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Ausable River Association resumes free guided tours

Paddlers take part in an Ausable River Association tour. (Provided photo — Ausable River Association)

WILMINGTON — The Ausable River Association (AsRA) is offering 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,” said Kelley Tucker, AsRA’s executive director. “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. 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,” said Tyler Merriam, donor outreach manager.

The art and ecology tour, titled “Drawing Your Watershed,” will teach participants about the botanical diversity of the AuSable watershed with artist and biologist Cris Winters. Along the way, participants will draw the natural world with simple materials including pencil, pen and watercolor pencil.

The underwater mussel exploration, led by accomplished photographer and birder 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, Larry will also point out birds and mammals common in the Boquet watershed.

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

Returning guided tours include a birding walk, moth and bat research night, tree identification hike, Adirondack Riverwalking experience and paddling trip on Lake Everest. 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 30 years’ experience leading walks in wild places. An AsRA staff member will accompany all of the tours to provide a firsthand 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.

AsRA’s free, guided programs will take place on weekends beginning May 22 and ending on Sept. 12. This project has been funded wholly or in part by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency under assistance agreement to NEIWPCC in partnership with the Lake Champlain Basin Program.

More information is available on the Ausable River Association website, https://www.ausableriver.org/events.

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