ALBANY — The state Department of Environmental Conservation should enforce a 1994 agreement with a landowner to protect endangered Karner blue butterflies in Clifton Park, Capital Region environmentalists said Thursday.
In a petition filed with the state agency Monday, the Albany-based Save The Pine Bush and 22 area residents asked DEC general counsel James Ferreira to make sure DEC protects a Karner blue habitat located off Wood Road near Northway Exit 10.
They cited a 1994 agreement between DEC’s Endangered Species Unit, DCG Development Co., which owns the four-acre site, and the Saratoga Land Conservancy.
The agreement ordered DCG to turn over parts of the Wood Road site to Saratoga Land Conservancy — now Saratoga PLAN — and to mow the area. But the site was never protected. DEC and DCG never defined the protected area; and the company never dedicated the site to the land conservancy, as required, the petition claims.
It states DCG tried to choose what land to surrender to the land conservancy, and gave it just a two-week deadline to accept it. When the parties failed to agree, the company nullified terms of the agreement, the petition states.
"There is an agreement. We want DEC to step up to the plate," said attorney Peter Henner.
The petition asks Ferreira to interpret DEC’s and DCG’s responsibilities under the 12-year-old contract, and to enforce it.
"Residents of the Clifton Park area and beyond who care about open space and wildlife are noticing the way this agreement has been ignored," town resident and petitioner William Engleman said.
Donald MacElroy, DCG vice president, could not be reached.
DEC confirmed it received the petition and that it remains committed to preserving the Wood Road habitat.
"We have worked to negotiate with them, and we’re in the process of determining what our next steps might be, and that includes exploring what possible legal actions might be available for us,"spokeswoman Gabrielle DeMarco said.
The Karner blue butterfly is listed as an endangered species by New York and the federal government. It’s habitat in the state is limited to the Albany-Saratoga region.
DCG barred DEC access to the site from 1997 to 2004. It became overgrown with vegetation, making it less hospitable for Karner blues. A DEC visit in 2004 revealed no butterflies, but evidence of lupine plants, which are necessary for the butterflies to survive.
A ruling from Ferreira on what DCG’s and DEC’s obligations are could come in 30 days.
Dennis Yusko can be reached at 581-8438 or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.