Table of Contents

The Columbia Land Conservancy is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit. Gifts are tax deductible to the extent permitted by law.

Our EIN is 22-2757332.
We are rated Platinum on Guidestar for organizational transparency,
and accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission for meeting the highest national standards for excellence and conservation permanence.

Click here to view CLC”s most recent audited financial statement, IRS form 990, and NYS Charities Bureau (CHAR 500) filing.

Boilerplate & fast facts

The Columbia Land Conservancy brings people together to conserve, appreciate, and enjoy land. For nearly 40 years, CLC has collaborated with individuals, communities, and partners to ensure Columbia County is a beautiful, livable, resilient place. For additional information, call 518.392.5252 or visit ColumbiaLand.org. 

  • CLC owns and manages ten public lands with nearly 30 miles of trails. These sites are visited over 45,000 times per year. 
  • CLC has secured over $27 million on behalf of local farmers, conserving over 12,000 acres of land. 
  • CLC has collaborated with 250 easement landowners owning 29,984 acres of conserved land to ensure they are protected in perpetuity. 
  • In 2022, CLC hosted 54 educational programs attended by 810 individuals. 

Who to ask about what

  • Advertising/sponsorship requests – Rebecca 
  • Affordable housing – Marissa 
  • Bequests, business partnerships – Troy
  • Building maintenance, office supplies, store – Rachel, Karin 
  • Conservation easements (existing) – Chris, Arianna 
  • Conservation easements (new, potential) – Terence, Sam 
  • Conservation Advisory Councils, local governments – Terence 
  • Contractors, maintenance (for CLC) – Rachel, Karin 
  • Donations – Troy
  • Education programs – Jen 
  • Emails – Rebecca, Mallory 
  • Farm management – Cameron 
  • Events – Mallory
  • Expenses – Karin 
  • Fiscal sponsorship for grants for other organizations – Troy, Anne
  • Forests – Sam 
  • Grants – applicable project person 
  • Grasslands and pasture – Pat 

Frequently asked questions

Public lands 

Someone doesn’t like the other way people are recreating, but it’s not prohibited (music, radio, biking, horses).  

People enjoy nature differently – some prefer a quiet hike, while others would rather listen to music at a picnic table. Some properties are better suited to different experiences, and TK is TK. 

We do have signage encouraging visitors to be respectful of others, and we hope you didn’t have an experience that caused you to fear for your safety – if so, please let us know.   

Someone is concerned that increased accessibility will ruin nature.  

TK is an exceptional place, and many people do enjoy it as it is. However, many people do not have the opportunity to enjoy TK because of the lack of accessible trails. An essential part of our mission is an inspiring connection to the land; people cannot connect to the land they can’t visit. CLC believes that nature can be more inviting to visitors of all abilities and welcoming to people who relate to land in ways beyond hiking without threatening the scenic value or habitats of the site.  

Why is CLC against hunting? Why does CLC allow people to kill animals?   
Hunting is integral to land management, especially in Columbia County, where deer spread Lyme disease, get hit by cars, and destroy forests. Hunting is also a way that many communities have traditionally connected to the land. Sign up to get hunting program updates at columbialand.org/hunting. 

Why are the properties filled with the disgusting dog poop? Do better! Fine people!  

We’re also upset at the dog waste left behind. Our staff and volunteers visit the trails daily with a five-gallon bucket picking up after folks – dog waste, dirty diapers, and used needles. This management includes mowing, tree work, land management, etc. Implementing something like a trail cam or penalizing system is not feasible – CLC staff are not law enforcement, and identifying the culprits would be impossible. 

   We have installed signage, created a program to reward those who pick up after their pets, and approached folks in person while on the trails and asked them to follow the rules. When we courteously ask people to respect the land and other property users, staff are verbally attacked or threatened. If you have ideas on how to handle this, we welcome your input. We are all trying our best with the time and resources we have. As a land trust working on Indigenous land, CLC takes responsibility for stewarding these properties thoughtfully, and we welcome anyone who wants to help. If you would like to join as a volunteer, please let me know, and I’d be happy to add you to the email list.  

  Protected Land and Conservation Easements  

Can you tell me if X land is protected, or Do you have a map of conservation easements in Columbia County?  

