Seventy- five houses are proposed for this 100 acre site in
the western most part of the remaining Pine Bush in Guilderland,
the last parcel of the largest roadless area in the Pine bush.
This proposal, named “Woodsfields Estates” after what it will
destroy, is part of the largest roadless area remaining in the
Pine Bush in Guilderland.
The Planning Board of the Town of Guilderland is the Lead
Agency for the Woodsfields Estates proposal and will hold hearings
and review the project.
In light of the rapid decline of the Karner Blue in the Pine
Bush, it is even more essential now that this land be preserved.
Save the Pine Bush brought up many issues regarding this proposal
at the Scoping Hearing which the developer should address in
the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Some of these issues
Impact of this development on the largest roadless area of
Pine Bush in Guilderland: This proposed housing development
is located in the largest roadless area in the Pine Bush in
Guilderland. This is an area in the western section of the Pine
Bush, consisting of the DiCaprio Park, Trulango Lone Pine 7,
and this development. The significance of this approximately
300 acres is that there are no roads here to cut the ecosystem
into fragments. Roadless areas are very important to the ecosystem.
Roads, even relatively unused dirt roads, can prevent plant
and animal species from crossing from one side to another, thus
limiting the area inhabited by plant and animal species, and
limiting the biodiversity (see related article on page 2 on
the importance of biodiversity).
Impact of this development on the ability of the Commission
to burn the largest roadless area of Pine Bush in Guilderland:
Constructing this development will have a significant impact
on the ability of the Commission to fire-manage the entire 300
acres of this roadless area. Fire management may not even be
able to occur in this roadless area because of the configuration
of houses, the location of the soccer fields, and other physical
aspects of the proposed development.
The fact that this land is considered “full protection.” The
Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission labeled the site of the
proposed Woodsfields Estates site. “full protection” in its
current Management Plan. A full protection designation means
that no development should occur on this site. A great deal
of research in the Pine Bush has occurred in the past six years,
giving the Commission a wealth of knowledge about how to manage
the Pine Bush Preserve and ensure the survival of the Pine Bush
ecosystem. Full Protection in the Management Plan is defined
“Areas receiving high ranks, or containing especially important
resources were recommended for full protection. Areas designated
for full protection are recommended for protection in their
entirety using the greatest means for protection possible, including,
acquisition in fee, land exchanges/sways, purchase of development
rights or a conservation easement. Acquisition in fee is the
preferred means of protecting areas that can be readily managed
with fire. Land swaps allow for the protection of Pine Bush
lands recommended for full protection and provide for a proposed
development to occur on less sensitive areas outside the Pine
Bush Protection Area.”
Also, this parcel, in the Plan, is ranked number 8 out of
35, a very high score.
The effect of this development on the bio-diversity of the
Pine Bush. Bio-diversity is the number of different species
living in the same ecosystem. Bio-diversity is important. Currently,
the world is losing 30,000 species a year. Some scientists believe
we are in the third major die-off of species. Species are dying
off because of human interference, with global warming, destruction
of habitat, pollution, and other human activities.
At the last planning board meeting that I attended in Albany,
the chair of the planning board, in relation to a project proposed
in the Pine Bush, stated that “Animals and insects to adjust
to anything.”. His statement made me realize that some people
believe that plants, animals, and ecosystems will successfully
adjust to destruction of habitat by people and that we do not
need to take into account how these plants, animals and ecosystems
will respond to various human activities.
The act of building the houses will destroy 37 acres of Pine
Bush ecosystem. The people who will live there will likely plant
non-native, invasive species of plants on their lawns. The seeds
from these plants will be blown or carried to the Pine Bush.
Non-native species, planted by residents, often out-compete
native species, reducing the native species, and decreasing
Delicately balanced ecosystems , such as the Pine Bush, and
its resident plants and animals cannot survive such an onslaught
Ecosystems, animals and plants can adapt to changes in environmental
conditions that happen over thousands of years, not a few weeks
when their habitat’s are completely destroyed.
A viable Pine Bush preserve cannot be achieved if this development
is constructed. The courts have mandated that a 2,000 acre fire-manageable
minimum preserve be created in order for the Pine Bush to survive.
The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission has determined that
a minimum fire-manageable preserve has not yet been achieved.
Building on this 37 acres will permanently remove this land
from the possibly that it could ever be added to the Preserve.
Besides the ecological problems with this development, this
proposal also raises issues issues of sprawl and public health:
This development proposal is for a cluster development. Initially,
people may say that this cluster development is good, and better
than a full build-out. However, this cluster development does
not address the problems of suburban sprawl.
Only one form of transportation is supported by this development.
Every resident who lives here, must drive everywhere. It is
not possible for any resident to safely walk to the store to
buy a loaf of bread, walk to his/her child’s school to talk
to a teacher, walk to the library or a doctor’s office. Building
a development which only encourages the use of cars as the sole
transportation method increases air pollution and the health
problems caused by air pollution.
The Surgeon General has stated that obesity is the second-largest
cause of premature death in the United States, and kills 300,000
Americans a year. One of the leading factors for obesity is
that people have to drive everywhere to meet their basic needs
in life. Exercise such as walking can greatly reduce obesity.
Centers for Disease Control, Public Health, and The Proposed
Development: The public health roots of building codes and materials
have all been shaped by health threats: cholera, yellow fever,
industrial waste, fire, earthquakes. But some of the most pressing
contemporary health concerns in the United States — heart disease,
cancer, diabetes, obesity, asthma, depression — are all too
often dismissed by planners as irrelevant. To correct the problem,
the CDC wrote a report calling for coalitions between doctors,
nurses and public health professionals and others such as architects,
builders, planners, and transportation officials.
A CDC publication, call “Active Community Environments” describes
the problem. The CDC report states that 300,000 people a year
die from physical inactivity and unhealthy eating. The CDC report
shows the decrease in the past 20 years of walking trips, and
the increase in car trips. The report says, “Most communities
today were designed to favor one mode of travel — the automobile—
and usually do not have many sidewalks or bicycle facilities.
Building roads, school, shopping centers, and other places of
interest only for convenient access by cars often keeps people
from safely walking around town, riding bicycles, or playing
outdoors. This is one important reason why people in the United
States are not as active as they used to be.”
The Woodsfields Estates development would be built along the
classic suburban housing model — no sidewalks, curvilinear streets
with cul-de-sacs leading nowhere, and no destination within
walking distance, except the Pine Bush. Building communities
with public health concerns in mind for the need of people to
be able to walk to needed locations is essential. This development
does not do that.
The next step in the approval process is for the Planning
Board to approve the scoping document which will describe the
issues the developer must address in the Draft Environmental
Impact Statement (DEIS). Then, the developer will prepare a
DEIS. At that time, a hearing will be held to comment on the
DEIS. Please check back to the Save the Pine Bush Action Alert
(http://www.savethepinebush.org/Action/Action.html) page on
the website to find out important meetings and hearings to attend
on this site.
Printed in the May/June 2002 Newsletter