Earth Day Story Walk with the Bethlehem Public Library and MHLC

Ms. Michelle read us Earth Day, Birthday! by Maureen Wright and Violet Kim

Thanks to everyone who joined us for today’s Earth Day Story Walk!

We walked along the trails and boardwalks of Swift Preserve talking about Earth Day, listening to the birds in the wetlands, and picking up any litter we found. The walk warmed us up in the chilly spring air.

The sun came out for our outdoor story time with Ms.Michelle from the Bethlehem Public Library! Ms. Michelle read us several terrific and colorful books all about Earth Day, and we even sang a couple of songs about ways to save the Earth.

Thank you to the Bethlehem Public Library for choosing such wonderful stories to share with our audience at the preserve. Happy Earth Day!

Nature and Art: Why we must “cherish, connect, preserve…”

For the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, your Capital Region land trust, each day is Earth Day. The lands we protect are protected forever — for our children today, and our grandchildren tomorrow. 

These protected lands, which are kept green and undeveloped in perpetuity, provide critically important and tangible benefits to our ecosystems and communities. Natural lands provide wildlife habitats, open spaces, and viewsheds. Undeveloped spaces store more carbon than developed lands; this helps in the fight against climate change. By maintaining forests and wetlands, we maintain the natural filters which protect air and water quality in Albany, Montgomery, and Schenectady Counties.

Yet there are other benefits, less tangible but equally important, that these spaces provide. Our 18 public preserves provide 2,000 acres and over 36 miles of trails for hiking, cross-country skiing, and other educational and recreational opportunities.

The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy provides more than just space. We provide opportunities for people to connect with each other and with the natural beauty which surrounds us. A walk in the woods, an afternoon sitting by a stream, a morning trail run… these are experiences to be shared, cherished, and protected. Without open spaces made available to the public, the constant thrum of development in our region will continue to take away our opportunities to enjoy, experience, draw inspiration from, and find solace in the natural world.

As MHLC provides nature experiences for our community, many of our organizational partners provide artistic, cultural, and musical experiences. Last June, we teamed up with the brass musicians of the Albany Symphony for our Celebration of Music and Nature in Rensselaerville. In 2018, we are offering another plein air painting workshop as part of our Summer Festival and Helderberg Hike-a-Thon: these workshops have been a beautiful opportunity for local painters to find inspiration from the sights and sounds of our preserves. Our Family Wilderness Crafts Workshops with Ondatra Adventures encourage young citizens to use their hands to engage with both the natural world and with their own creative spirit.

These connections between nature and the arts run deep. At our 2018 Annual Awards Dinner, guest speaker Elizabeth Sobol, President and CEO of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center, spoke of her childhood in South Carolina, her connection to the land of her youth, and of the ties between conservation and the arts: we all must work together to cherish, preserve, and protect beauty in all of its forms.

“It is at that moment of shared beauty – birdsong, sunset, Mahler, Bach – that we are most utterly – and most fully  – human. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what we are here to preserve and protect.”

Many of our guests asked for a transcript of Elizabeth’s speech, and Elizabeth has generously shared a written copy of her thoughts and words, as seen below.

In the spirit of Earth Day, we hope you’ll enjoy these words as a reminder that in order to enjoy the beauty around us, we must continue to protect it.

Elizabeth Sobol and MHLC Executive Director Mark King at the 2018 Annual Awards Dinner

Remarks by Elizabeth Sobol
Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy Annual Awards Dinner
River Stone Manor, Schenectady, NY
Tuesday, February 27, 2018

“I am very honored to have been asked to speak to you tonight – and to have the opportunity to celebrate the important work you are all doing.

I was watching the beautiful video that is on the website and was very moved by it – the lovely images, the evocative use of music…but most of all, I was moved by the words I heard. Words like:

cherish, connect, preserve, beauty, future, respite, protect, urgent, enduring.

These words resonated with me because they are part of the same vocabulary I use when I talk about the importance of the arts and beauty in the world.  

This winter…this very, very long winter…. I have had a lot of time to think about all this – the essential, the powerful, the underlying link between art and nature – and the urgent and critical work that lies ahead of us all.

