Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the completion of a new master plan designed to enhance John Boyd Thacher State Park as a four-season destination for adventurous outdoor recreation, exploration and fitness in the Capital District. The plan was designed by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation with input from park stakeholders and members of the surrounding communities.
Thacher State Park is one of the Capital Districts most popular destinations for mountain biking, trail running and cross-country skiing for outdoor adventure and exploration. The State is putting forward a plan to make this great Park even better by creating adding more hiking trails, creating a new mountain bike park and much more, Governor Cuomo said. Generations of New Yorkers and their families have enjoyed everything the Park has to offer. With these improvements, we are making sure future generations can do the same.
The master plan recommends new facilities and new partnerships to build on the parks tradition of outdoor recreation, encourage healthy physical activity, and open the park to more diverse activities such as rock-climbing and caving. State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey said. Governor Cuomo continues to provide the resources that are allowing us to revitalize our parks in a way that we havent seen in generations and for that we are so excited and thankful.
The master plan outlines State Parks vision for potential capital improvements, operational enhancements and natural and cultural resource stewardship within Thacher and Thompson Lake State Parks for the next ten to fifteen years, dependent on the availability of funding. The plan was developed with comments received by park stakeholders and input received at several public information meetings in the community.
Specific recommendations of the plan include:
- Expand and improve the trail network, one of the parks most popular features, including the creation of a new Tory Cave Trail extending north from the Indian Ladder Trail, developing a new trail to provide visual access to the Hailes Cave opening, and creating a 4.6 mile bike path connecting the Escarpment Trails to Thompsons Lake.
- Develop a rock climbing management plan with a rock climbing group to safely permit the activity in select areas of the park.
- Solicit proposals from concessionaires to develop a high ropes adventure course in the park.
- Design and install a mountain biking skills park in cooperation with mountain biking groups to provide technical facilities that pose multiple levels of difficulty and a series of looped trails where riders can practice their skills.
- Develop a management plan with the Northeast Caving Conservancy to permit cave exploration.
- Install a new challenge course recreation area at the former pool site incorporating elements such as swinging balance beam, triangle traverse, rope bridges and tire swings to test physical strength, stamina, agility, balance, and flexibility.
State Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk said, "New York's state park system draws visitors and tourist dollars from all across the nation. The improvements announced by Governor Cuomo for John Boyd Thacher State Park will attract rock climbers, mountain bikers, snow mobilers and families looking for fun and recreation in the great outdoors. This is a great day for Thacher Park and all of us who love it!"
Assemblymember Patricia Fahy said, "Thacher Park is a precious jewel that is treasured by New York residents both near and far. It is a special place to visit for its beautiful vistas, hiking trails and many opportunities for relaxation and recreation. Its value to those of us who live in the Capital Region is immeasurable and its proper stewardship is essential. The many who gave input and worked on the master plan are to be congratulated. Their efforts, resulting in the plan's completion, will enable us to both protect the park and maximize its use long into the future."
Albany County Executive Dan McCoy said, When I talk about the jewels of Albany County, John Boyd Thacher State Park is one of them. I applaud Governor Cuomos holistic vision of improving New York State not only through economic development and educational opportunities but also through recreation.
John Kilroy, President of the Friends of Thacher Park, said, "The Friends of Thacher and Thompsons Lake State Parks are very happy with the master plan for the parks. We appreciate the work by everyone who have been part of this process. We look forward to working with the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation in the implementation of the plan. We believe the plan will benefit the people of the Capital Region for many years to come. John Boyd Thacher State Park is the crown jewel of the area and the plan ensures that it will continue to shine."
Gabriel Miani of the Thacher Climbing Coalition, said, "The Thacher Climbing Coalition is excited for the consideration and addition of climbing at Thacher State Park. We look forward to working with New York State Parks to establish this activity in a thoughtful, sustainable, and responsible manner for the mutual benefit of the Park, the surrounding communities, and the East Coast climbing community. The hard work starts now!"
Robert Addis, President of the Northeastern Cave Conservancy, said, The NCC is both grateful and enthusiastic to be offered opportunities in cave management within the Park boundaries. We started a cave location and survey project under a permit system in 2012 and had 40 NCC members donate over 329 volunteer hours so far to both the survey and the installation of the bat-friendly gate in Hailes Cave. The NCC felt privileged to be heard at the public hearings and to be given a section in the final Master Plan for Thacher Park. It will be this partnership between the State and a nonprofit organization which will allow the Northeastern Cave Conservancy to implement its mission of the conservation of the unique underground resource and to offer meaningful interpretation to the parks visitors.
Chris Morris, Vice President of Saratoga Mountain Bike Association, said, SMBA is very excited by the addition of a skills park and bike-specific trails at John Boyd Thacher State Park! The trails and skills area will be a great recreational opportunity for riders of all ages throughout the Capital Region.
Chad Saddlemire, President of Frontier Sno-Riders, said, The Frontier Sno-Riders Snowmobile Club operating in Albany, Montgomery, Schenectady and Schoharie counties have worked closely with the NYS OPR&HP to connect the statewide snowmobile trail system with John Boyd Thacher State Park. FSR looks forward to providing safe and well groomed trail access to the state park for winter recreation enjoyment.
Chris Fallon, Thacher Park Manager, said, We are truly excited about this wonderful new plan. As we approach the 100th anniversary of the Park in 2014, what better time than to adopt a plan that will guide the park into a bright, new future? We are grateful for the input and comments from our many partner organizations throughout this process. As we move forward with implementation of the plan, we look forward to working with these partners as we strive to provide the best stewardship possible for this spectacular resource.
The plan also calls for unifying the Thacher State Park with the neighboring Thompson Lake campground, expanding the Thompson Lake beach, and building a new visitors center to provide rentable gathering space, educational exhibit space, and visitor orientation and information.
The plan is posted on State Parks website: http://www.nysparks.com/inside-our-agency/master-plans.aspx. Copies are also available at the Regional Office, the Park Office, the agency office, and at the following libraries: Voorheesville Public Library, 51 School Road, Voorheesville, NY 12186; Berne Public Library, 1656 Helderberg Trail, Berne, NY 12023; and Guilderland Public Library, 2228 Western Ave., Guilderland, NY 12084.