By Alicia Dziak

In a recent press release, New York State and Parks & Trails New York announced $450,000 in state grants to 21 organizations dedicated to the stewardship and promotion of New York State parks, historic sites and public lands.

Among the recipients, Friends of Allegany State Park will receive $4,250 for the construction of approximately two miles of new, narrow tread trail, as part of the park’s master plan. Funds will cover the materials for the trail, new signage, and informational kiosks and maps. The trail will be created in collaboration with the Western New York Mountain Bike Association (WNYMBA).

According to Allegany State Park manager Tom Livak, this project is being done in cooperation with Allegany State Park and will be located in the Summit Area of the Park, with the trailhead located on Stone Tower Road. The Friends of Allegany State Park will have to raise an additional $375 in cash and $375 labor in matching funds, for a total of $5,000 towards the project.

“This project was previously included in the 2010 Allegany State Park Master Plan and coincides with another grant that NYS OPRHP just received federal authorization to proceed with under the Recreational Trails Program (RTP),” explained Livak. “The RTP Grant authorizes the project to enter the Preliminary Design Phase for a 3.5 mile section (Phase 1/Loop 1) of the ‘singletrack’ trail for use by mountain bikers and hikers. $3,000 has been authorized under this phase with future phases of Final Design and Construction expected to follow.  WNYMBA will be the driving force for the development of this project at Allegany State Park and has already worked closely with park management to create some highly popular ‘singletrack’ riding in the Summit Area of the Park (3.3 mile Old Thunder Run).”

“We actually have already started Phase I of the project and will continue to work on it all year,” said WNYMBA president, Jacob Bodway. “We hope the project will be completed in a couple years, depending on the amount of volunteers and the weather conditions.  All told, the project will include eight miles of singletrack at the Stone Tower, with an additional proposed 12 miles at Cain Hollow.” 

WNYMBA is actively working on fundraising and volunteer recruitment for the project.

“Currently, we are doing a raffle for two fat bike frames from Growler Performance Bikes,” explained Bodway. “We did the same raffle last fall and raised $1,400.  We hope to match that amount again.”

He added that the group also just finished the club’s beer release fundraiser at Flying Bison Brewing Company in Buffalo.  “I believe that we raised $1,800 from various raffles and beer tickets from that event,” Bodway said.

WNYMBA’s relationship with the park dates to the Raccoon Rally race, which has taken place in June for the last 25 years or so. “Allegany State Park was one of the few places in WNY that allowed mountain biking back in the day,” Bodway noted. “Thankfully, other county parks and state forests have granted WNYMBA access to build new multi-use singletrack throughout the region.  We currently have trails at McCarty Hill State Forest, Hunter’s Creek County Park, Sprague Brook County Park, Golden Hill State Forest, Letchworth State Park, and Harris Hill State Forest.”

WNYMBA is always looking for volunteers to help with trail work, and it’s no different for the Stone Tower Trail at Allegany State Park.  “We plan to have a trail work weekend on April 7-8 (as long as the snow is mostly gone) and will continue to have trail days all summer,” Bodway said. “We post our trail work days on Meetup, on our WNYMBA website, and on our Facebook page.”

The Quaker side of the park will also benefit from grant money designated for improving the experience for bike riders.

Allegany State Park just received Federal Authorization for the Preliminary Design Phase under a Recreation Trails Program grant from Federal Highway Administration and NYS DOT.  The federal authorization permits preliminary design expenditures in an amount of $31,250 which is part of a phased approval approach under the RTP grant program that will ultimately lead to final design and construction approvals at some point in the future as the project advances.

According to Livak, this project focuses on an approximate 1.25 mile section of bike trail in the Quaker Area of Allegany State Park, specifically from Kaiser Cabin Trail area down to the Quaker General Store, adjacent to the Quaker Rental Office. This project will include both renovation of the existing 2650’ bike trail and development of 4050’ of additional trail. The overall trail project will include a paved pathway and the installation of three 60’ bridges and one 20’ bridge.  This project was previously identified and approved in the 2010 Allegany State Park Master Plan.

“We look forward to working to bring both of these very worthwhile projects to fruition here at Allegany State Park,” Livak said.

Other local grant recipients include:

Friends of Reinstein Nature Preserve: $47,411 to hire a Development Manager to cultivate a sustainable donor base and expand the organization’s funding sources in the areas of corporate giving, foundation giving, and planned giving. These actions will increase the long-term viability of Friends of Reinstein Woods, and foster improvements to the educational and stewardship programs supported by Reinstein Woods.

Friends of Letchworth State Park: $12,530 to fund a planning document along with two architectural project reports that will allow the Friends group to more effectively manage and fund projects that will move forward the ongoing effort to preserve the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) legacy in Letchworth State Park.