Conservation Archive


October 1, 2019

David Katz

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Morristown’s Red Barn Preserve
Home-Grown Conservation

How do you preserve a parcel of land and open it for public use? Sometimes it takes years of planning, negotiation with multiple state and local authorities, contention among parties with conflicting interests, and wads of money. The perseverence and patience required can be discouraging.

The Red Barn Preserve provides a refreshing reminder that sometimes conservation efforts can be uplifting and encouraging.

Four years ago, Allan and Lorraine Bogardus donated their former home to the Morristown Gateway Museum. It consisted of 160 acres of woods, wetlands, meadows, and four ponds, along with an 1835 farmhouse, barn, and outbuildings. Two years ago, the museum’s board decided to develop a trail system. By last summer the first loop trail was completed. This summer saw completion of a second loop trail, along with a kiosk, trailside benches, and two wheelchair-accessible boardwalks. Renovations on the house and barn are underway, with plans for public use of both buildings in the works. A third trail is being laid out this fall, as well as a viewing stand for the blue heron rookery on Pond Four.

The Red Barn Preserve started with half a dozen volunteers. Since then, many volunteers have contributed hours of unpaid labor. The Thousand Islands Land Trust has provided technical advice. Students and teachers at St Lawrence-Lewis BOCES constructed boardwalks. A Morristown Explorer Scout designed and built a stream crossing. Students and faculty from SUNY Potsdam conducted an invasive species study. Trailblazing days draw more participants each year.

The community has also provided financial support. Individual trailusers and museumgoers make donations. Grant proposals have been approved and funded by Sweetgrass Foundation and the St.Lawrence River Valley Redevelopment Agency. The Town Board authorized Morristown’s Highway Department to build a parking area at the second trailhead.

The Red Barn Preserve is an inspiring example of how much a community, with help from volunteers, organizations, and a small amount of funding, can accomplish in a short time. I look forward to seeing which community is the next to undertake its own conservation project.