By Melissa Hale-Spencer
The Enterprise — Melissa Hale-Spencer
Banded: Neil Gifford, conservation director for the Pine Bush Preserve, gently holds a robin in his left hand as he attaches a band to its leg. The robin was caught Tuesday morning on land the preserve is reclaiming. Data on the robin was recorded and will become part of a record of re-emerging life on the reclaimed land.GUILDERLAND — A mountain of garbage formed the backdrop Tuesday as clusters of eager students learned how to gauge life returning to a once-barren sandy plain. The land is being reclaimed by the Albany Pine Bush Preserve.
Farnsworth Middle School students, taught by Alan Fiero, who for 15 years has developed hands-on science projects in the Pine Bush, are in the vanguard
“It’s a pilot project. We hope to do it with other groups,” said Sara Poggi, an environmental educator. “The data will be useful for us.”
As the state legislature over the years has allowed the expansion of the Albany landfill, used by many local municipalities, the plan has been to eventually cap the filled sections and return the land to a state similar to the adjoining Pine Bush.
Fiero’s students, over the course of the next few years, will help answer that question.
Working with the preserve commission, Fiero secured a $5,000 grant from the Bender Scientific Fund that paid for research equipment, including binoculars, books for identifying wildlife, tools to capture invertebrates, and chemicals to analyze water.
In an era when, Fiero noted, “Grants are drying up,” he’s pleased to have the equipment and hopes to continue the monitoring in future years when most of the remaining cost will be for transportation. On Tuesday, a school bus took the class to the reclaimed land, off of Washington Avenue Extension, wending its way down a long, sandy road.
Whether the capped dumping grounds can be restored remains to be seen, Fiero said. “It will be the biggest dune in the area,” he noted.
Fiero’s four classes of seventh-graders will return three or four times a year to work with preserve staff in monitoring the returning birds and aquatic life as well as literally testing the waters and capturing photographic images of the evolving terrain.
Read more: A bird in the hand helps gauge reclaimed Pine Bush
Published on Friday, 17 May 2013 20:17
By Jordan J. Michael
– Photo by Bill Ziskin
Happy to be here: Saying that he was “put on this Earth to play football,” Guilderland native Drew Smith has completed his goal of making it to the National Football League, signing with the Buffalo Bills as a free agent after not being drafted. Smith is 6 feet, 2 inches and 225 pounds, and rushed for 40 touchdowns with the University of Albany.Drew Smith’s dream of becoming a National Football League player came true when he signed a three-year contract with the Buffalo Bills this month, but his new vision is to actually line up on the field when the Bills start the 2013 season.
The 2008 Guilderland High School graduate arrived in Buffalo last Thursday for rookie mini-camp. He gained 3,196 rushing yards and scored 45 touchdowns for the University at Albany, but he doesn’t know how much those college numbers matter now that he’s sharing a locker room with the likes of C.J. Spiller, Mario Williams, and Fred Jackson.
In the NFL, everyone is awesome, and for good reason.
“The speed of the game is so much faster,” Smith said this week after starting Organized Team Activities with the Bills on Monday. “Everyone is so fast. You can’t ever hesitate.”
Read more: Drew Smith makes it A hometown rookie among NFL ‘cool cats’
Published on Friday, 10 May 2013 19:58
By Tyler Murphy
The Enterprise — Tyler Murphy
Homes instead of corn may soon fill this field near the intersection of Picard Road and Route 85A. A proposal to build 12 homes over 31.4 acres is pending after residents convinced the New Scotland Planning Board during a Tuesday hearing to delay a decision over water drainage concerns.NEW SCOTLAND — After listening to residents at a public hearing Tuesday, the planning board delayed a decision to approve a project that would add 12 new homes to the intersection of Picard Road and Route 85A.
Though much of the meeting was conducted calmly there was a moment of outburst in the hour-and-a-half-long hearing, which forced planning board Chairman Charles Voss to interrupt an argument between a board member and resident, saying, “Hang on a second, folks. My sense is the board is not going to take action tonight and leave the hearing up for one more month.”
It was the first indication at the hearing the board would delay a decision in the application, submitted by MJ Biernacki Builders, which requests a major subdivision of 31.4 acres of rural land, mostly cornfields and woodland, into 12 home lots.
More than 40 residents filled the town hall’s meeting room, with many standing or having children sit on their laps because all the seats were full.
The project would not construct any new roads and each house will have its own septic system. Five of the proposed homes along Route 85A would receive municipal water from the village of Voorheesville and the rest would dig wells.
Read more: Yellow light: Will big houses sprout in cornfield?
Published on Friday, 10 May 2013 20:06
By Marcello Iaia
The Enterprise — Marcello Iaia
Going forward: William Bichteman, a Westerlo Town Board member, addresses the gallery during the May 7 meeting. Board member Alfred Field, right, chaired the committee that produced a report now being reviewed by the town board on the gas-drilling process of hydraulic fracturing. Residents asked when the public would be able to review and comment on the report. Field said the 151-page report would be available after the board accepts it. “If you’re going to have a referendum, you have to define it. That part is the public hearing,” Bichteman said. “The public is not going to edit that document.”WESTERLO — As the state continues to delay approval of regulations for hydraulic fracturing, an Appellate Division court decision earlier this month has said town bans on hydrofracking are not pre-empted by state law.
A year after the Westerlo discussed a committee to research the process of extracting natural gas, town board members Tuesday had a report in their hands meant to be a reference for the town’s stance on the issue.
Against this backdrop, the Westerlo board, which, like other Helderberg Hilltowns, is located over Marcellus shale, had a meeting Tuesday with second guesses from the gallery.
Gerard Boone, a member of the planning board and Gas Drilling Investigation Committee, said at the town board meeting Tuesday he didn’t think the committee was run properly and three members never saw the final report.
“No, not after it was all, shall we say, organized, but, all the information, everybody saw,” said Alfred Field, a town board member.
Read more: Westerlo drills for views on fracking