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Hudson Highlands Land Trust

 

The Organization

The Hudson Highlands Land Trust (HHLT) is an accredited, community-based land conservation organization with a mission to protect the natural resources, rural character, and scenic beauty of the Hudson Highlands region in New York State's Hudson River Valley.

The Mission

During its first 26 years, the Hudson Highlands Land Trust has directly protected over 2,200 acres of land in the Hudson Highlands through conservation easement donations. Additionally, HHLT has played a leading role in the protection of several thousand more acres through partnerships with other regional land conservation organizations and the State of New York. 

While land conservation continues to be the central tenet of the Hudson Highlands Land Trust’s mission, HHLT is extremely proud of the great strides it’s made in the areas of public policy, outreach and education. The Land Trust has worked diligently to strengthen ties to the communities in its mission area. Partnerships with local municipalities, schools, community groups, and other conservation organizations have proven to be of enormous benefit to HHLT’s land conservation work. One such on-going collaborative project is the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail, an ambitious plan to connect the Village of Cold Spring to the City of Beacon along seven miles of contiguous open space along the Hudson River through NYS Park land, and portions of the Towns of Philipstown and Fishkill. Our Hudson Highlands Regional River of Words Environmental Program is a centerpiece of our community outreach programming in that it trains the stewards of tomorrow to care about and protect our local watershed through outdoor field studies, research projects and nature-inspired arts workshops. This broadening of objectives beyond the traditional boundaries of conservation easement work is directly reflected in the Land Trust’s many successful outcomes in recent years.

The next few years will be decisive for the landscape and character of the Hudson Highlands. The cost of short-sighted development in our towns and villages would be a bitter legacy to leave to the next generation, and the cost of fragmented habitat and squandered natural resources like clean water would be devastating not only for the plants and wildlife directly affected, but for all of us as well. The Hudson Highlands Land Trust will continue to vigilantly preserve this region's special sense of place for the generations that follow.

The Project

Funding for HHLT’s River of Words supported research sites for the New York State Dept. of Conservation's "A Day in the Life of the Hudson River."

Now in its 14th year, “A Day in the Life of the Hudson River,” is coordinated by NYS DEC’s Hudson River Estuary Program and the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University to give students the opportunity to collect scientific information, like aquatic life, water chemistry, tides and weather, and create snapshots of the river at dozens of locations. The data is shared using the internet so students can better understand how their piece of the river fits into the larger Hudson estuary ecosystem.

HHLT's River of Words (ROW) education team coordinates three research sites to this river-long study and assists teachers from four different school districts along the Hudson River to participate in this important student-focused watershed research and protection initiative. Last year, HHLT coordinated the following sites: Haldane Middle School at Little Stony Point’s beach in Cold Spring; Garrison Union Free School’s 7th grade at Garrison Landing; Highland Falls Intermediate School's 7th grade at Popolopen Creek. HHLT also offered assistance to Cornwall’s Willow Avenue Elementary School 4th graders at Cornwall Landing. With the support of a Pig Difference grant, we hope to be able to help even more students participate in this study.

River of Words is an international program co-founded by US Poet Laureate Robert Hass, and affiliated with the Library of Congress Center for the Book. HHLT offers a free regional version of ROW to public schools in the Hudson Highlands, inspired by the international program, which focuses on the Hudson River, the lands that flank it and the streams that flow into it. The program trains teachers to use nature as a learning laboratory, conducts outdoor student workshops and ties nature-inspired, outdoor-based programming to the New York State Core Curriculum Standards. 

Creating an opportunity for participation in the NYS DEC's "A Day in the Life of the Hudson River" for our mission area schools is a meaningful way for students to provide students with a hands-on scientific data collection experience, a day of learning outdoors and a chance to contribute to the health of the river. The students who participate in HHLT’s River of Words research sites get the added bonus of engaging in an expressive exercise through poetry or art that allows them to absorb their experience on an even deeper level.  In this way, HHLT is helping to engage the next generation of land and water stewards for the Hudson River Valley.

The Project Locations

All sites are alongside the Hudson River:

  • Little Stony Point Park, Cold Spring, NY
  • Popolopen Creek, Highland Falls, NY
  • Garrison Landing, Garrison, NY
  • Cornwall Landing, Cornwall, NY

Key Project Milestones

Past Milestones:
In 2014, HHLT's ROW education team ran two research sites for two different schools and offered assistance to a third site.
In 2015, HHLT's ROW education team ran three research sites for three different schools and provided assistance to a fourth site. During last year's "A Day in the Life of the Hudson River" eight members of the HHLT staff/education team and three volunteers not only worked with 291 students and their teachers during the research day itself, but also during pre- and post- workshops with the students, identifying tasks and goals for the study beforehand and analyzing data and assessing results after the research day. 

Upcoming Milestones:
In 2016, HHLT hopes to manage the same number of research sites, but possibly increase the number of students/schools that participate at those sites as resources allow. We would also like to work on a combined data analysis post-workshop with all of our participating schools, so that students have a greater understanding of the power of collaborative research and water protection action. This project takes significant preparation and coordination with schools and sites prior to the research day and follow-up with the NYS DEC to prep and submit the data that is gathered. This is a labor and time-intensive project for our staff, but the rewards are worth it.

Rough Budget for This Project

$3,000