I’d like to start by introducing myself. My name is Alec Betancourt, and I am currently the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy’s Lisa Lyon Evans Conservation Intern for the summer of 2018. I’ve been a lifelong fan of the work MHLC has done in the past, and I am overjoyed to be contributing to its work this summer. Growing up in Altamont, much of my childhood was focused around the outdoors. Being able to roam the woods and play in the small creeks in the area fostered a passion for the environment. As I grew up, I realized that these natural areas, both big and small, require protection and care if they are to be enjoyed by both current and future generations. I decided I want to explore a career related to the environment, so I enrolled as a freshman studying Environmental Engineering at the University at Buffalo in 2016. Now, halfway through my education I have the opportunity to work in this great field and meet all kinds of amazing people. Within my first week, I had the pleasure of working at several of MHLC preserves with many dedicated and hardworking volunteers and I learned that these lands are in great hands.
One of the first preserves I worked at was Bennett Hill. As many of the current visitors know, Bennett Hill Preserve has a small natural spring that flows into a bathtub. Once used by the original Bennett Family Farm long ago for a water trough for livestock, it now serves as an almost humorous historic landmark. The tub had slowly made its way down the hill away from the spring and needed repair. Fixing the tub became my introductory project. After excavating the mud that had accumulated, pushing the tub back in place, sealing the cracks with natural clay, and clearing the water pipe and holding box, I revived the water flow into the bathtub, and seated it into the hillside in a more stable manner.
While working at this preserve, I also had the pleasure of making friends (from a distance!) with the neighboring milk cows from Clarksville’s Meadowbrook Dairy on my way up the hill. The trail has a nice, meandering climb. The ascent begins about a third of the way in and will bring you to the top of the hill. Another yellow trail can be hiked that will take you along the edge of the wetlands atop the hill, as well as showcase some stunning views of the Helderbergs. I encourage anyone reading this, both returning hikers and new ones, to check out this preserve! Be sure to leave any comments in the trail sign-in box- we do read them!
You’ll see me this summer, working on preserves, fixing equipment at our office’s barn, or driving around in the MHLC truck. Say hello, hike a trail, or join a volunteer event: I’d be happy to meet you.