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Monday, February 16, 2015 at 5:31 pm

Sea Cadets learning winter survival skills at Genesee County Park

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

A group of Sea Cadets are spending five days in Genesee County Park learning winter survival skills.

It's an annual event for the cadets, who hail from throughout Western New York.

The Sea Cadet program is sponsored by the U.S. Navy League and runs year-round.

Youths from 11 to 13 are called leaguers and actual cadets are age 13 through high school graduation. The program includes two weeks of basic training, monthly meetings at either Buffalo Navy Reserve Center or the Buffalo Navy Park, and annual training in a specialty. Cadets can choose any specialty the Navy offers, from firefighting to military law.

Choose to train as a Navy Seal and you will get to spend two weeks training with actual Navy Seals.

The winter survival course is designed to teach basic first aid, plus how to survive for at least a short time in winter conditions.

One of the tasks today was for cadets to build a quinzee, which is an igloo-like structure made from a mound of compacted snow that can be used as a temporary shelter if you became stranded outside during a winter storm.

Thursday, February 5, 2015 at 11:02 pm

County shares further details on plan for bow hunting in park

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

Questions were answered and misconceptions cleared during a meeting in Bethany Wednesday night on a proposal to allow deer hunting during bow season in Genessee County Park, said Parks Supervisor Paul Osborn.

The proposal, which must be approved by the County Legislature, is designed to help thin the deer population in the park, which has grown to nuisance levels as deer are destroying park vegetation and preventing new trees from getting established.

About 60 people attended the meeting.

A few people expressed concerns that were based on misconceptions, Osborn said, such as hunters being able to use guns (they can't) and the potential conflicts with non-hunting users of the park.

The hunters will be confined to 12 zones along the southern border of the park, according to the presentation given to the audience. While the hiking trails will be open, hunters are being told to stay clear of trails and be courteous of others using the park.

No trees will be removed or trimmed nor are hunters allowed to engage in clearing to create shooting lanes. The prohibition is good for conservation, but will limit the distance an arrow can travel, requiring hunters to get closer to their targets and take better shots.

"Our goal is to grow trees, not to cut them down just so we an hunt deer," Osborn said. "Our goal is to grow trees so people can enjoy them."

Hunters will be selected through a lottery Sept. 15, following a Sept. 11 deadline for applications, which open Aug. 17.

Two zones will be set aside for youth and disabled veterans, and young hunters and disabled veterans will be given priority over hunters from outside Genesee County.

In all, 48 hunters will be selected to receive permits for the four-week season, which runs from Oct. 19 through Nov. 15.

There is a mandatory informational class Oct. 3, which is where the permits will be distributed to the 48 winners upon payment of a $25 fee.

Each winning hunter will be granted permission to hunt in a single zone for a single week.

The first deer taken must be anterless. The second deer can be either a legal deer with antlers or anterless, and hunters are encouraged to take only anterless deer. 

If the hunter takes two deer before the end of his or her week-long permit expires, the zone will be vacant for the remainder of that week.

Permits are non-transferable. While a hunter may be accompanied by one guest, the guest is not allowed to hunt at any time.

Hunting will be limited from sunrise to noon each day. 

Hunters will be required to park in the designated parking lot and walk to their respective zones.

The plan is subject to modification until approved by the Legislature.

One modification, suggested by a person at yesterday's meeting, is that hunters entering the park be required to sign in and sign out when they leave.

Osborn said that idea was well received. It will help ensure hunters safely exit the park.

Thursday, January 8, 2015 at 12:05 am

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 1:21 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 10:41 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 12:01 pm

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 8:27 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 7:39 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 6:26 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 9:53 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.

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