Here is a link to the NY Protected Areas Database. They have an interactive map that you can zoom into to see what is protected.   

Great, can you tell me who owns it and what they are doing about X on the property?/I am angry about what’s happening on this private land/I have thoughts about my neighbors.  

Easements are private properties not owned and managed by CLC. We monitor annually to ensure that the easement terms (specific to each property) are not being violated. Still, we do not weigh in on particular management issues individually.   

  

Land Use  

I saw you got X/CLC is rich/you have money. Can CLC pay for managing my pond/picking frogs out of my pool/harvesting my invasive weeds?  

As a non-profit organization, CLC is not in a position to pay for individual land management activities. We can connect conservation-minded landowners with resources and would happily share more information with you.  

I want to sell CLC this fantastic property – aren’t you interested? (Similar: the property on the market next door to my house is for sale and should be conserved – what will CLC do to preserve it so I don’t lose my view?)  
As a non-profit organization, CLC cannot purchase land out of pocket. Our Strategic Conservation Plan guides CLC’s conservation work. Every conservation easement is a forever commitment, so we must be strategic about conserving land.   

Why is CLC taking all the high-value land off the tax rolls?  
CLC makes PILOT (payment instead of taxes) donations on properties we own. Owners of conserved land continue to pay taxes.  

JEDI (Justice, Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion)  

Why does CLC do this? Stick to the birds and the bees!  
 An essential part of CLC’s mission is connecting people to the land. Historically, conservation and recreation have primarily been the province of upper-middle-class white people, and we cannot fulfill our mission and be of service to the community without acknowledging and learning from history and moving forward in a way that doesn’t repeat it.   

CLC has embarked on a multi-year planning initiative to structure the never-ending work of integrating justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion into everything we do. CLC is working internally to strengthen our commitments before we can safely have the capacity to listen and learn about the many communities our work impacts, for better and worse. We have already initiated conversations with many stakeholders in recent years that may not have traditionally been represented in our work, such as Indigenous people, people of color, LGBTQ+ people, and immigrants. We’re excited to tell you about our work when our partner organizations think it benefits their needs and goals. Until then, we continue to quietly improve our commitments to these principles as we do not seek to be centered in this critical work.   

I’m a reporter. Does CLC have a statement on X?  

Send these to Troy and CC Rebecca.   

Strategic Plan

CLC’s Strategic Vision outlines six goals. Goals 1-3 are external and referred to as Connect-Conserve-Care, while goals 4-6 are internal.  

  1. Public lands: Public lands are well-managed for their individually unique characteristics and highest use or purpose and to serve broad and diverse constituencies  
  1. Education: Landowners and land managers, including easement holders, farmers, and woodland owners, understand the importance of conservation, know how to apply best land conservation practices, and voluntarily manage their land to enhance conservation value, and as appropriate, to enhance community appreciation and benefit  
  1. System-wide Conservation: Columbia County has a system-wide conservation vision and strategy informed by conservation science and by diverse interests and perspectives  
  1. Engagement: CLC has a large, diverse, and actively engaged constituency that participates with, promotes, and supports conservation and the organization  
  1. Funding: CLC has a diversified revenue portfolio to satisfy revenue projections that create sustainable financing in perpetuity 
  1. Organizational Health: CLC has a healthy, productive, energized workplace culture; positive and productive board–staff relationships and dialogue; efficient and useful operating systems; and a strong cohesive leadership team. 

Diversity, Equity, Inclusion goals

• Strengthening our community. Like a thriving ecosystem, conservation efforts are durable when they are interconnected. CLC commits to building trust-based relationships grounded in multiple perspectives to collaboratively address issues that impact the lives and dignity of our community, including safe drinking water and local food, housing unaffordability, and climate change. 

• Providing equitable access to and meaningful connection with the land. There is no “right” way to connect with the land. CLC commits to providing broad and meaningful access to land – including public lands and conserved properties – for connection, recreation, cultural practices and ceremony, and income generation through farming and forestry. 

• Building a healthy workplace. Change begins at home. CLC commits to building a culture where staff and board thrive, diversity is celebrated, and challenging conversations are embraced. 

