By Senator Patty Ritchie
The days are getting longer, the temperature is getting warmer, and for many, the countdown to summer is officially “on.”
For many people, a big part of the upcoming season is spending time at the magnificent parks and historic sites that dot the Central and Northern New York region.
From the breathtaking Thousand Islands to the shores of Lake Ontario, there are so many special spots to boat, camp, fish, hike and much, much more.
On May 4, volunteers across the state will take to state parks and historic sites for the second annual “I Love My Park Day.” Through this statewide initiative, volunteers will help spruce up parkland and beaches, plant trees and gardens, restore trails and wildlife habitats and more before the busy season kicks into gear.
There are a number of “I Love My Park Day” events taking place in Central and Northern New York.
To find an event near you, visit the Parks & Trails New York website at www.ptny.org
Today, the New York State Park System includes 178 state parks and 35 state historic sites, covering a total of 325,000 acres. Many of those parks are right here in our backyard.
In 2011, I asked Central and Northern New Yorkers to weigh in on which park in our region was the best.
Cole’s Creek State Park in Waddington took home the top prize, with many other local treasures close behind.
These destinations don’t just provide recreational opportunities, they are major economic drivers, too.
Each year, more than four million people visit state parks in Central New York and the Thousand Islands Region, spending more than $200 million in nearby stores, and helping support 2,500 local jobs.
Last year, thousands of people pitched in for the first “I Love My Park Day.”
This year, I encourage you to give back and help keep these special spots beautiful by taking part in an “I Love My Park Day” event near you.