Latest parks manager oversees many new developments at Thacher

NEW SCOTLAND — Maureen Curry has been park manager of John Boyd Thacher State Park and Thompson's Lake Campgrounds for a year. Originally hailing from Western New York and with a background in geology as well as parks management, she has been in the midst of the park’s redevelopment as it goes through its first-ever master plan.

Part of the plan is the merging of Thompson’s Lake Campground and Thacher park.

“We’re just looking to upgrade the experience of the campers,” said Curry, “We always were one park but two separate managers, now we’re just one manager.”

Curry has been with the state parks service for over 30 years, starting as a seasonal employee in 1978, during her first year of college at Buffalo State University, where she received her bachelor’s in physical geography.

“I worked in toll booths, I cleaned restrooms, I worked at the theater taking tickets,” she said.

Curry interned at the Department of Environmental Conservation in Buffalo before taking a position at the Schoellkopf Geological Museum in Niagara Falls, now known as the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center, that would eventually lead to her position as an environmental educator there. She went on to be park manager of Beaver Island State Park in Grand Island New York for five years, a 900-acre park with a historic site, concession stands, a beach, two marinas, and a nature preserve.

When a canvassing letter was sent out for a new park manager at Thacher, she applied by taking the state’s civil service examination.

“I was excited because I knew that Thacher had interesting geology similar to Niagara Falls where I worked,” she said.

Curry had previously been involved with design and displays at the Niagara Gorge Discovery Center and exhibits at the Woodlawn Beach Nature Center  in Hamburg, which would prove useful as she started in the midst of the application of Thacher Park and Thompson’s Lake’s master plan.

The master plan was developed in November of 2013, and involves redesigning the main area of the park and the Glen Doone picnic area and complete construction of a visitors’ center. The park has already built new restrooms, improved trails, and completed a mountain bike trail. Plans are still underway to expand Thompson’s Lake Campground and its beach. The park has also submitted a proposal for an “adventure ropes course."

Rock climbing, another aspect of the plan, is not open to the public yet, but Curry says it will be once the Thacher Climbing Coalition has finished developing routes for climbing.

“Every climber that comes in is going to have to have a permit.”

The climbing program will be based off the one that operates at Minnewaska State Park, says Curry.

Curry says she has definitely seen more visitors at the park, attributing it to the PBS documentary on the park “The Great Ledge: Exploring Thacher.”

“They’re coming from Massachusetts, they’re coming from New Hampshire, they’re coming from everywhere to see the ledge.”

Curry says there is no set deadline but estimates about five years to have completed much of the master plan.

“We just keep moving forward,” she said.

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