Linda Baker, a longtime town resident and award-winning educator, has been elected chairwoman of the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park, replacing Pieter Litchfield, who remains on the board of directors.
“It is a wonderful partnership,” Baker said Friday about the preserve, which includes about 2,000-acres of protected open space on the east side of the Northway in Wilton.
The partnership includes the town of Wilton, the Nature Conservancy, Saratoga County and the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
Over the past decade the open space has been criss-crossed with nature trails and the habitat of the endangered Karner blue butterfly has been protected and enhanced on the protected properties.
Baker said Pieter Litchfield has been a key player in improving the preserve and park during his eight years as board chairman.
“As we look to the future and envision still greater success in conservation, education and recreation at Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park, we recognize that none of the current or future accomplishments would be possible without the far-reaching vision and tireless efforts of those who have come before us,” Baker said in a statement.
“I am especially grateful for the work and inspiration of Pieter Litchfield,” Baker said. “His leadership has been extraordinary.”
Litchfield said Friday that he remains on the board and will continue his trail improvement work in the coming years. He said it was time for someone else to take the leadership role.
“I will remain active,” Litchfield said.
One of the many things Litchfield has done for the preserve is to groom and maintain the several miles of cross-country skiing trails on the Camp Saratoga parcel during the winter months.
Litchfield said Baker is “very capable” and has strong local support as a long-time Wilton resident.
Baker is currently an educational researcher for the National Study of Writing Instruction and Just for the Kids-NY, both based at the University at Albany. She also had a long teaching career at Hoosick Valley High School, where she held several leadership positions. In 1998 she was a candidate for New York State Teacher of the Year.
She is also pursuing her doctorate at the University at Albany’s Department of Educational Theory and Practice.
“It’s a national treasure we have there,” Baker said Friday about the preserve and park created about 10 years ago.
Baker has been on the board of directors for eight years. She said she was originally named to the board because of her long association as a volunteer with the Boy Scouts of America. Camp Saratoga on Scout Road, a former Boy Scout camp, is now a central part of the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park.
Baker said she expects the protected open space that is the preserve will grow in the coming years. She said she also would like to see the preserve’s educational programs in local schools grow.
Through the work of preserve and park director Sarah Clarkin, there are educational programs about the Karner blue butterfly and other aspects of the park conducted at the Ballard Road Elementary School and the Dorothy Nolan Elementary School.
Baker was elected to a three-year term as board chairwoman at the board’s annual meeting. Also elected to office were Wilton Town Board member Ian McGaughey, as vice chairman, town Planning Board member Robert Rice as treasurer, and Martha Devaney as secretary.
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