The Winnakee Land Trust has been awarded two grants from the Land Trust Alliance (LTA), through its Conservation Partnership Program funded by New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund. This unique program is a model nationwide for leveraging public funds with private donations and volunteer commitments and is a partnership with the Department of Environmental Conservation. This year 55 land trusts across New York State received $1.8M in funding; each grant dollar is matched by approximately two private dollars putting public money into land conservation work.
The first grant will fund the updating of management plans for Winnakee’s two parks, the 76-acre Drayton Grant Park at Burger Hill in Rhinebeck, and the 102-acre Winnakee Nature Preserve in Hyde Park. Burger Hill is characterized by its high peak with panoramic views of the surrounding landscape and its open grassland, increasingly rare habitat for ground-nesting birds such as bobolinks and meadowlarks. The park management plan addresses the evolving conditions at the park, new features, and enhanced uses. It outlines the location and treatment of invasive species and rare species, which enable Winnakee to test new approaches that we can then share with conservation easement landowners. It also details features or uses that might be enhanced, such as location of trails, the new grove of crabapples, new benches and kiosk maps, and maintenance of fencing and parking areas. Drayton Grant Park at Burger Hill has approximately 80 volunteer stewards who open and close the park daily and it has a volunteer committee that implements the park management plan, with assistance from Winnakee staff.
The Winnakee Nature Preserve in Hyde Park is characterized by woodland with historic hiking and carriage trails. The Preserve park management plan addresses not only woodland management and trail maintenance but how to develop, maintain, and promote the Winnakee Education Arboretum that occupies about 25 acres of the park.
Winnakee’s second Land Trust Alliance grant will fund the development of our website as well as a social media campaign on Facebook, twitter, and local forums to promote use of the website and engage the public with Winnakee’s work.