MASSENA — Starting Monday, the Nicandri Nature Center will be opening to the public on a limited basis for the first time since mid-April.

Like other facilities, the Nicandri Nature Center was closed at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Executive Director Tracy Thomas said they’ll initially offer four 90-minute sessions for 10 people each on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday. A half-hour following each session will be used to prepare the facility for the next group.

“We have so many regulars. We really miss them,” she said.

Because of a limited capacity, reservations are required, as are masks. She said reservations for one of the sessions can be made by visiting their website at or by calling 315-705-5022 during business hours.

“In the very beginning, we’ll just open for people to enjoy their visit,” Ms. Thomas said.

They also plan to have one-touch craft projects and no-touch scavenger hunts. She said they hope to add more programming down the road.

Although the doors have been closed, she said they’ve been able to offer virtual programs.

“We did a big series of over 100 videos on Facebook and YouTube. They still get a nature education that way,” Ms. Thomas said.

She said the trails were popular during the Nature Center’s closure. Among the activities they offered were self-guided scavenger hunts on the trail.

“We really increased the use of the trails. I think a lot of people that may not have known about them before discovered us. It was something a family could do together,” she said. “The trails will continue to be open. We’ll continue to put activities on the trails.”

Inside the building, she said they were able to take care of projects that had been on the back burner for a while, such as rearranging the turtle tanks to make it more realistic and easier for visitors to observe their behaviors.

Down the road, the New York Power Authority’s Hawkins Point Visitor Center, 21 Hawkins Point Rd., opened its doors on a limited basis starting last Friday. The center is open on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays for small tours, by reservations only, for members of the same family or groups that have sheltered-in-place together. The reservation system allows for limited, timed, guided tours.

All Power Authority visitor center events remain canceled.

In order to ensure the protection of visitors and NYPA employees, there are state-of-the-art indoor filtration systems, visitor health screenings and temperature checks, and facility cleaning between tours. All visitors and tour guides must wear masks at all times.

A new exhibit featuring a large wood-carving map that portrays the passage through the Gulf of St. Lawrence and the St. Lawrence River in the 16th century by the French explorer Jacques Cartier is now on display to the right of the visitors center entrance.

This is the first time the magnificent 18-by-7-foot walnut wood carving has been available for public viewing since being relocated from NYPA’s original visitors center, which was closed as a result of security concerns after 9/11.

To make a reservation or for further information, visit the visitors center information page on NYPA’s website at or call 315-764-6679.

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Johnson Newspapers 7.1

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