Ask the Conservation Director: What happens at MHLC Preserves in the winter?

Bring your fat bike to Keleher Preserve.

Q: What happens at MHLC Preserves in the winter?

A: Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy’s 18 preserves are open to the public from dawn to dusk for the entire year. We encourage visitors to bundle up and enjoy the changes in scenery during the winter months, which can often lead to some of the most exciting wildlife observations. Identifying mammal tracks in the snow, searching for snowy owls in the anticipated irruption to occur this winter, and skiing and snowshoeing are all great reasons to keep visiting our preserves and experiencing them in the winter months.

MHLC will also be hosting some great winter programming in the New Year, including an animal tracking workshop, winter plant identification hikes, and a winter sports/fat biking event, which will be announced in the upcoming weeks.

Snowshoers enjoy Bennett Preserve. Photo by Alan VIa.

Bennett Hill Preserve is a favorite for visitors who enjoy snowshoeing, and the scenic vistas stretch for miles on a clear winter day, making for stunning winter photographs.

In 2017, we opened trails for mountainbiking at Keleher Preserve! Bring your skis, snowshoes, or fat bike to explore the trails on our biggest preserve and enjoy a snowy and sweaty outdoors experience this winter.

If you’re looking for a family-friendly activity, we recommend following and identifying animal tracks in the snow. This can be a fun and educational activity for both adults and children. We recommend visiting, which features galleries of common animal tracks and an article on tracks commonly seen in the snow.

For more information on the recommended activities for each of our preserves, stop by the MHLC office in Delmar or a preserve kiosk to pick up your free copy of the Preserves & Map Brochure, which includes an icon key to help you find which preserves are best for winter recreation, scenic views, wildlife viewing, family-friendly trails, and more.

Have a question for MHLC’s Conservation Director? You can email Sarah.

Eagle Scouts Take Wing: Building Bridges & Bird Boxes with MHLC

As the Capital Region’s local land trust, MHLC partners with hundreds of organizations and individuals in our three-county area. We work with volunteer committees, municipalities, non-profit organizations, businesses, and more to conserve and protect as much land as possible in Albany, Montgomery, and Schenectady Counties.

Scout Work Day at Swift Preserve

One of our most rewarding relationships has been with local scout groups. In 2016, we worked with Bethlehem Girl Scout Troop #1209 to plant trees in our Van Dyke Preserve. This year, we’re proud to share our work with two Life Scouts from Troop 58 Elsmere, Connor Roddy and Jacob Kantrowitz, on their Eagle Scout projects.

Jacob and Connor are scouts from the Bethlehem area who wanted to devote their projects to improving the MHLC preserves which benefit their local community.

Jacob took on the challenge of improving trail bridges at the Swift Preserve. These bridges require replacement as they weather and age in Swift’s wetland conditions. Jacob organized a team of scouts to repair and create six bridges, even adding ramps to existing structures to allow for better cross-country skiing and snowshoeing on the trails in winter. His design allows for boardwalks to be moved throughout the seasons. This flexibility with placement will prevent erosion, a common problem in popular trails- especially in ever-changing wetlands, where water levels rise and fall throughout the year. Jacob hopes that more students and classes from Bethlehem schools will explore this Swift Preserve with these new bridges.

Connor and wood duck box built by scouts

Connor focused his efforts on the Restifo Sanctuary, our small wetland preserve in Westerlo. This quiet preserve is a haven for waterfowl and forest-loving birds, and Connor built and installed six bird boxes. He generously donated an additional five bird boxes to be used in other MHLC preserve locations. These specially-designed boxes for different species are built to create the ideal nesting site for each specific species. Eastern bluebirds, white-breasted nuthatches, wood ducks, and northern flickers will all benefit from these new homes. Both permanent residents and migratory species will find Connor’s bird boxes, which provide spaces for the birds to settle, shelter to nest and lay, and protection from predation. In 2018, there will be opportunities for volunteers of all ages to monitor these boxes, watch for changes, and learn more about our community’s birds. If you are interested in volunteering and monitoring bird boxes, please email Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator Sawyer Cresap at

“From start to finish, this project was a lot of fun and I learned a lot,” Connor said. “My experience from this project will help me be both a better individual and a better leader.”

Together, these scouts served over 200 hours on their projects, and engaged many other troop members, friends, and family members to lend a hand and improve and protect our local lands. In our 25th anniversary year, we are grateful to work alongside these scouts as they achieve the prestigious designation of Eagle Scout.  


Ask the Conservation Director: How can I protect land if I don’t have land to donate?

Q: How can I protect land if I don’t have land to donate?

A: There are so many ways in which you can join MHLC and protect the lands of the Capital Region. For many people, donating land or creating a conservation easement are not possible; however, we can work together to save land and support the Conservancy.

Here are just a few examples of how you can take action today to protect land:

The Ashford Glen Preserve is an example of community members collaborating to protect land.

1) Collaborate. If you know of a property for sale that should be conserved, consider working with your neighbors to purchase and protect it. MHLC’s Ashford Glen Preserve, located in Colonie, is an 11.5 acre gem of preserved space which is nestled between several large housing developments. When subdivisions to this property were proposed which would transform this glen into another housing development, community members worked together to save the property. A group of dedicated neighbors, led by Lois and Don Porter, decided that the best way to prevent the subdivision and development of this glen was to buy the property. They worked together to pool their funds and purchased the property, which was later gifted to Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy for permanent conservation and stewardship and opened to the public as the Ashford Glen Preserve.

Dr. Fox at the Grand Opening of the Fox Preserve.

2) Connect. Another way to conserve land is to tell friends, family, and neighbors about MHLC. If you know community members who are interested in conserving land, help them take the first step towards permanently protecting their land by putting them in touch with MHLC. For so many people, conservation is an end goal without a clear first step. For example, our recently-opened Fox Preserve was protected because Kim Baker, MHLC board member and Colonie resident, connected her friend, Dr. Patricia Fox, with MHLC. Dr. Fox had purchased 70 acres over thirty years ago with the dream of protecting it forever; through Kim’s introduction, Dr. Fox was able to make this dream a reality with MHLC.

