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
sarah@mohawkhudson.org

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