Our Communications Intern for Spring 2018, Meghan Kelley, wrote about her experience at an MHLC volunteer work day.
Volunteering with an organization for the first time can sometimes feel daunting, but that’s not at all what it was like to volunteer with Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy. It was a wonderful experience, and I would definitely volunteer again.
It was chilly for a Sunday morning in late April, but that chill in the air would become welcome once I started working. A small group of volunteers gathered around the entrance to the Normans Kill West Preserve and got to know one another a little before getting started.
This work day was focused on cleaning up the preserve before all the plants and trees begin to bloom. The surrounding area was quiet, which made the cleanup feel peaceful. A handful of trees and bushes were trimmed before they bloomed and overtook the trail.
A lot of the debris we cleaned up was from illegal dumping. There were numerous old tires and countless cinder blocks—some broken, some intact—that had to be carted away. The work was somewhat physically demanding, but in the end it was worth it. The satisfaction of seeing the truck filled up with debris cannot be put into words.
It was a great to be involved with cleaning up a preserve. To anyone with an interest in helping MHLC conserve the environment, I would highly recommend volunteering. It was worth the effort.
Mid-to-late May is the time of year when our avian friends return from warmer places in order to nest and raise the next generation of birds which will delight our landscape. To celebrate this migration, MHLC hosted Wobbling with Warblers, a morning birding hike, on Saturday, May 12. This hike was led by Rich Guthrie, WAMC’s avian expert, at our Winn Preserve.
More than a dozen participants attended, geared up with binoculars, birding books, audio recorders, and hiking boots to explore the birds of the preserve. MHLC’s Winn Preserve was a gift to the organization from Nancy and Hudson Winn of Slingerlands in 1997. The property was prized by the couple for its birding spots, being home to Wood Thrush, Eastern Wood Peewee, and a host of warblers, which return each year to build nests and raise families in their woods. The Winn Preserve has had additional acreage added to it over time, with the last piece being added in 2013 and the total acreage now at 208 acres.
This birding paradise, due to its dense forest, lends itself to viewing all kinds of species that are not easily seen in suburban, fragmented landscapes. Our participants, guided by Rich, walked slowly and quietly through the wooded landscape. We looked and listened for birds in the early morning hours, and spotted many species.
Participants heard Wood Thrush and Black-throated Green Warbler and caught glimpses of a pair of Oven Birds and Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers prepping for the nesting season. Other species seen include Tufted Titmouse, Brown Thrasher and Raven.
Thank you to Rich Guthrie for leading this hike and sharing his birding brain with our participants!
To learn more about our upcoming events, including a hike through a riparian forest at our Schoharie Creek Preserve on June 9, Family Wilderness Crafts with Ondatra Adventures on June 17, and our Summer Celebration and Helderberg Hike-a-Thon, check out our Events page.
To learn more about Rich and his WAMC radio show, check out his website.
Start your day with a light breakfast, connect with other community members, and take a spring ride on the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail! Join MHLC, the New York Bicycling Coalition, and elected officials to celebrate and support the Rail Trail as a zero-carbon transportation option which connects the communities of Voorheesville, New Scotland, Bethlehem, and Albany.
This free event begins with a light breakfast at 8 AM at our office at 425 Kenwood Avenue. At 8:30, guests will hit the Rail Trail to ride. Bike to Work Day is open to anyone, whether or not they are able to bike to their place of work from the Rail Trail. RSVP Today!
Many elected officials and public servants will be joining us in 2018 to celebrate the Rail Trail, including Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy, New York State Assemblywoman Pat Fahy, Bethlehem Town Supervisor David Van Luven, Bethlehem Town Board Member Maureen Cunningham, representatives from Congressman Paul Tonko’s office, and Deputy Commissioner Mindy Scott of the NYS Department of Parks, Recreation, & Historic Preservation.
“After a long winter, I am happy to celebrate the arrival of spring with the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy’s annual Bike to Work Day,” said Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy. “Each year, the trail becomes more popular, and with the final paving from Slingerlands to Voorheesville, I think this year the trail will be busier than ever. Whether biking to work in the morning or walking your dog on the weekend, the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail provides an excellent means to get outside and enjoy the beauty of Albany County.”
“We look forward to Bike to Work Day each year,” says Mark King, Executive Director of the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy. “This event is an excellent opportunity for Rail Trail users to show their support for this community treasure, and for everyone to enjoy a light breakfast and a nice ride before they head into work for the day.”
To register for Bike to Work Day, visit our Events Page. The event is free and includes a light breakfast, as well as the opportunity to shake your elected officials’ hands and tell them how much you appreciate the Rail Trail.
The Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail (ACHHRT) is a 9-mile trail providing exciting opportunities for recreation, exercise & fitness, and zero carbon transportation amidst beautiful vistas of natural scenery. The trail provides a safe and enjoyable bike-and pedestrian-friendly connection between the communities of Voorheesville, New Scotland, Bethlehem, and Albany. The Rail Trail is owned by Albany County and is a shared-use path that accommodates all types of non-motorized traffic. The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy works in partnership with Albany County, the City of Albany, the Towns of Bethlehem and New Scotland, and the Village of Voorheesville to promote and advocate for this exceptional recreational asset. Volunteers from Friends of the Rail Trail (FORT), a committee of the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, serve as Trail Ambassadors, guiding visitors, patrolling, and serving as trail custodians.
In late April, MHLC staff and members of our Board of Directors spent a Saturday learning about new ways conservation organizations are combating climate change through the sale of carbon credits. Staff from The Nature Conservancy presented their recent conservation projects, which protect forests being managed to sequester, or store, atmospheric carbon, a greenhouse gas.
