By Allan Stern, Rensselaer Land Trust Board Member

On Sunday, March 5th, a small but very interested group attended a presentation by Laura Heady, of the Hudson River Estuary Program and Cornell University. Held at the East Greenbush Public Library, it was sponsored by Rensselaer Land Trust and the New York State Audubon Society.

The title of the slide presentation and lecture was "Wetland Conservation: What Do We Have to Lose?"

The answer, according to Ms. Heady, is "Lots of things" -- specifically, clean water, flood control, mosquito control, wildlife and bird habitat, and recreation sites with the resulting economic benefits. While Ms. Heady's talked focused on fresh-water wetlands, a whole other topic of conversation could have been tidal (salt water) wetlands, especially in the context of the recent major storms.

After describing different types of wetlands, Ms. Heady focused on the value and function of wetlands (see above) and then how to conserve the wetlands we do have. One of her main points was that because state agencies (NYSDEC) and Federal (US Army Corps of Engineers) have specific guidelines on what size wetlands they can regulate, over half the wetlands in Rensselaer County (56%) and Albany County (61%) are too small and isolated to be protected. This implies that local municipalities and agencies such as the RLT have to step up.

To read detailed notes from this program please click here (PDF).

Resource websites introduced during this program included:

Capital District Audubon Society
Hudson River Estuary Program
New York Natural Heritage Program
NYS DEC's Environmental Resource Mapper
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's National Wetland Inventory