SALAMANCA, N.Y. (WKBW) — Allegany State Parks campers are concerned that the state is removing the most affordable cabin options during the offseason.
Renee Posey visits New York's largest state park about once a week, and she camps there with her family several times a year including on Thanksgiving.
“The Western New York region should be investing in our natural tourism because that’s our big pull,” Posey said. “About two weeks ago, I was looking up dates for next year, and I was like ‘oh, this is not how this normally is.”
While trying to book a cabin, she realized the more affordable options were not available in the winter.
“I’m in a place of privilege,” Posey said. “I can afford to camp, but many people cannot. This is cutting back access to people with limited financial means and people who are disabled.”
The park is also shortening the camping season. Most affordable cabins cannot be booked from the end of October until May.
“I feel sorry for the campers who use the cabins. It does not affect campers on the trail who don’t use cabins,” Tom Steinagle, a Allegany Park camper, said. “There is a growing, growing list of people who are frustrated and disturbed.”
“We understand some trails might need to close and cuts need to be made, but it did not have to be as drastic as it was,” Posey said.
She even started a petition to try and bring back some of the affordable cabin options. it currently has over 2,700 signatures.
“If we don’t address this, stuff like this will just continue to happen, Posey said.
After hearing concerns from many families who tell me it’s a family tradition to come to Allegany State Park for Thanksgiving, New Years, and Christmas, I reached out to the State to find out why they’re cutting back on trails and cabins during the off season.
New York’s Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation said the demand for camping in the winter is much lower than the peak season, and that’s why the department is concentrating camping to specific trails to save expenses and to focus resources on the peak season.
“People are going! They are camping,” Posey said. “Yes, the park isn’t full during the off season, but that’s kind of the point.”
After hearing about these concerns, the state tells me it will be adding three new trails that will be available for reservation on September 1.
The cheapest option was $108.50. Now, there will be options that range from $80.50 to $87.50 per night. These trails are among the most affordable winter cabins.