Our conservation work is only possible through a partnership between MHLC staff and community members like you! If you know of special places which need protection, or people who are interested in protecting their property, please put them in touch with MHLC and help us conserve the natural resources of our region for future generations.

3) Contribute. You can also support conservation in the Capital Region by volunteering with MHLC or by making a donation. Our members and make our work possible, and your support helps us act decisively to save the beautiful natural areas of Albany, Montgomery, and Schenectady Counties.


Photos: Fox Preserve Grand Opening on October 21

Thank you to everyone who joined us last Saturday for the grand opening of our eighteenth preserve: the Fox Preserve in Colonie!

We have had incredible weather for each 25th anniversary event in 2017, and the streak of sunny skies continued on Saturday. Over 100 guests gathered for light refreshments and a grand opening ceremony, followed by guided hikes along one mile of new trails which weave through open fields, oak forests, and along the banks of Shaker Creek. The golden yellows of birch leaves popped against a bright blue sky, and sunshine warmed guests and volunteers as we celebrated the opening of this beautiful new public preserve.

The ceremony included speeches by MHLC Executive Director Mark King, Board Chair Cathie Love, Assemblymember Phil Steck, and Dr. Patricia Fox. Dr. Fox donated the land, which is one of the last remaining areas of open space in this area of the Town of Colonie, to the Conservancy in 2015. She owned the property for over 30 years, and before cutting the ribbon on Saturday morning, she spoke of her initial vision when purchasing the land; to conserve its natural beauty for wildlife and humans to enjoy. This was a wonderful day to enjoy the realization of Dr. Fox’s dream- thank you for helping us celebrate!

FREE Workshop for Landowners on November 4

You are invited! Please join us for this FREE informational session!

Conservation Easements 101

Saturday, November 4, 2017
1 to 4 PM 
Schenectady, NY 
RSVP Today!

Learn about different options for conserving land and speak with landowners who have conserved their land with MHLC. Guests will enjoy light refreshments, guided hikes through a conserved property, and a tour of a passive solar house. This casual event welcomes questions and is a great way for local residents to learn about land conservation in a relaxed setting. We’ll talk about conservation options for landowners and will also discuss ways in which individuals can work together to conserve their surrounding landscapes without being landowners themselves. 

This event is in Schenectady County and will be geared towards landowners in Schenectady County. However, interested residents of Albany, Montgomery, and Schenectady County are invited, and all questions are welcomed! You will receive the full address of the event after you register through our website or by calling our office at 518-436-6346. Please RSVP by November 1.

We will be answering all questions about conservation easements, including:

  • What IS a conservation easement?
  • How much does it cost to protect my land?
  • Are there tax benefits?
  • How can I help with land conservation if I don’t own land myself?
  • Does “Conserved forever” really mean forever?

RSVP today and join us for this free informational event! 

Grand Opening of Fox Preserve in Colonie on October 21st!

MHLC welcomes the public to the grand opening of a new preserve in Colonie, the second preserve opening of our 25th anniversary year!

On October 21st, you are invited by the Conservancy to join our growing community of Capital Region supporters at the grand opening of the Fox Preserve in Colonie. The parking lot is located on River Road in Latham. The celebration begins at 10 AM with a light breakfast, followed by a grand opening ceremony.  After the ceremony, guided tours of the new trails will head out to explore the autumn beauty of this preserve. The deep reds of the autumn oak leaves will create a beautiful backdrop for photographs, and guests are encouraged to bring a camera. This preserve is also a prime birdwatching spot, as field and forest habitats create important nesting sites, and the nearby Mohawk River provides prime hunting grounds for eagles and ospreys.

This event is free, but you must reserve your spot by registering online

RSVP Today!

Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator Sawyer Cresap anticipates that the trails of Fox Preserve will be a popular hiking spot: “The Fox Preserve trails, which wind over the rolling topography of open fields and through the shaded beauty of old oaks, were completed with the help of many MHLC volunteers. An overlook picnic area is available for hikers and bicyclists to enjoy views of the Mohawk River. We welcome all nature lovers to join us for this special opening event on October 21st, which will feature guided hikes for all to experience this newly protected landscape in Colonie.”

The Fox Preserve will be a wonderful new destination for pedestrians and bicyclists from the Mohawk-Hudson Bike-Hike Trail. This 70-acre property was donated to MHLC by Dr. Patricia Fox in 2015. Dr. Fox owned the property for over 30 years, and it is one of the last remaining areas of open space in this area of the Town of Colonie. Conservation Director Sarah Walsh writes, “the Fox Preserve is unique as it conserves 70 acres in a rapidly-developing part of Colonie. As Colonie grows, preserving green spaces like these for residents and visitors to get outside in the woods is increasingly important to ensure a healthy community. This property is adjacent to the Mohawk River and the Vischer Ferry Preserve to the north, providing a large block of protected land, which is vital for creating a balance between the built and natural environments and to provide habitat for wildlife and green corridors wildlife movement.”

This is our second new preserve to open in 2017; the Strawberry Fields Nature Preserve in Amsterdam was opened in May to a reception of over 150 guests. Both grand openings are part of our year-long celebration of 25 years  of conserving land in the Capital Region.

We hope you will join us on October 21st for the grand opening of this beautiful preserve, which is sure to become a favorite spot for hikers, birdwatchers, and visiting bicyclists from the Mohawk Hudson Bike-Hike Trail. RSVP Today!

Ask the Conservation Director: What is a conservation easement?

A conservation easement provides flexibility while protecting your land.

Q: What is a conservation easement?

A: A conservation easement is a legal document that is filed with your property deed. This document legally outlines all future land use for that property.

Easements allow for the landowner to continue to own the property. However, the easement restricts future uses of the land,  such as not allowing the parcel to be subdivided into many pieces, or removing the right to develop the parcel in the future.

Conservation easements allow landowners to protect their land while also providing more flexibility than a traditional land donation. Land trusts like Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy have worked with landowners across the United States to conserve 56 million acres of land as of December 2016, as reported by the Land Trust Alliance (LTA). We are an LTA-accredited land trust. You can join in this larger movement of conservation by educating yourself about conservation options. A good place to start is our previous post: “I have property I want to conserve. What are my options?”

