Ten months after city officials shocked local conservationists
by reversing course and saying that they wanted to protect
the Woodlawn Preserve, they are putting money toward that goal.
They are now planning a $31,500 yearlong environmental study
that would determine the best way to protect the crumbling
pine barrens in the overgrown preserve.
The 145-acre wetlands area has been called the Woodlawn Preserve
for decades, but it has not actually been set aside as a preserve.
The study is the first step toward protecting the area forever,
Zoning Of ficer Steve Strichman said.
“There’s not a lot of Pine Bush left there,” he
said. “They’ve been overrun by other sp~ecies.
This will help us identify whatts worth saving and how to manage
Studying the area is expected to cost $31,500, but the city
has applied for a $25,200 state grant to cover most of the
expense. Plans call for work to begin in June.
Rotterdam, Niskayuna and Colonie have signed on in support
of the grant, noting that the Woodlawn Preserve is adjacent
to Pine Bush land in all three suburbs.
“We want to work with them because they have a stake
in it. It’s all a Pine Bush habitat,” Strichman
said. “They’re important players in this. We don’t
want to shove anything down their throats.”
But those municipalities are hardly expected to fight any
preservation proposals. Schenectady has been the only municipality
that appeared intent on developing the last of its Pine Bush,
so much so that when the Schenectady City Council members said
in February that they wanted to preserve it, the reaction from
environmentalists was surprise. After questioning whether the
news could possibly be true, they celebrated.
“We did keep eating away at it, a little at a time,” Strichman
said, referring to several housing developments that were built
in the area. “And we have 5 or 10 acres that are not
in the wetlands area that we wanted to develop. But that’s
not the city’s intent now. In the comprehensive plan,
we agree this land needs to be preserved.”
The management plan will not include any options for development,
but it may call for restoration of the habitat, which would
involve removing the invasive flora, Strichman said.
That’s music to the ears of conservationists like Christopher
A. Hawver, the executive director of the Albany Pine Bush Commission.
When city officials called to ask him if he’d help advise
them on management options, he said yes immediately.
“The city wants to do the right thing,” he said
happily. “The Woodlawn Preserve is certainly property
that’s worthy of protection.”
The Woodlawn Preserve is about three-quarters of a mile from
the closest Albany Pine Bush Commission preserve. But it’s
unlikely that Schenectady’s preserve will be managed
by the commission, he said.
“Before taking it over, I would want to know what that
would entail,” Hawver said. “I wouldn’t want
to compromise what we’re doing here. We are managing
3,000 acres in Albany County.”
And the commission is supposed to focus on that. The state
law that created the commission also forbade it from dedicating
and managing preserves outside of Albany County, although Schenectady
officials could lobby the state to change that law.
Until then, Hawver said he is eager to offer advice.
“I think your first step with Woodlawn is you need to
control the problem uses,” he said. “Dumping, ATVs,
that’s detrimental to the habitat.”
Re-creating the habitat itself can also be done, but he warned
that it would be costly.
“We’ve gone as far as taking a parking lot with
blacktop. Now, it’s a Karner Blue butterfly habitat.
We’ve clear-cut whole acres of black locust, just cut
everything down, took out the stumps and graded the land,” he
said. “It’s very intensive and it’s expensive
We’re doing it with grants, but it can be done.”
Reach Gazette reporter Kathleen Moore at 395-3120 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in the December 06/January 07 Newsletter