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.

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