At its Forever Wild annual event on Saturday, July 15, the Adirondack Council presented its Special Recognition award to Chris Maron and Champlain Area Trails (CATS) for “all the work he and the organization have done to further conservation in the greater Champlain Valley and Adirondacks.”
In presenting the award, John Davis, who serves as the Rewilding Advocate for the Council, said, “CATS, under Chris’ inspired leadership, has had a tremendously positive impact on the Champlain Valley. People now have more local trails to explore. As for saving land, CATS has worked with other land trusts to conserve almost half of the 20,000 acres of the Split Rock Wildway wildlife corridor, which connects Split Rock Wild Forest and woodlands in the Adirondacks.” As he invited Maron to the stage, the crowd of over 200 people burst into a spontaneous standing ovation and applause.
After Maron expressed his thanks, he explained how, just fifteen years ago, there were few trails in the Champlain Valley which limited people from connecting with nature and hurt the economies of Champlain Valley communities because people bypassed them on their way to trails deeper in the Park.
“Now, we’ve created 45 trails totaling 78 miles and promoted them by publishing the CATS Trail Maps yearly,” said Maron. “These actions, along with all our outdoor activities, have connected people with nature, and as I hear from many business owners, town officials, and people out and about, the CATS trails are a big boost for local economies and our quality of life.”
And then, to the audience’s cheers, he pulled the newest edition of the CATS Central Champlain Valley Trails Map out of his back pocket and announced that CATS had published and received the newest edition of the map just two days before.
As the audience quieted, Maron acknowledged that “looking back is great, yet it’s about looking to the future. And that’s exciting because we have so many more trails to build—trails to cool places you hike to with friends, family, and on your own. And especially town-to-town trails that connect our communities. Meanwhile, we must conserve the vibrant natural communities, farmland, clean water, and scenic vistas people see from the trails.”
He then thanked the Council again for the award. He said to the audience that “Along with it honoring me, Champlain Area Trails, our board, staff, trail hosts, and volunteers, it honors you and the vision you have of life and love here in the Champlain Valley, the Adirondack Park, and the entire world.”
About Champlain Area Trails: Champlain Area Trails, founded in 2009, is an accredited land trust with a mission to make trails, protect land, connect people with nature, and promote economic vitality in the Champlain Valley. CATS has made 78 miles of trails, protected 983 acres, and hosted hundreds of hikes, outdoor education outings, and volunteer events, attracting thousands of visitors to the Adirondack’s Champlain Valley. Learn more at www.champlainareatrails.com
Photo Credit: From left to right, Adirondack Council’s Rewilding Advocate John Davis, Executive Director Rocci Aguirre, then Chris Maron, Adirondack Council Board Chair, Sarah Hatfield and Council Director of Conservation Jackie Bowen.