Mary Burke and Kathy Kelley Named Adirondack Land Trust Volunteers of the Year

The Adirondack Land Trust recognized two volunteers for eight years of service as preserve adopters at Coon Mountain Preserve, in Westport, NY.

Friends Mary Burke and Kathy Kelley first started doing trail work and pulling garlic mustard on Coon Mountain in 2013. They both enjoyed hiking the preserve’s trails, especially in early spring when woodland wildflowers bloom. So they volunteered 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,” Kathy 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,” Mary 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.” 

On behalf of the Adirondack Land Trust, Munro met Burke and Kelley at the preserve in July and presented them each with a certificate recognizing their countless hours of hands-on conservation work. 

If you’d like to learn more about volunteer opportunities with the Adirondack Land Trust, contact info@adirondacklandtrust.org or call (518) 576-2400. To learn about 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. donated 275 acres of forestland in the town of Chesterfield to the Adirondack Land Trust. The Land Trust then exchanged that tract 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. For if-you-go information, see this link.

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.

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