Up Yonda Farm, Warren County’s Environmental Education Center in Bolton Landing, has been added to the New York State Birding Trail, Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos has announced.
According to the Department of Environmental Conservation, which manages the State Birding Trail in the Adirondacks, the trail offers “access to a high-quality, sustainable opportunity to experience nature.”
Up Yonda Farm and six other newly added sites, “increase the number of diverse and unique birding opportunities that we are fortunate enough to have here in New York,” said Seggos.
Kristen Wilde, Up Yonda Farm’s administrator, said the site’s second-growth woods and trails, its open, wild meadows, its pond and wetlands and its lightly maintained lawns provide a wealth of opportunities for birders to observe several common species, including songbirds, raptors, turkeys, owls, and woodpeckers.
“We have a lot of great spots where birds nest and find cover, and other places, such as open fields, where birds can easily be seen,” said Wilde.
That same habitat provides the diets upon which birds feed, said Wilde.
“And we’ve installed feeders throughout the property to entice them to hang out with us,” she added.
Up Yonda’s natural history museum features a birding window. The site also includes designated areas and exhibits where visitors can learn to identify birds by their songs as well as their visible characteristics, said Wilde.
Up Yonda Farm is one of 42 designated birding destinations across a mix of public and private lands in the Adirondacks-North Country region, the DEC said.
“With species such as loons, boreal chickadees and the Canada Jay, the Adirondacks-North Country region offers unique birding opportunities,” the DEC stated.
The Lake George Battlefield was added to the list in September, 2022. Its easily accessible lakeshore enables beginner birders to observe several kinds of waterfowl, the DEC stated.
“Across the state, the New York State Birding Trail showcases the state’s diverse variety of habitats and landscapes and the more than 450 species of birds that are found here,” Commissioner Seggos said.
Kristen Wilde said DEC naturalists visited Up Yonda in November, 2022 to determine its eligibility for a place on the New York State Birding trail.
She said Up Yonda’s administrators and naturalists were gratified that the site met the state’s criteria and was now, officially, one of “New York State’s birding partners.”
According to Basil Seggos, “Birdwatching has become one of New York’s fastest-growing recreation and tourism activities,” a refrain echoed by Kirsten Wilde, who said she hoped Up Yonda Farm’s designation as a birding destination would increase visitation at the site.
“Birding is now a big tourism draw, attracting people looking for areas to go birding when on vacation. Birding at Up Yonda is now an additional activity for people visiting Lake George,” said Wilde.
Wilde said Up Yonda is now in the process of developing new birding programs.
Up Yonda Farm is located at 5239 Lake Shore Drive (State Route 9N), north of the Bolton Landing hamlet.
Since receiving Up Yonda as a gift from the estate of Alice Scott in 1994, Warren County has invested its best efforts into making the former working farm an environmental education center that serves the entire region.
It is supported by an endowment created by Scott, some public funds, private donations and a relatively new, non-profit organization called The Friends of Up Yonda Farm.
The farm was given its name by Dr. Willy Meyer, the prominent New York surgeon who owned the farm in the early 1900s, but who also had a home on Green Island.
The fruits, vegetables, milk, eggs and meat that fed his family and guests on Green Island came from his “place up yonda,” he reportedly said.
Alice Scott’s mother, Anna DeJonge, purchased the property in 1932 and in 1945 sold it to Alice Scott and her husband John,
who used the property to raise chickens, sell eggs, rent cabins and sell real estate.
It was their intention to benefit Warren County by leaving the farm and some funds to maintain it to the public.
While Up Yonda is used primarily by school children, it also attracts families and adults with a wide range of programs and facilities.
Up Yonda is open Tuesday through Saturday from 8 am to 4 pm. A $5 parking charge is its only admission fee.
Kristen Wilde, formerly Director of Education for the Lake George Association (LGA), was appointed administrator of Up Yonda Farm in 2022.