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Southern Adirondack Audubon Society

          
Protecting the environment through the preservation of natural habitats
 and the advancement of environmental education



Working to Protect the Fort Edward Grasslands Important Bird Area
and the proposed Washington County Grasslands WMA
Fort Edward IBA view

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You can help!  Donations are always needed to help with costs associated with protecting this IBA.

Donations are fully tax-deductible.  Please make your check payable to “Southern Adirondack Audubon Society” and mail to: 
Ramona Bearor, Treasurer  4 Windy Lane, So. Glens Falls, NY 12803-5344  Be sure to note “IBA Conservation Fund” on the check.

IMPORTANT NOTICE of 2nd ANNUAL CLEANUP DAY
Thursday, April 23, 2015
We will be meeting at the parking area on Blackhouse Road at 9:30AM.  We will have a crew walk the site and the roads like last year and we will also have a crew down at the bottom of Fitzpatrick working around the barns/fences.  We have some safety vests and work gloves but if you have your own, please bring them along.  Stay and go as you like.  You need to  fill out a volunteer form, and can find it here.  Print, fill out, and bring it with you.

Jed Hayden  
New York State DEC
Bureau of Wildlife
232 Golf Course Road
Warrensburg, NY 12885
(518) 623-1241 office
(518) 623-3603 fax
jed.haydenATdec.ny.gov

11/5/2014 New Water District Threatens Grasslands
The town of Ft. Edward is currently investigating extending municipal water lines into areas of the Washington County Grasslands Important Bird Area.  SAAS is concerned this will encourage growth and have other detrimental effects to the grassland habitat of this critical area.  SAAS will be following this issue to make sure all environmental reviews are satisfied and encourage mitigation measures where appropriate.

9/2/2014   Informational Brochures placed at the trailhead kiosk at the Blackhouse Road parking area
Conservation chair, Jason Goldsmith, has produced both an informational pamphlet on the Grasslands IBA and a flyer explaining the bird species that use the area.  Both are available free at the kiosk.

4/23/2014  DEC Finalizes aquisition; Management plan to be developed 
In a meeting between the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Audubon New York, Southern Adirondack Audubon Society (SAAS) , and Audubon Society of the Capital Region, DEC announced that it has finalized its purchase of property along Blackhouse Road and Fitzpatrick Drive in the Washington County Grasslands Important Bird Area.  The acquisition brings the total land protected by the DEC to 288 acres.
 
This newly owned property, officially called the Washington County Grasslands State Forest, will be designated multiple use and be managed for grassland birds including many that are threatened or endangered in New York State.  The DEC, along with Audubon New York and SAAS, will be writing up a unit management plan to actively manage the property to promote optimal grassland habitat for birds who’s numbers have rapidly declined in recent decades.
 
Since 2006, SAAS has worked with the DEC and Audubon New York to protect this area which is critical for grassland birds.  With the DEC’s purchase and management plan there will be many opportunities for involvement from our members.  From habitat restoration to monitoring, education to outreach, we call on all our members to get involved to help protect this unique area.  For more information on how you can help, contact Jason at adk_wild_jay@yahoo.com.
 
 
Jason Goldsmith
Conservation Chair

12/29/2012  Killian Subdivision Update
The proposed Killian View Subdivision is currently on hold.  The wastewater treatment plant that the development plans on utilizing, serving Washington County Sewer District II, is current over capacity.  Both the director of the sewer district and the developer have indicated that they still plan on extending the water and sewer lines to this 352-unit subdivision, located in the center of the Ft. Edward Important Bird Area (IBA).

In the southern part of the IBA, the NY State Department of Environmental Conservation has started purchasing land, from willing sellers, along Fitzpatrick Lane and Blackhouse Road to protect habitat for the endangered Short-eared Owl and other critical grassland birds.  They currently own 25 acres.  This is in addition to the 263 acres that The Nature Conservancy owns which will eventually be transferred to NY State.


