In memory of MHLC founding member, John Abbuhl

Dr. Abbuhl at the 2017 MHLC Annual Awards Dinner

Our community has lost a dedicated advocate for the conservation and preservation of nature. On January 6, 2018, John Abbuhl – pediatrician, philanthropist, and MHLC founding member – passed away peacefully at the Hospice Inn of St. Peter’s Hospital.

To say John was passionate about nature was an understatement.  A casual mention of anything relating to trees was enough to trigger a long and fascinating conversation, tapping John’s wealth of knowledge of all things relating to trees. The same could be said of his deep understanding of and passion for Albany history, wine, medicine, suburban development, and a vast array of other topics. John was energized by life and he threw himself into all of his passions. His sought to preserve nature so that current and future generations could connect with the land and develop an appreciation for nature, which he felt so deeply in his own life. He loved life, people, and nature, and those passions fueled him to work towards improving the community. To channel this love of the natural world, John helped found the Conservancy in 1992, and he remained an active Advisory Board Member for the rest of his life. Throughout his time on the Board, John’s influence and energy helped us to preserve more than five thousand acres of land in the Capital Region. His exuberance in life and his love for the environment helped shape not only MHLC, but the whole Capital Region.

John’s enthusiasm for the outdoors helped drive conservation efforts for a number of organizations, not just MHLC. He also created the Cornwallville Conservation Corporation to protect over a thousand acres of land in the Catskill Mountains. Yet he was best known for founding the Pine Hollow Arboretum. What began as planting trees and shrubs for his yard blossomed into a commitment to preserving the nature surrounding him and sharing it with the Community. Today, the Arboretum carries on John’s legacy by hosting over three thousand trees, most planted by John himself. John spent his life working to preserve the nature around us and to better the lives of those in the community. His dedication to the environment will continue to live on through the organizations he founded and the people he inspired.

The staff and Board of the Conservancy offer our sympathy and condolences to John’s wife Kay and his children. Although John has left us, we will continue to honor his memory by working towards conservation efforts in the Capital Region for years to come.

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Abbuhl will be honored at the upcoming Annual Awards Dinner on February 27.

29 More Acres Added to the Bozen Kill Conservation Corridor

The Bozen Kill, as seen from Bozen Kill Preserve’s Blue Trail.

MHLC is kicking off 2018 with an exciting announcement: we’ve protected another property in the Bozen Kill Conservation Corridor, one of our Conservation Priority Areas.

This week, we received a 29.3 acre donation of land in the Town of Knox. This donation links together 448 acres of conservation lands in the Bozen Kill Conservation Corridor. MHLC has been working on the Bozen Kill since our first acquisition there in 1999; in addition to being an aesthetically scenic area, it is considered one of the most climate change resilient areas in the Capital Region. The deep ravine carved by the stream and the surrounding steep topography create microclimates, which provide diverse habitats for wildlife. Learn more about microclimates and the importance of climate-resilient properties on our new Conservation and Climate Change page.

With this recent acquisition, we have linked together several properties along the Bozen Kill, creating a larger, protected area. By protecting a continuous swath of protected land along the Bozen Kill, we can better ensure future water quality of the Bozen Kill, which feeds the Watervliet Reservoir, and a large wildlife corridor for movement of mammal species such as black bear, fisher, and bobcat.

Donna and Don Kelly

This exciting donation of land comes from Don and Donna Kelly of Altamont. According to Mark King, Executive Director, “The Kelly acquisition builds on years of work to connect important conservation areas within the Bozen Kill Corridor. The Kellys are passionate about the Helderberg escarpment and specifically the Bozen Kill. Don Kelly has spent years exploring the natural and cultural history of the area observing bears, fishers, and other wildlife on this rugged terrain. According to Don, the area holds many secrets and much lost history among the old foundations and stone walls found throughout the ravine. It was a great pleasure working with Don and Donna to realize the preservation of beautiful landscape.”

This donation builds upon a long history of community support for conservation of this beautiful area. In spring of 2016, we received a generous challenge grant for our Bozen Kill conservation efforts from Jim Suozzo. For every dollar donated, Jim pledged to match it. MHLC reached out to our community for support and received a tremendous response, raising $17,879 and exceeding Jim’s challenge. With this collaboration, we added 53 acres to the Bozen Kill Corridor in 2016. Now, less than two years later, we’ve acquired the 29 acre property which connects the entire corridor of conservation lands along the Bozen Kill.

