Monday, December 29, 2014

Let's Build a Conservation Advisory Council

A couple of weeks ago, Gossips reported that grants had been awarded by the Regional Economic Development Councils to two projects in Hudson--one to develop North Bay as a recreation and natural area; the other to direct untreated storm water into North Bay. It was wondered at the time where the Conservation Advisory Council was when it was really needed. The Common Council passed the legislation creating it in June, but six months later there is still no CAC.

It turns out that, in this city of gifted and talented, educated and enterprising people trying to reconnect the city with the river and its maritime heritage, the Common Council, which will appoint the members of the CAC, is having a hard time finding people to serve. The CAC must consist of not less than five and not more than nine members, but not just anyone can be appointed. There are requirements, which are specified in Article 33 of the City Charter: "Such members shall have expertise in environmental sciences, planning, engineering, arboriculture, Geographic Information Systems, and associated skills by specified professional or educational credentials and relevant attainment." Click here to learn more about what's required and expected from CAC members. 

Hudson's location on the river and its two bays, which were the selling point for the city's seafaring founders, abused by folks with different priorities when Hudson ceased to be a maritime center, and today survive as significant wetlands, make it imperative that Hudson, as a municipality, be committed to conservation and ecological sustainability. Having a Conservation Advisory Council in place is critical to that.

If you want to be part of the CAC and have the qualifications needed, make your interest known in an email to Alderman David Marston. Your service to the river and the ecosystems that surround it is sorely needed.


  1. A CAC candidate needs all, not just some, of those competencies? Seems like the seats will be hard to fill.

    1. Westchester took a different approach to its own CACs in the 1990s.

      In that county's "Conservation Advisory Councils and Boards" it was established that "there is no minimum professional qualification for a CAC member." (See under "Membership Qualifications.")

      Perhaps such a low bar led to actual citizen participation in Westchester, a fate which the City of Hudson dreads above all things.

      Why else did Cheryl Roberts configure the qualifications in this way? Why else did she drag her feet for more than a year before writing it?

      The impossible standards and the foot-dragging serve some obvious goals which are anathema to the responsible stewardship of our local environment.

      Furthermore, the Common Council must still agree to appoint the individuals who are nominated, credentials and competencies notwithstanding, and that will be a lengthy, closed-door debate.

      We should demand that this CAC be appointed, unless the membership qualifications themselves were designed to prevent it from ever getting off the ground. With Roberts' fingerprints all over it, who'd be surprised if that wasn't the intended outcome?

    2. Westchester's "Conservation Advisory Councils and Boards: A Guide to the Organization and Operation of Local Environmental Advisory Councils":

  2. Something about these qualifications makes no sense. It would be as if Board of Education members had to have advanced degrees in education. In fact, for an "advisory" group, these qualifications are rather silly. Can someone enlighten me about the genesis of Article 33? Thanks. peter meyer

    1. Article 33 is likely the continuing legacy of Cheryl Roberts, previous Corporate Counsel for the Office of the Mayor.

      Evidently this self-proclaimed "environmental attorney" was the CAC foot-dragger par excellence.

      I'd wager that the language of that law, which she postponed repeatedly through 2013, was her very own.

      Does anyone care to correct that?

    2. Right you are mapmaker. Article 33 was was written by landgators, to replace Navigational use, with land use and ignorance of law is no excuse.

      Because there has always been, and will always be, more landgators than Navigators, the historical use of land under water is protected, for Navigation.

      Nine hundred days and waiting.

  3. looks like the city wants unpaid experts to hire paid experts, a paid clerk, and a paid secretary, to make recommendations to an amateur council when the local people that use the bay have been removed by amateurs from the columbia land conservancy making conservation a dirty word.

  4. The one grant, for recreational development of the North Bay, intends "to contribute to public health and wellness."

    The second grant, from the department of Homes and Community Renewal for stormsewer separation, aims to improve "community public health, welfare [and/or] safety issues" by making the same North Bay even filthier for "at least 51% of residents who qualify as low- and moderate-income."

    Taken together, these grants present a satire of bureaucratic imperiousness and idiocy. Acting in unison, as they do here, state and federal governments are so unwieldy that the left hand has no idea what the right hand is doing.

    Local bureaucrats become adept at exploiting these weaknesses, while local residents are preoccupied with things like social justice issues and personal health.

    Someone please tell me, are we living in a farce or a tragedy?

    1. It is my opinion that the residents of Hudson are living in a farce and a tragedy regarding both the South and North Bays.
      That is of course based upon neither bays being tested at all areas for soil and water contamination.
      As a person of Hudson Born and Bred, HBB, I must state that each Bay was used for landfill, but let's call it what it actually was, a dumping ground for everything from A-Z for 100+ years. Just look at photos of the South Bay from early on, the Hudson Iron Works, the Railroad, factories, etc. Where did all that land fill come from?
      Add to that the daily dumping of residential garbage for how many years, maybe nearly the same.
      So are we to expose people to the newest "Love Canal" of NYS or should we demand a testing of the areas & put a stop to further contamination via water run off?
      I for one say absolutely. Unless of course I am incorrect and soil/water tests are available to the public that indicate otherwise.
      Who knows, maybe you'll find Jimmy Hoffa?
      Good luck all you qualified people.

    2. There've been no soil or water tests, and no hydrology studies for either bay.

      (When the city applied for a Brownfields grant in 2012, it intentionally omitted the soils around the bays from the application.)

      Almost nothing is available from county Soil and Water office for either bay.

      The DEC hasn't delineated any of it, so when the NYS Department of State made the North Bay a Significant Habitat (SCFWH) in 1984, and the South Bay a SCFWH in 2012, these must have been acts of faith.

      Federal plans to study the bays never panned out either. In the words of a staffer at the National Estuarine Research Reserve "we never got that far."

      Now consider that the city feels the planned sewer separation - for which we were just awarded $600K - is totally exempt from any environmental review.

      Following is the sole "study" which informs the environmental assessment for the sewer plan. It was conducted in the first bay in 1975 in about an hour.

      The "Wetland Inventory Field Data Sheet" in its entirety:

      Page 1.

      Unique in Environs: "freshwater tidal marsh"
      Vulnerability Classification: "landfill site"; "medium"
      Loss to Degradation: "15%"
      Vulnerability to Destruction: "medium"
      Notes: "thick muck in channel 3 ft."
      Conservation Organization: "private"
      Source: "personnel investigation"

      Page 2.

      "Arrow Arum - common
      "Cattail - dominant
      "Sweet Flag - common
      "River Bulrush - dominant [sic]
      "Duck Potato - occasional
      "Purple Loosestrife - common

      "Yellow Water Lilly [sic] - occasional
      "Elodea - occasional
      "Pickerel Weed - occasional
      "Wild Celery - occasional
      "Pond Weed - occasional
      "Soft Stem Bulrush - occasional"


      "Red-winged Blackbirds
      "Green Herons
      "March Wrens
      "Rails (Sora?) [sic]