Press-Republican

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August 19, 2012

Affording wilderness access

Adirondack Interpretive Center still growing for recreational use

(Continued)

Programming at both centers was reinvented with resources from the Adirondack Park Institute, a nonprofit organization formed to interpret the APA mission in 1989. At Newcomb, the Town of Newcomb and the College of Environmental Science are both vested partners.

EMBRACING TECHNOLOGY

New growth emerges where soil is richest, and the Newcomb Adirondack Interpretive Center has also become a hub for on-site forestry research, Hai said.

“The role of interpretation is an intuitive fit for ESF — we have graduate and undergraduate programs in environmental interpretation,” Hai said. “The assistant manager of the center this summer is a graduate student at ESF, in fact. And we’ve added elements to the college to improve training and make the center an extension of it — sort of like Paul Smith’s when they ran the hotel. It’s a perfect fit.”

Hai said that as assistant director, Environmental Science and Forestry graduate student Kristen Pasquino is working on the park’s first digital interactive nature guide, using Newcomb’s center as a test site.

“And our query is, how can we use technology appropriately to advance the things we find are important in environmental interpretation?”

Pasquino is building a website that interacts with digital technology from a cell phone or electronic device outside on the trails. 

“So our visitors will be able to stop along the walk and find hot links on their handheld device that will bring up another page to play the bird call of a wood thrush, for example, or describe the particular stage of forest growth,” Hai said.

The self-guided tour will also generate some research to help inform the field of wilderness interpretation.

“Then we will put in place a survey to measure the public impression of the integration of technology and wilderness,” Hai said.

Newcomb’s Center has also welcomed graduate students from other universities in the United States and Canada for field research. The College of Environmental Science and Forestry has owned and operated the adjacent Huntington Wildlife Forest in Newcomb since 1932, and it has 80 years of forestry research data to share.

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