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Chatham board hosts Hudsonia expert Gretchen Stevens

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CHATHAM — Gretchen Stevens, a biologist with Hudsonia Ltd. and director of Hudsonia’s Biodiversity Resources Center, will attend the July 7 Town Board meeting to discuss the function of a local conservation advisory council and how it can help a community learn about, manage and protect its natural resources.

The Town Board is sponsoring the illustrated presentation, which begins at 7 p.m. at the Chatham Town Hall, 488 Route 295. The meeting is open to public and organizers urge residents and town officials to attend.

Ms. Stevens will explain the benefits of establishing a conservation advisory council (CAC) of knowledgeable and interested citizens appointed by the board. CACs can, among other things, conduct natural resource, open space and biodiversity inventories, conduct land use research, help review the biodiversity and natural resource impacts of development proposals, identify funding sources for natural resource protection activities, and gather and distribute natural resource information to town boards, land use applicants and the general public.

State law authorizes towns to adopt a local law to establish a CAC. Chatham adopted a CAC enabling law in 1991 but never implemented it. Deirdre Henderson, Chatham’s representative to the county Environmental Management Council, who the July 7 program, said in a press release, “The Columbia County EMC encourages towns that do not yet have CACs to establish them… so I was happy to respond to the Chatham Town Board’s interest in learning more about CACs by arranging for Gretchen to come and speak. She is a leading expert on CACs and on helping towns throughout the Hudson Valley incorporate biological and water resource protections into their planning and their routine deliberations.”

Hudsonia Ltd. is a non-profit, non-advocacy environmental research institute based in Dutchess County and working all over the Hudson Valley and elsewhere in the Northeast. Hudsonia scientists study the plants, animals, and habitats of the region, and provide their findings impartially to those engaged in land use planning, policy-making, environmental reviews, and decision-making. Gretchen Stevens is co-author of the Biodiversity Assessment Manual for the Hudson River Estuary Corridor, published by the state Department of Environmental Conservation in 2001. She is a founding member of the Town of Hillsdale Conservation Advisory Council.

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