Buffer is Essential to Protect Pine Bush

I am writing in opposition to the draft environmental impact statement filed by Rapp Road Development Corporation, a pseudonym for Pyramid LLC, the owner of Crossgates Mall, which was filed to develop 47 acres of pine bush into a variety of projects such as a gas station built in sand over an aquifer.

The level of development proposed is dense, inappropriate to the area, and also bent on increasing traffic in a congested area; designed to create noise pollution in a residential community and determined to disrespect rare and federally endangered species of the inland pine barrens in this area.

It is not legal to develop land before a state environmental quality review is completed. However, Carver Companies with the Guilderland Police and Crossgates security as escort, entered part of the proposed development land, and proceeded to clear-cut the majority of the trees on 16 acres of land on March 26, 2020.

While the Guilderland Coalition for Responsible Growth and Save the Pine Bush protested, asserting that the clear cut was in fact illegal, there was nothing we could do to prevent it until the zoning inspector issued a cease-and-desist order the following day.

Meanwhile, I’ve been writing about the importance of peripheral lands as buffers in the wildlife-urban interface. There are many reasons to maintain a wide buffer for the pine bush; one is that pine bush species are adapted to flee to peripheral areas when there is a disturbance or controlled burn in the pine bush; they need somewhere to go.

Another reason is that this land allows a little space between the animals and the shoppers at the mall, which is an important factor in preventing zoonoses transmission. Another reason is that a buffer prevents the microclimate changes brought about by concrete and other impermeable surfaces from impacting the actual habitat, such as the critical Karner blue butterfly breeding ground of Butterfly Hill.

It creates a tree line that prevents light pollution and shade effects over Butterfly Hill; it separates impacts such as feral cats who hunt birds, tall buildings that result in bird strikes, pesticides and hikers from the rare species breeding ground. Buffer is essential to the protection of the pine bush.

For more information about the land dispute, please refer to my detailed public comment to Pyramid’s draft environmental impact statement, posted with this letter at http://www.altamontenterprise.com. Thank you!

Published in April/May 2020
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