Five Rivers Environmental Education Center
Explore the Path to Outdoor Learning...
Wood Duck Marsh
Five Rivers Environmental Education Center is a living museum comprising over 450 acres of fields, forests, and wetlands. Five Rivers offers people of all ages a rich variety of guided and self-guided tours. The interpretive programs and guided school lessons promote awareness, knowledge and appreciation of New York State's environment year 'round. With over 10 miles of trails for exploration, Five Rivers fosters discovery, spiritual refreshment and physical fitness through wholesome outdoor recreation.
Grounds are open every day, year-round, from sunrise to sunset. You can picnic, walk (ski) the trails, and observe wildlife.
A charming Visitor Center is open Monday through Saturday, 9:00 AM - 4:30 PM; closed Sundays and state holidays.
Don't miss the exhibit room and bird-watching window.
Wildlife to Watch for:
- Great place for birdwatching: 225 species, no waiting!
- Excellent chance for watching deer and squirrels, even in winter!
- Spring and fall migrations are definitely worth a gander!
- In summer, expect to encounter turtles, geese, frogs and grassland bird species
- "Best Park for Nature" - Metroland, 2008
Blue Jays at the bird-watching window
Come, leave the parking lot behind and enter a different world. Listen for the plaintive notes of the eastern bluebird, sneak a glimpse of deer browsing in the fields and let the gentle rustle of the wind inform you. Share in the spirit of the "long green line" of conservationists at Five Rivers who still carefully study the natural world and devote their lives to its stewardship to this day.
All amenities of the Visitor Center, picnic area, Woodlot Trail and Nature's Backyard Trail are wheelchair accessible, as are several hard-surfaced interior routes.
Sign interpreters available upon request.
Braille, large print and audio format interpretive guides, wheelchairs and walkers available upon request.
A full list of DEC's accessible recreation destinations is available on the DEC website.
Five Rivers Environmental Education Center is located in Delmar, NY at 56 Game Farm Road. See Google Maps and enter your address for step by step directions to Five Rivers. (Shift-click this off-site link to open it in a new window)
History of Five Rivers
Over a century ago, much of the vicinity around what is now the Five Rivers was covered by extensive orchards. As the Great Depression took hold, many hard-scrabble farms could no longer make ends meet. In 1933, the New York State Conservation Department purchased two of these farms to develop the Delmar Experimental Game Farm. At the time, populations of upland game birds and waterfowl were in serious decline. The primary mission of the facility was to learn more about the propagation and management of these species.
Tarzan Baker releasing Canada Geese
From 1933-36, the Civilian Conservation Corps Camp S-72 put up buildings, fences and developed access roads throughout the property to prepare the site for game farming. CCC crews also created ponds by damming the Vlomankill, using limestone blocks salvaged from the abandoned Watervliet Lock of the old Erie Canal. In succeeding years, CCC crews created several additional duck-rearing ponds and erected several additional buildings for brooding, hatching and rearing upwards of 100,000 grouse and pheasant chicks per year. Each fall, the upland game birds and waterfowl were released on state lands throughout New York. The Canada geese that nest at Five Rivers today are thought to be descended from birds originally raised here.
In 1941, the Department established a Wildlife Research Center on site to expand on-going pathology studies, as well as to field test innovative theories in wildlife management. Techniques developed on site such as aging deer via dentition, perfecting the cannon-net and modeling wildlife populations via biometrics revolutionized the wildlife management profession nation-wide.
So as to re-direct increasing public interest away from the sensitive conservation research activities on site, in 1948 staff began developing a modest exhibition of caged wildlife in the area adjacent to the main parking lot. The menagerie came to be known far and wide as the Delmar Zoo, and firmly established the site as a vibrant educational institution. Tens of thousands of families and school group visited this remarkable collection annually. In 1970 there was a major reorganization of the Conservation Department, from which the current Department of Environmental Conservation emerged. As a result of this reorganization, priorities of the Department were reoriented and the Game Farm and Zoo were closed.
Because the site had become such an important community asset, a group of concerned citizens organized and successfully convinced the state to transform the abandoned site into an environmental education center. Thereupon, the Department developed a rustic amphitheater, a series of nature trails and refurbished a former sign shop as a Visitor Center. The new facility was opened to the public in June of 1972. It was renamed the Five Rivers Environmental Education Center, a name suggested by SUNY Albany meteorologist Dr. Vincent Schaefer, to denote the five rivers which comprise the watershed within the Center's service area, namely the Hudson, Mohawk, Hoosic and Sacandaga rivers and the Schoharie Creek.
More about Five Rivers Environmental Education Center:
- Five Rivers Public Programs and Events Schedule - Current programs offered at Five Rivers EEC.
- Hours and Services for Five Rivers Center - Hours and services available at the Five Rivers Environmental Education Center
- Guided Lessons and Special Programs - Five Rivers offers many programs to both educators and schools.
- Directions to Five Rivers - Directions to Five Rivers from the north, south, east and west.
- Exploring Five Rivers Nature Trails - Take to the trails and enter a different world at Five Rivers EEC.
- Five Rivers' Tails by Mail - Thematic educational kits featuring biological specimens, posters and curriculum enhancement ideas available to teachers and youth leaders by mail or pick up.