Spring has sprung at Mohonk Preserve! A stretch of warm weather resulted in some early leaf out and blooms. In this issue of Ridgelines, we’ll report on our recent recognition from the American Alpine Club for our conservation efforts, share highlights as we mark our 60th Anniversary, and provide important information about our many planned giving programs.

You’ll also find inspiring images of spring from our Mohonk Preserve Volunteer Photographers , along with a listing of generous donors who provided critical support to the Preserve in the first quarter of this year.

Spring is a great time to get out onto the land and experience nature’s annual renewal. We hope to see you soon!

Banner photo by Steve Aaron

Mohonk Preserve Board Chair Russ Clune accepting The David R. Brower Conservation Award by Jim Aikman

Mohonk Preserve Board Chair Russ Clune accepting The David R. Brower Conservation Award by Jim Aikman

Mohonk Preserve Recognized for Conservation Commitment by the American Alpine Club

Mohonk Preserve was honored to receive The David R. Brower Conservation Award for commitment to preserving mountain regions from the American Alpine Club at their Annual Benefit Gala on March 11, 2023. In attendance that night were Preserve Board Chair Russ Clune, President and CEO Kevin Case, and numerous Preserve Board members and supporters. The keynote speaker was former Vice President Al Gore, who spoke about the impacts of the climate crisis on mountain regions and acknowledged the significant role of the climbing community and organizations that protect natural areas.

The David R. Brower Award, created in 1991, is an annual award recognizing leadership and commitment to conservation and the preservation of mountain regions worldwide. It is awarded to individuals or organizations that have made an important difference as pathfinders, innovators, and contributors, and have motivated others to take action.

Previous award winners have included Sally Jewell, Kris McDivitt Tompkins, Laura and Guy Waterman, John Stannard, Conrad Anker, Doug Tompkins , and Yvon Chouinard.

David R. Brower, for whom the conservation award was named, was a pioneer in the international environmental movement who was twice nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize for his work in conservation. Brower was a lifetime member of the American Alpine Club and served as the organization’s Vice President from 1956-58. He was the first executive director of the Sierra Club, founder of Friends of the Earth, and served as chair of Earth Island Institute. His commitment to conservation contributed to the establishment of sound global environmental practices.

In accepting the award on behalf of Mohonk Preserve, Board Chair and legendary Gunks climber Russ Clune noted the Preserve’s 60th anniversary and legacy programs in education, conservation, stewardship and visitor experience and the hundreds of thousands of visitors who get into nature each year at Mohonk Preserve. He also acknowledged the Smiley family and friends who created the Preserve’s predecessor organization, The Mohonk Trust, in 1963 to both protect and provide access to nature. To view a video of Russ accepting the Brower Award, click here.

Mohonk Preserve has a long history of collaboration with the American Alpine Club, including efforts to introduce and promote low impact climbing. In 2015, the Preserve and the American Alpine Club, in partnership with New York State OPRHP and the Palisades Interstate Park Commission, opened the Samuel F. Pryor III Shawangunk Gateway Campground – the first new public campground in New York State in over thirty years. The American Alpine Club and Mohonk Preserve cooperatively manage the campground, which launched its ninth season on April 7.

Mohonk Preserve gratefully acknowledges the American Alpine Club for selecting us as the recipient of this year’s David R. Brower Conservation Award and for their continued commitment to healthy climbing landscapes.

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Shawangunk Ridge by Gerald Liddelow

Celebrating 60 Years of Saving the Land for Life

This year marks the 60th Anniversary of Mohonk Preserve! To celebrate the occasion of the founding of The Mohonk Trust, our predecessor organization, a group of staff and board members gathered at the Visitor Center for a celebratory toast in February. We were joined by Mohonk Preserve Director of Research Emeritus Paul Huth, who shared the following story with us about TMT’s founding:

60 years ago last August, in 1962, a longtime Mohonk guest by the name of Joseph K. Ross urged the creation of a foundation for the “preservation and continuance of the natural beauty and flora and fauna of the Mohonk property.”

