May 6, 2013

Park volunteers help out at Point au Roche

BEEKMANTOWN — On a beautiful spring day, it was easy for North Country residents to remember why they love parks like the one at Point au Roche.

Saturday was New York’s “I Love My Park Day,” when residents were encouraged to volunteer at a state park. Point au Roche State Park marked the occasion with a special day of activities. A newly revitalized trail was dedicated in memory of a local ecologist, guided nature walks introduced visitors to some of the wonders of the park, a 5K race raised money and showcased the beauty of the trails, and volunteers worked on keeping the trails clean.

The Philip C. Walker Memorial Nature Trail honors the memory of a local naturalist and Plattsburgh State professor who loved Point-au-Roche Park. In 2011, the trail suffered damage from the flooding of Lake Champlain and Hurricane Irene. Volunteers have worked hard to clean it up, and new informational signs have been added.

Dr. Ken Adams, a retired professor of ecology who worked with Walker at the college, said he felt that the trail was an appropriate memorial for a colleague who deeply loved the natural world.

“This was one of his favorite areas,” Adams said. “There are so many areas of the North Country that have interesting ecological stories to tell, but Point au Roche was one of his favorites.

“He promoted it as a place of outdoor recreation — and renewal — but being an ecologist, he understood this was home for many plants and animals.”

Adams was one of several local ecologists who wrote the text for the trail’s new informational signposts.

“We tried to highlight themes Phil would have chosen.”

The 5K race was another event during “I Love My Park Day.” Park Supervisor Rob Hughes, who was also one of the runners, said the race both raised funds and highlighted the beauty of Point au Roche, since the racecourse was designed to follow some of the trails.

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