Year-end challenge extended! PLEASE DONATE TODAY!

Protected lands of the Alcove Reservoir

Each day, an estimated 6,000 acres of open space are converted to other uses.
U.S. Forest Service

Today, we are taking a stand. This fall, MHLC, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy, the City of Albany, and the Albany Water Board, has protected 6,400 forested acres of Water Board lands, protecting 852,000 trees. Each year these trees will generate an average of 221,500,000 pounds of oxygen—the amount consumed by 115,000 Capital Region residents annually.*

Saving trees. Saving landscapes. Saving water sources. Saving farmlands. Saving habitats.

The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy is making an impact that will ripple through generations. We deserve a future with access to clean air and water, preserves for recreation, fresh food from local farms, and local environmental resiliency. To continue this crucial work—and spread our impact across the region—we need your help. 

The Miller Family has graciously extended the deadline allowing the giving challenge to remain open until the $15,000 goal is reached!

New to MHLC? The Conservancy has received a challenge from The Miller Family Charitable Trust. Each new MHLC donor who gives up to $1,000 in a first-time gift will be matched by this grant. If we raise $15,000 in new donations from supporters who have not previously given to MHLC, the trust will match each gift dollar-for-dollar. Read more about this generous challenge from The Miller Family Charitable Trust.

Become a NEW donor

Please donate today and tell your family and friends about this exciting opportunity. We are counting on you for your support!

**Click on the button above to donate online or print this form and mail today!**

*According to the Growing Air Foundation

MHLC Partners with Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission

Land acquired in 2019 expands the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. Photo courtesy of Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission.

The Albany Pine Bush Preserve is one of the last remaining inland pine barrens on earth. It is a place that might remind the casual observer of Cape Cod or Long Island, yet it is located in the midst of the Capital District–far from the coasts that people usually associate with these environments. Sand dunes, pitch pine trees, and a fire-adapted natural community are a few of the distinctive elements that contribute to this unique natural landmark.

The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission (APBPC) is a public-private partnership created by the NYS Legislature in 1988 to protect and manage this unique natural environment and provide the public with educational and recreational opportunities at the Preserve. The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy works with the Commission as a partner to further the conservation goal of protecting the pine barren’s unique and sensitive habitat preserve. Historically, Commission partners such as The Nature Conservancy, MHLC, and other members of the Preserve Commission worked to add property to the preserve through a cooperative agreement with the Commission. Under new 2018 legislation guidelines, the Commission is now able to acquire land directly, and MHLC continues to work as a partner in support of APBPC and their land protection efforts. 

The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy is pleased to partner with the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission in support of the ongoing expansion of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. The Pine Bush is one of the most unique ecological features of the Capital District and is one of the most successful examples of effective public/private partnerships to address environmental issues.

28+ Acres Added!

Photo Courtesy of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.

Recently, the Commission announced two new properties that have brought the total protected acreage of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve to more than 3,350 acres. The first 7.2-acre property acquired by the APBPC was donated by the Cirillo Family Partnership to the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy. The Cirillo family owned the land for many years and they were determined to add their acreage to the ecologically-unique National Natural Landmark. The donated property is located on Albany Street in the Town of Colonie and adjoins land owned by The Nature Conservancy. MHLC has subsequently donated this property to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for dedication to the Albany Pine Bush Preserve. This is the first property ever donated by an individual to the preserve for permanent habitat protection since the APBPC was established.  The Friends of the Pine Bush Community (Friends) contributed funding for this protection effort through its Land Protection Fund to help defray MHLC’s acquisition costs. The second 20.9-acre property was purchased directly by the Commission using its new ability to directly acquire real property from those wishing to add their land to the preserve.

The Ecological Significance of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve

The 3,350-acre Albany Pine Bush Preserve (APBP), located in New York’s Capital District, protects one of the best remaining inland pitch-pine scrub oak barrens in the world. This globally rare habitat is fire-dependent, which means that many plants directly depend on the conditions only fire can create and maintain. The highly diverse landscape also features rolling sand dunes that provide homes for a wide array of biodiverse species from Eastern hog-nosed snakes to Prairie Warblers. The Blue Lupine is the signature plant of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve and serves as the food source for the caterpillars of the federally endangered Karner blue butterfly, which makes its home in the Pine Bush. A variety of rare plants and animals, including 78 New York State-designated wildlife Species of Greatest Conservation Need, also exist in this unique habitat. The APBP is a National Natural Landmark, Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area Site, a New York State Unique Area and Bird Conservation Area, and a National Audubon Society Important Bird Area.  

The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission continues to work towards its conservation goal of expanding the preserve to 5,380 acres as outlined in the 2017 Management Plan Update, and with MHLC as a partner. In the coming years, an additional 38 acres of Pine Bush land conserved by MHLC will be transferred through New York State to be dedicated to the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.

Additional information can be found on the Albany Pine Bush Preserve website.

MHLC Partners with The Nature Conservancy and Albany Water Board to Combat Climate Change

On October 22, 2019, with a backdrop of the impressive Alcove Reservoir surrounded by a vast array of trees in full fall glory, Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan and Albany Water Commissioner Joe Coffey announced the permanent preservation of Albany Water Board forestlands and the sale of carbon credits to combat climate change. This tremendous feat is the result of a visionary collaboration between The Nature Conservancy, Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, the City of Albany, and the Albany Water Board, to safeguard clean drinking water, preserve 6,400 acres of forestland and generate $1MM in revenue for the city from the sale of carbon credits. Joining Mayor Sheehan and Commissioner Coffey at the podium were Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy Executive Director Mark King, The Nature Conservancy Forest Restoration Ecologist Gabriel Chapin, and Albany Water Board Chairman Charles G. Houghton, III.

