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Governor Cuomo Announces $2.2 Million to support 47 land trusts in NY State

"Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced more than $2.2 million in Conservation Partnership Program grants for 47 not-for-profit land trusts across the state. A total of 70 grants funded through New York's Environmental Protection Fund will leverage an additional $2.2 million in private and local funding to support projects that protect water quality and farmland, boost public access for outdoor recreation and conserve important open space areas that will benefit community health, tourism and economic development." Read full article HERE.

For the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance, this means $100,000 awarded to fund to creation of a new staff position. The Volunteer, Program, and Outreach Manager will take RPA's community engagement work to a new level, greatly enhancing connections to the land for all ages, building and maintaining more trails, and conserving more land on the Rensselaer Plateau. The funding will complement the funding that comes from our generous and committed members. 

We are so pleased to announce Dan Morse as the new Volunteer, Program, and Outreach Manager. The grant has also allowed Annie Jacobs, Communications Director, to become full-time, further increasing our capacity. 

These positions are supported with funding from the New York State Conservation Partnership Program (NYSCPP) and New York's Environmental Protection Fund. The NYSCPP is administered by the Land Trust Alliance, in coordination with the state Department of Environmental Conservation.


Read the full list of grant awards across New York State HERE.

Public Meeting to Reduce Flooding of the Poesten Kill and Quacken Kill



Learn more and get involved at a Public Meeting:  


Tuesday, December 11, 2018,  7:30 pm
Poestenkill Firehouse, 182 Main Street, Poestenkill, NY 12014

light refreshments provided



Hurricane Irene did a lot of damage to our local streams, roads, homes, and bridges. Engineers, scientists, town and highway officials, and residents like you have been working on a plan to help reduce future flooding. We can’t control the weather. We can support natural and engineered systems that slow down and soak up water on its way downstream.  For more info, contact Jim Bonesteel: 518-712-9211 /


Grant funding for a one-year watershed resiliency study has been provided by the NY State DEC’s Hudson River Estuary Program, with support from the NYS Environmental Protection Fund, in cooperation with the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission. The viewpoints expressed here do not necessarily represent those of NEIWPCC or NYDEC.

Three Local Land Trusts Partner to Protect the Tomhannock Drinking Water

December 20, 2017

A partnership of the Rensselaer Land Trust, the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance, and the Agricultural Stewardship Association are pleased to announce that New York State, through its Water Quality Improvement Source Water Protection Program has awarded a grant of $1.5 million to the partnership. 

The program funded by the grant will protect important lands that provide water to the Tomhannock Reservoir, which is the drinking water source for over 135,000 people in the Capital Region.  A match of $500,000 in private contributions will make this a $2 million program of land protection to benefit all users of drinking water from the Tomhannock Reservoir.  The partnership will receive funds as reimbursement as the project proceeds.


The three accredited land trusts will partner on the project as part of the Regional Economic Development Council’s Consolidated Funding Application.  Workshops will be held in the spring of 2018 with interested landowners in Rensselaer County.  The program will be ongoing for three years, and may include both the acquisition of development rights (voluntary conservation agreements) or land purchases where appropriate on lands significant for source water protection.


“We are very excited about having funding to implement meaningful source water protection,” says Rensselaer Land Trust Board President Kristina Younger.  “Maintaining water quality starts with the land.”  The Rensselaer Land Trust will administer the grant and be the lead partner.


"This is a win for the landowners, a win for the people who drink Troy’s water and a win for the people of the county in general.  I am looking forward to working with the community to protect one of Rensselaer County’s greatest assets – the clean water from the Tomhannock Reservoir” says Rensselaer Plateau Alliance President Fred DeMay. 


“Protecting this critical natural resource is important to the ASA”, says Agricultural Stewardship Association Board Chair Katherine Roome. “We are proud to collaborate on this project to advance the mission of all three organizations.”


“Protecting our drinking water supplies is vital to the health and safety of our residents   I am proud to have supported this initiative and very gratified that the necessary funding has been awarded,” stated Rensselaer County Executive Kathy Jimino.  


About Rensselaer Land Trust

Rensselaer Land Trust’s mission is to conserve the open spaces, watersheds and natural habitats of Rensselaer County, for the benefit of our communities and future generations. RLT Celebrated its 30th Anniversary in 2017. For more information see: or call 518-659-LAND (5263).


About Rensselaer Plateau Alliance

The Rensselaer Plateau Alliance (RPA), established in 2006, is a diverse group of organizations and people who want to conserve the forested character of the Rensselaer Plateau and the many economic and environmental benefits it provides. A grassroots organization, the RPA is people living in the area who share a common interest in ensuring that future generations will experience and value the many benefits of the plateau.  Visit to learn more.


