The Holidays are Here
Get into the spirit while touring the  decked halls of our historic sites, beautifully decorated in styles of holidays past. Enjoy a "beary merry" outing with your family while making special treats for the animals at the Trailside Museum & Zoo and craft unique gifts at Minnewaska using materials from nature. See different species of seals in their natural habitat during guided beach walks at Montauk State Park. Bundle up and welcome winter with special hikes at Jones Beach and Caumsett. Or, stay cozy and warm while creating your own winter wonderland with a snow globe making workshop at Thacher State Park. Sing along to holiday tunes and create gingerbread houses at Planting Fields Arboretum. Start 2014 surrounded by the great outdoors and walk, snowshoe, or ski a First Day Hike, offered at more than 20
parks and historic sites across the state. Find even more programs on our calendar of events, packed with ideas for winter fun! Photo: Clermont State Historic Site



Shining a Light on New York's Storied History

Rock Island Lighthouse State Park in the Thousand Islands was one of six recipients of the 2013 New York State Historic Preservation Awards. Established in 1980, the State Historic Preservation Awards are given each year to honor excellence in the protection and rejuvenation of New York's historic and cultural resources. Along with the Rock Island Lighthouse, this year's recipients include people working to preserve neighborhoods in Buffalo, a World War II destroyer escort that nearly went to the scrap heap, a downtown school building in Rochester, a bank in Brooklyn and a pier on Manhattan's waterfront -which had all been neglected for years. Take a look at how the efforts of committed individuals, organizations, business and municipalities can really make a difference in preserving unique and historic landmarks. Read more.  Photo: George Fischer

first day hike 2013
Hike into 2014 with us!

Join us for 20-plus guided hikes in state parks and historic sites on New Year's Day as part of the third annual First Day Hikes event taking place across the country. 

Held on January 1, 2014, First Day Hikes offer a great way to connect with the outdoors, exercise, enjoy nature and welcome the New Year with friends and family. Expect to be surrounded by the quiet beauty of the winter season and spectacular vistas, and benefit from the company of a knowledgeable guide. State park staff and volunteers will lead these family-friendly walks and hikes, which average one to three miles or longer depending on the location. Many hikes will be offering refreshments.

This year's programs include a seal walk, winter woodlands, an historic walking tour, a snowshoe waterfall hike, pet-friendly treks, crossing one of the world's longest pedestrian bridges, and more. If the weather conditions permit, some First Day Hikes may include snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Read more

News for Snowmobilers

Starting this season, law enforcement agencies have a new tool to help snowmobile users and land owners combat the negative impacts of loud snowmobiles on the statewide trail system. A new law creates a standardized testing procedure for measuring the noise levels of snowmobiles. This testing procedure will help insure that snowmobiles operating on the trails meet the sound level standards manufacturers have developed to make their machines quieter, and, in turn, help persuade landowners to participate in the trail system. The new test is administered while the snowmobile is stationary. Previously, the test had to be performed while the snowmobile was traveling at 15 miles per hour past a decibel meter. The New York State Snowmobile Association worked closely with legislators to enact the legislation.

For additional snowmobiling resources, including the availability of snowmobile safety classes read more. 

Photo: Kristian Reynolds
Behind the Scenery: 
Fred Bonn
Position: Regional Director 
Oversees more than two dozen parks, historic sites and golf courses in the Finger Lakes Region

How long have you been with State Parks? I started in July, and I've come full circle.  My first job was as Lifeguard at Taughannock Falls SP and I spent the next six summers guarding at parks around Ithaca.  When I was a kid my parents had relocated from Brooklyn to a house right next to Robert Treman SP so I had the ball fields, playground and swimming area as my backyard 

so I guess the real answer to "how long have I been with State Parks?" is most of my life.

What inspired you to work in the park system? State Parks and historic sites are cornerstones that define the Finger Lakes region.  Serving, and being part of something so important to people who live here and choose to vacation here gets me excited to come to work every day.  

What's the best thing about your job? 
Perhaps it's the lifeguard in me but watching families in our swimming areas has to be number one whether it's an expectant mother getting relief from summer heat, a father teaching his child how to dive, or kids splashing around and screaming with glee.

What's surprised you most? Clearly the most impressive (and scary) thing I've seen was the damage done at Robert H. Treman after a flood this summer.  I didn't truly appreciate the fact that, with enough water behind them, really large boulders will float.  That and the countless truckloads of debris that had to be hauled away from such a localized storm really had an impact on me.

