WAPPINGERS FALLS – New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the restoration and improvement of an accessible trail at the Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center in Wappingers Falls in Dutchess County.
The half-mile Woodland Trail was destroyed by a microburst in May 2018, and repaired and improved through a collaborative effort to make the trail more accessible to people of all skill levels.
“The restored Woodland Trail is proof of New York State’s continued commitment to ensuring the outdoors are open to all,” said Commissioner Seggos. “The hard work of the Excelsior Conservation Corps and our regional operations staff has made this trail accessible to people of all skill levels, and I expect many visitors to enjoy it in the years to come. I congratulate the young people who have restored this trail. They have rendered a meaningful public service and have helped protect the state’s natural resources and enhance its economic well-being.
The Woodland Trail was wheelchair accessible before a microburst that blew up trees and made the trail unusable.
DEC operations staff helped clear some trees, but the trail was no longer safe for people in wheelchairs or with reduced mobility.
DEC provided the materials, equipment, staff guidance, and reviews by DEC’s accessibility coordinator needed to complete the project, and the Excelsior Conservation Corps (ECC) spent last summer in restore the trail to meet Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) standards.
Located next to the parking lot next to the mansion, the trail is filled with stone dust with open space for classes.
“We are very grateful for the work of the Excelsior Conservation Corps in reviving the Woodland Trail and making it accessible to people with reduced mobility,” said Erik Fyfe, executive director of the Stony Kill Foundation.
“Stony Kill is such a great destination, and upgrades like this help make the farm and the forests more accessible for everyone!”
The announced improvements complement the first phase of the project, with $ 2,800 provided by the state’s Environmental Protection Fund.
The second phase of the project, scheduled for 2022, includes the installation of interpretive panels and benches.
The ECC is a program of AmeriCorps that completes stewardship projects on DEC lands and facilities and the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation open to the public.
The Student Conservation Association (SCA) manages the ECC, which currently manages three teams of members aged 18-26 under the supervision of a team leader.
The 16 crew members received training in Logging Game 1 and 2, Wilderness First Aid, Conservation Work Skills, Leave No Trace ™ Sustainable Recreation Principles and Basic Carpentry.
In addition to working at the Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center, corps members completed projects at DEC’s Camp DeBruce, Sugar Hill State Forest, Honeoye Inlet Wildlife Management Area, and Parks. State of Palisades and Finger Lakes Regions.
Teams created new trails, maintained and improved existing trails, eliminated invasive species, restored cabins, repaired a lean-to, installed bridges and culverts, and surveyed public lands.
The ECC is funded by the Federal AmeriCorps program and the Environmental Protection Fund.
Members receive housing and live and work in teams of up to six.
They are used from May to early December on shipyards in New York State. At the end of their service, members are eligible for a scholarship that can be used to reduce existing student loans or to pay for future education.
The Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center is operated by the Stony Kill Foundation, a non-profit organization whose mission is to educate the public and cultivate environmental stewardship through the interpretation of the rich historical, environmental heritage and farm of Stony Kill Farm.
The Foundation’s educational and community programs include field trips, home schooling and scouting programs, workshops, guided trips and special events.
Each year, more than 19,000 people connect for hands-on experiences in nature and sustainable agriculture at Stony Kill.
As a working farm, the Foundation helps restore heritage brands of cattle, sheep, chickens and turkeys.
The farm is home to a learning center, a tenant farm from the mid-1700s, an Italian-style mansion from 1842, and a barn from the 1800s.
The grounds and seven trails are open from dawn to dusk, 365 days a year.
For more information on the farm and education programs, visit Stonykill.org.