With a few strategic land acquisitions, a new marketing and branding campaign and the support of businesses, local government and not-for-profit organizations, Bolton can become the recreation hub of the southeastern Adirondacks a new plan in the offing says.
A new document, “Bolton Recreation Hub Strategy,” prepared by the Chazen Companies for the Lake George Land Conservancy and the Town of Bolton, explains the benefits and costs of becoming a recreation hub, and how it can be done.
The report includes a plan that would, if executed, offer hikers access to an integrated trail system that ascends to the Pinnacle, Cat and Thomas Mountains, and leads to preserves bordering the state’s Tongue Mountain Range – with a trailhead within walking distance of the town’s business district.
Opportunities for Nordic skiing, mountain biking and rock climbing are also explored in the strategic plan.
“The Town of Bolton has a unique relationship to the lake, and with its existing resources – the preserves, the trails, the state-owned lands – it’s the type of place that could, if it chose to, emulate communities such as Woodstock, Vermont and Bar Harbor, Maine and become an example of sustainable ecotourism,” said Paul Cummings, one of the authors of the report.
According to Cummings, “a culture of outdoor recreation” benefits land conservation, the local economy and the residents’ quality of life.
“We know that you can conserve land and protect water quality while, at the same time, providing public access. These things are not mutually exclusive,” said Cummings.
The Bolton Landing Brewing Company, the craft brewery and restaurant that opened on Bolton Landing’s Main Street two years ago, is an example of a business that will benefit from branding the town as a recreation hub, said Cummings.
“Owner Brendan Murnane is brewing a beer that’s named after the Pinnacle – the popular summit that was preserved by the town and the Lake George Land Conservancy – that every kid runs up, shoots a photo and posts on social media. And in the process, these younger adults, who take part in [LGLC’s] Next Generation events and trail runs, are becoming invested in the idea of land conservation,” said Cummings.
The Pinnacle is proof, if proof were needed, that short hikes are popular with the public. It’s among the report’s inventory of resources, an inventory that not only includes the Conservancy’s own preserves, such as Amy’s Park and Pole Hill, but all Forest Preserve lands where trails are maintained, from Cat and Thomas Mountain to Tongue Mountain. Parks, historical sites and public boat launches are also included.
“We looked at existing facilities and then asked, ‘are there opportunities to work with willing property owners to expand or connect these resources?’” said Cummings.
Those opportunities include trail heads to Cat Mountain near the Schroon River and within the hamlet, parcels linking currently unrelated trail systems and new acquisitions that would relieve pressure upon over-crowded destinations.
All trails and preserves would be branded with new, distinctive signage, identified in attractive maps, brochures and digital media and included in readily available itineraries.
All new trails should be “purpose-built,” professionally designed and built and suited to the uses intended for them, the report states.
The report also includes a marketing plan developed by Tracey Clothier that would enable Bolton to capitalize on its recreational resources.
Marketing Bolton as a recreational hub is the key to making the new plan a success, said Bolton Supervisor Ron Conover.
“It’s not enough to create an inventory; we have to package it and communicate it to the right audience,” said Conover.
According to Jamie Brown, the Lake George Land Conservancy’s executive director, the report was funded in part by a $40,000 grant from the Land Trust Alliance and New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation.
“Establishing Bolton Landing as a recreation hub is a great way to promote so many things,” said Brown. “We’re a member of the Bolton Landing Chamber of Commerce and we know that local businesses rely upon recreation to support local jobs.”
“We recognize that our preserves are assets that can benefit the town’s economy. And by promoting them to visitors seeking recreational opportunities, we can also promote our work and educate people about the value of land protection and its role in protecting water quality,” Brown said.
Paul Cummings said that he and his co-author, Ethan Gaddy (both Bolton Central School alumni, by the way) will present the report’s findings and recommendations to a variety of groups within the coming year.
Supervisor Ron Conover said he foresaw a partnership with other towns in Warren County with recreational assets, such as Chestertown and Horicon, which draw road and off-road bicyclists.
“We should find a way to link our hiking trails with their bicycling opportunities and market the whole piece as one, recreational destination,” said Conover.
Photos, from above: Paddling at Amy’s Park; Cat Mountain trailhead at Edgecomb Pond; and a snowshoe trek at the Pinnacle, courtesy of Lake George Land Conservancy.