Saratoga PLAN, the Open Space Institute, Wilton Partners LLC, and the Towns of Wilton and Greenfield are working with Saratoga County to purchase the Graphite Range Community Forest, ensuring it is permanently protected as a public preserve.
Located within the ecologically significant Palmertown Range in the southern foothills of the Adirondacks, the Graphite Range Community Forest (GRCF) is an ecologically valuable property for its extensive natural resources, unique geological features, and connectivity to nearby open space. Permanent protection of this 202-acre property as a community forest prevents future development of the land, which would put its delicate natural resources at risk – a likely alternative outcome in a rapidly growing region with significant development pressure.
The GRCF is set to become a multi-use recreational hub for the surrounding communities, offering opportunities for hiking, environmental education, mountain biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing.
With your help, earlier this year Saratoga PLAN and project champions worked together to raise $170,000 by National Trails Day! We met this goal with the support of over 100 founding donors like you, by neighbors encouraging neighbors to contribute to this conservation initiative and making donations to the fundraising campaign ranging from $5 to over $15,000. Thank you! We wouldn’t be able to create this incredible community forest without the support from many families like yours.
These community funds will be leveraging a highly competitive grant totaling $391,000 from the USDA Forest Service’s Community Forest Program and a pledge from Saratoga County for $120,000 to support the purchase of the property.
Since reaching this fundraising goal in June, a great deal of exciting progress has happened!
- Over 5 miles of trails for hiking and mountain biking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing have been developed.
- Trail structures including a bridge over a stream and a boardwalk over a wetland are being constructed.
- A parking area for 25 vehicles and a trailhead with an orientation kiosk has been designed.
- An Advisory Board of volunteer educators, ecologists, neighbors, and mountain bikers have drafted a management plan for the community forest and their recommendations are being reviewed by the US Forest Service and Saratoga County (two of the project funders).
The GRCF is being acquired by Saratoga County with the support of the Open Space Institute, Saratoga PLAN, the management committee, and the Winter family. In this first phase, the partners are proceeding through the required due diligence steps. We expect that the County will take ownership of the property in 2023 and the trails will open later next year.
Community management of public properties is a relatively new concept, however, discussions about ongoing and future stewardship of the property are in progress. We want to make sure the forest is addressing community needs and that the visitors’ experiences are top notch!
Funds are still needed to support future trail amenities such as kiosks, bridges, benches, trail markers, interpretive signage, and ongoing stewardship of the property. Please consider donating today at: saratogaplan.org/support-the-graphite-range
Stay tuned for more updates and we look forward to announcing when the property is open to the public in 2023!
Questions about Graphite Range Community Forest or interest in supporting the project should be directed to Robert Davies, Saratoga PLAN Executive Director at RobertD@saratogaplan.org or by phone at (518) 587-5554 ext. 104.
“I’m excited to know so many people are supporting Graphite Range Community Forest. Our family really wants this to become a special place that everyone can enjoy. It’s been a lot of work but we’re getting closer! I helped my Dad to design the new mountain bike trails – they are so fun. Thank you to all the donors and partners for helping to make this vision a reality.” – Owen Winter