BETHLEHEM —Residents of Bethlehem and New Scotland may have spotted cherry-red signs with white lettering on the corner of Fisher Boulevard and Route 85, which read: “Help us protect this land.”
Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy is working to protect the Fisher Boulevard property and is asking for assistance from the community.
“For over a decade, these 35 acres — one of the few remaining open spaces in Slingerlands — have been under the threat of development,” says MHLC Executive Director Mark King. “The Fisher Boulevard property has been proposed as the site of eight-lot housing developments, and at one time even 35-40 houses were being considered. Now, MHLC is poised to protect these 35 acres forever, and we need the community’s help to raise the funds to make it happen.”
In an unprecedented partnership with NYSDEC’s Five Rivers Environmental Education Center and an anonymous landowner, MHLC intends to preserve these acres as open space while also incorporating them into the center, significantly increasing its acreage while expanding community access to nature, outdoor learning, and recreation. More than 100,000 people visit the center annually.
The Board of Directors of the Friends of Five Rivers citizens’ support group has already donated $5,000 to the MHLC to kick-start the effort to protect this property in perpetuity.
“The Friends of Five Rivers is happy to support this effort to save this open space,” states Joanne Macklin, Executive Director of the Friends of Five Rivers. “The project will provide the community with access to Five River Environmental Education Center from Fisher Boulevard in the near future.” MHLC and Friends of Five Rivers hope that neighbors in Bethlehem and New Scotland will join in the effort and donate to the cause to help protect the Fisher Boulevard property from future development.
“The land itself is a donation to MHLC,” explained Daron Blake, MHLC’s communications and outreach coordinator, “but our costs are high because of years of working to solidify the deal. We are seeking community support to help with these expensive transaction costs. We also need to create long-term stewardship funding for future monitoring and stewardship of the property. “
Thanks to the Friends of Five Rivers, the conservancy is already a quarter of the way to reaching its goal of$20,000. “If we don’t reach our funding goal through donations from this campaign, we will use the money which we have raised to cover the closing costs,” said Blake,“and will continue to seek funding for the long-term stewardship costs.”
The Fisher Boulevard property features open fields and white pine forests are dotted with vernal pools.
Its addition to the existing 450 acres of Five Rivers is one of the last opportunities to expand the Center beyond its current boundaries, according to MHLC. The conservancy hopes to add the 35 acres to Five Rivers and to forever extinguish the threat of developmentwith financial support from the community.
To learn more about MHLC, the Fisher Boulevard property, the Friends of Five Rivers contribution, and how to donate to the cause, visit www.mohawkhudson.org.
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