Managed forests can process and store more carbon than those that are left alone. The Nature Conservancy has been working with carbon companies to estimate the carbon sequestered in an unmanaged forest. TNC then creates forest management plans to enhance forest structure and increase this carbon storage capacity in the trees over time. Forest plots are placed throughout the forest and serve as locations which will be visited regularly over the next ten years to estimate the increase in carbon sequestered by managed trees.
In the case of The Nature Conservancy, their carbon credits are calculated and then placed on the voluntary carbon market, a new market which is not mandatory, but invites large companies to voluntarily off-set their emissions by purchasing these carbon credits. The funds generated from the purchase of these credits then goes back into more forest conservation and forest management to sequester even more carbon, thus reducing carbon in the atmosphere and combating global warming.
MHLC spent the morning learning about this up-and-coming conservation method to battle global warming, with the afternoon focused on upcoming conservation projects MHLC is working on which will protect climate-resilient lands. Special thanks to The Nature Conservancy and their project partners for hosting our staff and Board for this climate and conservation focused event!
My name is Meghan Kelley, and I am the Spring 2018 Communications Intern at the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, you can find me in the office working on all sorts of exciting projects.
I am a senior English major with minors in writing and business administration at the College of Saint Rose. As much as I have come to love the Albany area, I grew up in suburban Connecticut just outside of Hartford with my younger sister and our dog. When not in class or my internship, I spend my free time reading, writing novels, running, and knitting.
Throughout my time at the Conservancy, I’ve had the opportunity to work on a wide variety of projects. I’ve written several blog posts, social media posts, and press releases about upcoming events. I’ve also put my abilities as an English major to work and copyedited documents. I’ve had the chance to work on a lot of projects I had never attempted before, and I am deeply appreciative for the guidance I have received.
Working at the Conservancy has been a wonderful experience and has allowed me to reconnect with my environmental interests. I will admit that I don’t spend as much time outdoors as I would like, but ever since taking an AP Environmental Science class in high school, I have been interested in how I could put to use my skills as an English major to help preserve the environment. With the Conservancy, I’ve had the opportunity to visit a preserve and volunteer with a cleanup as well as write blog posts and press releases about all the ways the Conservancy works towards protecting the environment.
I thank Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy for the opportunity to learn from such an impressive organization.
Earlier this week, MHLC staff attended the Land Trust Alliance’s New York Land Trust Symposium at the Albany Capital Center. Executive Director, Mark King, Conservation Director, Sarah Walsh, and Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator, Sawyer Cresap, spent two days meeting with representatives from land trusts across New York and neighboring states to discuss the latest issues facing land conservation. This year’s symposium theme was Investing in Healthy Communities, with more than 300 participants from land trust volunteers to professional staff and conservation advocates attending.
MHLC served as a lead patron on the “Climate Track” for this year’s symposium. This sponsorship, which supported the climate change sessions for the event, was generously funded by Jeff Leon. Jeff is a Preserve Steward and has a conservation easement on his property, which allows for public access known as the Strawberry Fields Nature Preserve. Jeff is a former MHLC Board Member, dedicated conservationist, and has been a long-time proponent of conservation as a means to fight climate change: we recommend visiting the Land Trust Alliance blog to read his recent post, “My response to our changing climate.”
Climate change sessions at the symposium included information on integrating renewable energy into local communities and conservation projects, land trusts’ role in protecting water sources, and strategic mission development for clean energy and climate change mitigation.
In addition, MHLC Executive Director, Mark King, co-led one of the day’s field trips with our conservation partners at the Open Space Institute. The trip took attendees to Thacher State Park for a tour of the new Visitor Center, a short hike along the limestone escarpment, and a tour of Indian Ladder Farms, highlighting our conservation work and partnership with OSI along the Helderberg Escarpment. The group talked about the importance of viewsheds as a conservation priority, identifying projects which improve local habitat connectivity, and the critical need to focus on working lands for conservation.
Grants Awarded to MHLC
On Tuesday the 24th, the Land Trust Alliance announced the recipients of the 2018 grant awards through the New York State Conservation Partnership Program (NYSCPP). The NYSCPP is an innovative public-private partnership between the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Alliance’s New York Program. This program offers competitive matching grants to qualified New York land trusts to advance land conservation, economic development, farmland protection, community conservation and recreation and tourism.
MHLC has been awarded two grants in 2018! As an accredited land trust, we were eligible to apply for project-specific matching grants which help us work towards our conservation mission.
The first grant is a Stewardship and Resource Management Grant, which will help us improve our public preserves through roadside and registration signage. With the resources from this grant, MHLC will put roadside signs at all preserves, improving public access and increasing our outreach. We will also improve our registration areas with improved signage- this will help us gauge preserve usage and better manage our preserves for the public.
The second is a Transaction Grant which will help us preserve a family farm in Montgomery County. This family farm consists of over 500 acres, and by conserving this land with an easement (made possible with the resources from the NYSCPP Transaction Grant), MHLC is expanding our reach in this county and catalyzing future farm conservation in the region.
Both projects are generously supported with funding from the New York State Conservation Partnership Program (NYSCPP) and New York’s Environmental Protection Fund. Stay tuned for more updates as we progress with these two exciting projects!
Thanks to everyone who joined us for today’s Earth Day Story Walk!
We walked along the trails and boardwalks of Swift Preserve talking about Earth Day, listening to the birds in the wetlands, and picking up any litter we found. The walk warmed us up in the chilly spring air.
