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New tech blossoms in old growth

Bilingual audio tour unveiled at Lisha Kill Preserve

Troy Weldy, director of Ecological Management for the Conservancy, leads an audio tour at the Lisha Kill Nature Preserve in Niskayuna.

Troy Weldy, director of Ecological Management for the Conservancy, leads an audio tour at the Lisha Kill Nature Preserve in Niskayuna. Submitted photo

— Don’t forget to bring your smartphone the next time you trek into nature.

No, you don’t need your mobile device to text friends or check in on Facebook, but it will let you learn about the environment at the Lisha Kill Nature Preserve as you take in the scenery.

The Nature Conservancy’s Eastern New York Chapter on Thursday, June 14, unveiled its new bilingual audio tour offered at Lisha Kill in Niskayuna with a ribbon cutting, as state and local officials, along with residents, saw technology being wed with nature.

“One of the challenges for the environmental movement is to attract a younger audience and we noticed that with the youth of today many of them are connected to their phones,” spokeswoman for the conservancy Ellen Weiss said, “so if we could bring that technology into the preserve we might bring them into the preserve as well.”

Accessing the audio tours requires a smartphone, such as an iPhone, or any other device able to scan QR codes and allow you to follow the link to a webpage. The QR codes allow visitors to access a self-guided audio tour, which is available in English or Spanish.

The QR codes, which are square with a black and white pattern, are posted on trail signs along the 1.5-mile pathway. There are nine trail signs, each numbered to the corresponding audio segment, and each segment is around 1 minute and 20 seconds long.

The audio tour includes facts about the preserve’s history, local geology, hydrology, flora and fauna.

“We chose Lisha Kill because it is one of our flagship preserves and it is used by a lot of local residents, as well as we often see people from the local businesses taking their lunch hour there,” Weiss said. “We wanted to put the technology at a destination that we know gets a lot of foot traffic and a diverse foot traffic.”

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