Allegany Hellbender Tales

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9780970310415: Allegany Hellbender Tales

This is a deeply personal book of my encounters with, the best park in the world, Allegany State Park. My family and I have used the Park for a long time. Mom and Dad came down here as newlyweds. They brought my sister, Marj and me for week-long summer vacations on Gypsy, Ryan and Dowd Trails and sent us to Camp Bee Tee Vee. I was here as a Boy Scout. My wife, Lyn, and I were camp counselors one summer at Arrowhead. It was our honeymoon. We have had good times here with our kids and our grand kids. Two of them Alex and Angie, are on the back cover. I was away from camping and hiking and Allegany for some years. I got back to it through the Adirondack Mountain Club and Sierra Club. They drew me back into enjoyment of the outdoors and concern for the preservation of such places as Allegany and its great aging forest. The Allegany State Park Historical Society put me in close touch with Park’s land, its people and its origins. Over the last ten years, 1993-2003, I have written my observations and opinions about the Park into the essays, articles and stories which are gathered here. They are in a chronological order approximating that of their writing. They are accounts of Park experiences heard from many voices, some are history. A few are fiction. And there are issues. I hope that these Allegany Hellbender Tales will entertain and inform you readers and that you all get as much fun out of the Park as I have.

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About the Author:

I am a retired physician born in 1930. I've lived most of my life in Amherst, NY just outside of Buffalo. I am a board member of the Amherst Conservation, Recreation and Parks Foundation, a past member of the Glen Park and Natureview Park Advisory committees and frequent contributor to the Buffalo News.

I've been going to Allegany State Park all my life.

I am a recent past Chair of Niagara Group of the Sierra Club, Recording Secretary of the Allegany State Park Historical Society, I hike with the Adirondack Mountain Club (I am Conservation Chair of the local chapter), Finger Lakes Trail Conference and Foothills Trail Club. I'm a member of the DEC Deer Management Unit for Allegany State Park. I have been a mountaineering instructor with Kissing Bridge Ski Patrol; I'm a sailor and I also love canoe tripping.

Next to Allegany my favorite spot in the world is along the Little River near Star Lake in the Adirondacks. My first book is called "My Grampa's Woods, the Adirondacks." I am peddling my second printing of that book and have written an article on its selling. I hope to see that article soon in the magazine, Adirondack Life. The article is titled, "Peddling My Grampa." It looks like New York State has given up the idea of selling the beautiful forest of Allegany State Park so I may soon be able to stop writing on the of peddling Allegany State Park.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

A Park Full of Memories, and The Master Plan

1993

It knocked the wind out of me when I heard that they want to log Allegany State Park again. We won that fight ten years ago. Now Park officials have proposed another master plan that would log a quarter of the Park, at 500 acres a year.

My family has been going down to Allegany since a skunk ran Mom and her "General Electric" girl friends out of their Buffalo Trail cabin in 1924. That was before Red House or the "new" administration building. I have a 1936 picture of Mom, Dad, me and my sister in our funny old woolen bathing suits. We are sitting on the concrete edge of the old Quaker Run swimming pool. Our folks sent my sister and me to the Turn Verein Camp on France Brook Road for a few summers. That was during "the war" when my mother went back to work. We hunted for little orange salamanders and big white fungus. Once, a full-grown black bear walked right through camp in broad daylight with me following him.

As a young fellow, my Dad was a lumberjack for a while in the Adirondacks. He never got the woods out of his blood. Allegany was the closest big woods around here and he got us there whenever he could. He showed me how to use an axe and build a fire and have a good time in the woods. We went back year after year and the woods kept getting bigger. That was the thing about Allegany; the trees there were big, like a real forest. Later I went there to meet girls at the old dance hall. I learned to canoe on Red House Lake. The first big hill I ever skied was at the Bova Area. We used to wonder if anyone ever went off those ski jumps. I remember the power of the Allegany River when it flooded. One summer I took a girl for a picnic, climbing Thunder Rocks. We got married and spent our honeymoon as counselors in the Park. Those trees kept on getting bigger. We took our kids there to hike and camp and play.

In 1921 the New York State Legislature enacted a law setting up Allegany State Park. It said the Park was to be, "forever reserved and maintained for the use of all the people" and "to provide for the protection and propagation of fish and game thereon and for the reforestation of the same." Now some of the people see those magnificent stands of cherry, ash and hemlock as board feet and money in the bank.

A million four hundred thousand people visit Allegany every year. Half of them are people from Buffalo, like us. We go there for a bit of peace and fun in a real woods with big trees. Let's get together and tell them to let the place alone. A friend of mine just got back from a week-end down there. She was excited. She had seen her first bald eagle. She didn't have to travel to Alaska. Allegany is now a big enough, old enough forest to support those magnificent creatures, right here in Western New York.

We berate Brazil and Quebec for cutting down their forests. We've cut down most of our own. We've got sixty-seven thousand acres of forest in Allegany that is now between 60 and 220 years old. Its unbroken canopy provides or is about to provide the rare habitat of a climax forest. Let's not sell this family treasure.

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