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SUNY-ESF keeps Newcomb VIC open

What was once the APA Visitor Interpretive Center at Newcomb - with a focus on environmental education and visitor-information services - is now the SUNY-ESF Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC), featuring a 6,000-square-foot main building and a 2,500-square-foot classroom/garage.

"This center is not just for visitors, it's for everybody, including residents of the Adirondack Park," Hai said, defending the name change. Hai wanted the name communicate new ownership of the facility, and he wanted people to know that ESF is still at the interpretive center and committed to serving the public with educational programs.

Under the auspices of the Northern Forest Institute - managed by SUNY-ESF and based at the Huntington Wildlife Forest - the AIC will focus less on visitor-information services and more on interpretation. Moreover, Hai and his crew will expand the interpretive mission beyond the natural resources of the Adirondack Park to include programs that will explore science, recreation, natural history and culture.

"We are able to consider a new suite of programs that the APA couldn't do," Hai said. "We have an opportunity to reach beyond nature ... There are many complex issues in the Adirondack Park, and we want to offer programs to address that complexity."

Through school field trips, workshops, conferences, programs and special events, the AIC will continue to offer public programming and serve upwards of 30,000 people a year. Yet the flavor of the programs will be more diversified. Regular programs such as bird walks, packbasket workshops and the summer Huntington Lecture Series will also be teamed with new programs such as a professional development series, gardening series, fly fishing workshops, a "Working Forests Working for You" series, a fall series on animal species that are harvested during hunting season, and a trapping program.

The Adirondack Park Institute - the friends group of the two VICs since 1989 - will continue to offer programs there as well. In addition, the 3.6-mile trail system has remained open throughout the transition from the APA to SUNY-ESF. The hiking trails are open for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the winter. People can borrow the AIC's snowshoes for free. And there is a connector trail from the Sage Trail to the Great Camp Santanoni trail.

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