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Winnakee-Dutchess Trails Roundtable Recap

First 2016 Quarterly Meeting

Meeting Recap

See Meeting Agenda

On March 17th, the first of the 2016 Winnakee-Dutchess Trails Roundtable meetings was hosted at the Farm and Home Center of Dutchess County’s Cornell Cooperative Extension.  In attendance were more than 50 people representing regional trail and land conservation organizations, local and County government, and the interests of private citizens and businesses.

The mission statement for the Roundtable was officially announced:

The Winnakee-Dutchess Trails Roundtable brings together stakeholders to foster trail development on a local and regional scale through networking, information sharing, and enhancing access to financial resources and technical assistance. 

Any comments about the mission statement can be directed to Karissa Stokdal at info@winnakee.org.

Karl Beard of the National Park Service Rivers and Trails Program gave a Karl presentationpresentation regarding National Trails Day. Sponsored by the American Hiking Society, National Trails Day occurs on the first Saturday in June (June 4th this year) and is America’s largest celebration of trails. Local trail groups and recreation departments are strongly encouraged to participate.  Register your National Trails Day event here! Participating in the event is a great way for Dutchess County municipalities and trail organizations to get behind a cohesive and coordinated effort to promote themselves and the many wonderful trail-based recreational opportunities in Dutchess County.

dan presentationDaniel Jeanson of Hudson River Valley Greenway spoke of the Greenway’s 2016 trail-system gap analysis. The Hudson River Valley Greenway gap analysis steering committee and consultants, Alta Planning + Design and Behan Planning and Design, held their first of several monthly meetings on February 29, 2016. The group examined existing conditions, including available GIS data, and discussed potential emerging trail projects that would complement the effort. The gap analysis will identify likely connections that would complete the trunk line north/south Greenway Trail route from New York City to the Capital region and beyond. The next steering committee meeting will be April 11th, 2016. For more information, contact Beth Campochiaro.

Mary Kay Vrba of Dutchess County Tourism offerent pertinent information about about branding and promoting a unified trail identity in Dutchess County. Striving for consistency and branding in trails and trail maps will make hiking in Dutchess County safer and more accessible to tourists. In closing, Mary Kay urged trail groups to always submit their events to Dutchess County Tourism, as County Tourism outreach and publication efforts reach thousands of people throughout the County and beyond. Likewise, if an organization has a brochure on their trail system or park, Dutchess Tourism will distribute it free of charge. Dutchess Tourism can be contacted here.

Robert Wills, Senior GIS Project Coordinator for Dutchess County, informed audience members of a portal on the County website containing maps of all known public-access trails. If an organization’s trail is not listed, contact Robert Wills and a map of the trail will be created and uploaded to the site. The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Dutchess County also made clear a willingness to assist trail projects in need of mapping services. Contact Jeff Luoma for assistance.

Scenic Hudson‘s Amy Kacala and Emily Dozier of Dutchess County amy and emily presentationPlanning and Development closed the meeting’s presentations with an update on The Beacon Line. There is an interest in creating a trail alongside the non-revenue rail line that extends east from the City of Beacon to the Town of Pawling and South into Putnam County. The Beacon Line poses exciting connectivity potentials- including an essential link in the ongoing effort to connect NYC with Dutchess County and beyond to the Catskill Mountains. Scenic Hudson, Dutchess County Planning, and Winnakee Land Trust have recently partnered to produce and distribute a survey intended to gauge public/municipal interest in the project, the ability to take on the project, resources available, timeline, etc. The results of the survey will be delivered during a two-hour meeting on April 5, 2016 from 2 pm- 4 pm at the Fishkill Town Hall. Those interested in the trail are encouraged to attend.

The meeting was concluded with the following trail project updates:

  • Chris Morris of New York State Parks announced that Taconic State Park is in the beginning phases of a master plan. The next public meeting will be held April 2nd in Copake. To learn more, contact Chris Morris.
  • Bob LaColla, Fishkill Town Supervisor, announced an update on the Fishkill Ridge. Beacon is working on a northern extension of the trail and hopefully within the next couple of years, it will connect with the Wappinger Trail System.
  • Sandy Washburn, Director of Parks and Recreation for the Town of LaGrange, gave a few updates on the Nature Play Trail coming to Freedom Park within the next year. Local Scout Troops are currently working on the play stations and a site has been selected for a tree house. A ribbon cutting for the tree is anticipated June 18th. Contact Sandy Washburn for more information.
  • Bob Balkind, Dutchess County Commissioner of Public Works,
    announced that the County is working on the completion of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail. HVRT is hoping to complete design work and have construction plans done by 2017 but currently, the project is underfunded. Dutchess County will be partnering with HVRT Association to apply for a TIGER grant but need letters of support from the community. Supporters of the continuation and development of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail are asked to send letters to Robert Balkind at rbalkind@dutchessny.gov
  • Amy Kacala of Scenic Hudson announced that the Fjord Trail is moving ahead. They are hoping to break ground for construction in November of this year.

