Capital District

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Hudson River Valley
 

From fossils to revolutions to farmlands, the Capital District surrounding Albany, New York is a land worth exploring.  On the northern edge of the Hudson River Valley, surrounding New York State’s capital city of Albany, the Capital District is a region steeped in layers of history and geography. Loosely defined by the lands of Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady, and Saratoga counties, the Capital District offers recreational opportunities in places like John Boyd Thacher State Park, which OSI helped to expand. Situated along the Helderberg Escarpment, a limestone ridge rich in fossils, the park has extensive trails for recreational activities such as biking, hiking, snow-shoeing and cross-country skiing. From the higher vantage points, recreationists can see panoramic views of the Hudson-Mohawk Valleys and the Adirondack and Green Mountains.

Less visible but just as important is the historical importance of the lands in this area. Here we can find the roots of American history. Saratoga National Historic Park marks the spot where the decisive victory against the British occurred in 1777, ensuring the success of the American Revolution.

In the centuries since independence, farming has also been an important part of the Capital District’s history, although a shifting agricultural economy and a growing population related to a booming technology industry have forced many farms to shut down. In the past 25 years, 70,000 acres of agricultural lands have been lost to development and approximately 3,000 acres of wetlands have disappeared in the Capital District. In 1997, Farming on the Edge, a report produced by American Farmland Trust, ranked the Hudson Valley as the tenth most-threatened agricultural region in the country.

OSI has been very active in preserving farmlands and recreation areas in the Capital District, a region continually redefining itself.

Threats
Development pressure and urban sprawl are the greatest threat to open spaces in the Capital District


OSI At Work

In the Capital District, OSI has protected more than 4,000 acres, including nearly 2,500 acres of farmland. These examples illustrate what conservation can accomplish:

  • OSI has protected almost 3,500 acres of land in the Upper Hudson River Valley, including more than 1,200 acres in and around the Helderberg Escarpment and almost 1,500 acres in the vicinity of the Saratoga National Battlefield Park.
  • OSI has protected more than 1,200 acres in the vicinity of the Saratoga National Battlefield Park, including the Hanehan family farm in Stillwater. Working with the town and the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, which provides grants for farmland protection, OSI acquired an agricultural easement to permanently protect this 135-acre dairy farm.
  • OSI has protected more than 1,200 acres in and around the Helderberg Escarpment, a north-south ridge approximately 10 miles from the City of Albany, comprised of forests, open meadows, limestone cliffs, talus slopes and wetlands. The acquisitions have also extended the Long Path, which now spans some 300 miles from New Jersey to Albany County.
  • After acquiring 150 acres of Hudson River waterfront, OSI established the Papscanee Island Nature Preserve in order to protect and maintain the natural heritage of the land as well as to provide the public with access to this wild, natural place. Papscanee Island Nature Preserve, which is visible from the steps of the State Capitol in Albany, is popular among birders, paddlers, hikers, and picnickers.
  • The Conservation Institute conducted an assessment in 2005 of land use planning regulation and practice in the Capital District region, determining that the area is experiencing desirable economic renewal but also unplanned, haphazard development that has resulted in the loss of open space, water resources, and wildlife habitat. 

 

 

 
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