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The RLT has an ongoing project called the "Botany Project." It involves the production of complete botanical surveys of some of the major natural areas of Rensselaer County, including plant collections.
The RLT has established a model for other local land trusts with its botanical projects, thanks in part to professional and expert amateur botanists serving both on our Board and as volunteers. We first used a grant from the Sweetwater Trust to develop a database and enter information on all Rensselaer County specimens in the Herbarium of the New York State Museum. We subsequently received legislative initiative funding through State Senator Joseph Bruno's office to conduct detailed botanical studies at the Grafton Lakes State Park, Dyken Pond Environmental Education Center and the RLT's Butternut Hill preserve. These studies included complete vouchered plant collections from each park or preserve and computer-generated maps showing collection locations. The vouchered plant specimens are housed in the State Museum's Herbarium.
In addition, the RLT compiled land use history and land cover information for these parks and preserves, and created ecological community maps of both parks in our Geographic Information System (GIS), maps which have become a prototype for mapping ecological communities in other natural areas. A limited number of copies of the lengthy, comprehensive reports were prepared on the botanical resources of each of these three areas, and were donated to selected libraries, schools and government offices. A few remaining copies of these reports are available gratis from the RLT for the cost of postage and shipping.
The RLT continues to conduct serious botanical study at important natural areas such as Oakwood Cemetery and Lock 4 Canal Park. Reports and maps similar to those mentioned above will be compiled to document the botanical resources of these additional areas.