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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 21, 2010

Pine Bush Commission adopts plan that calls for adding 2,000 acres

By Anne Hayden

GUILDERLAND — The Pine Bush Commission’s 11-member board voted unanimously on Oct. 7 to adopt the 2010 management plan, which details its desire to increase the preserve’s land by over 2,000 acres.

The 500-page management plan, which, according to legislative mandate, must be reviewed every five years, was reviewed in 2007, at which point the commission began recommending updates for the new plan.

The Pine Bush Commission, which was founded by the state legislature to oversee preservation of the globally rare pine barrens, currently manages 3,200 acres, but hopes to acquire enough land to make the preserve 5,380 acres. The management plan also recommends designating thousands of acres to be “fully protected.”

Eight-hundred acres in Guilderland alone — the preserve also has land in Albany and Colonie — are recommended for full protection in the plan; many of those parcels are privately owned. According to the plan, full protection is a “recommendation that the undeveloped portion of an area be protected in its entirety. This recommendation is made in recognition of the fact that these areas often include multiple property owners and that various means of protection (e.g. purchase, management agreement, conservation easement) may be appropriate.”

During the public hearing on the draft plan, held last April, residents voiced concerns that parcels recommended for full protection would be devalued, but Christopher Hawver, executive director of the commission, said there is no evidence that property values would decrease at all. Those concerns, while taken into consideration, did not result in changes to the plan, Hawver told The Enterprise this week.

“The only substantive changes made between the draft plan and the final plan were language changes to make the ranks of certain properties more clear, and placing more emphasis on culture and history in the education programs at the discovery center,” Hawver said.

Areas in Guilderland recommended for full protection in the 2010 management plan include land between Route 155 and Route 20, between Curry Road and the Thruway, between Lydius Street and the Thruway, and on West Old State Road. Hundreds of acres more are recommended for partial protection, open space, or buffer zones.

According to the plan, protection and maintenance of those areas would help to preserve and build the dwindling population of the endangered Karner blue butterfly. For the privately owned, developed land that is recommended for protection, the commission suggests collaborating with the land owners to plant native pine barrens vegetation.

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