About Agricultural Stewardship Association

ASA was founded 27 years ago as a non-profit land trust focusing on farmland conservation in Washington and Rensselaer counties. Today, ASA has conserved nearly 18,000 acres on 114 farms. For more information visit

The Conservation Fund Buys 23,000 Acres Of Forestland In New York, Vermont And Massachusetts

August 1, 2017

Purchase provides time for implementation of permanent conservation strategies that support local timber economy and recreational access

"Today, The Conservation Fund announced its purchase of 23,053 acres of working forestland in New York, Vermont and Massachusetts. Known as Cowee Forest, the acquired lands provide critical connections to existing conserved areas and recreational resources, including access to the Taconic Crest Trail and the Rensselaer Plateau, as well as protection for important wildlife habitat within a short drive from Albany, New York, and Bennington, Vermont." 


READ The Conservation Fund's full press release


READ the story in the Times Union


READ the story in the Huffington Post




RPA's Children's Forest program to receive generous funding from New York State Conservation Partnership Program

April, 26, 2017

We're very excited to share some great news for land conservation in New York State . . . and for the 1st Children's Forest in the Northeast! 


Last week, along with release of the final state budget for 2017-2018, the New York State Conservation Partnership Program (a partnership between the Land Trust Alliance and NYS DEC with funding from the Environmental Protection Fund) announced $1.8 million in grant awards to land trusts across the state. 


RPA was one of 58 New York land trust organizations to receive a generous award from this program.


The $45,000, along with a matching gift from the Ann Allen Cetrino Family Foundation, will allow the Children's Forest project to evolve from vision to reality. A collaboration between RPA, the Dyken Pond Environmental Education Center, Grafton Lakes State Park, and the local school districts, the partnership will now be able to hire a Children's Forest Coordinator to implement the pilot projects. 


We thank the State Legislature and Governor Cuomo's for their support of the Conservation Partnership Program, and for expanding funding for future years.


We also thank the Ann Allen Cetrino Family Foundation for their very generous matching gift. 


Read DEC's press release about the CCP funding.


Read more about Children's Forests.


Land Trust Alliance blog features RPA's Community Forests


Community forest, community vision

by Rose Jenkins


"The Rensselaer Plateau in upstate New York is getting its second community forest. What's a community forest? Well, it depends on the community." Read the Story.

RPA acquires 2nd Community Forest


The Rensselaer Plateau Alliance (RPA) announced today the acquisition of the 353-acre parcel from Kevin and Mary Albert.


The purchase was funded by a grant from the U.S. Forest Service and a donation by the Albert family. RPA will raise funds to cover closing costs and install signs, a kiosk, trails, and a parking area.


“The generosity of the Alberts has made this vitally important project possible – implementing Rensselaer Plateau Regional Conservation Plan goals to conserve important ecological resources and support economic development through forestry, recreation, and tourism and protecting clean water and wildlife habitat, for our community,” said RPA President Fred DeMay.  “This project will protect the land as forest forever.”  Read the full Press Release.

Major forest conservation announced in Rensselaer County - Albany Times Union


Gundrum company sells 927 acres in Rensselaer County

By Brian Nearing


"More 900 acres of forest in northern Rensselaer County could be added to state-protected lands under a purchase announced Thursday by the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance..." Read the Story



Rensselaer Plateau Alliance is a community effort - Albany Times Union


"Protecting this landscape and promoting its use and viability is what drives the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance...." Read the Story



Were you Seen at the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance's Winter Woodland Gala at Old Daley on Crooked Lake in Averill Park on Thursday, Feb. 25, 2016?

It's Official, 12,348 acres to be Conserved


Last February we told you about our Forest Legacy project that was recommended for funding but now it’s official. With the signing of the omnibus spending bill by President Obama, the Rensselaer Plateau Working Forest project was funded in the Forest Legacy program for $5.5 million. For more details on the project see “Ranked #5 Nationally, 12,348 Acres to be Conserved on the Plateau” below. We would like to extend our thanks to Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and to Congressman Gibson who all fought for this funding and for increased funding ($450 million annually for 3 years vs $306 million last year) for the Land and Water Conservation Fund which is the funding source for this program and many other important conservation programs. We would also like to thank our state representatives, Governor Cuomo, Senator Marchione and Asseblyman McLaughlin for the funding for the State Environmental Protection Fund that will provide the $2.4 million match for this project. Many thanks to our partners, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the Hudson River Estuary Program, Rensselaer Land Trust and Agricultural Stewardship Association.

