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Snowshoe walk planned at Indian Creek Nature Center

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RENSSELAER FALLS – From walking a big city cop beat to walking the woods, Peter V. O’Shea has seen the landscape change in his 76 years living in New York

He still remembers potato farms near where he grew up in Flushing, Queens.

“Our area is blessed,” Mr. O’Shea said. “From the Adirondacks and the St. Lawrence River Valley — it is like areas downstate 75 years ago with working farms and an abundance of grasslands developed from old dairy farms, swamps and wetlands.”

When he retired from the New York Police Department in 1982, Mr. O’Shea moved upstate permanently after traveling back and forth to his north country summer camp for 10 years.

“I felt that though I was born in New York City, it was tough to contain my wilderness heart down there,” Mr. O’Shea said.

He has since become a naturalist and an author, having written four books about nature, including the self-published “The Great South Woods Rambles of an Adirondack Naturalist.”

He will host a snowshoe walk at the Indian Creek Nature Center from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Saturday. Participants will learn to identify various creatures by their tracks and other features.

In the past, onlookers have seen evidence of several animals including the fisher, red fox, coyote, deer, hare, cottontail rabbit, water otter and mink, Mr. O’Shea said.

For more than 30 years, Indian Creek Nature Center, just outside of Rensselaer Falls on County Route 14, has been a hot spot for environmental education-oriented research and species conservation.

With more than 8,700 acres, Mr. O’Shea said, onlookers are sure to spot wildlife at the center that they can’t find in their own backyards.

“There have been dams put in to increase wildlife,” he said. “The lower and upper wetlands are richer because there is more wildlife. With the lower elevations it is warmer and there is less snow. There is also a great variety of food. That is the beauty of it. Who knows what will show up? Last year we saw a pair of trumpeter swans, which had nested there and stayed through most of the winter. That’s not something you see every day.”

For more information, call Mr. O’Shea at 848-2178.

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