The numbers are in: 62 Million Visitors in 2014

New York State parks and historic sites hosted 62 million visitors in 2014 - a three-percent increase over 2013. Overnight stays at campgrounds operated by State Parks were the highest on record. 

State Parks' 2014 attendance was up 1.9 million visitors from the 60.1 million visitors hosted in 2013, and up 8 percent, or 4.5 million annual visitors, since 2010, the year before Governor Cuomo took office, when 88 parks were threatened with closure. State Park campsites were occupied for 594,441 nights in 2014, up 2 percent from 2013's record year. The Governor has made improving access to parks and outdoor recreation a focal point of his administration. Read More


Preserving History this Presidents' Day

At State Historic Sites, the archaeological sites around historic buildings are important resources that can provide information about history and culture. When necessary for preservation, these resources are carefully excavated in limited samples.  At Clermont State Historic Site, the Hudson River seat of New York's politically and socially prominent Livingston Family, archaeological excavations were recently implemented to preserve the location of an extensive trash dump where a new heating system will be stationed. Within this dump, a layer of burned debris was discovered that was the result of the British raid on October 18, 1777, when all of the site's major buildings were destroyed by fire. The burned remains of the 1730 house and its contents were pushed into this dump. On top of this burned layer, more trash was deposited, including a 1789 George Washington Inaugural Button in great condition. 
A George Washington Inaugural Button that was produced to commemorate his inauguration as the first president of the United States. The inauguration took place on April 30th, 1789 in New York City. Michael Roets, an archeologist with the State Historic Preservation Office, believes it is likely Chancellor Robert R. Livingston wore this button as he administered the oath of office to George Washington. 

The button was uncovered very carefully through archaeological excavations with hand tools. Soil was removed in layers that could be associated with different time periods of deposition and all of the artifacts recovered were identified by what layer they were found in. The soil excavated was also passed through sifting screens in order to uncover smaller artifacts missed by the archaeologists. Since its discovery, the button was carefully cleaned and a coating applied to protect it from future deterioration.

When investigations are conducted properly, the information from the site is preserved through collections, records, and reports that are used to analyze and interpret the past.
"Just like the George Washington Inaugural Button, all of the artifacts recovered from this excavation have a story to tell," Michael Roets, an archeologist with the State Historic Preservation Office, said. The analysis of the excavated layers of the Clermont trash dump has led to new conclusions about the construction and history of the Clermont mansion.

Roets, the archaeologist responsible for all of the archaeological resources at State Historic Sites, helps facility managers plan projects to help them avoid disturbing important archaeological resources, and performs excavations to recover information that would otherwise be destroyed. He is also the collection manager and curator for all archaeological collections recovered from these types of projects at State Historic Sites.

The button is currently stored at State Parks' Division for Historic Preservation's Collection Care Facility located in a rehabilitated factory complex at Peebles Island State Park, and is just one of the 1.4 million archaeological artifacts that are stored and cared for at the facility. All of these artifacts are available for exhibit and research.



Save the Date! 
Show your favorite park some love at the fourth annual I Love My Park Day on Saturday, May 2! 
Look for event and registration details soon at

Governor's Budget Proposal Invests in State Park Revitalization

Governor Cuomo's 2015-16 Executive Budget proposal holds great news for State Parks, starting with a bold plan to invest $900 million in State Parks by 2020. The Governor's NY Parks 2020 plan will leverage a broad range of public and private funding for capital improvement projects that will provide visitors with safe, fun and modern facilities at our state parks and historic sites.
The Executive Budget also establishes two exciting initiatives to support all the volunteers that make parks more welcoming. The Governor is proposing to establish a new Excelsior Conservation Corps. Following in the spirit of FDR's Civilian Conservation Corps, the $1 million program will provide 10-month positions for young adults to work in State Parks and State Forests building trails, leading volunteers, and educating visitors. The budget includes $500,000 to create new Friends Groups Capacity Grants, which will provide competitive grants to non-profit Friends Groups that support parks, historic sites, rail-trails, and other recreational facilities.
Learn more about the Governor's proposals in the 2015 Opportunity Agenda. 


