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Adirondack Land Trust honors Burke, Kelley as volunteers of year

Volunteers Mary Burke (left) and Kathy Kelley at the Adirondack Land Trust’s Coon Mountain Preserve, in Westport, NY. Photograph by (Provided photo — Doug Munro/Adirondack Land Trust)

WESTPORT — The Adirondack Land Trust recognized two volunteers for eight years of service as preserve adopters at Coon Mountain Preserve.

Friends Mary Burke and Kathy Kelley began doing trail work and pulling garlic mustard together in 2013. They both enjoyed hiking the preserve’s trails, especially in early spring when woodland wildflowers bloom, so they offered to help Adirondack Land Trust stewardship manager Doug Munro.

“We’ve come a long way since the first year when we hauled out several contractor bags of garlic mustard with Doug Munro, but we continue to find more every year, so we remain vigilant,” Kelley said. “Every spring when we see the wildflowers, we’re reminded how important this work is. The very first time I removed a large clump and found a jack-in-the-pulpit beneath, I knew we were doing something vital.”

“This is the most enjoyable, pain free, satisfying volunteer work I have ever done,” Burke said. “It coincides with my very favorite time of year on Coon Mountain, early to mid May, during the parade of delightful emerging wildflowers: hepatica, spring beauties, dutchman’s breeches, trillium, wild oats, mitrewort, saxifrage, jack-in-the-pulpit and more. . . . When the soil is damp is best, as the roots almost slide out instead of breaking.”

To learn about volunteer opportunities with the Adirondack Land Trust, contact info@adirondacklandtrust.org or (518) 576-2400. To learn how to identify and control garlic mustard and other invasive species, see adkinvasives.com (the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, a partnership of The Nature Conservancy, and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Transportation and Adirondack Park Agency).

Coon Mountain Preserve was made possible via an innovative land swap in 1991. Peter Paine Jr., a member of the land trust board, donated 275 acres of forest in the town of Chesterfield to the Adirondack Land Trust. The land trust then exchanged that tract with Mike Pratt, a local sawmill owner, for 246 acres in the town of Westport-land that is ecologically rich but marginal from a forest-products perspective. Over the years the preserve has expanded to 378 acres. To learn more about the preserve see adirondacklandtrust.org/Explore/Coon-Mountain.

The mission of the Adirondack Land Trust is to forever conserve the forests, farmlands, waters and wild places that advance the quality of life of our communities and the ecological integrity of the Adirondacks. The land trust has protected 26,632 acres since its founding in 1984. To learn more, visit adirondacklandtrust.org.

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