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Genesee County Park

April 23, 2015 - 3:09pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in arts, GCC, photography, Bethany, Genesee County Park.

Combining environmental awareness with a photography assignment, Genesee Community College instructor Joe Ziolkowski asked his students to create sustainable still life photographs. From plastic cups to light bulbs, images about carpooling and recycling shoes, students responded in interesting and thought-provoking ways.

The community is invited to view the works as the exhibit, Sustainable Still Life, moves to the Genesee County Park and Forest. An opening reception is planned May 8 from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Park's Interpretive Nature Center, 11095 Bethany Center Road, East Bethany.

Since he came to GCC, Ziolkowski has developed an excellent relationship with the staff at the Genesee County Park and Forest. This is the third exhibit of GCC student work that will be shown at the Park's Interpretive Nature Center. Previous displays have included "Around the Bend: The Shared Landscape" and "Environmental Portraits of Western New York."

"The exhibits have been very well received by the community and are an excellent opportunity for our students to show their work beyond the campus," Ziolkowski said. "This particular show is especially fitting for the Park setting as we think about preserving the Earth and reducing our carbon footprint."

The works have been on view in the Lobby Art Gallery of GCC's Stuart Steiner Theatre and were a part of the College's annual ECO-Fest celebrating Earth Day. The pieces represent work by students in Ziolkowski's COM 118 (Introduction to Digital Photography) and COM 103 (Introduction to Black & White Photography) classes.

They will be on view in the Gallery at GCC through April 29. Ziolkowski will install them at the Interpretive Nature Center on Saturday, May 2. They will remain there through the summer. The exhibit will close on Friday, Sept. 11.

"We're excited to once again show student work at the Nature Center," Parks Supervisor Paul Osborn said. "We hope many people will join us for the Opening Reception on May 8th. It's a great way to celebrate a long-awaited Spring!"

Megan Ange / "Saving Water"
On a day-to-day basis, we use water for many things. We use water to wash our hands after using the bathroom, to wash dishes, brush our teeth and take a shower. We all forget to turn the water off from time to time when we are not using it, myself included. There could be a faucet leaking, and if that is the case then maybe you should check to see if you turned the knob of the faucet all the way so it is turned off instead of wasting the water. Everyone takes water for granted, but if you do the little things to save it, then you will be less likely to have a high water bill and not have to worry about problems that might happen if you leave it on. "Water is the driving force of all nature." - Leonardo da Vinci

Ellen Fridman / "Pin It"
REDUCE. Line-drying is back! Dryers are not going to go away any time soon but it seems like more people are returning to the use of the sun and wind to dry their clothing and linens. There are several benefits to clothesline drying. Hanging laundry out to dry instead of turning on the dryer lowers carbon emissions, reduces gas or electric bills, helps clothing and linens last longer, and establishes an excuse to get outside. Experts say that if all Americans line-dried for half a year, 3.3 percent of the country's total residential output of carbon dioxide would be saved. For those in colder climates, try using drying racks inside. Go Green!

Miguel Ortiz-Teed / "The Legend of Books"
As time progresses -- technology advances. This progression has lead from hand-held books where you can flip a page with your hands to tablets where you swipe to turn the page and have a massive library in the palm of your hands. This causes bookbinders to lose their jobs and technology takes their place. Eventually books will revert into a legend where only the wealthy will be able to afford them. This also produces a risk for all the knowledge that is stored within technology to be lost if an Electrical Magnetic Pulse were to hit either by a solar flare or warfare.

Paul Thater / "Light at the End of the Tunnel"
The photo was based off of the joke: "The government had to turn off the light at the end of the tunnel due to budget cuts." The light bulb has a black background to symbolize darkness in a tunnel with the light bulb off. This photo shows saving money by not using and saving electricity, which makes your bill smaller and gives you more money to spend on necessities.

April 16, 2015 - 12:00pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in hunting, outdoors, Genesee County Park.

A proposal to allow limited deer hunting this fall in the Genesee County Park won't get the unanimous support of county legislators.

Legislator Mike Davis said during the Ways and Means Committee meeting that he can't support the proposed local law change that will make the hunt possible.

He said he was concerned about the safety of other park users during hunting season.

"If the park were completely closed to all but hunting, then I'm in, but without that I just can't support it," Davis said.

The committee the voted with the one dissenting vote to recommend passage of the local law to the full Legislature.

Davis was recently appointed to the Legislature and represents the Darien and Pembroke areas of the county.

Under terms of the proposal, bow hunting will be confined to 12 zones along the southern border of the park. While the hiking trails will be open, hunters are being told to stay clear of trails and be courteous of others using the park.

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.

February 16, 2015 - 4:31pm
posted 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.

February 5, 2015 - 10:02pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in hunting, outdoors, Genesee County Park.

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.

January 7, 2015 - 11:05pm
posted 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.

November 13, 2014 - 12:21pm
posted by JIM NIGRO in outdoors, Genesee County Park, nature.

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.

November 2, 2013 - 10:41pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Bethany, Genesee County Park.

Dylan Brew sent in this photo from Genesee County Park.

November 1, 2013 - 12:01pm
posted by JIM NIGRO in outdoors, Genesee County Park.

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.

October 7, 2013 - 8:27am
posted by Howard B. Owens in animals, outdoors, Genesee County Park.

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

May 9, 2013 - 7:39am
posted by Howard B. Owens in GCC, Bethany, 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."

January 27, 2013 - 5:26pm
posted by JIM NIGRO in outdoors, Genesee County Park, 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.

December 18, 2012 - 8:53am

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.

October 18, 2012 - 5:40pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, Bethany, Genesee County Park.

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.

March 5, 2012 - 2:17pm

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

November 5, 2011 - 10:46pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, Bethany, Genesee County Park.

One of the things I've wanted to find time to do all fall is take Pachuco for a walk in Genesee County Park. Today, we took a short walk and, of course, I brought my camera. Above was taken by a pond on the north side of the park.

June 4, 2011 - 3:08pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, Bethany, Genesee County Park.

Rachel Ingutti, a member of the educational staff at the Seneca Zoo brought a collection of snakes, lizards, salamanders and a tortoise to the Interpretive Nature Center at the Genesee County Park in Bethany today.

The turtle below is a new addition to the Interpretive Nature Center, giving visitors a live animal to view (rather than just the interesting collection of stuffed species on display at the center).

April 30, 2011 - 8:49pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in Bethany, Genesee County Park.

Dozens of volunteers came out to the Genesee County Park this morning to walk the trails and pick up trash and debris as part of the park's annual spring clean up.

May 16, 2010 - 10:35pm
posted by Howard B. Owens in photos, Genesee County Park.

gencountypark03.jpg

Today, Pachuco went for a walk in Genesee County Park -- great place to walk with a dog and a camera.

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