More Professional Golf Heading to
Bethpage State Park 

Good news for golf fans! Governor Cuomo announced that Bethpage State Park's Black Course will again host The Barclays professional golf tournament in 2021 and in 2027. Bethpage Black first held The Barclays in 2012 and the public golf course, located in Farmingdale, Long Island, will again host the tournament in 2016. The Barclays is the first event of the PGA Tour Playoffs for the FedEx Cup. Read more. 


And while you're at it, check out our amazing golf courses across the state.



First Day Hikes Welcome 2,100 Participants on New Year's Day


 On January 1, more than 2,100 people rang in 2015 with a First Day Hike at a New York state park or historic site.  Now in its 4th year, the First Day Hike program has grown to include 29 hike options around the state (including nine new properties), from Montauk Point to the newest state park, Buffalo Harbor.  Celebrants enjoyed the wintry outdoors with everything from a seal walk to gorge hikes, guided history tours, dog-friendly treks, and many other family-oriented events.  Make a resolution to join us next year!  



Camping Photo Contest Entries Capture the Beauty of the Outdoors

Congratulations to Kate Montgomery of Rome, NY, the grand prize winner of the 2014 Camping Photo Contest showcasing the best of New York's scenic outdoors.  Kate's submission of a starry night at Keewaydin State Park in the Thousand Islands and the six category finalists below were selected from more than 2,200 submissions.   Prizes include gift cards, a tent, outdoor accessories, a wildlife guide and subscription to the Conservationist.


Finalists' photo gallery 
The top images in each of the six categories include:

Outdoor Activities/Watersports  - Amanda Morris of Piscataway, NJ

Points of Interest/Scenic Views  - Lisa Barnes of Boiling Springs, PA

Sunrise/Sunset  - Elinor Hickey of Fairport, NY

Seasons  - Alyssa Wisniewski of Rochester, NY

Nature  - Dawn Seitz of Canandaigua, NY

Camping Life  - James Sickler of Buffalo, NY


Celebrate Presidents' Day with
State Historic Sites

Learn How Your Community
Can Preserve History
New York is rich with presidential history, from New York City hosting the inauguration of George Washington in 1789, to contributing many national leaders since. This Presidents Day weekend, enjoy a full schedule of historical fun at our State Historic Sites. 

See soldiers bring to life the Continental 
Army's final winter encampment with musket and cannon firings, blacksmithing, and demonstrations at  New Windsor Cantonment;attend a three-day birthday celebration for George Washington complete with cake, musical entertainment, guest speakers and crafts at Washington's Headquarters; meet and mingle with the 16th president Abraham Lincoln at Philipse Manor Hall while enjoying crafts, scavenger hunts, quizzes, and more; contemplate history while hiking at Clay Pit Ponds; and visit Knox's Headquarters, a military commandment center during the Revolutionary War. See our events calendar for more.

Historic Preservation is a collaborative effort and a new plan that identifies and guides activities that further preservation efforts at the local, regional and state levels is now available. The National Park Service approved the state's 2015-2020 Historic Preservation Plan, which provides useful information about programs and resources for municipalities and communities to support a variety of preservation and community development efforts, and includes numerous success stories.

New York's Division for Historic Preservation, a division of State Parks, developed the plan with input from government officials, planners and local citizens as well as preservation organizations, preservation consultants, museum professionals and historians.

The plan is available on State Parks' website or by calling 518.268.2162

Behind the Scenery with Kevin Green, 

Manager: Bear Mountain Rink/Sebago Cabins


How long have you been with the agency?
I started at Anthony Wayne Recreation Area in 1987 and moved to Bear Mountain in 1990, working at the pool in the summer and the ice rink in the winter.  I later worked summers at Hi-Tor while keeping my ice rink duties before getting a promotion as Manager of both the Sebago Cabins Campground in Harriman and the ice rink at Bear Mountain.    


What does someone in your position do?
At the rink, I'm responsible for every aspect of operations from employees to patrons, including revenue, scheduling the ice time for team practices, and maintaining the ice for the 1,500-2,000 patrons we see on busy days.  At Sebago Cabins my duties include staffing and revenue.  The 40 rustic cabins were built in the late 1920's so there's always work to be done. For campers, we do a movie night, weekly bonfire and karaoke.  I've been very fortunate to have had the same core staff for many years. Because of them, the facilities and I have been successful. 


