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Wednesday, January 7, 2015 at 11:05 pm

Officials considering bow hunting in Genesee County Park to deal with overpopulation of deer

post by Howard B. Owens in animals, Bethany, Genesee County Park, wildlife

Deer in the southeast part of Genesee County have figured out that if they hide out in the county park they are not going to get shot at, which has led to an overpopulation of deer in the park, causing problems for the county's forestry management efforts.

County officials are considering -- and the discussion is still in early stages -- allowing a limited number of hunters to hunt deer in a portion of the park during bow hunting season.

"We're still working on the actual nuts-and-bolts details of the plan," said Tim Hens, county superintendent of highways. "It hasn't even been presented to the parks advisory committee yet, but I can tell you it would be very limited in nature in terms of not being through the entire park. It would be limited to specific areas of the park to avoid obvious conflicts with bicyclists and hikers and horseback riders and everything else that goes on down there. It is a multi-use park and the safety of everybody is obviously paramount."

The County Park covers about one square mile in Bethany. It was established in 1915 as the first county park in New York. The land was purchased in 1882 in order to procure cooking and heating wood for what was then the county poorhouse. Various efforts to plant trees in the park took place over the next two decades, and by 1935 nearly 170,000 tress had been planted.

The deer hunting plan is being drafted by an ad-hoc committee comprised of the parks supervisor, affiliated agencies like the Department of Environmental Conservation, wildlife and forestry experts, and members of the Genesee County Parks & Recreation Advisory Committee.

The plan would be presented to the advisory committee when completed and if the committee approves it, it would still need approval by the County Legislature.

"Speaking in very general terms, the initial concept calls for a fee-based lottery draw for hunters who will have access to limited regions within the park for limited period of time during regular bow season," Hens said. "Hunting will be bow-only. Focus will be on deer management and there will be an initial emphasis with disabled vets and youth hunts."

The hunt would likely take place for more than one season, Hens said, but whether it became a perpetual event would depend on how successful it was at knocking down the deer population in the park. Letchworth, which is significantly larger, has an annual deer hunt for the same reason, but since the county park is smaller, an annual hunt may not be necessary.

Hens said the ad-hoc committee is interested in community feedback on the proposal and there will be a public information meeting on the plan before it is presented to the Legislature.

Thursday, November 13, 2014 at 12:21 pm

Early November pics from Genesee County Park

post by JIM NIGRO in Genesee County Park, nature, outdoors

As of last weekend there was still a splash of color at Genesee County Park & Forest, as seen along Memory Lane, the main road in the park. 

Soft morning light really enhanced the golden-bronze tint of beech leaves....and it seems that the fallen leaves weren't totally ignored.....

as some creative soul put them to good use.....

Maybe it was this wooly bear and some of his friends...they were out in number on this day.

A blue jay keeps a wary eye on Claudia and myself.

These pics are barely a week old and the scene above is already a memory. Before we know it the park will be cloaked in winter white. Hope to do some snow shoein' here this winter and if we do, I know we'll remember this sunny autumn morning.

Saturday, November 2, 2013 at 9:41 pm

Photo: Fall at Genesee County Park pond

post by Howard B. Owens in Bethany, Genesee County Park

Dylan Brew sent in this photo from Genesee County Park.

Friday, November 1, 2013 at 11:01 am

On the trail at the Genesee County Park & Forest

post by JIM NIGRO in Genesee County Park, outdoors

With 12 miles of trail, there is no shortage of hikeable terrain in the Genesee County Park & Forest.

If you enjoy nature, the park is both a relaxing getaway and outdoor classroom. The variety of flora and fauna found within the park is prolific. As autumn progresses, these Hawthorn hips have turned a deeper shade of red.

This couple from the Buffalo area, along with pets Angus and Bailey, spent the afternoon geocaching.   

The trails offer a bit of diversity in the form of knolls, hills and flat ground.

With an algae-covered pond in the background, a sugar maple stands out in contrast amid a stand of pines.

The fire break trail carpeted with fallen leaves

Looking into the colorful canopy of a sugar maple

The smaller of the park's two wetlands....the other encompasses four acres

This trail, lined with black cherry and beech trees, is narrow compared to the others depicted here....

with an understory of young maple and beech trees, this trail through a stand of pines seems narrower still. Just an optical illusion - it's nowhere near the tight squeeze it appears to be!

