Photo Credit: Jerry Monkman
OPEN SPACE INSTITUTE HELPS PROTECT STILLWATER ACREAGE BORDERED BY SARATOGA NATIONAL HISTORICAL PARK

Projects complement earlier acquisitions to protect Saratoga Battlefield and increasingly threatened farmland in Saratoga County


NEW YORK, NY - January 19, 2006 - The Open Space Institute today announced two projects that will permanently protect more than 560 acres of land adjacent to the Saratoga Battlefield near Saratoga Springs. The projects complement earlier acquisitions by OSI to protect the Battlefield and threatened farmland in the vicinity.

OSI, in partnership with the State of New York, the Town of Stillwater, and Saratoga County, recently completed the acquisition of a conservation easement that will permanently protect the 380-acre Saratoga Sod Farm in Saratoga County. The farm is surrounded on three sides by the Battlefield Park. In addition, OSI purchased 182 acres of wooded, undeveloped land along State Route 4 at the northeast boundary of the Park known as the Westney property. Both properties are located approximately 40 miles north of Albany and approximately 10 miles east of Saratoga Springs.

According to Open Space Institute president, Joe Martens, OSI has been working for more than a decade to protect the historic site and its viewshed. “The easement protecting Saratoga Sod Farm and the purchase of the Westney property are part of an ongoing effort to protect this historic landscape and increasingly threatened farmland in the vicinity,” said Martens. Through the Open Space Conservancy, the organization’s land acquisition affiliate, the Open Space Institute contributed slightly more than half of the local matching funds necessary for a New York State Farmland Protection Grant to acquire the agricultural easement encumbering Saratoga Sod Farm.

Remaining matching funds were contributed through a grant from the Saratoga County Farmland Open Space Preservation Program and a sale, which was substantially below market value, by the property owners, Phil and Linda Griffen. Mr. Griffen commented: “My decision to restrict future development on this farm was based on my strong feelings about the need to preserve agricultural land. This is especially important here due to our proximity to the Park.”

Stillwater town supervisor Greg Connors said, "The purchase of these development rights addresses one of the top priorities in our Town, the preservation of open space. In addition, this effort is one that will also protect the integrity and surroundings of one of the Capital Region's most valuable historical resources, the Saratoga National Historical Park."

Today the Open Space Institute also announced the acquisition of the Westney property. The purchase was funded by the Lila Acheson and DeWitt Wallace Endowment, a permanent endowment that was transferred to the Open Space Conservancy, an affiliate of OSI, in 2001. OSI will convey the property to the National Park Service as an addition to the Park. The bluffs on the property overlooking the Hudson River served as an observation point and defensive strongpoint for British troops during the battles in the fall of 1777, and became the “high water mark” of General Burgoyne’s southward advance toward Albany from Canada prior to his historic defeat. Traces of a road used at that time can still be seen on the property. Vistas to the south could be opened from this site that would provide the best views the Park has to offer.

"This is one of the most historic actions to occur since the Saratoga National Historical Park was established" said Frank Dean, park superintendent. "Preserving this huge swath of private land within the park from large scale development will provide a real legacy for the American public, and we thank the Open Space Institute for brokering this deal with the landowner and state and local officials," continued Dean.

Earlier efforts to protect the Battlefield Park and the nearby Saratoga National Veterans’ Cemetery include OSI’s acquisition, in conjunction with the State Farmland Protection Program, of agricultural easements protecting a total of 385 acres on parcels in the Towns of Stillwater and Saratoga owned by members of the Hanehan family, which runs a dairy farm, and John Hall, also a dairy farmer. And in 1997, OSI completed a project to protect 1,000 acres along the Hudson River in the Town of Easton, located in Washington County immediately opposite the Saratoga Battlefield National Historic Site. This project involved one of the State’s largest utilities, the Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation, which had acquired the property in the 1960s to construct a nuclear power plant; however, in the face of strong local opposition and insurmountable regulatory hurdles, the utility ceased construction activities.

“That project was a great example of multiple partners, including a local farm family and American Farmland Trust, collaborating and pooling their resources to achieve the best conservation outcome. Not only did we protect 1,000 acres of farmland, but we also protected the viewshed from the Battlefield Park and more than one mile of shoreline along the Hudson River,” said Martens.

Last year, in a comprehensive report on sprawl in the Capital District entitled Open Space For Tomorrow, the Open Space Institute highlighted Saratoga County and mounting development pressures there. Saratoga County is by far the most rapidly growing county in the Capital District, compromised of the four counties of Albany, Rensselaer, Saratoga and Schenectady. “Saratoga County has been and continues to be a very important focus area for conservation,” noted Martens. OSI’s report examines farmland loss, diminishing water quality and impairment of wetlands, population growth, quality of life impacts, and other issues related to sprawl. More information about OSI’s conservation work in Saratoga County can be found on our website by clicking here.





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Saratoga_ Michael Hochanadel
Saratoga Battlefield Viewshed
photo by Michael Hochanandel
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Hanehan Dairy Farm
photo by Jim Newton

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Click here to view a PDF of OSI's Saratoga County Protection Projects.

 

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