Today, after a three mile hike through Clark Reservation in Jamesville just outside of Syracuse, my boyfriend Ben and I settled onto the sofa with chips and fresh guacamole (my specialty) for channel surfing. We stopped at the Ken Burns documentary, National Parks: America’s Best Idea, on PBS and both looked at each other in amazement at the coincidence: We had just spent much of our hike discussing Governor Paterson’s plan to close 41 of the 178 State Parks in New York this year. I fear Burns’ next flick may be Closing State Parks: New York’s Worst Idea.
While Clark Reservation is one of the State Parks on the chopping block, Ben and I didn’t hike there to say goodbye (maybe we’re in the denial stage of the grieving process?). We hike Clark often as it’s one of Ben’s favorite parks; he’s been going there since age five. However, knowing that closure is a possibility emphasized just how much we stand to lose. At the risk of being overly dramatic, which I am accused of from time to time, it was like one of those moments in life where you fully contemplate it will end someday. In that instant your focus sharpens onto what’s really important: You vow to live more fully, appreciate the little things, and more frequently proclaim your affection for friends and family. You want to cling to every moment; you’ll never take life for granted again!
At that realization of loss, those features came into sharp focus: I looked down almost 200 feet to the circular Glacier Lake, one of just a handful of meromictic lakes in America – including the two at nearby Green Lakes State Park. Meromictic lakes are unique in that unlike regular lakes, the water levels do not mix. This means that deeper water levels contain sediment and water from thousands of years ago: resources for uncovering natural history. Glacier Lake is the remaining plunge basin of an ancient waterfall estimated to have had a greater water volume than Niagara Falls.
So here we are, listening to the Ken Burns documentary and hearing narrators boast that National Parks are “something more stable than you are, something more enduring than you are” and another state that National Parks are “designed by God and destined to be protected forever.” It doesn’t seem fair that this philosophy applies to National Parks but not State Parks.
Ok, I get it: Life’s not forever. But I assumed that State Parks were. Or, that at least they’d be around for a long, long time. I also figured State Parks best resided in the hands of the government, where they’d be safe from private interests and preserved for the public – yet another everything-ends-someday moment.
Please Patterson and crew, think of America’s Best Idea before you go and make a really bad idea – reality. The problem with paradise is that once it’s lost, it’s rarely found again.
Visit Clark Reservation
Give Yourself: Any amount of time. There are ten trails ranging in length from a half mile to over two – many are linked. Check out a map here.
Highlights: Shaggy bark hickory trees, woodpeckers (and pecked-out trees), and unique limestone formations.
Other Info: Don’t walk along the limestone cliffs in the winter as you can’t see the deep, vertical caves!
Some Hard, Cold Facts
Yes, I know New York State has a $8.2 billion deficit and cutbacks are inevitable. However, closing NY State Parks does not make economic sense: New York State’s tourism industry generates annual revenues of $7 billion (visitor spending, taxes, and fees). And over 53 million people visited NY State Parks last year. It seems that closing parks would actually result in a loss to a major revenue stream, no? Source for Statistics: NYSTVA
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