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Nockamixon Park Friends founder is bowing out

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Mike Quinn’s earliest association with Nockamixon State Park was a humble one at best. This fall he is retiring as head of a volunteer group he founded, the Friends of Nockamixon.
In 2008 Quinn and his wife, Mary, were new to the area, and Quinn had just retired from the world of business, having recently sold the successful River Horse Brewery he had established.
A high energy person, he was driven to find a new purpose. Given his love for the outdoors, Quinn approached Obie Derr, park manager at Nockamixon, volunteering his assistance; he was assigned the job of emptying the various trash bins throughout the park.
Then, in 2010 Derr approached Quinn with another proposition: could he organize a team of volunteers to help clear and maintain the trails. Busy with maintaining the larger common areas of the park, Derr and his staff did not have the manpower needed to maintain the 37 miles of trails. With gusto, and without hesitation, Quinn accepted the challenge.
So began Quinn’s tenure as head of trail maintenance at Nockamixon State Park. A year later, he established and became chairman of the Friends of Nockamixon State Park (FONSP) chapter of the Pennsylvania Parks and Forest Foundation, its mission being to help maintain the beauty of the park and make it accessible to all, as well as initiating new features such as a butterfly garden and bat boxes.
Initially, Quinn and fellow volunteer, Stan Hniedziejko, walked throughout the park on trails so overgrown they were often difficult to discern, mapping and becoming familiar with the extensive system. With the assistance of two additional volunteers, Mike Goldberg and Bob White, they commenced their trail clearing and marking, dragging any needed equipment onto the trails with the use of an orange snow sled.
During this time, they also renovated an old carriage barn on the Weisel Hostel property to utilize for storage of equipment and materials. As all four volunteers were retirees, they dubbed themselves the “Geezer Gang”; the name has stuck despite the fact that a number of the volunteers that have since joined the team have been young employed, new graduates, or college students.

Today, with Quinn at the helm, and due to his great perseverance and effort, the Geezer Gang trail maintenance organization has grown in size (currently there are about a dozen active members) and they are well-equipped to tackle the trails, having acquired an ATV, tractor-sickle combo, mower, chain saws and various other equipment.
As if not busy enough, Quinn also oversees, with volunteer help, twice yearly lakeshore cleanups, Adopt A Highway cleanups, and a once yearly major trail works project. And in 2013, Quinn initiated an effort to build an ADA adaptive kayak launch in the park, personally taking it upon himself to pursue the funding and oversee the project, one of his proudest accomplishments.
Quinn will be missed and his very large shoes difficult to fill when he leaves this fall. Not one to seek the spotlight, he is ardent in expressing his gratitude toward everyone who has shared his passion for making the park the best it can be. He credits Derr and his staff, as well as the past and current board and members of FONSP, for their ongoing support and assistance, Helen Maurella for her aid with grant writing, Clayton and Linda Fox for their willingness to help out for projects requiring heavy equipment, and of course the Geezer Gang for their continued hard work and commitment.
In speaking of the tremendous effort it takes to make Nockamixon State Park the beautiful and special place it is, Quinn is quick to remind folks, “You can’t do it alone.”
If interested in joining the Geezer Gang, contact nockamixontrails@gmail.com.
Cindy Woodall is a columnist for the Bucks County Herald. This article first appeared in the Pennsylvania Parks and Forest Foundation’s fall newsletter.


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