News from State Parks

Allegany State Park

May 2021  •  Issue 65

Vax Now, Play Later

Get Vax'd this Week and Enjoy a Dose of the Outdoors

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced a new vaccine incentive to include New York State Parks. Get either a first dose or single dose COVID-19 vaccine, anywhere in New York State between May 24 and 31 and you are eligible to receive a free two-day pass to any New York State Park. Passes can be picked up at any New York State Park and are valid through September 30, 2021. Additionally, 15 New York State Parks will host pop-up COVID-19 vaccination sites. These 15 sites will offer the single-dose Johnson & Johnson vaccine on a first-come, first-served basis. Press Release

I Love My Park Day 2021

Thousands Help Statewide at 10th Annual “I Love My Park Day”

From the snow-covered forest at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site to the sun-dappled beaches of Long Island, thousands of people turned out the first weekend in May to work in support of the 10th Annual “I Love My Park Day.”

Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid, who participated in a cleanup at Marsha P. Johnson State Park in Brooklyn, said the robust attendance at more than 140 events statewide demonstrated the depth of strong public support for State Parks and public lands.

The event is a partnership between New York State Parks and Parks & Trails New York. Events were held in compliance with COVID-19 safety protocols in order to safely welcome thousands of volunteers who landscaped, raked, cleaned, painted, and picked up debris.

Explore the 2021 I Love My Park Day photo album. You may see yourself or people you know!


New Platform Tent Camping Offered At Select State Parks

Embracing the motto “camping without the hassle,” State Parks has entered into a partnership with New York City-based Tentrr for a new tent camping service with 45 new sites in the Hudson Valley.

Fully outfitted platform campsites are now available to reserve at the Sebago and Silver Mine areas of Harriman State Park in Orange and Rockland Counties; Taconic State Park and Lake Taghkanic State Park in Columbia County; and Mills-Norrie State Park in Dutchess County.

The service provides tents, sleeping accommodations and an array of equipment needed for camping at each site, making it simple for customers who might not be familiar with camping or who don’t wish to haul gear. All items are set up and ready to use upon arrival for added convenience and sites are maintained by Tentrr staff.

All locations include a 10-foot by 12-foot, canvas-walled tent atop a raised platform. Each site is outfitted with a queen-sized bed and memory foam mattress, a propane heating source, a solar-powered "sun" shower, a camp toilet, water container, Adirondack chairs, a fire pit, grill, and a picnic table with storage and benches. Press Release

Shirley Chisholm State Park Bike Library

Innovative Bike Library Marks Third Season at Shirley Chisholm State Park

Thanks to a new public-private partnership between State Parks and the Natural Heritage Trust, a “bike library” that provides free loaner gear to visitors at Shirley Chisholm State Park is open for its third season.

Supported by the Con Edison Power of Giving program, the Jamaica Bay-Rockaway Parks Conservancy, the Bloomberg Philanthropies, and the Natural Heritage Trust, the program also offers bike riding classes for all ages.

Located on Jamaica Bay in Brooklyn, the 407-acre park offers ten miles of car-free paths with beautiful vistas.

Online reservations are accepted at both the Fountain Avenue and Pennsylvania Avenue sides of the park. The library, which requires users to leave a valid ID, operates Thursday through Sundays, weather permitting, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  For more info visit: Shirley Chisholm State Park

Empire State Trail

Empire Trail Challenge Now Under Way
Plenty of Time to Register

Walk, run, or bike into summer! Join the hundreds of others who’ve joined the Empire State Trail Challenge, a partnership between State Parks and organizers of the nationally known Boilermaker race in Utica to promote the newly-completed 750-mile Empire State Trail with a virtual race to run, walk or bicycle trail segments.  

Through July 31, participants can virtually 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.  Although people are encouraged to explore the actual Empire State Trail, participants can run, walk, or ride anywhere geographically, on local trails and running/bicycling routes near where they live to log and complete the challenge. For information and online registration visit: The Empire State Trail Challenge.

Niagara Falls State Park visitor center rendering

Niagara Falls State Park to Build $46 Million State of the Art Visitor Center

Governor Cuomo unveiled the design for a new $46 million state-of-the-art visitor center in Niagara Falls State Park, with construction scheduled to begin this fall.

A signature project of the Governor’s new NY Parks 100 initiative, the new facility is being supported with an $8 million grant from the Ralph C. Wilson, Jr. Foundation, the charitable legacy of the late Ralph C. Wilson, former owner of the Buffalo Bills and a co-founder of the American Football League.

Expected to be completed for the 2023 season, the new 28,000 square-foot facility will replace a 35-year-old center that no longer meets the needs of the park’s 9 million annual visitors.