The next Winnakee-Dutchess Trails Roundtable will be hosted June 23, 2016, location TBA. More details and meeting agenda to follow.

Be sure to “Like” our Winnakee-Dutchess Trails Roundtable page on Facebook!

Winnakee-Dutchess Trails Roundtable to be held March 17th

winnakee-dutchessOn Thursday, March 17th, 2016 Winnakee Land Trust will host the first of the quarterly 2016 Winnakee-Dutchess Trails Roundtable meetings. This county-wide forum brings together stakeholders to foster trail development on a local and regional scale through networking, information sharing, and enhancing access to financial resources and technical assistance. Officials, trail committees, and the general public are encouraged to attend.

The meeting will be held from 4 pm to 5:30 pm in Room A of the Farm and Home Center located at 2715 Route 44 in Millbrook. Featured presentations will include Karl Beard of the National Park Service speaking on the organization of a county-wide National Trails Day, tips from Mary Kay Vrba from Dutchess Tourism on branding and promoting a unified trail identity, and updates from Scenic Hudson’s Amy Kacala and Dutchess County Planning’s Emily Dozier on the progress of the Beacon Line. For a full agenda of the upcoming meeting, Click Here.

Whether you want to propose a short length of hiking trail to your local park or are already well at work establishing regional trails, there is a place for you at the table. To RSVP or receive more information regarding the meeting, please email Karissa Stokdal at info@winnakee.org. Walk-ins are welcome. Be sure to “Like” the Winnakee-Dutchess Trails Roundtable Facebook page for more news and updates!

The Winnakee-Dutchess Trails Roundtable was made possible thanks to a generous grant from the Land Trust Alliance Conservation Partnership Program, funded by the NYS Environmental Protection Fund.


First Membership Letter: 2016

February 2016

Dear Supporters of Winnakee Land Trust,

It is with great regret that we announce the resignation of our Executive Director, Lucy Hayden. For over a decade, Lucy dedicated all of her time, energy, and heart to Winnakee Land Trust. She set a high standard for the organization and is responsible for many of Winnakee’s greatest triumphs. She will be missed by all.

GreggSwanzeyFortunately, there will be no loss of continuity nor gaps in management. It’s a new year and a new beginning for Winnakee Land Trust!  We are excited to welcome our new Executive Director, Gregg Swanzey. Gregg has extensive background in land preservation, environmental issues, economic development, and smart growth strategies. He has experience in grant acquisition and management and has done extensive work in trail planning and development. Gregg’s skills and experience will have great value as Winnakee Land Trust embarks on the next 25 years of service to the communities of northern Dutchess.

In the past 25 years, Winnakee has permanently protected over 2,500 acres of farmland, open space, and sensitive natural habitats from inappropriate development. At the heart of Winnakee’s mission is protecting the land you love and although 2016 has just begun, Winnakee has hit the ground running with nearly 1,000 acres of new conservation easements in the pipeline. Our work will leave a lasting legacy in land conservation that your support will make possible.Garden Trail work 2

Winnakee is well-aware of the benefits recreational trails have on our community’s health and economy and we have continually worked to add to our miles of public access trails. This year, Winnakee has established the Dutchess County Trails Roundtable, a quarterly county-wide forum to share resources, discuss ongoing trail projects, and identify potential connections throughout the county. The establishment of the Roundtable is a monumental stride toward a greener, healthier, and more unified Dutchess County. If you have a trails project or a dream for one, come to the Roundtable March 17, 2016 from 4 pm to 5:30 pm at the Farm and Home Center in Millbrook.

Please consider making a donation to Winnakee Land Trust. Every dollar helps us to preserve and protect the natural, scenic and recreational resources of northern Dutchess County. Click here to make an online donation or send a check to Winnakee Land Trust at PO Box 610, Rhinebeck, NY 12572. MasterCard or Visa information can also be taken over the phone by calling (845) 876-4213 ext.2.  Help ensure that our beautiful lands are not only preserved for today, but for many generations to come.

