continued Since its establishment in 1972, 3.3 million people have benefited from the center’s programs, and its protected area has doubled in size. The center includes 10 nature trails and a variety of natural wildlife habitats. Programs are offered at the center throughout the year, and Five Rivers staff also put on programs at area schools.
“Our hallmark is the shared ownership we have developed,” said Thompson. “There were no places like this in the Capital Region or really state for an outdoor guided experience. We started it and now there are several similar places throughout New York.”
The center is also continuing an expansion project. Later this year, a new building will be completed on the site to house the DEC’s new Guided School Program. It is partially funded through the Friends of Five Rivers and the family of Wendy Repass Suozzo. The building is meant as a memorial to Suozzo, who founded the Guided School Program while working as an environmental educator with the DEC.
“In a time of fiscal austerity where we have seen other similar facilities close, this is a great triumph for us,” said Thompson, adding how the anniversary is even more meaningful since in 1980 staff was the told the state planned to close the center. “But the citizens and mayor stepped in and found the money to keep us open. (The community) didn’t realize how important they were to our operation until they rallied together.”
The Five Rivers anniversary celebration will be held on Saturday, June 16, from 1-3:30 p.m. There will be food, games and live music. Admission is free.