WAYS TO GIVE ›
Agricultural Stewardship AssociationAgricultural Stewardship Association

Field Notes Blog

Details

November 24, 2021
Cambridge Community Forest Opens to the Public

WHITE CREEK, NY – On Thanksgiving eve, a group of spirited supporters gathered to mark the official opening of the Cambridge Community Forest (CCF). While the ceremonial ribbon cutting took just seconds, the journey to create this important community space took years and countless hours of effort by invested volunteers and community members.

The ceremony kicked off with a land acknowledgment and speaker presentation from key stakeholders including the Agricultural Stewardship Association (ASA), New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, The Land Trust Alliance, Village of Cambridge Mayor Carman Bogle and White Creek Supervisor, James Griffith.

The first step in the journey of creating the CCF was the purchase of the 140-acre wooded property at the edge of the Village of Cambridge by ASA with significant funding support from the Open Space Institute (OSI). “The funding that OSI provided launched our ability to fundraise for the remaining cost,” said Renee Bouplon, ASA Executive Director. Contributions from the Fields Pond Foundation, and the Community/Land Preservation and Planning Fund of The Community Foundation for the Greater Capital Region as well as individual community members assisted with the purchase.

“The conservation of the Cambridge Community Forest is connecting children, families, residents, and visitors to nature and to each other,” said Kim Elliman, president and CEO of The Open Space Institute (OSI), which granted $80,000 towards the $110,000 purchase price of the property. “OSI is proud to have played a significant role in preserving this richly forested landscape, and prouder, still, to cheer on the Agricultural Stewardship Association as the property is opened for community enjoyment today.”

An important first effort in creating access to the property was the repair of an existing bridge to provide access to the forest. While the initial work began in fall of 2020, it was delayed due to COVID and funding delays, the bulk was accomplished throughout the early months of 2021. Around the same time, a committed group of volunteers formed the Friends of the Cambridge Community Forest group with the aim of mapping potential trails, envisioning and facilitating educational opportunities, and developing strategies for managing the forest. This project was supported with funding by the New York State Conservation Partnership Program (NYSCPP) and New York’s Environmental Protection Fund. The NYSCCP is administered by the Land Trust Alliance in coordination with the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Generous funding was also provided by the Alfred Z. Solomon Charitable Trust for bridge repairs. The Hamill Family Foundation has also provided funding for the ongoing stewardship of the CCF.

Some of the group’s ideas were soon realized thanks to funding received from the Charles R. Wood Foundation which enabled ASA to engage the services of Lichen Ecological Design to create a plan for a sensory trail at the forest. Throughout the summer and fall, members of the Friends came together to begin work on the sensory trail and other hiking trails. In addition, an area beyond the bridge was transformed into a welcoming entrance to the forest complete with a kiosk, made of wood harvested from the forest and recycled slate. Additional hiking trails will be completed in the coming year.

“It is with tremendous excitement we are opening the CCF to the public. The CCF represents ASA’s investment in the forestry aspect of our work as well as the community of Cambridge. We are grateful to those who have shown their support through donations and volunteer work. We know that this project will have long-lasting benefits to the community,” said Renee Bouplon. “The CCF is a place for quiet walks, educational programs, demonstration projects, and a place to connect to each other and the woods that make up so much of Washington County. That’s part of what makes this so existing. It’s going to be a conservation area that elevates and inspires our connection to the land in so many ways.”

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos said, “DEC is proud to have partnered with the Agricultural Stewardship Association, Open Space Institute, Land Trust Alliance, the town of White Creek, and the village of Cambridge through the New York State Conservation Partnership Program to help open the Cambridge Community Forest. Community forests provide a range of great benefits to local residents, including nearby opportunities for outdoor recreation, education on forests and sustainable forest management practices, and sequestration of carbon to help fight climate change. Whether you’re a hiker, mountain biker, birder, or just looking to escape into nature, this 140-acre property is a special place that has something to offer outdoor enthusiasts of all ages and interests in this community, and beyond.”

"With the opening of the Cambridge Community Forest, residents now have access to outdoor recreation and education opportunities in their own backyards. The Land Trust Alliance, through the New York State Conservation Partnership Program, is pleased to have been able to support improvements to make this property accessible. Congratulations to the Agricultural Stewardship Association and the Cambridge community on the grand opening of this incredible resource that will serve the community now and into the future,” said Meme Hanley, Land Trust Alliance - New York Senior Program Manager.

“Cambridge was one of ten communities selected for the inaugural round of the Recreation Economy for Rural Communities program,” said Steph Bertaina, Senior Policy Analyst at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Office of Community Revitalization. “As part of that program, community members gathered together in a virtual workshop in September 2020 to create an action plan for how to build on the growing outdoor recreation economy in the region and to strengthen downtown Cambridge. I am so pleased to hear about the opening of the Cambridge Community Forest, which was one of the priority actions within the RERC action plan. It’s so wonderful to see the community taking steps to strengthen outdoor opportunities for residents and visitors alike, and opening the Forest is a huge accomplishment towards that end.”

“The Town of White Creek is excited for the opening of the Cambridge Community Forest; this will give our residents an opportunity to utilize another outdoor space for recreational use. It's great for our community to see a gem of an environmental resource preserved for many more generations to appreciate,” said James Griffith, Supervisor of the Town of White Creek.

“I'm delighted to see the opening of the Cambridge Community Forest and look forward to the possibilities of having a large outdoor recreational space for the community. Thank you to ASA and all the volunteers it took over the past few years to make this possible,” said Cambridge Mayor, Carman Bogle.

The entrance to the CCF is located at 15 Rockside Drive. Parking is available a short walk from the entrance in a lot on the Gilbert Street entrance of Rockside Drive. The forest is open from dawn till dusk.

The Friends of Cambridge Community Forest and ASA partner to manage the forest. For volunteer opportunities, please contact ASA at 518-692-7285 or asa@agstewardship.org.

 About ASA

 Agricultural Stewardship Association has helped 152 farm families conserve over 26,404 acres of farm and forested land in Rensselaer and Washington counties. ASA was founded in 1990 by local farmers to conserve land and ensure a future for farming and forestry in our region. For more information about ASA’s work, visit www.agstewardship.org.

About OSI

The Open Space Institute (OSI) protects scenic, natural, and historic landscapes to provide public enjoyment, conserve habitat and working lands, and sustain communities. Founded in 1974 to protect significant landscapes in New York State, OSI has been a partner in the protection of nearly 2.3 million acres in North America. Visit OSI online at www.openspaceinstitute.org.