Conserving Land • Protecting Resources
Since 1987
 

As of January 1, 2024, the Rensselaer Land Trust has merged with the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance. For all questions regarding donations, events, land, or other matters, please visit www.rensselaerplateau.org or call 518-712-9211. For questions about the merger, use extension 101 to speak with Jim Bonesteel. You can expect a new name and logo for our merged organization by Spring / Summer 2024 and a new website by the end of the year!

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We're writing together from the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance and Rensselaer Land Trust to share some very exciting news! As of today, January 1, 2024, the merger between our two organizations is effective, as approved by the New York State Attorney General’s office and the Secretary of State.This merger has been in the works for over a year, with board members of both organizations planning together, along with RPA staff, to support a smooth transition and lay the groundwork for many years of conservation to come. In 2024, we will complete a new strategic plan and branding process. We look forward to sharing a new organizational name, mission, and website with you over this next year — all with the aim of more fully serving the land and human communities here in Rensselaer County and beyond. 

What does this mean for RLT and RPA's conserved lands and community programs?The land trust that emerges will own over 3,600 acres of forests, wetlands, and community spaces, and will oversee over 2,000 acres of private land protected by voluntary conservation easements. Together the two organizations have conserved almost 16,000 acres.All natural areas conserved by the land trusts will remain protected in perpetuity.The community programs, volunteer committees, events, and partnerships of both land trusts will continue to serve people of all ages in the Capital Region. The merger will allow us to make greater strides in land and water conservation at a time when it’s more important than ever.We hope you will come along on this journey with us. With you, the new organization will be able to make a lasting, wide-reaching impact. Our climate, our wildlife, and our future generations will have you to thank. If you have any questions, please reach out to us at any time. We would love to hear from you at this pivotal moment for local conservation. Happy New Year, 

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Bob Crowley
Former Board President
Rensselaer Land Trust 
 
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Jim Bonesteel
Executive Director 
Rensselaer Plateau Alliance
 
 

About Our Organizations

The Rensselaer Land Trust was founded in 1987 with a mission to conserve the open spaces, watersheds, and natural habitats of Rensselaer County, NY for the benefit of our communities and future generations.  

The Rensselaer Plateau Alliance was founded in 2008 with a mission to work with the community to promote and facilitate the conservation of the Rensselaer Plateau’s undeveloped and unfragmented forests and other ecologically important areas.  

Collectively, the two organizations have conserved more than 15,000 acres of forests and open space in Rensselaer County. In 2019, RPA and RLT worked together to conserve the 76-acre Poesten Kill Bends preserve in the City of Troy. Both organizations have achieved national accreditation by meeting high standards for land protection, stewardship, and financial and organizational management.  

 

Frequently Asked Questions

When did RPA and RLT first begin discussing a merger? 

RPA and RLT first explored merging 4 years ago. We decided not to merge at that time, but to continue to discuss and consider the possibility in the future. Today, the time is right for both organizations.

What will happen with RLT and RPA Conserved Land?

All land conserved by both organizations will remain conserved in perpetuity. Volunteer committees for community forests and other projects will remain intact. The new organization will continue all the great work begun by both organizations and ensure we can do even more for conservation in Rensselaer County.   

Will there be any staff or leadership changes because of the merger?

All of RPA’s staff and leadership will remain in place. Some members of RLT's Board of Directors will join the new organization's Board. RLT does not currently have staff.

When will the merger be complete?

There is still a lot of due diligence before the merger can be completed. There is no date established. RPA and RLT have been partnering very closely and will begin to act together as a single organization.

What will the new, merged organization be called? 

The new organization will undergo a re-branding process that will include community and stakeholder input. There is currently no new name selected.

I'd like to make a donation to one or both of these land trusts. Who should I donate to before the merger is complete? 

You can continue to support either or both organizations. Your gift will support the work that both land trusts are doing together. We hope that if you've been donating to both organizations, you'll consider continuing to do so. 

I have more questions or ideas I’d like to share. Who should I talk to?

Please reach out to Jim Bonesteel at 518-712-9211 or jim@rensselaerplateau.org or Bob Crowley at 518-659-5263 or crowleyrh@aol.com.

