Environmental Study Requires Restoration of Karner Blue Habitat in Clifton Park

Clifton Park, NY: Tuesday, April 25, the Planning Board of the Town of Clifton Park held a public hearing regarding a proposal to build a “7 Flex-Space Light Industrial Buildings” on Wood Road in Clifton Park.

A Karner Blue butterfly site is located on the North (also sometimes referred to as the “East”) side of Wood Road, where the industrial complex is proposed. Eight people attending the hearing spoke passionately against building this industrial complex and destroying the Karner Blue site.

It turns out that the Findings Statement of the Generic Environmental Impact Statement accepted by the Town Planning Board in 1994, require that particular attention be paid to the Karner Blue Butterflies at the Wood Road site.

The Planning Board especially points out the importance and significance of the Karner Blue Butterfly (KBB) and emphasizes the importance of protecting this endangered species and states:

“ . . . the Planning Board finds that any disturbance or impacts to the known endangered species habitats will not be allowed and that no site plan proposal will be approved if such would involve the destruction of or disturbance of known Karner Blue Butterfly habitat.” [emphasis added]

The Findings Statement also requires a preserve for the Karner Blue habitat is such a way that: “size of preserve as it relates to the ability of the area to sustain the Karner Blue and insulate it from random environmental events that might cause extinction”

In addition, not only does the ability of the area to sustain the Karner Blue and insulate it from random environmental events that might cause extinction, it requires restoration of Karner Blue Butterfly habitats; the Finding Statement specifies:

“A plan to introduce Karner Blue Butterflies to the preserve area if the species is not present at the time the management plan is implemented.”

No one questions the fact that Karner Blue Butterflies once occupied this site. Save the Pine Bush has obtained a map which identifies almost the entire site as Karner Blue Butterfly habitat.

The developer’s representatives argue that there are no butterflies remaining on the North side of Wood Road. The do concede that a few blue lupine plants survive.

However, whether Karner Blues currently occupy the site or only recently were extirpated from the site, according to the Findings Statement, the developer is required to restore Karner Blue Butterfly habitat and create a preserve that will protect the butterfly in perpetuity.

Save the Pine Bush asked the Planning Board to require the applicant to write an Environmental Impact Statement that would outline how the developer will create the preserve for the Karner Blue, restore the Karner Blue habitat and create a management plan for the site.

Save the Pine Bush also noted that there is another action that the Town of Clifton Park may wish to take instead. The Town should purchase both parcels of land including the one currently being under consideration for development and land on the other side of the road which is currently occupied Karner Blue habitat and is also zoned industrial.

Purchasing these two properties would have many benefits for the Town, including fulfilling the Town’s intended desire to protect endangered species which live within its borders.

View the entire contents of the letter written by Save the Pine Bush to the Clifton Park Planning Board

Printed in the May/June 06 newsletter