Displaying items by tag: Saratoga PLAN

Thursday, 18 June 2020 12:40

The Wild Goes Virtual

PALMERTOWN — The Palmertown Range project announced a new four-part series showcasing the possible benefits of the 20 mile trail system.

Saratoga PLAN, preserving land and nature, in partnership with The Saratoga Film Academy and Open Space Institute released the first-part this past Monday, June 15. Each episode in the mini-series will last from three to seven minutes, and takes viewers on a visual and informational journey. Saratoga PLAN Executive Director Maria Trabka said the videos will demonstrate the ways in which an integrated trail system will benefit conservation, recreation and economic development in the Saratoga County region

“The Palmertown Range is just an incredible place…it’s sort of a hidden gem that we wanted to feature and let people know about it. As we get to know the range better, we wanted to share that with other people and let them know about it. The Adirondacks are just outside our doors,” Trabka said. 

The videos depict the trail system along with the surrounding community. The goal is to showcase different habitats located in the range, recreational opportunities and the type of economic development that is available in the range.

The first film is an overview of the vision for the Palmertown Range, located 20 minutes north of Saratoga Springs. Each subsequent film focuses on one of the key aspects of the plan – conservation, recreation, and economic development. 

“From protecting water quality to linked trail systems to maple sugaring, the series shows how conservation and various types of land use can be beneficially interwoven,” PLAN’s community engagement manager, Alex Fylypovych said in a press release.

Saratoga PLAN received a $500,000 grant this past May from the Sarah B. Foulke Charitable Fund, the largest private cash gift made to the organization. The grant will go towards the planning and design of roughly 20 miles of trails built in the Southern Palmertown Range. Home to 8,000 acres of protected lands, the project will establish the area as a recreational destination while conserving its natural resources. This project began more than a decade ago and has grown into a collaboration between local and state governmental entities, non-profits, and academic institution.

“Currently we have received funding to design a master trail plan that incorporates trails for all different types of uses; people using strollers, wheelchairs, horseback riders, snowmobilers, trail runners, hikers, mountain bikers, paddlers…really the whole gamut of trail users,” Trabka said.

She added: “There are a number of public lands in the area and there are also a number of private land owners. The landowners said they would be willing to let the public recreate on their properties with a conservation easement on their property.” 

The videos will premiere on Facebook and YouTube at 9 p.m. on Monday nights. Following the premieres, videos will be available for regular viewing on Facebook, YouTube and Saratoga PLAN’s website. The release schedule for the next is Monday, June 22, 9 p.m. focusing on recreation potential. The third mini-series will premier June 29, 9 p.m. with economic opportunities. The series will end July 6, 9 p.m. with conservation priorities. Following the series, an informal Q&A session with various partners on the project will take place July 13 at 7 p.m. 

Published in News

PALMERTOWN — Saratoga PLAN, preserving land and nature, received a $500,000 grant from the Sarah B. Foulke Charitable Fund, the largest private cash gift made to the organization.

The grant will go towards the planning and design of roughly 20 miles of trails built in the Southern Palmertown Range. Home to 8,000 acres of protected lands, the project will establish the area as a recreational destination while conserving its natural resources.

“The Palmertown Range forms the southeastern-most 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 in a release. “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.” 

The project aims to protect and conserve the ecological areas in Palmertown. According to Saratoga Plan’s website, another goal is to use the grant to establish Community Forests. The Community Forests are communally owned woodlands managed by the local community.

The development of the multi-use trail will add to the spine trail system aimed to connect Saratoga Spa State Park to Moreau Lake State Park. Discussion of the trail master plan is currently underway. According to Saratoga PLAN website, the plan will be used to determine where trails can be sited appropriately and which recreational uses can be supported in the area. Developers of the master plan will design site-specific trail networks for properties with willing landlords. 

“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,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of the Open Space Institute (OSI). OSI has been collaborating with Saratoga PLAN on projects in the Palmertown Range for several years,” Elliman said in the release.

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, 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.

