The climate of the Helderberg Plateau is essentially continental although influenced by the Hudson River, Great Lakes, and Atlantic Ocean. Winters (Dec-Feb) are cold (mean = -6.6C) to frigid (min. = -32C) with ample snow (mean = 1.3 m/yr). Summers are warm (mean = 21C) with short periods where 38C may be reached. Rainfall is higher in spring and fall than in summer, with an annual mean total of 900mm. Winds are northerly in winter and northwesterly in summer. Weather data available for the Preserve and for Albany County (back to 1871) were summarized by Thaler (1992, 1994). The Preserve’s 60-year long research and monitoring record provides valuable baseline data against which change may be evaluated.
Natural habitats on the Preserve include several water falls, a 40.5 ha lake, 4 ha pond, beaver ponds, kilometers of permanent and intermittent streams, a bog (total wet areas = 5%), old fields (15%), mature hemlock forests, pine and spruce plantations (3%), and extensive areas of maturing and mature hardwood forests (72%).The remaining 5% are roads, trails, and building sites. All of the Preserve’s 800 ha are available for research. Because we are also a nature preserve in addition to a research station, we do have about 2000 visitors per year. Our management plan calls for keeping the public on trails around Lake Myosotis and near the Rensselaerville Falls away from most research areas. To date we have had few problems with vandalism or other interference with research sites.