North Salem Open Land Foundation plans fall fundraiser


Baxter Preserve in North Salem (Benjamin Allen / HudValley Photo)

Lace up your sneakers, North Salem. This September, the North Salem Open Land Foundation will host the “Race for Open Space,” a family and pet-friendly trail run/walk to raise funds for the non-profit foundation. Proceeds from the event will help to maintain the 25 preserves and trails that the group maintains and will also help support community events such as hikes and educational seminars.

The race, which will take place at the 130-acre Baxter Preserve in North Salem, will have 2.5 and 5-kilometer distance options for individuals or teams. NSOLF Executive Director Jocko McKean said he hopes the event will engage more people who may not be aware of the Open Land Foundation or what the organization does. NSOLF is particularly interested in reaching young families, a population who may already be accessing some NSOLF trails near their homes but not yet know much about the organization and its broader conservation mission.

Beyond preserving beautiful spaces throughout the town of North Salem—NSOLF currently owns 25 parcels totaling nearly 850 acres—the non-profit focuses on invasive species management and building and maintaining a pollinator pathway.

In typical years, NSOLF would host galas, concerts, or larger fundraisers to help support its work. However, COVID brought those initiatives to a halt. After such a long hiatus, McKean said that the NSOLF felt an outdoor fundraising event would be a safe, relatively low-key way to get back into the swing of things.

In addition to planning the race, NSOLF has also recently conducted a membership drive. “It turned out to be pretty successful,” said McKean. “We gained about 50 or so new members through COVID,” he said, citing the increased use of Open Land preserves as residents spent more time exploring outdoors during the pandemic.

While McKean expressed gratitude for the surge in memberships this year, he and the NSOLF view the Race for Open Space as the organization’s primary fundraising drive for 2021. The group set a goal to raise $20,000 through registration fees, sponsorships and donations.

Registrants can expect an event that is less about competition and more about camaraderie. “We are a family fun run,” said McKean. “We’re not terribly serious.” The Race for Open Space will be just as welcoming to walkers and leashed dogs as it will for runners chasing a pace. That said, serious racers can maximize their day by completing the Ridgefield Running Company’s “Where the Pavement Ends” trail race early the same day as the Race for Open Space. As Ridgefield Running Company is a co-sponsor of the Race for Open Space, McKean said the NSOLF timed its race to accommodate those people who want to do both.

Fees for the Race for Open Space are $35 for adults, $15 for kids under 18, and $10 for dogs. Racers who would like to contribute more than just their registration fees can create their own fundraising pages and invite family and friends to donate on their behalf. Confirmed corporate sponsors include the Ridgefield Running Company, the Golden’s Bridge Hounds, North Salem Bridle Trails Association, Old Salem Farm, Monomoy Farm LLC and Hayfields Market.

The Race for Open Space is scheduled for Sunday, September 12 at 10:00 a.m. The course will be entirely within the Baxter Preserve trail system. To register, click here. Prospective corporate sponsors can email
for more information.

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