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Five Rivers Breaks Ground On $7M Environmental Education Center

Five Rivers Environmental Education Center

A $7 million overhaul is getting started after a groundbreaking Thursday at the Five Rivers Environmental Education Center in Delmar.

The work is just getting under way at the 450-acre site, and when it's done, there will be a brand new eco-friendly visitor center, replacing the existing center at the Albany County site.  Five Rivers Director Raymond Perry:  "Basically we've outgrown this building. It is not an energy-efficient building. The layout of the building - this was originally a cafeteria - one of the state campus buildings - that was brought here as a temporary building for us to use as an exhibit shop, and not converted to an education center until 1972. The layout of it is such that we don't have the proper space for 3D interactive exhibits, so this new building will be state-of-the-art in terms of showing the exhibits, and it will be a green building as well, which is something we're very proud of."

Perry promises the new facility will offer "hands-on" exhibits. It will be constructed from wood harvested from nearby trees. It will be solar-powered and feature environmentally friendly plumbing and lighting.

View rendering of the new visitor center here

Assemblywoman Pat Fahy says the new center will embellish visitors' experiences, giving a "hands on" education about the environment, while teaching a love and appreciation of the outdoors and of nature itself.     "5 Rivers is known by thousands of families, children and families throughout the Capital District. It's one of my favorite memories with my children, and adding a new visitors center I hope will only expand their capacity to serve more families and ideally more schoolchildren. They serve about 80,000 per year right now."

Five Rivers offers hiking, wildlife viewing and other outdoor recreation activities designed for families and users of all ages and abilities.  "It's important to teach our children a respect for the environment, and the more we expose our children to beautiful nature, the more children will appreciate it and therefore respect and want to be good stewards of the environment."

Perry adds Five Rivers has for several years been heralded as one of the best places in the Capital District to take a hike or go on a nature walk.  "People can come and walk on the road or go out with one of our educators and learn a little bit more about the resources and the habitats and the wildlife that they're looking at."

Officials say the new Five Rivers visitors center will promote recreation and tourism while serving as an example of cutting-edge green architecture and design.  Thursday's groundbreaking kicked off a $7 million project slated for completion in December 2016.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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