New Niagara County Adopt-a-Trail group beautifying Erie Canalway Trailheads

If you’ve been on the Erie Canalway Trail’s Pendleton and Amherst sections this spring you’ve probably noticed some improvements to the trailhead gardens. At many of these trailheads, what were once non-descript trail access points, flowering gardens with repurposed bicycle part sculptures have sprouted up. This beautification project is the work of green-thumbed Lockport resident, Sandy Guzzetti and the 48 volunteers she coordinates as part of the newest Adopt-a-Trail group.

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Sandy Guzzetti’s Adopt-a-Trail group has been installing these pieces of bicycle art and planting flowers along the Erie Canalway Trail in Niagara County this spring.

While many groups provide important regular maintenance for the Canalway Trail, Sandy and her group go above and beyond to ensure that Niagara County is home to a beautiful and welcoming stretch of Canalway Trail. The bicycle art she installs and the flowers she plants contribute to what are surely among the most memorable trailside gardens users encounter.

Sandy’s idea to install the bicycle art came from the fact that many trail users riding from local streets and neighborhoods had trouble finding trailheads along this stretch of trail. The brightly painted sculptures made from old bicycles seemed like an appropriate and unique way to highlight these trailheads.

In addition to the bicycle art and flower gardens, Sandy’s group is working with a local Boy Scout troop to plant eight trees along the trail. Sandy and her team also help keep the trail beautiful by making regular trips out to the trail to pick up trash and debris and report issues such as vandalism to the local Canal Corporation maintenance crew.

Sandy Guzzetti and her team are a great example of how the Erie Canalway Trail is a centerpiece of the community and a source of pride for many of its regular users. The thousands of visitors to the trail in Niagara County this summer will certainly be very appreciative of the hard work of the newest Adopt-a-Trail group.

The Adopt-a-Trail program is managed by Parks & Trails New York with funding from the NYS Canal Corporation. Currently, more than 50 groups participate in regular trail maintenance activities along the NYS Canalway Trail through the Adopt-a-Trail program. Check out the Adopt-a-Trail website to learn more about the program or to join or start a group near you!

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2018 Clean Sweep a Sparkling Success

Spring Cleaning from Buffalo to Albany
Thank you to the event organizers and thousands of passionate volunteers who participated in the 13th annual Canal Clean Sweep over Earth Day Weekend!

Because of your hard work raking, collecting trash, and planting along the Canalway Trail System, the Canalway Trail is ready for the summer season!

#WhadjaFind? Competition 
This year, we asked for pictures of the strange “Canal artifacts” collected during sweep events as part of the #WhadjaFind? competition. We had a great response, with many event organizers submitting images of the “treasures” they unearthed, as well as other shots of Sweeper hard at work.

And the winners are….. (DRUM ROLL PLEASE)……

Best Clean Sweep Spirit: Clifton Park’s Parks, Trails & Riverfront Sweep 
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With 30 events across the Town and 400 volunteers lending a hand, Clifton Park takes Clean Sweep to the next level.

 

 


Strangest Trash Treasure Find: Sam Patch Boat Clean Sweep

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Quoting the organizer of the Sam Patch Boat Clean Sweep: “Hundreds of pounds of trash, a small statue of Ganesh, a rubber snake, dozens of wine corks and a rusted eyelash curler.”

 

 

Biggest Trash “Collection”: Tonawanda Gateway Harbor Clean-up
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They get big crowds and amass huge piles of collected debris every year on the Niagara Frontier. This year, cold weather kept some volunteers at home, but they still collected a huge haul. Nice work!

 

Thank you to everyone who participated in #WhadjaFind? There are too many honorable mentions to mention, but the three winning groups will receive some Erie Canalway Trail goodies. 

Check out our Canal Clean Sweep gallery to view pictures from Clean Sweep events across New York.

Clean Sweep is a State of Mind
PTNY offers multiple ways to carry the spirit of Clean Sweep through the entire year, namely the Canalway Trail Adopt-a-Trail and Trail Ambassador programs. Groups that register as trail adopters perform routine maintenance tasks on their trail section. Canalway Trail Ambassadors do their volunteering on the move, providing assistance and a welcome to trail users.

If you’d like to get involved, visit ptny.org, call (518) 434-1583 or email aat@ptny.org for more information.

Thanks to all of this year’s Clean Sweep organizers and volunteers, the Canal Corporation for all it does to maintain the Canal Corridor as a world-class recreational venue, and Canal and Canalway Trail supporters!

No Sitting Around for Kendall Lawn Chair Ladies

The Kendall Lawn Chair Ladies are not your typical lawn chair loungers. In fact, their motto is “Lawn Chair Ladies are the best, they don’t sit like all the rest!” The Kendall Lawn Chair Ladies is a marching and dancing unit made up of Kendall Central School alumni and their friends. The group first convened in 2012 and has participated in several parades and festivals since then. All of their prize money supports Kendall families facing financial hardship.

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The Kendall Lawn Chair Ladies are the newest Adopt-a-Trail group in Western New York.

This past winter, one of their members, Carol Peterson, decided to extend the group’s generosity to the Erie Canalway Trail. She found a 1.5-mile stretch of Erie Canalway Trail in Hulberton, Orleans County that the group could adopt. According to Carol, the trail is an especially important place for the Lawn Chair Ladies. “Two are End-to-Enders, so it is particularly close to our hearts,” she said. Carol, a self-proclaimed cycling enthusiast, completed the trail End-to-End in August of 2015.

Carol’s enthusiasm is reflected in the rest of the group too. Before the threat of snow melted away in early spring, the Kendall Lawn Chair Ladies had already planned their first trailside clean-up event.

As the weather heats up, they plan to continue lending a hand to keeping the Erie Canalway Trail free of trash and debris, so if you’re out on the trail in between Hulberton and Telegraph Roads in Hulberton this summer, chances are good that you’ll see the Kendall Lawn Chair Ladies out in full force.

The Canalway Trail Adopt-a-Trail program includes more than 50 community and civic groups who participate in regular clean-up events across the 524-mile NYS Canalway Trail system. Visit the Adopt-a-Trail page for more information on how you can join a group or adopt a section of trail in your area.

New CTANY Board Officers Elected

Canalway Trails Association New York (CTANY) is one of the most important organizations behind the 524-mile NYS Canalway Trail System. It is an all-volunteer organization that works both statewide and locally with citizens, state agencies, and municipalities to develop the Canalway Trail System as a world class multi-use recreational trail and international tourism destination. The purpose of CTANY is to promote the completion and proper maintenance of the Canalway Trail across New York State. CTANY acts as a coordination and communication group for Canalway Trail stakeholders, including state agencies, local municipalities, civic organizations, individual volunteers, and trail users. Each year, the organization elects Board Officers who will work to further CTANY’s role across the Canalway Trail System. The following Board Officers were elected in September.

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President

Linda Vishnesky, West Onondaga-Cayuga Regional Trail Group

Linda grew up across the street from the widewaters on Erie Blvd East. She used to ride her bike on Towpath Road to the Butternut Creek Aqueduct with her friends and ice skated on it for years. Her family owned a candy store called “Hadleys Old Erie Candies,” which had a logo featuring canal boat.

In 2008, while volunteering at the Sims Store Museum in Camillus, Linda experienced the Parks & Trails New York’s Cycle the Erie Canal tour. She saw these cyclists from all over the country and the world having such a great time, with every kind of bike and every age of person just loving it. This inspired her to train to do the tour the following year with her husband. “We rode it and then I did it alone the following year. It was one of my most memorable experiences,” remembers Linda. As part of her role helping to complete one of the largest gaps in the Erie Canalway Trail, Linda has worked with stakeholders in Onondaga County to initiate the planning process for eventual trail construction between Camillus and DeWitt.

As a docent in Camillus she works with some of the 2,100 students that come through the Sims Store Museum for the lock demonstration. She also serves on the Education Committee and is a Trail Ambassador who rides from Camillus to Port Byron regularly to check the trail conditions. She serves on the Board here at Camillus Erie Canal Park and manages the Cycle the Erie Canal rest stop the Sims Store hosts. Linda’s commitment to the trail earned her recognition as Volunteer of the Year in 2015. She also belongs to the NYS Canal Society and enjoys visiting canals around the country. Her love for the history of the Erie Canal is apparent based on the fact that she has read every one of the Walter Edmunds books as well as many others written about the Erie Canal.  “As a native Central New Yorker, I feel its history is so much a part of me,” says Linda.

Vice President
Marlene Bissell

Treasurer
Alan Bissell

Alan and Marlene Bissell have invested time and energy over the last two decades volunteering on NYS canal-related projects. In an effort to help revitalize small waterfront communities they were instrumental in creating Hudson Crossing Park (HCP) centered around Champlain Canal Lock 5 in Schuylerville.  The Bissells recently moved to Central NY and passed the park torch to Wally Elton (President), Cindy Wian (Director), and the dedicated volunteers on the HCP Board of Directors.