Values 

• Including many voices and perspectives. CLC wants to hear your voice and your perspective, acknowledging that you may not have always felt welcome or included. CLC takes our role as a facilitator seriously and convenes conversations about land conservation and community needs, acknowledging the importance of challenging long-held assumptions and incorporating new perspectives. 

• Learning from the past and preparing for the future. Land trusts have a responsibility to protect land forever. Part of that responsibility is considering the impact yesterday’s actions have today and today’s actions will have tomorrow. Black, Indigenous, and other Communities of Color remind us that land conservation historically involved oppression and violence. That history impacts their lives today. As a steward of the land, we commit to using conservation tools to equitably serve our community. 

• Accessing land is a right everyone deserves. CLC believes you deserve the opportunity to access land in ways that are safe, welcoming, and meaningful. We commit to working together to solve problems innovatively, providing expertise and resources, and learning from others. 

Constituent relations guide

What to do when an upset person calls 

  1. Acknowledge what they are saying and check for understanding  
  • “Sounds like you are mad about the dog poop on the trails.” 
  • “So you’re saying you were at Overmountain on Monday, March 7th? What time was that?” 

You are doing this for three reasons: 

  • To make the person feel heard 
  • To get them to agree with you early in the conversation (this is a little bit of psychology that puts you both on the same team instead of positioning you as adversaries) 
  • To make sure you have the facts straight 
  1. Acknowledge the validity of their feelings. 
  • “Wow, it must have been really scary when that dog jumped at you.” 
  • “I’m so sorry that screw stabbed your foot and you had to get a tetanus shot, what a terrible thing to experience.” 
  1. Tell them what you can do to help or explain why you can’t. 

There are three basic situations: 

  • You can help with their problem. “I noticed this sign was down, which made me mad.” “This link on your website is broken.” “I couldn’t click this email.” 
  • You can’t help personally, but you know who can. Sometimes, you’ll be able to point someone to the proper resources even if you can’t help – for instance, we’re not going to rescue baby birds, but we know where a list of wildlife rehabilitators lives.  
  • This person is just angry and wants to vent. This is the toughest one because all you can do is listen.  
  1. If appropriate, give them a way to help you solve the problem together. 

“I couldn’t agree more! I hate when I’m out walking and step in someone else’s dog poop. We’re looking for volunteers to help with this exact situation, and it sounds like you’re passionate. Can I put you in touch with our volunteer coordinator?” 

  1. Tell them how you or someone from CLC will follow up. 

If you can’t solve the problem yourself (and often, you will not be able to), let them know what’s next and provide a timeline. 

“Okay, I’ve taken notes on this incident that happened. I’ll email our Public Lands Team today with you cc’ed, and someone will respond within a week. Please know this staff is on the trails most days, so that email response may take a little while.” 

  1. Escalate when needed and document when people are persistent, rude, or threatening. 

Some folks will only be happy once they talk to The Man In Charge. That’s okay. Send them to him. You don’t have to do this on your own. 

Escalate anyone attacking you/your credibility or demonstrating hateful/racist/sexist/homophobic views. You deserve to feel safe at work.  

“I don’t think continuing this conversation is productive. I have your phone number/email/etc. And will share with our President, who can get back to you.”  

  1. Take time to recharge your batteries.  

Dealing with angry and upset people is demanding and draining! If you have an unpleasant interaction, take a five-minute break to do something that recharges you – take a short walk, make a cup of tea, or listen to upbeat music.  

Glossary of programs and terms

Conservation Champions 

Donors who give over $5,000 each year. They receive special emails, quarterly written updates, personalized visits, and event invitations. This is an internal-only term. 

Conservation Easements 

Legal agreements allow landowners to permanently protect their properties’ conservation qualities and attributes without giving up ownership and the associated rights to live on, utilize, farm, and otherwise enjoy the land. In a conservation easement transaction, a landowner donates or sells a significant portion of the development rights associated with their land to a qualified non-profit land trust such as the Columbia Land Conservancy (CLC) or a governmental entity. Individuals who own these lands are known as Easement Partners.    

Conservation Friends 

Donors who give between $25 and $999 each year. They receive special emails twice monthly and invitations to events. This is an internal-only term. 

Conservation Leaders 

Donors who give between $1,000 and $4,999 each year. They receive special emails and invitations to events. This is an internal-only term. 
 

Conservation Easement Monitoring 
Once a landowner has purchased a conservation easement (Conservation easement) or decided to place it on their property, CLC must monitor that easement. We monitor all properties by air annually and on the ground every other year. These easement monitoring visits are an opportunity to better connect with landowners. 

Conservation Minded 
Once a landowner has purchased a property with a conservation easement or decided to place a conservation easement on their property, CLC believes it is essential to continue to engage these landowners as stewards and donors. For landowners with conservation easements, Conservation Minded emails and publications provide information about land management practices and challenges an easement holder might face and engages them in the more extensive work of CLC.   

Explorer Backpacks 
Provides local libraries with themed backpacks individuals can check out with their library card. Themes include insects, the night sky, hiking, birds, ponds, and streams. 

Farmer-Landowner Match Program  
Access to farmland is one of the biggest challenges for people who want to start or expand a farm business. To connect new, beginning, and multi-generation farmers with land that might be prohibitively expensive to purchase, CLC operates the Farmer-Landowner Match Program in conjunction with the Dutchess Land Conservancy, which connects farmers with landowners interested in supporting agriculture. We have facilitated more than 80 matches on over 4,000 acres of land. 
 
Nature Quest  
Encourages individuals to explore designated trails at CLC properties to learn more about the qualities that make those places unique. Booklets are available at participating libraries. 

Preemptive Purchase Right (PPR) 
An optional farmland affordability tool ensures that when protected farms are sold, they are sold at the agricultural value to other farmers.    

Public Conservation Areas  
Natural areas owned or managed by CLC to provide public enjoyment and conserve wildlife habitat. This is an internal-only term. Externally, refer to them as public lands, CLC properties, or public lands when describing them as a whole. Use their proper names when referring to them individually (I.e. Ooms, Overmountain, Schor).  

Purchase of Development Rights  
To protect active farmland and farm operations, CLC applies for grants and partner support for our local farmers to buy the development rights. This allows the farm family to cash out the value attributable to development potential and permanently protect the land with a conservation easement. We have conserved nearly 11,000 acres of farmland to date, securing more than 25 million dollars for farmers.   

Style guide

General Guidelines 

Do not use an apostrophe when pluralizing a year or an abbreviation that contains no periods unless it is a possessive 

Yes: In the 2000s, 100 million visitors came to the PCAs.  
No: All our PCAs’ benches are made without using nails. 

Use a colon to introduce a series or list, tabulated or untabulated, that directly follows the sentence or phrase introducing it 

Last year, CLC received so many donations: $10 million, Subarus, and new flannel for all staff. 

Do not use a colon after a verb 

Last year, donors contributed: over $10 million, two new trucks, and new iPhones for all staff. 

Endmarks are not necessary at the end of a bulleted list 

Capitalize the initial letter of the first word in a heading 

This is how we capitalize things in print  
Not Like This 

or this 

Name 

Use our full name, the Columbia Land Conservancy, or “CLC” if the term was previously defined. Do not use “The CLC,” “The Conservancy,” or any other variations stand-alone. Use “CLC” instead of “The CLC.” Use “the Columbia Land Conservancy” instead of “Columbia Land Conservancy” unless it is grammatically incorrect or awkward. 

 Times, Dates, and Locations Address 

49 Main Street, Chatham, NY 12037 OR 

49 Main St., Chatham, NY 12037 when pressed for space. 

Dates 

January 8, 2070 or January 8 

Note, no “th” or “st” after the date. Adding the suffixes is acceptable in the case of events: 8th Annual CLC Shindig 

Months 

Do not abbreviate the names of months. 

Seasons and Species Names 

Do not capitalize seasons and species names, except as part of an event name, as in “Winter Wildlife Walk,” but not “Red-Winged Blackbird.” 

Years 

Write out the full four-digit year. 

Phone Number 

518.392.5252, ext. 210 

Times 

Write times in the following format: 8:00 p.m.  
Use a 12-hour schedule, not military time. 

For time ranges, use the following format, with a.m. or p.m. after each hour: 8:00 p.m.-10:00 p.m. 

Job Titles 

Use an ampersand between words in a title, i.e., “Membership & Events Associate.” 