Anthony J. (Tony) Izzo, one of three donor-advisors to the Sarah B. Foulke Charitable Fund, explained the grant in the press release.

“Sarah Blackwell Foulke, a Skidmore graduate and an attorney who practiced in Saratoga County, was a kind, giving, compassionate and courageous woman with an outgoing personality, strong spirit, and a great heart and soul. She sought respite and restoration in the woods, enjoying the company of her friends and four-legged companions. The Sarah B. Foulke Friendship Trails project embodies Sarah’s enduring love of Saratoga Springs, nature, dogs, horses, and the power of friendship. We are confident that this gift to the community will bring pleasure to many and benefit all forever. We hope that our donation will inspire others to donate their time and money to Saratoga PLAN projects for the benefit of present and future generations of Saratoga County residents and visitors,” Izzo said.

Published in News

GALWAY/PROVIDENCE — Saratoga PLAN rang in the New Year by conserving 168 acres in the Towns of Galway and Providence. A conservation easement restricting the property from development in the future was generously donated by Dolores Arste and David Hickey. 

The land protected from future development includes 137 acres of natural woodland and habitat and 31 acres that will remain private, including woods, a residence, horse barns and pastureland. 

Meandering through these woods, it’s hard to miss the enchantments of the land. The scent of the fern-carpeted forest awakens the senses and the aptly named Barkersville Trails, once grounds for sled-dog training, come to life with the whistling wind. A tributary to the Glowegee Creek winds its way through the woodlands, conversing in gurgles with passersby before going on its merry way, flowing into the Kayaderosseras and then to Saratoga Lake. 

Arste’s daughter, Deanna Hadley, reflects on returning to Galway after 30 years. “I realized at that time the true beauty that my mother had seen so many years before. And when she spoke to me about what she wanted to do with her land it seemed that there was no other way,” she said at PLAN’s annual Conservation Hero celebration, where Arste and Hickey were being honored among other individuals for their commitment to conservation in Saratoga County.  “[The property] doesn’t need to be developed, it just needs to be beautiful.. and [a place] that people can enjoy no matter what’s going on in the world,” Hadley added.

Indeed, the public will soon be able to enjoy the splendor of the oasis. Property owners Arste and Hickey who are horseback riding enthusiasts are graciously allowing public access for hiking and horseback riding on the trails, which are still being developed and are not yet open.

Through the efforts of Saratoga PLAN’s Monday Steward group, a dedicated group of individuals that work on trail maintenance projects year-round, as well as Death Wish Coffee employees, just over 2 miles of trails were developed in late 2019. The winding trails that jump streams and parallel stone walls are anticipated to open in early 2020. Arste and Hickey hope that over time, their property can connect with others to create a longer system of backcountry trails. 

Trail enthusiasts donated approximately $25,000 so that PLAN could always uphold the development restrictions and maintain the trails. A $19,000 grant from Dockstader Charitable Trust covered survey, legal, and title insurance fees among others. Saratoga County Grants with Town of Galway awarded $10,000 to PLAN for the development of trails. The Town of Galway Highway Department developed the parking area. 

For more information, call 518-587-5554, or visit saratogaplan.org

Published in Neighborhood Buzz

SARATOGA SPRINGS — On Friday, Dec. 13, Saratoga PLAN, in collaboration with Rick Burke and The Nature Conservancy, signed into agreement the Burke Forest Conservation Project. The conservation easement permanently conserved just over 80 acres of forest habitat in the Town of Saratoga, on what is locally known as Irish Hill.

Rick Burke, owner of Irish Hill Century Farm, a thoroughbred breeding and boarding operation, grew up in the woods he has now permanently conserved. Almost 13 years ago, when Burke learned that Finch, Pruyn & Company sold the neighboring woodlands to The Nature Conservancy, Burke knew he wanted to ensure that the land that had provided for him and his family would remain forested for generations to come.

“There’s a lot of housing pressure,” he said. “Farms that my father, uncle and grandfather had rented, they’re all gone now.” Burke explained that he wouldn’t want to see a similar phenomenon happen to the woodlands on his property.