RPA is fighting to keep the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) Alive


The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) is the fund that directs a small portion of the proceeds from leases to the oil and gas companies for offshore drilling into a fund to conserve our nations land and water resources. The idea is that taking one national resource is paying (partially) for conserving another and no actual tax dollars are involved. The LWCF has been around for 50 years and Congress allowed it to expire on September 30th. For more information read this article, Congress lets sun set on the Land and Water Conservation Fund. LWCF is the funding source for the Forest Legacy Program which, as you know, will hopefully be providing $5.5 million of federal funds matched by $2.4 million of state funds to conserve 12,348 acres of forest land on the Rensselaer Plateau in the next several years. We have 15 landowners that have been waiting for over three years for this project to come to fruition and we are so close. It is recommended for funding, ranked at #5 in the whole country, in the President’s budget and even without LWCF there is a fairly good chance it will be funded when Congress passes the budget. But without LWCF our plans for the next big Forest Legacy project will fall flat.


So, what is RPA doing about it? Our Executive Director, Jim Bonesteel, has been in regular contact with both Senators Schumer and Gillibrand and Congressman Gibson. Jim flew to Washington DC for three days in September and along with Erik Kulliseid from the Open Space Institute and Amy Lindholm, the coordinator of the LWCF Coalition, met with staff from 8 New York Representatives and both New York Senators. They also met in person with Congressman Gibson and Congresswoman Stefanik. The good news is that the New York Delegation is overwhelmingly in support of reauthorizing LWCF with Congressman Gibson leading the effort in the House of Representatives and both of our Senators taking a leadership role in reauthorization. We are optimistic that these champions of the program will find a way to get this very popular and successful program reauthorized. In the meantime we will be in close contact with the folks at the LWCF coalition to make sure we pass important information along and check in with our representatives when opportunities arise to get LWCF reauthorization added to other legislation. You can help by calling your senators and representatives and thanking them for their support of LWCF and letting them know that reauthorization is of utmost importance to you.

April 22, 2015

As part of New York State's celebration of Earth Week, the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) joined the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance (RPA) today for an Earth Day ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate the establishment of the new Rensselaer Plateau Community Forest in the Town of Poestenkill. The Community Forest will provide recreational access for Plateau residents and visitors, and serve as a demonstration area of best management practices for forest stewardship. The announcement is in honor of Earth Week, April 19-25, which Governor Cuomo proclaimed as a weeklong celebration of New York's commitment and accomplishments to protecting our environment, conserving open space, increasing access to the state's vast and magnificent natural resources, implementing clean energy initiatives and preparing for the effects of climate change.


Read the full article here.

April 20, 2015

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced $1.8 million in Conservation Partnership Program grants for 55 nonprofit land trusts across the State. Representatives of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Land Trust Alliance unveiled the grantees at an event today at Teatown Lake Reservation in Westchester County. The announcement launches a weeklong celebration of Earth Week, which recognizes New York’s commitment to protecting our environment, conserving open space, increasing access to the state’s vast and magnificent natural resources, implementing clean energy initiatives and preparing for the effects of climate change.

Read the full article here.

Ranked #5 Nationally, 12,348 Acres to be Conserved on the Plateau

February 4, 2015

This week the Plateau Alliance moves closer to achieving our Strategic Goal of conserving 18,000 acres on the Rensselaer Plateau by 2018. This fall in partnership with 15 landowners, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, the Hudson River Estuary Program, The Rensselaer Land Trust and the Agricultural Stewardship Association we submitted a grant to the US Forest Service Forest Legacy Program to conserve 12,348 acres. We learned this week that the President’s 2016 budget recommends our project for funding and that it ranked #5 in a list of projects from across the country. See the complete list.


This project will conserve 12,348 acres, 79% of which is industrial forest land and 21% is non-industrial forest. The project includes the plateau’s largest working forest, some of the most ecologically significant land, and public recreation opportunities. It will create a regional protected area network that stretches for 14 miles and links state land (Cherry Plain State Park), county land (the Dyken Pond Environmental Education Center), and the new Rensselaer Plateau Community Forest.


The project includes 15 different landowners that are all participating voluntarily. The landowners will sell development rights on their land but will continue to own, pay property taxes on it and enjoy it as they always have without any restrictions except that the land can never be developed. The Forest Legacy program encourages active timber management but does not dictate how that is done.

