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. (To read more about adoption of the plan click here)
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.
More about how 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.
Community Grassland Stewardship Project
Project summary: 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. The Greene Land Trust, through a grant from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Estuary Program, has developed the Community Grassland Stewardship Project to educate, engage and support the community and private landowners in conserving their open spaces as grasslands.
Project area: The project will build on the success of establishing the Coxsackie Creek Grassland Preserve (CCGP) and focus on conserving key grassland habitat in the corridor between Catskill and New Baltimore in eastern Greene County in the Greene County Grassland Conservation Focus Area (see map).
With over 300 acres of grassland already preserved at the CCGP, the goal of this project is to expand suitable acres of grassland habitat by supporting the voluntary stewardship of over 500 additional acres by private landowners in this critical grassland area.
Project approach: The Green Land Trust is taking a two-pronged approach to promote and support community-based and landowner grassland habitat conservation and stewardship.
I. Grassland Habitat Stewardship landowner incentive program:
- Become a "Grassland Habitat Steward": after signing a voluntary “Grassland Stewardship Pledge”, eligible landowners will receive various incentives and support from GLT such as property signage, property-specific grasslands Habitat Management Plan, and management assistance.
- Developing “Conserving Greene County Grassland Habitat: A Landowner’s Guide” to provide landowners with grasslands information, recommended management practices and resources
II. Community Education and Involvement:
- Community participation events such as Winter Owl Hikes and a Live Grassland Bird Show and Grassland Hike at the CCGP in the fall;
- Presentations to municipal officials and planning boards about grassland conservation;
- Working with schools and summer youth programs to involve students and families in grassland stewardship education;
- News articles in the local press;
- Interpretive signs about grasslands to be posted at accessible locations near grasslands around the community to educate passersby on the importance of local grasslands;
- Grasslands Stewardship brochure (PDF), factsheets and information on this website.
The Community Grasslands Stewardship Project is a cooperative effort lead by the Greene Land Trust with the collaboration of many partners:
Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District, Habitat Advisory Committee