Alan and Marlene helped John DiMura from Canal Corporation establish the Champlain Canalway Trail Working Group and have served on the CTANY Board of Directors for many years. They are honored to be among recipients of the NYS Canal Tender’s Award and the Conservation Heroes Award from Saratoga PLAN. They are avid environmentalists and backyard birders and have traveled the entire canal system on a pontoon boat converted into a camper.

The Bissells invite Canalway Trail Times readers to explore the many miles of scenic trail and they encourage our elected officials and municipalities to make the completion of all branches of Canalway Trail (Erie, Champlain, Cayuga-Seneca, and Oswego) as a way to spark community economic revitalization and preserve the unique history of the NYS Canal System.

Secretary
Wally Elton, Central Champlain Regional Trail Group

Having grown up in Brockport, Wally has long been interested in the canal system. Although there was no Erie Canalway Trail then, Wally remembers many people walking the towpath locally for fun. He first became involved with the Canalway Trail and CTANY when he started working at PTNY in 2008. During his time there, he attended CTANY meetings, coordinated the Canal Clean Sweep and the former Canalway Trail Celebration, started the first Trail Ambassadors project in Schenectady/Niskayuna, participated in the Champlain Canalway Trail Working Group (CCTWG), and helped initiate the Closing the Gaps report and the End-to-Enders program. Since retiring, he has remained involved with both CTANY and the CCTWG, written articles for the Canalway Trail Times and, thanks to Marlene, joined the board of Hudson Crossing Park, where he now serves as president. His hope for CTANY this year is that we can fill open slots on the board and increase recognition of the organization and its role in completing the Canalway Trail System.

Visit our website to learn more about CTANY, including how you can contact your local regional trail group director or participate in the organization.

Trail Tender Award Recognizes Old Erie Canal State Park Trail Ambassador

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Trail Ambassador Dave Kellogg at Cedar Bay Bridge in DeWitt

Congratulations to Canalway Trail Ambassador Dave Kellogg on his recent receipt of the 2016 Trail Tender Award. The Trail Tender Award recognizes the valuable contribution of individuals to promoting, enhancing, and completing the 524-mile New York State Canalway Trail system. Dave has been an active trail user for more than three decades, and over the course of the past two years has ridden hundreds of miles in Old Erie Canal State Park between DeWitt and Rome as a Trail Ambassador. See below for a profile of Dave and his interest in the trail.

  1. How long have you been riding on the Canalway Trail?

We moved here in 1980, and we chose our home partly because of its proximity to the Canal. I ran more in those days and early on marked out a measured mile along the trail using my bike and counting wheel revolutions. Runners used it for years until the markers deteriorated. So to answer your question, 36 years minus the 5 years we lived in Puerto Rico = 31 years. And yes, I took my bike to P.R.

  1. What is your average time/mileage on the trail?

My exercise calendars show I’ve cycled an average of 1,000 miles per year over the past 5 years. Not all of that has been on the Canal, but the vast majority has been Canal-related. One of the PTNY priorities has been to “promote bicycling for … towns and their economic development”.  Showing up at a local store on a bike to let owners know about the Canal and its cyclists helps address that priority. My time spent on the Canal this year (through August) is approaching 50 hours. (See #4 for comments about miles and time.)  I’ve also spoken about the Canal to two small groups.

Occasionally, there’s an opportunity for some Trail maintenance, from branches across the trail to litter to addressing some delinquency.

 

  1. What do you like best about the Trail and your involvement with the trail?

People react to the Trail and the Canal in different ways. Some ways are obvious, like exercise, training and fitness. Other visitors get caught up in the history or engineering. Some want to experience nature: seeing a Great Blue Heron, a beaver or, less frequently and therefore more exciting, a Bald Eagle. All these people are willing to share their interests and passions if given just a little encouragement. With this encouragement the Canalway Trail is quite possibly the friendliest community in the country. Here’s an example of community, friendliness and impact. A young woman just relocated to the Syracuse area from her native state of Colorado to join her boyfriend who works at Syracuse University. The three of us met along the Trail and started talking about the simple pleasures the Canal offers. Suddenly, the woman changed the topic and burst out with, “I’m on the Erie Canal!”  I guess my reaction was not strong enough, so she brought her face closer to mine and said with emphasis,”I mean I’m on the Erie Canal.  I’m actually on the Erie Canal.”  To me it seemed she was reliving that portion of her childhood when she first learned about the Canal and probably sang the famous Canal song and maybe imagined her ancestors starting on the Erie Canal on their way west. That’s the impact the Canal can have on some.

