Some of the good things that happened in 2014
By Pamela Doan
By no means a complete list, here are some of the things that happened in 2014 that were good for the local environment.
Plans for enhancing and improving access to natural areas
Elements of the Hudson Highlands Fjord Trail linking Cold Spring and Beacon with a pedestrian and bike path could be under construction in 2015 and will provide more access to the natural beauty of the Hudson Highlands.
The 9-mile track could reduce traffic, parking difficulties and dangerous conditions for hikers on Route 9D, and create another tourist attraction for Philipstown. It could be our High Line (the beautiful park on the former elevated railway in New York City).
Hydraulic fracturing ban in New York
After a moratorium, Gov. Andrew Cuomo banned fracking in our state! This move protects the environment, water quality, and the health of New Yorkers from questionable practices that have been linked to major problems in other states. It was a bold move and will ensure that concerned citizens don’t have to wage local fights over it in municipalities.
Desalination plant in Rockland County nixed
This plan was shortsighted and unnecessary and would have had major environmental consequences for the Hudson River. The move will also force the local utility and residents to consider conservation efforts and a sustainable plan rather than this type of misguided approach.
Long Dock Park expanding
Long Dock Park in Beacon was once a toxic brownfield from its past as an industrial site. Thanks to the efforts and leadership of Scenic Hudson, most of the park opened to the public in 2011, and it has since become a major attraction on the riverfront. One section that was off limits is finally being cleaned up. Work started this fall and the area should be open in 2015, giving visitors more access to the waterfront.
Crude-oil-carrying “bomb” trains are getting attention
Crude oil shipped by train along the west side of the Hudson River poses serious hazards to people and the environment. Accidents in Canada and Virginia have devastated entire towns and caused long-lasting damage to ecosystems. This year environmental groups have lobbied the governor to take action, and there has been progress in evaluating and confronting the issues.
Small farms are getting support
Keep Putnam Farming is a countywide initiative looking at the needs of agricultural interests. As a comprehensive effort to survey and support existing farm resources, it will also address ways to support, promote and expand agriculture locally. Supporting local farms means controlling development, providing access to healthier food and making more sustainable choices for land use.
Invasive species are banned and regulated in New York
The Department of Environmental Conservation issued regulations that restrict and ban certain non-native species that act aggressively when introduced into our waterways and forests. These species have transformed landscapes and sea life in costly and devastating ways, and these regulations are an important step in trying to preserve our natural environment.
More open land is preserved in Philipstown
The Hudson Highlands Land Trust was able to permanently conserve and protect 135 acres this year. Additionally, the HHLT helped to secure a donation of nearly 10 acres that created a new parking area on Snake Hill Road and access to the North Redoubt section of Hudson Highlands State Park Preserve in Garrison.