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!

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