You can also learn more about conservation easements at our upcoming Conservation Easements 101 event on Saturday, November 4th in Schenectady. This event will be hosted by one of our easement landowners. You can learn firsthand from this family’s experience with land conversation and tour their passively solar home.

To register for this free event, please visit our Events page. We hope to see you there!

Sarah Walsh
Conservation Director

Do you have a question for MHLC’s Conservation Director? Please submit your questions to Sarah Walsh at Your question might be featured!

Bethlehem Garden Club Donates 2 Benches for MHLC Preserves

The new bench at Van Dyke Preserve

The Bethlehem Garden Club has generously donated two benches to the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy. These beautiful benches, built of cedar wood by local craftsman Brett Pulliam, are dedicated to the memory of Angelina Catinella, a former member of the Bethlehem Garden Club who left a generous bequest.

On Tuesday, September 26th, our Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator, Sawyer Cresap, was joined by volunteers Scott Lewendon and Paul Groenwegen to move the two benches into their new locations. One bench was placed at the Van Dyke Preserve, and the other at Normans Kill West Preserve. Both nature preserves are in the town of Bethlehem and are open to the public. Cresap said of the donations, “The Bethlehem Garden Club benches are a wonderful addition to our Van Dyke and Normans Kill West Preserves. They will provide a spot for painters to capture inspiration, a home base for birders to take out their binoculars, and a convenient rest stop for hikers on the trail.  We are so grateful for the contribution this dedicated group has made for all those who enjoy MHLC lands.”

Representatives of the Bethlehem Garden Club enjoy the newly-installed bench at Van Dyke Preserve.

At the Van Dyke Preserve, four representatives from the Bethlehem Garden Club met with Cresap, the volunteers, and MHLC Board Chair Cathie Love to see the newly installed bench. The Bethlehem Garden Club was represented by Marcy Corneil, President, Louise Kavanaugh, Treasurer, and Dodie Seagle and Ellie Prakken, both members of the Bethlehem Garden Club and board members of MHLC. In the unexpected heat of the early autumn morning, the group admired the beauty of the new bench, as well as the lovely view over the Phillipin Kill stream, while enjoying the shade of the beech, oak, hickory and hemlock trees which line the trails of Van Dyke Preserve.

Dodie Seagle wrote that the Bethlehem Garden Club considered several projects for the bequest from Angelina Catinella.  “After thorough discussion, the club members voted unanimously to purchase the two benches for two MHLC preserves in Bethlehem. ‘Encouraging and teaching environmental stewardship and preservation of all natural resources’ is one of the objectives in the garden club bylaws. We also believe that the benches will be a lasting memory of Angelina Catinella, since she provided  such a generous bequest to the garden club. We are grateful for her generous gift.”

Cathie Love, chair of the MHLC Board, said of the donation: “MHLC is very grateful for the gift of two benches by the Bethlehem Garden Club. The women of the garden club continue to make our area a better place to live. These benches give visitors to MHLC preserves a place to relax in nature and contemplate their beautiful surroundings.”

The Bethlehem Garden Club of NY is a women-membership based non-profit organization aiming to share our gardening skills with the community.

The Bethlehem Garden Club and Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy celebrate the placement of the new benches.

Photos: “25 Years of Conservation: A Celebration”

Thank you! Our guests last night made our fall fundraiser a night to remember.

The biggest event of MHLC’s 25th anniversary, we held this event in honor of the Conservancy’s conservation partners: the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission, Land Trust Alliance, The Nature Conservancy, Open Space Institute, and Scenic Hudson, and in recognition of our 25th Anniversary Honoree Matt Bender, for his extraordinary commitment to MHLC.

At 5:30, guests gathered at the John Boyd Thacher State Park Visitor Center, which was built this year. With thunderstorm clouds in the far distance, decorating the horizon over the Capital Region, but blue skies above, over 230 guests joined the celebration for a lovely evening with conversation, laughter, and a celebration of over 5,000 acres conserved in our region. Dinner by Garden Bistro 24, beverages by Capital Wine and Indian Ladder Farms Cidery and Brewery, live classical guitar music from William David Simcoe, and pumpkins, gourds, and mums from Indian Ladder Farms set the scene for a lovely fall evening. Members and partners looked out from the Helderberg Escarpment over the spectacular landscapes that the MHLC community has conserved together, and looked forward towards the next 25 years of saving land in our region.

Enjoy this gallery of photos from 25 Years of Conservation: A Celebration!

Ask the Conservation Director: How does a land trust prioritize which parcels of land to preserve first?

Stream corridors are included in MHLC’s land acquisition criteria

Q: How does a land trust prioritize which parcels of land to preserve first?

A: All land trusts which are accredited by the Land Trust Alliance must have land acquisition criteria to help guide and prioritize their land acquisition projects. As an accredited land trust, MHLC follows this requirement.

The land trust decides which parcels to preserve first by developing acquisition criteria with the organization’s Board of Directors. The acquisition criteria vary based on each land trust’s location and the natural resources within their service area, and take the public’s priorities into consideration.

For example, the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy works within focal conservation areas which are of importance to the people of the Capital Region. These key conservation areas include the Helderberg Escarpment, the Albany Pine Bush, Hoffman’s Fault, and the Hudson and Mohawk River corridors. These areas have also been identified by New York State’s Open Space Plan as areas of significance due to their geology, sensitive habitats, importance to climate resiliency, and open space.

MHLC prioritizes protecting areas in Albany, Schenectady, and Montgomery Counties which feature the following acquisition criteria:

  • scenic vistas and viewpoints
  • geologic or significant resources
  • stream corridors
  • trail corridors
  • working landscapes (including agricultural and recreational lands)
  • wetlands
  • historic and archeological areas
  • significant aquatic and terrestrial habitat with corridors to link larger significant habitats 

When an individual, group, organization, or municipality brings a parcel to MHLC for protection, our staff analyzes the property’s land cover, past land use, water resources, proximity to MHLC’s existing conservation lands, soil resources, and habitat types. This analysis includes a visit to the property with the landowners to determine their goals for conservation. Our report on the property is then compared to MHLC’s land acquisition criteria. Projects which align with several items in the acquisition criteria and meet our current funding opportunities are priorities for acquisition.