If someone were to visit your region, is there anything you'd recommend?  Anyone who visits the Finger Lakes HAS to take a hike in a gorge.  It doesn't matter, Taughannock, Buttermilk, Treman, Fillmore, Stony Brook, Watkins Glen, there's something about the interaction of water, rocks and gravity that affects people deeply and profoundly.  These parks offer experiences that are truly world class.  Just make sure not to forget your camera.


Volunteer Spotlight: You!

It's been our honor over the last several editions of ParkConnect to spotlight exemplary volunteers in the New York State park and historic site system. Volunteers like Dan O'Dell who founded what's become a dynamic friends group at Schodack Island State Park; Carol Rathbun who spearheaded efforts to install interpretive trail signs along an historic trail at Letchworth State Park; Paul Stephens who has designed and built several popular disc golf courses at state parks throughout Western New York; John R. Mack who has cleared and maintained thousands of miles trails at Sterling Forest State Park; Melissa Vail who develops programming for school children to learn important American history at John Jay Homestead State Historic Site; and Jackie Merri Meyer who has brought unique and vibrant programs to East River State Park in New York City. Each of these dedicated individuals enriched our parks and historic sites with their unique talents, innovative ideas, and their time and energy. Volunteers and Friends Groups are vital to the State Parks community and they help to enhance and deepen the park experience for our visitors all year long.

We hope you've been inspired by these stories to give back to your favorite park or site. For information on volunteer opportunities, check our website; contact the park; or attend a Friends Group meeting. And, mark your calendars for I Love My Park Day, May 3, 2014 and spend the first Saturday in May with State Parks, Parks & Trails NY and thousands of fellow New Yorkers across the state to help get parks and sites ready for the summer season! To all our friends and volunteers, THANK YOU.

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Events Calendar
 hikes, happenings,
festivals & more!

Looking Back 
Winter fun never goes out 
of style--sledding at 
Bear Mountain 1945  

Peter Gionet, a marine services representative for State Parks, received a national award for his career helping make recreational boaters safer. The National Association of State Boating Law Administrators, which promotes boating safety across the nation, gave Gionet its Boating Safety Award for his accomplishments in the area of boater education.  

If you're one of the 250,000 recreational boaters who've completed a safe boating course in the last 13 years, you're probably familiar with Peter's work. Over the last 25 years, he's helped develop and oversee every aspect of the state's boater education program.  Here he is pictured with the award with State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. For information on upcoming safe boating classes visit our website. 

  Meet the Locals: 
The Ruffed Grouse
With its camouflage coloring and slow, deliberate walk the Ruffed Grouse can be difficult to spot in the woods. About the size of an American crow, these shy year-round residents spend most of their lives on the ground dining on fruits, seeds, leaves, and tree buds. In the fall Ruffed Grouse grow a series of comb-like fleshy bristles (called pectinations) along the sides of their toes. These seasonal additions act as snowshoes, increasing the bird's mobility over snow. Ruffed Grouse will dive into snow to sleep, and falling snow often hides evidence of their entry. Many humans have recounted tales of being startled by Ruffed Grouse as they come bursting out of snow that appears to be undisturbed. In the spring the males are best known for their signature drumming display. This sound is created as the bird quickly rotates its wings back and forth. The air that rushes into this temporary vacuum beneath the wings creates a miniature vacuum, generating a deep, thumping sound wave that carries up to a quarter of a mile. 
Check out this video clip. 


Lifeguard Exams 

It's never too early to start
planning for a summer job.
State Parks is holding qualifying exams for lifeguards for our
many beaches and pools
beginning this month. Read More

Parks Getting Greener


Just weeks ago the Genesee Region unveiled their new solar panel system atop the Letchworth Visitors Center and Administrative Offices at Letchworth State Park.  The system was installed by Genesee Region staff and is the largest installation in the State Park system. The system will generate nearly 30,000 kilowatt hours of electricity annually which will account for approximately 10 percent of the building's electric use.


Do you Instagram?  

Use hashtag #nysparks

 with your 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 

Photo by: @iamtomchang 



A Message from your family at State Parks



With the Holiday season upon us we would like to take this opportunity to thank each and every one of you who have helped make our great park system even better in 2013. 


In 2014, we look forward to providing even more opportunities for you and your families and friends to be able to experience all that our state parks have to offer.  So during this season of giving, we ask that you keep your favorite park or historic site in mind.  State parks have provided wonderful memories to countless families, and your gift will help ensure that they remain safe and enjoyable now and for future generations. A donation also makes a wonderful tribute gift as it is a thoughtful remembrance of someone close to you. If you would like to make a contribution to New York State Parks please visit: Make a Gift to Parks 

On behalf of State Parks and the Natural Heritage Trust we extend our warmest wishes to you
and your family this holiday season.