A momentous step toward conservation and environmental stewardship has been taken with the successful closure of a $1 million land deal, securing the future of Snake Hill—Saratoga Lake’s largest unprotected shoreline property. The Snake Hill Formation holds a unique distinction as a remnant of the Taconic Mountain lowlands, dating back 450 million years and boasting trees that have stood for over two centuries. Known by its indigenous name, Tor-war-loon-da, meaning ‘hill of storms,’ this landform is mentioned in several indigenous stories and has historical significance. Covering nearly 30 acres within the town of Stillwater, Snake Hill will now be permanently protected.
The $1 million was allocated to local land trust Saratoga PLAN (Preserving Land and Nature) through the 2023 New York State budget to acquire Snake Hill from Stewart’s Shops.
“We hope that it can live up to everybody’s expectation and evolve in a manner equivalent with the dramatic location that it is,” said Stewart’s Shops chairman Bill Dake. The family and employee-owned company donated $100,000 from the sale back to Saratoga PLAN to assist with future upgrades and stewardship of the property. This acquisition ensures the continued provision of a cleaner, safer, and healthier environment for future generations of all New Yorkers.
The drive to allocate $1 million in the State budget to permanently safeguard Snake Hill was an ongoing effort and a testament to the dedication of New York State towards its conservation priorities.
Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake) said, “I’m proud to have been able to secure funding for this invaluable asset on Saratoga Lake. Snake Hill has geological, ecological and cultural importance to our community, state, country and world. Therefore, I’m thrilled Saratoga PLAN will ensure its natural habitats and resources will stay protected for generations to come. I’d also like to thank the Dake Family and the Stewart’s Corporation for their stewardship of this uniquely special land.”
The conservation of Snake Hill directly contributes to the state’s ambition to protect 30% of its land and waters by 2030, a goal firmly established by recent legislation.
Snake Hill’s preservation will significantly benefit the community by:
· Providing free public access to the outdoors
· Protecting shoreline, wetlands, and forest in the Saratoga Lake Watershed, within the second fastest growing county in NYS
· Preventing pollution which would otherwise deteriorate water quality and foster the growth of harmful algal blooms (HABs), already detected in Saratoga Lake
· Providing natural climate solutions to weather-related events such as flooding
· Protecting biodiversity by preventing wildlife habitat loss
“This is truly wonderful news and an exciting way to start the new year,” expressed Jim DeMasi, President of the Saratoga Lake Association (SLA). “SLA, dedicated to enhancing the environmental quality, natural beauty, and safe recreational use of Saratoga Lake, is deeply appreciative of the opportunity to collaborate with Saratoga PLAN in their tireless efforts to conserve the remarkable Snake Hill. This unique geologic phenomenon, its beauty and historic value will be enjoyed for generations to come.“
“The successful closure of this land deal signifies a collective commitment to preserving our invaluable natural landscapes, safeguarding biodiversity, and ensuring a sustainable legacy,“ stated Alison Crocker, PLAN Board of Directors Member and Saratoga Lake resident. “My family has enjoyed many years of boating on Saratoga Lake. Our favorite place is the western side of Snake Hill. There, we, along with so many other families, enjoy swimming, fishing and bird watching in the forested shelter of Snake Hill. The preservation of Snake Hill means so much to the community and to our future enjoyment of this wild part of the Lake.”
Snake Hill will remain closed to the public for the time being. A public comment period and fundraising campaign for future management and stewardship of the land will be announced later this year.
About Saratoga PLAN:
Saratoga PLAN (Preserving Land and Nature) is a nonprofit land trust that preserves the rural character, natural habitats, and scenic beauty of Saratoga County so that these irreplaceable assets are accessible to all and survive for future generations. PLAN acknowledges that the lands it conserves are located on ancestral homelands of Mohican, Mohawk, and Abenaki people.
PLAN has helped conserve over 14,000 acres of land in Saratoga County. PLAN helps landowners conserve farmland, woodlands, and natural habitats, and connects people to nature through an extensive trail network, including 13 public nature preserves open for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and nature study. Saratoga PLAN helps communities create plans that balance growth with conservation to sustain the Saratoga Region as a great place to live, work, visit, play and farm. PLAN facilitates community-based conservation by partnering with municipalities to help them accomplish their community’s conservation goals.
For more information, call (518) 587-5554, or visit www.saratogaplan.org.
Photo at top: Aerial photo of Snake Hill, the largest unprotected property on the shore of Saratoga Lake. Photo Credit: Ryan C. of Saratoga Drone. Photo provided by Anna Gómez Domenech of Saratoga PLAN.