The Board of Trustees of Saratoga PLAN is pleased to announce the search for a new leader is complete. Robert Davies will assume responsibilities of PLAN’s Executive Director on May 16th, 2022, succeeding Maria Trabka who is retiring after 14 years leading the organization.

“We are thrilled that Rob is bringing his broad vision and extensive experience in land conservation and management to Saratoga PLAN,” stated Lorraine Skibo, Chair of PLAN’s Board of Directors.  “He joins our dedicated team at a time of great importance of strategic conservation to build resilience in our food and water systems, habitats for wildlife, and community health.”

Soon to retire from his role as Director, Division of Lands and Forests, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Davies has served as a lawyer, forester and Division Director over his 32-year career. Davies was responsible for the largest and most complex land transactions in NY’s history, oversaw the management of state lands and forests, state DEC staff, and assured coordination with communities. He made local and regional land conservation a priority by leading the creation of new state grant opportunities for local communities and land trusts, enabling both to better meet current conservation challenges facing society.

“After dedicating my professional career to environmental protection and managing the lands and waters of New York State, I am very honored and excited to be joining an already very talented and successful team at Saratoga Plan as the next Executive Director,” said Davies.

This transition comes at a critical time as PLAN and its many essential generous supporters and community partners are poised to help Saratoga County tackle ever more critical challenges to the environment and the sustainability of its quality of life.

Visionary local action and leadership by land trusts is critical in the face of the worldwide climate emergency and the precipitous decline of wildlife, species, and local farms and forests.

“I am passionate about land conservation and helping the communities and landowners in the Saratoga Region plan for and meet modern day challenges in a smart and sustainable way,” Davies said. “The Saratoga Region is the fastest growing region in the State and I look forward to using my past experience and passion in leading and growing Saratoga PLAN so we better assist Saratoga communities and remain a “great place to live, work, visit and farm.”   

PLAN’s long time Executive Director, Maria Trabka, will be retiring this year after 14 years leading and building a strong team and board at PLAN, the capstone of her 40+ years of achievements in the public interest protecting the environment. Under Trabka’s leadership, PLAN became a driving force for the environment, as it facilitated the conservation of more 10,000 acres of land, protected numerous family farms, forests and fields, established 12 nature preserves and over 200 miles of trails throughout the county. Much more work is underway.

 “Saratoga PLAN is in its strongest position ever, with exciting land projects, good stewardship, excellent staff members, amazing volunteers and dedicated Board members, strengthened finances, and committed funders and partners. I am thrilled to be able to retire and pass the baton at this time and to such a well-respected conservation colleague as Rob Davies. I leave PLAN in good shape and in good hands,” said Trabka.

Trabka led PLAN to help many local governments and citizens understand and appreciate their natural amenities and incorporate protections into their local land use and open space plans. These partnerships need ongoing refinement, engagement of broader, more diverse stakeholder engagement, and sharing of expertise. Especially because of the pandemic, more people than ever are enjoying the importance of open space and understand firsthand healthful benefits of access to nature.

PLAN is now well positioned to grow to meet ever mounting and more critical challenges to its environment, water and air quality, wildlife habitats, remaining farmland, open space and community health and well-being.

Saratoga PLAN is a nonprofit land trust that preserves the rural character, natural habitats and scenic beauty of Saratoga County so that these irreplaceable assets are accessible to all and survive for future generations. PLAN acknowledges that the lands it conserves are located on ancestral homelands of Mohican, Mohawk and Abenaki people.

PLAN, which stands for preserving land and nature, has helped conserve over 10,000 acres of land in Saratoga County. PLAN helps landowners conserve farmland, woodlands and natural habitats, and connects people to nature through an extensive trail network, including 12 public nature preserves open for hiking, biking, cross-country skiing, snowshoeing and nature study. Saratoga PLAN helps communities create plans that balance growth with conservation to sustain the Saratoga Region as a great place to live, work, visit, play and farm. PLAN facilitates community-based conservation by partnering with municipalities to help them accomplish their community’s conservation goals.

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