NEW LEBANON – Wednesday, April 22 was the 45th anniversary of the establishment of Earth Day, and with a salute to the occasion, the state Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens was in Columbia County to ceremonially open Hand Hollow State Forest.
A chilly wind blew across the clearing at the intersection of County Route 9 and 34 in West Lebanon, where a parking area has been created to access the network of trails that traverse the hills and valleys of the forest. Guests had to serve as anchors for the portable awnings set up for their comfort.
Commissioner Martens credited the Columbia Land Conservancy and its executive director, Peter Paden, as well as the Little Pine LLC from whom the property was purchased. “This new state forest will provide outstanding recreational opportunities as well as provide sustainable timber management that supports local jobs,” he said. “Our thanks go out to the CLC and Little Pine LLC for their considerable efforts to make this new state forest a reality.”
Mr. Martens also gave a special acknowledgement to Tony Colyer-Pendas who, as the director of conservation programs with the Columbia Land Conservancy, facilitated the acquisition of the land. Through recovering from a serious automobile accident, he was in attendance for the ceremony.
“The Hand Hollow State Forest, with more than 500 acres of beautiful wooded land and a secluded lake is a magnificent addition to the growing inventory of publicly accessible open lands in Columbia County,” said Mr. Paden. “We are proud to have played a part in its creation and very grateful to the hardworking folks at DEC and the Little Pine LL, without which this wonderful project could not have come to fruition.”
Mr. Martens then led a platoon of the willing on a half-mile hike up the steep trail that brought them to a beautiful unnamed pond at the top of a hill that had been created in the 1960s by sculptor and land owner George Rickey and adjacent landowner Mathias Spiegel. The pond is now an addition to the Hand Hollow State Forest.