This partnership has established the Albany Water Board’s property as one of the largest preserved tracts of land in Albany County and is the first time a water authority in New York has participated in The Nature Conservancy’s Working Woodlands Program. Through the partnership, The Nature Conservancy prepared a ten-year Sustainable Forest Management Plan for the Albany Water Board – the first ever to be implemented by the Board. As outlined in the Plan, the Albany Water Board has entered into a Conservation Easement with the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy. The easement is a legal agreement that restricts future development and creates permanent protection of 6,400 acres of land and water, including the Basic Creek and Alcove Reservoirs and the surrounding forest. Having this agreement in place enables MHLC to annually ensure that the conservation terms are upheld and allows for the Albany Water Board to sell carbon credits.

This month, the Albany Water Board will be receiving the first payment of nearly $100,000 from the sale of carbon credits. The Nature Conservancy expects this revenue to surpass one million dollars over the next ten years which the Water Board will direct toward the implementation of the Sustainable Forest Management Plan, watershed management and Water Board priorities.

Aerial view of the Alcove Reservoir

“This project is a great example of a positive step toward addressing climate change.  It recognizes the value of large-scale forest protection and the critical role forests play in the sequestration of carbon” states Executive Director, Mark King. “It also provides a blueprint for what is possible with partnerships between private industry, non-profit organizations and government working together toward solutions to our most critical environmental issues. By protecting the forests surrounding the Water Board lands, the City of Albany is providing wildlife habitat, healthy forests, water supply protection, scenic beauty and climate change mitigation through the responsible stewardship of public land.”

With MHLC holding the conservation easement protecting the forests of the Alcove and Basic Creek Reservoirs, any major subdivisions of the land are prevented, and future development is limited. The easement allows for the forests to be managed to make them healthier, which in turn will ensure their resilience to disease, fire and other impacts that could reduce forest cover.

Forested lands of the Alcove Reservoir, Albany Water Board

Why are trees so important to the reservoirs? Not only are trees naturally removing greenhouse gases, particularly carbon, from the atmosphere, but they also anchor the soil and prevent sediment runoff by acting as filters, removing harmful pollutants and other chemicals from runoff before it reaches the reservoirs. Tree foliage provides an important shading mechanism, cooling waters and keeping oxygen levels high for aquatic life. When trees drop their leaves into the water, they provide an important food source for underwater insects, which process pollutants in the water and also feed fish and other aquatic life, bringing vital balance to this important natural resource. The more trees we have, the healthier our reservoir waters can be.

Adds King, “MHLC would like to thank the City of Albany and the Albany Water Board for having the foresight to protect this incredibly important resource for future generations—ensuring clean water for future residents of the City of Albany and the surrounding communities that also utilize the Alcove Reservoir.”

Meet MHLC: Bill Little, Taking Action to Protect the Local Environment

The Meet MHLC blog series is back in action! This month we are picking back up the series to introduce Bill Little, our newest MHLC Board Member. Bill has jumped right in, volunteering for countless work days with the stewardship team and tabling for MHLC at community events. We are very grateful for his dedication and tireless efforts to advance land conservation in the region! 

When did you begin volunteering with the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy?

I joined MHLC in 2018 after being encouraged to do so by a friend and MHLC member, so I began volunteering about a year after I retired as an attorney for the Department of Environmental Conservation.  I was fortunate to be able to join the MHLC Board in March of this year.

What inspires you to support MHLC?

I had known about MHLC for many years during my legal career through friends, colleagues, and acquaintances. I knew that MHLC provided a conduit for many people to translate their environmental activism directly to the land, especially preserving important landscapes and watersheds. Upon joining, I found that MHLC’s extended chain of preserves and their considerable and growing preservation efforts impressed me as a way to expand my contact with and improvement of our area’s natural resources. This includes topical concerns such as climate change, which was a subject of my job, and long-held personal convictions about spending more time appreciating and protecting woodlots and wild areas.

How would you describe your role as a volunteer at MHLC?

As a volunteer, I keep it simple because MHLC staffers know a great deal about the preserves and are more experienced in identifying ways to enhance them, plus they are good listeners. I am there to dig, lift, shift, clip, cut, chop, hammer, weed-whack and learn. I try to contribute in any way that supports the mission assigned to the workday; hopefully, I see the work needs and identify solutions in a way that helps. Another role is to use my time to try and draw other people towards a greater appreciation for preserving the local environment that, because of its closeness to our towns and neighborhoods, will contribute highly to our quality of life.

Which is your favorite aspect of volunteering with MHLC? 

The list for favorite aspects of volunteering is very long but there are two core elements that I really value: spending time enhancing preserves and extending MHLC’s outreach.  Preserve work is how I can roll up my sleeves and get personal with ground-level environmental preservation, which I have always liked to do but had inadequate time for while working. Contributing to outreach efforts (as with tabling at Five Rivers) has the added element of drawing a bit on my professional skills in a forum that is more down to earth. Both have an element of expectation for raising greater public appreciation of MHLC and its environmental mission.