12/11/2012 - Volunteers are needed for Winter Raptor surveys in the Fort Edward Grasslands IBA
Winter is quickly approaching and DEC is scheduling the winter raptor surveys which will be conducted during the months of December through March.  Short-eared owls have already been confirmed in the area so it should be an exciting survey! To date we have received very few volunteer applications so if you would like to be a part of this fun survey gathering important data for conservation efforts, please contact::
Theresa Swenson, Wildlife Tech.
Wildlife Diversity Unit, NYS DEC
Phone: (518) 402-8909
Email: tgswenso@gw.dec.state.ny.us

For help in learning the wintering raptors, see this webpage.

11/29/2010 - Update on the proposed Killian's View Subdivision

This fall, the Final Environmental Impact Statement for Killian’s View Subdivision was accepted by the Town of Ft. Edward Planning Board.  This 352-lot subdivision, located in the center of the Ft. Edward Grasslands Important Bird Area (IBA), will destroy or fragment hundreds of acres of habitat used by the endangered Short-eared Owl, threatened Northern Harrier, and many other at-risk grassland species. 

SAAS and Audubon New York have been following this issue closely because of the huge impact it will have on grassland birds. While minimal acreage has been provided for open space, mainly land that wouldn’t have been developed anyway, this development will ultimately harm grassland birds whose populations have already been declining. 



05/06/2010 - Update on the proposed Killian's View Subdivision

The draft Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) has recently been submitted for the Killian’s View Subdivision.  This 352-lot subdivision, located in the center of the Ft. Edward Grasslands Important Bird Area (IBA), will destroy or fragment hundreds of acres of habitat used by the endangered Short-eared Owl, threatened Northern Harrier, and many other at-risk grassland species.  This latest revision of the EIS attempts to respond to the 100+ comments voicing numerous concerns that were received during the public comment period last spring. 

SAAS and Audubon New York have raised multiple issues with the inadequacies of this EIS, including its failure to provide adequate mitigation measures, respond to substantial public comments, or address cumulative impacts.  In addition, the Town of Ft. Edward’s own lawyer and engineer have written letters raising many of the same issues that we have.  In the end, the Ft. Edward Planning Board must adopt this EIS as its own document, and is responsible for its content.  SAAS is monitoring this issue closely, not only because of the huge impact it will have on grassland birds, but also because it could set a precedent for future developments within the IBA.  

Jason Goldsmith, Conservation Chair


11/30/2009 - Awaiting the Draft Final Impact Statement for the proposed Killian View developmentThe applicant for the Killian View Subdivision is preparing the final Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) to submit to the Town of Ft. Edward Planning Board.  This final DEIS must address all substantial comments made during the public comment period last spring.  Once submitted the town planning board will review the document and revise it to create a Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS).  The FEIS is the planning board’s document and addresses all applicable environmental effects and practical mitigation measures of this 352-lot subdivision. 

Southern Adirondack Audubon Society and staff from Audubon New York are following this closely to make sure the planning board’s document isn’t skewed by the applicant’s own data.  Estimated time frame for the submission of the final DEIS is 1-2 months.  

5/22/2009 - Public comment period closed.The Draft Environmental Impact Statement for the Killian’s View Subdivision was released for public comment and received a huge response. Over 100 letters were written expressing concerns over the impact on grassland bird species that use this property.  Thank you everyone who has submitted comments.

This proposed 352-lot subdivision is located in the Ft. Edward Grasslands Important Bird Area (IBA) which hosts the endangered Short-eared Owl, threatened Northern Harrier, Upland Sandpiper, and numerous other grassland birds.  Habitat fragmentation caused by developments such as this, make grasslands one of the biggest concerns across the state.

The applicant must now address all substantial comments received by the public before submitting its Final Environmental Impact Statement.