What's the coolest thing you've done on the job?
Experiencing all the movie shoots that take place here.  Because we're so close to New York City, many commercials and movies are filmed in the park and I've met some famous actors over the years.


What's the coolest thing you have seen?
I've seen kids come to the parks as young children, then grow up and bring their own children. The ice rink and the campground both get patrons that come year after year.  It's very rewarding that we provide an enjoyable and safe place for generations of families to visit.


Is there a park visit you'd recommend?
The most beautiful destination in our region is definitely Minnewaska State Park Preserve. The mountains and the lakes in that park are something to see for sure.  Only two hours from New York City, you'd think that you'd have to drive forever to see mountains like that.


What inspired you to work in the park system?
I guess I was born into it: my father's side of the family all worked for the parks. My aunt worked in payroll, my uncle was a carpenter and my father was a park manager at Hi-Tor for 30 years. As a kid I would wear my dad's uniform all the time. I was destined to make the parks my career, and I'm sure glad I did.


Winter Break Fun 

A week off from school holds so many possibilities! Embrace the cold, experience the winter beauty of State Parks and learn from our enlightening Historic Sites all week long with programs for all ages. Discover the fun and easy sport of snowshoeing at  Lorenzo State Historic Site; sharpen detective skills while unraveling clues left behind by wildlife at Caleb Smith State Park Preserve; school-aged children will delight in "snow day" activities at Thacher, including snowshoe races, an outdoor scavenger hunt, and more; create a play at Olana's ARTic for youth program; uncover weather secrets with activities at Connetquot River; take a leisurely beach walk to an area where up to four species of seals can be observed at Montauk Point; head out into the snow for a day of hands-on navigation training with the REI Outdoor School at Rockefeller State Park; and enjoy Winter Fun Day at Cherry Plain State Park. Find a program near you on our  events calendar.


Volunteer Spotlight: Kelly McCauley

Hometown:  Baltimore, MD

Volunteer affiliation: Peebles Island Resource Center, the headquarters of the Bureau of Historic Sites, which provides technical support to New York's state-owned parks and historic sites.


How long have you been volunteering and how did you get involved?
I'm a graduate student in the Winterthur-University of Delaware Program in Art Conservation, through which we are trained in how to prevent deterioration to art and historic objects, as well as how to fix them when needed. The third year of our training consists of an internship with a conservation laboratory.


I knew I was interested in interning at Peebles when I had the opportunity to visit three of the sites over my spring break in 2013. In addition to beautiful and information-rich collections, it was clear that the staff was dedicated and knowledgeable, and that OPRHP was a model for how to manage a broad range of sites. The conservators at Peebles Island graciously agreed to take me on, so I will be here for 10 months, from October 2014 through July 2015.


Describe a recent project you participated in:
About half of my time is spent documenting, cleaning, and repairing objects from the historic sites, from a small blue and white Delftware jar to a Revolutionary War musket. One of my favorite parts of the internship is visiting the sites in person to see these objects out on display, and I'm currently helping to prepare objects for an exhibit on the Civil War.


I also work on projects to help improve the environment for the preservation of the objects. I am working to minimize the levels of UV light (which can cause structural weakening and faded colors in objects) here at Peebles and improve the shelving in storage spaces at one of the sites.


Is there anything else you'd like to add?
My fiancÚ and my soon-to-be father-in-law both work for Parks as well, so I'm especially excited to be a part of the agency!


Meet the Locals: The American Marten

Martens are shy, medium-sized omnivores from the weasel family--sporting a long bushy tail and ranging from 18-25" in length and 1.5-2.8 lbs. With large foot pads they are able to walk on top of deep snow in the winter. Long hairs between their foot pads keep their feet warm. Sometimes American martens travel subnivean, (below the snow's surface), to hunt. These solitary mammals prey heavily on red squirrels, but they are known to eat just about anything- birds, fish, frogs, insects, carrion seasonal fruit, seeds, and especially beech nuts. Most active during dusk and dawn, they spend the majority of their lives in and around mature spruce - fir coniferous forest, or a mixed hardwood, especially beech tree - coniferous forest.

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