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Andy Beers retires from a career dedicated to the outdoors

When Andy Beers retired last week, he closed the book on five eventful years of work. After decades of service to the outdoors through nonprofit and then state roles, Beers has spent the last few years as director of the Empire State Trail project, guiding the initiative through the process. adding 350 miles of trail across the state in a very short time. of time.

Beers became director of the Empire State Trail program in 2017, shortly after the government of the day. Andrew Cuomo announced the initiative to create a 750-mile trail system (of which 400 miles already existed) covering the state from Buffalo to Albany, Albany south to New York and Albany north to ‘in Canada.

Closing the gaps between existing sections of the trail and planning new road routes required $200 million in public funding and 58 construction projects by nine state agencies and authorities as well as 17 municipalities. In all, the Empire State Trail added 180 miles of new off-road trail.

Beers called the planning, environmental review, permitting, engineering, design, procurement and construction of the effort a “five-year sprint.”

“There hasn’t been a day where we haven’t worked hard for five years to do all of this,” he said. “My job was mainly to conduct the orchestra…. A lot of my job was just coordinating and helping people solve problems and get through planning. »

Even before becoming project director, Beers had cycled the length of the Erie Canalway Trail, which stretches approximately 400 miles from Buffalo to Albany, when he participated in the annual Cycle the Erie Canal by Bike sponsored by Parks and Trails New York. After being named Trail Project Manager, he rode the Cycle the Erie Canal route again and then rode or rode the remaining miles of the Empire State Trail’s proposed route, either on the route itself , or on parallel routes.

“It’s been a fun job being on the court,” Beers said. “At this point there isn’t a section of trail that I haven’t hiked multiple times.”

Beers doesn’t have a favorite section, saying each off-road segment has its own character.

“It really highlights the diversity of New York, so it’s all great,” he said. “I say my favorite section is the one I’m going to go through.”

Beers lives just a few miles from the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail, a new section of the Empire State Trail that stretches 36 miles from the town of Rensselaer to the town of Hudson.

“For decades I was aware of this old streetcar line. I thought ‘Wouldn’t this be a fun track one day’ and then it all came together,” Beers said. “It’s very satisfying personally to be part of a job that is so local.”

Beers began his career as a legislative aide after leaving graduate school. He soon moved to The Nature Conservancy, where he remained for 17 years.

“To be able to go up to Little Tupper Lake with friends and canoe the Whitney paddling area up there and know that I played my small part in that and some of the other major land acquisitions that I’ve been in involved, were the highlights of that part of the career,” he said.

He then joined the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, where he served as Executive Deputy Commissioner, the agency’s No. 2 role. During his 10 years there, he helped lay the foundation for a major reinvestment in the state park system.

Now that the Empire State Trail is “complete” (Beers says various upgrades and connecting trails could be added in the coming years), the project has been handed over to the State Parks Department to manage. Questions and comments about the trail can be emailed to

“It was just gratifying to work with people there on such an iconic and widely used system, and to help revitalize it,” he said.

His role with the Empire State Trail was more hands-on than his previous jobs. Although he spent many hours coordinating with agencies and municipalities, he also personally answered some email inquiries about the trail and sometimes stopped while driving to put up Empire State Trail signs. He was concurrently director of the Hudson River Valley Greenway and worked as a project manager for the organization’s construction of the Albany-Hudson Electric Trail.

Beers said his recent retirement doesn’t mean his career is over. But his new touring bike arrived a few weeks ago.

“I’m very excited about this,” he laughs. “I plan to do more bike rides this year. I will be staying involved with the local Albany-Hudson Electric Trail on a very part-time basis. I’m going to go out and ski and hike and canoe and bird watch and everything. I don’t think I’m done working, but I’m taking a year off to really think about what I want to do next.

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