5/6/2009 - The second public hearing on the proposed Killian View DEIS been rescheduled by the Town of Fort Edward Planning Board for May 27, 2009, 7pm, at the Fort Edward Town Hall.  The public comment period has been extended as well.  If you have not spoken on this issue or sent a comment letter, please consider doing so.  The only hope we have of protecting this valuable wildlife habitat is through the efforts of those who know its importance and are willing to speak out.  Copies of the DEIS are available for public review at the Fort Edward town office, the Ft. Edward Free Library, and the Washington County Municipal Building. 
Letters of comment may be sent to:
Mr. William LaPan, Chairman, Fort Edward Planning Board, 118 Broadway, Fort Edward, NY 12828


4/16/2009 - If you have not yet sent your letter of comment to the Fort Edward Planning Board, you should either fax it in or send it by email.  Those contacts are:  
Town of Fort Edward fax is 518-747-2493         
A follow-up phone call to verify receipt can be made to the Town Of Fort Edward at 518-747-5212  Press "1" for the clerk
 

4/10/2009 - Public comment period closes on April 20
Southern Adirondack Audubon and Audubon New York continue their work to protect this area from development.  Both Sean Mahar, Director of Government Relations for Audubon New York, and Attorney John Caffry, spoke for us Wednesday evening at the public hearing on the draft DEIS prepared by the developer, Michael Dennis.  The public comment period ends on April 20.  It is very important that everyone make their concerns known to the planning board. Even short letters of comment will be a help.  If you have ever seen a Short-eared Owl roosting on hay bales on Fitzpatrick Rd., a Northern Harrier coursing over the open fields, or a Snowy Owl hunting voles, you should be concerned, and comment on this issue.

Copies of the DEIS are available for public review at the Fort Edward town office, the Ft. Edward Free Library, and the Washington County Municipal Building.  Letters of comment may be sent to:
Mr. William LaPan, Chairman
Fort Edward Planning Board
118 Broadway
Fort Edward, NY 12828


2/11/2009 - Public Comment Period and Public Hearing Set for Killian View Project
The Ft. Edward Planning Board has accepted the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the Killian View Subdivision and will accept comment from February 25, 2009 until April 20, 2009. 

A public hearing on the DEIS is scheduled for April 8, 2009 at 6:00PM at the Fort Edward High School Auditorium.Copies of the report are available for public review at the Fort Edward town office, the Ft. Edward Free Library, and the Washington County Municipal Building.  Letters of comment may be sent to the Fort Edward Planning Board at 118 Broadway, Fort Edward, NY 12828, Phone: (518) 747-7914.

This 327 lot subdivision could have very detrimental effects on the Ft. Edward Grasslands Important Bird Area. 

Conversation with Jed Hayden in the Warrensburg DEC office revealed that 5 parcels within the IBA have been purchased by the Nature Conservancy, and are currently under the management of DEC.  The purchase of these parcels affords protection for approximately 250 acres.  Negotiations are taking place on other parcels as well.  Read the history below to see how our chapter, with the help of Audubon New York staff, has worked to protect this vital bird breeding and wintering area. 

SAAS encourages its members to get involved in this public comment period and the public hearing.  



9/17/08 -The second session on the review of the Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the Killian View project will be presented at the Fort Edward Planning Board meeting on September 24, 2008.  Please attend this meeting and show your support for Audubon as we continue working  to conserve the Fort Edward Grasslands IBA.   The planning board meets at 7pm at the Fort Edward Town Office building on Route 4 in the village - right next to the Fire Department.

8/31/08 - The Draft Environmental Impact Statement on the Killian View project will be presented at the Fort Edward Planning Board meeting on September 10, 2008.  Please attend this important meeting and show your support for Audubon as we continue working  to conserve the Fort Edward Grasslands IBA.   The planning board meets at 7pm at the Fort Edward Town Office building on Route 4 in the village - right next to the Fire Department.



1/11/08 - Conversation with Casey Holzworth of the Warrensburg DEC office today revealed that The Nature Conservancy (TNC) has a contract to purchase the Upton farm, Blackhouse Road, Fort Edward.  The Upton Farm acreage was used by dozens of Short-eared Owls for roosting in the late winter of 2007.  This is the first outright purchase of land under the plan presented this fall by DEC personnel to protect the grasslands; however,  other nearby parcels are actively being pursued as well.   Southern Adirondack Audubon  is pleased that the first step has been taken to protect this valuable area, and we thank all those who have labored diligently to make our hope a reality.

