Grasslands, which include open fields, pasture and farmland, are rapidly being lost in Greene County due to development pressures and other factors. These open spaces that define the pastoral beauty of our communities, and provide habitat for at-risk grassland birds, are predominately in private ownership.
Greene County Grassland Habitat Plan
The Greene County Grassland Habitat Management Plan was completed in August 2014. It has been adopted by the boards of the Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District, Greene County Industrial Development Agency, and Greene Land Trust.
Preparing this plan took 10 years of cooperative effort among local and state agencies, developers, non-profit organizations, and concerned citizens. By adopting the plan, the boards of directors have committed to supporting the plan’s goals to conserve critical habitat for threatened and endangered grassland birds and maintain rural character, farmland, and quality of life for future generations in eastern Greene County.
The Maps and How They Can be Used
In 2004, a team of volunteers from the Grassland Habitat Advisory Committee and Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District (GCSWCD) staff participated in a 10-month training in Biodiversity Assessment offered by Hudsonia Ltd. and the DEC Hudson River Estuary Program to map ecologically significant habitats in the 9W corridor of eastern Greene County to document critical grassland and riparian habitats for the purposes of planning and conservation. The training team mapped 6,500 acres in the towns of New Baltimore and Coxsackie, and GCSWCD staff completed mapping of the entire corridor in 2006, totaling 29,441 acres.
The biodiversity assessment training team followed the methodology outlined in Hudsonia’s Biodiversity Assessment Manual for the Hudson River Estuary Corridor, involving the use of topographic, soils, and bedrock geology maps and aerial photos to predict the occurrence of habitats. Habitats were verified in the field where possible, but many areas have not been visited. The map should be treated as a sketch for general land-use planning purposes. The report prepared for the original biodiversity assessment study area (Cannon et al. 2004) explains the habitat identification and mapping methods, describes the ecological significance of each habitat type, sensitivities, and offers management recommendations.
This map series was produced in 2014 by Ingrid Haeckel at the Hudson River Estuary Program to make draft habitat data available to towns, developers, conservation organizations, and landowners as a tool for conservation and land-use planning. The map has been integrated into the Greene County Grassland Habitat Management Plan and has already been used to help design development projects with maximum consideration of habitat impacts.
This project was funded by the New York State Environmental Protection Fund through the Hudson River Estuary Program of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, in partnership with the Cornell University Department of Natural Resources.