Wednesday, April 25, 2012

new nature center opened at moreau state park.

Park officials celebrate new nature center space Story Discussion SCOTT DONNELLY - | Posted: Tuesday, April 24, 2012 12:21 am | (0) Comments Font Size: Default font size Larger font size . Jason McKibben Moreau Lake State Park naturalist Gary Hill talks with fourth-graders from Harrison Avenue Elementary School about the many wild animals found in the area at the park's newly expanded nature center Monday, April 23, 2012. The addition, which officially opened Monday, features dozens of mounted and stuffed birds, bears and other creatures. (Jason McKibben - . . . Related Galleries Moreau Lake State Park Nature Center (7) Photos . MOREAU -- Local elementary school students were the first to enjoy an 810-square-foot addition to Moreau Lake State Park’s nature center Monday. The new space, featuring displays of stuffed wildlife and educational posters, opened to the public for the first time, as Park Naturalist Gary Hill gave a talk to revolving groups of children from the South Glens Falls Central School District before each class went on a hike around the park. Hill explained the characteristics and habitats of the many animals on display in the new space. A highlight of each group’s session was Hill’s demonstration of turkey and owl calls. In the early afternoon, dignitaries from around the region and state were in the new space to announce its grand opening. The addition cost about $130,000 and effectively doubled the size of the nature center, according to Alane Ball Chinian, director of the Saratoga-Capital region for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. The money came from a fund created with payments made to the park by Saratoga County to offset the impacts of a new waterline that crosses a portion of the park. “It’s beautiful. It’s open. It’s wide. It’s the beginning and the end,” said New York State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey during Monday’s celebration. “The real nature center is right out there, with 4,000 acres. But then everybody gets to come back and cluster and think about what they saw and learned, so it’s a really great platform for the living laboratory that we have in this magnificent park.” The nature center is the launching point for about 250 educational programs each year. It sees about 6,000 visitors and hosts 30 trips by school groups annually, as well. Harvey said the park as a whole has become one of the state’s more popular parks because of the various programs and offerings. She also said there’s a lot more at stake than supplementing educational programs for schools. “Environmental education is not just an add-on to our parks, but it’s essential, particularly for our children, to get out and touch and feel — to explore, to experience firsthand — nature,” Harvey said. “Our children are the next stewards. They will pass the next legislation to protect our environment. They will pass the next bond act to fund our parks, and there are many social scientists who talk about what is the extinction of the condor to a child who’s never seen a wren?” Also on hand for Monday’s opening were state Sen. Elizabeth Little, R-Queensbury, and representatives of state Sen. Roy McDonald, R-Saratoga, and U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson, R-Kinderhook. Dave Matteson, a member of the Friends of Moreau Lake State Park group, was also on hand, as each speaker mentioned the important role groups like his play in the success of the state’s parks and historic sites. After the event, he explained how the latest addition is the second for the park’s nature center, which began as a shed-sized structure. About nine years ago, the original structure was expanded for the first time. “It’s a fantastic resource for adults and children to get exposure to all the animals that live in this area but that they may never see,” Matteson said. Friends group volunteers help host nature programs at the park and also work to clear trails and staff park facilities each year. Read more:

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