With warmer weather just around the corner, there's a new, family-friendly guide for exploring the outdoors.
Designed by the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, the Nature Passport is a 30-page booklet that details 25 outings at the MHLC's 18 nature preserves in Schenectady, Montgomery and Albany counties.
“This is our first-ever Nature Passport," says Daron Blake, MHLC communications and outreach coordinator.
"The year 2017 is the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy’s 25th year of conserving land in the Capital Region. And we wanted to celebrate that by creating this fun, free resource that we could give out to the public. It makes it easy and fun for folks to get out and explore all of these lands that we’ve preserved. We have over 10,000 people walking in our preserves each year. The idea of the passport is to increase that even more.”
The booklets became available a few weeks ago, but because of the demand, the non-profit group is already planning to do a re-print, Blake says.
“We have already given out 400, which is much more than we were expecting. We’ve also found that there are a lot of Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops that are interested in this.”
Each page describes a place where one can go for a nature walk or "micro adventure" and do a suggested activity called a "quest."
"Each of our preserves has one adventure, some of them have two, and there’s a fun fact, something about preserve or the plants and animals you can find," Blake says.
“There are a few adventures that are not specifically MHLC preserves but lands that we’ve worked with other organizations to protect. There’s one that’s at the Albany Pine Bush Preserve, there’s another at Indian Ladder Farms.”
At the Bennett Hill Preserve in New Scotland, the quest is to find Bathtub Spring, a geological formation that has water running through it.
“We were hoping to create something that was family-friendly while not being only geared to kids,” Blake says.
After exploring, one can scribble notes on the page and rate the experience from "one to five acorns."
If you see something special on your adventure, post a comment or photo on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.
And if you complete all 25 adventures, a certificate and a sticker is awarded.
Since it was founded in 1992, the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy has grown and expanded its schedule of public events.
“We’ve protected 5,000 acres of land. We were founded in 1992. By 2009, we had preserved 2000 acres. We’ve more than doubled that number, just within the past eight years,” says Blake.
This year, two more preserves will be added, bringing the total to 20.
Strawberry Fields Nature Preserv will open in Amsterdam on May 20; Fox Preserve in Colonie will open on Oct. 2.
Three outdoor events are scheduled next month: a hiking and backpacking workshop on April 8: an Earth Day Work Day on April 22; and a Schoharie Creek Preserve hike on April 30.
Two hikes are planned in May.
“We’re inviting people to come to the preserves and come to our events this year...we want to get more and more people outside and enjoying these lands,” says Blake.
WHAT: New family-friendly guide to nature preserves and other places in Schenectady, Montgomery and Albany counties
WHERE: Pick one up at the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, 425 Kenwood Ave., Delmar. The office is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday but they are also available after hours in an envelope at the door. To have one mailed to you, send email to firstname.lastname@example.org
HOW MUCH: Free
MORE INFO: mohawkhudson.org, 436-6346, Facebook