(Editor's note: This is Part Three of a five-part series on the current status of the Visitor Interpretive Centers, which were operated by the Adirondack Park Agency from 1989 to 2010.)
NEWCOMB - A couple dozen people crowded the R.W. Sage Jr. Memorial Trail sign on Sept. 24, 2006. Rays of sunshine penetrated the rustling fall foliage, and the wind howled through the forest while Adirondack Ecological Center (AEC) Director William Porter and Adirondack Park Agency (APA) Chairman Ross Whaley welcomed the public to the newest trail at the APA Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC).
This was a shining example of the close bond between the APA and the State University of New York (SUNY) College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF).
The VIC was built on 236 acres in the Huntington Wildlife Forest, managed by the college, which also owns and operates the AEC less than 2 miles away. Whaley is a past president of SUNY-ESF, based in Syracuse. And the man they were honoring on Sept. 24, 2006 - Richard "Dick" Sage - was the AEC's associate director until his death in August 2002. He was the person who picked the location for the APA's Newcomb VIC in 1985.
But has Dick Sage really left the building?
As Porter was finishing his comments at the 2006 ribbon-cutting ceremony, a small tree crashed to the ground in front of him. As they removed the tree, many nervously commented that Dick Sage was watching over them that day - the heart and soul of the Adirondack Ecological Center making his presence known at the interpretive center he helped build. The VIC opened in October 1990.
Vision for the AIC
The APA transferred the building to SUNY-ESF on July 1, 2010 and handed over programming on Jan. 1, 2011. With the transition now complete, it's the job of AEC Program Coordinator Paul Hai to lead the interpretive center through its new life as an ESF facility. That means a new mission and a new name.