News from State Parks

John Boyd Thacher State Park

April 2021  •  Issue 64 

I Love My Park Day 2021

I Love My Park Day Returns For 2021

In partnership with Parks & Trails New York, New York State announced that registration is open for the tenth annual I Love My Park Day, which will be held May 1-2 at 120 state Parks, historic sites, and other public lands across New York.  Press release

From Long Island to Western New York, volunteers will celebrate their natural heritage by cleaning up debris, planting trees and gardens, restoring trails and wildlife habitats, removing invasive species, and working on various site improvement projects. Due to COVID-19, registration will be limited to 50 people per site per day to create a safe and enjoyable experience for all volunteers. All projects will adhere to the proper social distancing and masking requirements. Event Registration

The event is sponsored by Parks & Trails New York, the NY State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation. 
Empire State Trail Boilermaker Challenge logo

Boilermaker Partners With New York State For  Challenge Along Empire State Trail

New York State is joining with organizers of the nationally-known Boilermaker race in Utica to promote the “Empire State Trail Challenge” a four-month virtual race to run, walk or bicycle segments of the new 750-mile Empire State Trail. Press release

Participants would complete at least one of three trail segments – the 210-mile Hudson Valley Trail from New York City to Albany; the 350-mile Erie Canalway Trail from Albany to Buffalo; or the 190-mile Champlain Valley Trail from Albany to Rouses Point at the Canadian border.

The Boilermaker Empire State Trail Challenge is a four-month virtual race through July 31. Participants can register now and begin logging their miles walking, running or cycling on Friday, April 9.  Although people are encouraged to the explore the actual Empire State Trail, participants can run, walk, or ride anywhere -- on local trails and running/bicycling routes near where they live -- to log and complete the challenge.

There is a $25 registration fee for the initial leg, and a $5 fee for each additional leg. For Information and to registration visit: The Boilermaker, Empire State Trail Challenge

Autism Nature Trail - project rendering

Autism Nature Trail Coming to Letchworth State Park

Construction is under way at Letchworth State Park on a first-of-its-kind nature trail designed specifically for people with autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and other developmental disabilities.

Expected to open later this summer, the mile-long Autism Nature Trail (ANT) will feature eight sensory stations offering a range of experiences from quiet engagement to active exploration and adventure. The stations are meant to address the sensory needs of people with ASD, a range of conditions characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication.

Planned stations include the Sunshine Slope – a gentle sloping maze in a natural clearing, the Music Circle – a circular grove of pine featuring nature-inspired instruments, and the Meadow Run & Climb – a dedicated space for running, jumping, climbing, balancing, and testing strength, coordination and confidence. Specialized elements like cuddle swings, gliders, and "alone zones" are also planned for the trail, each created with the intent of providing a more inclusive environment for visitors of many different needs and abilities. Press release

Fundraising is supported by partners including private volunteers, Natural Heritage Trust, Camp Puzzle Peace, and Perry Central School District
Camping Guidebook Cover

The 2021 New York State Camping Guide is Here!

Craving more outdoors? Looking for inspiration to plan your next overnight adventure? The 2021 New York State Camping Guide digital version has just been released and is a helpful online tool to explore the120 campgrounds operated by New York State Parks and the Department of Environmental Conservation. This accessible digital flip-book version features photos, amenities, information on how to reserve a stay, a statewide map, and more!

With15,000 campsites for tents and RVs, and more than 800 cabins, cottages, yurts, and a lighthouse, campers can choose from tranquil tent sites in the woods to boat-access-only waterfront sites to luxe cottages, and everything in between. Many campgrounds are conveniently located near day-use parks, trails, historic sites, golf courses, and other family-friendly destinations offering outdoor fun and relaxation for the coming season. Book your next getaway now!

Four Freedoms State Park

Accessibility Improvements Being Added to FDR Four Freedoms State Park

Work to expand accessibility has started at Franklin D. Roosevelt Four Freedoms State Park in New York City.

Under a $1 million project scheduled to conclude in late spring, work will include a new incline platform lift at the granite Grand Stairway and renovation of two stone pathways to enhance accessibility.

FDR Four Freedoms State Park is wheelchair accessible. Wheelchairs are also available for visitor use free of charge at the State Park entrance booth.

Designed in 1973 by architect Louis Kahn and completed in 2012, the four-acre memorial is located on the southern tip of Roosevelt Island in New York City. The park champions universal human rights as defined by President Roosevelt in his January 6, 1941 "Four Freedoms" speech. Press release

Ocean Parkway Coastal Greenway

Ocean Parkway Coastal Greenway Completed 

The final section of the Ocean Parkway Coastal Greenway on the southern shoreline of Long Island has opened to cyclists, runners, skaters and walkers.

This segment is approximately ten miles long between Tobay Beach in the Town of Oyster Bay and Captree State Park in the Towns of Babylon and Islip.

The Coastal Greenway offers breathtaking views of the Great South Bay and New York City skyline and features hundreds of Long Island-native plantings, including beach grass, evergreen trees, bayberry plants, beach plums, and other native grasses and wildflowers to support pollinators such as bees and Monarch Butterfly restoration efforts. Educational panels on Long Island’s natural history are placed along the path.

New bicycle parking areas are now found at Gilgo Beach, Cedar Beach Marina, and Captree State Park. Press release

Baseball players, 1941 Fort Niagara

When Fort Ontario Was A Baseball Powerhouse

With spring in the air, baseball season cannot be far behind. During World War II, when many athletes went into military service, the military post at the Fort Ontario State Historic Site became a regional baseball powerhouse, due in part to the posting there of former professional and minor league ballplayers, even including a former starting pitcher for the New York Yankees. 
Learn more about this bit of New York State’s baseball and military history at the New York State Parks Blog, where weekly posts cover a variety of historical, natural, and other Parks topics. NY State Parks Blog

NY State Parks Staff: Annie McIntyre

Behind the Scenery

Annie McIntyre, Regional Environmental Manager – Long Island

How long have you been with the agency? I started working for Parks part-time in the early 90s and started full-time in 1999 when I was hired to run a nature center at Jones Beach.

What does someone in your position do? I supervise two teams of talented, dedicated employees. The first is a team of environmental educators, who provide programs for park patrons, school groups, and special interest groups in Parks around the region. The other is a team of biologists who are responsible for stewardship projects in the region, which range from habitat restoration to invasive species control to endangered species surveys, and everything in between. There’s a lot of natural overlap and coordination between these two groups, because they’re two sides of the same coin, with the same goal in mind – protecting our parks’ natural resources.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever seen or done? After 20 years in the field, it’s pretty hard to pick out the coolest thing. I’ll pick one for each season.

• Winter: The first time I saw seals at Jones Beach there were over 100 of them hauled out, sunning themselves in the marsh – it was amazing.

• Spring: Working with people who are as fascinated as I am about horseshoe crabs, “living fossils”, and who volunteered to collect data for the horseshoe crab monitoring program.

• Summer: The “A-ha’ moment, when a beach patron saw piping plover eggs in a nest, realized how easily it can be crushed, and understand why we protect them.

• Fall: Watching thousands of monarchs migrate through the dunes, heading south – in 1999 two of the monarchs I tagged were recovered in Mexico!

Is there a destination you’d recommend to someone? So many beautiful spots on Long Island, but I think I’d have to go with Connetquot River State Park Preserve. It’s been protected from development since the early 1800s, so it’s really a natural gem. No matter what the season it’s beautiful.

What inspired you to work in the park system? Long Island is a fairly suburbanized place, and, loving the outdoors I found State Parks offer amazing places to connect with the natural world. It’s really rewarding to work with so many like-minded people and be part of an effort to increase stewardship, and to protect and enhance the ecosystems found in the region.