Saratoga County

State grant to increase educational opportunities at Wilton Wildlife P&P

Biking at the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park, in Wilton in June 2021

Biking at the Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park, in Wilton in June 2021

SARATOGA COUNTY Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park has received an $80,000 state grant meant to increase outdoor educational and recreation opportunities in the area.

Through a partnership with SaratogaPLAN (Preserving Land and Nature), Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park will use the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Conservation Partnership Program money to add additional recreational programming designed to get community members out on lands owned by DEC, The Town of Wilton and Saratoga County.

The state funding will support two paid internship positions, from May 2022 through March 31 2024, that will help facilitate the programming. Nature walks or other field trips are expected to begin as early as June, said Margo Olson, executive director of Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park.

Olson said part of the goal with the internships is to improve diversity in the conservation field.

“By targeting these internship opportunities to recent graduates who are from communities that are traditionally underrepresented in the field of environmental education and conservation work, progress will be made in addressing disparities and showing the community that the outdoors is for everyone,” reads a Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park press release on the grant.

The additional programming is also designed to expose more community members to public lands, which is a boon to conservation efforts, said Maria Trabka, executive director of Saratoga PLAN.

“We’re excited because it will mean that more people will be invited and welcomed onto our properties and learn about them. It may attract a new group of people who haven’t yet discovered our preserves to find places to go out with their families, take walks, study birds,” she said.

Such experiences give people a personal connection to the land, which can make them more invested in issues like clean air and water and provide a greater understanding of the important role that natural lands play in environmental aspects like pest and flood control, Trabka said.

“If you just see something on your TV or phone screen, that’s a lot different than going out and smelling the flowers or seeing that lovely light filtering through the leaves,” Trabka said. “Immersing yourself in it gives you a greater appreciation.”

The Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park is a nonprofit organization that conserves ecological systems and natural settings while providing opportunities for environmental education and outdoor recreation. Saratoga PLAN aims to preserve the rural character, natural habitats and scenic beauty throughout Saratoga County.

The $80,000 grant was part of a larger $3.375 million state DEC grant program, which distributed money to 51 nonprofit land trusts across New York.

“DEC is proud to partner with the Land Trust Alliance for this $3.3 million grant announcement, which supports land trusts across the state managing forests, conserving agricultural lands, restoring coastal and wetland areas and bolstering essential projects in our fight against climate change,” Commissioner Basil Seggos said in a statement. “Thanks to Governor Hochul and legislative leaders, the state’s record-high Environmental Protection Fund is making historic investments in local land trusts and community partners, sustaining their work to protect and preserve New York’s natural areas now and for future generations.”

Andrew Waite can be reached at [email protected] and at 518-417-9338. Follow him on Twitter @UpstateWaite.


Categories: News, Saratoga County, Saratoga Springs


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