True: the Mohawk Towpath Byway is a unique driving route from Waterford, Cohoes and Schenectady following the historic route of the Erie Canal and waterway west.
As I compile the notes, comments and suggestions from our resent public participation workshops I discover that almost all of you share my passion and mantra: the most important, most memorable experiences on the Byway occur once we leave our vehicle to discover the history, the recreational recourses, the natural world around us!
Thank you for your comments and suggestions. Comments received during the process have been summarized and circulated to all of you who participated. Even though the official comment period ended July 16, we always value your perspective. We will be editing the next draft of the Byway’s Corridor Management Plan over the next several months.
One of the suggestions made during the comment period was that we find a way to augment the flow in the 1842 enlarged Erie Canal pictured above. Duckweed and other aquatic vegetation and insects would be less prevalent.
A discussion around the table at the annual meeting of the Friends of the Mohawk Towpath Byway came up with surprising results. The question was, “What were the greatest achievements on the Byway this year?”
First up, Ruth related the story that at the Duathlon registration when her husband met an individual recovering from a similar medical condition as his. “The two of them are helping each other through recovery.”
Paul said, “I became more familiar with the features within the Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve.” He also added that fellow volunteer Chris had used a personal GPS devise to map trails in the Preserve and proceeded to color blaze the individual trails to match the mapping.
“Volunteers Chris and Joanne have painted a mural on the other side of the Whipple bridge aerial photo,” added Sue. “Their mural names and color codes the trails. Additionally Chris created directional signs at entrances to the nature preserve and at trail intersections complete with trail names and distances. Most of the trails have color coded discs on trees.”
Eric is proud of the Story Telling Summit that the Friends of the Byway helped host in late spring. We had folks attend from as far away as the mid west U S. It was the consensus around the table that we should do something similar next year.
Mary reported that she had given a tour of the Byway to a group of 7 or 8 hikers. They all enjoyed the experience and hope to repeat it, perhaps in another area of the Byway.
Nancy shared a story that as she and Tracy were marshaling participants at the Duathlon, Tracy pointed out a coyote crossing a distant field. Nancy continued her post, but later saw the coyote return across the ridge.
Maryanne shared a story of a visit to a historic building and had paused at the top of the stairs. While she was there she felt a push toward the stairs as if by a mischievous child, but no one was around. That story was added to the folklore of the historic property which had, at one time, housed an orphanage.
Lara successfully completed the Duathlon, and has always been impressed by the enthusiasm of the volunteers who host the event. She is looking forward to competing again next year.
During Farm Fest weekend Larry helped a visitor discover nearby Clutes Dry Dock by accessing the Byway tour on the visitor’s cell phone. The visitor was compelled to check out other features along the Byway corridor during the weekend. The self guided tour feature makes it easy to discover the Byway at your own pace and on your own time.
These individual observations illustrate the diverse interests on the Byway and the collection of resources that make the Mohawk Towpath Byway such a unique place to live, to visit and to share with the outside world. What stands out in your mind as a special resource along the waterway west?
John Loz and Eric Hamilton install an IBA sign to the introductory stop on the Birding Trail in the Vischer Ferry Preserve. – photo by Maryanne Mackey.
Actually there are four new posts just off the Mohawk Towpath Byway within the Vischer Ferry Nature and Historic Preserve. They mark spots on the new birding trail added to our self guided tour of features along the Byway. This is a joint project, long in planning, between the Audubon Society of the Capital Region and the Friends of the Mohawk Towpath Byway.
The tour points out four different habitats within the preserve each different types of bird species. These habitats are described as open water habitat (in the background of the accompanying photo); cattail marsh; river and river edge habitat; and forest and shrub habitat.
“The Vischer Ferry Preserve was named an Important Bird Area in 1997 by Audubon New York and Bird Life International,” explains John Loz. “This partnership between the birding community and the Byway community is most significant.”
“It is partnerships like this that broaden the appeal of the Mohawk Towpath Byway to local, regional and international visitors. It is yet another story to add to the overall Byway experience,” adds Eric Hamilton.
Try it! Stop at the the main entrance to the Preserve located at the intersection of Riverview Road and Van Vranken Road. Scan the QR code posted on the wooden kiosk with the area map or key in 518-649-9990 and listen to the narrative for stop 4. Then walk over the historic Whipple truss that bridges the 1842 enlarged Erie Canal and look for stop 31 on the right (as pictured here).
It’s all right here in our backyard! Get out and enjoy it as the fall colors reach their peak and the bird migration along the eastern flyway is in full swing.
For centuries during the first warm days of spring female turtles leave water’s edge and start up the shore to lay their eggs in many places along Riverview Road in Clifton Park to Rexford. Mature turtles of all sizes can be seen crossing the pavement on their way to higher ground with sandy soil, ideal for nurturing turtle eggs until the fry hatch. This can be dangerous for the turtles because drivers don’t always see them even in bright spring sunlight.
On May 25, 2017, Junior Girl Scout Troop 2158, in conjunction with the Town of Clifton Park, ended their very busy year with a Turtle Talk presentation at the Vischer Ferry Historic and Nature Preserve an important part of the Mohawk Towpath Scenic Byway. With the installation of 7 new Turtle Crossing signs in the area of the Vischer Ferry Historic and Nature Preserve, the troop assisted in the unveiling signs along with town officials. The girls presented facts about painted and snapping turtles, both of which inhabit the area and are often seen crossing the roads. The troop helped to alert the public as to the importance of these reptiles and what to do if one is found in a life-threatening location such as the road.
Knowing that the turtles born this year could still be alive in 2047, the girls were enthusiastic about turtle preservation. As part of the initiative to help retain this natural, cultural, and scenic area, Troop 2158 is grateful for the opportunity to be part of it. Besides, the girls loved crossing the Whipple Bridge, walking the towpath, and seeing the turtles in the water!
Look for the new “turtle crossing” signs as you travel the Byway …and watch for the turtles!