2023 annual report

Table of Contents

Click the links below to navigate between different parts of the report.

A note from Troy Weldy

As we approach winter and the shortest day of the year, we start taking stock. We reflect. We kindle small flames of hope against the encroaching darkness and celebrate the year’s joy.

This year has included so many sparks of hope that to me, it feels as bright as mid-day. I hope hearing these stories of all we’ve accomplished together in 2023 fills you with joy and enthusiasm for what’s to come next. Here’s to an even brighter 2024.


Connecting people to the land

Greenport infrastructure improvements

CLC partnered with Build Hudson to restore the main gazebo overlooking the Hudson River. The crew restored this iconic structure using materials harvested from the site. Cruz Luis Wood Products, a local business started by a Hudson High School student, created ADA-accessible benches for the site that visitors can enjoy while taking in the views. Supporters and community members celebrated these great improvements at events May 20 and June 3.

Other improvements to Greenport this year included:

  • Expanding the parking lot,
  • Resurfacing the Access for All Trail with the help of the Greenagers (a Massachusetts-based youth employment program), and
  • Collaborating with artist Austen Camille to install a new kiosk and with one ear towards the river, with one eye to the land, an interactive art trail.
Ooms boardwalk construction

Progress on replacing the boardwalk with a new, more durable structure continues! CLC has worked with our contractor to create a final design set of construction specifications and submitted those plans to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation for approval. Once the plans are approved, we anticipate construction and a community celebration in the near future!


Caring for land

Grassland bird habitat management at Greenport

The fields at Greenport got an earlier-than-usual trim this year. CLC is partnering with experts from the Natural Resources Conservation Service to implement new grassland management practices to create improved habitats for regionally rare birds like bobolinks and meadowlarks. The fields will be mowed in August for the next three years to combat the growth of woody shrubs and invasive species such as teasel and knapweed.

Educational programs

CLC’s summer and fall program offerings included several workshops for those interested in learning more about how to care for land:

  • Together with the Capital Region Partnership for Invasive Species Management, we offered a two-part workshop series featuring online and field-based components about identifying and managing invasive weeds.
  • Support from the Berkshire-Taconic Community Foundation’s Quailwood Fund also made it possible to offer two Game of Logging trainings for individuals interested in learning more about how to manage forests safely.
  • Some of the brightest spots of my year included meeting with you all at Troy’s Treks – a series of casual get-togethers where folks can learn about different ways to manage land and learn more about what’s happening in their neighborhoods. Email [email protected] to join the Troy’s Trek’s mailing list.

Conserving land

Chatham creates Community Preservation Fund

CLC assisted the Chatham Agricultural Partnership in drafting the Town’s Community Preservation Fund, which passed with overwhelming support in November. We look forward to working with the Town as this newly established fund generates revenue to purchase the development rights on local farmland.  

High-Low Farm protected with a conservation easement

High-Low Farm is a cherished 300-acre dairy farm passed down through three generations. Located on the scenic western slopes of the Taconic Mountains in Copake, New York, it is now protected as part of a significant area of conserved land. This “conservation block” includes neighboring protected properties and totals over 1,000 acres.

“I was so thrilled and grateful to work with CLC. These funds will allow us to move forward with plans to bring the farm back to a functional business while allowing future generations to enjoy what we created here. To me, a farm is a precious thing where I always wanted to live, so to have everyone focused on its restoration makes me proud,” says Gwynne Pierson.

Water Street farmland affordability project

Affordable farmland is hard to find. In 2021, an anonymous donor gifted CLC a 14-acre property in Livingston. This relatively small lot has immense possibilities – much of the acreage is prime farmland and includes access to the Taghkanic Creek.

CLC convened a committee of independent reviewers who identified a qualified farm buyer and is excited to announce that Blake Hill, owner of Hussman Hollow Flower Farm is in contract to purchase the farm. The farm will be sold subject to a conservation easement that ensures its affordability in perpetuity. CLC is eager to pursue additional projects that result in opportunities for farmers in our community to own and access affordable farmland.

Grants for supporting farmers and farmland owners

CLC has also received two new grants to work with farmers and farmland owners. A grant from the American Farmland Trust’s Soil Health Stewards Grant will make it possible for CLC to promote soil health practices on land we own and land that we’ve worked to protect.

AFT’s Land Transfer Navigators grant supports training and technical support and resources to assist the increasing number of farmers in their farm transition process and help ensure successful future farm transfers. We are entering a time when many farmers are ready to retire and many younger farmers are searching for affordable land to farm. Navigating a successful, affordable farm transition is complex. In addition to this new work, CLC will continue in its role as a Regional Navigator to the statewide Farmland For A New Generation Program. As a Regional Navigator, CLC connects farmers with land access opportunities, educates non-operating farmland landowners, and collaborates with more than 35 agricultural service providers, cooperative extension offices, and land trusts.


Stronger together: organizational achievements

Diversity, equity, and inclusion

In January, CLC shared the start of a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion plan, as well as a commitment to transparency around efforts to advance the three overarching goals we committed to.

Review existing research about community needs.

  • Submitted a grant application to create an updated Strategic Conservation Plan for Columbia County that will include community input.
  • Serving as a fiscal sponsor for the the Hudson Valley Conservation and Affordable Housing Group – acknowledging the crisis of affordable housing in Columbia County, and working with Trillium Community Land Trust, a new affordable housing group based in Hudson.
  • Created an internal team focused on building relationships with Indigenous communities and revised our living land acknowledgement.

Creating more welcoming site features at public properties.

  • Partnered with Build Hudson and Cruz Luis Wood Products to install more accessible features at Greenport Conservation Area.
  • Surveyed site visitors to learn more about needs and desires for public properties.
  • Updating wayfinding signage with accessibility information about trail grade, surface, cross-slope, and width.

Improving recruitment, hiring, and onboarding processes.

  • Hosted two team-building and communications styles workshops for staff.
  • Updated a template job description and reviewed language to make announcements more inclusive, and revised onboarding process for new staff to foster relationships and make starting a new job less overwhelming.
  • Developed and shared a compensation policy to make salaries more transparent.

Welcome new staff and board

What a year it’s been! CLC has been excited to welcome several new staff and board members.

Re-branding and new logo

CLC was excited to announce the launch of a new logo and updated website in October. The new logo features vibrant colors, contemporary design, and elements inspired by the diverse natural landscapes found in Columbia County, such as rolling hills, waterways, and lush forests. Don’t forget – you can buy new logo merch through December 12 at our new online store!

The new website, ColumbiaLand.org, includes enhanced navigation, interactive maps, educational resources, and opportunities for engagement. Share your thoughts at [email protected]!



Financials and filings

Please click the links below to view CLC’s annual nonprofit filings. This year, we were also re-accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission for our strong finances and sound organizational strategy.

Questions?

To learn more about CLC’s commitment to financial transparency, visit our profile on Guidestar, where we are rated Platinum.
For questions about financials, please contact Jessica Holmes.


Thank you, supporters

Please click the link below to access a PDF listing of CLC’s donors, volunteers, and supporters.

Questions?

If you are listed incorrectly or have questions about your listing in the report, please contact Rachel Hoppins.

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