Despite Covid restrictions, the Fort La Présentation Association was extremely busy during 2022. The Board of Directors was forced to use Zoom to communicate during the shutdown and are holding hybrid meetings. Our Board is now able to include people from the U.S. and Canada who bring a wider range of professional and technical skills to support the Association.
Covid did not stop our Resiliency and Economic Development Initiative (REDI) Project. We were the only nonprofit to receive a REDI grant in the Thousand Island Region. The first phase of the project finished ahead of schedule and under budget. The innovative living shoreline has been featured in the DEC’s “Conservationist” magazine and Save the River’s newsletter, highlighted at Sea Grant/DEC workshops and will be part of a PBS documentary next year. The new landscaping is spectacular. The observation deck is perfect for ship watching, weddings, and prom and graduation pictures.
With a 95/5 state grant we left nothing on the table. The second phase of the project to be launched in the spring of 2023 will construct a bridge to traverse the cut-though to the old train ferry dock with unused REDI funds. Graduating Clarkson University engineering students designed the bridge as a Senior Capstone Project. The Island is the farthest lookout point in the area with nearly unobstructed 360-degree views of the St. Lawrence River. We received a $25,000 grant from the Grassroots Foundation to extend the Abbé Picquet Trail and construct a gazebo to the end of “Look-Out Point.” Clarkson University engineering students are updating our master site plan to account for the significant land enhancements completed since 2015.
Covid also did not shut down the Abbé Picquet Trail. With advice from the St. Lawrence Health Department, we kept the Trail open to provide free outdoor recreation to the public. It is wonderful and gratifying to see out-of-State cars once again from across the USA and Canada in the parking lot. The Trail is part of the St. Lawrence County Chamber of Commerce Trail System.
The Association has achieved a long-time goal – the acquisition of the original site of Fort de La Présentation. Based on an archaeological dig, the floor of the Fort’s Chapel was discovered along with 18th and 19th century artifacts. As a condition of the sale, we also received ownership of the artifacts at SUNY Potsdam and the NYS Museum in Albany. At this year’s Le Siège du Fort de La Présentation, the first mass in 262 years was celebrated on the site of the original Sulpician chapel. A cross was placed to mark the location. In the spring of 2023, the property will be dedicated as the Newell Family Archaeological Park in recognition of their strong support of the Association’s efforts. Interpretive signage will also be placed at the Park thanks to Daughters of American Colonists.
Clarkson University Civil and Engineering students are doing Ground Penetrating Radar on the original site. The American Veterans Archaeological Recovery group has applied for a grant to do a 3-year archaeological investigation to learn about our heritage. These disabled veterans have done archaeological research all over the world.
One thing Covid did not halt was the growth of grass and knotweed. We now own 28-acres, and our all-volunteer crew does an amazing job of mowing, and tree and invasive species maintenance. They are opening more area to return to native species growth. Volunteers are needed and very welcomed. One can contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or 315-393-3620.