Message from the President

bob Crowley

Another year brings another President’s Message. This might begin with a rerun of RLT’s accomplishments over the past year, followed by the initiatives planned for the new year, followed by a reminder that everything RLT does depends on generous donations of time and money, followed by a THANK YOU to all our members and supporters. 

I thought I’d focus on something different this time and use this message to remind us all of the truly remarkable inventory of outdoor recreation resources we have here in Rensselaer County and the ongoing conservation efforts/challenges that go along with those places.  RLT is proud to be one of a number of organizations working to maintain these conservation goals while providing open space for the public.  We’re all part of a diverse community working to make our environment healthy and, in turn, promote our society’s health through that environment.

Twenty years ago, the then Rensselaer-Taconic Land Conservancy (predecessor to RLT) published a 175-page “Guide to Natural Areas of Rensselaer County” which listed and described 35 natural areas/ parks/ preserves/ points of interest/ forests that were open to the public in our county. It’s interesting to note that only one RLT property, our Geiser Preserve in Taborton, was included on that list.

If we did that guide today (and there is an effort afoot to do just that) RLT’s properties would number 16 with 9 open to the public—but RLT is not the only organization contributing to this effort.  Hiking access has expanded greatly at our State Parks in Grafton and Cherry Plain, the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance has created its community forests, and let’s not forget Troy’s Riverwalk.  What greater natural asset could a community want than the Hudson River!? Moreover, there are many less visible but very important, parallel conservation efforts such as: RLT’s Water Quality Improvement Program (Tomhannock Rural Lands) conserving property around the Tomhannock Reservoir; the protection of the crucial watershed on the Rensselaer Plateau;  private property owners who wish to conserve their land through conservation easements; the weekly work of our volunteer trail crew . . . and the list goes on.

With all this comes the risk of taking these accomplishments for granted.  And we’ve seen recently how tenuous some of our assumptions can be.  It’s up to all of us to realize the work needs to go on and put that concept into action, whatever small (or large ) form that action might take.  Just as we each need nourishment, energy, and exercise to thrive, this is true of the outdoor assets of Rensselaer County. 

Let’s get out there and be a part of it.

Bob Crowley, President of Rensselaer Land Trust

Message from the President

bob CrowleyI’ve had the pleasure of serving as RLT President for almost a year and I must say, it has been quite an education in everything from Acquisition of land to running Zoom meetings. While that’s all been interesting, the most remarkable part of representing RLT is continuing to encounter a wider range of people committed to promoting conservation than I had ever imagined existed. Here are some examples of who I’m talking about: the Johnson family who graciously donated our Featherweald Nature Preserve; the Hudson Valley Greenway which RLT aided in developing the Albany Hudson Electric Trail; volunteers who devote every Wednesday to improving trails throughout the county; donors who entrust RLT with their thousands of dollars of financial support; community members who generously donate their weekends for everything from building bridges to painting houses to expanding parking lots; local government officials who see the value in RLT’s work; neighbors who (usually) enjoy and thank us for open spaces we maintain; donors who entrust RLT with fifty dollars of financial support; members of the former Schodack Area Land Trust who have joined forces with RLT and the list could go on and on…but I think you see my point.

Read more: 2020 Newsletter/2019 Annual Report

Rensselaer Land Trust (RLT) is pleased to announce that it has received two NYS Conservation Partnership Program grants. The NYS Conservation Partnership Program is funded by the state’s Environmental Protection Fund and administered by the Land Trust Alliance, in coordination with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

Rensselaer Land Trust will use a $20,000 grant to support the preparation and implementation of a three-year fundraising and outreach plan that will help the land trust become more financially sustainable and better poised to achieve its goals. The grant will also support the hiring of a AmeriCorps/VISTA member who joined RLT in February.

RLT will use a $9,000 grant to support the training and outfitting of the joint Rensselaer Land Trust/Rensselaer Plateau Alliance Trail Crew to work on trail construction and maintenance projects on land trust preserves that are open to the public.

Read more: RLT Receives Two New York State Conservation Partnership Program Grants