Emails 

Use the format [email protected], and remove the automatic hyperlink in Word to retain the original formatting. 

Common Terms 

Non-profit 

 Commas – WE ARE PRO OXFORD COMMA. 

In a series of three or more elements with a conjunction, always use a comma after the next-to-the-last item, also known as the Oxford Comma. 

This year, we redesigned our website, solicited one hundred new donors, and updated our PCA signage. 

Use a comma to separate a date from a number written in figures 

In 1950, 200 troubadours moved to Columbia County. 

Use a comma after a long introductory phrase (more than four words) 

Per our long-standing tradition, new staff members will receive Subarus. 

Use commas to set off titles that follow a name 

Rebecca Walker, Ph.D., is world-renowned for her ability to manipulate people with words. 

Use commas in dates to set off the day and year  
Saturday, March 21, 2016 

Use commas to set off quotations, inside the quote or before it 

“I’d love to donate,” she said. She added, “we think CLC is the best organization around.” 

Dashes 

Use an en dash between numbers to represent “through.” Do not use a space before and after the dash. 

From 2016-2018, CLC’s donor base increased by 200 percent. 

Use an em dash to draw attention to a clause in a sentence. Use a space before and after each em dash. You do not always have to use two em dashes. 

Rebecca Walker – the mom of CLC’s cutest dog – completed each task with aplomb. 

Hyphens 

Use hyphens as follows: 

Do not use a space before or after the hyphen 

Do not hyphenate when the first modifier is an adverb ending in –ly 

No: quickly-completed task, a well-planned conservation easement 

Do not hyphenate when the first word is also modified 

No: really-well-planned conservation easement  

Do not hyphenate proper names 

When two or more compound adjectives have a common base, use a hyphen after each element and punctuate normally 

The first- and second-year board members each called five friends to solicit donations. 

Numbers 

Always spell out numbers zero through ten, and use Arabic numerals for eleven and higher 

Spell out numbers that begin sentences 

Eighty-five percent of donors increased their donations. 

Spell out round numbers 

One hundred, one thousand, one million. 

Spell out percent when using a number zero-nine or a round number, and use a symbol when numeration requires it. 

Eight percent 

 Use a comma in numbers with four or more digits  
1,000 

 Use Arabic numerals with symbols and abbreviations  

8%, $8 

 Use apostrophes to form the plurals of Arabic numerals  
Three 100’s  

When giving inclusive dates or page references, use complete numerals  

Pages 178-179, not Pages 178-79 

 Spacing 

One space follows a sentence-final punctuation mark (period, question mark, or exclamation point) 

One space follows a comma, colon, or semicolon 

There is a space before and after an em dash 

There is no space before or after a hyphen, except for the suspended compounds, which are followed by a space: “a two- or three-day delay.” When suspended compounds appear in a series, there is no space between the hyphen and the comma: “a two-, three-, or four-day delay.” 

There is no space between enclosures (quotation marks, parentheses, brackets) and the enclosed words 

There is no space between a symbol (dollar sign, cents sign, percentage sign) and a numeral 

No space precedes or follows a slash in stenographic construction, e.g., and/or 

Quotations 

A period or comma goes inside the closing quotation mark: “I love CLC.” 

A colon or semicolon goes outside  

Communications guide

Provide a land acknowledgment.  

We humbly and gratefully acknowledge that Columbia County, New York is predominantly on the ancestral lands of the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohicans, who are the Indigenous people of this land. They were subject to genocide, coerced into assimilation, and forcibly removed from their homelands to what is now known as Wisconsin. They continue to retain their unbroken status as a Sovereign Native Nation. Despite removal, they continue to hold relationships with their homelands and settler communities.

As a land trust and the current steward of this place, CLC understands that access to land is a sacred and collective right. CLC recognizes the Indigenous history of this land, honors ancestors past and present, and supports current efforts to build more equitable spaces for all the human and non-human relatives who call this place home.

Condensed version

We are on the unceded lands of the Mohican people. CLC recognizes the Indigenous history of this land, honors ancestors past and present, and supports current efforts to build more equitable spaces for all the human and non-human relatives who call this place home.

