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Nature Center to host weekend winter hikes

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MASSENA — The Friends of the Robert Moses Nature Center will hold two guided winter hikes this weekend to kick off 10 months of new events and hiking groups on Barnhart Island.

The center will host its first winter walking group from 1 to 2 p.m. Saturday, and its first snowshoeing group at the same time Sunday. The walking group will be held one Saturday a month for the next 10 months, and the snowshoeing group will be held two Sundays each month until the end of winter. Both programs are part of the Alcoa Foundation’s “Mind, Body, Soul — Come Alive” grant, an $18,000 initiative to promote health, nature and the arts.

“We want to get people outdoors and to try to get them to learn something new, get them to do something they’ve never done before,” said Debra A. Donatto, coordinator for the grant’s programs.

In addition to the Sunday snowshoeing walks, the nature center will host occasional moonlight snowshoeing events, guided by flashlight. Ms. Donatto said group hikes like these are a good way to introduce someone to snowshoeing.

“Basically, if they’re new to snowshoeing, they should come along for a guided trip, and after they’ve done the trails once or twice, they should have no reservations” about doing it on their own, she said.

Ms. Donatto said snowshoeing can be appealing to a variety of ages and fitness levels. She said snowshoes are available for rent from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. throughout the week, excluding some weekends.

The grant also is funding a variety of artistic events, including a wood-carving event and a nature photography course. When the weather gets warmer, the center will host outdoor zumba, meditation and other events.

“We don’t have a lot of amenities, such as museums or arcades, here in Massena,” Ms. Donatto said. “But what do we have here in Massena? Nature. Let’s enjoy what we have.”

Last summer, the New York Power Authority’s board of trustees awarded approximately $431,000 to complete design and engineering work for a new park nature center. The previous center burned in 2010.

For the schedule of events at the nature center, email ncrebirth@yahoo.com, “like” the Friends of the Robert Moses Nature Center page on Facebook or call the office at 705-5033.

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