The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission is mandated by law
to revise its Management Plan every five years. The last revision
to the Management Plan were the Implementation Guidelines, adopted
by the Commission in 1996.
The Commission will hold a public hearing on its Draft Management
Plan and Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Albany
Pine Bush Preserve on Thursday, October 18 from 7:00 to 9:00
pm at the Town of Colonie Community Center, 1653 Central Avenue,
Colonie. Originally, the Commission had scheduled the hearing
on September 11, but canceled it.
All people interested in preserving the Pine Bush should attend
this hearing. This plan will influence the size and shape of
the Pine Bush Preserve for the next five years, and it is essential
that people interested in preservation comment on this Draft
To summarize the main points, the Draft Plan accurately notes
(on page iii) that “. . . development remains the primary challenge
or threat to achievement of Preserve goals, and ultimately to
the long-term viability of the natural communities and native
species that make up the Preserve. The continued incremental
loss of undeveloped land makes it increasingly difficult to
assure adequate protection of the land necessary to allow natural
ecosystem functions to occur in the Preserve. In addition, development
results in increased fragmentation of the Preserve and increased
human population and infrastructure in the areas surrounding
the Preserve. ”
Destruction of the Pine Bush ecosystem by development is the
number one threat to the survival of the Pine Bush, as the Draft
Plan accurately notes. But, the Draft Plan does not go far enough
to protect the Pine Bush.
The major flaws in the Draft Plan are:
1) The Draft Plan speaks of “willing sellers” as the only method
to acquire land for the Preserve. However, some key parcels,
such as the land behind the Teresian House on Washington Avenue
Extension, where the Diocese wants to build senior housing,
are not for sale.
The State of New York and other entities have spent approximately
$25 million to purchase Pine Bush for Preservation. The Pine
Bush is of national and international importance. Other states
such as Ohio, Indiana, New Hampshire and in Canada, Toronto,
are actively trying to reintroduce the Karner Blue back into
its original habitat. In Albany, we are destroying potential
Karner Blue habitat.
The Pine Bush ecosystem is less than 10% of its original size,
and less than half of that is in Preserve.
The Commission should be given the powers of eminent domain
or should be able to compel the state to use eminent domain
to acquire land from unwilling sellers to complete the Preserve.
In light of the tremendous amount of money that has been spent
to create a Preserve, it would be a crime if not enough Pine
Bush were protected for the ecosystem to survive. The powers
of eminent domain have been used by the government for decades
to build and widen roads and build other public works projects
which have not always benefited the people. It is time to use
the power of eminent domain to create some good.
Time is of the essence. Developers are out to make as much
money as possible and the Pine Bush will only suffer.
2) The Draft Plan does not cover the entire remaining Pine
Bush ecosystem. Valuable ecosystem has been lost because of
the Commission’s refusal to acknowledge that Pine Bush ecosystem
extends beyond its arbitrary boundaries. Especially important
to include is land north and west of the current boundaries.
Also, the University at Albany is built on Pine Bush and should
be included within its boundaries. Perhaps the massive destruction
of Pine Bush on the University campus would not have been so
severe if the Commission had been able to review its plans.
3) The Draft Plan still insists on dividing up the Pine Bush
into “Full Protection” and “Partial Protection.” All of this
land, whether full or partial protection, is made up of current
or historic Pine Bush ecological communities. The only distinction
between the two is political, not ecological. The Commission
defines “full protection” as land that should be fully protected
and not developed. “Partial protection” is land the Commission
believes can accommodate some development. However, developing
parts of patchwork parcels simply increases the fragmentation
of the ecosystem. The Pine Bush has already lost 90% of its
The final plan should remove the designation of “partial protection”.
4) The burn plan in the Draft Plan is inadequate. Fire is
essential to the survival of the Pine Bush. The entire basis
for the size of the Preserve (2,000 fire-manageable acres) is
that the Commission burn 10% or 200 acres of the ecosystem every
year. Since the Commission began setting controlled burns ten
years ago, it has never burned 200 acres. In the past two years,
the Commission has burned less than 15 acres each year, with
no controlled burns as of yet in 2001.
The Pine Bush must burn to survive. The Commission must devise
a plan where more Pine Bush can be burned. The burn windows
are quite small. However, more burn crews should be formed so
that more parcels could be burned at the same time.
The main reason that the Commission cannot conduct enough controlled
burns is due to fragmentation of the Preserve and too much development
adjacent to the Preserve.
5) The proposed interpretive center (costing about $1.3 million
in public funds) is not in an appropriate place. The reason
the Pine Bush is in trouble is because of suburban style development.
Suburban style being building one-story box-like structures
surrounded by parking lots, with no pedestrian or mass transit
access. It is ironic that the proposed Pine Bush Discovery Center
copies the style of what has destroyed the Pine Bush.
The preferred location in the Draft Plan is on Kings Road,
near no mass transit. This means that the cost of the ticket
to visit the Discovery Center is quite high — one must own a
car. The drawings in the Draft Plan do not even show a sidewalk
along the driveway. The design of the Discovery Center, as presented
in the Draft Plan, is made for cars, not people.
6) The Commission should fire Environmental Design and Research
(EDR) who are listed as one of the organizations responsible
for preparing the report. EDR cannot be objective in regards
to preservation of the Pine Bush. They have been hired by developers
to prepare statements as to why certain parcels of land can
(such as area 29) can be developed. EDR is playing both sides
of the fence: either they are for preservation of the Pine Bush
or against it. Any input they may have had into the preparation
of the Draft Plan is suspect because of their advocacy for developers.
The executive summary of the Draft Plan has been posted on
the FORCE website at http://www.capital.net/~force/pibuexsu.htm.
Complete copies of the Draft Plan are available for public review
at the main branches of the Albany, Guilderland and Colonie
Town Libraries, Albany City Hall, Guilderland and Colonie Town
Halls, Region 4 of DEC, The Nature Conservancy, NYS Office of
Parks and Recreation, and SUNYA. The complete list of addresses
and phone numbers of these locations can be found at http://www.capital.net/~force/pibuloc.html.
It is extremely important for as many supporters of Pine Bush
preservation attend this hearing as possible. The developers
will be out in force; we need to counter their destructive comments
with reasons why more protections should be made for the Pine
If you would like more information about the Draft Plan or
would like to discuss specifics of how the Draft Plan needs
to be improved, please call Lynne Jackson at 434-1954.
Printed in the October/November, 2001 Newsletter