Published on October 30th, 2013 | by growwny


WNYEA Habitat & Nature Working Group October Meeting Recap


In November of 2012, the Western New York Environmental Alliance (WNYEA) presented its 2013 Action Agenda. The agenda contains 10 planks from 7 of the Alliance’s Working Groups, all dealing with environmental issues impacting the Western New York Region. To learn more about the Action Agenda items of the WNYEA and their progress, get involved in the Alliance through the Working/Process Group Meetings, signing up for a listserv, or visiting the WNYEA section on GrowWNY. Or continue reading to learn about the latest Habitat and Natural Resources Working Group meeting.

To view this meeting’s full agenda, please click here.

On October 10th, 2013, the Habitat and Natural Resources Working Group held their regularly scheduled meeting. The key focuses of this meeting were:

  • Proposal for the WNYEA to support a ban on Fracking.
  • County Parks and County Forests.
  • Issue of a PVC plant being built on the outer harbor waterfront.

The meeting began with a conversation regarding the Habitat Group’s plank proposal for the WNYEA to support a ban on fracking. For the most part, most of the feedback from other organizations has been positive and in favor of supporting a ban.

However, there is concern over the fact that there was a relatively small amount of feedback on any of the planks coming from all of the working groups, considering there are over 90 organizations in the WNYEA.  It was noted that the Habitat Groups plank received the most feedback with the total of 5 of 6 letters to the WNYEA on the Planks reflecting 4 in favor of the Habitat Plank, and one against.

A point was made that even if the WNYEA supports the ban on fracking, it doesn’t mean that every member organization has to be in favor.

Margaret Wooster shifted the focus over to the current land use within county parks and forests. County representatives and Buffalo – Niagara Riverkeeper have continued to meet but the any progress has yet to be reported.

Recently, there have been professionals from Applied Ecological Services (AES) working in the field to determine the state of county parks/forests and what sites are up to par. So far, they have analyzed around 6 county forests along with several others that have yet to be evaluated. At the end of the project, the hope is that a final report will be generated that encompasses important ecological information for the various sites. With this information, they want to propose managing the county forests for ecological purposes. Focusing on protecting large forests, expanding small forests and improving the connectivity of separated forests.

Larry Beahan suggested that forestry specialists also be hired to further study the county parks/forests. This way a more complete picture on their well-being, and how to protect them, could be painted. After the study, the Habitat group discussed the possibility of partnering on grant opportunities to help protect the various environments. The WNYEA (habitat working group) could help set up a meeting with county officials to further discuss the results of the study and how to advance the proposal.

As the focus shifted to ideas for what action agenda items to pursue in 2014, Work Group Chair Jay Burney suggested creating an annual “State of the Environment” type “White Paper” similar to the groups “Biodiverstiy and Climate Change” white paper from last winter. This white paper could be used as a wide ranging baseline tool to both inform and communicate with the wider community, inside and outside the WNYEA, and provide a benchmark that could be used in coming years to measure progress or lack thereof on issues identified.

The discussion turned to new development on the Buffalo outer harbor, the potential that a Toronto firm, Gracious Living is going to create PVC based products, and that there has been a lack of SEQRA based evaluations of the impact of this business on the environment of our region. Burney discussed potential legal strategies to engage the SEQRA process, but said that basic understanding of SEQRA and support from any and all organizations regarding this issue is lacking.

Larry Beahan said that he had recently seen a film at the Buffalo International Film Festival “Comfort Zone” that focused on local (Rochester/Buffalo) Climate change issues and that the creators are very eager to show it. Burney suggested that this work group would support getting more info out about that film.

Do you have feedback or suggestions for this group? Tell us in the comment section below, or join the working group listserv to receive information and attend upcoming meetings at the Community Foundation for Greater Buffalo, at the Larkin at Exchange, Suite 525, 726 Exchange St., Buffalo, NY 14210.

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