Thursday, 14 December 2017 18:20

Generous Land Gifts Recognized

Saratoga PLAN’s ‘Conservation Heroes’ (left to right) Dusty and Arlene Rhodes; Mayor Joanne Yepsen; Dave Bowman; Dawn Szurek; Don Carpenter and Alice Farnsworth; and Neil and Cathy Roberts. Photo provided. 

SARATOGA SPRINGS – Last week, in recognition of recent contributions to conserve 1,041 acres of land, the group Saratoga Preserving Land and Nature (PLAN) presented eight “Conservation Hero” awards to property owners and the City of Saratoga Springs.

The Dec. 7 reception was held at Spring Street Gallery and generously underwritten by hostess Barbara Glaser, a long-time PLAN supporter and open space advocate.

Award recipients had donated and sold acreage or development rights to create permanently protected property. The terms of the protection agreements will be upheld and enforced in perpetuity by Saratoga PLAN to guarantee they remain productive farms, wildlife habitats, scenic views and trails for all to enjoy.

The property owners were Neil and Cathy Roberts, who conserved 144 acres of their Fiddle-i-Fee Farm in Northumberland; Gary and Anne Vanderhorst, 90 acres on the Cottage Farm in Charlton; Dawn and Dorothy Szurek, 311 acres of fertile farmland in Charlton; David Bowman, 129 acres on the Malta Ridge Orchard and Gardens in Malta; Donald Tooker, 89 acres of his working farm in Wilton; Don Carpenter, 89 acres of farm fields and wooded buffer to the Gloweegee Creek in Galway; and Dusty and Arlene Rhodes, 23 acres of woodlands connecting two other conserved properties in Galway.

Saratoga Springs was awarded for conserving the 166-acre Pitney Meadows Community Farm on West Avenue. Outgoing Mayor Joanne Yepsen and Public Safety Commissioner Chris Mathiesen accepted the award on behalf of the City Council, which voted last year to invest $1.13 million from open space bond act funds to purchase a conservation easement on one of the last remaining pieces of active farmland within city limits.

Saratoga PLAN Executive Director Maria Trabka presented the Conservation Hero awards, according to a prepared statement.

“Conservation Heroes are those rare people who can see beyond their own boundaries and beyond their own lifespans. They are people who appreciate their ancestors and invest today for their descendants,” Trabka said. “They are true stewards of the land who recognize that they are not only charged with the responsibility, but more like blessed with the opportunity, to care for a parcel of land for a short time while on Earth as others who came before and will come after in that land’s continuum.”

Each recipient was presented with a handmade, hand-painted birdhouse, decorated by local artists to reflect aspects of the conserved properties. Bruce Cranston, David and Cole Smith and Mike Triller built the birdhouses. The participating artists were Trish Lyell, Amy Smith, Dana Kear, Takeyce Walter, Kate Edwards, John and Chris Colley, Sue Ginouves and Loretta Martin.

For more information, call 518-587-5554, or visit

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