MHLC Receives Accreditation!
This fall Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy received the exciting news from the Land Trust Alliance (LTA) that we are now an accredited land trust. The LTA is a national organization that provides support and assistance to the more than 1700 land trusts nationwide. Through their accreditation program they recognize land trusts that have met a rigorous set of standards ranging from operations to complex legal transactions. The process involves a detailed audit and a tremendous effort undertaken by Jill Knapp and the MHLC Board of Directors to meet the standards involved – a big achievement for a small organization. The LTA accreditation tag line captures the spirit of the program “Excellence – Trust – Permanence” all standards MHLC strives to achieve.
Fall Fundraiser a Huge Success!
On September 26, 2013, more than one hundred and thirty members and friends of the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy gathered together to celebrate in the Adirondack Hall of the New York State Museum. The evening included an elegant dinner from Creo Restaurant, musical entertainment by Spiral Tango with Ray Andrews, a celebration of MHLC’s 21 years, and an opportunity to bid on many great gift packages.
The event was a tremendous success in raising critical dollars in support of our land conservation efforts including our newest projects in the Helderbergs and along the Bozenkill. Together we raised over $27,000 to advance the Conservancy’s efforts on these exciting initiatives.
We would especially like to thank all those who bought tickets, the volunteers who provided essential labor and support for the night, the donors to our silent auction, our corporate sponsors, Creo, Interim HealthCare, and SABIC, and the many others who made everything possible. Thank you!
Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail Bridge Work Underway
Voorheesville, NY – Long awaited improvements on two key bridge spans along the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail are moving forward and their completion will allow the opening of a three mile section of the trail in New Scotland this fall. Once completed, the improved bridges will for the first time offer the public the opportunity to enjoy the trail between Upper Font Grove Road in New Scotland and Voorheesville Avenue in the Village of Voorheesville.
A group of dedicated volunteers began work on the bridge over the Vly Creek in Voorheesville last weekend and is expected to finish within the next few weeks. The effort involves the construction of railings and a new deck to safely span the existing rail road ties. According to Scott Lewendon, the project leader and an expert in rail trail design, “we are really fortunate that the bridge was structurally very sound and with the help of a group of skilled volunteers and engineering we will have an attractive crossing over Vly Creek”.
Construction and improvements on a second bridge over Route 155 in Voorheesville is underway. JAT Construction of Selkirk is installing fencing along both sides of the overpass for pedestrian and vehicle safety.
Funding for both bridge improvements started with a generous grant from the Voorheesville Community and School Foundation and individual donations to Friends of the Rail Trail (FORT), a Committee of the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy. Additional support from the Town of New Scotland through their parkland reserve fund and assistance from Albany County Department of Public Works on traffic control on Rt. 155 during construction finally brought together all of the support necessary to get the project moving. “The recent progress made to this point on the Rail Trail affirms that partnerships work,” said Albany County Executive Daniel P. McCoy. “I want to commend the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy for working with the county on this vital recreational project and for energizing volunteers to vary out the work needed to be done. The county remains committed to a further expansion of the trail from Albany to Bethlehem and we will work with the Conservancy to keep moving forward on the project.” New Scotland Town Supervisor Tom Dolin is also enthused about the project, “The Town is very pleased to see progress on the New Scotland section of the trail and looks forward to further collaboration with the many partners that have made this opening possible.”
With some additional trail clearing and mowing the trail will be ready for public use this fall. Because of the existing trail surface and some unprotected steep grades, the trail will only be open to pedestrian use for the time being. The opening of this section follows the example of the section already opened in the Town of Bethlehem between the Fireman’s Memorial Park in Slingerlands and the Veterans Memorial Park of Delaware Avenue. This two mile section was opened to pedestrians in June, 2011 after signing a partnership agreement between the Conservancy, the Town and the County for the improvements, maintenance and stewardship of the walking trail. Albany County has initiated engineering and design work for the area between the end of the trail on South Pearl Street in the City of Albany and the underpass on Delaware Avenue that will lead to the completion of this section of the trail as a paved shared use path open to pedestrians and bicyclists. This project will be constructed with federal funds administered by NYS Department of Transportation, funds from NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, and matching funds from Albany County. Construction is planned to begin next fall and the trail will be completed in late 2015.
The Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail is a work in progress that involves public and private partnerships. The corridor was purchased from the Canadian Pacific Railroad in 2009 by Albany County with funding from New York State Parks and Scenic Hudson, a not for profit land trust and advocacy group in the Hudson Valley. The Friends of the Rail Trail (FORT), a committee of the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy (MHLC), working with Albany County, the towns of New Scotland and Bethlehem, and the Village of Voorheesville have been instrumental in helping to open and maintain the existing sections of trail as well as advocating for the project. Finally, the support of numerous community businesses and individuals have all contributed to bringing the trail one step closer to fruition.
For more information about the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail or to volunteer, please the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy: 436-6346. Tax-deductible donations are also welcomed, and can be made to the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, with a note that the gift is for the Friends of the Rail Trail committee.
MHLC Receives $35,000 from NYS Conservation Partnership Program
On April 25th, the Land Trust Alliance and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation announced a tenth round of land trust grants through the NYS Conservation Partnership Program. We are delighted to say that MHLC has received a grant of $35,000.
The award was announced at a news conference at the Mohonk Preserve in Ulster County as part of DEC's week-long celebration of Earth Day. The grants which total $1.4 million are funded through the state's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), and will be matched by $1.3 million in private and local funding. Fifty-seven land trusts across the state received funding for 75 projects.
The grant will support MHLC's new conservation initiative to conserve wildlife habitat, farmland, and scenic open space stretching from the Helderberg Escarpment to the hamlet of Rensselaerville. The goal of the new project is to create a corridor of protected lands linking wildlife habitat and diverse ecosystems, and providing permanent protection of historic landscapes, scenic vistas, and working lands. Initially the project will focus on lands at either end of the landscape and will eventually expand to develop a corridor of conserved farms, woodlands, and wetlands. This grant provides the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy with the funds necessary to complete the initial study to finalize the scope and feasibility of the project.
Update on the Helderberg Hudson Rail Trail
Plans are progressing on the Rail Trail. We are hopeful that the work on the bridges in Voorheesville will be done in time to celebrate the summer solstice.
The final draft of the Comprehensive Graphic Communication Plan has been completed. This detail report provides guidelines for trail elements and amenities, such as benches, and identifies potential educational and intepretive themes for the trail. These themes were developed as the result of the public outreach workshop held in March of 2012. With the plan in place, we can soon start on its implementation. We thank Scott Lewendon and Dan Melhman who generously contributed their time and professional expertise to creating this plan. Funding from the $10,000 Hudson River Valley Greenway Grant will be used to develop and install signs and amenities.
Mark your calendars for our second annual Fairly Tales and Fireflies to celebrate the summer solstice and the end of the school year on the rail trail. This year the event will be on Thursday June 20th. More information will be coming out soon!
117 acres of Farmland in West Glenville Protected
On Friday February 8, Robert Bintz, Jr., and his parents Robert and Sally Bintz, signed an easement protecting 117 acres of their land in West Glenville, NY. Bordering on West Glenville and Touareuna roads, the property will now remain forever undeveloped, contributing to the beauty of the West Glenville landscape. This is the third easement that MHLC has acquired in the area. In 2006, Dud Crauer and Cal Schmidt put conservation easements on their properities in the community.
The Bintz property consists of a mix of open fields and woodlands and includes a 7.6 acre pond. It extends from Wolf Hollow Road on the east to Touareuna Road, the Schenectady/Montgomery County line on the west. There is an old family cemetery, surrounded by a stone wall in one of the hay fields along Touareuna Road. The property was featured in the Town of Glenville's Open Space Plan due to its scenic value.
We are pleased that the Bintz's have donated this easement, and hope that other landowners in the area might consider protecting their land to preserve the rural character of the Town.
New Acquisitions Bring Total Protected Land to 2706 acres!
With three new recent acquisitions and a new easement, we have now protected over 2700 acres.
Town of Bethlehm: We received another property this year in Bethlehem along the Phillipin Kill. The property is located on Van Dyke Road near the intersection of Meads Lane. The majority of the land, 25 acres, lies on the west side of Van Dyke Road. An eight acre portion lies on the east side of the road along the Phillipin Kill.
Like many of the other preserves MHLC has in the Delmar area, the property on the west side of the road is mixed terrain. The flood plain is broad and flat in some places and narrower with steep slopes in other spots. There are several intermittent woodland pools that provide important habitat for amphibians. An existing path, which appears to be an old farm road, provides easy access to a large portion of the property on the west side of the road. There are also a few small trails. The woods are similar to our Phillipin Kill preserve with a mix of hard woods including numerous beech trees. In several spots there are some larger hemlock.
