As spring approaches, a local land conservation group is hoping a new program will connect kids with the outdoors in new ways.
The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy (MHLC) was recently awarded two grants totaling $13,600 from the state Land Trust Alliance that will hopefully allow it to greater increase the public's use of its land holdings.
One grant will be used to create access and expand possible usage of the group's 287-acre Clarksville preserve at Wolf Hill. Right now, the public can't access the property, but with the grant money, MHLC Executive Director Jill Knapp hopes to have the area open for use by the end of the year.
A second grant will expand the use of already existing conservation areas. The conservancy hopes to create a, Adopt a Forest Lot program whereby youth groups can take "ownership" of a small section of a nature preserve and thereby enjoy the whole property, as well.
"There's been an awful lot of publicity lately about how kids are not getting out into nature...so we're trying to encourage more contact with nature," Knapp said.
The conservancy hopes to target the program towards groups in the City of Albany that may not have many opportunities for outdoor recreation. To that end, the effort will be focused on the MHLC's Normanskill preserve property and the new Schiffendecker preserve (located behind Wal-Mart in Glenmont) due to their proximity to the city.
Allowing groups to take a two or three acre section of the preserves to maintain could help create a sense of ownership for the youths, Knapp said, and hopefully foster a respect for the importance of open space. The kids can also, of course, take advantage of all the uses the preserves already provide.
"A lot of it just might be fun, to be out there in the woods and hiking around," Knapp said.
The Schiffendecker preserve is not yet open to the public. At 39 acres, it holds a stream and interesting beaver activity, said Knapp, and the conservancy hopes to have it open by the end of April.
For more information of the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, visit their web site at http://www.mohawkhudson.org.