PENFIELD — March is maple sugaring season at Parker Dam Sate Park and though there will be no in-person maple sugaring programs at the park in 2021, people can still discover the tradition of how to make real maple syrup via several virtual programs that the park will offer throughout the month.

Because of COVID-19 restrictions, there will not be any in-person maple sugaring programs at the park’s Sugar Shack this year. But anyone with interest in learning more about this rite of spring, or perhaps even trying to make their own syrup at home, can register to participate in the free virtual programs that each week will progress through the various aspects of the maple sugaring process. One goal of these virtual programs is to provide those who are “backyard sugaring” an opportunity to learn new aspects of the process and ask questions of experienced park staff throughout the sugaring season. These virtual programs will be held online via Microsoft Teams.

During the first virtual program on March 6, the discussion will focus on getting started. Included will be a brief history of maple sugaring, learning when and how the sap moves through the tree, and how sugaring techniques have changed over the years – or in some respects, have stayed the same.

During the second virtual program on March 13, participants will learn how to identify suitable maple trees, how to place a tap, and park staff will discuss various methods of sap collection.

The third virtual program, scheduled for March 20, will be directed at the ways to turn maple sap into pure maple syrup. Various methods of boiling, using scaled-size reverse osmosis to reduce boiling time, and knowing when you have proper syrup density will each be explored.

Finally, on March 27 in the last virtual program, park staff will cover ways to filter, bottle, grade, and use pure maple syrup. Each of the four scheduled Maple Sugaring virtual programs will begin at 1 p.m. It is estimated that each will last approximately 30-45 minutes.

To register for free to participate in any or all of these maple sugaring virtual programs, visit the Events Calendar at www.visitPAparks.com. Once at the Events Calendar, click on the PA Wilds button and then scroll down to find the Virtual – Maple Sugaring program(s) hosted by Parker Dam State Park that you wish to register for, click the “Register” button, and complete the registration information requested. Those who complete the registration will then be emailed a link that can be used to join the virtual program at the scheduled date and time.

Schools and educators can also inquire about the park’s Maple Sugaring – Distance Learning virtual program, where student groups can learn about maple sugaring from their classroom or current learning environment. Teachers should contact park Outdoor Programming Services staff at 814-765-0630, or parkerdamsp@pa.gov to discuss setting up this virtual program for their students.

Persons can keep up on what is happening at the park by liking “Parker Dam State Park” on Facebook; and they can find more information about state park programs and special events by logging on to the Bureau of State Parks website at www.visitPAparks.com, and clicking on “Events Calendar.”

“The primary purpose of Pennsylvania State Parks is to provide opportunities for enjoying healthful outdoor recreation and serve as outdoor classrooms for environmental education.”

Access for People with Disabilities

Those who need an accommodation to participate in park activities due to a disability are asked to please contact the park they plan to visit. (Parker Dam State Park Complex: 814-765-0630; parkerdamsp@pa.gov)

With a minimum of one-week notice, interpreters for people who are deaf or hard of hearing may be available for educational programs.

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