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CATS hosts volunteer work day at Essex Quarry Nature Preserve

From left, Judith Murphy and Colin Thoman prune trees back to cross-country ski height. (Provided photo — CATS)

ESSEX — Champlain Area Trails (CATS) hosted a volunteer trail project at their new Essex Quarry Nature Preserve on Friday, Nov. 20. Volunteers helped staff cut brush and fallen trees along two separate paths that are part of a network of trails going in around the quarry.

The day brought in 16 volunteers along with three staff members. To follow with New York state’s COVID-19 guidelines, volunteers were split into two groups and worked on different trails while staying socially distant.

“It was fantastic to see such a great turnout on a Friday afternoon, especially during a pandemic,” CATS Executive Director Chris Maron said in a press release. “We had a great time getting out on the trails, making new ones and having everyone get a chance to see the quarry.”

CATS purchased the 35-acre Essex Quarry property in Essex in December 2019 to create a nature preserve that features 400 million-year-old fossils, a globally rare forest type called a “limestone woodland” and a historic rock quarry. Stone carved from the Essex Quarry walls was used in many of the buildings in Essex. It was also reportedly used for the construction of the State House in Albany, as well as the Brooklyn Bridge.

The nature preserve will feature a network of hiking trails with interpretive signs, which can be used for walking or cross-country skiing. It advances CATS’ mission of saving land, making trails, connecting people with nature and promoting economic vitality.

From left, Nancy Sinkoff, Dan Keegan, and Emily Segada (CATS Operations and Communications Manager) show off their sawing skills. (Provided photo — CATS)

“It was exciting having everyone out for our first volunteer day in a long time due to COVID,” said CATS Operations and Communications Manager Emily Segada. “We take for granted the simple things — doing trail work, socializing in our community and meeting new people. We had a great turnout of board members and community members, all of which were so enthusiastic about the quarry and what we are doing with the preserve.”

The Essex Quarry Nature Preserve is set to officially open Saturday, June 26, 2021.

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