Progress at Bender Melon Farm Preserve

November 7, 2023

This fall there has been a flurry of activity at Bender Melon Farm Preserve. Contractors are wrapping up the next phase of cleanup at the old farm site, removing old debris and filling in foundations from the old barns and accessory structures. These areas remain closed to visitors but will eventually offer more hiking opportunities and a beautiful vista of the property. The northwestern field adjacent to Hilton Park has been mowed as part of the ongoing effort to convert this area into open meadow and pollinator habitat. 

We have been cutting back and treating the invasive Tree of Heaven near the old farm site in accordance with an NRCS project. One of these was over 40 years old! Blue dye is used to mark cut stumps for our NRCS (Natural Resources Conservation Service) contract work to improve habitat through promotion of native species. 

Another highly visable and greatly anticipated project is the restoration of the bridge that crosses over the Albany County Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail.  (Rail Trail users should expect closures as work progresses in November.) Here are some key happenings related to the bridge work:

  • The old planking was removed by Albany County teams, and now our contractor, William J. Keler and Sons Construction, are pressure washing and scraping the remaining portions in preparation for painting and redecking. 
  • MHLC has opened up an access road from the Rail Trail to the top of the bridge for the contractors to move materials and equipment. This access road will not be open for public use, though it will become part of the trail system after the project is completed. 
  • In preparation for the bridge opening, we will be putting in new walking trails on the north side of the property, which is still inaccessible to the public. When the bridge is open, visitors will have access to a brand new loop through another wooded portion of the preserve. 

 As with all MHLC Preserves, it is important to remember to stay on marked trails only. Going off-trail disturbs wildlife and creates unintended pathways that lead other preserve visitors astray. We'll announce any new trails as soon as they are ready! Click here to visit the Bender Melon Farm StoryMap.

(MHLC Volunteers: Be on the lookout for upcoming workdays to build trails on the northern side of Bender Melon Farm Preserve!)

Foundation of the old farmsteam. (Restricted access area.)
Old decking was removed on the existing bridge structure. (Please stay clear of this restricted area.)