1/4/07 - Resolution 89 was passed by the Fort Edward Town Board on December 31, 2007 supporting the DEC proposed plan to protect the Washington county grasslands.  You can read that resolution here.  In that same meeting, members were appointed to a Conservation Advisory Council which will "assist the Town's Planning Board and the Town Board in identifying potential area-wide environmental impacts from proposed or potential development within or outside of Fort Edward."¹  The committee will have 10 members, seven sitting members and three alternates.   New York State DEC, Washington County Soil and Water Conservation, and the Greater Adirondack Resource Conservation and Development Council  were appointed as advisors.

¹ Fort Edward Town Board Resolution 89 of 2007.

12/13/07 - Resolution 43-07 was passed unanimously by the Argyle Town Board on December 12, 2007.  This resolution supports the DEC's proposal to protect the Washington County Grasslands.  SAAS is pleased that the Town of Argyle has taken the lead in support of this very important project.  The full text of Argyle's Resolution 43-07 can be read here

12/01/2007 -  Monitoring resumes next week as raptors arrive to winter in the grasslands IBA
Rich Merritt of Audubon New York has graciously volunteered to act as coordinator for the winter raptor surveys to be conducted weekly from Dec 3 through March 31.  Rough-legged Hawks and Short-eared Owls have already been been reported in the area, so we hope this will be another successful year for raptors in the grasslands.  


10/11/2007   Report on NYS DEC's proposed plan to protect portions of the Fort Edward Grasslands IBA
Several members of SAAS attended an "informational Town Board" meeting this evening.  This meeting was called by the Supervisor of the Town of Fort Edward for the purpose of having DEC representatives explain their proposed plan for protecting portions of the Fort Edward Grasslands IBA.  Representatives from the Towns of Argyle and Kingsbury were also present as well as about 30 residents.

Ken Kogut, Wildlife Manager for DEC Region Five, was the main speaker with assistance from Wildlife Biologist, Tim Post and Casey Holzworth of the Warrensburg office. Dr. Graham Cox of Audubon New York was present to explain the IBA status.  A PowerPoint program began with explanations of why protection is needed and why it is needed soon.  Basic information about the grassland species found in the IBA was also presented.  Then followed a proposed plan for the long-term development of a "Washington County Wildlife Management Area" or "Washington County Unique Area;"  under the DEC plan this would protect - through a combination of outright purchase from willing sellers and conservation easement - core areas within the IBA.  Areas considered the most critical for the endangered Short-eared Owl would be protected first, followed by other important areas; also highlighted for protection was the riparian area surrounding Dead Creek.  The resulting area on the map was barbell in shape - large areas, one in the southern portion of the IBA and one in the northern, connected by the narrow Dead Creek corridor.  Conspicuously omitted from protection was the area targeted by the proposed Killian's View subdivision.  The map showing these areas may be viewed here.  Kogut stressed repeatedly that the "boundaries" shown on the map were simply a starting point and many changes would be forthcoming as the plan develops.  He also stated that none of this will be possible without resolutions being passed by all the towns involved and that the Planning Boards of the towns would have their work cut out for them in controlling growth and planning for proper use of land bordering the state protected areas.

We will keep you informed as this plan evolves.



9/21/07   Fort Edward Grasslands Conservation Efforts -  submitted by Graham Cox

We may be taking the first big steps to a "win-win-win" solution to conserving the Fort Edward/Argyle grassland Important Bird Area in Washington County.

On August 24, 2007, members of the NYS DEC Region 5 open space conservation advisory committee met in the Little Theater on the Farm in the middle of the grassland IBA. DEC's regional fish and wildlife director, Ken Kogut, presented a thorough overview of the IBA -- its importance to conserving endangered and threatened grassland species, its unique place in grassland bird conservation in eastern New York state, and its potential to be designated a unique grassland conservation area. Kogut outlined a plan, still very much in the formative stages, for the state to acquire core grassland properties in the 13,000 acre IBA and protect them with extensive surrounding buffer areas. Kogut, with Pete Nye, chief of DEC's endangered species unit, led a field trip for the committee members around and across the IBA.