Whenever I think about what brings us to a love of nature, what brings us to a love of art, I always end up at the beginning. Well, I should say, to my own beginning. I grew up in small town in North Carolina – a mill town – where all four of my grandparents had second grade educations – and worked in the cotton mill.  Doesn’t sound very auspicious does it?  And yet, I had the luckiest of childhoods. When I was very young, of a Spring and Summer evening, my Grandmother, my Mother’s Mother, would wrap me in a blanket and hold me on her lap while we swung in the front porch swing and she told me stories and sang me songs, enveloped in the soft sweet southern honeysuckle breeze. When I was a little older, in the Spring, my Grandfather would take me for walks down a thickly-over-grown ravine near the house and he would pull out his prized pocket knife and show me how to make a little flute from poplar branches when the sap was high. Later still, on the weekends, my grandparents would take me for drives out long country roads and we would stop by a plowed field and search for arrowheads and then wander down and look for violets by the edge of the woods and my grandmother would tell me stories about how her Mother made medicine from plants for her and her 12 sisters when they were growing up on a remote farm. On hot afternoons, we would look for the shade of a tree and drink sweetened tea from mason jars and eat the violet blossoms and we would just listen – to the sounds of birdsong, the high soprano keening of crickets and to all the exuberant music of nature.

I was lucky – as a child I grew up seeing the stars in the night sky, eating the medicine of plants, listening to the sounds of the seasons, the music of the spheres. Though I couldn’t have articulated it at the time, the seamlessness of being – the sense of being connected to earth and to others – was articulated through the full embrace of nature and my grandparents’ love.

Of course, like every Adam or Eve in the garden, I did eventually leave paradise. As a teen, I rebelled against the small town and left for a music conservatory in a City, my eyes on a career as a pianist. From there to New York City to pursue a career as an artist manager. From there, my career, frankly, consumed me. It’s not to say that I didn’t seek and enjoy moments in nature, but the thrust of my life became completely yoked to work and to the relentless, singular focus and linear direction that left little room for expansiveness and breath. But, no complaints! I had an incredible run of it. Decades spent at IMG Artists, the heady thrill of going from small start up artist management agency in the cultural sphere to global leader in the field, working with artists like Itzhak Perlman and Joshua Bell and Renee Fleming.  From IMG I was recruited to Universal Music to start a new record company.  Some people in the business called that going over to the dark side. But I relished the challenge of creating a successful, ethos-based “classics” label in the middle of the most difficult time in the history of recorded music. I worked – and worked – and worked – until Spring of 2013 – when I finally knew I had to stop. My psychic gas gauge was virtually on empty. I knew I needed to do something to refill that very subtle vessel called “the soul”. 

I did something I had dreamed of doing for years but had never made the time for. I signed up for an intensive course on Ethnobotany & Plant Medicine in the mountains of North Carolina. When I came down off the mountain, as it were, the universe asked its usual; “and now what?” I remember sitting with friends by a lake in Black Mountain. I knew at that point that my future had to involve the plants and nature I felt I had “forsaken” so many years before. At the same time, a future without music seemed unthinkable. I remember saying to my friends: Oh god, I despair. Where in the world am I ever going to find a place that calls upon my deep love of nature and my deep love of the arts? Back home several days later, the phone rang – and out of the proverbial blue – a voice said “Hi – I am with the firm conducting the search for the new President of SPAC and your name keeps coming up.”

So, you see, I come to my new job with not a little of the natural zeal of the true southerner – a native proselytizer – with also possibly with a refrain of “I was lost but now I am found” playing in the background.  But most of all, my sense of purpose and urgency comes from the knowledge of the profound importance of beauty – both man-made and natural – in this moment of deepening human crisis. 

For it is in moments of encounters with great beauty – the transcendent grace of a Mozart aria, the majesty of a cathedral of pines  – that we enter that state of wonder – a place without time or boundaries or strife or differences.  On the top of a mountain, under the canopy of the night sky, we are both infinitesimal and infinite, luminous, radiant and eternally interconnected. Is it a religio-mystical state – or just a primal, wordless recognition of our common cosmic-energetic origin.  Does it really matter?

It is at that moment of shared beauty – birdsong, sunset, Mahler, Bach – that we are most utterly – and most fully  – human. This, ladies and gentlemen, is what we are here to preserve and protect.”

 

Three Niner Tango: Flying for Conservation

Sawyer and Charlie in front of the plane

Monday, April 9th dawned as one of the first sunny and spring-like mornings of 2018. By 10 AM, MHLC’s Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator, Sawyer Cresap, was flying 1,000 feet over the Capital Region in a four-seater Cessna Skylane plane, enjoying the sun and a new view of our protected lands with Charlie Burgess, Stewardship Manager for the Open Space Institute (OSI).

With the help of Lighthawk, an organization which donates flights for conservation professionals, and volunteer pilot Bob Keller, Sawyer and Charlie were able to observe MHLC- and OSI-protected lands in real time and in context with the larger landscape of eastern New York.