The sun came out for our outdoor story time with Ms.Michelle from the Bethlehem Public Library! Ms. Michelle read us several terrific and colorful books all about Earth Day, and we even sang a couple of songs about ways to save the Earth.
Thank you to the Bethlehem Public Library for choosing such wonderful stories to share with our audience at the preserve. Happy Earth Day!
For the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, your Capital Region land trust, each day is Earth Day. The lands we protect are protected forever — for our children today, and our grandchildren tomorrow.
These protected lands, which are kept green and undeveloped in perpetuity, provide critically important and tangible benefits to our ecosystems and communities. Natural lands provide wildlife habitats, open spaces, and viewsheds. Undeveloped spaces store more carbon than developed lands; this helps in the fight against climate change. By maintaining forests and wetlands, we maintain the natural filters which protect air and water quality in Albany, Montgomery, and Schenectady Counties.
Yet there are other benefits, less tangible but equally important, that these spaces provide. Our 18 public preserves provide 2,000 acres and over 36 miles of trails for hiking, cross-country skiing, and other educational and recreational opportunities.
The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy provides more than just space. We provide opportunities for people to connect with each other and with the natural beauty which surrounds us. A walk in the woods, an afternoon sitting by a stream, a morning trail run… these are experiences to be shared, cherished, and protected. Without open spaces made available to the public, the constant thrum of development in our region will continue to take away our opportunities to enjoy, experience, draw inspiration from, and find solace in the natural world.
As MHLC provides nature experiences for our community, many of our organizational partners provide artistic, cultural, and musical experiences. Last June, we teamed up with the brass musicians of the Albany Symphony for our Celebration of Music and Nature in Rensselaerville. In 2018, we are offering another plein air painting workshop as part of our Summer Festival and Helderberg Hike-a-Thon: these workshops have been a beautiful opportunity for local painters to find inspiration from the sights and sounds of our preserves. Our Family Wilderness Crafts Workshops with Ondatra Adventures encourage young citizens to use their hands to engage with both the natural world and with their own creative spirit.
These connections between nature and the arts run deep. At our 2018 Annual Awards Dinner, guest speaker Elizabeth Sobol, President and CEO of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, spoke of her childhood in South Carolina, her connection to the land of her youth, and of the ties between conservation and the arts: we all must work together to cherish, preserve, and protect beauty in all of its forms.
“It is at that moment of shared beauty – birdsong, sunset, Mahler, Bach – that we are most utterly – and most fully – human. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what we are here to preserve and protect.”
Many of our guests asked for a transcript of Elizabeth’s speech, and Elizabeth has generously shared a written copy of her thoughts and words, as seen below.
In the spirit of Earth Day, we hope you’ll enjoy these words as a reminder that in order to enjoy the beauty around us, we must continue to protect it.
Remarks by Elizabeth Sobol
Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy Annual Awards Dinner
River Stone Manor, Schenectady, NY
Tuesday, February 27, 2018
“I am very honored to have been asked to speak to you tonight – and to have the opportunity to celebrate the important work you are all doing.
I was watching the beautiful video that is on the website and was very moved by it – the lovely images, the evocative use of music…but most of all, I was moved by the words I heard. Words like:
cherish, connect, preserve, beauty, future, respite, protect, urgent, enduring.
These words resonated with me because they are part of the same vocabulary I use when I talk about the importance of the arts and beauty in the world.
This winter…this very, very long winter…. I have had a lot of time to think about all this – the essential, the powerful, the underlying link between art and nature – and the urgent and critical work that lies ahead of us all.
Whenever I think about what brings us to a love of nature, what brings us to a love of art, I always end up at the beginning. Well, I should say, to my own beginning. I grew up in small town in North Carolina – a mill town – where all four of my grandparents had second grade educations – and worked in the cotton mill. Doesn’t sound very auspicious does it? And yet, I had the luckiest of childhoods. When I was very young, of a Spring and Summer evening, my Grandmother, my Mother’s Mother, would wrap me in a blanket and hold me on her lap while we swung in the front porch swing and she told me stories and sang me songs, enveloped in the soft sweet southern honeysuckle breeze. When I was a little older, in the Spring, my Grandfather would take me for walks down a thickly-over-grown ravine near the house and he would pull out his prized pocket knife and show me how to make a little flute from poplar branches when the sap was high. Later still, on the weekends, my grandparents would take me for drives out long country roads and we would stop by a plowed field and search for arrowheads and then wander down and look for violets by the edge of the woods and my grandmother would tell me stories about how her Mother made medicine from plants for her and her 12 sisters when they were growing up on a remote farm. On hot afternoons, we would look for the shade of a tree and drink sweetened tea from mason jars and eat the violet blossoms and we would just listen – to the sounds of birdsong, the high soprano keening of crickets and to all the exuberant music of nature.
I was lucky – as a child I grew up seeing the stars in the night sky, eating the medicine of plants, listening to the sounds of the seasons, the music of the spheres. Though I couldn’t have articulated it at the time, the seamlessness of being – the sense of being connected to earth and to others – was articulated through the full embrace of nature and my grandparents’ love.
