WESTPORT — Champlain Area Trails has won two grants from the New York State Conservation Partnership Program totaling $42,000.
The awards, funded through the Environmental Protection Fund, are part of $1.4 million given to 50 nonprofit land trusts throughout the state.
The first grant will cover the transaction costs of purchasing land in Westport between the Adirondack Land Trust’s Coon Mountain Nature Preserve and the State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Split Rock Wild Forest.
“This action conserves the forest connections for wildlife movement in this part of the Split Rock Wildway wildlife corridor and allows for a hiking trail to connect the two well-used hiking destinations,” a press release said.
It also conserves land along the Boquet River in Essex that has a new hiking trail that showcases riverside forest habitat.
The second award will help CATS develop “a strategic plan and putting in place policies that adhere to the exemplary standards and practices required to become an accredited land trust with the Land Trust Alliance,” the release said.
“This assures funders, landowners and state and local governments that the land trust has policies that protect its assets, keep excellent records, comply with all personnel requirements and ensure sustainability.
“Receiving these awards is a real testament to the communities’ support for making trails and saving land,” said CATS Executive Director Chris Maron.
CATS works to encourage economic vitality, he said.
“A 2011 study by the Trust for Public Land found that every dollar of investment from the Environmental Protection Fund generates $7 in total economic benefits from tourism, reduced government costs, and public health.”
The group’s Grand Hike, coming up Saturday, May 3, will follow trails and scenic back roads from the Westport Hotel & Tavern to the Essex Inn, followed by a block party at the inn.
The event, Maron said, “will help promote local businesses and make this area a destination for tourists.