Meet MHLC: George Bailie

George Bailie, MHLC Volunteer

George serves as the Preserve Steward at MHLC’s Holt Preserve in the town of New Scotland. Before joining us as a volunteer, George taught and researched aspects of the appropriate use of medications in patients with kidney failure as a professor of pharmacy at Albany College of Pharmacy. He is a dedicated volunteer who has given countless hours to help maintain the trails of Holt and other MHLC Preserves. 

When did you begin volunteering with the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy?

Over the years, I had been to many of the preserves, but I had not visited Holt for some time. In Fall 2017, I met with MHLC staff and expressed a desire to be a volunteer Preserve Steward. When the MHLC Stewardship staff reintroduced me to Holt, I was quite impressed by its varied trails. It was then that I decided to help maintain these trails as a Preserve Steward.

What inspires you to support MHLC?

I’ve always enjoyed the outdoors. Since moving to the northeast in 1988, I have been an active hiker, runner, and bicyclist. The Adirondacks and Catskills hold a very special charm for hikers throughout the year as it is still possible to find remote and beautiful places with relative ease. Now that I am retired, I have time to facilitate the enjoyment of local preserves by other people. By assisting with preserve and trail upkeep, I can help to ensure each visitor to the preserve has a memorable experience.

Volunteers help with essential trail work.

How would you describe your role as a volunteer at MHLC?

Most of my time is spent sharing the maintenance of Holt Preserve with other stewards through routine trail checks and tasks such as clearing fallen trees. The amount of time varies with the season, from weekly visits during the growing season to every couple of weeks in the winter. Periodically, we host group efforts tending to trails that need significant upgrades or mending. Additionally, I enjoy the opportunity to work with volunteers at other preserves during MHLC’s planned workdays.

Which is your favorite aspect of volunteering with MHLC?

I particularly enjoy the opportunities to meet new people who have a shared passion to look after natural spaces. I also appreciate the opportunities MHLC provides for volunteers to learn new skills, such as chainsaw training, building and maintaining water management structures, and fabricating new trails. 

George Bailie and fellow Preserve Steward Peter Richards received the Dan Driscoll Leadership Award at the Annual Awards Dinner on February 23, 2020. The Dan Driscoll Leadership Award is given annually to those who give outstanding efforts to advance the mission on MHLC. Congratulations to George and our other 2020 award winners!

Read more about MHLC’s 2020 Annual Awards Dinner and this year’s award recipients.

L to R: MHLC Board Chair Sarah Carroll, George Bailie, Peter Richards, and MHLC Executive Director Mark King

31 Trails in 31 Days: A New Year’s Resolution

At the end of last month, MHLC received a message over social media from MHLC supporter Matthew Lambert announcing that he had completed his New Year’s resolution: complete an average of one hike a day in the month of January. Matt, a 1982 SUNY Cortland graduate with a major in Outdoor Recreation and Education who retired from a 30-year career in higher education, decided that instead of spending time in the gym each day, he’d rather be outdoors. 

What was the most challenging aspect of completing the hikes?

Most of my hikes in January were only 45 minutes to an hour in duration. Sometimes they were only 30 minutes if I was visiting 2 or 3 trails for that day. I do that because I hike solo and I don’t like being too far out alone. The other reason is I bundle up for the cold and usually perspire heavily. If I were to stop moving, I could quickly get chilled in freezing temperatures. Being too far out can be dangerous in those conditions. The MHLC trail markers can be lifesavers. If anyone has ever gotten lost in winter conditions, they know how scary and dangerous that can be. The trail markers minimize that risk. Therefore, I follow the markers, and keep the hikes short and sweet. That keeps me fresh and always ready for more.

My knees won’t let me climb mountains anymore, so these short hikes are perfect and I find them just as fulfilling. I can squeeze them in around the other demands of the day.

How many of the trails you visited were new to you?

Of the 31 trails, 12 of them I had never visited before. As an amateur photographer, I am always pleasantly surprised at the unique features and attributes that each trail presents. There always seem to be babbling brooks and waterfalls on the path. As a kayaker, traveling to these trails has allowed me to discover new waterways to conquer this coming spring.

Now that you’ve reached your goal, are you still hiking as often?

There are hundreds of more parks and preserve trails out there and I’m going to knock off as many as I can this year. Rather than spend an hour or two in a gym, I prefer to get a workout in by discovering a new slice of nature. No two sites are alike, there are always surprises, beauty abounds, and it’s free! How can you beat that?!

In a January 31st posting Matt wrote, “Mission accomplished! I couldn’t have done it without the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy’s trails! They are what motivated me to undertake this goal. Thank you! I am looking forward to volunteering and contributing to the MHLC cause in 2020.” 

Matt’s 31 Hikes for the Month of January (or snowshoeing/XC skiing)

  1. 1-1-2020: Hannacrois Creek Falls Preserve, New Baltimore, NY
  2. 1-2-2020: Wolf Creek Falls Preserve (MHLC), Altamont, NY 
  3. 1-3-2020: Cherry Plain State Park, Renssalaer County, NY
  4. 1-5-2020: Peebles Island State Park, Watervliet, NY
  5. 1-6-2020: Bennett Hill Preserve (MHLC), Clarksville, NY
  6. 1-7-2020: Thompson Lake State Park, New Scotland, NY
  7. 1-7-2020: John Boyd Thacher State Park, Voorheesville, NY
  8. 1-9-2020: Five Rivers Nature Center, Delmar, NY
  9. 1-10-2020: Holt Preserve (MHLC), Feura Bush, NY
  10. 1-11-2020: Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail- East, Slingerlands-Albany, NY
  11. 1-12-2020: Corning-Hudson Bike Trail, Albany-Watervliet, NY
  12. 1-14-2020: Albany Country Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail- West, Slingerlands-Voorheesville, NY
  13. 1-15-2020: Fox Preserve (MHLC), Latham, NY
  14. 1-15-2020: Mohawk-Hudson Bike Trail, Niskayuna, NY
  15. 1-16-2020: Van Dyke Preserve (MHLC), Delmar, NY
  16. 1-17-2020: Schoharie Creek Preserve (MHLC), Burtonsville, NY
  17. 1-18-2020: Elm Avenue Park Fitness Trail, Delmar, NY
  18. 1-20-2020: Lincoln Park (MLK Walk), Albany, NY
  19. 1-23-2020: Ridgefield Park, Albany, NY
  20. 1-24-2020: Normanskill-West Preserve (MHLC), Delmar, NY
  21. 1-24-2020: Phillipin Preserve (MHLC), Delmar, NY
  22. 1-24-2020: Swift Preserve (MHLC), Delmar, NY
  23. 1-25-2020: Harbor Walk Trail, Boston Harbor, Boston, MA
  24. 1-26-2020: Washington Park, Albany, NY
  25. 1-28-2020: Hudson Shores Park, Troy, NY
  26. 1-28-2020: Frear Park, Troy, NY
  27. 1-28-2020: Chamberlain Riverfront Park, Troy, NY
  28. 1-28-2020: Hoffman Park, Albany, NY
  29. 1-28-2020: Plumeri Sports Park, Albany, NY
  30. 1-29-2020: Ashford Glen Preserve (MHLC), Colonie, NY
  31. 1-30-2020: Towasentha Park, Guilderland, NY