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!

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