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September 15, 2013

Sweet success: The Wild Center sugarmakers win funding

TUPPER LAKE — The Wild Center’s effort to redevelop the maple-sugaring industry in the Adirondacks got a fiscal boost.

The project, now entering a third year, has won a $144,273 grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services.

The funds will help expand outreach to reconnect local residents with their sugar-making heritage.

Hillarie Logan-Dechene, director of philanthropy at the Wild Center, will travel to Washington, D.C., to accept the award.

“The grant is to help us fund our Northern New York Maple Project,” she said.

“Two years ago, the Wild Center piloted a Community Maple Program to get families interested in maple-syrup production, to teach them how to make it. These are traditions that have always been up here,” Logan-Dechene said.

WHEELED SUGAR SHACK

The program reached more than 1,000 people locally, including school students, in 2012 alone.

“There was so much interest we received another grant last year from the Northern Borders Commission to expand the project, and even more people participated,” Logan-Dechene said.

The museum will continue to expand the program in partnership with the Northeastern New York Maple Producers Association, Cornell’s Maple Program and the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake.

The joint effort is set to highlight the region’s rich maple heritage through the history, the art and the stories of maple sugaring.

“We have a maple-sugar shack on wheels,” Logan-Dechene said.

“We keep it here when it’s fired up; we put it in the area where the farmers market is in summer. There’s a lot of interest in this program.”

ORAL TRADITION

Wild Center sugar-makers can then take the cart out to demonstrate how sap is boiled down using modern equipment.

They use locally gathered maple sap and firewood, Logan-Dechene said.

This particular round of funding will be used for outreach, to create instructional materials and to produce a video that includes oral tradition from local folks who made syrup years ago.

Community Sugaring Workshops will be offered again in the spring.

The Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake plans to use some of its historic sugar-shack display pieces at the Wild Center during the workshops.

Email Kim Smith Dedam:kdedam@pressrepublican.com

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