The environmental group Save the Pine Bush is celebrating 40 years of advocacy for the 3,200-acre nature preserve in Albany, New York.
Save The Pine Bush was created in February 1978 at an Albany Planning board hearing in the midst of a major snowstorm. The hearing focused on proposed developments at the nature preserve. Among those in attendance was environmental activist and Save The Pine Bush volunteer Rezsin Adams.
“So I got a phone call from friends, I didn’t know they were environmentalists, saying if you got boots put the boots on and get bundled up and you got to come over here to the library so that we have more people because there was no advertising and there was just a few people here at this hearing.”
In the 40 years since that sparsely attended meeting, Adams and other volunteers with Save The Pine Bush say they’ve built an organization that has established environmental legal precedent and a nature preserve with biodiversity spanning continents. Lynne Jackson is among the organization’s 20 volunteers.
“The significance of the Pine Bush itself is it has plants and animals from as far away as the Artic and South Carolina and it has this vast diversity of animal and plant life.”
The efforts of volunteers like Jackson and Adams have not gone unnoticed by the staff of The Albany Pine Bush Preserve. Executive Director Chris Hawver says without Save The Pine Bush, there would be no Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission:
“I mean it’s a dedicated group of volunteers that have spent a lot of their time, and a lot of their own money, to make sure that a preserve was created and a commission was created to oversee that preserve. It’s really their efforts that created the organization that I work for, and have worked for for over 25 years.”
At the celebratory dinner Wednesday, being held at Westminster Church in downtown Albany, retired attorney Steve Downs will give a presentation on the group’s legal victories.
“What I think that Save The Pine Bush did brilliantly was to harness the legal tools that were available in order to put the science into effect.”
Downs says one of Save The Pine Bush’s most important actions has been protecting the Karner Blue Butterfly. One of the cases Downs will be discussing is creating legal standing to save endangered species:
“What is the right of a, of any kind of public interest organization to speak for a butterfly, particularly when it is on private land? You go into private land and say oh there is a rare and endangered butterfly on a lupine right in your backyard, I have to take charge of that, I have to speak for that butterfly.”
Downs says his presentation is meant to inspire environmental activism and in turn educate the public about the importance of The Pine Bush.
“I was really touched to see for example in New Hampshire they used to have Karner Blue Butterflies up in New Hampshire, and they kind of looked over at what Save the Pine Bush was doing and they said, “Wow, we used to have Karner Blue Butterflies and we have lost them and we want them, that’s really neat what they are doing down there. The same sort of thing happened up in Wilton, in Northern Saratoga, where they have now created a preserve to save the Karner Blue Butterflies. But, it was all because of that political energy that started from Save The Pine Bush which is kind of radiating out to other communities saying, ‘See you can do this too.”