Conservation and Land Use Program

Hundreds of volunteers have been trained to identify significant habitats in planning and project review. Photo: Laura Heady

Cornell Department of Natural Resources and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Estuary Program initiated an outreach and technical assistance program in 2001 to build community capacity for sound decision-making that balances future growth with conservation of the rich natural resources of the Hudson River estuary watershed. The Conservation and Land Use Program partners with local governments and non-profit organizations in the Hudson Valley to increase regional understanding and capacity for habitat conservation, implementing targets of the Hudson River Estuary Action Agenda toward building community resilience and sustaining a vital estuary ecosystem. By providing technical assistance, information, and training, the program offers strategies for “smart planning” that support economic growth and quality of life, while keeping nature in mind. Visit the Hudson River Estuary Program website for more information.

Municipal Assistance

Photo: Laura Heady

Local governments have a key role to play in conserving natural areas and the vital benefits they provide. With assistance from the Estuary Program, many municipalities have identified priority natural resources and developed plans and practices that address regional conservation priorities and local community values, and will ultimately help to sustain the health and resiliency of the estuary ecosystem.

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Trainings and Roundtables

Photo: Dave Burns

Ongoing training and networking opportunities build momentum for habitat conservation and provide local decision-makers with the skills they need. Trained implementation partners are essential for success.

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Citizen Stewardship

Spotted salamander. Photo: Laura Heady

Citizen science programs are an opportunity to learn about the importance of forests and small wetlands to watershed health, ecosystem services that benefit local communities, and the fragmenting implications of planning decisions on natural systems and wildlife.

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Evaluating Success

outreach_evaluationBetween 2010-2014, at least 27 municipalities in the Hudson Valley that received assistance or attended trainings on biodiversity conservation from the Estuary Program adopted or updated local policies, plans, or procedures contributing to the protection of natural areas. Their actions include completing environmental maps, updating comprehensive plans to include biodiversity conservation principles and recommendations, amending their zoning code, and voting to accept natural resource inventory and open space plans. A Cornell University program evaluation indicates that our outcomes are likely much greater: a survey of more than 200 past participants found that of 73 municipalities took at least one municipal action as a result of Estuary Program assistance. The evaluation also showed that program participants improved their biodiversity and conservation literacy through improved understanding of the principles of conserving biodiversity, factors that contribute to the loss of biodiversity, and its importance to their municipalities, and are now able to identify specific land-use practices to conserve or enhance habitat, and are better able to inform land-use decisions.

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Karen Strong, Conservation and Land Use Program Coordinator

625 Broadway, 5th floor
Albany, NY 12233
(518) 402-8942

Ingrid Haeckel, Conservation and Land Use Specialist

21 South Putt Corners Rd.
New Paltz, NY 12561
(845) 256-3829

Laura Heady, Conservation and Land Use Coordinator

21 South Putt Corners Rd.
New Paltz, NY 12561
(845) 256-3061

Dr. Patrick Sullivan, Chair, Department of Natural Resources

Fernow Hall, Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853
(607) 255-8213

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