News item: 071
Advocacy For Protection of Queensbury's Big Cedar Swamp
By John Caffry
The Big Cedar Swamp is a 900+ acre Class I wetland located in the Town of Queensbury, between Quaker Road and the Warren County Airport, which is home to a diverse wildlife population, including several "Species of Special Concern", a large, well-preserved, northern white cedar swamp, and a globally rare marl fen, which is one of less than ten such habitats in the world. It is listed as a "Regional Priority Conservation Project" in the New York State Open Space Conservation Plan.
The Chapter has worked since the early 1980s to preserve the wetland's natural resources and protect it from development. Together with the Southern Adirondack Audubon Society and other members of the Big Cedar Swamp Coalition, the Chapter participated in the DEC hearing process for a proposed peat mine, and sued the Town of Queensbury after it approved the Earltown Planned Unit Development, which would have drained the wetland to build golf courses and condos. After those projects failed to gain DEC approval, and Warren County took ownership of most of the wetland through a tax sale, the Coalition continued to monitor development proposals in and around it, and assisted Saratoga PLAN, a regional land trust, in permanently protecting a 10 acre wetland parcel on Quaker Road.
The most recent threat to the wetland comes from the County's proposed extension of a runway at the airport, which could destroy many acres of wetlands, depending on what the final plan turns out to be. In response to that threat, the Town of Queensbury recently proposed designating the 1.0 acre marl fen, which is in or near the path of the proposed runway extension, to be a Critical Environmental Area (CEA). This designation will help to ensure that any development proposal that may impact the marl fen receives a thorough environmental review.
The Big Cedar Swamp Coalition's attorney filed a letter in support of the CEA designation and appeared at the Town Board's public hearing to speak in support of the action, as did several unaffiliated Queensbury residents. The Board then voted unanimously to approve the CEA designation. The Coalition also urged the Town to designate the entire Big Cedar Swamp as a CEA, develop a management plan to protect the wetland, and work with the County to enhance the marl fen habitat on its property. The Coalition will continue to monitor the County's plans, as well as any other development proposals that may adversely affect the Big Cedar Swamp.