Conservation Advisory Council
The mission of the Hillsdale Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) is to gather and disseminate information, conduct research, and advise other town agencies in matters related to the conservation of natural resources. The CAC considers issues of air quality, surface water and groundwater quality and quantity, and soils, as well as plants, animals, and habitats of conservation concern, and other issues bearing on the integrity of ecosystems and sustainable uses of the natural resources that support the health and well-being of the human community.
The CAC’s role in policy-making and environmental reviews is advisory only. The CAC takes a science-based approach to questions related to natural resource conservation, provides information as needed, and proposes solutions and alternatives that aim to avoid, minimize, or mitigate impacts to sensitive resources.
The basic tasks of the CAC are: 1) assisting the Planning Board in reviews of land use proposals; 2) gathering and providing natural resource information to town agencies, land use applicants, and the general public; 3) conducting a town-wide natural resource inventory and open space inventory; and 4) providing recommendations for local policies, procedures, and legislation related to natural resource uses and conservation.
Downloadable Habitat Fact Sheets
Habitat Fact Sheets (prepared by Hudsonia Ltd.) offer brief descriptions of some of the common and less-common habitats that occur in Hillsdale, how to identify them, some of their ecological values and associated plants and animals of conservation concern, and some recommendations for conservation. We encourage landowners, developers, town agencies, and others to view, print, and distribute these to others who may be interested in learning more about the natural areas all around us.
Habitat Fact Sheets [PDF]
Other Downloadble Documents
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
What is a Conservation Advisory Council?
A Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) is an advisory body that serves to gather and disseminate information, conduct research, and advise other town agencies in the development, management, and protection of natural resources.
How is it established?
A CAC is established by the Town Board by ordinance or by local law under the statutory authority of Section 239-x of Article 12-F of the NYS General Municipal Law. CAC members are appointed by the Town Board.
The Hillsdale Conservation Advisory Council was established by town law in 2008.
The Town Board appointed five members, and the CAC has operated with 4-5 members ever since. Current members of the Hillsdale CAC are Ruth Dufault
(chair), Bud Atwood, Ed Frederick, Gretchen Stevens (Secretary), and Guy Winig.
When does the CAC meet?
The CAC meets on the 4th Wednesday of each month, 7:30pm at the Hillsdale
Town Hall. Meetings are open to the public.
What does the CAC do?
The CAC provides information, tools, and advice for town planning and environmental reviews of land use proposals. The CAC gathers information on natural resources and conducts detailed analysis of planning issues and environmental impacts, and thus can provide a more comprehensive base of information for the land use decision-making carried out by the Planning Board and other town agencies.
Members of the Hillsdale CAC routinely attend the monthly meeting of the Planning Board, and provide comments on potential environmental impacts of proposed development projects under review. At the Planning Board’s request, the CAC also conducts site visits and submits written and verbal reports on their findings. The CAC takes on other projects assigned by the Planning Board, as needed, related to Hillsdale resources or town policy-making.
Current Projects, Winter 2013
The CAC has been conducting an inventory of active, abandoned and potential farmland throughout the town. We are using GIS to map farmland on the basis of recent aerial photos and field observations, and recording the current uses (e.g., pasture, hayfield, cropland, nursery, vegetables, etc.). The objective is to provide information on our current agricultural resources to inform land use planning and decision-making. We hope to complete the map in spring 2013.
The CAC is gathering information on Hillsdale streams–their history, current water quality and habitat quality, fish communities and other biota–and developing an inventory that will help us identify our highest-quality streams as well as those that have been damaged and might benefit from restoration efforts.
- Obtained grants for a townwide groundwater study completed by the New York Rural Water Association in 2009.
- Developed a list of vetted consultants in various disciplines related to land use, such as wetland delineation, forestry, engineering, biology/ecology, hydrogeology, soil science, land surveying, and land use planning.
- Researched regulations and practices related to construction of artificial ponds, and prepared a summary report for the Planning Board.
- Researched local regulation of wind energy development, and conferred with the Hillsdale Green Solutions committee on an
advisory document on local standards for review and operation of wind facilities.
- Solicited and obtained a “Hillsdale Habitat Summary” prepared by Karen Strong, Biodiversity Outreach Coordinator, Hudson River Estuary Program, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.
- Developed draft Guidelines for a Conservation Analysis to be used when gathering information for submission with a new development proposal.
- Developed a draft outline for a Natural Resources Inventory for Hillsdale.
On June 2, 2012 the CAC co-sponsored (with the Town of Ancram CAC) a field trip to fens on Larry Lampman’s farm in Ancram, attended by CAC and Planning Board members of both towns, and other interested citizens. A fen is an uncommon wetland habitat in the region, characterized by calcium-rich groundwater seepage and a distinctive plant community of low shrubs, sedges, grasses, and forbs. They are the core habitat for several rare species of plants and animals. Biologist Gretchen Stevens discussed the ecology of fens, their biodiversity values, and some recommendations for conservation. Fens are easily degraded by direct and indirect disturbance, and are especially vulnerable to alterations to the quality and quantity of groundwater and surface water feeding them. Most fens in the region occur on privately held land, so the conservation efforts of private landowners are critical to the persistence of this habitat and its rare species. (The Lampman farm is in a conservation easement held by the Columbia Land Conservancy.)