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Grants available to grow and strengthen park and trail groups

Parks & Trails New York is offering a new round of Capacity Building Grants for NYS park and trail groups.  The grants, of up to ECAT award$3,000, will enable organizations to better fulfill their missions; improve their reach, effectiveness, and impact; leverage more resources; and increase community support for and involvement in park and trail planning, development, and stewardship. Funds can be used to assist with activities associated with organizational start-up and development, training, communications, and volunteer recruitment and management. The deadline for submitting applications is November 22, 2010.

Seventeen not-for-profits have already been awarded grants that have helped them expand their fundraising and membership campaigns, enhance their public programming, redesign or create new websites, and develop marketing materials. As a result, these groups have been able to increase their visibility and add to the number of members and volunteers that support them in their work.

For more information email Parks & Trails New York or call 518-434-1583. 

In the photo, Erie Cattaraugus Rail Trail, Inc. displays the standing banner it purchased with grant funds.

News from State Parks

Farewell to popular Parks Commissioner

Carol Ash resigned as Commissioner of the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) effective Oct. 13. OPRHP Executive Deputy Commissioner Andy Beers has been appointed Acting Commissioner by Governor Paterson.

Building upon the recommendations put forth in PTNY's report, Parks at a Turning Point, Commissioner Ash initiated an effort to rebuild and restore parks aging infrastructure, successfully securing more than $200 million for capital improvements during her tenure. She promoted public-private partnerships and encouraged stronger Friends groups and not-for-profits. 

"Commissioner Ash will be remembered for her passionate and dynamic leadership of our wonderful but beleaguered park system.  She left her mark in so many ways, from rebuilding park infrastructure to placing a renewed focus on protecting park natural resources,"  said PTNY Executive Director Robin Dropkin. 

State Trails Coordinator retires

State Trails Coordinator and OPRHP Director of Planning Bob Reinhardt retired after 34 years with the agency. Bob oversaw statewide recreation planning, state park master planning and many other programs related to park use and protection.  He also administered the State Trails Council since its establishment in 1981.

Bob was a strong advocate for the interests of trail users and for trails planning, design, and universal access in New York State. The recently released Statewide Trails Plan was one of the last of Bob's numerous achievements on behalf of trails in New York State.  Trails Planner Nancy Stoner will be assuming many of Bob's trail-related duties.

Statewide Trails Plan released for public comment

State Parks has released the Draft Statewide Trails Plan/DGEIS for public review. This is an important opportunity for all trail advocates to have an impact on future policies affecting trail creation, operation, promotion, and management within the state. It is the first update of the plan since 1994 and reflects the results of regional public meetings, trail user surveys for eight multi-use trails, and a survey of trail managers and trails groups conducted between 2005 and 2008.

A public hearing will be held Tuesday, October 19 at 7:00 pm in the Gideon Putnam Room, Administration Building, Saratoga Spa State Park. Written comments on the Plan will be accepted until November 1, 2010 and can be emailed to StatewideTrailsPlan@oprhp.state.ny.us.

Comments sought on master plans for Fahnestock and Hudson Highlands State Parks

State Parks is seeking public comment on the Draft Master Plans and Environmental Impact Statements (DEIS) for Clarence Fahnestock Memorial and Hudson Highlands State Parks in the Hudson Valley. 

The plans are available at the OPRHP web site. Trail advocates take note: a separate trails plan is included for each park. Email written comments by November 5, 2010.

New Friends of Schodack Island State Park holds first meeting


In August, the Friends of Schodack Island State Park, Inc. held its first meeting at Schodack Island State Park, located along the Hudson River just south of the Village of Castleton in Rensselaer County.  The group elected officers and board members and planned future activities.


Schodack Island State Park, opened in 2002, consists of 1,052 acres  with beautiful river front views, picnic pavilions, playing fields, and ten miles of trails which are available for cross-country skiing in the winter. It also boasts a state-of-the art boat launch facility on the Hudson River and a floating canoe and kayak launch on Schodack Creek.  In the fall, the park allows hunting by permit and in the spring the it offers some of the best Striped Bass fishing in the region.


For information on joining the Friends of Schodack Island State Park, Inc. contact Dan Odell, President, at 518-944-0141.

Senator Gillibrand focuses attention on closing gaps in Canalway Trail

PTNY's efforts to call attention to the importance of finishing the Canalway Trail took a major step forward recently when the office of Senator Kirsten Gillibrand brought together more than 50 local, county and state leaders from government and the nonprofit and business sector to discuss ways to complete the Erie Canalway Trail between Albany and Utica. The forum was held in conjunction with PTNY and the New York State Canal Corporation. 

Presentations by NYS Canal Corporation Director Carmella Mantello and PTNY Executive Director Robin Dropkin described the present status of the trail and its multiple benefits. During a discussion of next steps, the group affirmed the importance of completing the trail to the economy of the region and agreed to work together in small groups to find solutions to some of the most challenging sections. Schenectady County even announced it has made completing the trail its top economic development priority.