About the land acknowledgment

A committee of CLC staff developed this land acknowledgment. We worked in consultation with the Stockbridge-Munsee Community and an Indigenous expert familiar with this area and shared with relevant sovereign nations with the intent of building relationships,

A land acknowledgement begins a long relationship between partners. As such, it is a living document, and never “completed.” CLC seeks to continue these relationships through learning, humility, and partnerships long into the future. If you have feedback to share about our land acknowledgment, please contact [email protected].

Be relevant.  
Consider your audience – why should they care? What’s the human-interest component? Will they understand what you’re saying? Scan your writing for jargon words like watershed, conservation easement, mitigation, and adaptability. Use Microsoft Word’s grade level checker and aim for about a 5th-6th grade reading level. 

Be brief and point out what matters.  
Use fewer words. Consider what information is most important, and use formatting to make that clear – use headlines, bold type, and bulleted lists to draw attention to important points. Do not go overboard and use italics, bold, and underlines in the same document.  

Be active.  
Avoid passive voice and reporting out information. CLC has a subscription to Grammarly that will help point this out – use it! 

Be conversational.  
Tell a story. Remember that people have feelings and aren’t usually motivated by cold hard facts – we are values-driven, irrational creatures. Use contractions, and don’t be overly formal. Don’t present a list of facts and expect that to be of interest (unless, perhaps, you’re contributing to a panel of Ph. D.s).  

Be mindful of multiple abilities and experiences.  
When using words such as listen, see, or walk, consider whether those are necessary or if other phrasings are more inclusive. For instance, instead of talking about seeing or hearing a bird, you can describe encountering it, which makes room for blind and deaf birders in the language. Instead of mentioning walking on a trail, you can experience it or explore it rather than erasing the experiences of people who use wheelchairs. 

Be inclusive in descriptions. 
Describe what the activity entails in detail rather than whether it is easy, medium, or hard or how long it will take. For instance: At this event, we’ll explore the 0.75-mile Birch Trail for 1.5 miles. The Birch Trail is forested and three feet in width, with some plank bridges. The trail surface is packed with dirt with exposed tree roots. The maximum grade is 5%. 

Check any assumptions.  
Check writing for inherent assumptions. Do you assume the person reading owns land? Owns a home? Has a lot of expendable cash? Doesn’t use a wheelchair? Is white? Lives in the country? Is a citizen? For example, rather than stating something is a citizen science project, call it a community science project.

Provide avenues for involvement. 
Your audience member read every word of what you wrote – now what? Have you given them a chance to learn more? Get to know CLC better? Contribute in a meaningful way?  

Remember that money isn’t everything. 
When describing and thanking those who have contributed to CLC’s mission, do not only include those who have made financial contributions. Language like “Thanks to a strong community of supporters, donors, and volunteers” recognizes the multiple ways people can give.  

Watch out for the past
Does your writing suggest that the history of Columbia County began with colonization? That racism, homophobia, and sexism only happened in the past?  

Don’t be possessive/use the inclusive “our.”  
Review uses of the word “our.” Are they necessary? Or do they create us/them, division? 
Please avoid using the words we and our in public-facing writing when it means CLC alone rather than CLC and the reader. For instance, “We invite you to attend this great program to learn more about our work” is divisive. At the same time, “Together, we’ll discuss the future of conservation in Columbia County” is an inclusive we. Note – there may be times when this isn’t possible or is exceptionally awkward, like when talking about “our Strategic Plan.” Then you can go ahead and use ours. 

Lead with values. 
Why does what you’re talking about the matter? How does it relate to CLC’s mission? 

Be inclusive and accessible. 
Caption all videos. Provide alt-text for images on the website and social. Follow ADA-accessible print guidelines for all printed material. Be vigilant about cultural appropriation (including the appropriation of Indigenous communities, but also related to Black and South, Southeast, and East Asian cultures). Review any of the numerous inclusive style guides saved on the shared drive to ensure you are not unwittingly using harmful, outdated, or non-inclusive language.  

Amplify marginalized voices and share storytelling. 
Tell stories about diverse connections to land, water, and wildlife that highlight marginalized communities – ideally, with members of those communities telling their own stories. Use social platforms to highlight marginalized voices and express support for community partners. 

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