30×30 – Let’s Buy All of the Remaining Pine Bush!

by Lynne Jackson

ALBANY, NY: Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation (A.5390B/S.6191A) that sets the goal to conserve at least 30 percent of U.S. land and water by 2030. This legislation will promote biodiversity and preserve New York’s wildlife, forests, and clean water sources, which are all essential to New York’s health and economy.

Governor Kathy Hochul said, “New Yorkers rely on our clean water for recreation, forests to provide wildlife habitats, and the outdoor spaces for jobs and adventures,” It’s more important than ever to safeguard these resources and setting the goal to conserve 30 percent of public land by 2030 will ensure we’re protecting our State for future generations.”

Save the Pine Bush turns 45 in February, 2023. SPB started in the middle of an epic snowstorm, when, though then Governor Mario Cuomo had shut down all New York State offices, the City of Albany Planning Board still held a hearing on four proposed developments in the Pine Bush.

Using litigation, SPB has fought to save as much of the remaining ecosystem as possible. But, the ultimate solution to preserving this beautiful ecosystem is not litigation, but acquisition.

About 5400 acres of Pine Bush ecosystem remains. Only 3400 of those acres has been purchased and added to the Pine Bush Preserve; 2000 acres remain in private hands, and can be destroyed through development.

It is long past time to protect all of the remaining Pine Bush ecosystem and this new legislation may be able to help.

Called 30×30, one of the goals of this legislation is “protections and restoration projects for preserving and increasing biodiversity, including habitat restoration, with a focus on habitats of endangered and threatened species including resilient and connected lands and corridors providing means for wildlife migration and habitation. . . “

In comparison with the Adirondacks, or parks out west, the Pine Bush ecosystem is a very small area of land. The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission may only acquire land in small amounts, 15 acres here, 50 acres there — nothing like the land purchases New York State has made in the Adirondacks. But, acquiring the remaining privately-owned Pine Bush ecosystem is essential to the survival of the ecosystem. Not only is the Pine Bush ecosystem unique for this area, it is completely surrounded by development. It is an island in the middle of a densely populated suburban and urban area. It is accessible by bus from downtown Albany. The location of the Pine Bush fits neatly with another goal of the 30×30 bill: “conservation measures shall be undertaken in ways that serve all communities, including low-income, disadvantaged and vulnerable communities.” The Pine Bush is just a bus ride away for many people who live in Albany and meets another goal of the 30×30: “expanding access to nature and nature’s benefits and equitable outdoor access in communities in every region.”

With the passage and the governor signing the 30×30 legislation, now is the time for people who want to see the entire Pine Bush ecosystem protected to advocate to purchase all of the remaining Pine Bush ecosystem and dedicate it to the Pine Bush Preserve.