VOLNEY — One of the many trails at the Great Bear Recreational Area will be named after the late Dennis Lockwood, the longtime Volney supervisor who aided in the development and preservation of the myriad of trails along the Oswego River.
Representatives of Friends of Great Bear, the nonprofit that preserves and protects the more than 400-acre trail system between state Route 57 and the Oswego River in Volney, presented Lockwood’s wife Elaine and other family members with the signage that will mark the Lockwood Trail during a short dedication Thursday at a Volney Town Board meeting.
Leaders of Friends of Great Bear said the late supervisor, who passed away last month at the age of 77, played an integral role in the expansion and improvement of the recreation area.
“If it hadn’t been for Dennis as the town supervisor accepting us as Friends of Great Bear and helping us through years — it’s been 14 years now since we’ve been taking care of Great Bear — we would not have Great Bear as it exists today,” said Dick Drosse, a member of Friends of Great Bear, adding the organization formed in 2006 after Volney acquired a portion of land adjacent to the existing Fulton-owned Great Bear area. “It’s such a great place to have and it’s been so great that Volney and Dennis have supported Friends of Great Bear and the Great Bear area.”
Elaine Lockwood said her husband “would be totally honored” to have the trail in his name, noting the Whiskey Island land purchase “was an important project” for the longtime supervisor. Elaine Lockwood said her husband was “glad to do it,” and she and other family members thanked Friends of Great Bear for the dedication.
The Great Bear area for more than a century has been used as a water source for the surrounding area, once housing the Great Bear Spring Co. that bottled water, and the city of Fulton waterworks is still located nearby. Trails were first developed in the area in the late 1970s and the Great Bear Recreational Area opened to the public in 1979.
More than eight miles of trails now cut through the Great Bear Recreational Area, including roughly a mile of waterfront along the Oswego River and portions of the historical canal towpath. Under Lockwood’s leadership, the town of Volney acquired a large property that expanded Great Bear in 2004.
Drosse noted in 2016 a private landowner decided to sell a portion of the Great Bear Recreational Area, and though volunteers were able to raise funds to purchase the property, known as Whiskey Island, the willingness of Lockwood and Volney leadership to have the property transferred to the town was critical to preserving the area.
“There’s a trail around it that’s never had a name, so what we’d like to do in honor of Dennis is name the trail on Whiskey Island for Dennis,” Drosse said, adding it’s “a beautiful area along the Oswego River” and the organization could not have completed the land transfer without Lockwood’s assistance.
Volney Supervisor Greg Hartranft, who served alongside Lockwood for many years before moving into the supervisor role last month following his death, said Lockwood and the town have always been happy to support Friends of Great Bear and their improvements to Great Bear. Hartranft called it “a great place” and “one of a kind.”
Hartranft thanked the Drosses and Friends of Great Bear for their efforts, saying they “put a ton of time and a ton of work into” the area.