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Central/Finger Lakes segment of state's birding trail opens

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Green Lakes State Park is one of 54 locations on the newest segment of NY's birding trail.

Enthusiasts of nature and the outdoors in Central New York can now explore a new segment of the state’s birding trail.

Due to its success during the pandemic, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and park officials wanted to provide equal access and opportunity to explore the outdoors. Laura DiBetta is the DEC's director of outdoor recreation.

"We're not building a new trail. But what we are doing is curating a list of all the best places to go birding in New York State. We're paying particular focus to providing a welcoming and inclusive experience, particularly people just getting with the outdoors, and just getting started with birding."

Chris Lajewski, director of the Montezuma Audobon Center, said there are lots of areas to explore on the new section of the trail.

“You can paddle through marshes and beautiful lakes like Green Lakes State Park here looking for secreted marsh birds,” he said. “You can hike through forest and around grassland habitats and experience the melodious tunes of songbirds like the wood thrush and warblers.”

Lajewski said now is prime time to spot birds migrating here from Central and South America, making their way to Montezuma, as well as state parks such as Green Lakes and Chimney Bluffs. Laura DiBetta said the DEC is building on the regional trail networks to grow interest.

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DEC's Laura DiBetta announces plan to expand birding trail.

“Many other states across the country have well-established birding trails,” she said. “They’re really popular nature-based tourism initiatives, and so New York State looks to those models to build on people’s interest in birding and really put together the information in a way that makes it more accessible and user-friendly.”

The Central/Finger Lakes segment is the fifth segment of the birding trail to open. Officials say the entire network should be completed by summer.

Scott Willis covers politics, local government, transportation, and arts and culture for WAER. He came to Syracuse from Detroit in 2001, where he began his career in radio as an intern and freelance reporter. Scott is honored and privileged to bring the day’s news and in-depth feature reporting to WAER’s dedicated and generous listeners. You can find him on twitter @swillisWAER and email him at srwillis@syr.edu.