Fall Fundraiser Photo Gallery 2019

Stories from the Land, MHLC’s Annual Fall Fundraiser

On Thursday, October 3, the spacious fourth floor of the New York State Museum came to life, blossoming into a beautiful event, filled with conversation, laughter, a celebration of over 12,000 acres conserved in our region, and a glimpse at the exciting conservation efforts in progress. Dinner by Garden Bistro 24, beverages by Capital Wine and Indian Ladder Farms Cidery and Brewery, live music from Spiral Tango with Ray Andrews, and beautiful centerpieces by Sheila Hart and Sarah Carroll set the scene for a lovely fall evening. Congratulations to our honorees, Jeff Jones and Eleanor Stein, recognized for their extraordinary conservation efforts in the Capital Region, New York State, and beyond.

Thank you to everyone who made Stories from the Land a success! Without the support of our event sponsors, in kind donors, volunteers, staff, and each and every guest, the evening would not have been possible. Special thanks to event sponsors Kevin Pittz of Edward Jones and Schrader & Company Construction Services. THANK YOU!

If you have your own photos and would like to share, be sure to tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, or send your photos to

ART’s 2nd Annual Chalk the Walk Event

Chalk the Walk 2018

Art on the Rail Trail (ART) will hold the second annual chalk art contest and festival in Delmar on Saturday, September 21, from 3:00 – 6:00 PM. “Chalk the Walk,” a multi-faceted community event, will be held on the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail, beginning at the pocket park near Stewart’s at 309 Delaware Avenue. The event will begin with a family-friendly chalk art contest on the Rail Trail with the community voting for prizes donated by Merriman & Pfister’s Marketplace and Stewarts Shops starting at 5:00 PM. If you would like to participate in the chalk contest, you can purchase a 3 foot by 3 foot square to chalk your own design on the trail! Registration is $10.00 in advance and $15.00 on the day of Chalk the Walk. All proceeds from chalk square sales will benefit murals and artwork on the Rail Trail and are tax-deductible, as ART is a committee of the non-profit organization Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy.

Food, Music, and an Art Festival too!

During Chalk the Walk, the community can enjoy an artist festival, food trucks, and live music on the Rail Trail. People are encouraged to walk or bike to see the chalk art on the trail, and then enjoy the music and locally crafted food and beverages. Three local bands and musicians will perform: Hot Tuesday, Malvina, and Capitol Harmony (a youth acapella group). Food will include: Field Notes, a farm-to-table outfit sourcing their menu from Lansing Farms in Colonie; Emack & Bolio will bring their ice cream truck from Albany; Delmar-based Market Pops will sell creative ice pops – from a tricycle! – made with local ingredients and joy; and local business Surf Juices will round out the tasty refreshments. 

The art fair will be directly on the Rail Trail and will feature original paintings, handmade quilts, flower arrangements, and jewelry, among other goods, sold by local artists. 

Please note that the Rail Trail will remain completely open during this event, as the chalk art takes place on only half of the trail surface. Event organizers thank trail walkers and bikers in advance for sharing the trail in this section and for slowing down a bit to enjoy the art and festivities along their way. 

Bringing People Together

Chalk the Walk 2018

“Art on the Rail Trail is holding the Chalk the Walk event as a way to bring awareness to the murals on the trail, the connections between the Rail Trail and our local businesses, and also to bring people together in a festive and creative way,” says Karen Shaw, co-organizer for the event. “We’ve also partnered with Merriman and Pfister’s Marketplace, a local art and gift shop in downtown Delmar. They have been champions of the local art community, and we wanted them to be involved.” Merriman and Pfister’s Marketplace has donated gift certificates to their Delmar store for the top three chalk art squares; Stewarts gift certificates will also be included in the prizes. 

Vote for Your Favorite Chalk Art!

Artists will be judged by passerby on the trail, but participants are encouraged to just have fun with their chalk art! “Anyone who wants to vote on which chalk art square they love the most, can vote,” adds co-organizer Caroline Barrett, “We wanted to give the community a chance to be involved – even if they aren’t creating a chalk drawing.” Voting will start at 5:00 PM, and ballots will be collected at 6:00 PM. Winners will be notified that day. 

For more information contact Art on the Rail Trail at To register for the chalk art contest, go to

Volunteers are needed from 1 – 6 PM! Please contact

From the Conservation Director: MHLC Encourages You to Visit and Sign In

Preserve Steward Kathy Meany attaches signage to the kiosk at the Bozen Kill Preserve.

Are you signing in each time you visit a preserve? We hope so–this information if very useful to MHLC! Traditionally, registration boxes in the backcountry have been used as a way to ensure safety. By providing your name and number, forest rangers are able to make a recovery if anything happens. Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy also has registration boxes, but they are not necessarily used in the traditional sense. Our registration boxes serve as a gauge of how often our preserves are used and are also a great way to provide feedback on the trail’s condition – if a tree is down, or if other stewardship is needed. MHLC Preserve Stewards collect completed sign-in sheets and bring them back to our Stewardship staff who then review the sheets and respond to trail comments. Therefore, we encourage you to sign-in each time you visit a preserve and to provide comments on your experience.

This fall, MHLC is installing new roadside signs to guide visitors to preserves. The signs will make our preserves more identifiable and easier for the public to access. New signs have already been installed at Bozen Kill, Wolf Creek Falls, Winn, Mosher Marsh, and Schoharie Creek Preserves. As installation continues through September and October, please beware of drilled holes near preserve entrances. 

This capital improvement project was funded through the New York State Conservation Partnership Program (NYSCPP) and New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund. (The NYSCPP is administered by the Land Trust Alliance, in coordination with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.)

