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.
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 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 email@example.com.
“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.