At Mohonk Preserve, stewardship is part of our DNA. Our founders, Daniel and Keith Smiley, were land stewards before conservation was part of the collective consciousness.
At the beginning of the 20th Century, the brothers embarked on a study of natural history that would form the basis of the Preserve’s conservation science-based land management and help shape the organization’s stewardship ethic.
In 1927, Dan wrote about his personal sense of stewardship, noting that in his relationship to the land, “there was implied a sort of stewardship or trusteeship. And that such personal responsibility can only cease with life.”
In April of 1974, The Mohonk Land Ethic was published by Mohonk Preserve’s predecessor organization, the Mohonk Trust, acknowledging a combined commitment to peace and human understanding with a dedication to conservation and ecological accountability.
In that document, Dan Smiley further articulated the key components of stewardship: “Stewardship is not an abstract concept,” he wrote. “It means physical maintenance, ranger patrol, ecosystem research, long-range planning, and constant evaluation. It means imagination, hard work, and expense. Because it is never-ending, and because it brings us face to face with all the wonderful and terrible things men can do, it is not a task for the faint-hearted or for those who seek quick satisfaction. It is like life itself, a process, and our only hope is to embrace the opportunity.“
Today, Mohonk Preserve is actively realizing and practicing this stewardship vision in our mission, programs and pocketbook – 30 percent of our annual budget is dedicated to stewardship.
We’re continuing the legacy of connecting people to nature, welcoming over 165,000 annual visitors to the Preserve’s lands, inspiring them to explore, enjoy and care for their natural world. We’re also employing conservation science-based land management techniques developed from over a century of ongoing research and natural history data from the Preserve’s Daniel Smiley Research Center.
From its original concept as a place where people and nature could thrive together, Mohonk Preserve has become a model for natural area stewardship, sharing our philosophy and practices on the local, regional and national levels.
With the help of our members, visitors, donors, and communities, the Preserve will continue to embrace the opportunity of stewardship, challenges and all, for generations to come.