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Posts Tagged ‘Great Lakes Seaway Trail’

Oswego County Today

The Great Bear Recreation Area near Fulton has been added to the series of self-guided walking tours along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail National Scenic Byway.

Members of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail and Finger Lakes Volkssport groups met recently at Great Bear Recreation Area to enjoy the scenic trail system. You can do it also as a self-guided walk any time.

The Great Bear Walk, organized by the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association and Friends of Great Bear, is the first of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Walks to be entirely “off-road” as it follows well-marked woodland trails.

Volkssporting in German is “the sport of the people.” The Great Bear Walk joins a series of walks created by the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association along or near the 518-mile Great Lakes Seaway Trail National Scenic Byway which parallels Lake Erie, the Niagara River, Lake Ontario, and the St. Lawrence River in New York and Pennsylvania.

The walks are family-oriented and targeted to those who enjoy outdoor physical activity in which people of all ages and fitness levels can participate.

Participants may purchase a pin designating the Great Bear Recreation Area Volkssport Walk by completing the information on the start card for the walk at Great Bear.

Participants may purchase a pin designating the Great Bear Recreation Area Volkssport Walk by completing the information on the start card for the walk at Great Bear.

The Great Bear Springs area is comprised of more than 400 acres in the city of Fulton and town of Volney. The name is based on a Native American legend in which a young brave was attacked by a large bear near the springs.

The property also contains the historic Oswego Canal guard lock number 2 and towpath that were a part of the original Oswego River Canal.

After completing the walk, participants have the option of purchasing a collectible pin depicting the bear for which the area is named.

“The area has more than eight miles of natural trails over rolling terrain, and is ideal for walking, cycling, cross-country skiing and snow shoeing,” said Richard Drosse, coordinator of the Friends of Great Bear. “The Great Bear Walk was developed with the option of either a 3.1 mile or 6.2 mile route, and is sanctioned by the American Volkssport Association.”

The walk is open to all, and there is no charge except for Volkssporters wishing to earn credit or for those interested in purchasing the pin.

In May, a group of 18 walkers from the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association and the Finger Lakes Volkssport Club met in Fulton to christen the Great Bear Walk.

“The Great Bear Walk makes an excellent addition to the series of Great Lakes Seaway Trail Walks, and we’re confident it will serve as an important means to attract visitors to the region,” Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association President Daryl Giles said.

To get started, go to the Riverside Inn located at 930 S. First St. in Fulton and ask for the Great Bear Walk box at the front desk. Participants may purchase a pin designating the Great Bear Recreation Area Volkssport Walk by completing the information on the start card for the walk at Great Bear.

Walkers can then sign in and pick up the walk directions. Oswego County also hosts a sanctioned Volkssport walk near Fort Ontario. The walk is headquartered at the Quality Inn and Suites, 70 E. First St., Oswego, and commemorates the 1814 British Naval attack on Fort Ontario. The walk can be done in 5 and 10-kilometer routes.

For more information on the Great Bear and Oswego 1812 walks, and the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Volkssport Association, visit www.seawaytrail.com/volkssport

To learn more about the Great Bear Recreation Area and Friends of Great Bear, visit www.friendsofgreatbear.com

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Gulls over the Niagara River

Bring binoculars to the Great Lakes Seaway Trail’s Niagara River region to see the 19 species of gulls that winter here. Professional ornithologist and Birding the Great Lakes Seaway Trail author Gerald A. “Gerry” Smith says, “The Niagara River is one of the world’s best gull watching spots. The ‘blizzard of gulls’ is awe-inspiring. Thousands and thousands migrate through here in the early winter with attendant larophiles (avid gull-watchers).” Most gulls belong to the genus Larus.

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Geocaching is a hot new healthy outdoor adventure on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail. Grab your GPS and search for the 75 hidden caches amidst our scenic, natural and cultural landscape.  Have fun and earn collectible geocoins; learn how at www.seawaytrail.com/geotrail.

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Deer Creek Marsh

Those who enjoy exploring natural habitats will want to check out the new Deer Creek Marsh Wildlife Management Area (WMA) brochure now online at www.seagrant.sunysb.edu/glhabitat/PDFS/DeerCreekMarsh2011.pdf. New York Sea Grant produced the new publication in collaboration with The Ontario Dune Coalition, an alliance of private property owners’ associations, non-profit organizations, local government, and state and federal agencies. Entergy’s Environmental Stewardship Program provided funding.

Deer Creek Marsh WMA covers nearly 1,200 acres of state-owned land and provides opportunities for beach and trail hiking, fishing, paddling, trapping, birdwatching, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hunting and relaxing in nature.

The resource brochure written by New York Sea Grant Coastal Community Development Specialist Mary Penney highlights the habitats of the area that is part of the 17-mile Eastern Lake Ontario Dunes and Wetlands Area.

