Biodiversity Works, Workshop

The Gunks

The Gunks

Thanks to Jennifer Schwartz and the rest of the Ulster County Planning department for the invite to the biodiversity workshop last night at Ulster County Community College. It was informative, and thought provoking.

The room was full of planners from across the county.

Laura Heady, of the NYSDEC Hudson River Estuary Program and Cornell University DNR, discussed the need to identify “conservation priorities” such as stream corridors and unbroken forests. Heady told planners that they needed to create a “local approach” to conserving biodiversity.

Nava Tabak, biologist at Hudsonia, echoed Heady, but drilled down into the workings of biodiversity — of course from a biologist’s perspective. Tabak spoke on the need to include a biodiversity approach whenever considering a development application. Understanding the habitat of the site is critical. Tabak also urged planners to prioritize habitat areas and include a biodiversity strategy or checklist as part of the planning process.

At the end of the program, Dennis Doyle, director of the Ulster County Planning Department, reiterated the need to incorporate a biodiversity strategy in the planning process. He urged planners to refer back to the county’s open space plan as well. All good intentions.

But what stuck with me the most, was something Dennis has been promoting for a decade: the need to have local planning boards populated with environmental commission members as well as historical commissioners. Now that is a great idea and worth pursuing as open space is gobbled up and habitats are threatened.

Here’s a link to the county’s open space plan: UCOSP.

— Arthur Zaczkiewicz, Executive Director, Kingston Land Trust

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