In photos: Saratoga Springs Public Safety Commissioner Peter Martin, Mayor Meg Kelly, Greg Redling of Saratoga Preserving Land and Nature and Tina Carton of the city parks office walk the Bog Meadow trail this week; the existing route on Meadowbrook Road that walkers must navigate; a beaver hut next to the Bog Meadow Brook boardwalk; and volunteer Jeff Olson reflecting on 25 years of work. Photos by Larry Goodwin.
SARATOGA SPRINGS – After trudging through a ditch next to Meadowbrook Road on Tuesday morning, city officials and environmental advocates walked a soggy portion of the Bog Meadow Brook Nature Trail to welcome several upgrades that are needed in the 25-year-old preserve.
Initially completed in 1993, the popular recreation trail is two miles long and has entrances on both Lake Avenue (Route 29) and Meadowbrook Road. Much of the existing path was built over old railroad lines. It is surrounded by 174 acres of wetlands and forest, according to the group Saratoga Preserving Land and Nature (PLAN).
Greg Redling, the stewardship coordinator for PLAN, said a three-phase upgrade project would begin with construction of a new trail near the Meadowbrook Road parking area.
An 1,100-foot connector trail of mostly crushed stone will eliminate the need for people walking in the ditch along Meadowbrook Road—on which some drivers rapidly increase their speed.
Redling said two other phases of the project will include elevating a northern part of the trail affected by “intensive use,” severe weather and beaver dams; and making repairs on the large boardwalk that spans the Bog Meadow Brook itself.
The changes are being designed and engineered by Munter Enterprises, Redling said. He noted how John Munter has been a “crucial partner” in the Bog Meadow trail from the beginning.
The PLAN media spokesman, John Kettlewell, said the work would start by late April when conditions are drier. Mostly “brush and undergrowth” will be removed to build the connector trail on old train tracks that are difficult to spot, he explained.
Kettlewell added that a ribbon cutting is scheduled for the fall to mark the completion of all three phases of the project.
“In conclusion, a 25-year-old trail naturally needs revitalization,” Redling told the small crowd that had gathered Tuesday on the Bog Meadow boardwalk.
The attendees included Saratoga Springs Mayor Meg Kelly and Tina Carton, administrator of the Parks, Open Lands, Historic Preservation and Sustainability office.
Redling and the small staff at PLAN works with a network of nearly 200 volunteers to maintain Bog Meadow and nine other trails in Saratoga County, from Woodcock Preserve in Clifton Park to the Orra Phelps Preserve in Gansevoort, and west to the Hennig and LeVine nature preserves near Galway.
Advocates hope to have the trails connected in a future Saratoga County Greenbelt Trail. They are actively recruiting volunteers to aid in all such efforts.
On the Bog Meadow boardwalk Tuesday, volunteer Jeff Olson said he remembered his “very first exploration of this trail,” which he found using basic information from former city planner Geoff Bornemann.
At first, Olson explained, there was not much local interest in creating the Bog Meadow preserve. “It turns out that, literally, for 25 years, every single time I’ve been here, there have been other people on this trail, and that’s just a wonderful thing,” he said.
“To me, the most exciting thing is we’re standing here today thinking about the next 25 years,” Olson added, as many birds could be heard chirping in the distance.
“Wetlands are really important. We have this wonderful network of springs within the city and water resources, and we need to learn how we’re going to maintain these for future generations,” offered Carton.
She said Saratoga Springs is in the process of compiling a “natural resources inventory” to inform any related planning endeavors.
Carton also talked about a separate trail project that she called the “downtown connector,” from the Exit 15 area of I-87 to Lake Avenue, which is being reviewed by an engineer. That trail will further connect the county’s entire network of trails.
Maria Trabka, the executive director of PLAN, compared the county’s trails to those used long ago by Native Americans—not for recreation, but for essential travel.
“We wouldn’t have any of our trails without volunteers,” Trabka admitted, adding that “homebuyers across the country” value recreation trails close to new properties they are considering for purchase.
“We need a lot of eyes and ears out in all the communities who understand,” Trabka said.
For more information, visit the website https://www.saratogaplan.org/.