Of course, like every Adam or Eve in the garden, I did eventually leave paradise. As a teen, I rebelled against the small town and left for a music conservatory in a City, my eyes on a career as a pianist. From there to New York City to pursue a career as an artist manager. From there, my career, frankly, consumed me. It’s not to say that I didn’t seek and enjoy moments in nature, but the thrust of my life became completely yoked to work and to the relentless, singular focus and linear direction that left little room for expansiveness and breath. But, no complaints! I had an incredible run of it. Decades spent at IMG Artists, the heady thrill of going from small start up artist management agency in the cultural sphere to global leader in the field, working with artists like Itzhak Perlman and Joshua Bell and Renee Fleming. From IMG I was recruited to Universal Music to start a new record company. Some people in the business called that going over to the dark side. But I relished the challenge of creating a successful, ethos-based “classics” label in the middle of the most difficult time in the history of recorded music. I worked – and worked – and worked – until Spring of 2013 – when I finally knew I had to stop. My psychic gas gauge was virtually on empty. I knew I needed to do something to refill that very subtle vessel called “the soul”.
I did something I had dreamed of doing for years but had never made the time for. I signed up for an intensive course on Ethnobotany & Plant Medicine in the mountains of North Carolina. When I came down off the mountain, as it were, the universe asked its usual; “and now what?” I remember sitting with friends by a lake in Black Mountain. I knew at that point that my future had to involve the plants and nature I felt I had “forsaken” so many years before. At the same time, a future without music seemed unthinkable. I remember saying to my friends: Oh god, I despair. Where in the world am I ever going to find a place that calls upon my deep love of nature and my deep love of the arts? Back home several days later, the phone rang – and out of the proverbial blue – a voice said “Hi – I am with the firm conducting the search for the new President of SPAC and your name keeps coming up.”
So, you see, I come to my new job with not a little of the natural zeal of the true southerner – a native proselytizer – with also possibly with a refrain of “I was lost but now I am found” playing in the background. But most of all, my sense of purpose and urgency comes from the knowledge of the profound importance of beauty – both man-made and natural – in this moment of deepening human crisis.
For it is in moments of encounters with great beauty – the transcendent grace of a Mozart aria, the majesty of a cathedral of pines – that we enter that state of wonder – a place without time or boundaries or strife or differences. On the top of a mountain, under the canopy of the night sky, we are both infinitesimal and infinite, luminous, radiant and eternally interconnected. Is it a religio-mystical state – or just a primal, wordless recognition of our common cosmic-energetic origin. Does it really matter?
It is at that moment of shared beauty – birdsong, sunset, Mahler, Bach – that we are most utterly – and most fully – human. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what we are here to preserve and protect.”
Monday, April 9th dawned as one of the first sunny and spring-like mornings of 2018. By 10 AM, MHLC’s Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator, Sawyer Cresap, was flying 1,000 feet over the Capital Region in a four-seater Cessna Skylane plane, enjoying the sun and a new view of our protected lands with Charlie Burgess, Stewardship Manager for the Open Space Institute (OSI).
With the help of Lighthawk, an organization which donates flights for conservation professionals, and volunteer pilot Bob Keller, Sawyer and Charlie were able to observe MHLC- and OSI-protected lands in real time and in context with the larger landscape of eastern New York.
“With the Catskill Mountains as a backdrop, we flew along the Helderberg Escarpment, through Coeymans, Rennselaerville, and up the Bozen Kill ravine capturing the hills and valleys of protected landscapes and seeing our conservation priorities areas from a new vantage point,” Sawyer said of her the trip, which was her first time flying in a four-seater plane.
By taking photos from the sky with a high-resolution DSLR camera, Sawyer was able to capture visual documentation of tens of thousands of acres of land and water in just under two hours. This is a tremendous tool for MHLC in our work surveying protected lands. Not only does the aerial survey save valuable time in the field during the limited monitoring season, making our monitoring and documentation work more efficient, but the photos also provide u s with a more comprehensive view of terrain that would be otherwise inaccessible on foot or by vehicle. By flying with Lighthawk, we can capture a more detailed snapshot of intricate water bodies, forest stock, mowed fields, ancient stonewall property lines, winding backcountry roads, and other unique features hidden within the landscape. This imagery helps us build stronger defense against encroachment, development, and other unwanted activities on conservation land. It will also play a large role in helping document properties for existing and future projects so that we can save more of the land that matters most.
In a changing climate, aerial monitoring also helps paint a picture of current water levels and forest composition to serve as a baseline for comparisons over time. As ecological features shift, baseline data such as these photos will facilitate better land management decisions in the future.
With much of the snow already melted and leaves not yet on the trees, early spring is the perfect time for aerial monitoring. Through the rest of 2018 and beyond, MHLC will be sharing the impacts of this data with announcements of new lands we are working to protect. Thank you to Lighthawk for making this mission possible, and to volunteer pilot Bob Keller!
The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy (MHLC) and the Open Space Institute (OSI) often partner on conservation projects: click here to read about our recent partnership in Rensselaerville. This flight allowed each of our organizations to survey important properties, including those on which we partner.
To learn more about LightHawk, an incredible conservation organization which works with over 200 volunteer pilots who fly to protect land, water and wildlife across America, visit their website: www.lighthawk.org.
Meghan Kelley is in her senior year at the College of St. Rose and is preparing to graduate with her bachelor’s degree in English. Meghan is our Communications Intern for the Spring 2018 semester, and she recently joined Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator Sawyer Cresap for a trip to our Normans Kill Preserves.
Sawyer writes, “I love taking first-time visitors to the Normans Kill Preserves because they are so accessible and so beautiful. We call these our ‘pocket preserves’ because they are little pockets of nature within the town of Bethlehem; they are a favorite for lunch-time walkers who can quickly drive to the parking lot, walk a few steps, and be immersed in the sights and sounds of the woods. It was wonderful sharing this experience with Meghan and seeing the preserves through someone else’s eyes.”