You can read more about our priority areas for conservation on our conservation page.

Sarah Walsh
Conservation Director

Do you have a question for MHLC’s Conservation Director? Please submit your questions to Sarah Walsh at Your question might be featured!

You’re Invited! Fall Fundraiser at Thacher State Park on Sept 14

The new Thacher State Park Visitor Center – Photo by Times Union

It’s that time of year… the MHLC staff and board are preparing for the biggest celebration of our 25th anniversary, and we invite you to join us!

On September 14th, conservationists from across the Capital Region will gather at the brand-new Thacher State Park Visitor Center for our fall fundraiser: 25 Years of Conservation: A Celebration.

We’ll look out from the Helderberg Escarpment, enjoying spectacular views of the lands we have conserved together. The festivities begin at 5:30, and we’re preparing for a lovely evening with conversation, laughter, and a celebration of over 5,000 acres conserved in our region. We’ll enjoy dinner catered by Garden Bistro 24, beverages by Capital Wine and Indian Ladder Farms Cidery and Brewery, live classical guitar music from William David Simcoe, sound by Pro Sound Associates, decorations from Indian Ladder Farms, and breathtaking views. 

New this year is the 25th Anniversary Raffle, which replaces our usual silent auction. Anyone can participate in this raffle, whether or not they are attending the event on Sept 14. There are 10 fabulous raffle baskets, and we are only selling 100 tickets, so the odds are in your favor!

For more information, and to buy your event tickets and/or raffle tickets, visit the Fall Fundraiser webpage.


MHLC 25th Anniversary Raffle Baskets:

Basket #1: Plane Tickets (Value varies by destination)
Two plane tickets to anywhere in the continental U.S.
Basket #2: Framed Watercolor, Schoharie Creek Preserve (Value priceless)
Framed original watercolor by Bob Lynk. 
Basket #3: Outdoor Adventure with Ondatra Adventures (Value $500)
Four hours of private instruction in survival/primitive skills and/or a guided naturalist walk on your own property or public lands in the Albany County region. 
Basket #4: Three Catered Parties (Value $680)
Barbecue & Brew for Six:  Two full racks of Memphis-style ribs; Barbecued chicken quartered; Dinosaur Barbecue coleslaw; Rice, pasta or corn (one of these; your choice); Two six-packs homebrewed English Ale; Cranberry Apple Pie or Chocolate Cake (your choice); supplied on any weekend!
Plus:  Catered Lunch for 10 by Bountiful Bread and an Ice Cream Party for 15 at Cold Stone Creamery
Basket #5: Arts Extravaganza (Value $715)
Tickets to theatrical and musical venues throughout the Capital Region.
Basket #6: Capital Region Restaurant Tour (Value $650)
Gift certificates to restaurants throughout the region.
Basket #7: Maine Vacation (Value $1500)
One week in a waterfront Rangeley, Maine vacation home.
Basket #8: ADK Camp Getaway (Value $400)
Enjoy a weekend in Cold Brook, NY on a private lake.
Basket #9: The Whiteface Lodge (Value $2000)
Three night stay at a 3 bedroom, 3 bath suite from 11/14/17 through 11/17/17.
Basket #10: Sunset Cruise for Two with Tivoli Sailing (Value $225)
Watch the summer sun slowly descend over the Catskill mountains, as you enjoy a relaxing private sail for you and someone special! Includes music, champagne, crab cakes and breathtaking views.

Visit our 25th Anniversary Fall Fundraiser page for more information on the Raffle Baskets listed above.

*Winner need not be present to win. Winners will be announced at the event. Raffle tickets will be available for purchase at the event on September 14. 

Thank you!

Take a look at our incredible 25th Anniversary Raffle Donors, who have made this year’s raffle the best in MHLC history:

Albany Pump Station
David Barnet and Julia Richards
Bellini’s Italian Eatery
Black Mountain Wine & Liquor
Bountiful Bread
Buca Di Beppo Italian Restaurant
Capital Repertory Theatre
Margie Celentano
Cold Stone Creamery
Robert Drew
Edna St. Vincent Millay Society
Emack & Bolio’s
Empire State Youth Orchestras
Clifford and Debbie Erickson
Farm Share Studio
Garden Bistro 24
Honest Weight Food Co-op
Cathie Love and George Berg
Bob Lynk
Massage for Health
Mendelssohn Club of Albany
New World Bistro Bar
Nicole’s Restaurant
Ondatra Adventures
Bill and Grace Rainey
Saati Deli & Catering
Saratoga Performing Arts Center
Seagle Music Colony
The Mac-Haydn Theatre, Inc.
The Waters Edge Lighthouse
Tivoli Sailing
Troy Savings Bank Music Hall
The Whiteface Lodge
Whole Foods Market
Wolf Creek Farm

Click here to learn more about the event, the raffle, and to buy your tickets today!

In memory of MHLC Board Member, Lisa Evans: September 9th Memorial

You’re Invited:
Lisa Evans Memorial Celebration
Saturday, September 9
Please drop by any time between 
10 AM and 4 PM
177 Barent Winne Road
Selkirk, NY 12158

Tom Evans invites you to join him at his home to celebrate the life and legacy of Lisa Evans, devoted MHLC Board Member.

Please help us let Tom know how many MHLC members to expect so that he can make plans with his caterer: Click here to RSVP to the Lisa Evans Memorial Celebration. 

On June 20, 2017, the Capital Region lost a passionate and devoted supporter of health care, conservation, the arts, women’s rights, and programs for children, families and the disadvantaged. On this day Lisa Evans—business owner, philanthropist, and MHLC Board Member—passed away at her home after a courageous battle with cancer.

Lisa joined the Conservancy’s Board of Directors in 2008, after supporting the organization for more than 10 years prior. During her time on the board, Lisa wholeheartedly advocated for MHLC’s conservation efforts and spoke fervently about the threat of development and loss of open space in the region.  She immersed herself in the workings of the board and gave generously of her time and talents, serving as a committee chair for our fundraising efforts and our 25th Anniversary celebration, as well as serving as Board Chair from 2012-2015. 

It is no coincidence that the exponential growth of the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy of recent years coincided with Lisa’s tenure as Board Chair. Lisa’s inspirational and tenacious efforts on behalf of MHLC sparked our growth and fueled our efforts. As a lifelong resident and beloved business leader, Lisa put her talents to use guiding staff, making connections to the Capital Region community, recruiting others to the cause, and finding funders to support these efforts.  Her leadership, gentle good humor, and can-do attitude inspired confidence in our success, if in some cases, it was only because she wouldn’t accept anything but.  She is sorely missed.

Lisa with Margaret Craven

When I joined MHLC as Executive Director in 2013, what began for me was not just a new job, but a cherished friendship and partnership with a truly outstanding individual. Lisa devoted hours to planning, teaching and listening to make my transition successful. Lisa seemed to know everyone in the Capital District, and those she didn’t know were just a phone call away. Need a contact in the arts? Call Phillip Morris of Proctors. Need a press contact? Call Rex Smith at the Times Union. Want to partner with the Albany Symphony? Call David Alan Miller. If the person didn’t know Lisa and MHLC already, they would become a new friend. Her approach was never pushy or demanding, but friendly and determined, and her passion for conservation was contagious.  She made it so.

As Lisa’s illness progressed and her involvement necessarily declined, I wondered: how would we continue without her? But of course, Lisa would never accept such sentiments. She would demand that we move onward and upward and never hesitate to share our passionate belief in the value of conservation–with this approach, success was certain to follow.

My deepest sympathy is with her husband Tom, who is also a former MHLC Board Member, and her business partner Suzanne Smith, both of whom loved Lisa dearly and were fortunate to spend many years experiencing Lisa’s passion, compassion and commitment for the world we all share.    

Lisa leaves us better for having had her in our lives.  She continues to inspire my efforts every day and the success of the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy will always be her success.  Lisa’s legacy will live on in the land that we preserved with her and thanks to her.

Ask the Conservation Director: “I have property I want to conserve. What are my options?”

MHLC staff monitor properties annually

Q: I have property which I want to conserve. What are my options for land conservation?

A: This is a great question. We provide several options for landowners to meet their goals when conserving land with MHLC.

If you are interested in donating a piece of land to MHLC, we encourage you to check our acquisition criteria and see if your property is a match. Properties which align with one or more of the below criteria may be accepted as a donation of land through MHLC:

  • scenic vistas and viewpoints
  • geologic or significant resources
  • stream corridors
  • trail corridors
  • working landscapes (including agricultural and recreational lands)
  • wetlands
  • historic and archeological areas
  • significant aquatic and terrestrial habitat with corridors to link larger significant habitats.

If you, the landowner, are interested in maintaining ownership of the land, but want to ensure that its development is limited in the future, a conservation easement is often the best choice. A conservation easement is a legal document, filed with the property deed, which creates a framework for acceptable uses for the land. Easements can outline where development is and isn’t allowed on the property. They can also delineate resource protection areas which protect a property’s natural resources from development or other threats. These limitations on future development are applicable in perpetuity.

Once a conservation easement is in place, MHLC stewardship staff will work with easement landowners to schedule annual visits to the property to ensure the terms of the easement are being upheld. This means that even if you sell your property, the conservation easement will be transferred along with the property deed, and the property will be protected and monitored to ensure your wishes are upheld forever.

This fall, MHLC will be hosting our Conservation Easements 101 event, which will provide in-depth examples of lands conserved with conservation easements and the landowners that have conserved land with MHLC.

To register for this event, or to learn more about other MHLC events, please visit our Events page.

Sarah Walsh
Conservation Director

Do you have a question for MHLC’s Conservation Director? Please submit your questions to Sarah Walsh at Your question might be featured!

Looking forward from our Silver Anniversary: 2017 MHLC Staff Retreat

2017 continues to be an exciting year of change and growth at the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy!

In our 25th year of conservation, we are opening two new preserves to the public. We have welcomed thousands of guests to our public events, including the sold-out annual dinner at the Corning Tower, the wildly-successful Celebration of Music and Nature with the Albany Symphony in Rensselaerville, and the 3rd annual Summer Hike-a-thon, which featured free hikes and guided outings across the Capital Region. Our conservation team has grown with the addition of two full-time staff members: Conservation Director Sarah Walsh and Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator Sawyer Cresap. Our Capital Region Nature Passport has welcomed more community members into our public preserves, inviting them to engage with the natural world. And we have continued to partner with local landowners, municipalities, businesses, and organizations to conserve more acreage in Albany, Montgomery, and Schenectady counties.

This week, our staff of six met to reflect upon the past, present, and future of the Conservancy. We asked ourselves: where do we want to be in the next 5 years? The next 25 years?

Challenging each other to think big, we brainstormed the many ways in which the Conservancy can continue to grow and evolve. How can we best identify and conserve ecologically and economically important landscapes? How can we improve our services to the residents and visitors of the Capital District? Which local habitats must be prioritized in our conservation plan? How will climate change, changing policies, and new technologies affect our conservation strategy?

The retreat left us feeling inspired and invigorated. We’re excited to develop our ideas for growth and resilience as the Capital Region’s land trust, and to share our plans with you.

Learn more about your local land trust: meet the MHLC staff at our annual Fall Fundraiser on September 14th at the brand-new Thacher Park Visitor Center!

We invite you to join us in 2017 and for the next 25 years of conservation. There’s room for everyone within the MHLC community, and there are several ways to join:

  • Come to an event
  • Visit a preserve
  • Volunteer in our preserves, at an event, or at the office
  • Follow us on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter (Be sure to tag Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy in your posts and photos!)
  • Donate. Our conservation work is only possible through the support of our dedicated community members.


Gallery: The 3rd Annual Summer Hike-a-Thon

Thank you to everyone who made our third annual Summer Hike-a-Thon a wonderful success!

