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For Release: Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Earth Day Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony Celebrates Establishment of the Rensselaer Plateau Community Forest in Poestenkill

Rensselaer Plateau Alliance, DEC and Other Partners Highlight Recreation, Ecology, Environmental Education and Forest Stewardship on 350-Acre Parcel

As part of New York State's celebration of Earth Week, the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) joined the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance (RPA) today for an Earth Day ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the establishment of the new Rensselaer Plateau Community Forest in the Town of Poestenkill. The Community Forest will provide recreational access for Plateau residents and visitors, and serve as a demonstration area of best management practices for forest stewardship. The announcement is in honor of Earth Week, April 19-25, which Governor Cuomo proclaimed as a weeklong celebration of New York's commitment and accomplishments to protecting our environment, conserving open space, increasing access to the state's vast and magnificent natural resources, implementing clean energy initiatives and preparing for the effects of climate change.

"RPA has gone to bat for these very special 350 acres because they are so vitally important to our community - for recreation, education, sustainable forestry, watershed protection, wildlife habitat and more," said RPA President Jim Bonesteel. "The Community Forest will secure an ecological and economic legacy for our community that will benefit many people for generations to come."

DEC Commissioner Joe Martens said, "The Rensselaer Plateau is a great example of how partnerships can conserve community forest lands, while also providing exciting recreational activities and promoting smart economic opportunities. I commend the RPA and other groups involved in this effort. Earth Day is the perfect time to showcase the history and future of this unique sustainable, forested landscape, which embodies what local land trusts and local communities working together can accomplish."

Forest landowner education programs such as forest stewardship and chain-saw safety will be offered on site through a partnership with the New York Forest Owners Association, along with training for forestry professionals in partnership with New York Logger Training, Inc. In addition, partnerships with the Dyken Pond Environmental Education Center and local schools will promote service learning and citizen science projects, and the Saratoga Mountain Bike Association will work with RPA to develop trails and also offer skills workshops for beginner youth and adult riders.

"Our vision is for the Community Forest to become a resource that supports the full range of interests within the Rensselaer Plateau community, as related to the value of our forests," said Gert Schmitt, chair of the growing committee of community members managing the project and acting as an advisory committee to the RPA board. "We want it to be a model for the economic and social benefits that forests provide for everyone living on the Rensselaer Plateau, and beyond."

The U.S. Forest Service's Community Forest Program ranked RPA's proposal No.1 nationally and awarded the organization a grant to cover half the acquisition cost of the forestland parcel. The award culminates two years of preparation, planning and public engagement by RPA volunteers.

RPA purchased this land in November 2014 with the help of a bridge loan from The Conservation Fund, a national not-for-profit organization that promotes environmental preservation and economic development. Callanan Industries, a leading supplier of paving materials and construction services in New York to government, commercial and private customers, and the seller of the land located off of Legenbauer Road, donated $100,000 towards the acquisition.

For updated information on the progress of the Community Forest Project or to submit a donation, please visit www.rensselaerplateau.org.

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About Rensselaer Plateau Alliance

The Rensselaer Plateau Alliance (RPA), established in 2006, is a diverse group of organizations and people who want to conserve the forested character of the Rensselaer Plateau and the many economic and environmental benefits it provides. A grassroots organization, the RPA is people living in the area who share a common interest in ensuring that future generations will experience and value the many benefits of the plateau.
To learn more visit www.rensselaerplateau.org.

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