Help us continue to provide quality trails to the public by signing in when you are out enjoying our preserves. We look forward to seeing you on the trail!
Sarah Walsh
Conservation Director

From the Stewardship Desk: Look Out for Turtles!

Eastern Painted Turtle

Throughout the summer and even this late into the season, you may have spotted some of my favorite not-so-furry friends out on the trails or roads–the incredible, indelible turtle! Box turtles, the eastern painted, and snapping turtles are commonly found throughout our area. Unfortunately, many interactions with these species happen on roads throughout the summer. 

You can help!

When you see a turtle in or traveling onto a road, always be sure you can safely park and navigate the traffic around you before helping! It is important to help the turtle in the same direction the turtle is headed. Turtles have an incredible compass and are able to use and navigate the contours of the landscape instinctively. (Some sea turtles even use the stars to navigate!) If the turtle is moved in another direction, it will likely turn back on its course of travel which could mean going right back onto the busy road.

Most of the road activity for these local turtles happens in early June when they are laying eggs in the exposed dirt and sunny areas where they prefer to nest. This is the time of year when those baby turtles emerge! Because turtles are such a long-lived species, reaching sexually maturity decades into their life, it is important to drive cautiously, help when safe, and make sure to give these babies the best start to their life.

Kent Harlow
Stewardship Coordinator 

2019 Summer Hike-a-thon

Plein Air Painting at Van Dyke Preserve

Each year, MHLC’s Annual Summer Hike-a-thon features a menu of activities designed to provide unique, guided opportunities to learn more about the preserved lands of our region. These exclusive offerings are a chance for frequent users of the trails to get insider information about their favorite spots from MHLC staff and volunteers, and an opportunity for those visiting the preserves for the first time to discover new hiking spots across the Capital Region. This year’s event featured eight different outdoor adventures, including special tours of Wolf Hollow/Hoffman’s Fault in West Glenville and the Heldeberg Workshop in New Scotland—both of these private lands are not normally open to the public.

Despite the intense heat wave on this July weekend, our 2019 Summer Hike-a-thon drew several hundred participants to various adventures across the Capital Region. Our hike guides shared their expert knowledge as they led participants on one-of-a-kind adventures. We enjoyed many engaging, hands-on experiences including catching frogs at the Heldeberg Workshop, petting a rescued baby beaver at the Huyck Preserve, painting landscapes at Van Dyke Preserve, exploring Hoffman’s Fault at Wolf Hollows, mountain biking the Keleher Preserve, and cruising the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail. Thanks to all who participated! You can see highlights from the day in our photo gallery below.

If you have your own photos and would like to share, be sure to tag us on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter, or send your photos to

Help protect the Heldeberg Workshop!

DONATE TODAY to the Heldeberg Workshop conservation effort

We are pleased to announce that the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy has entered into a partnership with the Heldeberg Workshop to permanently protect the Workshop lands from development. 

For more than 15 years, the Conservancy has been working to preserve the lands of the Helderberg Escarpment by creating a protected corridor linking the lands and wetlands beneath the escarpment from Indian Ladder Farms to Thacher State Park and beyond. The 250-acre Heldeberg Workshop lands are the largest unprotected property immediately below Thacher Park and provide a key connection in creating a conservation corridor of nearly 3,500 acres.

The Workshop property is well known for its natural resource values that make the Helderberg Escarpment so ecologically and geologically significant. These include:

  • rich fossil deposits, more than 60% of New York’s amphibian species, at least 13 bird species listed as New York Species of Greatest Conservation Need, plus large flocks of spring and fall migrants;
  • Vly Swamp, located at the base of our Workshop lands, has been identified as a biodiversity “hotspot,” with records of many other animals and plants of conservation concern, and; 
  • limestone cliffs, boulders, and talus, which are present at the higher elevations of our Workshop lands, and which provide habitat for a variety of rare and unusual species of flora and fauna, including the endangered Indiana Bat.

Our goal in permanently protecting the Workshop’s lands is two-fold:

  1. The Workshop’s 250 acres provide a key piece of the Helderberg Conservation Corridor. Its lands encompass unique wetlands, scenic open spaces, and wildlife habitat in an area that is being steadily fragmented by nearby subdivision and suburban sprawl.
  2. The Workshop’s “Adventure in Learning” is not possible without the lands upon which they operate. The Board of the Workshop is committed to permanently protecting “The Land” from development for future generations.

GREAT NEWS! The fundraising deadline for this project has been extended so that we can possibly add other adjoining properties to this conservation effort.  This work is urgent—if we do not raise the funds this vital conservation effort will not be possible.


Read the latest update on the Heldeberg Workshop:

MHLC receives NAWCA grant for Heldeberg Workshop!

Read more about the Heldeberg Workshop conservation effort here:

Heldeberg Workshop

Read more about our recent Helderberg Conservation Corridor work:

Helderberg Conservation Corridor Success!

Announcing 2019 Summer Hike-a-thon

On Saturday, July 20th, MHLC is inviting the public to our annual Summer Hike-a-thon! This day-long celebration allows each participant to design their own ideal summer day with free activities throughout the morning and into the afternoon with an emphasis on hiking and outdoor fun.

