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Colonie turns land over to Albany Pine Bush Commission

Colonie turned over 65 acres to the Albany Pine Bush Commission in the southwest portion of town Thursday, Oct. 11.

Colonie board members rescinded a prior land agreement with the Albany Pine Bush Commission only to pass a new agreement turning over four parcels to the preservation.

Under the agreement, the lands will remain under the ownership of the town of Colonie, but will fall under the control of the commission. In doing so, the lands will become part of the preserve and will undergo continued efforts to conserve the ecologically rare pine barrens and subsequent wildlife.

For our municipal purposes, the town doesn't care if one tree is eradicated and one is protected, said Town Attorney Arnis Zilgme. "We are going to keep title to it and the Pine Bush is going to keep control of it and apply commission rules and regulations."

The four properties at or near the intersection of Kings and Morris roads had been under the control of the town's Highway Department and another parcel, the Latham Water District. The parcels sat there, some waterlogged and others barrens like the properties abutting the parcels already under the control of the commission.

It made legal and financial sense to give control of the lands to the commission to avoid costly or timely state or other requirements of land dedications or sales, said Zilgme.

"It is property that we have always considered protected, but we couldn't do anything with it. We couldn't use prescribed fire or conserve species," said Chris Hawver, Albany Pine Bush Commission executive director.

The agreement shows Colonie's dedication to the Pine Bush, Hawver said. The board's decision was one in a long-standing relationship between the two entities, Hawver added.

The four parcels are a mix of wetland habitat and upland barren that, unlike the inland pine barrens, contains red maple hardwoods. Both habitats will be preserved as they are, said Hawver. And those parcels that fit with existing efforts to conserve pine barren species such as lupine and the endangered Karner blue butterfly will be examined for conservation efforts. For the town, a portion of the protected properties will continue to serve as natural water retention basins, as well as become protected from future development.

The addition brings the Pine Bush's total protected acreage to 3,075 acres.""

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