Welcome to the Bat Cave!   
Believe it or not, some park visitors enjoy crawling inside caves. That's why State Parks teamed up this fall with volunteers from the Northeastern Cave Conservancy and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation to install a "bat gate" at Hailes Cave, protecting bats in their winter home while setting the stage for Thacher Park's regulated recreational caving.

While the Indian Ladder trail provides amazing access to the Helderberg Escarpment, Thacher State Park's other major geologic feature, Hailes Cave, has been inaccessible to the public for many years. As home to a large bat population, including the Federally endangered Indiana Bat, access to Hailes Cave is restricted except for scientific research. Protection of bats is increasingly important after the outbreak of White Nose Syndrome (WNS), a 'disease' affecting bats, was found present in the cave. Though harmless to people, WNS is devastating bat populations, many of which have declined by upwards of 90%. The spread of WNS has been potentially linked to cavers who unknowingly may have transported it during their travels.

The Hailes Cave bat gate is the first step towards restoring public access to this natural treasure. The structural steel gate allows bats to pass freely while limiting access to people. By limiting access to the caves to only permitted groups and at times when bats are not congregating, while requiring use of sanitized equipment, recreational access can be granted to recreational cavers without causing undo harm to bat populations. The Park plans to work with the Northeastern Cave Conservancy to develop an overall Cave Management Plan that ensures this balance. Once completed, the park will work to develop a trail to the cave, re-opening one of the park's defining features to the public for the first time in decades.

More information is available on White Nose Syndrome. Read More


Flags Flown During Decisive Civil War  
Battles On Display   


An exhibit of historic battle flags is on display at the State Capitol, featuring ten flags carried in battle for the third year of the Civil War, including banners flown during the Battle of Gettysburg. "1863: Loyal Till Death" runs in New York State Capitol's eastern entrance area through May 2014. The historic flags have undergone extensive conservation treatment to save them from deterioration thanks to a $17,000 grant from the Coby Foundation and other donations. Free monthly guided tours of the exhibit take place on the first Thursday of each month from 5:30 - 6:30 pm.  
Since 2000, the New York State Battle Flag Preservation Project, a collaboration between the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation and the Division of Military and Naval Affairs, has conserved and properly stored over 500 of the state's 2,000 flags carried into battle by New York State regiments.Read More

  Cyber Monday Countdown

New York State Parks will once again be participating in Cyber Monday, which falls on December 2, 2013.  This year however, we will not target the promotion toward the Empire Passport, but instead focus on other popular outdoor recreation activities.  

We encourage you to stay tuned to our website and Facebook for details about the special promotion, as they will be announced closer to Cyber Monday. 
New at Riverbank  

Groundswell and Creative Arts City, two not-for-profit arts organizations, teamed up with New York State Parks over the summer to develop murals for Riverbank State Park. Led by professional artists, 30 local youth employed through the NYS Summer Youth Employment Program were involved in researching, designing and creating the murals. One group of murals was unveiled in August, and one was unveiled last month. The new art now decorates Riverbank's water play area adjacent to the outdoor pool and on stretched canvas inside the Athletic Aquatics and Cultural facilities.

New York State &  
The North Face  
Team Up for New Camper Program

New York State Parks and the State Office of Children and Family Services, with support from The North Face and its Explore Your Parks program, offered overnight camping experiences to 135 foster families who were new to camping or looking to re-connect with nature.

The partnership encouraged families to get outdoors and enjoy New York's treasured park system. The camping program provided gift cards for a free two-night stay at a State Park campground of the families' choosing. Many of the parks participate in the Camper Assistance Program where volunteers were on hand to welcome new campers and enrich their stay. Foster families throughout the state were offered the opportunity to participate on a first come/first serve basis.

Along with the gift card and reservation information, participating families received a special camping experience package, and the chance to win a full North Face camping equipment pack, including a six-person tent, sleeping bags, camping chairs, cook stove and other outdoor accessories, all compliments of the company. Congrats to the Kyser Family of Bemus Point, NY for winning!

State Park Police Officers John J. Friot Jr. and Dustin T. Lottie were each presented a New York State Liberty Award, the highest civilian honor a state resident can receive, by state Senator Patricia A. Ritchie on October 15th for their heroic service. They both jumped immediately into action this summer after boater Thomas L. Clark became unconscious, overcome with carbon monoxide fumes, and his 28-foot cabin cruiser veered dangerously toward a dam. They were able to safely steer the boat to the dock and get Mr. Clark appropriate medical attention. Congratulations on your well-deserved recognition, officers.
Behind the Scenery
Adele Wellman, Naturalist 
How long have you been with State Parks?
Since 2000.

What does a naturalist do?
I educate patrons and school groups about Allegany State Park by leading educational programs. I'm also in charge of training interns, developing interpretive panels, planting native flower beds, working on trails, and assisting with special events. I also get to release pheasants, stock fish and help with scientific studies in the park.