Hundreds of hikers, bikers, and outdoor enthusiasts joined us at eleven different outings across the Capital Region. Offerings included outdoor yoga at the new Strawberry Fields Nature Preserve, an amphibian hike at Swift Preserve, mountain biking at Keleher Preserve, and accessible bike rides and walks on the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail. The first 100 registrants received a free, sky-blue MHLC t-shirt. We welcomed old friends and new faces to these adventures in our public preserves.

We’d like to give a special “Thank you!” to our volunteers: the hike leaders, trail sweepers, planners, and helpers who made this day possible. 

We’d also like to thank our Hike-a-Thon Sponsors: Stewart’s Shops, Whiteman Osterman & Hanna LLP, and AARP New York.

Check out these photos from this spectacular event:


Introducing Tuesday Trail Updates with the Stewardship Team!

MHLC is launching our new Tuesday Trails Update Page as a celebration of 25 years of stewardship and to kick off our Hike-a-Thon event happening this Saturday. July 22nd.

Tuesday Trails Updates can be found under “Current Trail Conditions” from the Preserve menu on our home page. These will be posted every other week to prepare our Preserve visitors for varying trail conditions throughout the year. If you have trail conditions which you’d like to report, please e-mail Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator Sawyer Cresap at, or call the office at 518-436-6346.

Click here to visit this new page and to read the trail updates from Tuesday, July 18th. Bookmark the page so that you can easily return when planning future hikes!

Enjoy, and we’ll see you on the trail!

Why We Conserve Preserves: How big chunks of land make a difference in the Capital Region

Conservation Director Sarah Walsh reflects on the effects of nature preserves on local wildlife.

This fall, the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy will be opening its 18th preserve, the nearly 170-acre Fox Preserve in Colonie.

Why do we open new preserves?

Both humans and wildlife enjoy the Winn Preserve, where wood thrush and eastern wood-pewee have been spotted.

Large tracts of land provide many benefits. This new destination will expand our list of places where you and your family can get outside and enjoy the fields and forests of the Capital Region. Outdoor exercise, clean air provided by forests, and simply being near a natural area are all factors which have shown positive impacts on human health.

These lands also benefit wildlife. Many species which have always called the Capital Region home are increasingly having difficulty finding safe habitats in which to live. Large tracts of land provide wildlife with a buffer from human activity and create safe passageways for animals to move through developed areas, making road crossings less likely and reducing vehicle collisions.

Deep forests are also required for certain species’ survival. The wood thrush, Hylocichla mustelina, is a bird species which requires deep woods where disturbance is minimal. As development and sprawl occur, we are seeing less and less of this species nation-wide. The eastern wood-pewee, Contopus virens, is another species with similar deep woods habitat requirements. Both species were listed on a watch list in the 2016 State of North America’s Birds, a report created by the North American Conservation Bird Initiative. This means that these species need our help to prevent their disappearance from the landscape forever.  

There is hope. These species are found on many of MHLC’s Preserves, which has been an incredible surprise and delight to me as incoming Conservation Director. It is evidence that our work over the last 25 years is making a difference not only to the people of the Capital Region, but also for the unique wildlife that lives here.

Have you heard these birds on our Preserves? Listen to their songs via the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website links below and find out!

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Wood Thrush

You can read learn more about birds and their habitats that need help by reading the 2016 State of North America’s Birds report here.

Sarah Walsh
Conservation Director

Choose Your Own Adventure: Capital Region Hike-a-thon on July 22!

From historic railroad beds to glittering waterfalls, through shaded forests and verdant farmlands, eleven guided outings will showcase nine different areas protected by MHLC beginning at 9:30 AM, Saturday, July 22, during our third annual Summer Hike-a-thon.

Register Today!
The first 100 hikers will get a free t-shirt.

These concurrent offerings will be led by naturalists and experts, well versed in the history, flora, and fauna of each trail. This year’s event goes beyond hiking: other recreational opportunities such as cycling, mountain biking, yoga, treasure hunting, and more are included in this special Summer Hike-a-thon, which celebrates our silver anniversary in 2017. All activities are located within the Capital Region, and there will be three different hike/bike events on the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail, including a wheelchair-accessible hike along the paved trail.

“We are thrilled to highlight these preserves for the Summer Hike-a-thon. The nine locations which we have chosen represent a sampling of our 18 public preserves covering 2,500 acres that are located across the Capital Region,” said Mark King, Executive Director of the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy. “Last year, these preserves hosted over 15,000 visitors, with many people returning again and again for a rewarding nature experience. Visitors can enjoy outdoor recreation such as hiking and trail running, and many also enjoy painting, photography, reflection, and birding in our preserves.”

The Summer Hike-a-thon provides unique, guided opportunities to learn more about the preserves: frequent users of these trails will get insider information about their favorite spots from MHLC staff and volunteers, and those visiting the preserves for the first time will discover new hiking spots across the Capital Region.

The event is free (donations are welcome) and open to the public. Free t-shirts will be given to the first 100 hikers. To register, click here.

Most hikers will meet at 9:30 AM in the municipal parking lot at 125 Adams Street in Delmar, which is located directly behind the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy’s main office. At that time, participants will receive their t-shirts and carpool to their hike locations. Detailed instructions will be provided to participants upon registration.

The Summer Hike-a-thon offerings available this year range from easy to moderate. Design your own day of outdoor adventure from this menu of family-friendly and FREE guided outings:

1. Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail | Botany and History Accessible Hike | Delmar

This flat, easy course is on the railroad bed of the original Delaware and Hudson railroad line which brought travelers into Albany in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. This will be a wheelchair accessible out-and-back trip. We will explore the botany and history of the trail with Miles Garfinkel, local science teacher and Friends of the Rail Trail volunteer. Easy walk/ride.

Starting time: 10 AM

Starting point: Adams Street and Hudson Avenue, Delmar, heading westbound.

Distance: 0.25 miles round trip

Difficulty: Easy, Wheelchair Accessible

2. Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail | Fun Ride (Bikes, Skates, Boards, & more!) | Delmar

The Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail has become a popular venue for walking, jogging, bicycling, and more. Bring your favorite set of wheels and helmet and join your community for a family fun ride where you set your own distance and pace. The fun ride will start at 11 AM and includes coupons for the whole family for free ice cream cones at Stewart’s Shops (while supplies last).

