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!

County Conservation Plan Kinderhook Woods.JPG

The Rensselaer Land Trust has developed a Rensselaer County Conservation Plan that will serve as a “greenprint” of land and water conservation priorities in the county. The Conservation Plan

  • identifies the specific resources and values Rensselaer Land Trust and its partners are working to conserve in Rensselaer County;
  • objectively map where these resources and values occur or are supported;
  • assess which lands and waters contribute most significantly to these resources and values; and
  • use this information to prioritize where Rensselaer Land Trust and its partners proactively pursue land conservation projects, focusing on the lands that will have the most significant impact on Rensselaer County’s natural resources, landscapes, and quality of life.


To view RLT's Conservation Plan and town priority maps go to the links at the bottom of this page! Or for a snapshot of the Conservation Plan click HERE for a Story Map View.

This Conservation Plan is the first comprehensive study of this kind for the entire county, and has been developed with input from and in collaboration with public and private partners and stakeholders, including municipalities, community groups, recreation user groups, other conservation organizations, and residents.

The preparation of this Land Conservation Plan has been made possible by grants and contributions from:

  • New York State Environmental Protection Fund through:
    • The NYS Conservation Partnership Program led by the Land Trust Alliance and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (NYSDEC), and
    • The Hudson River Estuary Program of NYSDEC,
  • The Hudson River Valley Greenway,
  • Royal Bank of Canada,
  • The Louis and Hortense Rubin Foundation, and
  • Volunteers from the Rensselaer Land Trust who provided in-kind matching support.



Rensselaer County contains a wealth of open space, natural resources, productive agricultural land, expansive blocks of forest, and other ecologically significant areas, which support wildlife habitat, water quality, recreational opportunities, and sustainable economic activity such as farming, forestry, and tourism. However, Rensselaer County is also experiencing expanding development and proposed activities, including energy infrastructure construction, that threaten or are incompatible with these valuable natural assets and that diminish the ecological services they provide.

A Rensselaer County Conservation Plan serves as a guide not just for Rensselaer Land Trust, but also for our partners in other conservation organizations and municipalities, and for landowners and citizens, in implementing conservation programs and projects. This plan can increase the level of local and regional open space protection by all parties by showing what and where is most important to conserve, fostering activities across political boundaries, leveraging funding, and building community support.


Development of the Rensselaer County Conservation Plan included four phases:

  1. Inventory. An inventory has been conducted of Rensselaer County’s natural resources, significant open spaces, sensitive environmental features, and lands considered important by local communities. Resources and features include the inventory listed below. Existing GIS and other data, including from partners in this project, have been supplemented with expert and local knowledge, and with information from stakeholders. Solicited community members regarding lands they feel define the special character of their communities, Rensselaer Land Trust conducted four public workshops, and set up an online survey and comment page. Rensselaer Land Trust will reviewed existing municipal open space and natural resource inventories, and reached out to municipalities, community groups, recreation user groups, and other conservation organizations for input into this inventory. Products of this phase with GIS data are provided within the plan.
  2. Analysis. A spatial analysis has identified those locations in Rensselaer County, and in each individual municipality, that support the highest quality examples of each of these resources, and locations that support high-quality examples of multiple resources. A weighted ranking analysis in a set of lands that contribute the most to the County’s and municipalities’ quality of life and environmental health, and thus are of the highest priority for protection.
  3. Report. The results of the first two phases are summarized and presented in a published Conservation Plan. The Conservation Plan also includes a section on strategies and recommended actions that can be taken by Rensselaer Land Trust, other conservation groups, municipalities, and landowners for protecting the lands and waters that are identified as priorities.
  4. Distribution and Outreach. The Conservation Plan will not impact land conservation in the County by just sitting on the shelf. The completed plan is being distributed to all stakeholder groups, partners, municipalities, and the general public; and the results will be presented at public presentations and workshops, and in printed and online outreach materials directed to specific groups.

Resources and features to be included and assessed in the Rensselaer County Conservation Plan:

  • Contiguous forest and wetlands
  • Water supplies and watersheds
  • Wetlands and riparian areas
  • Significant ecological communities
  • Wildlife and native plant habitat
  • Rare plant and animal species
  • Prime agricultural lands
  • Scenic resources
  • Lands with public access
  • Historical features and landscapes
  • Recreational and tourism features
  • Geological features
  • Lands valued by local communities
  • Lands offering highest level of resiliency for biodiversity to climate change
  • Corridors for wildlife and plant movement

While open space inventories and conservation plans have been produced for selected parts of Rensselaer County in the past (most recently the Rensselaer Plateau), Rensselaer Land Trust’s assessment of conservation priorities will be the first to look at all of Rensselaer County. Identification of priority areas for protection will be done at the county level and for each individual town and city.

To view the RLT Conservation Pland and each town's Priority Maps click on the following PDF links: