For Immediate Release: June 17, 2006
For more information, contact Lynne Jackson at 434-1954
The City of Albany and the NYS Legislature are sneaking in legislation at the last minute that would radically change the protection of the Pine Bush Preserve.
A bill has been introduced into the NYS Legislature that would permit the City to take 10 acres of land out of the Pine Bush Preserve and use it for the landfill expansion.
No land has ever been removed from the Preserve before for any reason. Currently, there is about 5,800 acres of Pine Bush ecosystem remaining (about 10% of its original size). Of the ecosystem, only 3,000 acres have been protected by dedication to the Preserve. The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission states that at least 4610 acres must be preserved in order for the ecosystem to survive.
The State of NY, The Nature Conservancy, the City of Albany and the Towns of Colonie and Guilderland have spent tens of millions of dollars to purchase Pine Bush for preservation. However, the Preserve is barely 65% complete, and is not yet large enough to be viable.
The 10 acres proposed for removal from the Preserve is located in Karner East. Karner East is considered the largest and best example of the pitch pine/scrub oak ecosystem that makes up the Pine Bush. Because of development around the Pine Bush, there is little of the classic pine barrens ecosystem remaining.
The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission staff characterized this 10-acre parcel as “an irreplaceable piece of the best.”
The Pine Bush ecosystem cannot afford to lose this 10-acre piece.
This legislation will be voted on in the last few days remaining in the NYS Legislative session.
This legislation was drafted at the last possible minute to sneak this tremendously unpopular bill past the citizens.
The City of Albany’s regional landfill is located in the ecologically unique Pine Bush. Since the late 1980’s, the landfill has been expanded four times. Every time the landfill is expanded in the Pine Bush, the City of Albany promises not to expand the landfill again.
The City has not kept its promises.
Removing this 10-acre parcel from the Preserve sets a terrible precedent. If a landfill is built here, it will soon fill up, and what is to stop the City for asking for another 10 acres, and another and another until all of Karner East is buried under a mound of garbage?
The Court required the City of Albany to create a viable Pine Bush Preserv. Save the Pine Bush sued the City many times over this issue. If the City of Albany is permitted to withdraw land previously placed in the Preserve, the City has misrepresented to the courts in at least five court cases brought by Save the Pine Bush the amount of land actually preserved, and the court decisions were based on these misrepresentations.
Last summer, the NYS Legislature so valued the Pine Bush Preserve, that it adopted special legislation dedicating it to the state nature and historic preserve. The bill stated, in part: “The Albany Pine Bush represents one of the best remaining examples of an inland Pine Barrens ecosystem left in the world. The gently rolling sand plain is home to a unique variety of rare plants and animals including the endangered Karner blue butterfly.”
Save the Pine Bush demands that the NYS Legislature reject removing this 10 acres from the Preserve and that the City of Albany adopt an open, public, and deliberative process to deal with solid waste issues in the City of Albany.