Starting time: 11 AM

Starting point: Adams Street and Hudson Avenue, Delmar, heading eastbound.

Distance: You decide

Difficulty: Easy, Wheelchair Accessible

3. Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail | Bike-Hike | Albany/Delmar/Slingerlands/Voorheesville

Our guided Bike-Hike will encompass the entire length of the Rail Trail – officially stopping at the end of the pavement, and providing the opportunity for participants (with appropriate bikes and tires) to continue to the Voorheesville Pavilion. The pavement ends at the Slingerlands parking lot (a five-mile ride), and the Pavilion is at nine miles. (In future months, as Albany County continues to pave the Rail Trail, the actual length of the official ride will be somewhere between five and nine miles.) There will be numerous stops to learn about the history and structure of the Rail Trail, and riders are invited to explore the many sights along the trail as they return to South Pearl Street. This Bike-Hike is appropriate for ages 16+.

Starting time: 9:30 AM

Starting point: Downtown Albany trail head (722 S. Pearl Street, Albany, NY)

Distance: 10+ miles round trip

Difficulty: Moderate

4. Bennett Hill Preserve | History | Clarksville

One of MHLC’s most popular preserves, Bennett Hill offers moderately challenging trails with mostly steep hills. A guide will speak about the history of this trail, which offers views of the Helderbergs from its summit and beautiful wildflowers along the trail. Trekking poles and hiking boots recommended.

Starting time:  10 AM

Starting point: Bennett Hill Road, Clarksville

Distance: 2.77 miles round trip

Difficulty: Moderate

5. Bozen Kill Preserve | Treasure Hunt Hike | Altamont

This self-guided hike is great for kids of all ages! Pick up your Bozen Kill Treasure Map at the kiosk and head off to explore the fields, forests, and streams of this beautiful preserve at your own pace. From 10 AM to 12 PM, hikers are invited to explore the preserve. Along the way, you’ll interact with Preserve Docents who will share preserve “treasures” with you while you complete the activities listed on your treasure map.  Complete the map and return to the kiosk to receive your prize.

Starting time: 10 AM

Starting point: Westfall Road, Altamont

Distance: 1.5 miles

Difficulty: Easy

6. Huyck Preserve | Wildlife Hike | Rensselaerville  ***ALMOST FULL***

The Huyck Preserve and Biological Research Station is a non-profit partner of MHLC. Located in the scenic hamlet of Rensselaerville, NY, the Huyck Preserve has been connecting people to nature for more than 80 years. Enjoy a guided wildlife hike on a portion of the 12 miles of trails which ramble through 2000 acres of forest, field, and wetlands, and past the Rensselaerville Falls, which cascade over 120 feet. After your hike, stay for the afternoon and enjoy Lake Myosotis, which is open to the public for kayaking and canoeing as well as fishing.

Starting time: 10 AM

Starting point: 5052 Delaware Turnpike, Rensselaerville

Distance: 2 miles

Difficulty: Easy

7. Keleher Preserve | Mountain Biking | Voorheesville

NEW! Join mountain bikers from across the Capital Region to explore the Conservancy’s first preserve to open to mountain biking. The varied terrain, perfect for all riders, offers something for everyone.  From 10 AM until 11 AM, advanced bikers can enjoy the loop at a faster pace. Casual bikers are invited to begin at 11 AM.

Starting time: Advanced bikers at 10 AM; Casual bikers at 11 AM

Starting point: Gulf Hill Road, Voorheesville

Distance: 4 miles of trails

Difficulty: Moderate

8. Normans Kill West Preserve | Family Wilderness Crafts | Delmar  ***FULL***

In a world of digital entertainment, we often forget the abundance which nature provides, not only to support us but also to engage our creativity and our mind. Join Dave Muska of Ondatra Adventures for a family-friendly workshop in Wilderness Crafts at the Normanskill West Preserve in Delmar, NY. In this class, you will make a small melon basket from local and wild-harvested vines, learn the art of making cordage from natural fibers, and how to make stone necklaces. Be prepared to hear stories, learn natural history, and have fun with your family outdoors!

Starting time: 10 AM to 1 PM

Starting point: Normanskill Boulevard, Delmar

Distance: 1 mile round trip

Difficulty: Easy

9. Strawberry Fields Nature Preserve | Yoga | Amsterdam

Yoga lovers can find inner peace in the great outdoors with this free yoga class at our new Strawberry Fields Nature Preserve. Breathe deeply and listen to bird song in a beautiful natural space with this class led by Schenectady’s Studio 4 Hot Yoga & Pilates. After your class, enjoy a guided walk through the trails and explore the sinkhole and its disappearing brook, the sugar bush, and the north side of the preserve while learning about geology, storm water, erosion, and maple syrup production. Pack a mat, grab the sunscreen, and we’ll see you on the grass!

Starting time: 10 AM yoga class, 11 AM guided walk

Starting point: 240 Cranes Hollow Rd., Amsterdam, NY

Distance: Approximately 1.5 miles round trip

Difficulty: Easy

10. Swift Preserve | Amphibians Hike | Delmar

This hike is great for children. We’ll be exploring a wetland, so waterproof footwear is suggested. Our guide will talk about the indigenous animals who make this site their home, and how their bodies have adapted to thrive in a wet, wild environment!

Starting time: 10:30 AM

Starting point: The end of Evelyn Drive, Delmar

Distance: 1 mile round trip

Difficulty: Easy

11. Van Dyke Preserve | Plein Air Painting Workshop | Delmar  ***FULL***

This Watercolor Plein Air Painting Workshop with art educator Kevin Kuhne takes place along the Phillipin Kill stream. This session will include a short hike, demonstration, and individual sketching and watercolor with individual instruction and critique. Any level of experience is welcome, but some basic, previous use of watercolor is needed. The workshop will focus on design and composition in a woodland interior, making a value plan in your sketchbook, basic watercolor techniques, and executing one or two small watercolor sketches. This four-hour workshop will include a 30 minute break for lunch.  Participants will be required to supply and carry their own folding chair or stool, backpack, portable easel, painting supplies, and a bag lunch. A more formal supply list will be emailed upon registration. Limited to 10 participants – register today at!

