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 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!


Featherweald Nature Preserve is a 44-acre protected area owned, created, and maintained by the Rensselaer Land Trust (RLT) and generous volunteers. We invite you to walk our two miles of woodland trails, look up to the treetops to see the great blue heron rookery, and enjoy the seasonal views of the Hoosic River.

Featherweald was donated to RLT in 2018 by Ms. Lisa Lindquist, Ms. Ilse Godfrey, and Mr. Craig Johnson in memory of their parents, Kenneth and Nancy Johnson. The couple lived near the property for many years and enjoyed studying its animals and plants. The property was donated to RLT in order to protect biodiversity on the property and to honor Kenneth and Nancy Johnson’s long-time enjoyment of the property and commitment to sharing its wonders. RLT has named the property “Featherweald,” the name bestowed by the Johnson family.

The property is important as one of several large parcels in the area that sustain regionally-important features of high conservation value for northern Rensselaer County and southern Washington County. A total of 230 species of biota have been observed at Featherweald Preserve including 171 plants, 54 animals, and five fungi.

Bird Watching
The preserve offers excellent bird watching opportunities. Nineteen species have been observed on or near the property, including great blue heron, black-billed cuckoo, red-shouldered hawk, yellow-bellied sapsucker, and pileated woodpecker, among many others. In addition, the state-rare bald eagle is known to nest not far downstream from the property.

Great blue heron is the most abundant bird species at the preserve. Heron nests are located in tall trees, mostly red oaks and red maples along the eastern boundary of the preserve. These trees have a wide girth and wide spreading crowns. Many of them contain multiple nests per tree, some with at least four nests. More than 20 nests and 30 individuals have been identified. The walking trail courses near many of the trees with heron nests and the birds can be seen from the ground below.

Limited Public Visitation During the Heron’s Breeding Season
A key component of managing the property is balancing public recreation on the land with protecting the heron rookery, especially during the breeding season. Because heron nesting sites can be abandoned when disturbance is high, RLT has created a rookery buffer zone and limited visitation during the February to August breeding season to “research only” activities.



Featherweald Nature Preserve is open to the public from dawn
to dusk. Permitted activities are hiking, nature viewing, skiing, snowshoeing, educational study, and birding. Please take all trash out with you.

Mountain biking, motorized vehicles including ATVs and motorcycles, camping, and removal or disturbance of plants and wildlife are not permitted.

No dogs allowed due to the sensitive nature of the Great Blue Heron Rookery.


187 County Route 59, Cambridge, NY 12816. Parking is located at the entrance near the preserve's blue road sign.