Photo of 2017 Hike-a-Thon by Alex Nye Art 2017

“Our annual Summer Hike-a-thon is an open invitation to our community to get outside and enjoy the beautiful land that surrounds us. The eight locations which we have chosen represent a sampling of our 18 public preserves covering 2,500 acres that are located across the Capital Region,” says MHLC Executive Director, Mark King. “Last year, these preserves hosted over 15,000 visitors, with many people returning again and again for a rewarding nature experience. We are particularly excited this year to offer two special tours—Wolf Hollow/Hoffman’s Fault in West Glenville and the Heldeberg Workshop in New Scotland—as these private lands are not normally open to the public. Whether you choose a full day of activities, or one outdoor adventure, we hope to see you at the Summer Hike-a-thon.”

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

Beginning at 10 AM, MHLC offers a menu of free family-friendly outdoor adventures across the Capital Region. These offerings celebrate the unique features and beautiful landscapes which characterize our region and include a plein air painting workshop, mountain biking, a Fun Ride on the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail, geology, botany, and history hikes, and more.

All Summer Hike-a-thon outings are free (donations are welcome), but spaces are limited.

To learn more and to register for an outdoor adventure, visit Online registrations close on Wednesday, July 17, but there will be a registration table at the MHLC office at 425 Kenwood Avenue in Delmar at 9 AM on the morning of Saturday, July 20 for the public to come and sign up for a hike that day.

Stay Connected!

Is MHLC email landing in your junk or spam folder? 

Be sure to stay connected by “whitelisting” our domain! Add to your list of Safe Senders to ensure you are receiving all of our communications. If you are finding MHLC mail in your spam folder, follow the directions in this link to fix the issue.

If you need assistance, please give us a call (518) 436-6346. We want to make sure you stay in the loop on all of our latest news and exciting events!

Earth Day 2019: Recap of Events

Many of us welcome the return of warm weather by getting back to work in our yards, raking out flower beds to reveal new growth and clearing gardens in anticipation of summer planting. Here at MHLC, we are using this time to spruce up our preserves in preparation for the busy summer season ahead. What better way to celebrate the month of Earth Day than gathering with friends for a work day at the MHLC Preserves! We kicked-off the month-long Earth Day celebration with a staff clean-up day at the Fisher Boulevard Property, followed by two volunteer work days at Bennett Hill Preserve, and a special family activity on the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail.

Work days at Bennett Hill Preserve

Volunteers from St. Matthew’s Church

On Saturday, April 13th, MHLC Board Chair, Chris Gorka assembled a group of friends from St. Matthew’s Church in Voorhesville to volunteer at the Bennett Hill Preserve. Sixteen volunteers gave their time on this Saturday morning to give back to the land they love. Braving the muddy conditions, the group put in an incredible amount of effort on trail sustainability projects. It’s always amazing to see the progress made when a large group comes together for a work day!

Volunteers finish installing the new split rail fence at Bennett Hill Preserve.

The following week, on April 20th, we hosted the “Earth Day Volunteer Morning: Bennett Hill Preserve Trailwork” event. A group of twenty volunteers worked tirelessly through the pouring rain to improve the ever-popular Bennett Hill Preserve. With such a great volunteer turn out, we were able to divide the group several much-needed preserve improvement projects. While volunteers shoveled and raked gravel out to resurface the driveway, another group worked alongside them to install a split rail fence. The new fence stretches out over 200 feet and provides a beautiful, welcoming entryway for preserve visitors. Out on the trail, volunteers installed three culverts to help divert spring run-off, and keep the trail dry and clear all season long. Our volunteers also cleared away overgrown bramble to tidy the parking area.

Family fun in the spirit of Earth Day

Making sun photographs alongside the Rail Trail.

On April 25th, families gathered for “Earth Day Explorations: Crafts, Storytime, and a Hike.” We were so pleased to see a large turn-out! A group of nearly twenty children and ten adults gathered at the Rail Trail. The morning started with a storytime presented by Michelle Waldenmaier from Bethlehem Public Library. The children listened intently as Michelle read them Earth Day themed stories. They also enjoyed a song about recycling to the tune of “Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star.” After the story, we made sun photographs. The children collected little sticks, pebbles, grass, and dandelions to create interesting patterns on the special solar paper. Under the bright sun, the images appeared quickly! When the craft was finished, we took a hike down the Rail Trail. The children admired the whimsical ART Committee mural along the trail by artist Andrea Hersh. As we hiked the trail, the children observed a few birds calling, butterflies fluttering, and squirrels scurrying among the trees along the path. They learned all about the Rail Trail—many of them were surprised to hear that the route was once railroad tracks. The hike ended near Stewart’s where we passed out ice cream tickets, courtesy of Stewart’s Shops to our young Earth Day explorers!

Earth Day Explorers gather around Michelle Waldenmaier, Bethlehem Public Library.

MHLC offers many opportunities for volunteers and hosts a variety of FREE events throughout the year. Looking for something to do? Check out our calendar of events!

Helderberg Conservation Corridor Success!

The Helderberg Escarpment is a prominent natural feature in Albany County that is also ecologically and geologically significant. Areas in and around the Escarpment have been recognized by New York State as important habitat for endangered and rare species of flora and fauna. The extreme topography of the Escarpment creates a resilient and biodiverse area, making it a high priority for conservation. MHLC has worked to not only protect the ecology of this area, but also preserve the viewshed to and from this Albany County icon.

We are thrilled to announce the protection of two new properties in the Helderbergs thanks to generous donations from Dr. Eric Foster and Sandra Camp.

