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The Single Most Important Thing: A Profile of Josh Balisteri, Stewardship Director

Updated: Apr 9

Josh Balisteri grew up in Orchard Park, a stone’s throw from one of his favorite childhood stomping grounds: Chestnut Ridge Park. His family’s weekly hikes to local parks and preserves were just the start of his obsession with nature. TV shows like Survivorman and The Crocodile Hunter supercharged his keen interest in ecology and wildlife. 

After graduating from Orchard Park High School, he attended SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry in Syracuse. There he earned a B.S. in Natural Resource Management, with a double minor in Recreation Resources and Protected Area Management and Forest Resource Management. Josh’s passion for nature and his broad educational background in the field make him an ideal Stewardship Director at the Land Conservancy. He joined our staff in 2018.

“What excites me most about working for the Land Conservancy is the fact that we are doing what science tells us is the single most important thing we can do when facing the current biodiversity and climate change crisis: permanently protecting land. I chose to work in the land trust field for this reason.”

The Land Conservancy has protected nearly 8,000 acres in its 30-year history, including significant farmland, and Josh and his stewardship team ensure that every acre is monitored, managed, and protected. It’s a lot to do, but they get the job done. Among their many duties, they carry out conservation easement monitoring, oversee invasive species removal, maintain our many public nature preserves, and design and build trails. 

This last is Josh’s particular favorite, and he knows a thing or two about great trails, having hiked and camped at some of the continent's most iconic places: Olympic National Park, Zion, Canyonlands, Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, Algonquin Provincial Park, the Great Smoky Mountains, and sections of the Appalachian and Pacific Crest Trails. His backcountry trips recharge his battery, and they remind him why being outdoors has always been such a huge part of his life. “Time immersed in nature,” he says, “away from roads, light and noise pollution, cell service, and screens is essential to staying grounded and inspired.” 

That sense of groundedness definitely inspires his work at the Land Conservancy. This year, he’s thrilled by the opportunity to design a world-class trail system that he and his stewardship team will install this summer at our newest acquisition, the Floating Fen in Chautauqua County. If all goes according to schedule, you’ll be able to walk this new trail system by October. We’ll certainly keep you updated on the stewardship team's progress here on this blog and on our social media. 

In the meantime, if you’d like to learn more about how Josh and his team built the trail system at the Janet Gallogly Allegany Wildlands, you can read Josh’s blog post from last October

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1 Comment

Feb 29

Great article on Josh, he is and always will be Mr. Nature man. WE are all so very proud of him. Our earth is in good hands with The land Conservancy and Josh.

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