Henri Tredwell Plant helped reroute an interstate highway to preserve a scenic creek environment.
He and members of the Mohawk Valley Hiking Club confronted initial federal plans in the early 1970s to route Interstate 88 through the Christman farm in Duanesburg.
They got The Nature Conservancy interested in the cause and raised the money for the environmental group to buy the property. That now is known as the Christman Sanctuary, a series of cascades along the Bozenkill that are the center of a scenic hiking trail.
“They went about it by getting $25 donations here, $25 donations there. They really made a door-to-door, person-to-person effort to save that land from roadwork,” said Plant’s daughter Suzette Tanis-Plant.
Plant, a longtime Glenville resident, died Sept. 28 at the age of 90.
The work to save that unique area is only part of Plant’s legacy in Schenectady County.
Glenville Open Space Committee Chairman Mark Storti said he got to know Plant through the Schenectady County Conservation Council, a group of sportsmen and women who work on open space issues.
Plant helped spearhead is an adopt a trail program in Featherstonhaugh State Forest in Duanesburg, which was the first effort of its kind in Schenectady County.
“Henri was a wonderful man, cared deeply about the environment in Schenectady County,” Storti said. “He loved to take long walks and we had fun together in the different open space areas of the town of Glenville. He was a real proponent to conserve and use the natural areas.”
Plant also always helped with Schenectady County’s Indian Kill fishing day.
Storti got to know Plant as they both belonged to the Dew Drop Club in Indian Lake. Plant loved to tell stories about his hiking and fishing adventures in the Adirondacks. One story involved when Storti was hiking on a trail near OK Slip Falls in the remote Hudson River Gorge area.
“He was hiking along an old logging road and a cow, a baby calf, followed him all the way out for five miles, all the way to the road,” he said.
Storti said Plant was also a positive person and very enjoyable to be around. “Those are the type of people you really want to have close to you and share your time with,” he said.
John Rack, director of Mohawk Valley Hiking Club, recalled the canoe trips that Plant took him on — even in his 80s. “He took me to different canoe trips, which I didn’t even know about,” he said.
In addition to the outdoor adventures, Rack said what stands out is Plant’s commitment to the environment and “making sure the environment wasn’t getting damaged by what businesses were doing.”
Plant also worried about the Schenectady County aquifer when the Rotterdam Mall went in, according to Rack.
Plant was also active in lobbying against a proposed waste burning plant that was going to up near the Scotia-Glenville middle and high schools. He was part of a group called Citizens Advocating Responsible Development (C.A.R.D.) that organized to ensure that the local community had all the facts about the plant before it came up on the town board’s agenda for approval. The project ultimately did not go through. He also lobbied against a proposed power plant in the Scotia-GLenville Industrial Park that was to be built right over the aquifer.
Plant was also head of Rotterdam Explorer Post 17, which provided opportunities for young people to learn leadership and outdoor skills by organizing camping and canoeing trips.
After growing up in Hempstead, Long Island, Plant attended Colgate University and completed his chemistry studies in three years instead of four because of the pending U.S. involvement World War II.
Upon graduation, he worked for the Bakelite Corporation on the Manhattan Project, which led to the atomic bomb. Later, he worked at General Electric in Schenectady for almost 40 years as a consultant in the plastics processing operation.
Daughter Tanis-Plant said her father’s love of nature grew out of a lifelong love of science. “It was through science, that we could solve a lot of the current problems that we have,” she said.
Plant is also survived by sons Christopher and Scott.
A tribute to Plant’s life is set for Oct. 20 at 12:45 p.m. at 2501 West Glenville Road.
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