Burke purchased land from The Nature Conservancy and simultaneously conserved the land, in addition to some of his own acreage, and fulfilled a long-time vision. “I didn’t realize it’s been 12 years, going on almost 13. The 13 number keeps coming around,” he pointed out, chuckling.

“We’re thankful to be able to help Rick and The Nature Conservancy fulfill their vision of forever conserving this land for its habitat and scenic beauty,” said Mike Horn, PLAN’s Conservation Director.

Published in Business

On Tuesday, August 6, my office at 28 Clinton Street, in Saratoga Springs, was transformed into a mini-movie studio or so it seemed.

There were lights, chairs, and cameras but no makeup.

This office transformation was the work of Jon Dorflinger, the Founder and CEO of The Saratoga Film Academy. 

He and his team are working with Saratoga PLAN to capture stories and commentary to produce a video that will bring to life the organization’s Southern Palmertown Range strategy. 

The Southern Palmertown area stretches from Moreau Lake State Park, in the north, to Saratoga Springs, in the south, and from Route 9 in the east to Route 9N in the west, including properties in Corinth and Greenfield. 

One of Saratoga PLAN’s goals for this area is to eventually create a trail network that will run the length of the conservation area, crossing some of the wildest and most natural terrain in Saratoga County.

So Jon and his crew were in my office to ask me a series of questions about how building trails and protecting open space might be an engine for economic growth.

Here’s what I shared with them:

Several years ago, Saratoga PLAN reached out to the Chamber for help mapping the hundreds of miles of trails already in-use across Saratoga County.

The long range goal was to create an integrated network of trails across Saratoga County and beyond. This type of trail system could be a key piece of our economic strategy as trails can be used by residents, visitors and tourists.

Now I’m not a cyclist but I do like to run. While traveling, I’ve been able to run on trails in Oklahoma City, Long Beach, Charlestown, Cincinnati, and Chicago just to name a few. 

In every case, these trail systems were clearly designed to be scenic. Those using these trails get to see significant landmarks, historic sites, public art, and to explore that city. 

These trails are also regularly connected with efforts to preserve open space along a shoreline or within a forest or significant conservation area.

I’ve noticed on these runs that I’m not alone. There are others on bikes, roller blades, scooters and skateboards. There are others walking by themselves, with families, with strollers, and with pets. There is a certain vibrancy that you feel on these trails especially as you connect with those going in the opposite direction.

The trails often take you in and out of areas where there is economic activity and businesses thriving because people can get there by bike and foot not just a car.

There are lots of things businesses near trails can do as well to attract those using the trails to their stores, restaurants and lodging facilities, in particular.

This is why the Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce has often partnered with Saratoga PLAN. It's why were excited by the potential of their Southern Palmertown Range strategy.

And someday hopefully, I’ll be able to take a run across some of the wildest and most natural terrain in Saratoga County and write about it too.

Published in Business
Thursday, 20 June 2019 12:10

Weeding Out the Invasion

Saratoga PLAN (Preserving Land and Nature) and the Kayak Shak will be hosting a water chestnut harvesting for Fish Creek on June 29 from 8 a.m. until 1 p.m.

Water chestnuts are an invasive species in Saratoga county that pose two main threats. First, the seeds have long spikes that can injure a person carelessly walking in a river’s shallows. Second, the plant’s leaves rest on the water’s surface, blocking out sunlight and oxygen from the natural ecosystem.

Due to the plant’s stem growing from the seed to the surface and the leaves forming a mat on the surface, it also can be an obstacle for swimming and boaters alike, tangling limbs, oars and anything else that is trying to move through the water.

Capital Mohawk PRISM (Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management), which is also partnered with PLAN for the event, was unable to respond to multiple calls to elaborate on water chestnut’s dangerous and invasive species in general due to the Aquatic Invasive Species Coordinator being on scene at the Hudson River all week.