There are two public preserves in which you can enjoy all the Bozen Kill Conservation Area has to offer: the Wolf Creek Falls Preserve on Bozen Kill Road or our Bozen Kill Preserve on Westfall Road.

MHLC will continue to protect the lands and waters of the Bozen Kill, which is identified as one of our Natural Areas of Interest and High Conservation Priority. Thank you for helping us save this local treasure!

Click on the map for a larger version.

Meet an MHLC Volunteer: Hank Stebbins, Easement Expert

In 2018, MHLC is interviewing some of our incredible volunteers. We want to share the stories of these individuals, who are a vital presence in the field, at events, and in our office. This month, we talk to one of our longest-serving volunteers: Hank Stebbins. Read below to learn more about Hank and his conservation expertise!

*Are you interested in becoming a volunteer? Visit our Volunteer page for more information!

Hank monitors an easement property in Schenectady County.

When did you begin volunteering with MHLC?

My volunteering with MHLC began when the organization was still known as the Albany County Land Trust. I began volunteering soon after I retired from the Scenic Hudson Land Trust in 2004. My focus at Scenic Hudson was developing a sustainable farmland protection plan. The idea was to secure conservation easements over 1000 acres or more of land, containing a certain number and configuration of farms that collectively would help ensure their sustainability. This was a “Critical Mass” approach which farmers liked. MHLC offered an obvious opportunity to continue the work I love as a volunteer after my retirement from Scenic Hudson.

What inspired you to become a Conservancy volunteer?

What inspired me to become a Conservancy volunteer was my interest in and concern for Wolf Hollow. The Hollow, the exposed portion of Hoffman’s Fault, valued for its geology, ecology and archaeology values, was and continues to be at risk due to a rise in development pressure in West Glenville. This was at the time the Albany County Land Conservancy was changing its name and extending its scope. Since then, MHLC has acquired three easements associated with Wolf Hollow, two along the Hollow itself and a third along Hoffman’s Fault, with a promise of a fourth in the offing.

Hank works with landowners, other volunteers, staff, academics, community members, and more in his role as a volunteer.

How would you describe your role as a volunteer?

I help out with monitoring and stewardship, but, given my background, I have also worked with staff in facilitating the creation of easements. I continue to be focused on the Wolf Hollow project, keeping track of land ownership, reaching out to landowners, engaging with academics in regard to the significance of the location, and monitoring the status of the closed road that runs through the Hollow as it relates to public access.

I am also involved in farmland conservation in western New York. Owning land south of Rochester, I have been working with area landowners to assemble easements for conservation purposes and have recently become a grantor of a conservation easement donated to the Genesee Land Trust. My family farm in West Bloomfield, NY (hamlet of Ionia) of 100 acres will always remain a farm, and is currently under a lease agreement to a super CSA farmer (visit Wild Hill Farm’s website to learn more).

Which is your favorite aspect of volunteering with MHLC?

I don’t have a particulate favorite. I enjoy monitoring easements, and knowing the owners and their land. Working with staff is refreshing, learning their perspectives and what is new. And I always enjoy extoling the accomplishments of MHLC. It’s fun being part of this community.

Hank is focused on protecting land around Wolf Hollow and surrounding Glenville, NY.

What do you wish more people knew about volunteering with a local land trust? 

Volunteering with a local land trust takes you to special places and always in the company of friendly, interesting people of all ages and backgrounds.

Why do you support land conservation (both generally and locally here in the Capital Region)?

Land conservation, saving the land for its conservation value, is the primary mission of land trusts. Several decades ago the term “land trust” was seldom spoken, and only few existed.  Today there is such momentum. I believe every state is represented and each Land Trust Alliance land census remarkably increases, particularly acreage under easements. MHLC’s accomplishments over the past 25 years speak for themselves and have collectively enhanced our quality of life throughout the Capital District: iconic viewsheds, hiking/skiing/biking/birding opportunities, natural habitats, working landscapes, pristine creeks and ponds…

And it just gets better.

Would you like to join the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy? Become a volunteer, make a contributionprotect your land, or become an intern. We want to meet you!

Launching our 26th Year: The Annual Awards Dinner on February 27th in Schenectady

MHLC is launching our 26th year of conservation in the Capital Region with the Annual Awards Dinner on February 27th at 5:30 PM! 

Tickets are available now! Please RSVP by February 16.