“With the Catskill Mountains as a backdrop, we flew along the Helderberg Escarpment, through Coeymans, Rennselaerville, and up the Bozen Kill ravine capturing the hills and valleys of protected landscapes and seeing our conservation priorities areas from a new vantage point,” Sawyer said of her the trip, which was her first time flying in a four-seater plane.

By taking photos from the sky with a high-resolution DSLR camera, Sawyer was able to capture visual documentation of tens of thousands of acres of land and water in just under two hours. This is a tremendous tool for MHLC in our work surveying protected lands. Not only does the aerial survey save valuable time in the field during the limited monitoring season, making our monitoring and documentation work more efficient, but the photos also provide u  s with a more comprehensive view of terrain that would be otherwise inaccessible on foot or by vehicle. By flying with Lighthawk, we can capture a more detailed snapshot of intricate water bodies, forest stock, mowed fields, ancient stonewall property lines, winding backcountry roads, and other unique features hidden within the landscape. This imagery helps us build stronger defense against encroachment, development, and other unwanted activities on conservation land. It will also play a large role in helping document properties for existing and future projects so that we can save more of the land that matters most.

In a changing climate, aerial monitoring also helps paint a picture of current water levels and forest composition to serve as a baseline for comparisons over time. As ecological features shift, baseline data such as these photos will facilitate better land management decisions in the future.

With much of the snow already melted and leaves not yet on the trees, early spring is the perfect time for aerial monitoring. Through the rest of 2018 and beyond, MHLC will be sharing the impacts of this data with announcements of new lands we are working to protect. Thank you to Lighthawk for making this mission possible, and to volunteer pilot Bob Keller! 

Aerial support provided by LightHawk. Thank you, LightHawk!

The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy (MHLC) and the Open Space Institute (OSI) often partner on conservation projects: click here to read about our recent partnership in Rensselaerville. This flight allowed each of our organizations to survey important properties, including those on which we partner. 

To learn more about LightHawk, an incredible conservation organization which works with over 200 volunteer pilots who fly to protect land, water and wildlife across America, visit their website: www.lighthawk.org

Guest Post: “My First Time Visiting an MHLC Preserve” by Meghan Kelley, MHLC Communications Intern

Meghan Kelley is in her senior year at the College of St. Rose and is preparing to graduate with her bachelor’s degree in English. Meghan is our Communications Intern for the Spring 2018 semester, and she recently joined  Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator Sawyer Cresap for a trip to our Normans Kill Preserves.

Sawyer writes, “I love taking first-time visitors to the Normans Kill Preserves because they are so accessible and so beautiful. We call these our ‘pocket preserves’ because they are little pockets of nature within the town of Bethlehem; they are a favorite for lunch-time walkers who can quickly drive to the parking lot, walk a few steps, and be immersed in the sights and sounds of the woods. It was wonderful sharing this experience with Meghan and seeing the preserves through someone else’s eyes.”

Meghan shares her experience of the Normans Kill West and East below:

Visiting a MHLC preserve for the first time was a great experience. Even though the Normans Kill West Preserve is in Bethlehem, as soon as I started on the trail, I felt like I was in the middle of the woods. I heard only the calls of various birds and the water of the river. Walking alongside the river was beautiful and relaxing, even in early spring before the plants were in full bloom. Of all the birds I could hear, I only saw a robin and a pair of blue jays in the trees.

The trail was about an hour hike all the way around. It was a great hike for a beginner like me. It was a bit of a challenge with some of the hills, but not overly difficult. Normans Kill West is the preserve with the most bridges due to the high number of tributaries running into the river. Of the bridges, my personal favorite was the musical bridge. The trail itself was well marked, so following it was easy and allowed me to enjoy nature instead of worrying where to step next.

I also had the chance to briefly visit the Normans Kill East Preserve, which is smaller than its counterpart but just as enjoyable to walk through. This preserve also felt like it was in the middle of nowhere next to a beautiful river. Here I managed to catch a glimpse of a red-tailed hawk flying by, which was awesome. The hills at Normans Kill East were steeper, but for a short walk it was quite feasible.

I’m glad I had the opportunity to visit the Normans Kill Preserves. It was awesome to be able to experience nature near the heart of the Capital Region without having to drive very far.

Welcome Alec Betancourt, our Lisa Lyon Evans Conservation Intern!

Each summer, the MHLC office welcomes a conservation intern to help us maintain our 18 public preserves. In 2018, we are thrilled to welcome Alec Betancourt, an Altamont resident and SUNY Buffalo sophomore studying Environmental Engineering.