With gratitude and best wishes,

sallys signature (2)                       Gregg's Signature

Sally Mazzarella, President                               Gregg Swanzey, Executive Director


To be added to our mailing list or to receive more information regarding Winnakee Land Trust, please email to Karissa Stokdal at info@winnakee.org


Introducing our New Executive Director, Gregg Swanzey

Winnakee Land Trust is pleased to announce Gregg Swanzey as their new Executive Director. A longtime advocate for education and the environment, Gregg first launched his career in the early 80’s as Captain of the Hudson River Sloop Clearwater. Since then, he has crossed the Atlantic three times as captain of the Tall Ship Te Vega and served as Executive Director for a gubernatorially appointed Commission in Massachusetts.

Gregg is a resident of Kingston where he has served on the Board of the Kingston Land Trust and the Ashokan Center, as a founding member of the Kingston Conservation Advisory Council, and appointed member of the Ulster County Planning Board. He previously worked for Mohonk Preserve in grants management and corporate relations and is coming off four years as Director of Economic Development and Strategic Partnerships for the City of Kingston.

Gregg holds an undergraduate degree in natural resources from Cornell University and a master’s degree in business administration from UMASS Dartmouth. “I am thrilled to join the team at Winnakee Land Trust and advance our mission of preserving and protecting the natural, scenic and recreational resources of the towns and villages of northern Dutchess County through conservation, open space, trails and farmland preservation,” he said, “I am so impressed with the work Winnakee has been doing and pleased to see that the organization has been a leader amongst land trusts in successfully seeking accreditation.”

It is with regret that Winnakee Land Trust also announces the resignation of their former Executive Director, Lucy Hayden. For over a decade, Lucy dedicated all of her time, energy, and heart to the organization. Winnakee President Sally Mazzarella said, “Lucy’s commitment to land preservation was extraordinary. She set a high standard for our organization and will be missed by all.”

The Second Dutchess County Trails Roundtable Meeting

Meeting will focus on Countywide Trail Event Promotion for National Trails Day

On Thursday, March 17th, 2016, Winnakee Land Trust will host the second Dutchess County Trails Roundtable. The meeting will be held from 4 pm to 5:30 pm in Room A of the Farm and Home Center located at 2715 Route 44 in Millbrook. The meeting will be the first of the 2016 quarterly roundtables and will focus on organizing county-wide events for National Trails Day, held annually on the first Saturday in June. An agenda will be released prior to the meeting date.

Whether you want to propose a short length of hiking trail to your local park or are already well at work establishing regional trails, there is a place for you at the table. To learn more about past and upcoming meetings and to access meeting agendas and summaries, click here.

This county-wide forum fosters the development of trails on a local and regional scale through networking, information sharing, and helping trails projects to access financial resources and technical assistance. Officials, trail committees, and the general public are encouraged to attend. All are welcome! Get your event on this important calendar, whether it’s a hike, a volunteer day, a first-ever event, or a well-established one, we will work together to help you build excitement and get people out.

Please RSVP to Karissa Stokdal at info@winnakee.org. Late reservations and walk-ins are always welcome.



Winter 2015 News and Events

Winter 2015 – Winnakee’s “Quiet Season”

March 17th: Winnakee Land Trust will host the first quarterly Winnakee-Dutchess Trails Roundtable of 2016 on Thursday, March 17th from 4 pm- 5:30 pm in Room A of the Farm and Home Center located at Route 2715 Route 44 in Millbrook. Get the meeting agenda here!

February 25th: We met with landowner Sam Phelan to discuss a draft on an 85 acre easement located in Red Hook.

February 24th: Winnakee traveled to Albany to express our thanks for the increase to $300 Million for the Environmental Protection Fund this year. This is critical funding for many grant programs including the Land Trust Alliance’s Conservation Partnership Program.

February 22nd: Our first membership letter of 2016 has gone out! Read it here.

February 12th: Winnakee Land Trust welcomes new Executive Director, Gregg Swanzey.

January 15th: Brand new podcast signs were installed at Winnakee Nature Preserve! There are six stations along the Colonel Rogers Loop (red) trail. This self guided tour takes park visitors on a journey through time.

January 1st: With the support of the Hudson River Valley Greenway, Winnakee is teaming up with the Department of Environmental Conservation to map scenic views across northern Dutchess County. We are accepting photos and locations until April! Get more information here.

December 17th: Winnakee hosted the first Dutchess County Trails Roundtable meeting at the Wallace Center in Hyde Park. Representatives of Dutchess County Municipalities and trail organizations met to share resources, discuss ongoing trail projects, and identify potential connections throughout the county. See the meeting recap and agenda here! The next meeting will be held March 17, 2016, location TBA.

December 4th: A successful season of conservation easement monitoring has come to an end. Winnakee’s easement owners are doing a great job caring for their protected open space! Seasonal monitoring will resume in March.