BETHANY — Genesee County Park & Forest turns 100 years old this year and its staff has organized a full day of activities to celebrate the event.
“They are for anyone who wants to participate,” said Shannon Morley, the park’s conservation education program coordinator.
The ForestFest centennial party is for adults and children and runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Aug. 29 at the Nature Center. Advanced registration is recommended and can be done by calling the park at 344-1122.
Entrance to the park’s Nature Center is from Bethany Center Road.
Morley, park Supervisor Paul Osborn and volunteers with ACORNS, a group that supports the park, will host the Aug. 29 activities. The centennial bash will begin with planting a ceremonial tree and conclude with a birthday cake.
Some of the day’s events include guided hikes in the forest, games with participants behaving like animals and an exhibit of live birds of prey from the organization, Wild Wings.
The New York State Lumberjack Association will provide a demonstration of timber sports. A one-hour explorers hike can be used by Webelos and cadette Girl Scouts to meet requirements for a forestry proficiency badge, Morley said.
The program coordinator said some activities are goofy but they also deliver a message.
“They are definitely educational,” she said.
She cited as an example that people will learn how numerous consumer products were originally made from or are still made from trees. Chewing gum, cosmetics, wax, medicines and old-fashioned movie film are among them.
“It’s not just wood,” Morley said.
One of the Aug. 29 hikes will feature a talk on the history of the forest, the park’s ecosystem and management of its timber.
The County Park is recognized as the oldest county forest in New York state. Its original purpose was to establish a source of wood for heating and cooking at the County Poor House.
The Poor House, at the corner of Bethany Center and Raymond roads, is now Rolling Hills Asylum.
Legislature lauds County Park & Forest
The Genesee County Legislature issued a proclamation Wednesday in recognition of the centennial of Genesee County Park & Forest.
Legislator Gregg Torrey presented the proclamation to park Supervisor Paul Osborn.
The county purchased 22 acres of land in 1882 that eventually became the 431-acre park on Bethany Center Road in East Bethany.
Approximately 31,000 trees were planted in the park’s first few decades. That increased to 169,000 by 1935 and 250,000 by 1980, according to the proclamation.
Today, picnic shelters, roads, 12 miles of trails and about 275 acres of forests and fields comprise the park. The mission of the park and forest is that it remain an outdoor asset for “future generations to continue to explore and enjoy,” Torrey said.
Legislature Chairman Raymond Cianfrini said the park and forest “continue to be one of the great treasures of Genesee County.”
Osborn said the park and forest is a great resource for wildlife and the environment.
“It’s a pleasure to be a part of it,” he said.
The county revived the park’s forest management plan under the tenure of Osborn and his boss, County Highway Superintendent Tim Hens. Selective cutting of pine and hardwood trees provides the county with a source of revenue, opens up parts of the park to direct sunlight and stimulates new growth of plants and shrubs.
The diversity of fauna also provides habitat for animals and birds.
— By Paul Mrozek