September News

Allegany State Park

September 2019, Issue 56

Camping Discount

Camping Discount Extended to October 14th 

There is still time to visit some State Parks campgrounds this fall, as well as to use a half-off discount on visits and stays at campsites in the Lake Ontario and St. Lawrence River regions.

Since Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the 50 percent discount Aug. 1 on fees at more than 30 campgrounds, parks and boat launches, nearly 6,600 new camping reservations have been made at the eligible campgrounds, drawing an additional 23,000 visitors to the flood-affected region. Learn more.  This offer is valid for select campsites only, 2-night minimum.  Promotion details. 

Genesee Valley Greenway and Niagara Shoreline Trail

Trail Improvement Projects Supported by Ralph C. Wilson Jr. Foundation grant

Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid went to the Genesee Valley region in August to announce that two multi-use trails in western New York - the Genesee Valley Greenway and Niagara Shoreline Trail - will see millions of dollars of improvements.

A $6.4 million grant from the not-for-profit Wilson Foundation, created after the 2014 death of Wilson, the former owner of the Buffalo Bills and a co-founder of the American Football League, should leverage about $19.1 million in total investment by state and local governments in the two trail systems.

Both the Genesee Valley and Niagara projects will also strengthen significant connections to the Empire State Trail, a statewide project announced in January 2017 by Governor Cuomo. Scheduled to be completed by the end of 2020, the Empire State Trail will be a continuous 750-mile route spanning the state from New York City to Canada and Buffalo to Albany, creating the longest multi-use state trail in the nation.

Plans for the Genesee Valley Greenway, a 90-mile former canal towpath and railway bed in Monroe, Livingston, Wyoming, Allegany and Cattaraugus counties that has been a State Parks multi-use trail since 2011, call for $6.5 million in trail resurfacing and other improvements. Four projects totaling $4.1 million, including new trails, are planned for the Niagara Shoreline Trail, which is envisioned to connect Lake Erie and Lake Ontario. Learn more.

First Annual Get Together Day Celebrates Community and Inclusion at State Parks

Get Together Day 2019

In September, seven parks from across the state welcomed people with and without developmental disabilities together for fun, healthful activities that encouraged everyone’s participation regardless of level of ability while showcasing the ever-increasing range of accessible opportunities available at state parks.

Working with the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and Special Olympics New York, park staff, offered special programs including tours, nature walks, bocce, kayaking and fitness activities.

Between 700 and 1,000 people were estimated to have attended the various events held at Sunken Meadow, Denny Farrell Riverbank, Franklin D. Roosevelt, John Boyd Thacher, Green Lakes, Letchworth, and Buffalo Harbor State Parks. 

Holocaust Survivors Gather at Fort Ontario

Holocaust Survivors Gather at Fort Ontario for 75th Reunion

More than 600 people gathered at the Fort Ontario State Historic Site in August to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the opening of the only sanctuary on U.S. soil for survivors of the Holocaust during World War II.

Of the nearly 1,000 weary refugees who arrived at the military base at Oswego on Aug. 5, 1944, no more than 35 remain alive. Now in their mid-70s to 90s, nineteen former camp residents attended the memorial ceremony with family and friends.

The camp was created by President Franklin Roosevelt to shelter European refugees who had escaped Nazi genocide. Its residents were predominantly Jewish, but also included more than 100 Catholics, Orthodox and Protestants. Learn about this and other stories at the NY State Parks Blog

Ganondagan State Historic Site

Learn more State Offers $1 Million to Volunteer Groups for State Parks Improvements

State Parks is offering a total in $1 million in grants to  “friends’ groups” to support improvement projects at parks, trails, historic sites and public lands.

That’s double the previous amount under the grant program, which is now its fifth round of funding and is supported by the state Environmental Protection Fund. Applications for grants are due Dec. 3, with awards expected to be announced in March 2020.

In partnership with Parks & Trails New York, the grant program is open to groups with a mission of preservation, stewardship, promotion, education, or maintenance of a State Park, trail, historic site or land under the jurisdiction of State Parks or the NY State Dept. of Environmental Conservation. Learn more.

Walt Whitman Postage Stamp

Commissioner Erik Kulleseid Helps Launch New Walt Whitman Postage Stamp

Commissioner Kulleseid was among dignitaries at a U.S. Postal Service event in September at the Walt Whitman Birthplace State Historic Site in Huntington Station, Long Island.

