Saratoga PLAN (The Preserving Land and Nature land trust in Saratoga County) has received a $500,000 grant from the Sarah B. Foulke Charitable Fund. The donation will go to the planning, design, and stewardship of over 20 miles of permanently conserved trails in the 40,500-acre Southern Palmertown Range, an area that stretches north of Skidmore college in Saratoga Springs to the Hudson River.
It is the largest private cash gift ever made to the 17-year old conservation organization.
Saratoga PLAN aims to design Friendship Trails that will provide enjoyment through an inclusive spectrum of outdoor activities: walking, running, wheelchairing, dog-walking, mountain-biking, horseback-riding, bird-watching, botanizing, forest-bathing, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and learning about nature and local history. Saratoga PLAN will announce new trail segments as they open to the public over the next several years, beginning in late 2020 if public health restrictions are lifted.
ADDING VALUE “FOREVER” TO THE SARATOGA SPRINGS AREA
The Palmertown Range forms the southeasternmost corner of the Adirondacks. “The undeveloped acreage of this semi-wild woodland provides climate-resilient habitat, replenishes streams and lakes, our source of clean drinking water, and fosters a sustainable forestry and tourism industry,” said Maria Trabka, Executive Director of Saratoga PLAN. “Fast-growing local populations and visitors to the area will be able to enjoy a permanently conserved wilderness experience within easy access of their homes and lodgings.”
Kim Elliman, the President and CEW of the Open Space Institute, an organization that has been collaborating with Saratoga PLAN on Palmertown Range related projects for years has this to say about the grant: “This grant will support the development of a recreational trail network within Saratoga County that will provide people with a place to enjoy nature and wildlife while also creating a vital protected corridor for wildlife habitat and movement. The trail system has been recognized as a top priority by business owners, partners, and outdoor recreation interest groups, and this funding will help make that goal a reality.”
Saratoga Plan, working alongside the southern Palmertown Guidance Committee will use the $500,000 grant to develop a master plan regarding the Sarah B. Foulke Trail system through the 63-square mile region, designing a network of trails that will accommodate uses on specific tracts of land. This plan will create design standards for public access points, orientation kiosks, parking areas, trail markers, and trail surfacing materials for different terrain and usage. Volunteers will be organized by Saratoga PLAN and will play a roll in helping designers by acting as scouts for site features. Amenities for trail users like lodging, food, gas, and other attractions will benefit from the project as well in terms of promotion, and an economic boom is expected as a result (in such a way as to preserve the natural integrity of the area).
Trail designers planning the Sarah B. Foulke Friendship Trails network will need knowledgeable and willing trail users to scout, test, and “ground-truth” the trail designs and to contribute their knowledge to the cause. Volunteers with the ability to use GPS, GIS, mountain bike, and navigate in general will be sought after. To volunteer, contact Maria Trabka, executive director at Saratoga PLAN, on 518-587-5554 x104 or [email protected].