Wilton Wildlife Preserve

  • Jan 23, 2014
  • Richard C. Lasselle

Picture: Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park provides a variety of educational programs and activities for students in local schools and for scouts and other youth groups, as well for the general public.   

Growing Up In Wilton - Part 11

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Originally Published: 01/23/2014

Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park (WWPP) was founded in 1996, and its mission is “to conserve ecological systems and natural settings, while providing opportunities for environmental education and outdoor recreation.”  Last month’s article was devoted to Camp Saratoga, the local boy scout camp from 1930 to 2001.  During its final years, the Town of Wilton and The Nature Conservancy worked with New York State and with the Twin Rivers Council of the Boy Scouts of America to enable Camp Saratoga, upon its closing, to be enjoyed by the community as part of Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park.   

The Karner Blue butterfly was a principal inspiration for Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park.  Half a century ago, the endangered tiny Karner Blue butterfly was discovered at Camp Saratoga.  Over the years, the Boy Scout community had appreciated, protected, and nurtured the butterfly and its habitat.  This endangered species is  recognized by both the State and Federal Governments. In 2010, the WWPP population of the Karner Blue butterfly  was determined to be the largest in the Northeastern part of the United States.

Roy McDonald, Wilton Town Supervisor at the time, is seen here making the announcement of the formation of the new Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park at Wilton Town Hall in the fall of 1996.

Although many, many community residents have worked tirelessly to transform the Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park from a vision to a reality, Linda Baker shared that one individual, Pieter Litchfield, is responsible for much that has been accomplished.  Pieter, who is a visionary and an extremely self-motivated worker. He was a founding member, board chair, business agent, human resources manager, active committee lead, trail builder, snow groomer, and even a bridge builder.   Linda shared that Pieter recently retired from the board and will be greatly missed.

Today, the Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park protects and provides education and recreation on approximately 2400 acres of land located in the Town of Wilton and in part of the Town of Northumberland.  

The lands that make up the Preserve & Park are actually owned by four distinct agencies:  The Town of Wilton, Saratoga County, New York State, and the Nature Conservancy. 

Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park enters into contracts and agreements with the agencies on a regular basis, with the intended outcome of the agreements aligning with WWPP’s mission.

Currently there are over 15 miles of marked trails within the Preserve & Park, notably at the Opdahl Farm, the Old Gick Farm, the Fox/Frawley Parcel, the Neilmann Parcel, and Camp Saratoga.

This article was made possible through the contributions of various individuals affiliated with the Wilton Wildlife Preserve & Park organization.  Special appreciation is extended to Margo Olson, the Executive Director, and Linda Baker, the Chair of the Board.

This is  Dick Lasselle’s eleventh column  about various aspects of life in  Wilton.  Dick grew up on Putnam Lane in Wilton, just off Jones road, and now lives on property that was part of the Putnam farm originally owned by his great-grandparents. Dick’s sister, Linda Baker, and his mom, Doris Lasselle, are contributing toward the development of these articles.