Trail dedications and ribbon cuttings


Chittenango officially opens the Creekwalk Trail


Creekwalk CrowdFriday, October 8, was a very special day for residents of the Village of Chittenango. A large crowd gathered at the Chittenango Creekwalk entrance to witness the official ribbon cutting for Phase I of the new 1.1-mile trail. 


The Creek Walk and Neighborhood Trail Committee Chairs Donna Lynch and Bill Nickal were joined by Village Mayor Ronny Goeler, Assemblyman Bill Magee, Senator David Valesky, and PTNY Project Director Martin Daley. 


As part of its Healthy Trails, Healthy People program, Parks and Trails New York has been advising the Chittenango Creek Walk Committee as it seeks to develop 3.3-miles of trail connecting neighborhoods, parks, the business district, and the Canalway Trail. 


Hudson Valley Rail Trail links up to Walkway


HVRT ribbon cuttingPTNY Executive Director Robin Dropkin (second from left) was amongst the local and state elected officials, trail advocates, and community leaders who gathered to open an extension of the Hudson Valley Rail Trail on Saturday, October 2. The eastward expansion of 1.3 miles connects the Walkway Over the Hudson with the town of Lloyd. The ribbon cutting took place on the first anniversary of the Walkway's grand opening.


It is anticipated that someday the Walkway will link to the City of Kingston via the Hudson Valley Rail Trail and the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail.


Photo courtesy of Kristen Davidson, OPRHP.


Feeder Canal and Towpath Trail upgrades celebrated


Feeder CanalIn September, the Feeder Canal Alliance, in collaboration with the City of Glens Falls, the Town of Queensbury, Warren County, and the NYS Canal Corporation, formally dedicated several improvements to the historic Feeder Canal and Towpath Trail that will enhance opportunities for public use and enjoyment and boost the tourism appeal of the Glens Falls region.


These upgrades, including resurfacing, signage, and amenities such as benches, picnic tables, grills, and a covered pavilion, were funded by grants from the Canal Corporation, with local matching funds and services.


The Feeder Canal eventually will link the emerging Champlain Canalway Trail with Hudson Falls and Glens Falls, and is one of more than 100 trails included in Parks & Trails New York's online TrailFinder.


Feeder Canal dedication image courtesy of Pam Morin

Thank you to our Green Partners businesses that support New York's parks and trails!

CSEACSEA, New York's leading union, has long been a supporter of Parks and Trails New York. CSEA is celebrating its Centennial Anniversary in 2010 and has a history of service representing its members and the people of New York. CSEA has a natural affinity with us as the representative of thousands of state and local government workers who staff and maintain state and local parks and roadways, the Canal system and numerous other jobs helping to oversee the natural environment of the Empire State.

New York Returns disproportionate amount of Transportation Enhancement Funds

Transportation Enhancement (TE) funds, a major support for bicycle and pedestrian projects,  represent about 2% of each state's federal highway funding.  Yet, in mid-August when the Federal Highway Administration requested that states rescind $2.2 billion in transportation funds, more than 25 % of the money returned (nearly $580 million) came from the states' Transportation Enhancement (TE) funds. In New York, of the more than $100 million returned by NYSDOT, greater than 20% came from TE funds


When NYSDOT receives this type of rescission request they look first for dollars that are not yet obligated and TE projects are often where that is the case.  Presently, NYSDOT is discussing how to get projects obligated faster.

Funding opportunities

Laura Jane Musser Fund: Rural Initiative Program

The  Rural Initiative Program of the  Laura Jane Musser Fund supports collaborative and broad-based participatory efforts among citizens in rural communities (population 10,000 or fewer)  for economic development, business preservation, arts and humanities, public space improvements, and education.  Planning grants of up to $5,000 and implementation grants of up to $25,000 are provided. Application deadline is November 10, 2010.

Bikes Belong

The Bikes Belong Coalition awards community grants quarterly to support major bicycle advocacy initiatives and bicycle facilities, including trails, and programs. Deadline for the next round of applications is November 30, 2010.

Central NY privately owned rail trail to host walk

A three-mile section of the 18-mile privately owned former Lackawanna Railroad right-of-way between South Columbia in Herkimer County and Richfield Springs in Otsego County will be open to the public for the first time from 9 a.m. to dusk on November 6 and 7. The rail corridor is unique in that it is managed and operated by the private real estate management company Utica, Chenango & Susquehanna Valley Route LLC, which wishes to enhance its existing informal recreational use as well as establish a new narrow gauge railway for public passenger service. The event will be held in conjunction with the Otsego County Conservation Association and will also include an opportunity to visit artisans at the historic South Columbia station and 1930 Newark Milk and Cream Company building located along the rail bed. 

