Partner Spotlight: NYS Parks (OPRHP)
In our ten year history, we have completed seven major projects in New York's State Parks. These public lands are managed by the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (ORPHP). Our volunteer crew leaders coordinate directly with park managers to design and schedule projects, at their request. Our current project, the Lenape Steps at Sam's Point Natural Area, is in its second year. We spoke with Park Manager Hank Alicandri to gain some insight into how this project fits in with greater park improvements. Currently, the High Point carriage road is under restoration, which will connect Sam's Point to Minnewaska State Park property. In addition, work is underway at Verkeerderkill Falls, including rock work and bog bridge installation. In fact, Rover Dylan Medici, a 2020 recruit, is heading up a stone crew for the NY-NJ Trail Conference with his newfound skills and inspiration.
The Lenape Steps project is an important project for the park because it's an iconic spot that almost everyone visits. It gives people "a spectacular alternative to slogging up the carriage road" with its "reveal, hide, reveal" pathway. Hank noted that the way the Rovers have built it, the staircase is incredibly durable and sustainable, and it fits right into the park esthetic.
New York State depends on volunteers entirely for single-track trails: "there's no way trails could be maintained without them", according to Hank. Volunteers interact closely with and are supported by staff, and they also serve as an interface with the public. This is the third project the Rovers have undertaken in Sam's Point, and Hank is hopeful that there will be more projects to come. As for what makes the Rovers unique among volunteer groups, Hank pointed to the crew's democratic/tribal structure: "One thing I really like about the Rovers is that decisions are made at a groundswell level. It ensures volunteers are doing what they want to do, and it's satisfying - it's unique."