Present for the presentation were the DEC's Region 5 new regional director, Betsy Lowe, and town supervisors Merrilyn Pulver from Fort Edward and Bob Henke from Argyle. Also on hand were Dr. Mike Burger, Director of Conservation and Science for Audubon New York, Jillian Liner, Director of Bird Conservation and in charge of Audubon New York's IBA program, Sean Mahar, Audubon New York’s Director of Government Relations and Communications, Dr. Graham Cox, Open Space Coordinator for Audubon New York, and Don Polunci, President of Southern Adirondack Audubon.

In the latest 2006 revision to the state's open space conservation plan the grassland IBA was included in the priority list as part of the description of Washington County farmlands. Including theses grasslands on the state's priority list has given the DEC sufficient authority to start negotiating with landowners in the area to purchase their properties either in full fee or in conservation easements -- from willing sellers only. The intent of this field visit and presentation to the open space advisory committee members was to introduce them to the potential for this unique grassland site and to gain their appreciation as purchase projects are brought to the committee for their approval in coming years.
Kogut presented the conservation ideas to the committee as a win for the farmers and other land owners (they get to sell in full fee, or to sell an easement, so continuing to actively farm); a win for the town and its tax base (the state would continue to pay property taxes on purchased property or on easements and it would also attract eco-tourism dollars); and for bird conservation -- by keeping large grassland areas open and managed specifically for grassland birds.

The state acknowledges that there is a long way to go in this planning, and also the state purchase process moves slowly, but with the help of the local farm land trust and other land trusts like The Nature Conservancy and Open Space Institute we might be able to move this process along faster. It is also a race against the development clock in that there are many small -- and one large -- subdivision projects moving ahead in Fort Edward. Though the current Fort Edward town zoning ordinance allows for intensive residential development in the whole area the town master plan sets a goal to maintain the town's rural character and direct future growth to where there are existing sewer and water lines.

There are many creative ways that a town can achieve this smart growth goal and at the same time boost its tax base and tax revenues, but this requires cooperation and creative thinking by all the interested stakeholders. Most of all it requires leadership. Given the state's new interest in conserving this grassland IBA and the recent statements from the Governor's office in support of making smart growth planning a reality in the state we have a good chance to make all these things happen. First up is an immediate opportunity for towns in the grassland IBA to apply for part of the available $2 million in state funds for smart growth planning. We should encourage town officials to get on the ball right now and take the lead with DEC in putting a conservation-based land use plan together that is good for farmers, good for all tax payers and good for the birds.

For more information about the grassland IBA and the on-going discussions involving DEC, the towns, Audubon representatives and other land conservation and land trust interests, contact Graham Cox, coordinator of open space and sustainable forest programs, at glcoxATaudubon.org or smaharATaudubon.org.


8/12/07   Report of the Summer Breeding Bird Surveys in the Fort Edward Grasslands IBA
Surveys to record the activities of breeding bird species were conducted between June 20 and July 1.  There were two routes, each having 16 or more stops, and each route was surveyed twice in the early morning hours and once in late afternoon/early evening.  Higher numbers of birds were recorded at stops in the northern route; however, species diversity proved to be fairly balanced when the routes were compared.  The northern route has more acreage still used for agricultural purposes than the more highly subdivided southern portion of the IBA.

Bobolinks were actively displaying and protecting territories at all but seven stops.  Savannah Sparrows were recorded at approximately 75% of locations surveyed; Grasshopper Sparrow at only 8 of the 34 total stops on the two routes.  Approximately 30% of stops had an Eastern Meadowlark in residence; American Kestrel was recorded just twice.  Killdeer were found at only 10 locations, leading me to wonder if the Easter snowstorm may have taken a toll on this species.  Vesper Sparrow, Northern Harrier and Brown Thrasher were each recorded once.

Numbers of birds were higher on the first surveys for each route; wide-spread and repeated mowing of fields greatly reduced the numbers of birds on subsequent surveys.