Parks & Trails New York is a member of Earth Share of New York, an alliance of leading nonprofit environmental organizations. For more information about workplace giving via payroll deduction to Parks & Trails New York and Earth Share, check out www.earthshareny.org.

October 2010


Celebrating 25 years of advocacy for New York's parks and trails


Your support makes all of this possible!

 Thank you!

Let candidates know you care about parks and trails


Put parks and trails on the agenda this election season.  Write, call or email candidates running for public office, speak out at a debate or rally, and write letters to the editor in your local paper.


You do not have to be an "expert" to be an effective advocate for parks and trails.  You just have to let candidates know they are important to you and that you vote!


State park attendance up but park budget down


Spa Victoria Pool


State Park attendance is up 3.5% over last year:1.4 million more park visitors enjoyed the 178 parks and 35 historic sites that make up the State Park System this summer than last.  However, the State Parks agency had to accommodate these additional visitors on a severely reduced budget, down 18 percent from three years ago, and with 1400 fewer lifeguards, park police and maintenance workers than in 2008. 


New Yorkers love and need their parks! That's why we're going to have to fight harder than ever to prevent more budget slashing and park closings in 2011 - when the NYS budget is expected to be even worse. Are you ready to fight with us?


View a news clip and read our press release.



Go greener with a PTNY reusable shopping bag




Join Parks & Trails New York or donate $50 or more and we'll say thank you with a PTNY reusable shopping bag that stuffs into an integrated pouch for easy storage in purse or pocket. It's a great way to support the parks and trails you love. While supplies last.


Party for the Parks 


Help us celebrate efforts to keep state parks open this year!


Join us at our annual Award Reception on November 16 as we honor two legislative champions: Assemblyman Steve Englebright and Senator Jos  Serrano. We will also celebrate the efforts of intrepid friends groups statewide, as represented by the Friends of Fahnestock and Hudson Highlands, Knox Farm, Riverbank, and Thacher and Thompsons Lake State Parks. The reception will be held from 5:30 pm - 7:30 pm at The Century Association, 7 West 43rd Street, NYC.


For more information call 518-434-1583, ext. 205 or email mgershun@ptny.org.



Wallkill Valley Rail Trail


Wallkill Valley Rail Trail


The 12-mile Wallkill Valley Rail Trail extends from the southern border of Gardiner to the northern border of New Paltz. It opened officially in October, 1993.


Last year the Wallkill Valley Land Trust and Open Space Institute acquired an additional 11.5 miles of the former Wallkill Valley Railroad in Ulster County. The highlight of this purchase is the 940-foot-long Rosendale Railroad Trestle, perched 150 feet over the Rondout Creek in Rosendale. It is anticipated this trail will someday connect into the city of Kingston.


For more about the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail check out PTNY's Trailfinder.


Image courtesy of Boyd A. Loving


Emerging Trend: Tobacco free parks and trails


Don't smoke


Across New York State, municipal leaders and outdoor advocates are integrating tobacco free policies into new and existing parks and trails.  Over 180 municipalities have passed regulations restricting tobacco use in outdoor recreational areas.


Tobacco Free NYS believes that parks, trails, and other recreational areas should be places that people can go to enjoy the outdoors, breathe fresh air and exercise and not have to be exposed to secondhand smoke.  The NYS Department of Health funds Community Partnerships to work with local communities to establish more tobacco free outdoor parks and trails. Contact your local Community Partnership for sample policies, FREE signage and assistance.


New and improved community physical activity guide released


The National Center for Bicycling & Walking (NCBW) updated its popular "Increasing Physical Activity Through Community Design -- A Guide for Public Health Practitioners."  While billed as a guide for public health practitioners this comprehensive, easy-to- read, well-illustrated resource is a how-to manual for elected officials, interested citizens, planners or anyone who desires a comprehensive overview of what can be done to make a neighborhood or community more safe, walkable, and bike-friendly.


Did you know?


The Taughannock Falls cataract has an incredible drop of 215 feet and is the highest waterfall east of the Rocky Mountains! To put this drop in perspective note that Niagara falls only drops 173 feet. Taughannock Falls State Park is located between the Village of Trumansburg, and the city of Ithaca. This issue of E-news features a small section of the cascade in the masthead.


October 19- Public Hearing, Saratoga Spa State Park 
November 1- Deadline for comments

November 5- Deadline for comments on Fahnestock State Park and Hudson Highlands State Park Master Plans. 

November 6 & 7- Otsego County Conservation Association rail trail walk

November 10- Musser Fund Rural Initiative Program grant deadline.

November 16- PTNY Award Reception
November 22- PTNYCapacity Building Grant application deadline.

November 30- Bikes Belong grant application deadline

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Parks & Trails New York is the leading statewide advocate for the expansion, protection, and promotion of a network of parks, bike paths, greenways and rail and canal trails across the state.

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(ph) 518-894-2195,  (fax) 427-0067