The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) plans to initiate a Volunteer Neighborhood Trail Watch program for the Tinker Falls trail area in Cortland and Onondaga counties and is seeking volunteers to help care for the trails and report any vandalism or damage, DEC Regional Director Kenneth Lynch announced recently.
Tinker Falls, part of Labrador Hollow Unique Area (town of Fabius, Onondaga County and town of Truxton, Cortland County), is a popular hiking locale for many central New Yorkers. The area includes an accessible trail into a viewing area of the falls, connecting trails to the North Country Scenic Trail a trail, part of the Skyline Trail, to Labrador Pond Boardwalk Area, and trails to the hang glider launch site on Jones Hill. For more information on Tinkers Falls visit www.dec.ny.gov/lands/37070.html and http://www.cnyncta.org/.
“The popularity of Tinker Falls as a hiking destination has increased over the past few years,” Lynch said. “While we welcome recreation at Tinker Falls, the increase in visitors has caused wear and tear on the areas around the falls. DEC is looking for volunteers to help care for the area so we can ensure that it will be available for future hikers and recreationalists.”
Increased use of the trails at Tinkers Falls first became noticeable in 2008 when construction of a quarter mile accessible trial into a viewing area of the falls was completed. The impact of increasing numbers of hikers and recreationalists began to have a devastating impact to the sensitive environment in and around the falls. Hikers attempted to climb the steep and treacherous slopes around the falls area which are highly subject to erosion. Because of this, there has been a loss of trees and protecting vegetation. The steep slopes in the area also have eroded. These environmental impacts are significant and, in some cases, irreversible.
This spring DEC discovered that vandals had damaged a partially completed trail that was being constructed around the falls to give hikers a safe, sustainable and defined route to hike in the falls area. Vandals pulled pinned rocks that established a berm around the amphitheater behind the falls and threw the rocks into the falls below, causing thousands of dollars in damage and delaying the project. It is extremely difficult and expensive to get material into the falls area amphitheater.
Volunteers who join the Neighborhood Trail Watch program would be involved with a number of activities at Tinker Falls. Work would include: minor maintenance of trails to stop erosion, clearing of small branches, removing trash, directing visitors away from sensitive areas and eroding slopes, advising visitors of illegal activities and calling DEC enforcement personnel when situations become potentially serious. Volunteers will be part of a Friends of Tinker Falls Adopt A Natural Resource (AANR) agreement. For more details on signing up as a trail watch volunteer, please contact DEC’s Cortland Office at (607) 753-3095 ext. 217.
Tinkers Falls is one of over 200 waterfalls you can visit using the guidebook 200 Waterfalls in Central & Western New York – A Finders’ Guide.