Alec writes, “growing up in Altamont, I was very fortunate to be able to enjoy many of MHLC’s preserves throughout my life. Now I look forward to being a part of this organization so I can help give others the experience I received while visiting these preserved lands.”

Stay tuned this summer for updates from Alec as he explores the trails, fields, forests, and streams of our preserves (with bushwhacker in hand!).

The Lisa Lyon Evans Conservation Internship honors Lisa Lyon Evans, past MHLC Board Chair and a devoted supporter of conservation in the Capital Region. Lisa’s tenacious efforts on behalf of MHLC sparked our growth as an organization. She motivated our team to look to the future. As a lifelong resident, business leader, and altruistic community member, Lisa’s leadership helped us become the Capital Region’s local land trust. Our Conservation Internship gives an individual the opportunity to learn about how a land trust works, to become familiar with local ecology and land management strategies, and to gain experience with non-profit organizations and volunteer coordination. By training the next generation of conservationists, we honor the legacy of Lisa Lyon Evans.

This internship is made possible by the generosity of people who have donated in memory of Lisa Lyon Evans. We would like to send a very special thank you to Lisa’s husband, Tom Evans, her business partner and friend, Suzanne Smith, and these donors:

Thank you!

In memory of Lisa Lyon Evans…

Kim Baker
Karen C. Beck
Matt Bender
Keith & Susan Bennett
Sherry Bostwick Bishko
Susan L. Blabey
Jean & Rondi Brower
Donna & Thomas Buckley
Patrick & Sarah Carroll
Colonie Senior Service Centers, Inc.
Virginia & Edward Cropsey
Sally Daly
Elsa G. deBeer
DeChants, Fuglein & Johnson, LLP
Carol & Bob Deitz
Leslie Hughes DiCamillo
Cornelius Dullea Murray
Thomas Fris
Ronald & Regina Gerhard
John Gillespie & Kathleen Sullivan
Vincent & Sheila Giordano
James and Chris Green
Claudia Hammar, NYS Association of Health Care Providers
Maryann Handron
Chris and Kelli Hawver
Barbara C. Healy
Frank Herbert
Fred & Donna Hershey
Alane Hohenberg
Ted & Sally Jennings
Susan & Tucker Jones
Becca Jones
Helen & Allen Kaplan
Liz & Barb Langdon
Anne LaSalle
Jeff & Judy Leon
Cathie Love & George Berg
Jeannie Lyon Langdon
Judy MacDonald
Doris Fischer Malesardi
Chuck & Barbara Manning
Stephen S. Marks
Robert & Christine McCarthy
Barbara McGovern
Peter and Marie-Louise McHugh
Felton McLaughlin
Skip Meislahn
Philip & Kathleen Morris
Kenneth P Mortensen, Jr.
Lynn & Wilfred Pauquette
Ted & Sherry Putney
Dale & Craig Raisig
Bryan Rayburn
John Razzano
Reid, McNally & Savage
William Reinhardt
Donna & Dennis Rhodes
Joseph Rosano
Rosemarie V. Rosen
Alice & Ross Sandler
Anita Lynne Lyon-Sechler
Paul & Christine Shields
Steve Smith
Hank Stebbins & Val Washington
Hildegard Steinmann
Steven Mann Sumberg
John & Sally Ten Eyck
Peter & Rose-Marie Ten Eyck
Inga Tomson
Josey Twombly
Kay & Bill Valentino
Tim & Maggie Vinciguerra
Marjorie Waldman
Connie & Harry Wilbur
Carla R. Williams
Donald & Jean Wilson
Caleb Wistar
Andrew Wood, D.D.S., P.C.
Catherine Zupan

 

Meet an MHLC Easement Landowner: Dud Crauer, Glenville, NY

In 2018, MHLC is introducing you to some of our incredible community members: volunteers, easement landowners, donors, and more. This month, we talk to one of our easement landowners: Dud Crauer. Read below to learn more about Dud, his property, and the reasons he protected his land.

*Are you interested in placing a conservation easement on your property? Visit our Conserve Your Land page for more information!

Dud helps with the documentation for his easement in 2007.

When did you place an easement on your property?

The easement on the property was placed February 2007.

How did you decide to put a conservation easement on your property?

My neighbor, Lloyd Hagen, expressed his concern that a number of large properties in West Glenville, held by families for several generations and no longer being used for agriculture, are prime targets for housing developments which would negatively impact the rural nature of West Glenville.

