Monday, July 25, 2016

Loon And Trails Center Opens In Saranac Lake

LoonHHCenterTwo Adirondack organizations have come together to form the Adirondack Loon and Trails Center in Saranac Lake.

The center is combined effort between Biodiversity Research Institute’s Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation and Adirondack Hamlet to Huts, the new initiative to connect trail systems to lodging in communities. The organizations recently had a ribbon-cutting ceremony to announce the center’s opening.

The loon program has been in existence for years under director Nina Schoch, who has operated out of her home in Ray Brook. The program has conducted extensive research projects on mercury and led educational campaigns to protect loons from the dangers of lead fishing tackle, among other things.

“It was time for us to have some office space,” Schoch. “We now have three or four people on staff, and we needed a place to put the people. We also wanted to bring what we’re learning about loons to the public and make it easy for them to come and ask questions and learn from our educational materials.”

Schoch said the center is modeled after the one run by the Loon Preservation Committee in Moultonborough, New Hampshire, and will sell merchandise to help support itself.

The loon center’s partner in this venture will be Hamlet to Huts, a project run by Joe Dadey and Jack Drury, both of Saranac Lake. The two men are in the process of starting a nonprofit to manage the hut-to-hut system they are currently putting together now. The pair hope to have these systems all over the Adirondacks, but the first phase is focused on Hamilton County.

“This center here will allow us to talk to the public about this new hut-to-hut system, and it also provides us opportunities to serve as a general information center about general tourism opportunities available, both front-country and backcountry, outdoor recreation and otherwise,” Dadey said.

Both Dadey and Drury are former educators. Drury founded and ran the recreation program at North Country Community College, while Dadey worked at Paul Smith’s College.  So both have a passion for educating people about the outdoors and plan to continue to do so at the center.

“We see this both as an opportunity to educate about our project but even more importantly educate the users of the backcountry on how to use it safely and in an environmentally sound way,” Drury said.

The center will have educational brochures and materials for the public.

It is located near the Harrietstown Town Hall on Main Street in Saranac Lake and will be open from seven days a week from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. until Labor Day. After that, it will be open five days a week.

Photo by Mike Lynch: The Adirondack Loons and Trails Center holds a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Saturday, July 16.

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Mike Lynch is a staff writer and photographer for the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly news magazine with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues. Mike’s favorite outdoor activities include paddling, hiking, fishing and backcountry skiing. In 2011, he paddled the 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine. From 2007 until 2014, Mike worked as an outdoors writer and photographer for the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in Saranac Lake. Mike welcomes story ideas and can be reached at

2 Responses

  1. Big Burly says:

    A really positive development.

  2. Dave Gibson says:

    Big Burly is correct. This is a very positive development. In the late ’90s there was a movement in the Park to create town by town interpretive centers based on the unique assets of each community. What inspired this movement were visits by Adirondackers to Italy’s oldest national park, Abruzzo, where visitor centers had been established around the theme of protected Italian wildlife. These succeeded in drawing in quite a bit of tourism to Abruzzo. A Loon and Trails Center in Saranac Lake is a “natural” fit and tourism draw for the Tri-Lakes area of the park. Warm congratulations to ACLC and Hamlet to Hut programs.

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