He wrote to the Smiley family “My interest in this is prompted by my appreciation for all the good I have received from my many visits to Mohonk since about 1934.

No bequest I might make personally could ever adequately thank you for what Mohonk has really meant to me. As an outsider, I cannot but feel that there are enough friends of Mohonk who would be glad to contribute to a foundation or leave a bequest to make it worthwhile.”

Within a year, the founding of The Mohonk Trust took place at Mohonk on February 26, 1963. The first signatory to the trust agreement “hereinafter referred to as the donor,” was Mabel Craven Smiley, followed by six founding trustees, Albert K. Smiley Sr., or Bert as he was known, Mabel’s husband and the nephew of the original Albert of Mohonk, Virginia V. Smiley, Daniel Smiley, and Gerow Smiley, and Richard T. Lane and the Reverend Winslow D. Shaw. The initial fund of $100 was made by the “donor,” Mabel Craven Smiley, mother of Dan and Keith.

Over the now six decades of the Mohonk Preserve – it is our sixtieth anniversary this year – thousands and thousands of individuals have followed in Joseph K Ross’ vision, supporting the Preserve’s founding principles, with memberships, donations large and small, legacies, their time and talent, to make it worthwhile.

This anniversary year has prompted us to take time to reflect on our past, even as we navigate the present and prepare for the future. Mohonk Preserve’s Marketing & Communications team has reviewed every issue of the TMT and Preserve newsletters to create a new timeline for the Mohonk Preserve website and we’re excited to share a few highlights with you:

1966 – The Mohonk Trust acquires the 487-acre Trapps parcel, a gift from the Lake Mohonk Corporation

With the acquisition of this parcel, The Mohonk Trust becomes the steward of the most important climbing area in the eastern United States and a valued contributor to the development of American mountaineering.

Photo: Trapps Cliff by Frank Tkac

1975 – Peregrine falcons return to the ridge for the first time since 1957

With the extinction of peregrine falcons throughout the Northeast due to the effect of the pesticide DDT on their reproductive systems, efforts are made to reintroduce peregrines using captive-bred chicks from Cornell University.

Photo: Research Associate Dr. Heinz Meng (right) of SUNY New Paltz and a colleague banding a peregrine falcon for release. Photo from the Mohonk Preserve Daniel Smiley Research Center archives.

1980 – Mohonk Preserve Daniel Smiley Research Center is established

The Mohonk Preserve Daniel Smiley Research Center houses over a century of unparalleled research, collections, and natural and cultural history data.

Photo: Mohonk Preserve Daniel Smiley Research Center by Justin Key

A group of people in front of the Mohonk Preserve visitor center cutting a ribbon

1998 – Ribbon-cutting ceremony is held for the opening of the Mohonk Preserve Visitor Center

The Visitor Center on Route 44/55 in Gardiner, NY, features exhibits, nature trails, a butterfly garden, and an award-winning, green design including a geothermal heating and cooling system.

Photo: Executive Director Glenn Hoagland cutting the ribbon to officially open the Visitor Center by Scott Wynn

2000 – The Eli Van Leuven Cabin is restored as an interpretive site

This cabin is one of the few remaining homes of the nearly vanished Trapps Mountain Hamlet, a subsistence hamlet listed on both the New York State and National Register of Historic Places.

Photo: Van Leuven Cabin in the Trapps Mountain Hamlet by Bob Fisher

Lush green carriage road in summer.

2010 Carriage road network restoration plan is created

Preserve Stewardship staff and the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation complete a state-of-the-art plan and guidance manual for the restoration of the carriage road network in the Shawangunks.

Photo: Shawangunk carriage road by John Mizel

Weather monitoring for climate change conservation

2021 – Received Honored Institutions Award from the National Weather Service

Award recognized over 125 years of continuous weather observations at the Mohonk Lake Cooperative Weather Station.

Photo: Climate Tracker Recording Weather Data at the Lake Mohonk Weather Station by Jolie Parker

We look forward to continuing to share more information about our past, present and future as Mohonk Preserve continues its legacy of saving the land for life!