Locust Knoll Easement

View from Locust Knoll Property

The private 104.8-acre Locust Knoll easement adds to the preservation of the iconic rolling hills, sensitive talus slopes and treed vista of the Helderberg Escarpment. Passionate about protecting the land where they raised their family, the Fosters pieced together the land parcels around their home in stages through the years to ensure that the open space remained undeveloped, and to create the large expanse that was put under easement with MHLC recently.

This key property is located at the base of the Helderberg Escarpment and shares the Hudson Valley Limestone and Shales unique to this area. It provides upland habitat for wildlife species that use Vly Swamp and its open fields, skirted by forests and some shrubbery, create a matrix of habitat variability for birds and wildlife.

With the new conservation easement, MHLC will now protect this land permanently.

Polishchuk Property Acquisition

View of Polishchuk Property

The 10.6-acre Polishchuk acquisition, located directly above Locust Knoll, provides a crucial block of protected forested land at the entrance to Thacher Park. With the donation of the Locust Knoll easement, it forms one of only two locations with contiguous preserved lands on the Helderberg Escarpment from above and below. Sandra Camp’s funding of this Polishchuk Property and the bequest of her own lands, along with the neighboring George Martin and Guthrie Properties, provides 50 highly visible acres of adjoining preserved land along the face of Escarpment.

The Polishchuk Property is within a significant natural community, as designated by the Natural Heritage Program, known as a maple-basswood rich mesic forest. It is also in the vicinity of both rare plants and animals, particularly a State-listed bat species. The property is easily visible from a vast area below the escarpment. The views of this property manifest in a broad expanse of treed forest, a view historic to the Escarpment and one that is preserved with the conservation of this parcel.

A work in progress: the Helderberg Conservation Corridor

In 2003, with the acquisition of a conservation easement on Indian Ladder Farms, MHLC and conservation partner Open Space Institute (OSI) started the Helderberg Conservation Corridor project. Since then, we have been steadily working to protect the lands of the Helderberg Escarpment. The acquisition of the Locust Knoll Easement and Polishchuk Properties is considered a significant success as these land parcels are important connecting pieces in the Helderberg Conservation Corridor. The protection of these new properties creates a corridor of almost 500 acres of climate resilient habitat critical to our region’s wildlife, while further conserving this historic viewshed and important open space.

Announcing a new effort: the Heldeberg Workshop

This year, efforts are underway to conserve the largest undeveloped acreage below Thacher Park, the 257-acre Heldeberg Workshop Property. The Workshop is home to the Adventure in Learning summer camp, a program that for more than 50 years has delivered the ultimate outdoor experience to 1,400 students each summer. This summer program gives students a unique experience with courses in art, theater, science and the environment taught in an outdoor setting.  It is the hope that this easement will protect this unique property and its unique programming for future generations.

The Heldeberg Workshop property is one of the critical stepping stones to creating greater connectivity within the Helderberg Escarpment, a goal of New York State’s Open Space Plan and MHLC. This property is both scenic, historic, and ecologically significant, and connects John Boyd Thacher Park to Indian Ladder Farms and other protected lands. 

This property is also vital to the conservation of the larger, regional landscape—the development of a 3500-acre swath of protected lands from Thacher Park across Indian Ladder Farms to the Black Creek Marsh Wildlife Management area, with the goal of providing a vital corridor for wildlife movement while preserving these natural landscapes for generations.

The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy will begin an effort to raise the funds for this important conservation effort soon.

Visit our website this summer for updated information about this new project and learn how you can help us reach our 2019 conservation goal for this important landscape!

MHLC Partners with Bethlehem Children’s School on Scavenger Hunt

Earth Day is tomorrow… what are you doing to celebrate? If you are looking for an outdoor adventure, why not check out this amazing family scavenger hunt!

#exploremore Family Scavenger Hunt

We are excited to announce our partnership, together with The Nature Conservancy and Albany Pine Bush Preserve, to support Bethlehem Children’s School’s new event series: #exploremore Family Scavenger Hunt. BCS announced the launch of the event series at Albany Pine Bush Discovery Center on Thursday, April 18th. The 8-week real-world scavenger hunt begins on Friday, April 19th—just three days before Earth Day, and will continue through the end of the school year. Spend some family time outdoors with this fun local activity!

Is it a Spring peeper frog? A vernal pond? Deer tracks?

Solve the riddles, find the answer in nature, and you’ll be entered in a drawing to win a prize! Each week a new kid-friendly riddle will be posted to BCS’s social media. Families will work to solve these weekly riddles and then head out to the MHLC preserves and other local preserves to search for the answer! Participants will have until the following Thursday to post a geotagged photograph, with #exploremore and #naturewisdomwellness, to their Instagram or Facebook account to be registered in a weekly drawing for prizes. On June 14th, all participants will be entered into a grand prize drawing to win a free week of Summer Camp at Bethlehem Children’s School. Complete participation rules can be found on the BCS Family Scavenger Hunt web page. 

Fostering the next generation of conservationists

The event series is an excellent opportunity for children and their families to take a closer look at nature, experiencing what lies just beyond their own backyards in the acres of conserved space around the Capital Region. MHLC’s 18 preserves offer miles upon miles of trails through rolling fields and forests, alongside winding streams and waterfalls, with native wildlife all around… get out and explore with us!

Staff Clean-up Day at Fisher Boulevard Property

A work day to celebrate Earth Day! 

