In early 2009, several CAC members began a 10 month Hudsonia Biodiversity Assessment Training. Community members from the City of Kingston and the Town of Ulster participated in this ten-month Biodiversity Assessment Training, conducted by Hudsonia Ltd. in partnership with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Estuary Program. The training group examined a 3,200 acre study area straddling the Esopus Creek as it flows through the City of Kingston and Town of Ulster bounded on the west by the foothills of the Catskill Forest Preserve. The eight member group, comprised primarily of representatives from the City of Kingston and the Town of Ulster who serve active roles as Conservation Advisory Council (CAC) members and community planning affiliates developed new skills and expertise that will enable them to practically and collaboratively apply conservation principles and best practices in support of planning initiatives and to meet decision-making responsibilities for their communities.
Through remote sensing using stereoscopic aerial photograph interpretation, soils, geology, wetland and topographic map analysis, and subsequent field verification, a large format map and interpretive report was created which delineates the location and configuration of significant habitats throughout the study area. This report includes a description of each of the habitat types identified and mapped in the study area and their ecological attributes, vulnerabilities and the detrimental impact and consequences that human disturbance may have. The study group identified eighteen different ecologically significant habitats in the study area, including sensitive habitats such as intermittent woodland pools, wet clay meadows, and calcareous crest, ledge, and talus areas, and some of the largest contiguous habitat patches remaining in the City of Kingston. This report also includes associated conservation issues and applicable conservation measures and recommendations.
Conservation priorities identified in the study applicable to the Esopus Valley include establishment of conservation zones for priority habitats, protection of sensitive habitats, maintenance of corridors between sensitive habitats, increase of vegetated buffers along stream banks, reevaluation of zoning regulations as they pertain to land use in the identified floodplains, and review of municipal comprehensive plans as they should relate to biodiversity conservation initiatives.
The habitat map and this report can assist the City of Kingston and the Town of Ulster to identify areas of greatest ecological importance, and establish conservation objectives and policies that will encourage the protection of biodiversity resources and which will concurrently address cultural, social and economic requirements of the respective communities.
This report is currently being finalized. Additional areas of Kingston are also being assessed by Hudsonia to complete the assessment for all of Kingston. This information will then be added to the map for it’s final iteration.