Penney writes of the cobble stones left on the beach by ancient glacier activity and encourages visitors to watch for wood ducks and to fish for northern pike, yellow perch and largemouth bass. She also cautions that at one point in time the fragile dunes were mined for their sand and damaged by vehicle and foot traffic.

Deer Creek Marsh WMA Land Manager Bonnie Parton with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation says, “Deer Creek Marsh is a largely undiscovered treasure offering access to both Deer Creek and Lake Ontario. The dune crossover enables visitors to experience this unique and fragile environment without harming it.”

“The goal of this new publication is two-fold: to let people know about this great natural resource and recreation area that is part of one of the largest inland dune systems in the Eastern Great Lakes region and, most importantly, to inform people about how to protect the resource by using observation platforms, trails, and walkovers,” Penney says.

Deer Creek Marsh WMA is accessible from five parking areas, including a cartop boat launch parking area off Route 3 of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail north of the Salmon River between Route 5 and Rainbow Shores Road.

Take A Paddle - Finger Lakes

Editor’s note: Deer Creek is a wonderful paddle that takes you through the sand dunes to the shores of lake Ontario. This paddle is covered in the guidebook “Take A Paddle – Finger Lakes New York Quiet Water for Canoes & Kayaks.”

Directions to Deer Creek Marsh WMA:
From the south: Follow Interstate Route 81 to the Pulaski exit, turn left and travel 3 miles west on Route 13 to the intersection with Route 3 (Great Lakes Seaway Trail) at Port Ontario. Turn right (north) onto Route 3. Deer Creek Marsh WMA is on the left with a cartop boat launch parking area between Route 5 and Rainbow Shores Road and parking off Kelly Drive and Rainbow Shores Road.

From the north: Follow Interstate Route 81 to the Pulaski exit, turn right and travel to the first stop light in the village, turn left onto Route 11, turn right at the first light and follow Route 5 to the intersection with Route 3 (Great Lakes Seaway Trail) at Port Ontario. Turn right (north) onto Route 3. Deer Creek Marsh WMA is on the left with a cartop boat launch parking area between Route 5 and Rainbow Shores Road and parking off Kelly Drive and Rainbow Shores Road.

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Great Lakes Seaway Trail, NY and PA – Sixty-four – count ‘em – 64 Great Lakes Seaway Trail geocaches are now in place, with another 11 to follow soon, for those who enjoy exploring with their GPS (Global Positioning System) unit in hand. Geocaching.com reports there are as many as 4-5 million geocachers worldwide.

At least 10 ammo boxes emblazoned with the new Great Lakes Seaway Trail logo have been placed in each of five regions (Lake Erie, Buffalo/Niagara Falls, Rochester/Central Lake Ontario, Eastern Lake Ontario, and 1000 Islands/St. Lawrence River) comprising the 518-mile America’s Byway that parallels the freshwater shoreline of New York and Pennsylvania.

Each cache has a uniquely-shaped punch that cachers will use to mark their Great Lakes Seaway Trail GeoTrail logbooks. Once cachers find 10 caches in a region, they can have their logbook validated to receive the distinctive Great Lakes Seaway Trail GeoCoin for that region.

The series of five elegantly-designed antique-metal finish coins features the Flagship Niagara, Niagara Falls and the Maid of the Mist tour boat, Charlotte-Genesee Lighthouse, historic Fort Ontario, and an oceangoing ship on the St. Lawrence River.

“This new Great Lakes Seaway Trail GeoTrail provides a new recreational, historic, cultural and outdoor adventure for travelers to experience the full 518-mile length of the byway,” says Seaway Trail, Inc. President and CEO Teresa Mitchell.

Great Lakes Seaway Trail Project Manager Kurt Schumacher says, “This new economic development initiative linking the Great Lakes Seaway Trail to GPS-guided treasure- hunting along the byway’s full length is a fabulous way to drive new travelers into our shoreline communities and their accommodations, restaurants, shops and services.”

Great Lakes Seaway Trail GeoTrail developer James “Boots” Hooper says he believes this is the longest linear geotrail in the U.S.

“The beautiful landscapes and waterfront, historic sites and natural found only along this unique byway await Great Lakes Seaway Trail geocachers,” says Hooper, a member of the National 4-H Geospatial Science Taskforce, the New York State 4-H Geospatial Leadership Team, and the Rochester-based GeoRoc online community.

