Photo Caption: Saratoga PLAN Conservation Heroes: (left to right) Dusty and Arlene Rhodes, Mayor Joanne Yepsen, Dave Bowman, Dawn Szurek, Don Carpenter with friend Alice Farnsworth, Neil and Cathy Roberts

Landowners donated and/or sold their lands or development rights to create permanently protected farms, wild open spaces, and recreational assets. 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 City of Saratoga Springs was recognized for investing $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.

At a reception held at Spring Street Gallery, generously underwritten by hostess Barbara Glaser, a long-time supporter and open space advocate, Saratoga PLAN Executive Director Maria Trabka presented the Conservation Hero Awards.

Trabka said, “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.”

Award Recipients:

Neil and Cathy Roberts, for conserving 144 acres of their Fiddle-i-Fee Farm in the Town of Northumberland.

Gary and Anne Vanderhorst, for conserving 90 acres on the Cottage Farm, located in Charlton.

Dawn and Dorothy Szurek, for conserving 311 acres of fertile farmland in the Town of Charlton.

David Bowman, for conserving 129 acres on the Malta Ridge Orchard & Gardens in the Town of Malta.

Donald Tooker, for conserving 89 acres of his working farm in the Town of Wilton.

The City of Saratoga Springs, for conserving the 166-acre Pitney Meadows Community Farm located in Saratoga Springs. Mayor Joanne Yepsen and Commissioner Chris Mathiesen accepted the award on behalf of the city.

Don Carpenter, for conserving 89 acres of farm fields and wooded buffer to the Gloweegee Creek in the Town of Galway.

Dusty and Arlene Rhodes, for conserving 23 acres of woodlands connecting two other conserved properties in the Town of Galway.

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

In her concluding remarks Trabka said about the Heroes, “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.”