Each April, the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy joins the global observation of the birth of the modern environmental movement with a series of Earth Day events. This year, to kick-off our month-long celebration, MHLC staff, along with Preserve Steward Marilyn Fancher, embarked upon a special team excursion on Wednesday, April 4th, to tour the property slated to be our newest Bethlehem preserve (look for our big announcement this fall!) and tidy the lands of one of our newest acquisitions: the Fisher Boulevard property.

We enjoyed a brisk spring morning, complete with birdsong and new buds, while hiking through the forests of Bethlehem followed by litter pickup at our Fisher Boulevard property, in the Towns of Bethlehem and New Scotland. This land, protected by MHLC in 2018, increased the conserved land of Five Rivers by 35 acres, and is not yet open to the public. During the winter months, the roadside had accumulated a significant amount of litter discarded by Kenwood Avenue drivers. Within an hour we were able to fill several buckets and three trash bags with debris.

The morning concluded with a welcome lunch for new staff member, Carrie Stickan. Read more about Carrie in our recent blog post

Get involved… volunteer with MHLC!

Does this outing sound like fun? If so, consider enlisting with MHLC as a volunteer! Join more than 150 other community members of all ages and backgrounds who are helping to protect open spaces by donating their time, energy and expertise. Visit the Volunteer Calendar page for a list of upcoming opportunities and more information about becoming a volunteer

Register today for our next volunteer event, Earth Day Volunteer Morning: Bennett Hill Preserve Trailwork, Saturday, April 20, 9 AM-12 PM; and for families with young children, sign up for Earth Day Exploration: Storytime, Crafts and a Hike at the Rail Trail, Thursday April 25, 10 AM-12 PM

Photo (from left to right): Mark King, Sarah Walsh, Sawyer Cresap, Marilyn Fancher, Kristi Perri, and Carrie Stickan


Meet MHLC’s New Communications and Outreach Coordinator: Carrie Stickan

Carrie joined the MHLC team at the end of March, following the departure of Daron Blake, who left at the beginning of the month for a position with the Land Trust Alliance. In her new role, Carrie will be working to promote and increase public awareness of the Conservancy by executing MHLC’s strategic communications plan. This work involves both writing content and designing graphics for the website, print communications, and social media outreach efforts, as well as engaging local press with the Conservancy’s conservation announcements. Many of you will get to know Carrie as she will also be managing MHLC events and volunteers.

Carrie holds a Bachelor’s in Fine Arts from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and began her career as an illustrator, freelance artist, and art instructor. She has worked for several Chicago-area non-profit organizations, including the International Museum of Surgical Science, the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust, and the John G. Shedd Aquarium. Her artwork, which includes hundreds of animal identification illustrations, is still on display in two permanent exhibits at the Shedd Aquarium. Carrie moved to Delmar with her husband and two children in 2014. Upon relocating, she began working in communications and marketing at the System Dynamics Society in Albany.

Over the years, Carrie has been very involved with volunteer work, particularly at the schools her children have attended. Since moving to Delmar, one of her favorite roles is volunteer gardener at the local middle school. A great believer in the value of volunteering in one’s community, Carrie is looking forward to working with the Conservancy’s volunteers and hopes to see many new recruits.

Carrie loves to draw plants and animals in her free time and looks forward to exploring the MHLC preserves in search of new subjects.

Welcome, Carrie!

eBirding at MHLC Preserves

Join us for eBirding training to help with MHLC’s bird conservation effort!

Barred Owl. Photo by Lisa Bowdish.

On Saturday, April 6, from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM, we will host an eBirding training seminar in partnership with Cornell University’s Lab of Ornithology. This FREE event, open to novice and more advance birders alike, will take place at the First United Methodist Church in Delmar. Space is limited to the first 30 registrations—sign up today!

The morning will begin with a 30-minute classroom presentation and training that will provide you with the tools to hone your bird identification skills. Guest instructor, Andrew Dreelin, from the Lab of Ornithology, will educate us on the Merlin and eBird apps, two smart phone applications that help the user identify birds and store sightings by location. These two apps make it easy to record the birds spotted in the field, and seamlessly link these observations with a global online database of bird records used by recreational birders, scientists, and conservationists around the world! Following the classroom instruction, we will head out on a guided 1.5 hour field walk on the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail to apply our new knowledge. Can’t make it to the event- no problem! You can download the free eBird app and get started on your own.

Mark your calendar for the next eBirding event…

As a follow-up to this initial training, we will host the “Walking with Warblers” birding hike on Saturday, May 11th, at 7 AM, guided by WAMC’S bird guru Rich Guthrie. This free outdoor event provides an opportunity to use eBirding skills as well as learn more about bird identification and behavior from this local specialist. Space is limited for this free event so be sure to sign up early!

Goldfinch. Photo by Bob Stone.

Your participation is important to our conservation goals! 

When establishing our annual conservation priorities, MHLC relies on data that is collected from citizen science surveys such as these. Our recent acquisition in 2018 of 35 acres on the corner of Fisher Blvd. and 85 in the towns of Bethlehem and New Scotland as an expansion of Five Rivers, was prioritized because it provided a buffer for wildlife to the built environment. Five Rivers is listed on the eBird app as being the largest “hotspot” in Albany County for birds, with 210 unique species identified on its grounds.

In fact, throughout Albany County local residents have identified 293 bird species across 100 natural bird “hotspots”. Eight of the hotspots listed are MHLC preserves.

Visiting a preserve this year?

Please help us collect information about the birds on our nature preserves using the eBird app.  By hosting these events and empowering citizen science volunteer efforts, MHLC hopes to gain a better understanding of the bird species utilizing our public lands, providing important information about species in decline and guiding our local conservation efforts.