Join us for views of the glistening Mohawk River from Schenectady’s beautiful, historic River Stone Manor while enjoying cocktails and a buffet dinner as we honor the individuals and partners who make our conservation work possible.

Elizabeth Sobol. Photo by Dario Cantatore.

Our dynamic guest speaker is Elizabeth Sobol, President and CEO of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. Sobol will speak on the intersections of conservation and culture in the Capital Region. Prior to being head executive for the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, Ms. Sobol spent three years as the president and CEO of Universal Music Classics. Before that, Ms. Sobol was the managing director for IMG Artists for nearly three decades.

Kathy Meany. Photo by Janet Kerr.

Kathy Meany, a volunteer with MHLC for over five years, will be presented with the Dan Driscoll Leadership Award for her dedication and support of conservation efforts in the Capital Region. Ms. Meany volunteers as a Preserve Steward of the Bozen Kill Preserve in Altamont, digging trails, clearing brush, and caring for the land. Ms. Meany leads other volunteers and also spends time representing the organization at local festivals and within the community.

MHLC will also be honoring John Abbuhl (1926-2018) with the Saving Special Places Award for his significant contributions towards land conservation in the Capital Region. 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 MHLC honors his long-lasting influence on local conservation. The award will be presented to his family in recognition of Dr. Abbuhl’s lifetime of conservation work.

John Abbuhl, 1926-2018.

“We are thrilled to honor Kathy Meany and John Abbuhl for their contributions to the preservation of the Capital Region. Our Annual Awards Dinner reminds us every year of the power of individuals to make a difference in their community. Our team is excited to feature Elizabeth Sobol of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center as we move into a new year of conservation and look for new ways to connect with our communities. We look forward to exploring the connections between the local arts and nature throughout the year,” says Mark King, Executive Director.

This dinner will be the first of dozens of conservation-oriented events on our 2018 schedule. In March, we are partnering with Bountiful Bread for an exciting Winter Sports Day at Keleher Preserve. Activities include but are not limited to fatbiking, skiing, and snowshoeing. More information on all events can be found at our Events page.

We hope you’ll join us for a special evening on February 27th. Click here to buy your tickets today!

Meet an MHLC Volunteer: Kathy Meany, Bozen Kill Preserve Steward

Kathy teams up with our 2017 intern, Jake Hill, to remove a tire from the Bozen Kill.

The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy is more than a land trust. We are a community of dedicated individuals from across the Capital Region, united by a belief in land conservation and a drive to protect the open spaces we love. Volunteers are a vital presence in this community, and we are excited to introduce you to one of MHLC’s hardworking volunteers: Kathy Meany. Read below to learn more about Kathy and the many roles she plays as a volunteer 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 in 2013. At that time, I was transitioning into semi-retirement, moving from full-time work in my profession to a part-time position. Because of that, I had more time and a more flexible schedule for pursuing some of my interests. In 2013, MHLC was in the process of acquiring 154 acres of land in Altamont from the family of the late Dr. Milford Becker, which was to eventually become the Bozen Kill Preserve. My husband and I live in Altamont, so MHLC’s announcement of preservation of land along the Bozen Kill was my impetus to become involved.

What inspired you to become a Conservancy volunteer?

I grew up appreciating the open spaces that are characteristic of Bethlehem, New Scotland, western Guilderland, the Hilltowns, and the Helderbergs. I love being outdoors and have enjoyed a lifetime of running, walking, and biking on quiet country roads; visiting farm stores at Indian Ladder and Altamont Orchards; and hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing in places like Five Rivers in Delmar, Partridge Run in Berne, the Huyck Preserve in Rensselaerville, and Thacher Park in Voorheesville. Living in the Capital District would not be the same without these and many other outdoor spaces.

Farm fields, wooded areas, and land preserved for public use contribute to the quality of life in so many ways. Given the increasing demand for commercial and residential development throughout the Capital District, I’m not taking these open spaces for granted. This is particularly critical as succeeding generations choose not to continue the family farms they inherit. Volunteering with and supporting MHLC is an important way for me to contribute to the preservation of open space.

Kathy creates trails at the Bozen Kill with her husband, Darwin Roosa.

How would you describe your role as a volunteer?

I am a steward of the MHLC Bozen Kill Preserve in Altamont, a position I share with four other residents of our Village. My experiences as a volunteer have been diverse and gratifying. I’ve gotten my hands (very) dirty in work sessions in which we’ve dug trails, moved rocks, and cleared brush and trees. I’ve used my professional skills by leading hikes, working with local historians to document the human history of the land, and recruiting and organizing other volunteers. I’ve been involved in public outreach by promoting MHLC and the Preserve at community events, with local newspapers, and through government officials.

