Red House entrance booth

By Rick Miller

The Allegany Region Commission agreed last week to put in a bid to host the 2019 annual meeting of the New York State Council of Parks at Allegany State Park.

The last time Allegany State Park hosted an annual meeting of the New York State Council of Parks was in 2001, said Commission Chairman Dalton J. Burgett during the group’s meeting on Dec. 12.

“The last time they were here, they really liked it,” he added.

One reason the Council of Parks hasn’t returned, Burgett said, is because “nobody wants to travel.” Most meetings are in the Albany, Hudson Valley and New York City areas. The most recent meeting, however, was in Niagara Falls.

“It’s the biggest state park east of the Mississippi,” Burgett said. “They don’t know how big a park this is. Once they get exposed to it, I think they better understand our needs.”

Bernadette Castro was commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation when the last meeting was held in Allegany, Burgett said.

Then, commissioners from around the state stayed at Chautauqua Institution.

Commissioner Michael McLaughlin said the state visitors could stay in Ellicottville, which is closer to Allegany State Park. Commissioner Lisa Feinberg-Duckett wondered if commissioners could stay at cabins in the state park or at the Seneca Allegany Resort and Casino.

Feineberg-Duckett said there would probably be a lot of volunteers needed for the event. “I think you’d get a lot of volunteers,” she added.

“People remember all the activities we had,” Burgett said. “We made it work once and it was as smooth as silk.”

Regional Director Jay Bailey told commissioners that the $6 million Red House Lake dam/bridge project is scheduled to go on winter shutdown in a few weeks.

A few storms this fall raised the level of the lake, which had been lowered 8 feet to do rehabilitation work, Bailey said. That delayed the project briefly. It is now going as scheduled.

In addition, bridge beams to support the surface of the new road have arrived in the state park, Bailey said.

Patrick Dove, the park’s new trails coordinator, outlined work accomplished on the parks 236 miles of multi-use trails since he started in the position a year ago.

He said he has recruited a number of trail stewards to aid in maintenance and upkeep of he trails. Last year they provided the equivalent of $65,000 worth of volunteer labor.

For example, between 250 and 400 trees fall across park trails every year. This year they have cleared 293 trees from the trails.

Dove has a paid staff of three working for 14 weeks during the summer on trail maintenance. Other groups also volunteer for trail maintenance duties, and several special events to bring in other volunteers.

Dove displayed new trail signs that can be seen on the trails. The park used to have trouble with raccoons eating metal signs. They settled on a thin plastic. The raccoons pass them by.

Not so some trail users, however. “We have to resign some trails two or three times a year,” Dove said. “People take them for souvenirs.”