“The Rensselaer Plateau is one of the most beautiful places in the Capital Region, and I am delighted the Forest Legacy Program has recognized the value of conserving open spaces in this ecologically important area,” said Congressman Chris Gibson (NY-19). “My staff and I are proud to partner with the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance and local stakeholders to help safeguard our rural landscape, expand opportunities for outdoor recreation, and promote responsible stewardship of our natural resources. I want to thank the RPA and their supporters for their advocacy and community spirit.”

“RPA is grateful for the substantial contribution to this project of our partners, without whom this milestone would not have been possible. We look forward to a continued strong partnership with DEC, the Hudson River Estuary Program, Rensselaer Land Trust, and the Agricultural Stewardship Association as we enter the first of what we expect will be many projects to conserve the outstanding natural resources and working forest heritage of the Rensselaer Plateau. I would also like to thank the amazing and dedicated board of directors of the RPA that is willing to take on great challenges with the belief that we can accomplish anything we set our minds to.”


Read our Press Release.

RPA closes on Rensselaer Plateau Community Forest

November 19, 2014

On Wednesday, November 19, RPA became the proud new owners of the Rensselaer Plateau Community Forest, a forested 350-acre parcel located in the town of Poestenkill. The closing on the property was made possible by a loan from The Conservation Fund’s Land Conservation Loan Program.


The Community forest will provide educational, recreational, environmental, and economic benefits to the local and greater Rensselaer Plateau community.


Read more about our Community Forest project here

September 23, 2014

A donation from a Capital Region construction services firm is supporting a new 350-acre "community" forest in Poestenkill being created by the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance. Callanan Industries, based in Schenectady, donated $100,000 to help support the alliance's purchase of forest off Legenbauer Road, which will be developed for outdoor recreation, as well as a training site where loggers will be taught sustainable forestry techniques.

June 27, 2014

The U.S. Forest Service announced today nearly $2.3 million in grants to help communities in eight states secure community forests.


A 350-acre community forest will be created in the town of Poestenkill, New York. The community forest will provide public access to recreational amenities to the greater Rennselear Plateau area, provide educational opportunities to nearby underserved communities and offer training and continuing education programs through forest demonstrations. Additionally, the community forest will assist with protecting a watershed ranked as one of the most important for drinking water and most threatened by development among the watersheds in the Northeastern U.S.

April 24, 2014

Eleven not-for-profit conservation groups in the Capital Region received nearly $350,000 in state funding to protect land and provide outdoor recreation as part of $1.4 million in grants announced Thursday by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.


Rensselaer Plateau Alliance received $25,000, to help support a 10-year plan to increase the pace of conservation in the Plateau area, promote the benefits of working forests and develop a new community forest initiative.

June 16, 2012

Report found the forestry industry is the region's prime economic engine, supporting nearly 100 jobs valued at $9.2 million. Restaurants and taverns came next, at about $3.8 million, followed by recreational and tourism, at $2.8 million (much of that tourism was linked to Grafton Lakes State Park).


Those figures pale when compared to the value of so-called natural services provided by the plateau like flood control, water filtration, waste treatment, and pollination, estimated to be worth $300 million a year, based on what it could cost to do the same things with engineered projects.

October 2011

It was an absolutely beautiful day. The sky was clear; the air cool and crisp. Fall foliage was spectacular, providing a background palette of colors that has to be experienced in the northeast to be believed. The fifteen people wandering around the Dyken Pond Environmental Education Center parking lot were introducing themselves and anxiously awaiting the vans provided by the Rensselaer County to take them to the starting point for the first north to south two-day traverse hike of the Rensselaer Plateau...

March 2010

One tenet of the "smart growth" movement is that communities should strive to preserve open space, farmland, natural beauty and critical environmental areas. Conflicts often occur between open space preservation and other goals. In fiscally challenging times, it is particularly important to understand and consider fully the economic benefits of open space...


The Rensselaer Plateau Alliance conducted a survey from March 2010 to September 2010.  Local citizens filled out the survey and provided information on various Plateau topics, such as what they value about the Plateau and what recreation activities they participate in.

March 12, 2009

When David Fleming walks along a hemock-lined creek and rocky waterfalls in the forest next to his home, he's in his own little piece of the Adirondacks. "With the evergreens, it even smells like the the Adirondacks," he said. But the Nassau town supervisor lives many miles distant, and has for his entire life. This is the Rensselaer Plateau - a 105,000-acre high-country swath in eastern Rensselaer taht is the state's fifth-largest remaining intact forest.  A small cadre of residents...

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