Although not recorded on the official survey, Upland Sandpipers were found by Jason Goldsmith at two locations within the IBA.  On June 16, Jason saw four Upland Sandpipers in field on CR42, approximately 40 yards from its junction with Rt. 197.  The same morning he observed one additional “Uppie” perched on a fence north of RT197 at the Plum Rd. intersection.  A subsequent visit on June 23 yielded a maximum number of five Upland Sandpipers at the CR42 location.  I received no other reports of Upland Sandpipers.

I’d like to thank Jason for his assistance with the surveys and for his fruitful search for Upland Sandpipers.

-Mona Bearor

6/14/07 UPDATE
The Fort Edward Planning Board met at 7pm on June 13, 2007 and the proposed Planned Unit Development (PUD) law was the last item on the agenda.  There was limited discussion of possible changes to the law pertaining to mobile homes then the chair then asked the board if there were any other comments on the PUD.  Only one member  responded, suggesting that perhaps PUDs should be restricted to only a  couple areas within the town and that further restrictions might be placed on the types of development allowed within those PUD areas.  He indicated that he felt more restrictions were called for by public comment.  There was no further discussion by the board.  The board was asked if there was any movement on the meeting with DEC proposed by the Town Supervisor.  The chair responded by saying that a meeting has been requested with DEC, and that both the Fort Edward Town Board and Fort Edward Planning Board would attend and that it would be open to the public. There has yet been no response from DEC.  When questioned as to how the public would be notified of meeting date and time, the chair responded that the meeting was requested for one of the "normal" Planning or Town Board meeting nights.  If it was to be at any other time, it would be posted as required in Town statutes.  No other issues were discussed pertaining to the FTED Grasslands IBA.

Members of Southern Adirondack Audubon will remain vigilant of what happens on this issue and important announcements will be posted here.



Steak Roast Fundraiser - Sunday, August 5th, 2007 at 2pm (rain date Sunday, August 12)
This fundraiser will benefit SAAS and the "Do It Right" Group advocating for the protection of the Ft Edward Grasslands IBA. The Steak Roast will be held at the Boire residence at 270 County Route 42, Fort Edward. Bring a dish to share. RSVP by July 30 to Pat & Tammy Boire 747-0307 or tboire@hvwisp.net

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Update on the Proposed Planned Unit Development (PUD) law in the Town of  Fort Edward
MAY 15th UPDATE:

UPDATE on the Fort Edward Grasslands IBA
re: proposed Killian Subdivision and Planned Unit Development (PUD) Law

At the fourth public hearing, on May 14, 2007, the Fort Edward Town Board voted to send the proposed PUD law back to the Planning Board for further consideration and possible revision.  This decision was recommended in a statement made by Town Supervisor Merrilyn Pulver at the meeting's outset, prior to any public comment that night.

Supervisor Pulver stated, in part, "Also, we ask the Town Planning Board to please give consideration to possible amendments to our Town Subdivision regulations including more flexibility in clustering and or conservation subdivisions for the purpose of encouraging and or allowing for the possibility of more intensive and affordable residential development in appropriate circumstances when accompanied by preservation of open space and protection of environmental habitats."

A letter was recently received by Supervisor Pulver from Ken Kogut, Wildlife Manager for DEC Region 5.  This letter detailed the possible results of habitat destruction caused by the proposed Killian's View subdivision and the impact it would have on populations of endangered Short-eared Owls and other threatened species which depend on this land for their survival. Although the Town Board maintains that the proposed PUD law is not directly related to the proposed Killian's View subdivision, the law, if passed, would allow this development - and any other future developments - to proceed with no limits on habitat destruction regardless of current zoning.

Several members of Southern Adirondack Audubon have attended all meetings and given public comment.  We were pleased at this latest development and hope that the Planning Board gives serious consideration to the value of the grassland habitat in any future revisions.  We will be present at future Fort  Edward Planning Board meetings to observe and participate in the future process involving this proposed law and any other regulatory changes that  may affect the Fort Edward Grasslands IBA

The letter from Ken Kogut, Wildlife Manager, DEC, Region Five, to the Fort Edward Town Board may be read in its entirety here:

__________________________________________________

Copy of Member Letter - May 10, 2007
Text of letter written by Mona Bearor regarding this important issue
Letter


Update - May 5, 2007
Update on the Proposed Planned Unit Development law affecting the Fort Edward Grasslands IBA 
4/3/07 revision of proposed law (.doc file)
The third public meeting was held on April 26, 2007 at the Fort Edward town office building to allow comment on the proposed Planned Unit Development law.  The meeting was opened by the Town Supervisor, Merrilyn Pulver, who directed the Town Attorney, Mark Schachner, to make explanatory comments on the proposed law.  This was followed by comment from all who wished to voice their opinion of the law.

Strong opposition to the proposed Planned Unit Development (PUD) law was expressed by every speaker, the majority of whom are residents of the town of Fort Edward.  In addition to specific concerns in the proposed law and how it will affect the rural character of their town, many residents expressed dismay that elected officials would continue considering a law that has shown to be soundly conflicting with the desires of the voters attending the public meetings and in opposition to the goals of the Town of Fort Edward Master Plan.  A representative of Southern Adirondack Audubon gave verbal comment on the wording of the “open space” clauses as they pertain to the integrity of the grasslands.  The public comment period was extended to Monday, May 14, 2007, when another public meeting will be held at 6:30pm in the Fort Edward Town Hall, located at 118 Broadway the Village of Fort Edward.

PLEASE ATTEND THIS PUBLIC MEETING IF YOU SUPPORT CONSERVATION OF THE FORT EDWARD GRASSLANDS IMPORTANT BIRD AREA.  Those living in areas that have had natural habitat decimated by development could make statements to that effect.  Every person’s statement that we can get on record as being in opposition to this proposed law will help our cause.

Written comments will also be accepted by mail, but must be received by May 14, 2007

Please send your comments to:
Town of Fort Edward, Town Board, 118 Broadway, Fort Edward, NY  12828. 

with a copy to:
Linda Miles, Town Clerk, Town of Fort Edward, 118 Broadway, Fort Edward, NY  12828.

_______________________________________________________

Update 4/9/07:  Supervisor Pulver announced that the meeting would... reconvene on April 26th at 7PM. The location of the meeting may be changed to the Fort Edward Fire House.... On the 26th there will be more opportunity for comment, and there will be discussion between both the Board and the Public in regards to the proposed PUD law.


Fort Edwards Grasslands - April 8 note
From Mona: The Planning Board has made a few insignificant changes to the proposed PUD, none that address the concerns stated by residents and concerned citizens at the public meeting, and it is still up for vote.  Mr. John Caffrey, attorney for the "Do It Right" group recommends that the law be tabled until zoning is updated to align with the Town of Fort Edward Master Plan.  He has written a letter to the Town Board stating this as well as specific concerns with the revised PUD language.  Suffice it to say that, if the law is enacted as proposed, development of unlimited density, with no limit on building height or use, will be allowed on any plot of land 20 acres or larger within the Town of Fort Edward - regardless of in-place zoning regulations.  The Town Board, rather than the Planning Board, will have final say on approval of any proposed PUDs.  This will fragment the IBA beyond any hope of repair.

Quote from law office of John Caffry: "As you know, the public hearing continues on Monday, April 9, 2007 at 6:30 p.m. at the Town's offices on Broadway.  Written comments will be accepted through Monday, and possibly thereafter if the Town decides to leave the public hearing open at this Monday's meeting.  We encourage all those that attended the previous public hearing, that submitted written comments, and others that are interested in this issue to attend the meeting on Monday night.  Even if folks don't have something additional to say or have anything to say at all, it is still very important to have people show up at this Monday's meeting to show that they are still concerned and interested in the issues surrounding the PUD."

 If you attend, sign in as Audubon members, HMBC members, interested birders, nature photographers, along with your name... anything to get names on the public record that there are many of us, in addition to residents, who care about what happens to this area.

