Local land trust Saratoga PLAN (Preserving Land and Nature) is proud to announce a significant milestone in its ongoing efforts to safeguard critical forested landscapes within Saratoga County. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos has officially granted over $1.35 million to six land trusts, including PLAN. The funding is aimed at preserving local forests that are integral to New York State’s environmental conservation objectives and the sequestration of climate-altering emissions. This funding was provided through the Forest Conservation Easement for Land Trust (FCELT) grant program and administered through the Land Trust Alliance.

Saratoga PLAN’s portion of the grant, totaling $301,497, will be dedicated to acquiring a conservation easement on a 435-acre forested property situated in the towns of Wilton and Greenfield. Landowners Joanne and Tom Klepetar share, “We would like to congratulate the team at Saratoga PLAN for their efforts in securing a grant to facilitate the establishment of a conservation easement on our properties. We eagerly anticipate collaborating with PLAN and its partners to bring this project to fruition.”

This property plays a pivotal role in Saratoga PLAN’s extensive initiative to protect the 40,000-acre Palmertown Range, located in the southeastern corner of the Adirondack Foothills. Saratoga County faces intense development pressures, and the Palmertown Range is essential for wildlife migration, climate-resilient habitat, and recreational opportunities for the community. The conservation easement will enable sustainable forest harvesting while ensuring the area will remain undeveloped, continuing to provide community benefits to future generations.

Collaborative efforts and strong community support for preserving this forested landscape have been instrumental in conserving this important ecological corridor. In addition to the State FCELT Grant, several public and private partners have contributed to make this project a reality:

  • Saratoga County provided $95,000 from its Farmland and Open Space Program.
  • The Nature Conservancy granted $50,000 from its Climate Resilience Grant Program.
  • The landowner committed to a substantial bargain sale of the property.
  • A private foundation contributed $10,000.
  • The landowner also pledged an additional $5,000 in cash.

As Saratoga County is the second fastest-growing county in New York State, available land parcels of this size are increasingly rare. Hasty development in the region threatens the natural beauty and ecological integrity of these important areas. The unique topography and the landowner’s commitment to conservation have spared this area from the fate of surrounding regions. The importance of preserving the Palmertown Range’s forested landscape and climate-resilient features cannot be overstated.

“This FCELT grant was the final piece of the funding puzzle that we needed to move forward with conserving this critical area of the county,” said Michelle Culbert, Associate Director at Saratoga PLAN. “We are deeply grateful to the numerous funders, including the generosity and conservation ethic of the landowners, for their support in advancing this project to the next stage.”

Saratoga PLAN is encouraged with this latest step toward protecting this forested tract of land and will continue to keep the community updated as the project progresses towards completion.