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Nature centers at state parks open through Sept. 5

The seasonal interpretive centers – more commonly called “nature centers” – at Fort Niagara State Park and Beaver Island State Park are now open for business.

“They’ll be open through Sept. 5 and have all kinds of displays about wildlife, showing the flora and fauna of the region and its history,” said Carol Rogers, a naturalist for the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Office.

The Fort Niagara nature center is located across from the pool.

“Our Beaver Island nature center is very charming and it’s partially hidden, but you park in the main lot and take the trails to it,” Rogers said. “We’re going to have some baby snapping turtles visit us for the summer there and we’re really excited.”

Both centers are open from noon to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday and are staffed by a state parks naturalist. Admission is free, but park entrance fees apply.

The state parks will offer a number of free events throughout the summer and early fall, including a guided walk around the falls area at Niagara Falls State Park from 6 to 8 p.m. Friday.

A state parks naturalist will talk about the state mammal – the beaver – from 1:30 to 3 p.m. July 23 at Golden Hill State Park. The session will include a walk to a beaver lodge, as well as a beaver craft.

Participants will return to Niagara Falls State Park from 5 to 7 p.m. July 29 for “Charged Up,” a hike to the site of the former Schoellkopf Power Plant.

Following restoration work, the Whirlpool Stairs are expected to be reopened in time for a hike called “To the Flats and Back” from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 6 at Whirlpool State Park.

An evening bike tour is planned for 6 to 8 p.m. Aug. 7 at Niagara Falls State Park. The ride will take bikers to Devils Hole State Park and back in time for fireworks.

An evening hike is slated for 5 to 7 p.m. Aug. 13 at Devils Hole State Park, followed by a Goat Island Adventure Walk from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Sept. 2.

A state parks naturalist will take hikers in search of owls from 7 to 9 p.m. Sept. 30 at Wilson Tuscarora State Park, travelling through field paths and an old growth woods.

These hikes and bike tours are free, but registration is required by calling 282-5154.

In addition, Artpark Family Fun Days continue from noon to 4 p.m. July 23 and 30 at the Earl W. Brydges Artpark State Park, offering free activities.

And Paddles Up Niagara is planned for July 25 at Beaver Island State Park. Call 773-3271 for information on this event or visit: