if yer not forest,
yer against us
Lisha Kill Forest Preserve
gateway to an ancient forest
Niskayuna, New York

PHOTO DYarrow 12/1/01

Lisha Kill
Forest Preserve
Rosendale Road
Niskayuna, New York

Surveys: Dec. 1, 2001; Aug. 31, 2002

Lisha Kill Forest Preserve is a 112-acre sylvan sanctuary owned and managed by The Nature Conservancy in the Town of Niskayuna, just south of the Mohawk River. The Lisha Kill is a broad but shallow stream that meanders east and west through a wide, 50 to 60 foot deep ravine, to eventually empty into a swamp by the Mohawk River, south of old Erie Canal Lock 7. This second growth ancient forest is few miles east of downtown Schenectady, bounded by Rosendale, Mohawk and Troy Roads. The Preserve is entered from a parking lot next to the old Niskayuna Grange hall on Rosendale Road 200 yards west of the intersection with River Road (upper left of aerial photo).

The core of the Lisha Kill Preserve is at least 40 acres that were formerly a farm woodlot, and disturbed only by minimal selective logging. So, a rich diversity of tree species and understory flora still inhabit this forest under a soaring canopy (middle left of the aerial photo). This core forest is on high land north of the last eastward bend of the creek, and has a healthy growth of handsome hemlock, white pine and mixed oaks, now protected for posterity. With no significant logging for over 150 years, there are no stumps, and trees have grown to a mature canopy topping 100 feet.
Aerial Photo
Lisha Kill Preserve
Niskayuna, New York
click photo to enlarge

PHOTO DYarrow 12/1/01

This splendid secondary old growth forest provides a rare opportunity for the largely urban population to walk through a peaceful, sheltered woodland with well formed, old trees. The sylvan serenity of this extra-ordinary forest is broken only by the distant dim roar of traffic on Troy Road (Route 7) on the south.
Survey Team Visits
December 1, 2001
August 31, 2002

History

An old Indian trail once crossed the south end of the Lisha Kill, connecting the Normans Kill with a Mohawk village on Niska Isle in the Mohawk River, and used to access the nearby Helderberg Escarpment to quarry chert for stone tools.
Paul Schaefer
grandfather
of New York conservation

Niskayuna, New York

The Preserve is part of the Old Vedder Farm, dating to 1795, most of which was cleared for croplands and pastures. A sawmill operated on the south end in the early 1800s, and until the Civil War, Shakers from Watervliet farmed the land.

In the early 1960s, the New York State Department of Transportation had proposed to relocate Route 7 highway farther north, between Troy Road and the Mohawk River. The new route would have gone directly through the east part of Lisha Kill valley, and would have ruined it. At the same time, Ham said, the landowners, faced with increased tax assessments, planned to develop parts of the property and lumber the bigger trees.

The late conservationist Paul Schaeferóbuilder, Adirondack crusader and long-time Niskayuna residentówas familiar with the area from boyhood, and initiated the public campaign to defeat the highway and protect the Lisha Kill. To show people the beauty and importance of the area, Schaefer personally led walks through the Lisha Kill ravine and over the adjoining highlands. Schaefer worked out an agreement with the owners to offer their property to The Nature Conservancy.
Lisha Kill Preserve
along an ancient highway amid 100 foot trees
Niskayuna, New York

PHOTO DYarrow 12/1/01

Dr. H.M. Rozendaal led local fund-raising to purchase the property. Initially $15,000 was raised, then an anonymous benefactor appeared offering $5000 matching funds. Quickly $25,000 was raised, and the benefactor offered to match any additional funds raised. In a brief time, the entire purchase price was achieved and the property transaction closed. In 1964, for about $50,000, the Nature Conservancy purchased the two woodlots that now make up the Preserve from Chester Vedder and Henry Creiger. Local resident Frank Ham was appointed its Steward to oversee its management.



TERRA: The Earth Restoration and Renewal Alliance ó www.championtrees.org ó updated 4/14/2003