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!


Rensselaer Land Trust Earns National Accreditation for the Third Time

Strong Commitment to Public Trust and Conservation Excellence

Troy, New York (September 15, 2020) – One thing that unites us as a nation is land: Americans strongly support saving the open spaces they love. Since 1987, Rensselaer Land Trust has been doing just that for the people of New York’s capital region. Now Rensselaer Land Trust has announced it has received land trust accreditation for the third time – proving once again that, as part of a network of over 400 accredited land trusts across the nation, it is committed to professional excellence and to maintaining the public’s trust in its conservation work.

“Renewing our accreditation again shows Rensselaer Land Trust’s ongoing commitment to permanent land conservation in New York’s capital region,” said Bob Crowley, President of the Rensselaer Land Trust Board of Directors. “We are a stronger land trust than ever for having gone through the rigorous renewal process. Our strength means special places – such as our soon-to-be opened Featherweald Preserve in Cambridge – will be protected forever.”

Rensselaer Land Trust provided extensive documentation and was subject to a comprehensive third-party evaluation prior to achieving this distinction. The Land Trust Accreditation Commission awarded renewed accreditation, signifying its confidence that Rensselaer Land Trust’s lands will be protected forever. Accredited land trusts now steward almost 20 million acres nationwide – the size of Vermont, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island combined.

“We are very excited about receiving reaccreditation from the Commission,” says Rensselaer Land Trust Executive Director John Winter. “RLT was one of the first land trusts nationally to receive accreditation in 2008 and has worked hard to ensure it meets national standards for excellence in our industry ever since. We wish to thank the Accreditation Commission and the Land Trust Alliance for administering this important program and our community for their continued support of land conservation in our region.”

“It is exciting to recognize Rensselaer Land Trust’s continued commitment to national standards by renewing this national mark of distinction,” said Melissa Kalvestrand, Executive Director of the Commission. “Donors and partners can trust the more than 400 accredited land trusts across the country are united behind strong standards and have demonstrated sound finances, ethical conduct, responsible governance, and lasting stewardship.”

Rensselaer Land Trust is one of 1,363 land trusts across the United States according to the Land Trust Alliance’s most recent National Land Trust Census. A complete list of accredited land trusts and more information about the process and benefits can be found at


About Rensselaer Land Trust

Rensselaer Land Trust protects the open spaces, watersheds and natural habitats of New York’s capital region for the benefit of our communities and future generations. For 33 years we have conserved important lands in our area through voluntary land protection agreements and land donations and purchases with conservation-minded landowners. For more information visit: undefined or call 518-659-LAND (5263).


About the Land Trust Accreditation Commission

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission inspires excellence, promotes public trust and ensures permanence in the conservation of open lands by recognizing organizations that meet rigorous quality standards and strive for continuous improvement. The Commission, established in 2006 as an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, is governed by a volunteer board of diverse land conservation and nonprofit management experts. For more information, visit


Trail Vision Plan

We were the lead organization in forming a Rensselaer County Trail Vision Plan in 2009. That vision is becoming a reality thanks to the work of many enthusiastic volunteers. Explore our Partner Trails and enjoy the growing network of trails in Rensselaer County. For information on how you can join in trailblazing and maintenance, contact the Land Trust at or (518) 659-5263.

Natural Areas

In 2002 the Rensselaer Land Trust, along with the Environmental Clearinghouse of Schenectady, published Natural Areas of Rensselaer County New York, edited by Glen Martin and written by Claire Schmitt with assistance from Land Trust directors Norton Miller, Jack Keenan, Bill Niemi, and Warren Broderick.

This book describes 35 natural areas of Rensselaer County, most of which are open to the public for hiking and other recreational activities. Each of these areas includes a description, a map, and often a brief history, as well as ownership information and cautions. The book contains numerous historical photographs related to these areas and includes a first‐ever natural history of the county. It also includes a chapter on back roads suitable for leisurely walking. This book, although dated, provides a comprehensive history and description of natural areas in Rensselaer County, a great place to start outdoor exploration. Available at the Rensselaer Land Trust office, 415 River Street, Troy, NY.

Botanical Surveys

The Rensselaer Land Trust conducted a project in 1998 called the "Botany Project." It produced complete botanical surveys of three major natural areas of Rensselaer County: Grafton State Park, the Dyken Pond Environmental Center, and Butternut Hill Preserve.

The Rensselaer Land Trust used a combination of 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 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 Rensselaer Land Trust compiled land use history and land cover information for these parks and preserves, and created ecological community maps of Grafton Lakes Park and the Dyken Pond Environmental Center in our Geographic Information System (GIS), maps which have become prototypes for mapping ecological communities in other natural areas. A limited number of printed copies of the comprehensive reports on the botanical resources of each of these three areas were prepared, and were donated to selected libraries, schools and government offices. They can be downloaded here:


Explore natural areas and the rich history of Rensselaer County through these publications, which were a labor of love by our directors over the past 25 years. Find our Portfolios here