Case Study: Otter Creek Preserve

Creating an Outdoor Experience Enjoyed By All

The 1000 Islands Land Trust opened the Otter Creek Preserve in the town of Alexandria in the fall of 2015. One of TILT’s newest preserves, the Otter Creek Preserve is within walking distance of the Village of Alexandria Bay and provides key access to the outdoors for the area’s numerous tourists.

Upon arrival, visitors to the preserve are welcomed with a kiosk and seating space that was created through a partnership between TILT and the Thousand Islands Arts Center. The preserve features nearly 2 miles of trails that were designed for walking, hiking, cross-country skiing, and snowshoeing through pine forests and on granite outcroppings. Portions of the trail are ADA-accessible, including a wildlife observation tower that overlooks a Golden-winged Warbler Demonstration Area. The preserve also boasts a cable suspension bridge and dramatic views of both Otter and Lynch Creeks and the marshland, where great blue herons and wood ducks are frequently seen.

In the few years since it opened, the Otter Creek Preserve has already become a draw for tourists of all levels of physical ability. One of its greatest features is that it allows diverse user groups to access nature and the outdoors, which are critical components of tourism in the local economy. TILT estimates that at least 6,000 residents and tourists visit the Otter Creek Preserve annually, including over 200 visits to attend popular events hosted by TILT, such as the Otter Creek Community Picnic, the Otter Creek Family Fun Run-Walk 5K, and the Otter Creek Moonlight snowshoe hike. In addition, local Scout troops frequently visit the preserve for nature outings and to participate in cleanup efforts to obtain badges.

While the value of tourist visits to the preserve is included in the tourism analysis, the preserve also provides additional value to residents. Drawing on over 420 studies from a national recreation database, The Trust for Public Land determined that each visit to the Otter Creek Preserve is worth approximately $20 in recreational use value.

The Otter Creek Preserve is just one of the preserves, trails, and conserved open spaces that together are strongly linked to the local tourism economy in Alexandria. These spaces provide critical access to outdoor experiences that tourists seek and provide beautiful, undeveloped spaces that are the backbone of the region’s natural beauty and cultural identity.