Saratoga PLAN has long relied on volunteers to construct and maintain trails on preserves. Since the early 2000’s volunteers have been coming together every week to keep PLAN trails safe for the public. By 2019 the reach of PLAN’s trail systems was growing fast, and it was evident that volunteer resources needed to grow to meet the need and speed of newly built trails.
PLAN set out to secure funding to:
- Acquire the necessary tools and equipment to develop and maintain trails
- Have a central location to house equipment where volunteers could access the resources they needed at any time.
The Galway Nature Preserve provided a natural solution to the question of where this central location would be. The preserve is central to most PLAN trails, and it has a garage – the only outbuilding owned by PLAN. The 50-acre Preserve was donated by Marshall Desroches in 2005. Marshall had moved to the property with his family in 1923, when he was seven. He lived on the property for the rest of his life, only leaving during WWII to serve in France. Marshall was a self-taught naturalist; he loved the woods and ponds. He was at heart a steward to the land. It seemed only fitting that the garage he built with his own hands, would be repurposed to house the tools that equip our stewardship volunteers and staff.
Once we had our location, we began planning what needed to happen to repurpose the garage:
- The building would need to be renovated
- The driveway would need to be expanded and re-graded to sustain traffic
- Landscaping would have to be done to combat the spread of invasives and beautify the preserve as disturbances occurred from construction
- Tools and equipment wish-lists were compiled
- Volunteer contractors, engineers, and community partners were recruited
- Crucial funding was secured from the Dockstader Charitable Foundation
The team faced a myriad of challenges with the pandemic, but by 2021, two years after the initial concept was contrived, 50 volunteers, 11 businesses, and approximately 300 volunteer hours had come together to restore the building and equip a robust group of stewardship volunteers with the tools they needed.
One of the final steps was just completed this fall when electrical service was installed in the building which brought the restored building full circle from an unused building in disrepair to a crucial Volunteer Resource Center – a workshop and storage facility for materials and equipment. Our vision is to make these resources and this workshop available and foster collaborations and partnerships with our neighbors and colleagues in a way that will support the growth and wellbeing of the community.
We have a few final steps to see this vision through, but we hope to open the doors of the Volunteer Resource Center to collaborators in 2024.