The New York State Department of Conservation (DEC) in partnership with the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy (MHLC) and the Friends of Five Rivers citizens' support group, today announced that 35 acres of open space on the corner of Fisher Boulevard and Route 85 in the towns of Bethlehem and New Scotland are being added to DEC's Five Rivers Environmental Education Center. The announcement took place at an event at the site of the preserved land, highlighting that these acres will be incorporated into the Five Rivers Environmental Education Center, increasing its acreage and protecting the site from future development while enhancing community access to nature, outdoor learning, and recreation.
"Today's announcement marks the addition of 35 acres to Five Rivers, growing DEC's flagship Environmental Education Center. We are grateful for the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy's donation of this property, with a conservation easement to the State to expand our award-winning Educational Center at Five Rivers," said DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos. "This land will add to protected open space in a rapidly developing area. This acquisition is consistent with our State Open Space Conservation Plan, and is the direct result of a great partnership between the generous landowner, the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, and DEC that will immensely benefit the public."
"The overwhelming response of our community to the Fisher Boulevard project has been inspiring," said Mark King, Executive Director of MHLC. "Starting with a significant leading contribution from the Board of Directors of the Friends of Five Rivers citizens' support group, we quickly met and surpassed our fundraising goal through a rush of support from the community. The grassroots movement of our neighbors has been heartening, and we are grateful for their dedication to preserving this idyllic property."
This acquisition was made possible by the support of the local community. In June, MHLC announced a fundraising campaign to help the Conservancy protect these 35 acres, known as the Fisher Boulevard property, which had been under the threat of development for more than a decade. Red lawn signs posted on Route 85 and Fisher Boulevard announced the project to commuters, catching the attention of neighbors and passersby.
Today, thanks to an incredible outpouring of support, MHLC has met-and surpassed-its fundraising goal, enabling the conservancy to complete the conservation effort. The Fisher Boulevard property will be protected in perpetuity, extinguishing the threat of future development. MHLC has placed new, blue signs on the property publicly announcing the success of the project.
Joanne Macklin, Executive Director of the Friends of Five Rivers, said, "The Friends of Five Rivers is grateful to the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy and DEC for protecting this important parcel from development. Five Rivers Center is a special place to so many in the community and the Friends are proud to be able to make a contribution on their behalf to preserve the land for future generations."
In the midst of a developed landscape, these 35 acres are a refuge for wildlife living on the suburban fringe. The vernal pools provide an important habitat for amphibians in the area, and the open fields are critical nesting and hunting grounds for birds and many other species of wildlife. Small, seasonal streams on the property form the head waters of the Phillipin Kill. By saving this land, water quality is also being protected.
Senator George Amedore said, "For generations, Five Rivers has provided families throughout the region an opportunity to learn about and appreciate our natural resources in a hands-on environment. With this acquisition, we will ensure this wonderful educational experience will be preserved and enjoyed by our future generations for many more years to come."
Assemblymember Patricia Fahy said, "Five Rivers Environmental Education Center brings nature a little closer to home for families across the Capital Region. Teaching our children about the importance of protecting our natural heritage is more important than ever in the digital age and this additional acreage will further this goal. The preservation of open space boosts the quality of life for every community and I'm thankful to all of the partners involved in growing this jewel of the Capital Region."
Five Rivers Center is a host site for the Student Conservation Association's Hudson Valley AmeriCorps program. Three AmeriCorps members will be working with DEC to plan a trail on the new parcel to the section of the center's grounds known as the Joel Property. To learn more about DEC's Five Rivers Environmental Education Center, comprising more than 450 acres of fields, forests, and wetlands, visit DEC's website.
To learn more about MHLC and the Fisher Boulevard property, visit Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy's website. The Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy (MHLC) is a nonprofit conservation organization working to preserve the natural, scenic, agricultural and cultural landscapes of the Mohawk and Hudson River valleys. Since its founding in 1992, the Conservancy has protected more than 5,000 acres of land in Albany, Montgomery, and Schenectady Counties, including over 2,000 acres open to the public for hiking, cross-country skiing, and other educational and recreational opportunities.