Whatever your choice of activity, whether it be bird watching, mountain biking, leisure hiking, geocaching and - come winter - snowshoeing and cross country skiing, there is plenty of room for everyone.

Monday, October 7, 2013 at 7:27 am

Photo: Button buck in Genesee County Park

post by Howard B. Owens in animals, Genesee County Park, outdoors

Sarah Della Penna sent in this photo she took of a button buck in the Genesee County Park.

Thursday, May 9, 2013 at 6:39 am

GCC students open landscape photography show at County Park's Interpretive Center

post by Howard B. Owens in Bethany, GCC, Genesee County Park, Interpretive Center

Press release:

A collaborative effort between Genesee Community College and the Genesee County Park and Forest is giving photography students a first of its kind opportunity. Their work will be displayed in an exhibit at the Park’s Interpretive Center, marking the first time a student exhibit has been shown in the newly expanded exhibit space.

An opening reception is set for Friday, May 10, from 5 to 8 p.m. at the Genesee County Park and Forest Interpretive Center, 11095 Bethany Center Road, East Bethany. The public is invited. Refreshments will be provided.

For their final project, GCC Photography instructor Joe Ziolkowski had his COM 103 (Introduction to Black and White Photography) students explore the landscape of Genesee County and surrounding areas in Western New York. The black and white photographic prints the students created offer their interpretation of how we are preserving and how we are hurting the landscape that surrounds us.

“I think visitors will be as impressed as I am with the work these students created,” said Joe Z. “Sometimes we don’t realize how the things we do every day impact the landscape. We hope these photos give visitors a lot to think and talk about.”

The exhibit, entitled “Around the Bend: The Shared Landscape,” will be on view through Saturday, Aug. 31.

Photo: By Robert Garland, "Trestle, Avon, NY."

Sunday, January 27, 2013 at 5:26 pm

Snowshoeing 101: a primer courtesy of the Genesee County Park volunteers

post by JIM NIGRO in Genesee County Park, outdoors, Snowshoeing

Thankfully a few inches of snow had fallen the previous evening. It was Saturday afternoon and just enough snow to get the gist of snowshoeing. That's park volunteer Charlie Augrom out front, our trail leader for the day.

Before donning snowshoes and hitting the trails, our group was given a brief and informative talk on the history and how-to of snowshoeing by Charlie and Judy Spring. That's Judy pictured above with an older-style Michigan snowshoe.

Here Judy displays a modified version of the Michigan snowshoe. Both styles were forerunners of todays lightweight models.

A modern snowshoe, lightweight and user-friendly.

Just prior to heading out, Charlie assembles the group.

A bit tentative at first, the group is off to a good start.

With each step confidence is gained. A broad smile is an early indicator of a good time.

A trail through the hardwoods.

George Squires, in the background, is a park volunteer and district manager for Genesee County Soil and Water Conservation District. Here he gives an on-the-spot talk regarding the park's spruce forest. 

While the rest of the group continues on through towering Norway spruce, George makes sure all trekkers are accounted for. 

This pair certainly seem to be enjoying themselves.

The trail leads between snow-covered spruce boughs.

Evergreens on the left, hardwoods on the right -- we're in the home stretch...

The 90-minute hike proved to be exhilarating, invigorating and informative. In addition to the above mentioned people, I'd like to express our thanks to park volunteers Mary Jane Pearce and Peggy Grayson who accompanied our group.

Snowshoes can be rented at the Genesee County Park Interpretive Center and they can be reached 585-344-1122.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012 at 8:53 am

A walk through the Genesee County Park

Being it was the second week of December and no snow on the ground, I suggested to Claudia we should load up the dogs and head to the county park. And because we had Tate and Ernie along, we decided to stay off the side trails and stick to the main road.

This is one of many interconnecting trails found in the park. Despite staying on the "beaten path," there was no shortage of wildlife.

Not far from the interpretive center where we parked, this piebald doe hightailed it across the road...moments later she was followed by the fork horn pictured below.

Notice how, unlike the doe, his tail is tucked? But not all bucks think alike.....

This buck was right behind the forkhorn. Obviously older and wiser, his tail isn't tucked, but neither is it in full alarm mode. He seems somewhat tentative about our presence and he probably has other things on his mind...the action seen here suggests the second rut may be kicking into high gear.

Beech trees are prolific in this section of the park. Some of the younger beech have yet to shed their leaves.

Young spruce surviving among the hardwoods.

