But the trouble with saving land, as many land trusts have found, is figuring out what to do with it once you’ve preserved it for the commonweal. Getting it off the market is one thing; maintaining it against litter and vandalism, erosion and invasive species is another thing entirely. And opening it up for public access is a particularly costly endeavor when, like Scenic Hudson, you own dozens of parks and preserves, and recession-strapped state, county and municipal governments are not exactly beating your door down for the opportunity to take them off your hands. True, the organization’s land trust arm has a sizable war chest, but it’s restricted to land acquisition only, while the operations end has seen significant cuts in staffing over the past few years. Consequently, at a lot of Scenic Hudson properties, you need to bring your own fun.
Nevertheless, there are certain traditions for enjoyable public activities in Scenic Hudson parks that are honored year after year, and one of them is that some sort of family-friendly cold-weather outing is always scheduled for Martin Luther King Day, when the kids are out of school. Winter Fun Day 2010, on Monday, January 17, will take place from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Esopus Meadows Preserve, on the shores of the Hudson just south of Port Ewen.
Of special interest this year is a lecture and exhibit on how Native Americans in this part of the country used to cope with the rigors of winter. From 10 to 11 a.m., environmental educators will demonstrate how to start a fire without matches and how to build a snow shelter. As usual, there will be arts and crafts activities for those so inclined; kids will be able to make their own snow globes from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. And for those who need to keep moving in order to stay warm, Mountain Tops Outdoors, Tubbs Snowshoes and Hammerhead Sleds are providing demo gear to try out all through the event; Scenic Hudson will supply the guides for group snowshoe treks.
Esopus Meadows Preserve is located at 257 River Road in Ulster Park, 1.3 miles north of its intersection with Route 9W. Please bring your own lunch; weather-appropriate clothing, including boots, gaiters or snowpants; and snowshoes and/or a sled, if you’ve already got some. But leave your pets at home. Minors must be accompanied by an adult.
Another well-used Scenic Hudson park on the Ulster County side of the river is Shaupeneak Ridge, a little further south on the westward side of 9W. Luckily it was not winter when the great anti-slavery activist Sojourner Truth fled on foot in 1826 over this same mountain to freedom, but she still would have needed to know how to find the “Basic 4”components essential to wilderness survival: shelter, water, fire and food. You can pick up these skills yourself two weeks from now, on Saturday, January 29, when Shaupeneak hosts a presentation by Shane “White Feather” Hobel, owner of Mountain Scout Survival School. Hobel is one of five US members of the Tracker Search & Forensic Investigation Team; he has been featured on the History Channel’s MonsterQuest and is currently producing a new series for Cablevision.
The Wilderness Survival workshop runs from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Here again, bring lunch and wear weather-appropriate clothing, including boots, gloves, a hat, gaiters or snowpants. Minors must be accompanied by an adult, and pets are not permitted. The group will meet at Shaupeneak’s upper parking lot on Poppletown Road. To register, or to find out more about either of these two upcoming events, e-mail Scenic Hudson Parks event coordinator Anthony Coneski at firstname.lastname@example.org or phone (845) 473-4440, extension 273.