PHOENIX — Thanks to a grant from the Stewart’s Shops Community Giving Program, the Oswego County Pioneers Search and Rescue Team (SAR) has partnered with Friends of Great Bear Springs Recreation Area to install 50 new directional signs at Great Bear.

The signs were recently placed at trail intersections at the popular recreation area to direct people back to the parking lot.

Aaron Albrecht, director of the Oswego County volunteer search team, said the team has been activated several times to look for lost people at Great Bear, and wanted to help out by applying for a grant for more trail signs.

“The extensive trail system at Great Bear receives a lot of usage year-round,” said Albrecht. “There are more than 11 miles of trails, and people who aren’t familiar with the area can get confused if they don’t have a map. Thanks to funding from the Stewart’s Shops Community Giving Program, and with help from Friends of Great Bear, we were able to purchase 50 directional signs pointing people back to the parking area.”

The signs were custom-printed by Voss Signs of Manlius and were installed by Richard and Naneen Drosse, coordinators of the Great Bear Friends group.

“Friends of Great Bear thanks the Pioneer Search and Rescue Team for their help with providing the directional parking signs,” said Richard Drosse. “Great Bear has 455 acres of wooded trails. The new signs will help direct visitors back to the parking area. It is important that visitors use a trail map and check the trail identification signs at the entrance. Each trail is color-coded and its mileage is displayed on the map.”

Great Bear Springs Recreation Area is located north of the village of Phoenix on the east side of the Oswego River, off County Route 57. The park is open dawn to dusk. Trails are open seasonally to hikers, cyclists, skiers, snowshoers, and horseback riders. Admission and parking are free.

“We truly appreciate the donation from Stewart’s, and all those who help support search and rescue in Oswego County,” said SAR Public Information Officer Janet Clerkin. “Our search and rescue team members are volunteer first responders and train throughout the year in all kinds of weather and on all types of terrain. In 2020, we were activated for 26 searches, for people ranging in age from two to 89 years old.”

In addition to searches in Oswego County, team members frequently volunteer for mutual aid incidents across New York state.

The search and rescue team and Friends of Great Bear offer these tips for a safe outing:

— Stay on marked trails. If part of a group, let the slowest person set the pace. This is especially important if hiking with children.

— Carry a map. Maps of Great Bear are posted at and can be printed from the website. The Great Bear map may also be downloaded from several trail apps.

— If using a phone with a trail app, carry a battery charger. Carry a paper map as back-up, and don’t rely solely on a phone.

— Keep dogs under control and clean up after them.

— Take out what is brought in.

— Let someone outside the hiking party know where the party is going and when the party is expected to return.

— Always be prepared for the unexpected. Carry a flashlight, whistle, water and snacks.

For more information on Great Bear, visit

The Oswego County Pioneers Search and Rescue Team is an all-volunteer organization and is the oldest volunteer search and rescue team in New York state. Members must be at least 18 years old and must complete the 75-hour training program which is held every two years in Oswego and Onondaga counties.

The team receives funding from the Oswego County Legislature, donations, and grants from the Stewart’s Shops Community Giving Program, Novelis, Entergy, and other sources. For more information visit or Donations may be mailed to Oswego County Pioneers Search and Rescue Team, P.O. Box 229, Parish, NY 13131.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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