Canoe Planter Trail open at Moreau Lake

MOREAU, N.Y. (NEWS10) – At Moreau Lake State Park, seven canoes and a rowboat sat, abandoned, out of use and falling into disrepair. Park Manager Alan LaFountain looked at them, and had an idea.

Now, the boats – left by park visitors who never came to claim them after leaving them around the lake at the end of different summers – have a new purpose. Each one now occupies a point along the trails circling Moreau Lake. Eight boats, painted by six groups of kids and other community members, are full of plants to add something new to the park.

“We put (a call for groups to paint the boats) out on Facebook, and within three days, all of them were spoken for,” said Paula Lomasney, Vice President of Friends of Moreau Lake State Park and head of the Canoe Planter Trail project, on Friday. “Teachers, mentors, they jumped right on it. They said, ‘Oh, our kids would be so excited to do this.’”

The Moreau Lake Canoe Planter Trail spans over two miles, starting from the park’s main office and comprising different roads. It passes campsites, which have been busy with RVs and tents all summer long; and runs through the woods alongside Mud Pond, the lake’s eastern body. One canoe is stationed at the lake’s main beach, while others can be found further off the beaten path.

Each canoe was hand-painted by student groups, like Fort Edward Union Free School District’s life skills class. Others were adorned by scout groups. One, at the edge of a bridge crossing over the narrow passage of water between the lake’s halves, is itself a matter of halves – one half painted by the Wilton Boy Scout troop, and the other by the Girl Scouts. Some are themed around wildlife, and others around the diversity of people who come to enjoy Moreau Lake together.

Each canoe is home to its share of plants, with holes drilled in their bottoms to help the soil to irrigate. Marsha Martin, one of Moreau Lake State Park’s 10 master gardeners, chose the plants to rest inside the boats. There are colorful flowers, chosen for whether their boats would sit in the sun and the shade. Alongside some of those flowers, visitors might also find tomatoes, beans, and peppers.

“It’s a mixed bag,” said Mary Knutson, President of Friends of Moreau Lake. “We have some boats that are in the sun, some that are in the shade. (Martin) chose the plants that would work best in that environment.”

The project was funded with help from a Stewart’s Holiday Match Grant. Moreau Lake has used assistance from Stewart’s grants in the past to help projects that better the state of the park.

On a sunny Friday in mid-July, many plants across the eight boats still required some watering. Knutson hopes that they will become self-sustaining in time. She says that upkeep for the planters could become part of “I Love My Park Day,” an annual effort where volunteers and students come to state parks in New York to help clean up debris and beautify an already-beautiful slice of nature.

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