With a grid-connected rooftop solar array, the glass, steel, and concrete facility will include new ticketing and information desks; interpretive museum highlighting topics including natural, industrial, and Indigenous American history; new concession spaces; and restrooms and associated support spaces.

An existing 7,000 square-foot regional administration building will be adapted to include a multi-purpose community room, regional archives, and offices for Niagara regional interpretive staff. Press Release

Pat McGee Trail

State Parks Protects Rail Trail in Western New York

State Parks recently acquired the 12.1-mile, multi-use Pat McGee Trail in Cattaraugus County, which supports links to Allegany State Park in New York State and Allegany National Forest in Pennsylvania.

Covered under the State Environmental Protection Fund, the acquisition covers 192 acres that were once a former Erie-Lackawanna Railroad bed.

Connecting the city of Salamanca and the village of Cattaraugus, the Pat McGee Trail has connections with the current Finger Lakes Trail and the North Country Trail that link to the nearby State Park and National Forest. Named for former State Sen. Pat McGee, the trail contains six former rail bridges and is popular for bicycling, hiking, snowmobiling, and horseback riding.

The acquisition protects the property from potential commercial development. Press Release

Grant Cottage

State Parks Takes Grant Cottage State Historic Site Off The Grid

The Grant Cottage State Historic Site, a 19th-century mountaintop residence where U.S. President Ulysses S. Grant completed his memoirs shortly before his death, is now part of the renewable energy era.

Parks Commissioner Erik Kulleseid kicked off the operation of a new solar powered micro-grid that is now providing 100 percent of the electricity needed by the two-story residence and visitors center at the remote site on Mount McGregor in Saratoga County.

Commissioner Erik Kulleseid at Grant Cottage

The first State Parks facility to disconnect completely from the electric energy grid, Grant Cottage is powered by 90 nearby solar panels and 48 batteries for storage of power for later use. A backup propane generator is included for emergency purposes. State Parks staff, assisted by training staff from Hudson Valley Community College, performed the installation.

Grant Cottage is the latest of 33 solar array projects installed at State Parks facilities since 2012 to reduce the reliance of climate change-causing fossil fuels. This project was supported by funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority's On-site Energy Manager Program. Press Release


Help Fight Invasives: Limit Movement of Firewood

Campers are reminded to use local firewood and follow state regulations on firewood movement to help prevent the spread of invasive species.

Untreated firewood - firewood that has not met the state's heat treatment standard - can contain invasive pests that kill trees. Invasive species can be transported on firewood. To protect our forests, untreated firewood should not be moved more than 50 miles from its source or origin. NY State Firewood Regulations.

Emerald Ash Borer Beetle

Wasps Aid State Parks Fight Against Invasive Beetle

Three species of stingless wasps native to China or Russia are being deployed at selected State Parks this season to combat the ash tree-destroying Emerald Ash Borer (EAB).

This is the second year of controlled releases by Parks naturalists as part of a biocontrol project by the U.S. Department of Agriculture aimed at stemming the spread of EAB, an iridescent green beetle from China that has killed tens of millions of ash trees in multiple states since appearing in Michigan in 2002.

Learn more about how these wasps prey on EAB and the State Parks where they are being used, in the New York State Parks Blog post: Wasp Warriors Aid Parks Against Insect Invaders. The blog features weekly posts on a variety of historical, natural, and other Parks topics.

NY State Parks Staff

Behind the Scenery

Lindsay Brown
Highway Maintenance Supervisor – Allegany Region

How long have you been with the agency? I’ve worked in Allegany Region for 23 years.

What does someone in your position do?  I serve as the Highway Maintenance Supervisor in Allegany Region, where I currently supervise eight road crew employees. My job affords me an incredibly unique variety of opportunities. One day, I can be in the office talking with vendors, the next replacing a sluice pipe or installing a fish ladder. My crew works in a multitude of parks within the Region, so there are always new experiences and people to meet.

What’s the coolest thing you’ve ever seen or done? One winter, my job required me to run an excavator in a closed campground for a lengthy period. I was by myself a lot, and a coyote would come down off of the hill almost daily and watch from a distance. Not sure if it was sizing me up, or just curious. Either way, it was cool.

Is there a destination you’d recommend to someone?  If you visit Allegany State Park and are looking for a short and easy hike to something beautiful, go to Bridal Falls after a rain. We have so many trails here – there’s really something for everyone.

What inspired you to work in the park system? I started working at Allegany State Park simply because I wanted a job and loved the outdoors. After a time, I was compelled to pursue opportunities as they came up because I enjoyed the environment so much.