The commissioner visited the 1819 farmhouse to take part in honoring the 200th anniversary of Whitman’s birth with the unveiling of a new 85-cent postage stamp featuring an image of the 19th century iconic American poet. The stamp is part of the Postal Service’s Literary Arts series.

According to Commissioner Kulleseid, Whitman’s message of equality, tolerance, and the idea that all people are of the natural world, not separate from it, rings just as true today as when it was written. Whitman is known for his iconic “Leaves of Grass,” which was first released in 1855, and subsequently revised and expanded by the poet throughout his life. 
Learn more.

Boating Safety

Boating Safety to Improve with New State Law

A new measure known as Brianna’s Law requires all operators of motorized watercraft to complete a state-approved safety course by 2025.

Signed into law in August by Governor Cuomo, the law is named after Brianna Lieneck, an 11-year-old Long Island girl who was killed in a 2005 boating accident.

Under the law’s phase-in, all motor boat operators born on or after Jan. 1, 1993 must complete a safety course to operate a motor boat beginning in 2020. Those born after Jan. 1, 1988 must complete a safety course beginning in 2022. Those born on or after Jan. 1, 1983 must complete a safety course beginning in 2023. Those born on or after Jan. 1, 1978 must complete a safety course beginning in 2024. The requirement would extend to all motor boat operators beginning in 2025, regardless of age. Learn more 

Volunteer Spotlight

Volunteer Spotlight: Bruce McFarland

Hometown: Waterford Park
Friends of Moreau Lake State Park

A member of the Friends of Moreau Lake State Park for three years, Bruce started volunteering at the park about 18 months ago.

During that time, he has tackled a wide variety of projects – building kayak rental storage racks, repairing the concession stand fence, replacing and staining boards on benches, and remarking and clearing trails.

When visitors take guided trips, Bruce has gone along as the “sweep” ensuring everyone in the group stays together. He has built outdoor turtle boxes for the Nature Center, power washed the beach bathhouse building before the season, and painted the outside of Nature Center and inside the concession stand. When the concession manager was out sick this summer, he helped manage the stand so it could stay open.

When asked why he pitches in so much, Bruce’s answer is simple: He wants to help make the park look good, and enjoys working with the maintenance team.

Staff Spotlight

Behind the Scenery

Matthew Brincka, Invasive Species Biologist

How long have you been working with the agency? I started as a volunteer from 2008-2012 at Green Lakes State Park and Clark Reservation State Park in the newly created F.O.R.C.E.S. program, where I educated school groups and removing invasive species. After traveling and working in Colorado and Washington state, I moved back to New York in 2016 to work with New York State Parks as an Ocean & Great Lakes Educator, where I coordinated the agency’s Boat Steward Program out of the Albany office, and in 2018, I moved into the Invasive Species Biologist position in Albany

What does someone in your position do? I oversee the Invasive Species Unit (ISU) within the Division of Environmental Stewardship and Planning. The unit aids in the coordination of statewide invasive species initiatives with our partners, work with regions and partners to develop and implement invasive species management plans, and oversee three statewide programs focused on invasive species prevention, detection, and treatment: Boat Stewards, Strike Teams, and Forest Health Specialists. These duties lead me to all corners of the state. For example, in a typical month I may be visiting a park doing a site visit to help plan invasive species treatments in Long Island, survey for hemlock woolly adelgid in the Finger Lakes, provide a training on Spotted Lanternfly identification/reporting to the public or park staff, or participate on a statewide steering committee meeting for watercraft inspections

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever seen or done? Whether it is the connecting with history and marveling over the unique architecture of Olana, being the only person at the remote Awosting Lake in Minnewaska, or being able to protect an endangered species through invasive species management, each experience provides its own sense of excitement.

Is there a destination in the park/region you’d recommend to someone? It is hard to pick a single park/region because each is so unique! I’ve found myself always reflecting on a lesson I learned young while fly fishing with my father and grandfather: fishing isn’t about the size or number of fish you catch – although it is always fun to “out-fish” the family – but rather the experience gained while standing in the stream, absorbing nature’s masterpiece. In a way, that is my recommendation: make sure to stop and appreciate what surrounds you!

What inspired you to work/volunteer in the park system?  I owe my deep passion for the outdoors to my parents, who have taught me not only to explore this world, but to appreciate every aspect of nature and culture. Working for state parks just seemed like the natural fit!