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Mindful Walk by John Verner

Planning With Purpose

Giving back to an organization like Mohonk Preserve can provide both purpose and meaning, and planned giving is an important way to maximize your charitable impact.

Planned giving, also known as gift planning or legacy giving, is charitable giving planned for the future, often through a will or trust. Planned giving represents the opportunity to provide long-term support to an organization and establish a legacy that aligns with your values.

An important aspect of the “plan” part of planned giving involves selecting which type of gift is right for you. Bequests by will or a living trust are common types of planned gifts, and gifts from a life insurance policy or retirement plan are growing in popularity. Gifts of property are also an alternative. To learn more about planned giving options, click here.

Another key part of planned giving is selecting the right charity – one that upholds sound nonprofit practices. As you may already know, Mohonk Preserve is an Internal Revenue Service-designated 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization with a dedicated mission meeting the requirement for tax exemption. The Preserve has also achieved and maintained a Platinum Transparency seal from Candid, demonstrating the organization’s deep commitment to nonprofit transparency and accountability, and is a Better Business Bureau Accredited Charity.

Mohonk Preserve is also fiscally responsible. We conduct our financial affairs in accordance with the Generally Accepted Accounting Principles of the Financial Accounting Standards Board and undergo an independent annual audit. We also have a highly skilled Finance Committee comprised of board members and community volunteers, many of whom are financial and legal professionals.

Mohonk Preserve is in the “forever” business of conservation and protects land in perpetuity. The Preserve is accredited by the national Land Trust Accreditation Commission, which noted that the Preserve “has made an extraordinary commitment to excellence, trust and permanence in land conservation.”

We’ve also stood the test of time. Now celebrating our 60th year of saving the land for life, Mohonk Preserve raises $3 million dollars annually to protect the lands in our care and inspire people to care for, enjoy and explore the natural world through our Conservation, Education, Stewardship and Visitor Experience programs.

Of course, none of this would have been possible without our members and donors whose support is critical. Each year, we’re grateful to receive thousands of gifts, large and small, that help sustain our work. We’re particularly honored that, to date, we’ve received over $13 million in charitable bequests from over 150 donors. We appreciate the confidence these donors have shown though their giving.

One of the ways we acknowledge planned gifts is through membership in our Legacy Society — a group of about 150 like-minded individuals who share a desire to ensure the future of the Preserve. Membership in the Legacy Society is one way we can recognize and thank you during your lifetime, and we will be hosting a Legacy Society Appreciation Dinner on July 8. If you prefer to keep your plans confidential, rest assured that membership is optional.

For more information on planning giving and other ways you can support Mohonk Preserve, please click here. You may also send a message to Preserve Director of Development Mallory Pierce directly or call 845-255-0919, ext. 1240.

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View seasonal photographs by our volunteer photographers below!

See more photos by the Mohonk Preserve Volunteer Photographers on their Facebook page.

Seasonal Updates

GET INTO NATURE. See a full list of upcoming programs including Turtles on the Terrace and Star Gazing.

IN APPRECIATION. Go to our listing of Memorial and Honorary Gifts, Premium Members, and Business Members received January 1 through March 31, 2023.

CHECK THIS OUT. “Wonders of the Shawangunks,” a photo exhibit by the Mohonk Preserve Volunteer Photographers, will be on display at the Gardiner Library from July 1 – August 31.

Mohonk Preserve was honored to receive a Regional Impact Award from SUNY New Paltz on April 21 as part of three days of activities celebrating the inauguration of SUNY New Paltz President Dr. Darrell P. Wheeler.

Peregrine falcon updates: Through our Peregrine Watch program, we now have confirmed nesting activity in the Trapps. Learn more about our Peregrine Watch program here.

Celebrate Juneteenth with Mohonk Preserve: Join Mohonk Preserve Education Outreach Coordinator Ashawna Abbott on Friday, June 16th, 6:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. for “Black Eco- Poetry: Nature and Resilience (Virtual).”

Save the date for our upcoming special events:

MOHONK PRESERVE BUSINESS MEMBERS. Thank you to all our Business Members. See the full list of Mohonk Preserve Business Members in our area guide.


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