The Nature Bus wants to hear from you

— Photo by Leah Atkins wit DEC
Boarding the Nature Bus last year at Five Rivers in Bethlehem, an Albany resident heads back to the city.

ALBANY COUNTY — This past year, from June through September, Albany residents for the first time could board a bus for free to visit nine natural areas in Albany County.

Nearly 1,000 city residents rode the Nature Bus over its 15-week run to get to the outdoor locations to enjoy nature.

Now the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, which ran the program with the Capital District Transportation Authority, has launched a survey — at https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NatureBus — to find out how to improve the service.

Nature Bus customers could participate in a story walk to read while outdoors, archery lessons, tree identification, nature walks, and more. Riders were greeted at most locations, welcoming them to facilities and giving them an orientation on what locations have to offer. 

“We were thrilled to see so many folks utilizing this service and want to ensure this is the best way to provide access to nature for those who need it most. We feel the survey is a great way to help shape the future of this service,” said Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy Conservation Director Sarah Walsh in a release announcing the survey.

Basil Seggos said, “During its first season, the Nature Bus demonstrated that barriers limiting access to public lands and destinations can be overcome with creative thinking and collaboration,” said Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Basil Seggos in the release.

The DEC’s Five Rivers Environmental Education Center in Bethlehem was one of the nine locations serviced by the Nature Bus.

“Friends of Thacher were pleased to be a part of this pilot program. We are strongly committed to its goals of diversity and equity. We encourage broad participation in the survey to help refine the program going forward,” said Betsy Miller, Friends of Thacher Park treasurer, in the release.

In addition to John Boyd Thacher State Park and Five Rivers, other sites serviced by the bus included Albany County’s Lawson Lake Park in Feura Bush and Helderberg-Hudson Rail Trail, which stretches from Voorheesville to the Port of Albany.

Also, the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy’s Bennett Hill Preserve in Clarksville and Norman’s Kill West Preserve in Delmar. Rounding out the nine sites are: Tivoli Lake Preserve and Farm in Albany, Pine Hollow Arboretum in Slingerlands, and the Hilton Barn Park in New Scotland.

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