Kathy shares the history of the Bozen Kill with guests on a guided hike. Photo by Janet Kerr.

Which is your favorite aspect of volunteering with MHLC?

My favorite aspect of volunteering with MHLC is a toss-up. On one hand, being involved from the start in many hours of physical work alongside other volunteers and MHLC staff members to create a system of trails on the Preserve has been greatly satisfying. This has given me much appreciation for the enormity of endeavors like the digging of the Erie Canal, the building of the transcontinental railroad, and the creation of more extensive trail systems throughout the Adirondacks. On the other hand, I’ve really enjoyed the interactive aspects of being a volunteer: facilitating hikes for families with young children to enjoy being outdoors; helping with interpretive walks for conservation-minded seniors; organizing trash clean-up sessions for high school and college kids needing community service hours; and working with my neighbors on the shared purpose of preserving the natural areas surrounding our community and making these natural areas accessible to the public.

What do you wish more people knew about volunteering with a local land trust?

MHLC has been a great non-profit organization for me to volunteer with. The professional staff has tremendous expertise in all aspects of land preservation; the Board and the staff greatly appreciate the contributions of volunteers; opportunities are diverse and can be matched with the interests and the experience of the volunteer; and the time commitment can be as little or as much as the volunteer wishes to make. The preservation of open space and natural resources is a global issue. Volunteering with MHLC has given me the opportunity to be involved in this important issue in ways that have direct, local impact.

 

Would you like to join the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy? Become a volunteer, make a contribution, protect your land, or become an intern. We want to meet you!

Ask the Conservation Director: How does MHLC monitor and manage its preserves?

Conservation Director Sarah Walsh checks trail conditions at a preserve.

Q: How does MHLC monitor and manage its preserves?

A: We monitor our preserves formally once per year, checking property boundaries and looking at any changes in use over the last year. Stewardship staff complete a form for each preserve which documents its condition, major projects that have taken place (such as trail work), and suggested improvements for the coming year.

On a day-to-day basis, MHLC has a formal Preserve Steward Program. Volunteers dedicate time each week to monitor their assigned preserve and report on trail conditions and needed improvements to ensure trails are safe and open for public use. Some preserves even have a Preserve Steward Committee:a group of volunteers who work together to care for the preserve. MHLC’s Bozen Kill Committee, which monitors the Bozen Kill Preserve in Altamont, and the Friends of the Rail Trail committee are both great examples of volunteer groups that coordinate to help us provide high quality outdoor experiences to the public.

Additionally, hikers on the trail help us keep track of changes on our 18 preserves. These visitors use the trail log, found at the kiosk at the entrance to each preserve, to report on trail conditions or unusual findings. These reports are very helpful to our stewardship staff. During the summer months, to increase our capacity to meet the ongoing needs of an active trail season, we also hire a Summer Land Steward Intern who assists our Stewardship staff with general preserve maintenance.

While monitoring, MHLC staff takes photographs to document changes over time.

MHLC wants to thank all the volunteers, neighbors and preserve go-ers who help us make our trails great for the Capital Region!

You can learn more about volunteering with MHLC at our 1st Annual Volunteer Open House on Thursday, January 25th from 5-7 PM. Learn more at our Events Page, and RSVP to Volunteer and Stewardship Coordinator Sawyer Cresap at sawyer@mohawkhudson.org.

MHLC is currently hiring for a Summer Land Steward Intern! Click here to learn more and to apply.

Have a question for MHLC’s Conservation Director? Email your questions to MHLC Conservation Director, Sarah at sarah@mohawkhudson.org.

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 www.naturetracking.com, 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 volunteer@mohawkhudson.org.

“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 sarah@mohawkhudson.org. 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!

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.

**WE ARE NO LONGER ACCEPTING ONLINE TICKET RESERVATIONS.  IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO JOIN US, PLEASE PAY AT THE DOOR ON THURSDAY EVENING.**


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
Proctor’s 
Bill and Grace Rainey
Saati Deli & Catering
Saratoga Performing Arts Center
Seagle Music Colony
Shogun
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
Yono’s


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

In memory of MHLC Board Member, Lisa Evans

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 sarah@mohawkhudson.org. 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: