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CATs buys Essex Quarry to create nature park

Champlain Area Trails has completed the purchase of the 35-acre Essex Quarry to create a nature park in Essex. (Provided photo — CATS)
Champlain Area Trails has taken the first step in the creation of the Essex Quarry Nature Park with the purchase of the 35-acre property in Essex. The nature park will eventually include about 2 miles of trails for hiking or cross-country skiing. (Provided photo — CATS)

WESTPORT — Champlain Area Trails has purchased the 35-acre Essex Quarry property in the town of Essex, a historic and ecologically significant site a half-mile south of the ferry landing.

The acquisition is the first step in CATS’s creation of the Essex Quarry Nature Park that will protect and showcase the property’s unique features that include fossils that are 450 million years old and a rare “limestone woodland” natural community. Stone from the quarry was used in 19th-century building projects such as Brooklyn Bridge and in the state capitol building in Albany.

“The owners of the property wanted to see it used for the public’s enjoyment,” said CATS Executive Director Chris Maron. “So they came to us with a very attractive offer and then donated half the purchase price back to CATS. We’re grateful for their foresight, generosity, and their help in making this dream come true. After we make the trails, the Essex Quarry Nature Park will be a treasure for Essex, where visitors and residents alike can walk through town and enjoy this oasis for hiking, skiing or just unwinding.”

CATS’s plans include developing about 2 miles of trails for walking or cross-country skiing, and installing interpretive signs that highlight the park’s special features, as well as benches for relaxing and enjoying the peacefulness of the property. CATS is actively seeking funds for those improvements.

To that end, CATS has naming opportunities available for benches, interpretive signs, trailheads, trails and more. The names of donors giving $1,000 or more will be noted on a special plaque. More information available by calling the CATS office at 518-962-2287.

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