State stamps South Bay as special

Gives historic wetland Significant Habitat status

HUDSON-Hudson’s South Bay appeared this week on a state Department of State website that lists Significant Habitats in the state.

The designation reportedly means that proposals for new development at the site along Route 9G between the south end of the city and Mt. Marino in Greenport will receive a higher level of scrutiny from the state relative to its environmental impact. Current projects are apparently not affected.

The state website, www.dos.ny.gov, describes the site, which once was an open bay as a “freshwater tidal wetland, a freshwater tidal creek, intertidal and supratidal swamp,” adding, “The latter two communities are rare in New York.” The site assesses the habitat at the site as “irreplaceable.”

The state Department of State, which works with the Department of Environmental Conservation on these matters, has authority over the coastline of New York State, which includes the Hudson River and South Bay.

The designation as a Significant was long hoped for and awaited by local and regional environmental advocates, including members of Friends of Hudson, the Valley Alliance and the South Bay Task Force, which had urged people to write to the Department of State Division of Coastal Resources in support of the designation.

“It filters water, stores flood waters, stabilizes sediments, provides habitats for birds and mammals, and serves as a spawning ground for fish. South Bay is the missing link in our efforts to maintain acceptable standards of water quality and habitat value along the eastern shore of the Hudson River,” said Fran Martino in her letter.

Other protected habitats in Columbia County include Stuyvesant Marsh, the Flats below the Rip Van Winkle Bridge, and the Roeliff-Jansen Kill.

“It’s wonderful. It’s something we’ve been looking forward to. It will confirm how valuable that real estate is. Now we have an additional tool to confirm that,” said Christopher Reed of Friends of Hudson and the South Bay Task Force.

Mr. Reed said that the groups’ next step would be to seek funding from federal government for the Army Corps of Engineers to do a study that has been in limbo because of budget battles in Congress.

He also praised the work done by Tim O’Conner to identify the specific flora and fauna that reside in the South Bay Creek and its environs and said that the designation may indicate a new appreciation of wetlands as a natural resource that can help mitigate the effects of flooding and support wildlife.

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