__________________________________________________________________________________

Fort Edwards Grasslands - end of March 2007
Approxiamtely 50 Town of Fort Edward residents, Southern Adirondack Audubon members and Sean Mahar from Audubon New York, attended the March 21 public hearing to speak against the proposed Planned Unit Development law.  It was eveident that the residents value the rural character of their town and wish to conserve the natural areas for the benefit of birds, wildlife and their families.  The public comment period was extended to April 9 and anyone wishing to submit a statement is urged to do so
 
Please send your comments to:
Town of Fort Edward, Town Board, 118 Broadway, Fort Edward, NY  12828. 
 
with a copy to:
Linda Miles, Town Clerk, Town of Fort Edward, 118 Broadway, Fort Edward, NY  12828.

___________________________________________________________________________________

Fort Edward Grassland Development - early March 2007

Over a year ago, a huge subdivision was proposed smack in the middle of the Fort Edward Grasslands Important Bird Area.  Southern Adirondack Audubon members and staff from Audubon New York have been attending planning board meetings and voicing opposition.  SAAS has also been coordinating weekly raptor surveys and conducted a Short-eared Owl survey to  learn more about which areas the birds use most heavily in the IBA.

The latest threat - and a huge one - is a recently proposed law to allow Planned Unit Developments in the Town of Fort Edward.  We in SAAS are in support of the "Do It Right" group (local landowners in the IBA area) and are going door-to-door to make residents of the rural areas of the town aware of this proposed law.  A flyer has been produced and we are leaving it with those we talk to and at any residences where no one is home when we visit.  We are trying to cover all the rural areas to give them notice in hopes that many will attend the meeting on March 21 to show their opposition.

If anyone is available to help with flyer distribution, even a couple hours will help, please contact Jason Goldsmith at 518-792-8382 or adk_wild_jay@yahoo.com.  Jason cannot check email everyday, so phone contact is preferred. 

Thank you for your interest in conserving the Fort Edward Grasslands IBA.

March 2007 PUD Flyer
Proposed 2007 PUD Local Law

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Fort Edward IBA - Fall 2006

During the summer months, members of Southern Adirondack Audubon attended  Fort Edward Town Planning Board meetings and wrote letters asking for protection of this important grassland area.  The current Killian Farms proposal for development of over 200 acres is just one of many threats on the horizon.

In addition, SAAS members and birders from outside the chapter gathered data for a grassland bird monitoring project.  Breeding bird species were surveyed throughout the Fort Edward Grasslands IBA and surrounding areas. Leadership was supplied by Audubon New York's bird conservation department. The new data will support advocacy for increased protection with the town, or through a local Land Trust or other land conservation/farmland preservation organization.

Monitoring will continue in the winter months and again next spring breeding season.  We need volunteers to monitor birds, assistants to record data and people to write advocacy letters.  If you are interested in helping with this important project, please contact any Director or Officer listed on the mailing page of this newsletter.

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Southern Adirondack Audubon Monitors for Grassland Birds - Winter 2006

The Fort Edward Grasslands Important Bird Area (IBA) is under tremendous pressure for development.  Currently before the town board is a proposal for the construction of up to 397 homes on 200 acres of prime grassland bird habitat – habitat which supports the following species of endangered, threatened, or of special concern status: Henslow’s Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Grasshopper Sparrow, Horned Lark, Northern Harrier, Upland Sandpiper, and Short Eared Owls.  Other development projects await approval of this project to move ahead, thereby increasing the threat to this important area. 

With the leadership of Audubon New York’s bird conservation department, a monitoring plan to conduct a survey of bird species throughout the Fort Edward Grasslands IBA and surrounding areas has been developed and is now being implemented by Southern Adirondack members.  Three routes will be covered in both the winter and spring breeding season periods.  SAAS members have recorded observations and behavior for over twenty years that will be valuable for comparing trends and distributions.   New data will support advocacy for increased protection with the town, or through a local Land Trust or other land conservation/farmland preservation organization.    A Chapter Collaborative Funding Grant was awarded by Audubon New York to aid in completing this important project.



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