Ausable River Association announces 10 guided river tours

·5 min read

May 22—WILMINGTON — Artist/biologist Cris Winters leads the art and ecology tour, titled "Drawing Your Watershed," today as a guest presenter for the Ausable River Association (AsRA).

"The way I teach drawing is by teaching people to actually see things realistically," Winters, owner of Art at the Pink House in Saranac Lake, said.

"And, we are going to be identifying some plants, but also just looking really closely to learn how they're put together, and the little details, and that will allow people to see enough to really be able to draw with some practice,"

"It will be a nice day out in the woods to go out and look at some wildflowers."


Today's tour's theme is watershed botany through art.

"She lives in Saranac Lake and is a full-time artist and has an educational background in botanical illustration and conservation, biology, and so forth," Tyler Merriam, AsRA donor outreach manager, said.

"So, it's a really neat blend of the art world and science world and natural interpretation of those two things."

Not only is the program free, but the materials are free also.

"We will be using pencils and watercolor pencils and pen to do simple illustration and also learn some of the techniques for those mediums of art as well," he said.

"You learn about art and drawing. You learn about various flora and fauna, mainly the flora, the various trees and plants and so forth that are in the watershed. This is a great time to see wildflowers as well. We will very likely see some wildflowers along the way."

The tour is a casual meander along the Whiteface Landing Trail.

"It also goes by Connery Pond," Merriam said.

"It's right outside of Lake Placid and between Lake Placid and Wilmington, along Route 86 there.

"It's a neat area because it's a mellow, easy trail, but there is a lot of botanical diversity there as well. It provides a lot of inspiration for the art world."


AsRA offers free guided paddling, hiking, and interpretive programs in the Ausable and Boquet watersheds this spring and summer.

"We are excited to offer these free programs for the third year in a row," Kelley Tucker, AsRA's executive director, said in a press release.

"It's a great opportunity to experience the beauty of our region and learn about its flora and fauna."

This year's programs include 10 trips to lesser-known corners of the Ausable and Boquet watersheds.

"They're all funded by a grant from Lake Champlain Basin Program with funding from a few other sources," Merriam said.

"The main goal of these tours is to get people into the outdoors and help them connect with the natural world of the Ausable and Boquet Watershed.

"We're also educating them about that natural world and some of the threats that are facing the natural world and how people can be stewards of the natural world in their own backyard or the next time they go into pubic lands and explore the outdoors."


New for 2021 are an art and ecology workshop, waterfall hike, underwater mussel exploration, interpretive history tour, and women's fly-fishing clinic.

"We had so much success with last year's tours, and the demand was so high, we decided to add additional offerings this year," Merriam said.

The "Underwater Mussel Exploration," led by accomplished photographer and birder Dr. Larry Master, will use unique underwater viewing buckets that allow participants to look at aquatic life without being immersed in the water.

On the paddling trip to the mussel viewing site, Master will also point out birds and mammals common in the Boquet watershed.

"Several of these tours are back by popular demand," Merriam said.

"We're thrilled for new people to join us, and excited to help them walk away with a better understanding of our natural places, the threats facing our watersheds, and what we each can do to better protect these resources."


AsRA brings in a variety of guest naturalists to enhance its programs and add different perspectives and levels of expertise.

"So each tour, they are on weekends," Merriam said.

"They are about three hours or so depending on the distance and the event.

"One of our Ausable River Association staff, most of the time it's me but some of the other staff as well, will join along and also talk about the work that the Ausable River Association is doing in the Ausable and Bouquet watersheds."

Returning guided tours include a birding walk, moth and bat research night, tree identification hike, Adirondack Riverwalking experience, and paddling trip on Lake Everest.

Dr. Larry Master will lead the Birding Walk at Ausable Marsh and the Moth and bat Research Night.

The Tree Identification Tour will be led by Ed Kanze, expert naturalist and Adirondack author with more than thirty years' experience leading walks in wild places.

An AsRA staff member will accompany all of the tours to provide a first-hand look into the work they do around the watershed, including environmental DNA, water quality testing, and ways to enjoy the outdoors while leaving the least amount of impact.


Programming has expanded from six tours several years ago, to eight tour last year and 10 tours in 2021.

"We add new guest naturalists and educators as well," Merriam said.

"And we also try to have a variety of programs as well. So, there is a paddling tour. There's a few hiking tours, a birding tour There's a history component this year, a guided history hike and tour."

AsRA's free, guided programs will take place on weekends Saturday and ending on September 12.

"Then, we have a women specific fly fishing clinic that is wrapping up the whole program in September," Merriam said.

This project has been funded wholly or in part by the United States Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement (LC 00A00695 0) to NEIWPCC in partnership with the Lake Champlain Basin Program.

Program dates, registration, and other information is available on the Ausable River Association website,

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