by Lynne Jackson
ALBANY: The Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission celebrated its 25th anniversary by throwing a wonderful party at the Discovery Center on Route 155 on October 29. A few people from Save the Pine Bush and I attended.
Rezsin Adams often tells the story of how in 1988, then Assemblyman Richard Conners invited her to his office to tell her about the passage of ECL Article 46 which created the Commission. At the time, we thought that our work might be done and the Commission would continue citizen advocacy for the Pine Bush. We were certainly wrong about that! Our work continued for decades, and even included suing the Commission twice.
The celebration at the Discovery Center illustrated to me how far the issue of Pine Bush preservation has come. When Save the Pine Bush began in 1978, the Pine Bush was criticized and called a wasteland, Save the Pine Bush was criticized for bringing lawsuits over sewers. Public officials dreamed up ways to prevent us for advocating for preserving the Pine Bush.
At the 25th anniversary celebration, preservation of the Pine Bush is now considered the normal position. People in suits and people in power attended the event and clearly supported Pine Bush preservation. I do not think I ever expected that Pine Bush preservation would become so popular that fancy cocktail parties would be held to celebrate the ecosystem we struggled over so much.
Chris Hawver, executive director of the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission, was an enthusiastic and gracious host to us. In his comments, Chris noted, “But, the advocacy for the [Albany Pine Bush] began long before that.
“Going back to the 1970s, SUNY Albany students of Lou Ismay’s class and other local advocates were the first voices of why the Pine Bush needed to be protected.
“Rezsin, John Wolcott, Lynne Jackson, Russell Ziemba . . . were all key members of that early effort. . .
”Certainly, without this early advocacy – there would be no Pine Bush Preserve today and we wouldn’t be here celebrating.
“Save the Pine Bush sued the Commission for its first management plan, based generally on the fact that it didn’t go into enough detail on what additional lands were important to protect to create what we consider an ecologically viable preserve.
“In response, the Commission produced a supplement to the original management plan with very clear goals and guidelines for additional land protection . . .these are still the same goals that the Commission uses today.”
It is wonderful that after all these years, decades of struggle, to have the role Save the Pine Bush played in Pine Bush preservation be acknowledged. Save the Pine Bush congratulates the Commission on its 25th anniversary and wishes the Commission many more!
Published in November/December 2013 Save the Pine Bush Newsletter