New Leb updated on natural resources plan

NEW LEBANON– After receiving a grant from the Hudson River Estuary Program, the Town Board hired Hudsonia, Ltd. to develop a natural resources conservation plan for the town, and last week board heard a presentation about ongoing conservation work from Hudsonia biologist Gretchen Stevens.

Hudsonia is in the process of gathering information and research to advise town agencies on policy making as well as landowners and developers on the conservation of natural resources. Among to resources the not-for-profit organization is looking are water in its various forms, rare habitats, farmland soils and scenic vistas, as well as nature-based recreational resources and cultural landmarks.

Ms. Stevens, in conjunction with the town Conservation Advisory Council (CAC), has been working with high school students at Darrow School to gather data on small streams, vernal pools and old forests to identify rare plants, animals and habitats in New Lebanon. She is working to fill in the blanks of existing surveys done by the state to more adequately map the town’s resources.

Ms. Stevens told the board at the June 14 meeting, that her work has already led to some discoveries. “Limestone throughout much of the town can create very interesting and unusual habitats,” she said, noting that New Lebanon is home to carnivorous plants, blue cohosh–rare in the Northeast–and toothwort, which support the larvae of the Virginia white butterfly, which is also rare here.

Ms. Stevens will have a table at the farmer’s market to gather input from residents, many of whom have an intimate knowledge of the landscape. She will also educate the public about the developing conservation plan.

Hudsonia plans to issue a booklet with its maps and findings and is soliciting photographic submissions of local wildlife and landmarks for the publication.

In other news from the meeting:

• Town Supervisor Colleen Teal announced that a group of eight citizens in New Lebanon have formed a broadband advisory committee to act as an intermediary between state and county groups in an effort to advocate for high speed internet service in the town.

Supervisor Teal, who serves on the board of Connect Columbia, a group advocating for faster internet service throughout the county, reacted to the estimated 6% decline in the town’s population over the past year, saying, “I’m a firm believer that one of the reasons is broadband. We’re the second least served [in Columbia County] when it comes to internet”

• Deputy Supervisor Cynthia Creech will be honored Monday, June 27 by the Columbia County Environmental Management Council with a Good Earthkeeping Award. Selected for her stewardship of the land and work in sustainable agriculture, most notably, Ms. Creech saved the breed of Randall Cattle from near extinction

• Ms. Creech voiced concern at the meeting over the excessive speed of motorists on Cemetery Road, which connects to Routes 20 and 22 as a bypass around the hamlet. The posted limit is 30mph. Ms. Creech, who resides on Cemetery road and runs Atremis Farm there, said, “People go by my place at 40, 50, 60 miles per hour… four farms in town use that road to transport slow-moving heavy equipment.”

• The new playground at Shatford Park has been successfully installed and is ready for play. The tennis court upgrade at the park is slotted for completion by month’s end.

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