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
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!
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
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!
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!