The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission has a web-based survey asking people to comment about what they would like in the new Pine Bush Discovery Center to be located in the State Employees Federal Credit Union building on Route 155. The survey asks about what types of exhibits you find most helpful and informative, how you like to learn about subjects, attendance at other nature centers, and how much you would be willing to pay to visit the center, among other things.
It is a good, bland, survey, but it leaves out two extremely important points. First, only half of the remaining Pine Bush is protected from development, and second, the role citizens play in Pine Bush preservation and the establishment of the Preserve.
Save the Pine Bush is supportive of the creation of a Discovery Center. However, it is extremely important that the exhibits at the Discovery Center tell the truth. There are about 5800 acres of contiguous Pine Bush ecosystem in existence today, only 1/10th of its original size. Of this 5800 acres of ecosystem, only 2950, or about half, are protected in the Preserve.
The remaining Pine Bush ecosystem is privately owned, by different people and corporations, and could be destroyed by development at any time.
The Discovery Center needs to inform visitors that the Pine Bush is still very much in danger, and unless steps are taken to protect Pine Bush not in the Preserve, the Pine Bush ecosystem may not survive.
The other issue the Discovery Center needs to include in its exhibits is the role citizens play in Pine Bush Preservation. Why is there a Commission, a Discovery Center and a Preserve? It was not a benevolent government that declared in its wisdom to just create these entities. It was the constant and continuous fight of dozens of individuals and several organizations, including Save the Pine Bush, that made the government create these entities.
The role of citizen activism and Save the Pine Bush should not be ignored at the Discovery Center. Why is the Blueberry Hill section of the Pine Bush preserved? Because SPB spent 8 years in court with the City of Albany and won. Why is there an Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission? Because SPB sued the City of Albany and the Commission was created as one of the mitigation measures for the construction of the landfill expansion. Why do we have a detailed analysis of much of the Pine Bush in the Management Plan? Because SPB sued the Commission. Why is the Discovery Center to be located in the SEFCU building? Because SPB sued over SEFCU, and we won. And there are many many more examples. Preservation of unique, endangered ecosystems does not happen in a vacuum.
Neither of these two topics — the Pine Bush is still in danger, and it was citizens who forced the preservation of the Pine Bush — is a pretty one. But they are important.
Don’t let the Discovery Center ignore these important issues! Fill out the questionnaire. And please be sure to add your comments on the importance of including the fact that only half of the Pine Bush is safe from destruction and that it was citizens, not the government, who decided that the Pine Bush should be preserved. Take the survey at: http://fs12.formsite.com/apbpc/form107417882/index.html.