We now know that more than 80 percent of Three Sisters Islands at the Niagara Falls State Park has been fenced off - prohibiting the public from walking on the islands anywhere except along a narrow fenced in pathway.
If you have visited Three Sisters recently, you will have seen the natural landscape bastardized by stone pavers, the perimeters of the islands cordoned off by nothing more than black chicken wire and metal stakes.
The State of New York had little problem spending $60 per square foot on pavers to rid Three Sisters of its natural entranceway, an entrance that has served the public just fine for 125 years.
To further extend the welcome to our guests from around the world, sensitively placed signage within the vicinity of Three Sisters threatens visitors with arrest should they venture near the water or off the fenced in narrow path.
It is obvious that the landscape architects who designed such plans do not see these treasures through the eyes of a tourist. The powers that be sought fit to fence off the adventure of touching a unique ‘piece of God’s handiwork.’
The 2013 project used $2 million of taxpayer money to cordon off a “special path” to a “very special place.”
So, while we pretend to welcome all nations to “our” Parks, the fences deliver a very different message… “Keep Out.”
Yet these are public lands, the people’s lands, and shame on any bureaucratic design that prevents each and every one of us from sharing in those properties.
Of course people should stay out of the water, but to take away some of the most beautiful vistas on the American side of the Falls borders on criminal. For decades people from every corner of the-world have trekked to the Third Island, a location where one can actually ‘shoot’ pictures of the cascading water above eye-level. These picture angles are unmatched anywhere else in the New York park scape.
And for 125 years, people have touched their toes in the waters of the harmless babbling brook between Goat Island and the first of the Three Sisters Islands. No one ever was harmed by this innocent pleasure.
Now touch the water or even approach the shore of the brook and you are subject to arrest.
Sure "safety first" -- without question, but other than some bumps and bruises, maybe a twisted ankle here and there, the injury record of the last 125 years of free access to all of the islands doesn’t seem to exceed that of any other high-traffic tourist destination.
Maybe these same park “gurus” should admit that “Thunder Rocks” in ‘their’ Allegany State Park and its stature as an extremely popular attraction where guests climb moss-covered boulders 30 feet high should also be closed.
Are the challenging trails at Devil’s Hole the next to be shut off from the people?
They are certainly more dangerous than a gambol through and around Three Sisters.
And what about the hundreds of thousands of annual ‘customers’ who travel the wet, moss-laden decks of the Cave of Winds trip.
Oh, wait a minute….Revenue…safety… Safety…revenue…. Forget it. I figured it out.
Nevertheless, it becomes increasingly difficult to follow the logic of the New York State Parks. They brag about green space, access to nature and unmatched walking trails. Then they kennel off the public from nature, while converting Goat Island to little more than a paid parking lot.
Sometimes, we have to respect the gifts of nature and leave a little of what we do up to old-fashioned common sense. Sometimes life’s little adventures are a good thing and we should leave them be.
And now, worse, thanks to replacing the natural paths with expensive pavers, not only has the park fenced off 80 percent of the Islands, but the park has to close the Three Sisters Islands altogether on some days during the wintertime because the pavers are slippery and dangerous when it freezes from the mist from the falls.
They should have thought about this before they put in the slippery pavers.
Millions of dollars spent to enrich some Albany -connected contractor who sells pavers at $60 per square foot. Then they fence off almost all of Three Sisters so that visitors can only walk the narrow path on these pavers, and lastly they have to shut the whole of Three Sisters down sometimes because of - get this - the stupid people who designed it with slippery (but super expensive) pavers.
Unlike the old natural dolomite path - these new pavers gets so slippery that people are at always at risk whenever the mist falls there- which is often.
This is your state parks government at work!