In Memory of Matthew Bender IV

For more than twenty years, Matt Bender was a guiding force in the growth of the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy. Matt had an immense passion for the Capital Region and a deep sense of the importance of history and conservation. The Conservancy served an important role in his compelling vision of the region. Unlike so many people who consider the best feature of our area its proximity to other places—Boston, New York, etc.—Matt recognized the real value of our region is in its people, beautiful places, and history.

Matt took MHLC under his wing early in its development and continued to serve as a member of MHLC’s Advisory Council over the years. In 2017, he was recognized as the honoree of the Conservancy’s 25th anniversary year. Matt was never content to provide financial support alone; instead, he wanted to make sure the organization was spending wisely, communicating clearly, and investing in the future to achieve sustainability. He was impatient with failure unless the lessons from mistakes lead to growth, and he was quick to recognize success and achievement. Matt was one of the most energetic, constructive, generous, and wise people, whose interests included an enormous range of causes and projects in our nonprofit sector–he will be greatly missed.

The Board of Trustees, staff, and volunteers of MHLC send our condolences to the Bender family on the passing of Matthew Bender. We join with many others in the Capital Region and beyond in celebrating his life and mourning his loss. We are so grateful for all the ways his generosity transformed our community.





Mark King, MHLC Executive Director 


The Celebration of the Life of Matthew Bender IV has been postponed due to concerns about the coronavirus. Originally scheduled for Saturday, March 14, at The Albany Academies, it will be rescheduled; we will inform you of the new date when it is available.

The Bender family has asked that in lieu of flowers, donations could be made to the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy.

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MHLC is celebrating 25 Years of Conservation in 2017… and we need your help today!

Watch MHLC's latest video to learn more about our conservation work

Watch MHLC’s latest video to learn more about our conservation work

Since its founding, MHLC has protected close to 5,000 acres of land in Albany, Schenectady and Montgomery counties, with almost 50% of its growth taking place in the past 3 years. This exponential expansion is fueled by generous funding by devoted supporters who have enabled the Conservancy to protect air and water quality, local food supplies, and critical habitats.  But there’s still so much more to be done!

In celebration of the Conservancy’s coming 25th Birthday, the Conservancy has received a wonderful and unexpected anonymous pledge for $25,000.  If we raise $25,000 in donations by December 31st, 2016, the donor will match it, dollar-for-dollar. This doubles the impact of your year-end gift!

It takes many hands to conserve the Capital Region’s natural lands and heritage—please lend a hand by contributing what you can, and by telling your friends to do the same.  Every dollar makes a difference—today and for future generations.

Once we develop our natural areas, we cannot get them back.  Please donate today!

Photo of Holt Preserve taken by Alan Via

Photo of Holt Preserve taken by Alan Via

We have big plans for our silver anniversary in 2017. Visit our 25th Anniversary page to learn about events and plans for this celebration of 25 years of conservation.

On the Road Again: the Traveling Mural

The Albany County, Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail Community Mural was recently moved to the next stop on its tour at the New Scotland Town Hall!

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This year’s Summer Solstice Celebration, an annual community event hosted by MHLC and its Friends of the Rail Trail (FORT) committee to celebrate the longest day of the year and the beginning of summer, also marked the beginning of the traveling rail trail mural. Artist, MHLC Board member, and FORT member Ellie Prakken painted a beautiful image of the Albany County Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail complete with walkers, bikers and furry friends. The mural was conceived as a community art project illustrating the community connections created by the rail trail. At the Summer Solstice Celebration on June 22, 2014 leaves and markers were provided and solstice attendees of all ages were invited to add their creative mark to the mural. Each leaf was secured, making the mural a one-of-a-kind community artwork. Following the Solstice, the mural began a year-long tour across the capital region.

Our story picks up in the Town of New Scotland.
Diane Deschenes, Town Clerk, leads us down a hallway at the Town Hall to the space where the mural will soon hang. Diane mentions that people often walk past this area, and the mural will bring some much needed life to the bare wall.closebox

Ellie and her husband, John Smolinsky, meet us with supplies in hand. Now halfway through its tour, Ellie and John have become experts at hanging and taking down the mural. Most recently, the artwork was displayed in the Voorheesville library for the months of September and October.hanging mural




Before long, the mural is stretched out on the wall, held by John and Lea Montalto-Rook, MHLC Development Director. After a few minor adjustments, Ellie gives the OK, and up it goes!








Without trouble, the mural is secured to the wall, and soon starts attracting the attention of passersby.


Ellie discusses the Rail Trail with Tom Dolin, New Scotland Town Supervisor, and Diane Deschenes, Town Clerk. Dolin and Deschenes were both excited to host the mural and happy to be supporting the Rail Trail.







 Ellie poses with the finished project. Many thanks Ellie and John!

The mural will remain at the New Scotland Town Hall through December 2014 before it travels on to its next stop, sure to brighten the days of all those who see it.


Visit the mural at the New Scotland Town Hall

2029 New Scotland Rd.
Slingerlands, NY

For hours and information about the town hall visit:

Getting excited for Summer Solstice 2015? We are too! Stay up to date: