Conservation Advisory Council

The CAC is an advisory body, established by Town Law in 2008, that serves to gather and disseminate information, conduct research, and advise town agencies and the Hillsdale community on matters related to the conservation of natural resources. The CAC considers issues of air Quality, surface water quality, groundwater quality and Quantity as well as soils, plants, animals, and habitats of conservation concern.   It also considers 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. As part of the CAC’s advisory functions, it has from time to time produced, or helped to produce, informational documents about the town’s natural resources that may be of interest to all town citizens. Those documents, and where they may be viewed or obtained, are described below.

The basic tasks of the Hillsdale 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.

The Hillsdale CAC meets at 7 pm on the 4th Thursday of each month at the Hillsdale Town Hall in person or virtually. If the latter, the online link is posted in the monthly town newsletter. All CAC meetings are open to the public. Any questions about the CAC’s work or about obtaining copies of any of the documents listed below may be directed to the CAC at [email protected].

The Aim of The CAC Web Page

This webpage of the Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) hopes to achieve several aims. First we acquaint Hillsdale residents with the CAC’s function and activities. Second, [we describe some of our current projects and, third , we provide information about various aspects of the Town of Hillsdale and its natural resources. This information includes a Natural Resource Inventory ,conservation plans for major watersheds and groundwater resources, and a plan for how to improve stream crossings of our roads (culverts and bridges) for aquatic organisms and reduce flooding and erosion of roads and land. We hope that the documents referred to below will enhance everyone’s appreciation for and stewardshipof Hillsdale’s important natural resources.

CAC Members

  • Paul Duernberger
  • Mary King
  • David Lewis, Chair
  • Gretchen Stevens
  • Open seat
  • Jamie Carano Nordenstrom, Town Board Liaison

CAC members are appointed by the Hillsdale Town Board. If you would like to become a member, we encourage you to attend the next CAC meeting to learn more about our work.

Then, write a letter of interest to the Town Board describing your background relevant to the work of the CAC, your interest, and your availability.

Current CAC Activities and Project

CAC members assist the Hillsdale Planning Board with reviews of proposed land development and subdivision projects, and regularly respond to inquiries from townspeople about natural resources and conservation concerns.

CAC member Mary King is Hillsdale’s representative on the Columbia County Environmental Management Council. Mary also volunteers in the Roe Jan Watershed Community water quality sampling program. 

CAC members Paul Duernberger and Gretchen Stevens sit on the Hillsdale Climate Smart Communities Task Force, through which the Town has achieved Bronze-level certification as a Climate Smart Community and is working toward a Silver certification. 

CAC members David Lewis and Gretchen Stevens are part of a working group of representatives of the four headwater towns to implement the Taghkanic Creek Headwaters Management Plan (see below). They also represent Hillsdale on the Watershed Advisory Committee assisting in production of the Agawamuck Creek Watershed Management Plan (see below).

  • Hillsdale Open Space Plan
  • Agawamuck Creek Watershed Management Plan


Over the years the CAC has initiated studies and acquired informational materials that describe the town’s natural resources, their importance to ecosystems and people, threats to their persistence and quality, and ways to protect them.

Current CAC Activities and Projects

The Hillsdale Natural Resources Inventory

A copy of the NRI can be found here

In the latter half of 2017, the CAC sought and ultimately obtained, funding for the creation of a Natural Resources Inventory (NRI) for the Town of Hillsdale.  The funding, graciously provided by the Hudson River Estuary Program of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation, has permitted the CAC to obtain the services of Nan Stolzenburg, a Certified Environmental Planner (AICP), who has assisted over 60 upstate towns in land-use planning, and Rick Lederer-Barnes of Upstate GIS, an Independent Geographic Information Systems (GIS) Specialist and Environmental Planner, in preparing the NRI. They, together with the CAC, collected information and produced a final document illustrating and describing the town’s natural resources, and explaining their significance to the Hillsdale community.

What is a Natural Resources Inventory?

An NRI compiles information about and describes the important, naturally occurring resources of the area. The Hillsdale NRI will include descriptions of the Town’s topography, bedrock and surficial geology, soils, water resources (streams, lakes, ponds, groundwater), biological resources (plants, animals, and habitats such as forest, meadow, and swamp), scenic areas, and outdoor places for public recreation.

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 anyone who may want to learn more about the natural areas all around us.

Habitat Fact Sheets

Other Downloadable Documents

Guidelines for Conservation Analysis
Hillsdale Habitat Summary
Trout Fishing in Hillsdale
Very Destructive Pest, Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)

Spongy moth article, 2022

Hillsdale Groundwater Study

Frequently Asked Questions