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For Release: Friday, January 22, 2016

DEC Environmental Centers Offer Array of Winter Activities

"Undercover Wildlife" Theme Highlights Activity Under the Snow and Ice

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) invites the public to explore winter activities at DEC's environmental education centers this winter. A highlighted event this year is "Winter Wonderland in the Woods," Saturday, February 6 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Reinstein Woods Nature Preserve in the town of Cheektowaga, Erie County.

"Winter is a great time to get outside and search for wildlife while visiting one of DEC's extraordinary environmental education centers and discovering all these centers have to offer," said DEC Acting Commissioner Basil Seggos. "At this year's event, families can share in the adventure to learn and explore what is going on under the snow and ice and participate in a variety of outdoor winter activities."

Winter events include, ice-fishing demonstrations to introduce children to this winter sport, outdoor snow stations that invite visitors to discover the properties of snow and the wildlife activity that lies beneath the snow, several snowshoe walks and winter bird viewing opportunities. At the "Winter Wonderland in the Woods" event, the Erie County Department of Parks, Recreation and Forestry will be on hand to highlight places to enjoy winter throughout Erie County and the Niagara Frontier Search and Rescue Team will be available to talk about winter rescue. DEC's Environmental Conservation Officers will also exhibit confiscated furs and discuss illegal hunting.

Visitors can try snowshoes and cross-country skis in a demonstration area (weather permitting). Snowshoe rentals will also be available for those desiring a longer snowshoe experience. Children will be able to try snowshoeing (regardless of the weather) and take part in a winter scavenger hunt. Kids also can test their snowball-throwing skills and express their creative side in the snow art area.

After enjoying outdoor activities at the "Winter Wonderland in the Woods," families can warm up inside the education center with refreshments sold by Friends of Reinstein Woods. The S.P.C.A. Wildlife Department will present informative talks on wild bird rehabilitation throughout the day. The Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation will be on hand to help children make nature crafts involving wildlife that are active under the snow. There will be door prizes, costumed characters, exhibits and more. The event happens regardless of snow conditions, and additional activities like the Winter Wildlife Olympics will be added in case of warm weather.

DEC operates two fully staffed environmental education centers offering classes and programs on environmental awareness around New York State. Dr. Victor Reinstein Woods Preserve (outside of Buffalo, NY) and Five Rivers Environmental Education Center (outside of Albany, NY) are the two centers operated by DEC staff. Each center has interpretive trails, exhibit areas, and meeting rooms and offers family events all year round. Classes for students include guided field trips through diverse habitats.

There are also three regional environmental education programs that offer professional development for educators, in-class and after-school programs on the environment, and public environmental education programs at fairs and festivals. The regional programs are located in DEC Region 1 - Long Island; DEC Region 2 - New York City; DEC Regions 6, 7, & 8 - Western Adirondacks & Central NY.

For more on the environmental education center winter activity calendar for end of January - March, 2016, see below:

Five Rivers Environmental Education Center: Delmar, Albany County

  • Saturday, January 30, 2:00 p.m.
    How to Do It: Identifying Trees in Winter
    Practice identifying deciduous trees with the "Winter Tree Finder" and conifers with the "Tree Finder" as our guides.

  • Saturday, February 6, 2:00 p.m.
    How to Do It: Learn to Snowshoe
    Learn the snowshoeing basics indoors and then head outside for fun and a great aerobic activity for all ages.

  • Saturday, February 13, 10:00 a.m.
    Citizen Science: The Great Backyard Bird Count
    Help scientists track the mid-winter distribution and abundance of birds at The Great Backyard Bird Count or sip coffee and learn about common backyard birds at Five River's birding window.

  • Tuesday, February 23, 7:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
    Outdoor Fun: Full Moon Snowshoe
    We'll explore portions of the Wild Turkey and Old Field trails on snowshoes under the moonlight.

  • Saturday, February 27, 2:00 p.m.
    Watchable Wildlife: Wildlife in Winter
    We will walk the trails of Five Rivers, paying particular attention to those animals that remain active throughout the winter.

  • Saturdays, March 12, 19 and 26, 1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.
    Family Fun: Maple Sugar Open Houses
    Join us for an introduction to maple sugaring as you twirl a brace drill, pound a spile, inspect the sap flow in our sugarbush, enjoy the aroma of sap boiling down in our evaporator, take the maple taste test and select from a wide variety of maple products for sale.

Reinstein Woods - Depew, NY, Erie County

  • January 24 and 31 and February 14, 21, and 28 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:30 p.m.
    Weather permitting, Friends of Reinstein Woods will offer rentals on these additional dates on a first-come, first-served basis.

  • Saturday, January 30 at 10:00 a.m.
    Learn To Cross-Country Ski
    Learn the basics of cross-country skiing before going on a short guided ski tour.

  • Saturday, February 6 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
    "Winter Wonderland In The Woods"
    (see above for more detail)

  • Saturday, February 13 at 10:30 a.m.
    Sweetheart Snowshoe Walk
    Celebrate Valentine's Day by taking a walk in the woods with your sweetheart.

  • Wednesday, February 17 at 10:30 a.m.
    Winter Nature Play
    Bring the kids (ages 4-8) out to play nature games, build snow sculptures, and go on a scavenger hunt on this guided experience.

  • Thursday, February 18 at 10:30 a.m.
    Learn to Cross-Country Ski
    Learn the basics of cross-country skiing before going on a short guided ski tour.

  • Friday, February 19 at 1:00 p.m.
    Track and Scat Snowshoe Walk
    Come investigate our trails for animal tracks and scat, and learn about wildlife living in the woods.

  • Sunday, February 28 from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
    Amherst Day at Reinstein Woods
    Escape your cabin fever by enjoying winter activities like snowball throwing and snow art, or renting snowshoes or cross-country skis.

For more information on DEC's Environmental Education Centers and Programs, visit the DEC website.

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