Our modest property, located at the southern mouth of Wolf Hollow (one of the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy’s Priority Areas) has unique geological, ecological, and historical significance. For example, Wolf Hollow was an ancient trail used for centuries by Native Americans to travel from the Mohawk River to the upper Hudson. The battle in 1669 at “Kinaquariones” between the Mohawks and Algonquins was savagely fought here, resulting in many primitive artifacts found. We still have occasional Native Americans visitors who come and reflect on their forefathers. 

With respect to earlier civilizations and protecting the natural wonder of the area, we hoped a conservation easement would also inspire our neighbors and other landowners to do the same.

Dud and Hank Stebbins work on documentation of the property in West Glenville.

How would you describe the process of creating an easement?

The process of creating an easement was easier than initially perceived given the assistance, patience, and professionalism of the MHLC staff. When questions among family members arise regarding how we can achieve our wish to preserve the “family farm,” yet continue our lifestyle, MHLC volunteer and easement expert Hank Stebbins, Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator Sawyer Cresap, and Executive Director Mark King have always responded promptly and professionally. It is indeed gratifying and reassuring to have the MHLC team share your passion.

What do you wish more people knew about protecting their property with a local land trust?

Landowners, unfamiliar with land trusts, fear ‘giving up’ their right of choice. I’ve heard “I don’t want someone telling me what I can do.” They do not understand that the Conservancy protects that which they hold dear for future generations to respect and enjoy as they have. 

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

I support land conservation because my generation has witnessed the misuse and overdevelopment of our earth’s resources:  global warming, oil spills, plastic particles in our food and drinking water, whole species of birds and wildlife exterminated….Shall I go on?

Mother Earth gives us life. If we do not respect and take care of Her, mankind will also be eliminated. We should take a lesson from Native Americans, “The Earth does not belong to us, we belong to the Earth”.

I leave it to all of us to consider: If not us, who? If not now, when? 

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!

Run into Spring with MHLC’s Earth Day Fun Run!

Ava volunteered for MHLC last summer and is returning to organize the 5K.

Every year, Earth Day gives us an opportunity to connect with our community and talk about the importance of our planet’s health.

Use this opportunity to give back and help protect our environment! This year, MHLC is proud to host several Earth Day events in celebration of this special holiday. Visit our Events page to learn more about a volunteer clean-up, a nature walk and story time for young kids and their families, and to sign up for MHLC’s first-ever Fun Run!

The Environmental Awareness 5K is at 8 AM on Saturday, April 21st and will take place on the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail. This fun run is appropriate for all ages and abilities. Fun Run t-shirts will be given to all participants and are being donated by Sawyer’s Screen Printing and Embroidery. The Delmar Hannaford Supermarket and Pharmacy is donating water and snacks for all runners, walkers, rollers, and skaters!

Register today on our website and check out the Facebook event to invite your friends.

Ava DeSantis, a local high school student and MHLC volunteer, is the driving force responsible for this awesome event. Ava shared with us what inspired her to tackle managing an Earth Day 5k at such a young age.

What sparked your initial interest in the environment?
I have always been taught to care for the environment. However, once I began to work for its protection I realized that each of us has the opportunity to make a difference in the fields that are important to us.

What is so interesting about Earth Day in particular?
Earth Day is a chance to focus the conversation of change towards the environment. On Earth Day you see news articles, social media attention, and even small-talk begin to center around protecting the earth.

Why did you choose a 5k as an event for Earth Day?
A 5k is a great way to involve different communities in an effort to protect the environment. It also gives runners and volunteers a change to appreciate the environment of the Rail Trail.

What’s it like taking the lead for running an event like this at a young age?
It’s very exciting to take the lead and work with MHLC as well as my fellow student activists from around the Capital Region. Being able to take on the responsibility of an event like this is both empowering and eye-opening. Eye-opening in the sense of being forced to see the amount of work and planning necessary for such an event, and empowering because I have the opportunity to take on the work and planning.

Who do you hope to see at the Fun Run?
I hope to see a range of members of the community at the event. Runners and beginners, environmental activists and people who want to learn about the subject. I see events like this as an opportunity to enjoy the fresh air on a spring day outside, as well as an opportunity to discuss the issues facing our community and preservation of the beautiful spring landscapes we are enjoying.

What type of experience do you hope to create for participants?
I hope participants leave the run having enjoyed the company of their fellow runners, interacted with members of MHLC, and enjoyed the Rail Trail in spring.

The 5k will be on the paved portion of the Rail Trail.

Sign up for the Earth Day Run Fun on April 21st by clicking here.
Learn more about Ava and her volunteer work with MHLC in our Fall 2017 newsletter.

Work Days & Workouts with MHLC

The new signposts will help visitors make the most of Keleher Preserve’s trail system.

The Keleher Preserve, MHLC’s largest nature preserve, is comprised of 447 forested acres along the Helderberg Escarpment. Here, trails weave up and down Wolf Hill through hemlock cathedrals, swaying pines, and sandy patches of low-bush blueberry.

With the help of intrepid MHLC volunteers, these winding paths now feature directional signposts at each trail junction!

So: How did we go about installing these heavy cedar signs across six miles of back-country trail?

In late February, our small work crew met at the parking lot and readied ourselves for a day of hiking, building, tools, sweat, and fun. We headed across the rolling terrain of the preserve, pulling behind us a garden cart, piled high with shovels and lumber. The posts are easier to transport without the signs attached, so we also toted a plastic red toboggan which carried the thirty directional signs to be assembled on-site. Once we arrived at each juncture, we dug post holes through rocky soil, drilled and fastened the individual signs onto the posts, and tamped down gravel and mud to secure the new sign.

In other words: We teamed up with great volunteers, got creative, and got a workout! Here’s what one of our new volunteers, Bob Frederick, had to say about this inventive form of exercise:

“If you’re someone who likes a challenge and enjoys introducing movement to new muscle groups in your body, the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy has the answer: six hours of fun in one of the Conservancy’s 18 public preserves. Yeah, you can go to a gym and work out for an hour in a typical boot camp class, but as Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator Sawyer Cresap says, ‘why not get your whole week of heart pumping, muscle cramping, and heavy breathing done in one fun-filled day of volunteer service?’”

After this recent “Keleher Boot Camp,” Bob wrote: “Every muscle in my body aches at the moment, but I’m so glad Sawyer led us through each obstacle and celebrated every stage we completed. Her positive attitude and can-do spirit made me and the other boot camp volunteer dedicated to the end goal – installation of new trail sign posts without injury and receiving a total body workout in nature.”

We invite all gym rats, weekend warriors, and anybody in between to test your endurance, mental focus, and competitive spirit by signing up to be invited to the next “Volunteer Boot Camp.”

You never know… it could be the start of a new fitness craze!

If you’re interested in joining us as a volunteer, visit our Volunteer webpage and fill out an online form. We can’t wait to meet you!

Sawyer Cresap
Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator
sawyer@mohawkhudson.org

We’re hiring! MHLC seeks part-time Office Manager & Bookkeeper

MHLC is hiring! We are seeking a highly motivated individual with a strong commitment to conservation who is interested in growing with the organization. The Office Manager and Bookkeeper position will be part time at approximately 20 hours per week and report to the Director of Operations & Development.

As our Office Manager and Bookkeeper, you will have a variety of responsibilities and play a critical role in supporting all MHLC programs. Primary activities will include general office management as well as bookkeeping using Quickbooks software and assisting with budgeting, annual audit, and other aspects of the organization’s financial management. Other responsibilities will include: 

  • Serving as the point person for office manager duties including: answering phones, scheduling meetings and appointments, greeting office visitors, managing office stationery and equipment, filing and office organization, maintaining the office condition, and providing general administrative support to our employees;
  • Submitting and tracking payroll and HR benefits;
  • Assisting in the onboarding process for new hires and board members;
  • Managing office vendors, service providers, and office lease;
  • Assisting with Board meetings, Board minutes, the preparation of Board reports, and the management of the password-protected board portal on the MHLC website.

For a full job description, click here.

To apply, send a cover letter and resume to Mark King, Executive Director, at mark@mohawkhudson.org. Applications accepted on a rolling basis.

 

Transferring Easements: MHLC Takes on More Acreage in Rensselaerville

Click on image for larger map.

This month, MHLC added more than 300 acres to our land protection portfolio in Rensselaerville through the transfer of two conservation easements from the Open Space Institute (OSI). Rensselaerville is one of MHLC’s Conservation Priority Areas and acts as a conservation corridor between the Catskills and the Capital Region. As the leading local land trust, MHLC is excited to take over the stewardship responsibilities that come with these easements, which border existing MHLC conservation easements in Rensselaerville and expand and improve upon our protected acreage in the area.

