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.