We hope to see you at our birding events and at our preserves this year!

📸 Photos: Awards Dinner & Climate Panel on Feb 24

“>Scroll down for more photos!

Thank you to everyone who joined us for our 2019 Annual Awards Dinner & Climate Panel! With the frozen waters of the Mohawk River as a backdrop and the winter sun streaming into the historic ballroom, guests enjoyed an afternoon of discussion, exchanging ideas about land conservation, climate change, what we can do, and how our regional conservation efforts are part of a bigger movement to slow the changing climate. 

The Awards Ceremony and The Awardees

We began the evening by honoring the individuals who lead conservation in the Capital Region. This year, we honored Ava DeSantis, the Art on the Rail Trail Committee, and Jessica Ottney Mahar for their contributions.

Ava DeSantis was awarded the Young Leader Award for giving outstanding time and energy to advance the mission of MHLC. Learn more about Ava’s fundraising and outreach volunteer work for MHLC by clicking here and scrolling to page three.

The Art on the Rail Trail (ART) Committee was awarded the Dan Driscoll Leadership Award for giving outstanding time and energy to advance the mission of MHLC through their work improving the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail through public works of art. Learn more about the ART Committee by clicking here.

Jessica Ottney Mahar was awarded the Saving Special Places Award for significant contribution to land conservation through her work as Policy Director for The Nature Conservancy and as a community member working to protect land in the Capital Region. Learn more about Jessica by clicking here.

A Word from Congressman Paul Tonko

After our awards ceremony, we were honored with a surprise visit from Congressman Paul Tonko, who has recently been appointed as chair of the Subcommittee on the Environment and Climate Change. This subcommittee has exclusive jurisdiction over the Clean Air Act and will be at the forefront of tackling climate change and carbon pollution. Congressman Tonko spoke of the importance of land conservation in the fight against climate change, and urged everyone in the room to continue to support the local leaders who are taking a stand against climate change.

The Climate Panel: What Can We Do?

We ended the evening with an exciting panel of climate experts who answered questions and offered suggestions for individual actions each of us can take to slow the changing climate. Moderated by Laura McCarthy, Manager of Conservation Engagement for Audubon New York and member of MHLC’s Next Gen committee, the panel consisted of:

Jessica Ottney Mahar, Policy Director for The Nature Conservancy

Mary Ellen Mallia, Director of Environmental Sustainability at University of Albany

Curt Stager, Draper-Lussi Endowed Chair in Lake Ecology & Paleoecology at Paul Smith’s College

Mark King, Executive Director for the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy (sitting in for Sarah Walsh, Conservation Director for the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy).

The discussion was wide-ranging and riveting with each expert sharing experiences and lessons from their career, and demonstrating a variety of perspectives from policy and economics, to ecology and conservation.

Curt Stager launched the panel with startling statistics on the changing weather patterns in the Capital Region over the past thirty years. On the stark reality of climate change, he remarked: “It’s real, it’s here, and it’s us.”

Jessica Ottney Mahar added that she is often asked, “Why does New York State need to worry about climate change? This is a global issue.” To that, she responded: “New York State is a leader, in movement with states like Washington and California, and is setting an example. State actions add up.”

Mary Ellen Mallia addressed individual and corporate action that can expand upon policy at the state level. Mallia shared an ecological economics perspective regarding corporations and consumer choices: “Prices have to tell the ecological truth,” and provided a list of ways that individuals can act right now to combat climate change, including reducing ones’ carbon footprint by maintaining a plant-based diet, and voting your issue. Mallia stressed the “5 R’s”: reduce, reuse, recycle, and two new concepts: refuse and repair. By reducing consumerism, each of us can significantly reduce our carbon footprint.

MHLC Executive Director Mark King shared how the Conservancy is working in the Capital Region to combat climate change. “Natural systems and undeveloped land absorb and store carbon through photosynthesis. Preserving land as open space not only is a natural climate solution, by also has the added benefits of creating clean air and water as well as recreational and scenic benefits. MHLC is one of 90 land trusts in New York State and one of more than 1,350 nationally – each working towards similar goals for land protection and thus mitigation of climate change. I’m grateful to each of our climate panelists for sharing their expertise and perspective, as we collaborate to piece together a multifaceted approach that is needed to mitigate climate change.”

All panelists agreed that the single most important way for an individual to slow the changing climate is to spread the word about how one can make a difference—that we must work together before it is too late. For tips on how to talk to friends and family about climate, download The Nature Conservancy’s free “Let’s Talk Climate” guide, available on their website at

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this special night. Please remember to continue the conversation: talk about climate change with your networks, and encourage others to think about what they can do to make a difference.


FREE Outdoor Adventures in 2019 with MHLC

It’s here! The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy’s 2019 Calendar of Events is live on our Events webpage.

From our events page, you can register for dozens of free outdoor adventures this year: birdwatching, mushroom foraging, forest therapy (have you heard of forest bathing?), backpacking for beginners, pollinator and plant identification, and more. Our outdoor events take place in our eighteen preserves, and we partner with local organizations, naturalists, and experts to bring you an exciting schedule of opportunities to get outside and explore.

The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy strives to offer affordable outdoor adventures for everyone. Visit our Events Page to see our full 2019 calendar of events. Space is limited: by registering early, you guarantee yourself a spot, and we’ll send you a reminder email with the details the week before the event. Sign up today!