Meghan shares her experience of the Normans Kill West and East below:
Visiting a MHLC preserve for the first time was a great experience. Even though the Normans Kill West Preserve is in Bethlehem, as soon as I started on the trail, I felt like I was in the middle of the woods. I heard only the calls of various birds and the water of the river. Walking alongside the river was beautiful and relaxing, even in early spring before the plants were in full bloom. Of all the birds I could hear, I only saw a robin and a pair of blue jays in the trees.
The trail was about an hour hike all the way around. It was a great hike for a beginner like me. It was a bit of a challenge with some of the hills, but not overly difficult. Normans Kill West is the preserve with the most bridges due to the high number of tributaries running into the river. Of the bridges, my personal favorite was the musical bridge. The trail itself was well marked, so following it was easy and allowed me to enjoy nature instead of worrying where to step next.
I also had the chance to briefly visit the Normans Kill East Preserve, which is smaller than its counterpart but just as enjoyable to walk through. This preserve also felt like it was in the middle of nowhere next to a beautiful river. Here I managed to catch a glimpse of a red-tailed hawk flying by, which was awesome. The hills at Normans Kill East were steeper, but for a short walk it was quite feasible.
I’m glad I had the opportunity to visit the Normans Kill Preserves. It was awesome to be able to experience nature near the heart of the Capital Region without having to drive very far.
Each summer, the MHLC office welcomes a conservation intern to help us maintain our 18 public preserves. In 2018, we are thrilled to welcome Alec Betancourt, an Altamont resident and SUNY Buffalo sophomore studying Environmental Engineering.
Alec writes, “growing up in Altamont, I was very fortunate to be able to enjoy many of MHLC’s preserves throughout my life. Now I look forward to being a part of this organization so I can help give others the experience I received while visiting these preserved lands.”
Stay tuned this summer for updates from Alec as he explores the trails, fields, forests, and streams of our preserves (with bushwhacker in hand!).
The Lisa Lyon Evans Conservation Internship honors Lisa Lyon Evans, past MHLC Board Chair and a devoted supporter of conservation in the Capital Region. Lisa’s tenacious efforts on behalf of MHLC sparked our growth as an organization. She motivated our team to look to the future. As a lifelong resident, business leader, and altruistic community member, Lisa’s leadership helped us become the Capital Region’s local land trust. Our Conservation Internship gives an individual the opportunity to learn about how a land trust works, to become familiar with local ecology and land management strategies, and to gain experience with non-profit organizations and volunteer coordination. By training the next generation of conservationists, we honor the legacy of Lisa Lyon Evans.
This internship is made possible by the generosity of people who have donated in memory of Lisa Lyon Evans. We would like to send a very special thank you to Lisa’s husband, Tom Evans, her business partner and friend, Suzanne Smith, and these donors:
In memory of Lisa Lyon Evans…
Karen C. Beck
Keith & Susan Bennett
Sherry Bostwick Bishko
Susan L. Blabey
Jean & Rondi Brower
Donna & Thomas Buckley
Patrick & Sarah Carroll
Colonie Senior Service Centers, Inc.
Virginia & Edward Cropsey
Elsa G. deBeer
DeChants, Fuglein & Johnson, LLP
Carol & Bob Deitz
Leslie Hughes DiCamillo
Cornelius Dullea Murray
Ronald & Regina Gerhard
John Gillespie & Kathleen Sullivan
Vincent & Sheila Giordano
James and Chris Green
Claudia Hammar, NYS Association of Health Care Providers
Chris and Kelli Hawver
Barbara C. Healy
Fred & Donna Hershey
Ted & Sally Jennings
Susan & Tucker Jones
Helen & Allen Kaplan
Liz & Barb Langdon
Jeff & Judy Leon
Cathie Love & George Berg
Jeannie Lyon Langdon
Doris Fischer Malesardi
Chuck & Barbara Manning
Stephen S. Marks
Robert & Christine McCarthy
Peter and Marie-Louise McHugh
Philip & Kathleen Morris
Kenneth P Mortensen, Jr.
Lynn & Wilfred Pauquette
Ted & Sherry Putney
Dale & Craig Raisig
Reid, McNally & Savage
Donna & Dennis Rhodes
Rosemarie V. Rosen
Alice & Ross Sandler
Anita Lynne Lyon-Sechler
Paul & Christine Shields
Hank Stebbins & Val Washington
Steven Mann Sumberg
John & Sally Ten Eyck
Peter & Rose-Marie Ten Eyck
Kay & Bill Valentino
Tim & Maggie Vinciguerra
Connie & Harry Wilbur
Carla R. Williams
Donald & Jean Wilson
Andrew Wood, D.D.S., P.C.
In 2018, MHLC is introducing you to some of our incredible community members: volunteers, easement landowners, donors, and more. This month, we talk to one of our easement landowners: Dud Crauer. Read below to learn more about Dud, his property, and the reasons he protected his land.
*Are you interested in placing a conservation easement on your property? Visit our Conserve Your Land page for more information!
When did you place an easement on your property?
The easement on the property was placed February 2007.
How did you decide to put a conservation easement on your property?
My neighbor, Lloyd Hagen, expressed his concern that a number of large properties in West Glenville, held by families for several generations and no longer being used for agriculture, are prime targets for housing developments which would negatively impact the rural nature of West Glenville.
Our modest property, located at the southern mouth of Wolf Hollow (one of the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy’s Priority Areas) has unique geological, ecological, and historical significance. For example, Wolf Hollow was an ancient trail used for centuries by Native Americans to travel from the Mohawk River to the upper Hudson. The battle in 1669 at “Kinaquariones” between the Mohawks and Algonquins was savagely fought here, resulting in many primitive artifacts found. We still have occasional Native Americans visitors who come and reflect on their forefathers.
With respect to earlier civilizations and protecting the natural wonder of the area, we hoped a conservation easement would also inspire our neighbors and other landowners to do the same.
How would you describe the process of creating an easement?
The process of creating an easement was easier than initially perceived given the assistance, patience, and professionalism of the MHLC staff. When questions among family members arise regarding how we can achieve our wish to preserve the “family farm,” yet continue our lifestyle, MHLC volunteer and easement expert Hank Stebbins, Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator Sawyer Cresap, and Executive Director Mark King have always responded promptly and professionally. It is indeed gratifying and reassuring to have the MHLC team share your passion.
What do you wish more people knew about protecting their property with a local land trust?
Landowners, unfamiliar with land trusts, fear ‘giving up’ their right of choice. I’ve heard “I don’t want someone telling me what I can do.” They do not understand that the Conservancy protects that which they hold dear for future generations to respect and enjoy as they have.
Why do you support land conservation (both generally and locally here in the Capital Region)?
I support land conservation because my generation has witnessed the misuse and overdevelopment of our earth’s resources: global warming, oil spills, plastic particles in our food and drinking water, whole species of birds and wildlife exterminated….Shall I go on?
Mother Earth gives us life. If we do not respect and take care of Her, mankind will also be eliminated. We should take a lesson from Native Americans, “The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth”.
I leave it to all of us to consider: If not us, who? If not now, when?
Every year, Earth Day gives us an opportunity to connect with our community and talk about the importance of our planet’s health.
Use this opportunity to give back and help protect our environment! This year, MHLC is proud to host several Earth Day events in celebration of this special holiday. Visit our Events page to learn more about a volunteer clean-up, a nature walk and story time for young kids and their families, and to sign up for MHLC’s first-ever Fun Run!
The Environmental Awareness 5K is at 8 AM on Saturday, April 21st and will take place on the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail. This fun run is appropriate for all ages and abilities. Fun Run t-shirts will be given to all participants and are being donated by Sawyer’s Screen Printing and Embroidery. The Delmar Hannaford Supermarket and Pharmacy is donating water and snacks for all runners, walkers, rollers, and skaters!
Register today on our website and check out the Facebook event to invite your friends.
Ava DeSantis, a local high school student and MHLC volunteer, is the driving force responsible for this awesome event. Ava shared with us what inspired her to tackle managing an Earth Day 5k at such a young age.
What sparked your initial interest in the environment?
I have always been taught to care for the environment. However, once I began to work for its protection I realized that each of us has the opportunity to make a difference in the fields that are important to us.
What is so interesting about Earth Day in particular?
Earth Day is a chance to focus the conversation of change towards the environment. On Earth Day you see news articles, social media attention, and even small-talk begin to center around protecting the earth.
Why did you choose a 5k as an event for Earth Day?
A 5k is a great way to involve different communities in an effort to protect the environment. It also gives runners and volunteers a change to appreciate the environment of the Rail Trail.
What’s it like taking the lead for running an event like this at a young age?
It’s very exciting to take the lead and work with MHLC as well as my fellow student activists from around the Capital Region. Being able to take on the responsibility of an event like this is both empowering and eye-opening. Eye-opening in the sense of being forced to see the amount of work and planning necessary for such an event, and empowering because I have the opportunity to take on the work and planning.
Who do you hope to see at the Fun Run?
I hope to see a range of members of the community at the event. Runners and beginners, environmental activists and people who want to learn about the subject. I see events like this as an opportunity to enjoy the fresh air on a spring day outside, as well as an opportunity to discuss the issues facing our community and preservation of the beautiful spring landscapes we are enjoying.
What type of experience do you hope to create for participants?
I hope participants leave the run having enjoyed the company of their fellow runners, interacted with members of MHLC, and enjoyed the Rail Trail in spring.
The Keleher Preserve, MHLC’s largest nature preserve, is comprised of 447 forested acres along the Helderberg Escarpment. Here, trails weave up and down Wolf Hill through hemlock cathedrals, swaying pines, and sandy patches of low-bush blueberry.
With the help of intrepid MHLC volunteers, these winding paths now feature directional signposts at each trail junction!
So: How did we go about installing these heavy cedar signs across six miles of back-country trail?
In late February, our small work crew met at the parking lot and readied ourselves for a day of hiking, building, tools, sweat, and fun. We headed across the rolling terrain of the preserve, pulling behind us a garden cart, piled high with shovels and lumber. The posts are easier to transport without the signs attached, so we also toted a plastic red toboggan which carried the thirty directional signs to be assembled on-site. Once we arrived at each juncture, we dug post holes through rocky soil, drilled and fastened the individual signs onto the posts, and tamped down gravel and mud to secure the new sign.
In other words: We teamed up with great volunteers, got creative, and got a workout! Here’s what one of our new volunteers, Bob Frederick, had to say about this inventive form of exercise:
“If you’re someone who likes a challenge and enjoys introducing movement to new muscle groups in your body, the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy has the answer: six hours of fun in one of the Conservancy’s 18 public preserves. Yeah, you can go to a gym and work out for an hour in a typical boot camp class, but as Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator Sawyer Cresap says, ‘why not get your whole week of heart pumping, muscle cramping, and heavy breathing done in one fun-filled day of volunteer service?’”
After this recent “Keleher Boot Camp,” Bob wrote: “Every muscle in my body aches at the moment, but I’m so glad Sawyer led us through each obstacle and celebrated every stage we completed. Her positive attitude and can-do spirit made me and the other boot camp volunteer dedicated to the end goal – installation of new trail sign posts without injury and receiving a total body workout in nature.”
