August 30, 2023
Press Release published August 11, 2023
The Wallkill Valley Land Trust, a dedicated 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to preserving open space, farms, and rail trails, is thrilled to announce the installation of a series of captivating interpretive, bilingual signs along the renowned Wallkill Valley Rail Trail. This remarkable initiative has been made possible through the generous financial support of an anonymous donor who shares the Land Trust’s passion for enriching the community’s understanding of both local history and the natural world.
The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, a beloved linear park renowned for its breathtaking views and captivating scenery, now boasts four informative interpretive signs strategically placed in New Paltz, Rosendale, and Gardiner. “These signs, presented in both English and Spanish, stand as testimonies to the Land Trust’s unwavering commitment to fostering a deep appreciation for the region’s heritage and environment,” said Christie DeBoer, Executive Director of the Wallkill Valley Land Trust.
“The Wallkill Valley Land Trust expresses its heartfelt gratitude to the anonymous donor whose philanthropy has enabled the creation and installation of these informative signs,” said Joe Pirrotta, President of the Wallkill Valley Land Trust. “This partnership between community and donor exemplifies the power of shared commitment to preserving and celebrating the rich tapestry of our natural and cultural heritage.”
Pirrotta and DeBoer also thanked the consultants and volunteers who worked on the project. Notably, Emily Marcet of Wolf Tree Design assisted with the initial guidance of audience research, data compilation and accessibility consulting, including a public survey which explored the interests and concerns for users of the Rail Trail. Consultant Robin Kuehn led several public meetings in order to capture important topics and information sources from the community. Sara DeAngelis did extensive research and developed the text for each sign according to accessibility standards, along with finding appropriate images. Finally, the signs were translated by Alexandra Lotero Vanderkam. Brad Barclay and Marty Irwin, both Land Trust board members, installed the signs in August 2023.
Visitors to the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail will encounter an engaging and educational experience at each interpretive site, described below from south to north on the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail:
Gardiner Library’s Pollinator Garden, Gardiner: This sign touts the Wallkill Valley Pollinator Pathway, a network of interconnected wildlife habitats designed to support and protect pollinators. The sign also explains how the Rail Trail functions as a vital wildlife corridor, fostering essential habitats for birds, insects, and other animals.
Near Main Street, New Paltz: This sign showcases the storied past of New Paltz and its diverse inhabitants while learning about the Lenape people, French Huguenot refugees, and Dutch settlers, as well as the enslaved and free Black individuals who have significantly shaped the town’s history since its founding in the late 1600s.
Rosendale Trestle, Rosendale: This sign spotlights the vibrant industrial transportation history of Rosendale as well as its famed cement making. The tracks of the Wallkill Valley Railroad transported coal, manufactured goods, agricultural products, and passengers.
Limestone Mines, Rosendale: This sign unearths the secrets of the area’s limestone mountains that house unique habitats and intriguing surprises, unveiling the hidden treasures within this captivating landscape.
“The Wallkill Valley Rail Trail is not only a recreational haven but also a vital resource for local history enthusiasts, nature lovers, photographers, and all who seek to be inspired by the beauty of the region,” DeBoer said. “Through these interpretive signs, the Wallkill Valley Land Trust aims to enrich the experiences of all who traverse this remarkable trail, inviting them to engage more deeply with the stories and wonders that have shaped the land.”
Phase two of the Land Trust’s interpretive signage project has started with the intent of 10 more signs to be completed and installed by the end of the year.
WVLT works with landowners to secure conservation easements in order to permanently protect their land from future development for the benefit of present and future generations. We connect our community to the land by providing access to open space, including the Wallkill Valley Rail Trail, educating the community on the importance of conservation, and engaging them in caring for the land we protect. Learn more at WallkillValleyLT.org.