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