“They’re helping as far as educating the volunteers that will be doing the pulling, and the rowing clubs are donating boats,” Executive Director for PLAN Maria Trabka said.

She added that mechanical harvesting boats are available for the water chestnut, but Fish Creek is too shallow for them, and so the plants must be harvested by hand.

“What it can’t do is get into the nooks and crannies along the shoreline,” Trabka said. “That’s where the kayakers can get to pull the weeds.”

However, Trabka mentioned that fully removing the plant was unnecessary to a successful harvest.

“Say we’re pulling and the stem breaks and the seed is still down at the bottom,” she said. “That seed is not good for next year, it’s only good that year.”

For the most part, the event requires volunteers to bring their own boat and be willing to get wet and muddy. However, people who pre-register with the Kayak Shak will be provided a kayak.

Jonah Stallard, manager of the Kayak Shak, said that on average, they have approximately 20 boats available for the volunteers, more on a slow day and less on a weekend due to the more people coming to the Shak for recreation.

He added that the harvesting would not change the Shak’s normal operations, provided it took place during the week.

Stallard also mentioned that up until now, water chestnuts have already posed some problems, clogging up boat props, taking up dock space and so on, and that they have needed to simply remove the plants by hand.

PLAN and volunteers harvested water chestnuts from Fish Creek last year, as well. Prior to that, they harvested water chestnuts from Lake Lonely for approximately seven years. This year, those in attendance will decide on further work dates during the month.

“On the 29th, when all of the people come together who are interested in keeping the waterway clear, they’re going to talk amongst themselves to set the dates for future harvests,” Trabka said. “It’d probably be a weekly effort, people can come and go as they’re available.”

“Theidealistoremovethetop of the plant that’s collecting sunlight and remove it before the plant can set seed.” She clarified that the general time frame for harvesting was late June to early August.

Trabka said that currently they are expecting upwards of 40 volunteers for the event and that the Skidmore club, Saratoga Rowing Club and Saratoga Rowing Association were all going to encourage their members to come to the event.

Published in News
Thursday, 21 June 2018 12:27

Yoga on the Trail

Photos provided.

SARATOGA SPRINGS — Saratoga PLAN (Preserving Land and Nature) is back this summer and fall with their Yoga Along the Trail event. Pre-registration is required, class size is limited, and it is $15 per class. Only sneakers and stretching clothing is required, no yoga mat needed.

“We thought maybe yoga would be a good one to try because our trails lend itself well to it and the activity of using nature as an inspiration for either poses or just natural processes that you might witness out there can be used for some of the getting unstuck or getting rejuvenated,” explained Maria Trabka, Executive Director at Saratoga PLAN.

Trabka thought of the idea after attending yoga at the YMCA with a, “really great instructor. I just had the idea that it would be a fun way to introduce people to our trails and also our preserves that are open to the public,” she said.

Dana, a Saratoga PLAN employee, is also a yoga instructor, so she was able to help with the planning and instructor search.

“It’s fun for the teachers as well to get out and use a different space. You don’t bring a mat or anything like that... This is really just utilizing the spaces out there along the trail,” Trabka said.

Classes take place Saturdays and Sundays, times vary, beginning in April and ending October 21. To pre-register or for more information, contact Dana at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or 518-587-5554.

“This is for people of all ages and abilities. You don’t have to feel like an expert or anything like that. If you’re interested in seeing a new place or having a new experience along the way, it’s just quite a nice experience for people,” Trabka said.


Trabka stated they have considered doing a self-guided yoga tour, in which they create stations along the trail with a yoga pose and suggested meditation on a sign.

“It’s just nice to have air and sounds and breezes and all of those things that if you slow down a little bit, a lot of times I think people use the trails and maybe don’t take the time to really observe and slow down, but more like march down that trail and get it done and check it off your list,” Trabka said.

Published in Sports
Friday, 06 September 2013 12:39

Primaries Heat Up

The primary for Saratoga County Sheriff is on Tuesday September 10, Noon - 9 p.m.

Published in News

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