The headwaters of Black Creek flow through Genesee County Park. The creek will continue its northward flow through Bethany, Stafford and into Byron where it will make an eastward turn and continue into Bergen before entering Monroe County where it will eventually flow into the Genesee River.

Just downstream from the stone bridge we saw sign of beaver activity along the creek.

Thursday, October 18, 2012 at 4:40 pm

Photos: A walk in the woods, Genesee County Park

post by Howard B. Owens in Bethany, Genesee County Park, photos

This morning, bright and early, I arrived at Genesee County Park, in Bethany, for a walk in the woods, with my camera of course.

If you've never been to the park, I highly recommend it. It's another one of Genesee County's gems.

Monday, March 5, 2012 at 2:17 pm

Paul Osborn making his mark on Genesee County's parks

EDITOR'S NOTE: This story is part of a series prepared on behalf of the tourism agency of the Genesee County Chamber of Commerce. The new tourism guide was recently published and is available at the chamber's office and will soon be available at other tourism locations. The official tourism site for Genesee County is VisitGeneseeNY.com.

Some people leave their mark on the land by building highways and shopping centers.

Paul Osborn is leaving his mark by making Genesee County's parks more accessible and inviting to visitors.

Osborn started his parks career 12 years ago after getting a degree in landscape architecture, but he thinks he made the right choice when he decided to apply to the county for a parks job.

"It was an opportunity to be part of creating something that will be there forever," Osborn said. "It my chance to create a legacy, to leave my stamp on things."

When Osborn took over as parks supervisor, the Genesee County Park in Bethany was in pretty bad shape, he said, and Dewitt Recreational Area was less than two years old and needed a lot of improvements.

"It was an opportunity to show what I could do for the community," said Osborn, a native of Oakfield who still lives in Genesee County with his wife of 12 years, Melinda, and their two children.

The vast Genesee County Park, covering 430 acres, was beset by disrepair when Osborn started. The bridges were getting old, the pavilions needed fixing, the playgrounds weren't up to standards and the facilities management structure was just a hut with a dirt floor.

Slowly, Osborn was able to rehabilitate the park infrastructure, and improve access for people with disabilities.

Today, the park is one of the gems to attract people to Genesee County.

With more than 150,000 trees, which were planted between 1885 and 1935, the park was the first county forest established in New York’s history.

Its four acres of wetlands provide habitat for waterfowl. There are also five ponds, a few of which are good fishing spots.

Visitors can enjoy five picnic areas and four playgrounds. There are pavilions equipped with grills and restrooms at each area. Hikers, walkers, runners and long-distance skiers can enjoy more than 10 miles of marked and mapped trails.

There's also a baseball and football field, horseshoe pits, volleyball courts, and a sledding hill.

Dewitt Recreational Area, on Cedar Street in Batavia, is where Osborn has been able to exercise some of his creative energy.

While there was a master plan in place for Dewitt when he took over, it doesn't specify every detail of development. This allowed Osborne to choose the design of pavilions, select picnic tables and playground equipment and decide the best placement for them all.

And the park is still a work in progress.

Currently, it offers a state-of-the-art playground in easy view of either of its pavilions, plus a quarter-mile track, all on the edge of a large pond. The water is stocked each spring with brown trout, providing a lure to young anglers right in the city.

Since Osborn took over the parks, the Nature Center at Genesee County Park has also undergone its own kind of upgrades (the center is off Bethany Center Road, the last left before crossing the county line).

With the help of Judy Spring, environmental education specialist, programs have been added, displays made more interactive and marketing has been improved so local residents can stay apprised of what's going on at the center.

The 3,000-square-foot center was built in 1998. It offers a laboratory, a classroom, several display areas and a conference room. From the back porch, visitors are often able to view wildlife hanging out in their natural setting. The center is open year-round Thursday through Sunday, with hours varying according to the season. 

"The nice thing about our parks is that there’s something for everyone when they come,” Osborn said.

While Osborn is no naturalist -- he considers himself a facilitator for the parks, and finds the right experts to help with forestry and wetlands management -- he does think the parks play an important role in a healthy community.

He frets about childhood obesity and that too many children today do not get enough opportunities to play in the dirt.

"Last year we had a small girl from Batavia who had never been outside in the woods," Osborn said. "She needed a leader to hold her hand because she had never been in the woods before.

"Here we are living in a rural community and there is a little girl who has never been in the woods. That's just shameful for society. We need the chance for natural experiences."

Photos by Howard Owens

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