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Editorial: Save the view from battlefield

Editorial: Save the view from battlefield

National Park Service-funded study offers blueprint for preserving battlefield and surrounding scene

Over the years, the Gazette has published numerous editorials about the importance of preserving some of the most beautiful, significant land in Saratoga County — or anywhere else, for that matter: Saratoga Battlefield and the property around it. That cause just got some welcome help, in the form of a comprehensive study funded by the National Park Service and conducted by the local preservation group Saratoga PLAN. Using maps, numbers and narratives, it provides an excellent blueprint for preservationists to use in the crucial battle against development.

The battlefield itself, of course, is not in jeopardy; it’s part of the national park system and duly recognized as the seminal military site in our nation’s history. But the view from it surely is, and anything which harms that view diminishes the battlefield.

The battlefield remains much as it was during the Revolutionary War, as does a lot of the land that can be seen from it, down to the Hudson River and across into Washington and Rensselaer counties. The view is dominated by farms, streams, rolling hills and tidy villages like Cambridge, with the Green Mountains in the background.

But it is also threatened to varying degress, as the Saratoga PLAN document, called the Battles of Saratoga Preservation and Viewshed Protection Plan, points out. The threat comes from such things as cell towers, farmland loss and sprawl development, already existing pressures for which are bound to become much worse if the AMD chip plant comes to town. The plan ranks these threats in a military-sounding “threat assesssment.”

And it makes clear that the battlefield can’t be saved on its own. It urges park officials to work with local governments: to educate them about the battle-related sites in their own communities, get them to look at these sites as the cultural and historic resource they are, and then save them through zoning changes, open space protection, conservation easements, etc. Tourists will come to their area for the history and scenery, if they only preserve it.

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