MOREAU — Grant Miller has already compiled an impressive list of memories at Moreau Lake State Park over the course of his nine years.
He’s snowshoed the various trails, spent hours swimming and attended a number of celebrations hosted throughout the park, including his own birthday party. On Sunday, Miller added another memory that anyone who visits the park will be able to enjoy.
Miller, with around 15 members of Cub Scout Troop 4024 of Wilton, helped design and paint one of eight planters made out of old canoes and rowboats discovered in one of the park’s storage sheds that are now scattered throughout the park. Each planter, designed by a different group of students, features a design that focuses on what the park represents for each group.
“It was bringing good messages, like leave no trace, trash your trash and stay on the path,” Miller said of his group’s design, which features a wooded walking trail and footprints made out of the side of each scout’s hand, and is situated adjacent to the racks of canoes near the park’s boat launch.
The planters — made from seven canoes and one rowboat — are spread out along a nearly three-mile trail along the park’s accessible walkway. The cost of materials — including paint, compost, soil and various locally-sourced plants — were paid for using a $2,000 grant from Stewart’s Corp.
Miller took a tour around the park to view the various planters on Sunday alongside his parents, Jacqueline and Stephen, and 15-year-old brother Liam, who had friends design a separate planter focusing on the beauty of Moreau Lake.
The project came together after the park’s manager, Alan LaFountain, discovered the boats and brought the idea of converting them into planters to the Friends of Moreau Lake State Park, a nonprofit volunteer organization committed to developing and promoting education programs for the park.
Paula Lomasney, the group’s vice president, came up with the idea of involving local students as a way of continuing the organization’s mission, and put out a call for artist’s grades K-12.
“The teachers responded immediately,” Lomasney said.
In addition to the Cub Scouts from Troop 4024, students from Saratoga Springs and Fort Edward high schools, St. Mary’s Alphonsus School, United Sisters of New York and South Glens Falls Youth Center all participated. Boys and girl scouts from Troop 24 in Wilton also designed one of the boats.
A preliminary map with the location of each planter can be found on the Friends of Moreau Lake State Park’s website, and the organization is hoping to upload a final map with a QR code containing information about the inspiration behind the design of each planter in the near future.
“It’s a good view of the folks and how they view the park,” LaFountain said.
Mary Knutson, president of the Friends of Moreau Lake State Park, said the project is a good example of sustainability and upcycling, which repurposes discarded materials.
The group used a gardening technique called hugelkultur to create the flower beds, which involves creating a mound using decaying wood debris. In the case of the canoe planters, old sticks and leaves found around the park were used.
The technique creates nutrient-rich soil and captures moisture, helping to reduce the number of times the plants need watering. Each bed contains a mixture of vegetables, annuals and perennials, including tomatoes, lilies, marigolds and beans.
“It’s a great opportunity to show kids how to rethink and how you just don’t throw things out anymore; you try to find a way to reuse it,” Knutson said. “That’s been a big thing for us here in the park.”
LaFountain, meanwhile, said the planters offer an opportunity to get exercise and enjoy nature, adding that the trail where the canoes are located is very accessible.
He said the planters won’t be the only enhancement coming to the park.
The Friends of Moreau Lake State Park received a $25,000 state grant to create a rain garden near the beach parking lot to reduce pollution by curtailing stormwater runoff and a $50,000 grant from Parks & Trails New York to construct an accessible trail connecting a preexisting trail with a fishing pier constructed by a local Eagle Scout troop.
Both projects are expected to be completed later this year.
LaFountain, who took over as park manager last July, said he is committed to making the park more accessible moving forward, and is hoping to secure additional funding to build an accessible boat launch in the near future.
“My goal as the park manager is to get this park as accessible as possible within my tenure here,” he said.
For more information on Moreau Lake State Park, including a map of the canoe planter trail, visit: friendsofmoreaulake.org.
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.