Woman donates family farm

An old family farm on Manny Corners Road will soon be the site of a nature preserve for residents to

An old family farm on Manny Corners Road will soon be the site of a nature preserve for residents to enjoy hiking, bird watching and other peaceful activities.

Ellie Peters has agreed to donate 43 acres of land, which was once her family’s farm, to the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy.

Last month, the Conservancy received a $16,000 grant from the state Department of Environmental Conservation through the state’s Conservation Partnership Program, which will be used to develop trails on the land and a boardwalk on part of the wetlands.

Jill Knapp, executive director of the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, said Peters’ land is a mix of wetlands, grasslands and woods. There is also a small cemetery on the land dating back to the 1800s.

Currently part of the property is protected by the Natural Resources Conservation Service, a federal agency which Knapp said has already been making improvements on the land to enhance its wetlands and attract wildlife.

Knapp said the grant should cover most of the project.

“We’ve never built a boardwalk before, so we’re hoping it’ll be enough, but it may not,” she said.

Knapp said it is the goal of the conservancy to preserve land and, when possible, provide a public benefit by creating trails and other amenities.

Knapp said the work on Peters’ land won’t be completed for at least another year because the conservancy has to gain permits and approvals from DEC and the Natural Resource Conservation Service.

The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy is trying to make a greater impact in western Schenectady and Montgomery counties. The group, which was largely Albany-based, changed its name in 2005 from the Albany Land Conservancy to the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, in the hopes of broadening its reach.

“This is a great opportunity for people to become more aware of us, by acquiring this property,” she said. “We are happy to apply this grant to increase awareness about our work in the county and provide more recreational opportunities for the residents.”

Jeff Leon, treasurer of the land conservancy’s board of directors, is the only one of the 15-member board who lives in Montgomery County.

He has pushed for years to increase the conservancy’s awareness in Montgomery County, Leon said, and the conservancy is developing into a vibrant and active land trust in the area.

“The attention we’re getting out here is like a dream come true,” he said. “We have a number of new members in the area and we keep getting more and more opportunities to do things.”

Leon said over 50 percent of the county is still agricultural and many Albany professionals and college professors moved to the area years ago to live in the country and fell in love with the land.

“You don’t have to be a tree hugger to love the fact that the birds come back each spring,” he said.

Although the conservancy’s presence is growing in Montgomery County, there is still a need for volunteers, especially with the new project.

“It’s a big project and we are going to need volunteers including talented carpenters and plenty of hands to carry stuff in and out of the wetlands,” he said.

Categories: Schenectady County

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