 

The Barbershop Quartet:  This certainly wasn’t the first time musical entertainment was incorporated into Cycle the Erie. And it may not have been the first Barbershop group to serenade the cyclists.  However, it may have been the first time actually on the Canalway Trail and in the Dewitt area. It was an idea that seemed to flow from the 1890s song, “Daisy, Daisy, etc.”  Wouldn’t it be neat to ride around a curve on the Canal and encounter a group of singers wearing straw hats and red and white stripped vests? Well, it was pretty neat and possibly the most photographed spot on the ride.

 

  1. What advice do you have for others considering using the trail or helping “Tend the Trail?

We can count miles on the Canalway Trail or keep track of hours spent but the most revealing information in my mind does not come from metrics but from narratives, the interactions with people.  Without exception each person I’ve encountered is happy to talk and has an interesting and even exciting story to tell.  Some are long distance travelers:
– Several End-to-Enders, Buffalo to Albany
– Peter from Dublin: NYC to Buffalo, then Canada, etc.
– Casey, a retired truck driver who has been to 48 states in an 18-wheeler and is now visiting them on two wheels.

– Dusty and Angie, going Coast to Coast

– A fellow who was on his 17th (that’s right, seventeenth!) cross country trip, this one from Nova Scotia to Seattle.

– And no one will forget Bernice Ende who arrived on horseback on her way from Montana to Maine.

My list is 46 individuals, not including a variety of organizations such as the local Chamber of Commerce, the Day Care Kids, several merchants and especially Fleet Feet who sponsor long runs on the Canal.

MV Alpiners Bring Sanctuary to ECT

mv-alpiners-benchMohawk Valley Alpiners, a hiking club based in Herkimer County, spent a day last month giving back to the Erie Canalway Trail. On October 14, members of the club cleared invasive species, such as European Buckthorn, that crowd the edges of the trail, opening up a new trailside refuge area where they also installed a bench. The bench is located in an area just before a large drop off, affording trail users a unique view of the old Erie Canal.

mv-alpinersclearing-the-trailThe Mohawk Valley Alpiners have taken trail maintenance to a new level by showing that they not only want to make the trail a much more ecologically sustainable place, but also a much more enjoyable place for all. If you’re interested in adopting a section of the Canalway Trail near you, visit the Canalway Trail Adopt-a-Trail website.

RPI Service Fraternity Pitches In on Champlain Canal Trail

When Parks & Trails New York’s former Arthur Savage Intern and RPI student Aimee Beaudette learned that a segment of Champlain Canalway Trail needed an adopter it didn’t take much to get a dedicated group of volunteer trail adopters to join her.

RPI_1When Parks & Trails New York’s former Arthur Savage Intern and Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) student Aimee Beaudette learned that a segment of Champlain Canalway Trail needed an adopter it didn’t take much to get a dedicated group of volunteer trail adopters to join her. Aimee is a member of Alpha Phi Omega (APO), an international fraternity that includes young men and women who want to regularly perform community service projects throughout their college career.

According to Aimee, most people consider adopting highways, but because of her interest in trails (Aimee recently became an Adirondack 46er), she wanted to take a different approach and ensure that her group had a lasting impact on a local trail. That was easy as RPI is located in Troy just a few miles from the Champlain Canalway Trail.

The APO group made their debut as trail adopters during the 10th annual Canal Clean Sweep this past April when Aimee and three other volunteers picked up trash and debris along their one-mile adopted segment. In addition to their Clean Sweep participation, the group plans on hosting clean up events during the school year.

Aimee graduated in May and plans on pursuing a graduate degree in conservation and wetland management. This, coupled with her Adopt-a-Trail experience along the Champlain Canalway Trail, will ensure that she leaves a lasting positive impact on the environment.

The Champlain Canalway Trail is currently 15 miles long and about 25% percent complete. It is part of the larger 524-mile New York State Canalway Trail System. More than 50 groups have adopted segments of the entire system. Go to PTNY’s website to check out which sections of trail are available near you and learn more about  how you can participate in the Canalway Trail Adopt-a-Trail program.