A Rich Forest with an Even Richer History
Current property owner Ethan Winter and his wife, Anne, moved to the
area 17 years ago. “We were immediately drawn to the Adirondacks,” said
Ethan Winter of Wilton Partners LLC. “With the Graphite Range Community
Forest, we are honoring and sharing this special place in the hope that
others will be inspired to appreciate and care for these resources. It's
also important to create welcoming access that enables everyone to
experience what we are blessed with here.
While not opening to the public until fall 2022, Graphite Range is
envisioned as a recreational hub for the surrounding communities as well
as a space for environmental education. Permanently protecting the
property’s ecological value and resilience is key, too, because it’s
located in the southern foothills of the Adirondacks, an area vital for
regional natural resource connectivity. Three stream corridors serve as
headwater tributaries for the Snook Kill and Spring Run, which feeds
Loughberry Lake, the source of the City of Saratoga Springs’ drinking
Historically, most of the property was used as timberland, although a
small portion abutting Route 9 was used as a golf driving range through
the 90s. Between 1900-1920, the property was used for mining graphite.
Traces of the operation are still visible, including old, mossy
foundations, large grinding stones, and deep pits in the side of a cliff
where the graphite was extracted. Historic interpretation and education
await visitors who wish to journey back in time.
Now, the property features a rocky ridgeline with a high score for
climate-resilient habitat or native species, lush, forested ravines
carved by tumbling creeks, and a diversity of mixed northern hardwoods
crisscrossed by logging roads ready for recreation.
Saratoga County’s First Community Forest
Graphite Range Community Forest is unique in that it will be the
first community forest to be owned by Saratoga County, hopefully serving
as a model for future citizen-run forests in the area.
In the community forest model of land conservation, municipalities or
community-based organizations own the forestland and local citizens
participate in the planning and management of forests. Community Forests
provide multiple and significant benefits to the community and the
protection of this property will not only prevent development of the
land, but also safeguard the land’s natural resources and drinking water
quality, protect the property’s carbon stores, and provide a site for
community recreation and education.
Unparalleled Support for the Community Forest
The Saratoga County Community Forest is backed by federal and county
grants as well as strong individual support. The project was awarded
$391,000 from the USDA Forest Service’s Community Forest Program.
Additionally, Saratoga County has exclusively pledged $120,000, plus an
additional $20,000 to benefit municipal access.
Sizeable gifts from individuals and local foundations have
collectively contributed $150,000 towards the project, too, all of which
will be matched (up to $150,000) by a local family. Among the numerous
local contributors is long-time PLAN supporter, the Christopher Dailey