What's the best thing about your job?
Every day I do something different. I am constantly learning new things about plants and animals. During the summer months, I get to see kids' excited faces as they catch their first salamander or butterfly. I get to open people's eyes to their surroundings. We also do Citizen Science projects such as Monarch Watch and dragonfly/damselfly surveys. Kids learn they can do real science - it's not all about a white lab coat.

What's the coolest thing you've ever seen?
A black bear showing up at an evening tour of a beaver pond. It stood up on its hind legs, sniffed the air, looked at the group of 30 people and then went on its way. It's awesome to see them in their natural setting.

What's the coolest thing you've ever done?
Last summer, I studied the habitats of synchronous fireflies. We were out until 2am, surrounded by hundreds of blinking beetles - all flashing in unison! An amazing light show!

Is there a destination in Allegany you'd recommend?
Thunder Rocks is a unique area with huge conglomerate rocks sitting above the ground. Bridal Falls is a 30-foot shale outcrop best viewed in the spring and fall when we've had lots of rain. For adventurous souls, try mountain biking or cross-country skiing the Art Roscoe trials near the Summit area.

Volunteer Spotlight:  
Jackie Merri Meyer
How did you get involved?
I was one of several people who helped found the Friends group that formed about four years ago. Our Park Manager, Andrew Bogardt, simply hung a sign setting up a time to meet to discuss what a Friends Group is.

Describe a recent initiative that you participated in:

There are so many things we accomplished in a few short years. After working with the community to develop our organization, we officially launched the group on I Love My Park Day 2012. We have raised funds to add bike racks to the park, planted a colorful garden near the entrance of the park with the help of 100 volunteers. We also helped with the Summer Movie series, had three very successful Fall Festivals, and organized a campaign to raise funds for a dog park. Recently I asked advertising company Colossal Media to paint an oversized chess board in the park and it was just completed. Our next big push will be to save the Caboose. The park still has the train tracks from its previous industrial era, and we located a derelict caboose that once sat on the site. It was donated, but we need to raise about $40,000 to rehabilitate it. There is never a dull moment, and it is not easy turning a former railroad yard and transfer station into a viable, historic site and gem of a Park. BUT, we will!

What is your favorite thing to do at the park?

Walk down the cobblestone path and gaze at the spectacular city skyline where the river meets the rocks and watch the helicopters and watercraft in the East River and enjoy the sunsets. Summer movies under the stars are not to be missed.

What would you suggest to others who might want to get more involved?

Email the friends group, bring your enthusiasm, not just your ideas. We are always looking for people who can lead a project and see it through from concept to finish and work collaboratively with the State Park Office and elected officials. It takes passion, tenacity, time and a big heart.

Is there anything else you'd like to add?

Yes, an 8th day to the week.
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Tricks & Treats! 

State parks and historic sites are hosting events sure to make visitors spook-tacularly happy this Halloween. Kids will love donning their costumes to unravel Halloween myths at Sunken Meadow and stroll along trick or treat trails at Green Lakes and Grafton Lakes. Bring the family to decorate some goofy gourds at Connetquot River. Get to the bottom of whether our historic sites are really haunted with ghost tours at Clermont and Sonnenberg Gardens, and tour the ruins of Fort Montgomery at night.


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Use hashtag #nysparks

 with park pix for a chance to be highlighted on our social media channels. We will select photos each week for fan favorite voting.  

Find us at @nystateparks



New Boating Education Law!

Born on or after May 1, 1996? If so, you MUST get a Boating Safety Certificate. Boater education courses are available across the state year-round.
New Virtual Tours Unveiled for Campgrounds

Looking for inspiration to plan your next overnight adventure? New York State Parks just completed virtual tours for 41 of its campgrounds to provide prospective campers a sample of the setting and available amenities at each location.

Check out the 360 views at nystateparkstours.com 


Photo Credit: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service - Midwest Region
Meet the Locals
Indiana Bat (Myotis sodalis)

These tiny flying mammals weigh in at only of an ounce (about the weight of three pennies) but their wingspan reaches 10 inches. Consuming half their body weight on nothing but flying insects the Indiana Bat is the ultimate in natural pest control. During summer they roost under flaps of tree bark on dead and dying trees. As the temperatures begin to dip in the fall and insects become scarce they will look to hibernate in caves with other Indiana bats forming large clusters. With 1,200 bat species in the world, there are only 6 that live in New York State and this species is on the endangered list. Many threats have contributed to this bat's decline: commercialization of caves; human disturbance; pesticides and most recently; the white-nose syndrome.


2014 Empire Passports are 
available for purchase at $65 and can be purchased at your nearest state park or state park regional office, online, via mail, or by calling 518-474-0458. 

2014 passes are accepted now and valid through March 31, 2015. The Passport provides access to 179 state parks, 55 NYS Dept of Environmental Conservation forest preserve areas, as well as to boat launch sites, arboretums and park preserves.  Read More

Explore our NY Past

Looking Back...   

On October 24,1901 daredevil Annie Edson Taylor, who at 63 became the first person to survive a trip over Niagara Falls in a barrel she designed herself.  


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