Starting time: 10 AM– 2 PM

Starting point:  Van Dyke Road, Delmar

Distance: 1 mile round trip

Difficulty: Easy

Click here to register today for the 2017 Summer Hike-a-thon. This will be a wonderful opportunity to check off some adventures on your Capital Region Nature Passport!

Guest Post: Five Preserves, One Day by Stewart Dutfield

Stewart Dutfield is the Rail Trail Ambassador Coordinator for the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, and was recently honored for his volunteer work at the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy’s annual dinner in January.

Executive Director Mark King snapped this photo of Stewart as he was about to run through Bennett Hill Preserve

Five Preserves: One Day

The map of MHLC preserves shows 19 or so protected areas; how to connect these, each with its few miles of well-maintained trails? On June 3rd, I chose to celebrate National Trails Day by traveling on foot between five of the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy’s preserves, from near Schenectady to almost Greene County, and explore the trails in each one. After quite a bit of planning, I had assembled a packet of preserve maps printed from the MHLC website and a photocopy of a road map indicating the route.

Wolf Creek Falls

Wolf Creek Falls: Fresh-footed and Fancy Free

Setting off early in the morning from the trailhead, I noticed a hunting hide in the woods and wondered at a way of spending time in the woods so different from what I had planned for the day: peering out of a slit into the dark woods rather than following one’s fancy from place to place. Some trails here feature turquoise markers for the Long Path, several miles north of the current terminus. I would follow them along the road for a while before making the climb into the Helderbergs.

Winn Preserve

Winn: Engines

Amidst the Maidenhair ferns were signs for the S70 snowmobile trail (“Culvert Ahead”) and evidence of dirt bikes. From the preserve’s southern boundary, old forest roads offer tempting ways into private land. The trail map suggests that S70 is usable outside the preserve—material for future exploration.

Thacher Park: Mud on the Long Path

Munching trail mix & sipping water from a backpack, I trotted along route 156 to rejoin the Long Path markers on Old Stage Road. At the official end point, Long Path markers suggest that the trail continues: in 2013 this led Kenneth Posner to overshoot his epic end-to end traverse.


Long Path Markers

The Long Path took me to High Point and, after a Mars Bar while admiring the view, through a very muddy section past a group of trail volunteers (doing their part for National Trails Day by trimming brush beside the trail). At the brand new Thacher Park visitor center I felt too grubby to linger, so I replenished my water supply and moved on up the hill to Beaver Dam Road. From here it seems that the Long Path once followed trails to the south, but the markers now take the road instead.

Keleher: Trail Work in Progress

The trailhead kiosk indicated that trail reroutings under way had superseded the map. I abandoned the white blazes when they seemed to turn back toward the trailhead, and used the position of the sun as a guide until something appeared that was recognizable on the map. A seat at the overlook offered a fine view through the trees to downtown Albany and beyond.

View from Keleher Preserve

The trail back to the start had also been considerably rerouted, marked in places only by ribbons, but by running approximately toward the mid-afternoon sun I found my way out without the map.

Bennett Hill: Too Many Bathtubs

If MHLC’s Executive Director Mark King was expecting his camera to capture athleticism in action, he was surely disappointed. He drove up to find a (now grubbier) itinerant slouched on a log and scoffing what remained of a bag of trail mix. Photo ops done, I left at the most convincing trot I could manage. Making good time, I thought, as I made a left turn onto the loop around the summit. After passing only the second group of hikers I had seen all day, I noticed a bathtub spring just like the one I expected to pass on the way down. Only after another couple of hundred yards did I realize that the trail was going in the wrong direction; I had not taken the left turn after all, and wasn’t moving quite as quickly as I’d thought. It’s the mind that gives out before the legs do.

Bennett Hill Preserve

Holt: Cutting Corners

It was not far to the last preserve of the day. Tarrytown Road took me past the church in Onesquethaw built of stone which the builders rejected from the Erie Canal, and briefly on Route 32 before turning east onto Lower Copeland Hill Road. The sign-in book at the trailhead kiosk indicated that the lower trails were “very soggy”, so I followed the undriveable portion of what was once Copeland Hill Road up a steep hill to the trailhead for the upper trails. Here, rather than another loop after 11 hours on the move, I chose to walk out on Upper Copeland Hill Road/Appleby Road to the car that would meet me for the 45-minute drive back to the start.










Over 200 Guests Enjoy Live Music at Rensselaerville Event

On Saturday, June 24, guests flocked to the Daniel Conkling House in Rensselaerville for a one-of-a-kind event with the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy and the brass musicians of the Albany Symphony.

Generously hosted by Stewart Myers at his historic property, this “Celebration of Music and Nature” celebrated the protection of the Eldridge Farm and the preservation of the historic agricultural landscapes of Rensselaerville. An outdoor reception was followed by a performance by the brass musicians of the Albany Symphony, conducted by David Alan Miller. Host Stew Myers was invited to conduct the final encore of the evening.

After the performance, many guests joined MHLC Conservation Director Sarah Walsh for a guided hike around the property. At the end of the evening, guests drove home in a light rain, greeted by a beautiful rainbow.

“We are so grateful to everyone who made the Celebration of Music and Nature at the Daniel Conkling House a very successful event,” writes MHLC Executive Director Mark King. “The winning combination of a stunning setting, a gracious host, and beautiful music created a perfect afternoon. Sunny skies and a steady breeze certainly helped round out the day. Stewart Myers’ restoration of the home and grounds of this historic estate is a gift to all who see the property. For years, the Conkling house appeared to be in its final stage of decay until the acquisition by the Open Space Institute lead to the preservation of the property, and the subsequent sale to Stewart and Roy Myers brought about a rebirth of the home. The property is located across the street from the Eldridge property which was protected by MHLC in 2016 and also adjoins lands of the Huyck Preserve to the north, creating a block of more than 500 acres of preserved lands.”

Check out the photo gallery of this unique summer event below. You can also view these photos on the Times Union’s “Were You Seen” page.