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  • Jim Bonesteel

A breathtaking gift for Future Generations - Celebrating Forests Forever

Jim Bonesteel November 15, 2023

Just over a year ago, RPA's board of directors announced the Forests Forever Campaign for land conservation and long-term stewardship. The goal was to conserve connected patches of forestland across the Rensselaer Plateau, allowing wildlife to move freely and water to flow clean and unimpeded. We also hoped to make nature more accessible by opening new community forests and miles of hiking and walking trails. Last month at our annual Gala, Forests Forever co-chairs Chet Opalka and Kathy Jimino announced the outstanding success of the campaign -- all thanks to the community of supporters who made it happen. Not only did the campaign exceed its goal of $2 million, but it brought many of our members along on an inspiring journey filled with amazing stories. We now have two new community forests slated to open in 2023 and nine new properties conserved overall. Almost 1,700 acres of key forests and wetlands have been conserved through the campaign and will never be developed. You can view these newly-conserved lands in the short video below:

In one year, 300 caring people like you helped to conserve nine properties (1,675 acres) on the Rensselaer Plateau through the Forests Forever Campaign. These wild lands will never be developed -- they will be here for you and for future generations to hike, play, and unwind in.


At the Gala, RPA member Donna Simms told the story of how her Forests Forever gift helped conserve Dill Brook Community Forest in memory of Robert Simms, her late husband. The room was silent as she recounted the story of how this came to happen and what it meant to her. A few weeks after the Gala, the Dill Brook volunteer committee -- an amazing bunch of people -- hosted a community cleanup day at the new community forest. On a sunny Saturday morning, 50 volunteers pulled about 100 tires, and MANY piles of trash, from the forest and along the trout stream that runs through it. Donna's story, and the protection of Dill Brook, is just one of many conservation successes that make me so grateful. You'll hear more in the coming months, and I hope you'll visit these newly conserved lands once they are open. For now, please join me in celebration for all we've accomplished together. It truly is breathtaking.


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