Logbooks and coins for all five regions are available at the Seaway Trail Discovery Center in Sackets Harbor, NY. Logbooks and coins for individual regions are found at:
Lake Erie Region
•  Tom Ridge Environmental Center, 301 Peninsula Drive, Suite 1, Erie, PA 16505

Buffalo/Niagara Falls Region
•  Niagara USA Official Visitor Center, 10 Rainbow Blvd., Niagara Falls, NY 14303

Rochester/Central Lake Ontario Region
•  VisitRochester, 45 East Avenue, Suite 400, Rochester, NY 14604
•  Wayne County Tourism Office, 9 Pearl Street, Suite 3, Lyons, NY 14489

Eastern Lake Ontario Region
•  Cayuga County Office of Tourism, 131 Genesee Street, Auburn, NY 13021
•  Oswego County Tourism, 3rd Floor, County Office Building, 46 E. Bridge St., Oswego, NY 13126
•  Screwy Louie’s Sport Shop, 596 Main St., Fair Haven, NY 13064

Thousand Islands/St. Lawrence River Region
•  Seaway Trail Discovery Center, Ray & West Main Streets, Sackets Harbor, NY
13685
•  St. Lawrence County Chamber, 101 Main St., Canton, NY 13617
•  1000 Islands International Tourism Council, 3373 Collins Landing, Alexandria Bay,
NY 13607.

The Great Lakes Seaway Trail GeoTrail sponsors include VisitErie, the Niagara Tourism and Convention Corporation, VisitRochester, Wayne County Tourism, the Fair Haven Area Chamber of Commerce, the Cayuga County Office of Tourism, Oswego County Tourism, the 1000 Islands International Tourism Council, the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce, and the Great Lakes Seaway Trail.

Hooper is busy locating an additional 11 caches throughout the byway region. They will be announced later this year.

GPS coordinates for 100 easily-seen Great Lakes Seaway Trail “outdoor storyteller” signage units at significant points of historic, natural/birdwatching, cultural, maritime, agricultural and architectural note along the byway can be found in the 2010 Great Lakes Seaway Trail Travel Guide online at www.seawaytrail.com.

Seaway Trail, Inc. and the Great Lakes Seaway Trail Discovery Center Gift Shop are official Groundspeak and Geocaching.com merchandise distributors. Learn more at www.seawaytrail.com.

Geocaching 101
·      Geocaching is pronounced geo-cashing, like cashing a check
·      Geocaching combines geo for geography and caching for the process of hiding a cache, which historically has referred to a hidden treasure or concealed food/provisions/cash
·      Who geocaches? More than 4 million people of all ages and interests worldwide
·      Where do you find the GPS coordinates for locating the Great Lakes Seaway Trail geocaches? http://www.geocaching.com lists the coordinates for more than 4 million geocaches around the globe, including those located along the 518 miles of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail. Note: once all are in place, you will find the 75 official Great Lakes Seaway Trail geocaches listed at http://www.geocaching.com as well as other caches hidden in the byway’s 5 regions by individuals and groups. Only the 75 placed by Seaway Trail, Inc. qualify for the Great Lakes Seaway Trail GeoCoins.
·      How are geocaches rated? 1 is the easiest, 5 is the most difficult to locate
·      What is in a typical geocache? A logbook or logsheet with information on who set the cache in place and notes from those finding the cache. The Great Lakes Seaway Trail caches have a uniquely-shaped punch for marking the logbooks that cachers carry with them from cache to cache.

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From now into early June, the Great Lakes Seaway Trail byway, with 518 miles of open water, feeder streams, backbays, and diverse shoreline habitat, becomes a fabulous flyway for spring bird migration.

(Photo: Watch the Great Lakes Seaway Trail waters and shoreline for the Wood Duck – one of only a few North American ducks that nest in trees.  Photo by Dave Beadling)

Ornithologist Gerald Smith says, “Spring migration in the Great Lakes Seaway Trail region is exciting because of the intensity with which the birds head north to their nesting grounds.”

Smith should know. A professional birdwatcher, Smith has spent a lifetime studying the birds and their migration, nesting and breeding habits along the shoreline route that encompasses the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, the Niagara River and Lake Erie in New York and Pennsylvania.

“There is always something in the air over the Great Lakes Seaway Trail whether it be warblers in the spring or raptors in the depths of winter to warm the cockles of a birder’s heart,” Smith says.

This spring Smith suggests one “look up for diurnal migrants and check even unlikely sites for extraordinary rarities that have appeared in unexpected places on the byway.”

The best time to view the greatest number of birds and different species is dawn to mid-morning.

Smith is author of the new, fully-illustrated Birding the Great Lakes Seaway Trail field guide published by Seaway Trail, Inc., the nonprofit organization, based in Sackets Harbor, NY, that promotes travel and tourism along the route that is one of America’s Byways.

Here are some tips from the guidebook for spring birdwatching on the Great Lakes Seaway Trail byway-flyway:

·      Duck Run Ravine at the 540-acre Erie Bluffs State Park is one of the few places the Cerulean Warbler may still nest along the Seaway Trail Pennsylvania shoreline – look closely in late May through early June, but quietly so not to disturb the nesters. The park is 12 miles west of Erie, PA, near Lake City.

·      Tifft Nature Preserve in the Buffalo metropolitan area is one of the largest remaining marshes in Erie County, NY. The area is popular with land bird migrants and wetland breeding birds and is a fine example of the benefits of reclaiming former landfill areas.

·      The far western end of Lake Ontario has several New York State Parks (Four Mile Creek, Wilson-Tuscarora, Golden Hill, and Lakeside Beach) that fill with melodic warblers by the end of April. The colorful Neotropical long-distance fliers are seen here in May.

·      From mid-April to early June, sites near Lake Ontario can be abundant with migrant songbirds. Many species of warblers, vireos, thrushes and flycatchers feed here in preparation for a nocturnal crossing of Lake Ontario. Keep a sharp out in such areas as Sodus Bay and the Lake Shore Wildlife Management Area.

·      A perennially favorite Great Lakes Seaway Trail byway birdwatching spot along the eastern shore of Lake Ontario is Derby Hill, east of Oswego, NY. Smith calls Derby Hill “one of the finest areas for observing spring migration in all of North America.” He says Derby Hill can match such Great Lakes birding hot spots as Point Pelee and Whitefish Point and, on spring days when the wind is out of the south-southeast, gives Cape May, New Jersey and Hawk Mountain, Pennsylvania a run for the birding tourism dollars.

·      May and June are marvelous months for birding from Henderson Bay to Chaumont Bay along the Great Lakes Seaway Trail. Watch for rare and declining grassland breeding species such as Henslow’s Sparrow and Upland Sandpiper. Farther east, along the St. Lawrence River, the grasslands at Hammond and Lisbon provide habitat for Bobolinks, Eastern Meadowlark, Savannah Sparrow, Horned Lark and Sedge Wren.

As you travel the byway-flyway also watch for a series of 18 birding-theme Great Lakes Seaway Trail “outdoor storyteller” interpretive signs that offer fascinating facts about the birds and the byway habitat that attracts them. Find the locations of the signs online at http://www.seawaytrail.com/interpretivepanels.html.

A Great Lakes Seaway Trail birding itinerary and fact sheet are posted online at http://www.seawaytrail.com/birding.html. The Birding the Great Lakes Seaway Trail field guide and an audio tour CD are available for sale at www.seawaytrailstore.com or call 315-646-1000. #

Great Lakes Seaway Trail birding attractions include:
·      Presque Isle State Park
·      Asbury Woods Nature Center
·      Ripley Hawk Watch
·      Jamestown Audubon Society
·      Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History
·      Dunkirk Harbor
·      Artpark at Lewiston
·      Braddock Bay Bird Observatory
·      Owl Woods and Raptor Banding Station
·      Chimney Bluffs State Park
·      Sterling Nature Center
·      Oswego Harbor
·      Mexico Point Town Park
·      Black Pond Wildlife Management Area
·      Cape Vincent Grasslands
·      Wellesley Island
·      Indian River Lakes
·      Chippewa Bay
·      Wilson Hill Wildlife Management Area

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Wildlife biologist Kimberly Corwin and Adirondack Kids® co-author and television show host Gary Allen VanRiper are inviting birders to experience the Great Lakes Seaway Trail in their time, at their pace and in their style year-round. The pair narrate the 80-minute “Birding the Great Lakes Seaway Trail” Audio Tour CD produced by the non-profit Seaway Trail Foundation as a companion to the recently released “Birding the Great Lakes Seaway Trail” book authored by ornithologist Gerald A. “Gerry” Smith.

All manner of migratory and resident raptors, songbirds, and waterfowl frequent the 518-mile freshwater shoreline travel route known that is one of America’s Byways and a National Recreation Trail. Birds fill the forests, fields, wetlands, parks and backyards along the big waters of the St. Lawrence River, Lake Ontario, Niagara River and Lake Erie in New York and Pennsylvania.

As travelers drive, bicycle, RV, boat, paddle or kayak, birders will hear Corwin and VanRiper speaking about the birds of the Great Lakes Seaway Trail and the only-found-here” natural areas that include such noted birding sites as the 1000 Islands, Derby Hill Bird Observatory along Lake Ontario, Braddock Bay, Niagara Gorge/Niagara Falls, and Presque Isle Bay.

Bird-theme Great Lakes Seaway Trail outdoor storyteller interpretive signs located at significant points along the byway share fascinating birding facts, legends, and lore and celebrate the byway region’s natural diversity. Wildlife artist Robert McNamara, illustrator/designer of the Birding the Great Lakes Seaway Trail field guide, designed the outdoor signs.

Learn more online at www.seawaytrailstore.com. The CD retails for $9.95.

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