Ecologically sensitive areas across Saratoga County, from butterfly habitats to stream corridors, are being recommended for protection if state funding becomes available.
The Board of Supervisors’ Economic Development Committee on Wednesday approved a list of projects for possible addition to the state’s Open Space Plan, which is currently being updated.
Open space protection projects need to be on the list to qualify for funding from the Environmental Protection Fund and other state sources. Such projects are generally popular in Saratoga County, which is among the fastest-growing counties in the state.
“You need the balance,” said Julia Stokes, the county’s representative on the Department of Environmental Conservation Region 5 Open Space Committee. “When you bring in new businesses, you bring in new people, you need places for them to recreate. ... If you don’t set them aside now, you lose them.”
Most of the projects the committee approved are the same as those in the last plan update, in 2009. Over the years, several of the projects have been funded from federal, state or local sources. Since 2009, for example, more than $3.7 million has been allocated to buying the development rights to working farms.
The committee added one new project to the county’s 2009 list: protection of Round Lake and the corridor along the Anthony Kill, a tributary of the Hudson River.
Malta and Stillwater officials have been working to preserve shoreline on the lake and wetlands along the creek, and the listing could qualify it for additional state funding.
“The lake itself is important for recreation, fishing, watershed protection and provides wetland and natural habitat protection,” according to a county project summary. “The Anthony Kill flows east from Round Lake and into the Hudson River and is habitat for threatened fresh water eels.”
Stokes said having a property listed on the county open space plan doesn’t affect the property rights of its owner.
“The state cannot take it by eminent domain,” she told the committee, which met in Ballston Spa. “There has to be a willing seller.”
A draft list of projects for the eight counties in DEC Region 5 could be finished Friday at a meeting in Warrensburg.
The draft will be submitted to DEC Commissioner Joe Martens to become part of the next statewide open space plan.