Today, there are only scattered patches of old growth forests in New York (indeed, in the entire northeast) that were never touched by human hands. It is important these resources are protected, but it is equally vital we build the spirit of preserving nature into our everyday lives. Nature need not be a special interest, it is something that can become commonplace with a little forethought.
We reported recently in our Saratoga County edition on the Meadow Vista housing development outside of Saratoga Springs. Besides being home to 21 domiciles, this area contains a public preserve of forestland with walking trails. When we spoke to planners from the city and developer Charlew Builders, we were told this project is quite outside the norm because as a conservation subdivision, few builders are willing to go to the trouble or give up potential revenues to incorporate true open spaces into their designs.
That is quite understandable, but what is also clear is developers don’t need to take an all-or-nothing approach to their projects. They should be encouraged by municipal planning boards to incorporate natural features into their endeavors, or at the very least create green space beyond islands of grass in a parking lot (these do count towards a project’s open space percentage, believe it or not). And beyond being encouraged, they should be rewarded for taking such measures.
If we are unable to reconcile our desire for newer things — new homes, new places to shop, new places to park — with the world that surrounds us, a poor showing for leaf colors will be the least of our worries.