The larger of the two conservation easements, CBM Farms, was protected in 2012 by the Open Space Institute. This property features deep forests, working agricultural lands, and spectacular views overlooking the hamlet of Rensselaerville. The easement protects the property from further development, ensuring its future as a rural estate to support farming and forestry activities. In 2017, MHLC protected the Eldridge property, an approximately 220-acre farm directly adjacent to CBM Farms, making the transfer of this Open Space Institute conservation easement to MHLC a natural addition to MHLC-protected lands in this area.

The second easement adjoins CBM Farms and protects part of Hennicke Marsh, a wetland owned by the Edmund Niles Huyck Preserve. The property was originally part of CBM Farms when it was acquired by the Open Space Institute in 2013 and was subsequently donated to the Huyck Preserve. Hennicke Marsh is a diverse wetland which protects water quality, scenic views, and provides important habitat for songbirds, mammals, amphibians, and rare plants. Hennicke Marsh is located directly north of CBM Farms, making this another wonderful addition to our land protection efforts in this Priority Area. Both easements provide a significant buffer of protected land surrounding the Ten Mile Creek watershed, an important water source for the region.

The Hennicke Marsh: protected forever.

We are grateful to our partners in conservation, the Open Space Institute, for providing us with the opportunity to add these two important properties to our land protection portfolio. Conservation easements allow the landowner to maintain ownership of the property while restricting the development and land uses on the property in perpetuity. These lands remain in private ownership and are not open to the public. We thank these landowners for protecting these lands in perpetuity for a healthier Capital Region for current and future generations.

To learn more about MHLC’s Conservation Priorities, visit our new Where We Work page.

You can learn more about how MHLC’s corridor work by visiting our new Conservation and Climate Change page.

 

 

Ask the Conservation Director: MHLC is an Accredited Land Trust- what does that mean?

 

This month’s “Ask the Conservation Director” post explores MHLC’s accreditation with the Land Trust Alliance. 

The land trust accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever.  The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy is pleased to announce it is applying for renewal of accreditation, and there is an opportunity for you to provide feedback on our operations as an accredited land trust!

Stakeholder Notification/Public Notice: A public comment period is now open.

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, conducts an extensive review of each applicant’s policies and programs.

The Commission invites public input and accepts signed, written comments on pending applications. Comments must relate to how Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy complies with national quality standards. These standards address the ethical and technical operation of a land trust. For the full list of standards, please visit the Land Trust Accreditation Commission’s website

To learn more about the accreditation program and to submit a comment, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org, or email your comment to info@landtrustaccreditation.org. Comments may also be faxed or mailed to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, Attn: Public Comments: (fax) 518-587-3183; (mail) 36 Phila Street, Suite 2, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866.

 

Q: MHLC is an Accredited Land Trust…. what does that mean?

A: From the Land Trust Alliance (LTA):

Land trust accreditation is a mark of distinction, showing that a land trust meets high standards for land conservation… Accreditation demonstrates that a land trust has successfully implemented Land Trust Standards and Practices.”

MHLC received our accreditation with the Land Trust Accreditation Commission in 2013.

The Land Trust Alliance’s Standards and Practices guide the operation of hundreds land trusts across the country. Accreditation was a watershed moment in our organization’s history: we demonstrated compliance with ethical and technical standards for responsible operation, thus gaining the approval of a nation-wide organization. This also demonstrates to our landowners, donors, supporters, and partners that MHLC is committed to using best practices for land transactions and fundraising efforts.

In 2018, MHLC is working towards reaccreditation. Accreditation is reevaluated every five years by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission to ensure a land trust adheres to the LTA’s Standards and Practices. In preparation, our staff are providing organizational policies, files from land transactions, and other documentation to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission for review. This thorough process of documentation and auditing takes nearly six months to complete.

Why is this important? By receiving accreditation, and being reaccredited every five years, MHLC is demonstrating compliance to the Land Trust Alliance’s Standards and Practices, ensuring responsible conservation practices. In short, MHLC’s accreditation helps us show that your local land trust is truly trustworthy; donations of land, money, and time are used responsibly and effectively towards the permanent conservation of land.

As we work towards completing this process, you can learn more about our accreditation and Land Trust Alliance membership for collective impact on our updated About page.

You can also read our updated Where We Work page, which outlines our priority areas and land acquisition criteria, a required LTA Standard and Practice.

Learn more about accreditation, the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, and the benefits of being accredited on the Land Trust Accreditation Commission’s website.

Have a question for MHLC’s Conservation Director? Email your questions to MHLC Conservation Director, Sarah.

Meet an MHLC Volunteer: Connor Roddy, Eagle Scout

In 2018, MHLC is introducing you to some of our incredible volunteers. This month, we talk to one of our youngest volunteers: Connor Roddy. Read below to learn more about Connor and his work with MHLC!

