Where We Work: MHLC’s Priority Areas
The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy (MHLC) conserves and connects communities in Albany, Montgomery, and Schenectady counties. Our name is inspired by the Mohawk and Hudson Rivers which run through these lands.
MHLC’s service area is situated between the Adirondack Park to the north and the Catskill Park to the south. We work with voluntary landowners to conserve properties located in between these larger conservation parks. With each piece of land we save and protect, we conserve more natural resources and we increase the connectivity of protected lands, linking together green spaces throughout New York State.
We also use climate science to identify resilient landscapes. This helps us identify and protect corridors and important habitats which promote wildlife movement across the Capital Region landscape. Visit our Climate Change page for more information on resilient landscapes and wildlife corridors.
Our conservation staff evaluates potential conservation projects by using a set of Conservation Criteria, listed below. We also look for properties near our Natural Areas of Interest and High Conservation Priority. MHLC prioritizes properties which benefit the public: by conserving open space with significant natural resources, wildlife habitats, significant viewsheds, culturally historic areas, working landscapes and public access for a healthier Capital Region.
MHLC reviews projects and looks for the following land characteristics to be included for a viable conservation project:
- Connected lands: Is the property connected to other conserved areas?
- MHLC is part of the Staying Connected Initiative, an international collaboration seeking to conserve and restore landscape connectivity across the Northern Appalachian/Acadian region of the U.S. and Canada for the benefit of nature and people.
- Significant Habitats: Does the property contain NYS Significant Habitats?
- Geologic and scientific resources: Is the property geologically significant? Does it have significance to the scientific community?
- Resilience: Is the property considered resilient based on The Nature Conservancy’s Resiliency Mapping project?
- Wetlands: Will the property protect wetlands?
- Stream corridors: Will the property protect stream corridors?
- Scenic vistas and viewpoints: Does the property provide historic views of water, mountains, forests, farmlands or skylines?
- Working landscapes: Can the property be utilized for their natural resources, particularly farming and forests?
Natural Areas of Interest and High Conservation Priority
MHLC’s Natural Areas of Interest and High Conservation Priority focus on several priority areas in the Capital Region, each of which meet our mission of conserving open space with significant natural resources, wildlife habitats, significant viewsheds, culturally historic areas, and working landscapes.
Bozen Kill Conservation Corridor
The Bozen Kill (Dutch for “raging stream”) runs through the Towns of Knox and Guilderland and is a significant tributary to the Watervliet Reservoir and watershed. The Bozen Kill ravine itself is recognized in The Nature Conservancy’s Resilient and Connected Lands mapping project as a resilient area. Resilient areas are those that can bounce back quickly from disturbances, such as flood and fire, but also provide microclimates for diverse wildlife habitats. Since 1992, MHLC has conserved 448 acres of connected lands along the Bozen Kill, which includes both our Bozen Kill and Wolf Creek Falls Preserves and the lands in between. This has created a significant corridor for wildlife movement and conservation for this important water source.
Helderberg Conservation Corridor
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 at the state level for their significance and support of high priority ecologic communities and includes habitat for endangered and other rare species of flora and fauna. The extreme topography of the Escarpment further makes it a resilient and biodiverse area, making it a high priority for conservation. MHLC has worked to not only protect the ecology of this feature, but also the viewshed to and from this Albany icon.
Indian Ladder Farms is protected by a conservation easement as a working landscape through MHLC and the Open Space Institute. The protection of these working lands ensures the historic view to and from the Escarpment for future generations. Additionally, MHLC has conserved many properties through conservation easements to prevent over development of this ecologically and scenically important area.
Black Creek Marsh and Vly Swamp
Black Creek Marsh and Vly Swamp are two significant wetland areas located in the Towns of Guilderland and New Scotland in Albany County. Both wetland complexes are support significantly high biological diversity. Black Creek Marsh Wildlife Management Area, owned by DEC protects 450 acres of this wetland, but more can be done to add to these protected lands and buffer the wetland to ensure its functioning for improved water quality, flood retention and support of biological diversity into the future.
Vly Swamp is rated among the top three wetlands in New York State for amphibian diversity, related to its geology and classification as a calcareous fen. MHLC’s Vly Swamp Preserve is not open to the public, but serves as a conservation land, protecting the species that live in this sensitive and unique habitat and the water quality vital to our region’s health.
Rensselaerville serves as a critical link to the Catskill Mountains from the Capital Region. Largely rural, this landscape is under development due to its close proximity to the Hudson Valley and New York City. Working landscapes, rural rolling hills and deep forests are iconic to this Town and its surrounding areas, making it a conservation priority on many levels for MHLC. Preservation of healthy working landscapes ensures food production locally for future generations, while preserving area forests supports clean air and water, and facilitates wildlife movement through the Capital Region to the Catskill Mountains in the south and north to the Adirondack Mountains for gene flow and range shifts in the wake of climate change.
Hudson and Mohawk River Corridors
MHLC’s service area is bordered by two significant New York rivers, the Hudson to our east and bisected by the Mohawk River. These rivers have played key roles in the development of Albany, Schenectady and Montgomery counties and their surrounding areas. They also serve as important water, recreational, ecological, cultural and scenic resources for the region, making them priorities for conservation for a healthy Capital region.
MHLC’s Fox Preserve serves as a model for this conservation priority, conserving nearly 70-acres in close proximity to the Mohawk River, this preserve protects Shaker Creek water quality (a tributary to the Mohawk River), offers recreational trails, links to the Mohawk-Hudson Bike Path and offers a unique overlook of the Mohawk River.
Wolf Hollow and Hoffmans Fault
Hoffmans Fault is geologically significant, displaying a broad outcropping of rock that traverses the Town of Glenville with different geology on either side of the fault due to the earth’s crust shifting. A significant part of the Fault includes Wolf Hollow, a mile-long ravine that was created by river erosion which has cut into the existing fault, exposing four soil types and creating immense biodiversity. The ravine is also a natural corridor that Native Americans used as a shortcut between the lower Mohawk River to the upper Hudson River and is rich in archeological material.
MHLC envisions a network of trail systems, connecting recreational users to the many public access opportunities available within the Bethlehem and surrounding areas. This includes working the local and regional partners to support trail connections. MHLC works closely with Albany County to steward the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail, a corridor of recreational trail running from Voorheesville to downtown Albany. This includes coordinating the Friends of the Rail Trail Committee.