Saratoga PLAN conserves 246-acres in the Town of Ballston


Town of Ballston, Saratoga County – On Thursday, December 10, 2015, Saratoga PLAN finalized the conservation easement on the Anchor-Diamond Park at the former Hawkwood Estate, a 246-acre property in the Town of Ballston that will be a “forever wild” publically-accessible preserve with trails.

“My family purchased Hawkwood in 1936 at a farm auction,” said John Taylor. “For many years the fields were used for farming, and some of my fondest memories are of picking wild strawberries, which grew abundantly in several meadows that are now the woods that are there today. We’re very happy that the community will be able to experience and enjoy nature at Hawkwood, as my family did.”

The Anchor-Diamond Park is located almost directly across from another conserved property, the Wm. H. Buckley Farm, also protected in 2015 by Saratoga PLAN. The conservation of this property ensures that the community will forever have access to enjoy natural woodlands, wetlands, and wildlife. The protection of which also helps to provide the public with clean air and water. With this property being a part of the Ballston Lake watershed, its protection affords important buffers to its streams which help to maintain the water quality, temperature, biota, and ecological functions of the lake.

“We are proud to have helped the Taylor Family create a lasting legacy that honors the wishes of Mr. Frank W. Schidzick. The protection of the property will ensure that it will always be a place of ‘wilderness’, providing the Ballston community with access to conserved forests, wildlife, stream habitat and trail resources for future generations,” said Maria Trabka, Saratoga PLAN Executive Director. “This property also enhances the Town’s vision and goals in its comprehensive plan.”

“It is with pride and gratitude that I accept this wonderful gift to the Town of Ballston. The site of the former Hawkwood estate will provide educational and recreational opportunities for generations to come. Conveniently located in the center of Town, the entire parcel is located within the Ballston Lake Watershed Overlay District. Protecting the site from future development is critical to the health of Ballston Lake and will help preserve the rural character of the Town. The park will also serve as a buffer to the Rural District, protecting our farms against commercial and residential encroachment. I could not be more grateful to Frank Schidzick and the Taylor family for their generosity and commitment to the preservation of this beautiful property,” said Patrick Ziegler, Town of Ballston Supervisor.

A legally-binding perpetual agreement between the Taylor Family and Saratoga PLAN, a nonprofit conservation organization, will ensure the protection of the property’s ecological, scenic, and recreational values for future generations. The Town of Ballston will own and manage the land, while Saratoga PLAN will be responsible for ensuring that the agreement is upheld over time. The agreement permits public access for recreational purposes that do not significantly impair wildlife habitat, the natural forest community, or wetland and aquatic habitats.

The Taylor Family donated the conservation easement to Saratoga PLAN and is simultaneously transferring title of the land to a trust set up through the will left by William Schidzick. The trust is then donating the property to the Town of Ballston for management of the public nature preserve. Funding for the transaction costs of the project was provided by the Schidzick Trust. The trust also provided the required Stewardship Fund contribution, which will enable Saratoga PLAN to uphold the terms of the conservation agreement in perpetuity.


  1. Andrei Squires

    Will wildlife conservation aka hunting be allowed on this property. Land to hunt has become increasingly restricted due to the same residential and commercial encroachment talked about in this article. It would be great to have a place like this close by to teach my kids about responsible hunting practices and conservation

  2. Tracy Egan

    Now that this beautiful land is secure from development town planners should think about why it is so lovely. Those who have hiked or gone cross country skiing here have always carried out what they have taken in. They time their visits so they don’t need rest rooms and trash cans. There are no campfires lit in this forest hence no forest fires that could easily threaten the neighboring farms and the houses that were built close to Hawkwood. I’ve seen dirt bikes and snowmobiles chew up trails and damage tree roots over there from traversing the land when it’s 1) almost out of snow cover and 2) when it’s not perfectly dry, causing tiny streams of erosion. I hope foresters will be tasked to keep a watchful eye on the trees for occasional beneficial culling. As the owner of an adjacent farm I have felt privileged to reside next to land I have loved since childhood.
    Hawkwood is a treasure. Kudos to the preservationists and the late Mr. Schidzick and the Taylor family for this gift to us and future generations.

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