This summer, the Columbia Land Conservancy launched an exciting partnership with the Greenagers, a youth environmental organization based in the Berkshires that offers land stewardship training and summer employment opportunities. Since July 1, 2013, a seven person crew of young people ages 15 through 19 has been cutting a new trail as part of the expansion of CLC’s Round Ball Conservation Area in Ancram. The community is invited to join this dynamic, skilled, and hard-working team for a Community Trail Day on Sunday, August 11th, from 9-11am. Volunteers will be able to see first-hand the swift and impressive progress made on the new trail by the Greenagers, and pitch in to bring it to completion. CONTINUE READING
Community Assistance News
Adam Day, a member of Boy Scout Troop 2114 in Valatie, is working with the Columbia Land Conservancy (CLC) on a community service project to earn his Eagle Scout award. Day, a Stockport resident, is leading a volunteer project to replace several sections of bog bridging at CLC’s Borden’s Pond Conservation Area.
The bridging will traverse several small streams and seasonally muddy areas. Walking distance from the Village of Chatham, the Public Conservation Area’s two miles of trails and diverse wildlife is popular among area residents and visitors.
When applicants approach the Ancram Planning Board with a project, Clerk Colleen Lutz prepares the Board with maps that show the site’s topography, soils, wetlands and other natural features. The maps help identify important natural resources such as wetlands and prime agricultural soils, and show the parcel in relation to the land around it. This information helps the municipality ask the right questions and make informed conservation and land use decisions early in the review process, which is also more efficient and cost-effective for the applicant. CONTINUE READING
Outdoor enthusiasts will soon have a new place to visit – the expanded Round Ball Mountain Conservation Area.The Columbia Land Conservancy owns and manages the Public Conservation Area and is adding 310 acres as well as a significant trail extension to the site.
Site improvements and trail construction will get underway this year. The expanded portion will include a trail that will lead from the woods of the existing conservation area, across a ravine before climbing along a ridge known locally as “Fox Hill”, providing expansive views of the surrounding mountains and valley. CONTINUE READING
CLC has been working with the County Agriculture and Farmland Protection Board and the Hudson Valley Agribusiness Development Corporation to craft a plan to support and promote local agriculture. Three public meetings are now underway to present and discuss the Draft Plan prior to it being considered for adoption by the County Board of Supervisors. A public hearing will also be scheduled at that time. CONTINUE READING
CLC has organized two ongoing “roundtables” to support local leaders in conservation and community land use efforts. The roundtables bring together leaders at the town level from across Columbia County to learn from each other and share resources.
One roundtable is for members of Conservation Advisory Councils (CAC), which can be appointed by town boards to advise local agencies, especially “time-strapped” planning boards, on issues related to conservation and natural resources. The most recent CAC Roundtable featured guest speakers from Hyde Park. CLC has developed a brochure about Conservation Advisory Councils that towns can use to inform their boards and local citizens about the advantages of having a CAC.
The Trails Roundtable builds off the success of the first Columbia County Trails Conference, organized by CLC in 2011. Advocates gather to discuss how to take advantage of the area’s abundance of abandoned railroad corridors, utility rights-of-way, and other linkages that could add up to a world-class countywide trail network. The next Trails Roundtable will be held in 2013 and will feature a guest speaker. Check back for additional information.
CLC has been coordinating planning and design for an approximately 5-mile extension of the Harlem Valley Rail Trail in Columbia County from Copake Falls to Hillsdale.
In support of this effort, CLC received a planning and design grant from the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation for $121,965. The grant required a $40,655 matching contribution that was provided by a new community partnership, the Copake Hillsdale Rail Trail Alliance, with leadership also from the Harlem Valley Rail Trail Alliance. Construction documents for a full build-out of this trail segment are close to completion. In the meantime, two sections of the trail will be opened to the public on an informal basis in the coming months.