CLARKSBURG — Berkshire region state parks and forests are enjoying a renaissance of sorts and planned future endeavors should keep positive momentum flowing, said a state Department of Conservation and Recreation official.
"They hit a home run at the Clarksburg State Park over the [Memorial Day] weekend," said DCR Western Region Director Michael Case. "They brought in $1,199 in day use fees and that's $400 more than has been taken in in recent memory."
The day use cost is a $5 parking fee for state residents and a $6 fee for out-of-state residents at the park. The day use area is outfitted with small cooking grills, picnic tables, a sandy beach, modern bathrooms, and beginning June 19, swimming. Hiking trails pass through the day area. Season passes to the park are offered for $60. The passes cover from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
A camping area is situated in a different section of the park.
"All the state parks did pretty well," Case said. "We think that at Clarksburg, the news that swimming was going to be allowed generated the interest so that people wanted to come see what was up there."
DCR plans do not stop at the Clarksburg park, Case said. Discussions about a 2017 Windsor Jams reopening at the Windsor State Forest are beginning.
"It's being looked at," Case said. "We want to get it open again."
Numerous state parks and trails rely on volunteer contingents known as "friends groups" that help keep sites clean, Case said. The Ashuwillticook Rail Trail has a very strong group, Case noted.
"We're trying to get a friends group (to benefit Windsor Jams)," Case said and added that friends groups are welcome at any state park or trail.
A swimming area situated along a Charlemont section of the Mohawk Trail, closed since the August 2011 rampage of Tropical Storm Irene, is also under review for possible reopening. A date is not yet available.
"The Mohawk Trail area, we do want to get that opened again for swimming," Case said. "We want the parks to be used by people. We are really trying to get these Western Massachusetts sites open."
Community-based centers, such as the Western Gateway Heritage State Park Discovery Center in North Adams and the Holyoke-based Heritage State Park, are generating interest as well, he said.
Parking fees may vary from site to site. The Western Gateway center offers free public parking. The state parks and forests offer much at affordable costs and Western Massachusetts sites are usually a 90 minute drive or less from any part of the Berkshires, Case said.
"When people talk about going off to New Hampshire or Maine I wonder why," Case said. "We've got plenty here in the Berkshires."
On the web ...
Information about all state parks, forests and trails is available at a www.mass.gov website and selecting a "Visiting and Recreation" icon.