Champlain Area Trails (CATS) has purchased the 35-acre Essex Quarry property in the village of Essex, an historic and ecologically significant site located a half-mile south of the ferry landing.
The acquisition is the first step in CATS’ creation of the Essex Quarry Nature Park that will protect and showcase the property’s unique features that include fossils that are 450 million years old, a rare “limestone woodland” natural community, and a fascinating history. Stone from the quarry was used in nineteenth century building projects such as Brooklyn Bridge and in the capital building in Albany.
“The owners of the property wanted to see it used for the public’s enjoyment,” said CATS Executive Director Chris Maron. “So they came to us with a very attractive offer and then donated half the purchase price back to CATS. We’re grateful for their foresight, generosity, and their help in making this dream come true. After we make the trails, the Essex Quarry Nature Park will be a treasure for Essex, where visitors and residents alike can walk through town and enjoy this oasis for hiking, skiing or just unwinding.”
CATS’ plans for the Essex Quarry Nature Park include developing about two miles of trails for walking or cross-country skiing, and installing interpretive signs that highlight the park’s special features, as well as benches for relaxing and enjoying the peacefulness of the property. CATS is actively seeking funds for those improvements.
“The purchase of the property is an important and inspiring first step in the creation of the nature park,” said CATS Development Director Derek Rogers. “In addition to the improvements we have planned, CATS must fund a stewardship account to protect and maintain the property in the future. We’re applying for public and private grants, but we’re also asking people to donate to this wonderful community project.”
To that end, CATS has naming opportunities available for benches, interpretive signs, trailheads and trails, and more. The names of donors giving $1,000 or more will be noted on a special plaque. Additional details on naming opportunities are available by contacting the CATS office at (518) 962-2287.
“All donations, large and small, are welcome,” Rogers said, “We want everyone to be a part of the creation of this special place.”
Champlain Area Trails (CATS) is a nonprofit organization that creates and maintains hiking and cross-country ski trails in the Champlain Valley, with the goal of linking communities, connecting people with nature and promoting economic vitality. CATS is also an accredited land trust working to conserve natural communities, farmland, clean water, and scenic vistas. Information on future CATS events and activities is available at champlainareatrails.com and by following CATS on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Please call 518-962-2287 for more information.