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Clark Reservation to reopen improved Nature Center

The Friends of Clark Reservation State Park will hold a grand reopening event for the park’s Nature Center to kick off Memorial Day weekend.

The all-volunteer group will offer a “sneak peek” of the center to invited guests from 4 to 6 p.m. on Friday, May 24.

“We wanted to offer a members-only event, which we never do,” Tina Redmond, the president of the Friends group, said.

She said the exclusivity of the event lies in the center being too small a space to hold attendees beyond the group’s 42-person membership and other invited guests.

Friday’s preview event will showcase improved furnishings and updated exhibits within the Nature Center.

A hand-built scale geology exhibit, built by Syracuse University earth sciences professor emeritus Bryce Hand and geologist Ken Ranlet, will be unveiled. This exhibit includes a replica of the park’s staircase, with signage outlining the geological timeline of the state park site.

According to Redmond, the center’s bird exhibit was planned to be shown, but it will not be finished in time. Instead, bird nests will be on display in front of a painted backdrop.

Revamped furniture and a new sand table where children can dig for replica fossils will be featured as well.

A decorative replica of a Wardian case, the forerunner of the modern terrarium, will be displayed for visitors. It will consist of real Hart’s Tongue Ferns, plants found in only four U.S. states including New York, Alabama, Tennessee and Michigan.

A selection of existing exhibits will be contained in new display cases. Print informational materials have been revitalized and expanded in length and detail.

In March of last year, the New York State Environmental Protection Fund’s Park & Trail Partnership Program awarded the Friends group an $8,500 matching grant to improve the Nature Center’s exhibits. They additionally raised the required $1,500 in matching funds for the $10,000 project.

The center, a stone building with no heating, has been closed since Columbus Day weekend.

For the Friday reopening, members and invited guests are asked to check in at the small pavilion inside the park, itself located on East Seneca Turnpike in Jamesville. There the attendees can enjoy light refreshments before making their way over to the Nature Center.

Experts who have contributed to putting the new exhibits together will be present to talk about their work and answer any questions.

Founded in 1980, the Friends of Clark Reservation State Park is a not-for-profit organization funded through donations that provides educational programming and hikes from May through October.

The group is on the lookout for more volunteers and members. Those interested can join and donate at the group’s website,

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