Rhodes Property Expands Milton Preserve

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Harold (Dusty) and Arlene Rhodes have donated to Saratoga PLAN 23 acres of forested land in Galway that will connect the Milton Preserve to the south and the recently acquired conservation lands on the Carpenter Farm to the north. Together, these properties could provide a natural corridor for the proposed extension of the Long Path trail, eventually extending from New Jersey all the way to the Adirondacks. Saratoga PLAN will steward these lands, with plans for creating public trails across all three adjoining properties. The closing on the property transaction was on July 28, 2017.

Dusty and Arlene, both retired school teachers, purchased the land and an abandoned farmhouse in 1976. Their love for the outdoors is apparent in the beautiful and natural gardens around the lovingly restored farmhouse and old barns. For many years Dusty and Arlene invited members of the Schenectady Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club to meet on the property, where everyone could hike or ski the wooded trails. Visitors enjoyed exploring the forests that have replaced abandoned farmland, still delineated by many stone walls criss-crossing the property. Large hemlock trees grace one area, and flocks of wild turkeys roam the forest. A combination of higher, rolling ground, and lower wetlands, the terrain is varied and peaceful. Watch out or you might step on the many red efts (little red newt salamanders) scurrying amongst the leaves!

Arlene said that she wants their donation of land to allow others to hike and ski their beautiful property. She would come home after a stressful day at work and head out into the forest for some natural recuperation. She added that, “It was our dream to share this land with others.” The Rhodes donated the land. With the blessing of the Town of Galway, the land was merged into PLAN’s adjacent property donated by Maryanna Milton. A grant from Saratoga County’s Land Preservation Fund covered transactional costs for title insurance, boundary survey, environmental site assessment, legal work, and project management. Saratoga PLAN still needs to raise $22,000 for the project to ensure that it can provide proper stewardship for the property in perpetuity.

Dusty and Arlene have experienced many outdoor adventures in their lives. In the barn a photo of Dusty hunting out West adorns one wall, in between sets of antlers from those hunts. The remains of a Ham Radio antenna hang in the rafters, and many pairs of wooden skis are evidence of the mountain club get-togethers. Sadly, an old wooden sign proclaims “The Big Tree,” which broke in half just this past winter. Arlene tells tales of her trip to the Galapagos Islands, and Dusty points to an old sailboat under a tarp before launching into the story of his trip down the Hudson to New York City, and up Hells Gate into Long Island Sound. Dusty said, “You only take this trip once, and you should try everything!” It looks like they have, and now they want others to be able to do the same.

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