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Summer Offers Opportunity to Explore Local Attractions

<p>Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski)</p>
Assemblyman Will Barclay (R-Pulaski)

With the summer weather comes, finally, an opportunity to appreciate some outdoor fun. Though many enjoy the snowy weather and all that comes with it, our area truly shines in the summer as community bands come together to entertain large crowds, farmers are able to share their season’s bounty at markets throughout the area and children are on vacation and free to enjoy time with their families.

Though folks can finally enjoy their backyards, a good deal of enjoyment can also be found within the State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation system. From camping to visiting places where state and national history was made, the warm months offer parents and grandparents to create traditions and teach valuable history lessons that will be passed on to the next generation.

The New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation web site maintains an informative web site that details what attractions each park and historic site offers the public. On the site, the state is broken up into 13 regions. Central New York is the ninth region. As one of the largest regions within the state parks system, the Central Region encompasses a 9,000-square-mile area, from the shores of Lake Ontario in the north, to the Pennsylvania state line in the south. From the map, visitors can locate areas nearby or destination locations and view which spots offer camping, swimming, boating, trails, golf or history in a detailed list of each park’s offerings.

Just to give an example, in the 124th Assembly district alone, there are two prominent historic sites: the Old Erie Canal and Fort Ontario. Neither charge for entry but do ask for donations. The Old Erie Canal State Historic Park, which is partially located in Camillus, is a 36-mile stretch of the 363-mile Old Erie Canal. The park has been designated a National Recreational Trail by the National Parks Service. The terrain is woodland and wetland that present opportunities for hiking, picnicking, horseback riding, bicycling, canoeing, fishing, and snowmobiling. According to the State Park’s website, “Several areas have footbridges that aid access to the canal towpath where visitors can view the remnants of stone aqueducts. The park offers picnic pavilions and carriage rides by appointment. Facilities such as the Chittenango Landing Canal Boat Museum, the Erie Canal Village, and the Canastota Canal Town Museum are involved in preservation, interpretation, and recreation along the waterway.”

Likewise, visitors to Fort Ontario State Historic Site in Oswego today see the star-shaped fort restored to its 1868-1872 appearance. An orientation exhibit in the Enlisted Men’s Barracks tells the history of the fort and the officers, the enlisted men, their families, and civilians at Fort Ontario between May 1868 and April 1869. Since 1755 Fort Ontario has been rebuilt and garrisoned and changed hands several times. Between 1944 and 1946, Fort Ontario was used as an emergency refugee center for victims of the Holocaust. In 1946 the fort was transferred to the State of New York.

Spending the day at any park is not only great for your wallet, it’s great for your health too. According to the National Parks and Recreation web site, frequently going to a park and being active can reduce stress, improve cardiovascular health, help ward off obesity and decrease feelings of depression. Playing in parks also helps children build and maintain healthy bones, muscles, and joints, improve self-esteem. Apart from the health benefits, it’s just plain fun and lets families and friends bond in a place other than each other’s homes.

As many of you have no doubt experienced, the physical beauty of the glacially carved lakes, valleys, waterfalls, and mountains of this state is awe-inspiring. I often hear visitors and residents of New York remark on its beauty. Our four seasons, fresh water lakes, tall green trees, vegetation, and sunsets are appreciated and envied by many tourists. I hope you and your family are able to take a break and enjoy one or several of these many local attractions this summer.

If you have any questions or comments or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office by mail at 200 North Second Street, Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at [email protected] or by calling (315) 598-5185.