We plan to develop access and trail in 2014 after the Town of Bethlehem completes the road project proposed to improve the intersection of Van Dyke and Meads Lane.
The property was donated to MHLC by Van Dyke Spinney LLC. The donation of the parcel was discussed as plans were being developed for their new senior housing complex on Van Dyke Road. With the donation to MHLC, access will be available to both the residents of the new development as well as the public at large. MHLC is thankful for the donation of this land which helps protect more of the Phillipin Kill stream corridor.
Additions to Winn Preserve:MHLC has received two parcels of land totaling 28 acres in the Town of Knox to enhance our Winn Preserve. These two parcels fill the gap between between other parcels we own now giving us a 208 contiguous acres.
These parcels were received from Albany County and had been held by the county as tax foreclosures. We are very appreciative of the County Legislature and County Executive for their support of our land protection efforts and the donation of these parcels.
Restifo Preserve, Westerlo: The Restifo Preserve is a 51-acre parcel, most of which is a wetland and pond. It is a gorgeous place to sit and what the abundant bird life and to see turtles and frogs.
The property was donated to the Conservancy by Joseph Restifo. Now a resident of Delmar, Joe owned numerous parcels in the area and enjoyed the rural area for a number of years. He acquired this 51 acre parcel, sometimes referred to as "the sanctuary," in 2005. When Joe moved into town and put the rest of his land up for sale, he offered this beautiful parcel to the Conservancy to be kept as a nature preserve.
The property is located on north side Maple Avenue Ext. in South Westerlo. Given the significant area of open water and wetlands, opportunities for hiking are limited.
We are delighted to have received this beautiful sanctuary from Mr. Restifo, and appreciate his desire to see it stay as protected property.
Work Progressing on Land Protection in Wolf Hollow
This summer we kicked off an initiative to protect more land in the Wolf Hollow /Hoffman's Fault area. In 2006, we completed two easements protecting 140 acres, but funding for land protection has been a limitation. This year, with landowners interested in protecting their lands, we started a fundraising effort to help with costs such as surveys and endowments. We expect to complete another easement this year protecting an over 100 acres.
As some of you may know, Wolf Hollow Road has been closed to public vehicular use. But this scenic roadway which winds through the hollow, is a wonderful place to walk. In August 2012 we held an event in the hollow to inspire some of our donors with the region's unique geologic history and need for protection.
If you would like to help with our land protection efforts in Wolf Hollow, please send a check or a donation online and note that it is for Wolf Hollow. We have a good start on protecting some beautiful properties in the area and hope other landowners who appreciate the region's rich history and natural resources will consider protecting their lands as well.
287 Acre Keleher Preserve Now Open
From Left, Judy Thomson, MHLC Board President; Kathy Moser, DEC Assistant Commissioner for Natural Resources; Peter Bakal, MHLC Stewardship Chair; Peter Stoj, Preserve Steward; Tom Dolin, Town of New Scotland Supervisor; Ethan Winter, Land Trust Alliance.
The Keleher Preserve on top of Wolf Hill outside of Clarksville opened officially Saturday September 15, 2012. A ceremonial ribbon cutting was held for public officials on Thursday September 13. Representatives from DEC and the Land Trust Alliance attended along with neighbors and volunteers.
Thanks to the efforts of Preserve Steward Peter Stoj and Board Member Peter Bakal, the preserve offers over 3 miles of trails over mixed terrain. The initial part of the trail loop is quite steep but once you are up to the top of the hill, it is an easier walk with only a few ups and downs. A portion of the trail runs along the edge of the escarpment and offers glimpses of the landscape to the east. Further work is planned to remove a few selected trees to open up more of a view. The red trail, a short spur trail, provides a great view of the hills east of the Hudson River.
MHLC acquired the preserve from Katherine and John Barber of Seattle WA in 2010. With funding from the NY State Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) and the New York State Conservation Partnership Program, a collaboration between the Land Trust Alliance and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, we were able to develop a parking area and install a kiosk. We are also very appreciative of the support we have received from the neighbors.
Directions: From Albany take Rt. 443 West (Delaware Avenue) through the hamlet of Clarksville. Just outside of Clarksville, turn left on Cass Hill Road. Stay on Cass Hill for about 2.7 miles. Turn right on Gulf Hill Road. The parking area is on the right after about 1.2 miles. Be sure to keep to the left at the fork in the road after the pond on the right.