The Columbia Land Conservancy, a nonprofit land trust, works with our community to conserve the farmland, forests, wildlife habitat, and rural character of Columbia County, strengthening connections between people and the land starting in 1986.
Engaging with nature
When you ask someone why they hold the values they do, their answer often involves a meaningful experience as a child or young adult. The act of watching the birds, splashing in a creek, or catching a fish leaves an impression that makes an impact. These impacts are individual – people who spend time in nature are generally healthier and happier – and collective – people who have positive experiences in nature are more likely to volunteer and vote with the environment in mind. However, providing these sorts of experiences, especially for children, is becoming increasingly more difficult.
CLC and our partners are committed to providing free and low-cost educational programs that provide opportunities for people to fall in love with the world around them, and to maintaining the Public Conservation Areas for recreation, reflection, and restoration. Check out the map below to learn more about each Public Conservation Area.
Caring for lands and waters
Throw a dart at a map of Columbia County, and you are likely to hit an important natural resource: large unbroken blocks of forest, healthy streams and wetlands, and regionally significant grassland and old field habitats. Columbia County is home to one of only two forested wildlife corridors that cross the Hudson Valley and are essential for plants and animals moving in response to climate change. If this corridor is fragmented by development, it will fail. These landscapes are essential for recreation, the economy, sequestering carbon, reducing air and water pollution, preventing fires and floods, and filtering drinking water. They’re also threatened by poorly-planned development, climate change, and invasive species.
CLC is the only conservation organization focused exclusively on protecting land in Columbia County. In addition to permanently protecting land with legal tools like conservation easements (which limit future development), CLC provides educational resources for land management for landowners, municipalities, and conservation-minded partners.
Supporting local agriculture
When you conjure up a cherished memory, there’s a good chance food is involved. Spring means picking fresh strawberries, summer calls for corn on the cob, and it’s not autumn until you’ve carved a pumpkin. If you’re enjoying this produce in Columbia County, you likely had the opportunity to purchase it directly from a farmer. Maybe a farmer whose parents, and their parents before them, farmed the same plot of earth. Without taking action to protect farms like these, though, their legacy could disappear.
The rising cost of land and a growing second home market makes it nearly impossible for new farmers to buy land, and makes selling the family farm an attractive option in a tough economic climate. The average age of farmers continues to rise, and 9 out of 10 farmers have not identified a younger farmer to take over their land.
CLC is recognized across the country for its innovation when it comes to protecting farmland, and recognized by local farmers as an essential partner in land protection. CLC and our partners use a variety of tools to protect farmland, keep it affordable, support the next generation of farmers, and facilitate relationships with farmers and community members. To date, we’ve secured more than $25M in grant funds for farmers, conserving over 11,000 acres of land. Read some of their stories below.stories-report_reduced-1