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

Connor with a finished birdbox at Restifo Preserve.

When did you begin volunteering with MHLC?

I began volunteering with MHLC two summers ago with the Conservancy’s former Stewardship Director, Ms. Tedesco. I had heard about this organization through my mother, who alongside two dozen girl scouts had previously worked with Ms. Tedesco planting trees at Van Dyke Preserve and had a blast. Then a Life Scout, I needed to complete a project for my community in order to attain the highest rank in scouting: Eagle. With my mother raving about how valuable and fun it is to volunteer for the Conservancy, and after doing a little research, I found that MHLC was the best way for me to have lots of fun doing my duty to the community while also having a balance of creativity, adventure, and humor.

How would you describe your role as a volunteer?

I coordinated with MHLC staff to find a project that meets their needs. We established a bird box project, and it became my responsibility to orchestrate and execute this project all the way through. This included fundraising, and gathering assistance from my community to help carry out my project. I built eleven nesting boxes of four different species on the Restifo Preserve in Westerlo, New York, in hopes that we can attract more people to enjoy the fabulous views that the preserve has to offer.

Connor and troopmates install boxes on cedar posts

Which is your favorite aspect of volunteering with MHLC?

Working with MHLC for over a year on my Eagle Scout Project, I have learned so many wonderful things and have formed an awesome relationship with Ms. Cresap, the Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator. She and the other staff members at MHLC were great to interact and work with to make my community a better place. That being said, I would have to say that my absolute favorite part was how much my project, and MHLC as a whole, opened me to this hidden goldmine of picturesque landscapes, pristine hiking trails, and a wealth of nature knowledge I had no idea existed. During the brainstorming stages of my project, there were so many areas across the county that I was unaware of, despite living in the Bethlehem area my whole life. Even after choosing my project, I didn’t realize what a hidden gem Westerlo has with Restifo. When I did visit, I was in awe of this beautiful scenery of wildlife and the forests atop the Catskills. I loved how I was able to attract our community’s ornithologists of young and old to explore one of the hidden gems of New York.

Bluebird box installed at Restifo

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

I wish people knew how easy MHLC makes it to be active in protecting our community. The staff is highly trained and will always be there to back you while you try to play your part safeguarding the wonderful flora and fauna of Bethlehem. I’ve learned so much while volunteering too, both about the wildlife and about myself, and I think many people will have this great enlightening experience as I did working with the Conservancy.

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

I believe that land conservation is necessary if we want our future generations to enjoy our land as much as we have. Without organizations like MHLC, we will lose these valuable properties thus having a negative ecological impact.

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!

Photos: MHLC Annual Awards Dinner at River Stone Manor on February 27

Thank you to everyone who joined us on Tuesday evening for our 2018 Annual Awards Dinner. With warm weather and a gentle sunset, we enjoyed the historic River Stone Manor in Schenectady as friends old and new connected and discussed the exciting growth of our organization and the many prospects which lay ahead. This year, we honored Kathy Meany and John Abbuhl for their contributions to the preservation of the Capital Region.

Kathy Meany, a volunteer with MHLC for over five years, was presented with the Dan Driscoll Leadership Award. Ms. Meany volunteers as a Preserve Steward of the Bozen Kill Preserve in Altamont, digging trails, clearing brush, and caring for the land. She leads other volunteers and guests on guided hikes and also spends time representing the organization at local festivals and within the community. Stewardship and Volunteer Coordinator Sawyer Cresap spoke of Kathy’s dedication before presenting the award, and Kathy told the crowd of her family’s history of connection to the land, her favorite moments working as a volunteer, and how she sees the importance of connecting residents of all ages with their local landscape.

Executive Director Mark King presented the Saving Special Places Award to John Abbuhl’s family in honor of Dr. Abbuhl’s lifetime of conservation work. In recognition of Dr. Abbuhl, who passed away earlier this year at the age of 91, sycamores will be planted on MHLC-preserved land. 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 his family spoke of his love for the environment as they accepted the award.

Our special guest, Elizabeth Sobol, is President and CEO of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. A veteran of the classical music and recording industry, Elizabeth has worked in the past as president and CEO of Universal Music Classics and spent nearly three decades at IMG Artists as its managing director. She spoke of her childhood in South Carolina, her connection to the land of her youth, and of the ties between conservation and the arts: we all must work together to cherish, preserve, and protect beauty in all of its forms.

Thank you to everyone who joined us for this special night!

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.