We invite all gym rats, weekend warriors, and anybody in between to test your endurance, mental focus, and competitive spirit by signing up to be invited to the next “Volunteer Boot Camp.”
You never know… it could be the start of a new fitness craze!
If you’re interested in joining us as a volunteer, visit our Volunteer webpage and fill out an online form. We can’t wait to meet you!
Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator
MHLC is hiring! We are seeking a highly motivated individual with a strong commitment to conservation who is interested in growing with the organization. The Office Manager and Bookkeeper position will be part time at approximately 20 hours per week and report to the Director of Operations & Development.
As our Office Manager and Bookkeeper, you will have a variety of responsibilities and play a critical role in supporting all MHLC programs. Primary activities will include general office management as well as bookkeeping using Quickbooks software and assisting with budgeting, annual audit, and other aspects of the organization’s financial management. Other responsibilities will include:
- Serving as the point person for office manager duties including: answering phones, scheduling meetings and appointments, greeting office visitors, managing office stationery and equipment, filing and office organization, maintaining the office condition, and providing general administrative support to our employees;
- Submitting and tracking payroll and HR benefits;
- Assisting in the onboarding process for new hires and board members;
- Managing office vendors, service providers, and office lease;
- Assisting with Board meetings, Board minutes, the preparation of Board reports, and the management of the password-protected board portal on the MHLC website.
For a full job description, click here.
To apply, send a cover letter and resume to Mark King, Executive Director, at email@example.com. Applications accepted on a rolling basis.
This month, MHLC added more than 300 acres to our land protection portfolio in Rensselaerville through the transfer of two conservation easements from the Open Space Institute (OSI). Rensselaerville is one of MHLC’s Conservation Priority Areas and acts as a conservation corridor between the Catskills and the Capital Region. As the leading local land trust, MHLC is excited to take over the stewardship responsibilities that come with these easements, which border existing MHLC conservation easements in Rensselaerville and expand and improve upon our protected acreage in the area.
The larger of the two conservation easements, CBM Farms, was protected in 2012 by the Open Space Institute. This property features deep forests, working agricultural lands, and spectacular views overlooking the hamlet of Rensselaerville. The easement protects the property from further development, ensuring its future as a rural estate to support farming and forestry activities. In 2017, MHLC protected the Eldridge property, an approximately 220-acre farm directly adjacent to CBM Farms, making the transfer of this Open Space Institute conservation easement to MHLC a natural addition to MHLC-protected lands in this area.
The second easement adjoins CBM Farms and protects part of Hennicke Marsh, a wetland owned by the Edmund Niles Huyck Preserve. The property was originally part of CBM Farms when it was acquired by the Open Space Institute in 2013 and was subsequently donated to the Huyck Preserve. Hennicke Marsh is a diverse wetland which protects water quality, scenic views, and provides important habitat for songbirds, mammals, amphibians, and rare plants. Hennicke Marsh is located directly north of CBM Farms, making this another wonderful addition to our land protection efforts in this Priority Area. Both easements provide a significant buffer of protected land surrounding the Ten Mile Creek watershed, an important water source for the region.
We are grateful to our partners in conservation, the Open Space Institute, for providing us with the opportunity to add these two important properties to our land protection portfolio. Conservation easements allow the landowner to maintain ownership of the property while restricting the development and land uses on the property in perpetuity. These lands remain in private ownership and are not open to the public. We thank these landowners for protecting these lands in perpetuity for a healthier Capital Region for current and future generations.
To learn more about MHLC’s Conservation Priorities, visit our new Where We Work page.
You can learn more about how MHLC’s corridor work by visiting our new Conservation and Climate Change page.
This month’s “Ask the Conservation Director” post explores MHLC’s accreditation with the Land Trust Alliance.
The land trust accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy is pleased to announce it is applying for renewal of accreditation, and there is an opportunity for you to provide feedback on our operations as an accredited land trust!
Stakeholder Notification/Public Notice: A public comment period is now open.
The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, conducts an extensive review of each applicant’s policies and programs.
The Commission invites public input and accepts signed, written comments on pending applications. Comments must relate to how Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy complies with national quality standards. These standards address the ethical and technical operation of a land trust. For the full list of standards, please visit the Land Trust Accreditation Commission’s website.
To learn more about the accreditation program and to submit a comment, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org, or email your comment to firstname.lastname@example.org. Comments may also be faxed or mailed to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, Attn: Public Comments: (fax) 518-587-3183; (mail) 36 Phila Street, Suite 2, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.
Q: MHLC is an Accredited Land Trust…. what does that mean?
A: From the Land Trust Alliance (LTA):
“Land trust accreditation is a mark of distinction, showing that a land trust meets high standards for land conservation… Accreditation demonstrates that a land trust has successfully implemented Land Trust Standards and Practices.”
MHLC received our accreditation with the Land Trust Accreditation Commission in 2013.
The Land Trust Alliance’s Standards and Practices guide the operation of hundreds land trusts across the country. Accreditation was a watershed moment in our organization’s history: we demonstrated compliance with ethical and technical standards for responsible operation, thus gaining the approval of a nation-wide organization. This also demonstrates to our landowners, donors, supporters, and partners that MHLC is committed to using best practices for land transactions and fundraising efforts.
In 2018, MHLC is working towards reaccreditation. Accreditation is reevaluated every five years by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission to ensure a land trust adheres to the LTA’s Standards and Practices. In preparation, our staff are providing organizational policies, files from land transactions, and other documentation to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission for review. This thorough process of documentation and auditing takes nearly six months to complete.
Why is this important? By receiving accreditation, and being reaccredited every five years, MHLC is demonstrating compliance to the Land Trust Alliance’s Standards and Practices, ensuring responsible conservation practices. In short, MHLC’s accreditation helps us show that your local land trust is truly trustworthy; donations of land, money, and time are used responsibly and effectively towards the permanent conservation of land.
As we work towards completing this process, you can learn more about our accreditation and Land Trust Alliance membership for collective impact on our updated About page.
You can also read our updated Where We Work page, which outlines our priority areas and land acquisition criteria, a required LTA Standard and Practice.
Learn more about accreditation, the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, and the benefits of being accredited on the Land Trust Accreditation Commission’s website.
Have a question for MHLC’s Conservation Director? Email your questions to MHLC Conservation Director, Sarah.
In 2018, MHLC is introducing you to some of our incredible volunteers. This month, we talk to one of our youngest volunteers: Connor Roddy. Read below to learn more about Connor and his work with MHLC!
*Are you interested in becoming a volunteer? Visit our Volunteer page for more information!
When did you begin volunteering with MHLC?
I began volunteering with MHLC two summers ago with the Conservancy’s former Stewardship Director, Ms. Tedesco. I had heard about this organization through my mother, who alongside two dozen girl scouts had previously worked with Ms. Tedesco planting trees at Van Dyke Preserve and had a blast. Then a Life Scout, I needed to complete a project for my community in order to attain the highest rank in scouting: Eagle. With my mother raving about how valuable and fun it is to volunteer for the Conservancy, and after doing a little research, I found that MHLC was the best way for me to have lots of fun doing my duty to the community while also having a balance of creativity, adventure, and humor.
How would you describe your role as a volunteer?
I coordinated with MHLC staff to find a project that meets their needs. We established a bird box project, and it became my responsibility to orchestrate and execute this project all the way through. This included fundraising, and gathering assistance from my community to help carry out my project. I built eleven nesting boxes of four different species on the Restifo Preserve in Westerlo, New York, in hopes that we can attract more people to enjoy the fabulous views that the preserve has to offer.
Which is your favorite aspect of volunteering with MHLC?
Working with MHLC for over a year on my Eagle Scout Project, I have learned so many wonderful things and have formed an awesome relationship with Ms. Cresap, the Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator. She and the other staff members at MHLC were great to interact and work with to make my community a better place. That being said, I would have to say that my absolute favorite part was how much my project, and MHLC as a whole, opened me to this hidden goldmine of picturesque landscapes, pristine hiking trails, and a wealth of nature knowledge I had no idea existed. During the brainstorming stages of my project, there were so many areas across the county that I was unaware of, despite living in the Bethlehem area my whole life. Even after choosing my project, I didn’t realize what a hidden gem Westerlo has with Restifo. When I did visit, I was in awe of this beautiful scenery of wildlife and the forests atop the Catskills. I loved how I was able to attract our community’s ornithologists of young and old to explore one of the hidden gems of New York.
What do you wish more people knew about volunteering with a local land trust?
I wish people knew how easy MHLC makes it to be active in protecting our community. The staff is highly trained and will always be there to back you while you try to play your part safeguarding the wonderful flora and fauna of Bethlehem. I’ve learned so much while volunteering too, both about the wildlife and about myself, and I think many people will have this great enlightening experience as I did working with the Conservancy.
Why do you support land conservation (both generally and locally here in the Capital Region)?
I believe that land conservation is necessary if we want our future generations to enjoy our land as much as we have. Without organizations like MHLC, we will lose these valuable properties thus having a negative ecological impact.
Thank you to everyone who joined us on Tuesday evening for our 2018 Annual Awards Dinner. With warm weather and a gentle sunset, we enjoyed the historic River Stone Manor in Schenectady as friends old and new connected and discussed the exciting growth of our organization and the many prospects which lay ahead. This year, we honored Kathy Meany and John Abbuhl for their contributions to the preservation of the Capital Region.
Kathy Meany, a volunteer with MHLC for over five years, was presented with the Dan Driscoll Leadership Award. Ms. Meany volunteers as a Preserve Steward of the Bozen Kill Preserve in Altamont, digging trails, clearing brush, and caring for the land. She leads other volunteers and guests on guided hikes and also spends time representing the organization at local festivals and within the community. Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator Sawyer Cresap spoke of Kathy’s dedication before presenting the award, and Kathy told the crowd of her family’s history of connection to the land, her favorite moments working as a volunteer, and how she sees the importance of connecting residents of all ages with their local landscape.
Executive Director Mark King presented the Saving Special Places Award to John Abbuhl’s family in honor of Dr. Abbuhl’s lifetime of conservation work. In recognition of Dr. Abbuhl, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 91, sycamores will be planted on MHLC-preserved land. Dr. Abbuhl was a founding member of MHLC in 1992 and remained an Advisory Board Member in the years that followed; he was also the founder of the Pine Hollow Arboretum in Slingerlands. Dr. Abbuhl spent his lifetime working to preserve the Capital Region, and his family spoke of his love for the environment as they accepted the award.
Our special guest, Elizabeth Sobol, is President and CEO of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. A veteran of the classical music and recording industry, Elizabeth has worked in the past as president and CEO of Universal Music Classics and spent nearly three decades at IMG Artists as its managing director. She spoke of her childhood in South Carolina, her connection to the land of her youth, and of the ties between conservation and the arts: we all must work together to cherish, preserve, and protect beauty in all of its forms.
Thank you to everyone who joined us for this special night!