped before. New campers will be provided with a family tent, sleeping bags, sleeping pads, camp chairs, lantern, and even firewood, as well as assistance from a Camping Ambassador. Learn more 

Harriman State Park School Group

Connect Kids to Parks
Adventure Feature: Field Trip to Harriman State Park 

The New York State Connect Kids to Parks Field Trip Grant Program provides funding to public schools, afterschool programs and summer camps from underserved communities throughout New York.  Since it began, Connect Kids has awarded over 2000 grants to schools and programs serving Title 1 districts, with nearly 100,000 students taking field trips to public parkland.

This spring, the Queens-based Greater Ridgewood Youth Council used Connect Kids Grant funding to support its Adventure Based Counseling (ABC) program. Participants come from schools in culturally diverse communities with limited economic and educational resources. ABC is a partnership with the New York City Police Department and the Youth Volunteer Corps. New recruits at the NYPD sign on to take trips with the students to Harriman State Park where the officers and kids take part in beautification and building efforts and in STEM activities, scavenger hunts, and nature-based activities. Programming is based out of Camp Wabenaki at Harriman State Park. Connect Kids funding is supporting 13 trips to Harriman State Park with a total of around 750 kids between April and June 2018 by defraying transportation and program costs.

Inspired? Teachers and program directors can apply now for spring and summer field trips. Visit for information.

Wifi Event at Gantry Plaza State Park

Free Public Wi-Fi Expanded to More State Parks

Free public Wi-Fi will be available at Gantry Plaza in Queens, Roberto Clemente in the Bronx, Bear Mountain State Park in the Hudson Valley, and additional locations at Niagara Falls State Park in Western New York this season, thanks to a partnership with Toyota and American Park Network. The expansion builds on the free public Wi-Fi now at Jones Beach, Robert Moses, Niagara Falls, Saratoga Spa and East River State Parks.

The service – called Oh, Ranger! Wi-Fi™ allows park visitors to access the service by simply selecting the Oh, Ranger! Wi-Fi network on their device and accepting the standard terms and conditions.

In addition to providing free connectivity for millions of visitors, the Toyota-supported public Wi-Fi can help educate visitors, identify park visitation patterns, generate awareness of upcoming programs and events, serve as an operations management tool, and promote volunteerism and park Friends groups like the Natural Heritage Trust that support New York State Parks. Learn more

Walkway Over the Hudson

State Park Revitalization Gets Green Light

Funding for Governor Cuomo’s NY Parks 2020 initiative to upgrade and repair state parks and historic sites was approved in the 2018-19 State Budget. The recently adopted budget allocates $90 million for capital projects to modernize the state’s parks and historic sites, and repair critical infrastructure. The Budget also continues EPF funding at $300 million, the highest level in the history of the state, which helps support State Parks in numerous ways, including open space protection, the Connect Kids to Parks Field Trip Grant Program, and assistance to our Friends Groups. Learn More


New for 2018! Online Golf Reservations at Many Courses!

Booking a tee time is now easier than ever at many New York State Park golf courses with a new online reservation system.  It’s easy! Just register once to create an account and then login to check availability and make a tee time at any of the 18 participating courses across the state.  Register now at and then hit the links! 

Bethpage Black PGA 2019

A Major Opportunity: 2019 PGA Championship at Bethpage Black

The 101st PGA Championship will be held May 13 – 19, 2019 at Bethpage State Park's Black Course in Farmingdale, NY.  The PGA invites you now to register for a coveted volunteer position on one of the many committees that will make this Championship a success.  All volunteer positions will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. The earlier you complete your online application, the better your chances are of securing a position on your favorite committee.  BONUS: Volunteer for 2019 and secure your chance to welcome the 2024 Ryder Cup. Learn more at

NY State Park Police  Graduation

Welcome to Our New Park Police Officers

State Parks congratulates our 27 Park Police Officers who recently graduated from the New York State park police training academy. The new officers are already keeping 71 million annual park visitors safe while protecting the natural and historic treasures of the park system.

View the list of graduates and special award winners here.

Grafton Welcome Center

Year-Round Welcome Space for Grafton Lakes State Park Visitors

A new Welcome Center will greet visitors to Grafton Lakes State Park, providing sustainably designed public gathering space for improved educational, recreational and volunteer programming at the Rensselaer County park. The center features exhibit areas to highlight the park’s ecology, an outdoor patio with terraced seating and fire pit as well as an indoor wood-burning hearth, and an adjacent playground with a replica of the park’s Dickinson Hill fire tower and a boardwalk trail to the beach. The project is part of Governor Cuomo’s NY Parks 2020 program to revitalize the state park system. Read More

Jeff Carson

Behind the Scenery with Jeff Carson, Green Lakes State Park

How long have you been with the agency?   Four and a half years

What does someone in your position do?   I have been a PGA Golf Professional since 2009. As PGA professionals, we promote and grow the game of golf. At Green Lakes State Park Golf Course, we develop the game through individual lessons, group lessons and junior camps. Other duties include merchandising, supervising leagues and tournaments, tournament and golf handicap software management, and other day-to-day operations. As a busy public golf course, we house 16 leagues and have over 200 rounds of golf per day during the peak season.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever seen or done? Earlier in my golf career I started giving golf lessons to a 9-year old junior golfer, and did so for a few years. Today she plays Division 1 golf for LeMoyne College.

Is there a destination in the park system you’d recommend to someone?   Growing up in the Southern Tier of New York, my family visited Watkins Glen State Park occasionally. There is nothing more beautiful than the natural gorges you see there. I still go back to that park to this day just to experience its natural beauty.

What inspired you to work in the parks? Chenango Valley State Park is where I started my career with parks. I really loved the beauty of all the historic buildings in the park. The golf course design winds through the woods and lies right in the Chenango Valley near the Chenango River. The golf course really is a wildlife sanctuary.