Butterflies may oust canines from select state park space
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A sign in the dog park indicates the presence of Karner Blue Butterflies. (RICK GARGIULO/The Saratogian)
Friday, February 13, 2009 11:33 AM EST
By ANDREW J. BERNSTEIN, The Saratogian
SARATOGA SPRINGS — A proactive approach to resource management in Spa State Park will help create a better habitat for Karner Blue Butterflies, but it might come at some cost to dog owners.
In an effort to better manage natural resources in the park, there will be changes to the landscaping in a parcel on the corner of South Broadway and Crescent Ave, said Alane Ball-Chinian, regional director with the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation .
“Commissioner Ash planned a new emphasis on management of resources that are under the stewardship of the Park’s Department,” she said. “She helped get us some staff, so we now have a natural resources person on staff.”
Following the recommendations of the park’s new staff member, the park will make changes along the parcel’s eastern edge, which is out of view from South Broadway.
New landscaping will involve removing some trees and existing topsoil to provide a better growing environment for Wild Blue Lupin, a butterfly-friendly plant. The topsoil will be used to create berms.
“We’re going to reorient the trail system, so that people can walk through there, but there will be a better delineation between where people can walk and the habitat,” she said. “It’ll almost be like a viewing area.”
The parcel in question is currently the site of a popular dog park, where canines are allowed to wander off-leash.
Chinian said the future of the dog park is being contemplated under the park’s master plan, which will be available for public review and comment some time later this spring.
“Changes in that area have nothing to do with development of the master plan. This is driven by our desire to take care of an endangered species,” she said.
While she declined to discuss any specifics in the master plan, she did say that an area for dogs to walk off-leash would be included.
This should allay the concerns of some dog park users, who worry that there are few places where dogs are allowed to be off-leash.
“We all feel that why can’t we come to the middle of the road here. This area, half of it could be strictly just for butterflies. The dogs that go there and their owners are very responsible, the dogs get along well and are happy to be off leashes,” said Sue Sporko, who visits the park regularly with her two dogs, a golden retriever and an American Eskimo.
“It’s a nice interaction to be able to walk through a part of the woods a little bit. It makes them happier pets and when you socialize them like that, they behave better and don’t bite,” Sporko said.
Saratoga Springs Commissioner of Finance Kenneth Ivins Jr., who also regularly visits the park with his dog and who held a meeting in the spring to discuss the proposed plans for the park, said he hadn’t yet been made privy to any firm plans for the park, other than that some portion would be retained for the butterflies.
“At least it’s a compromise, instead of kicking us out. At least we have an area for dogs,” he said.
Poll question: What do you think of the proposed plans to remake the landscape in Spa State Park to be more habitable to Blue Karner butterflies? To answer, go to www.saratogian.com/news and look for the poll in the left column.
The following are comments from the readers. In no way do they represent the view of saratogian.com.
Suzanne wrote on Feb 13, 2009 8:50 AM:
" I have owned dogs my entire life and not one has eaten or even disturbed a butterfly! Come on - I think the city of Saratoga is ust going too far if they eliminate dogs from the park because of some insect (yes, a buttlefly is still an insect). What is next - elimination of cats if they find a spotted owl? Good luck with that! "
Dog Lover wrote on Feb 13, 2009 9:31 AM:
" I really hope the new area for dogs includes a fence. Otherwise don't even bother. "
Matt wrote on Feb 13, 2009 10:21 AM:
" I support the proactivity of the State Park. I am proud to live in an area that tries hard to balance development, open space and, in this case, endangered species protection.
And in response to Suzanne, the city has nothing to do with this decision. This is state park land, paid for by you an I and given the mandate to protect land, and provide recreation opportunities - not so much to build free dog parks. "
Xtraspatial wrote on Feb 13, 2009 10:58 AM:
" I think the parcel is on the SE corner of Crescent St and South Broadway, not Circular.
Also, Regional Park director's name is Alane Ball Chinian. "
Web editor wrote on Feb 13, 2009 11:34 AM:
" Right you are on both counts, Xtraspatial. They have been corrected above. Thanks for pointing out the errors. "
Bassman wrote on Feb 13, 2009 12:41 PM:
" Sue-zanne: GI Rights, Lake Rights, Dog Rights? It's NYS Land. Go Sue the State. "
Don wrote on Feb 13, 2009 1:38 PM:
" Has there ever been a carner blue butterfly sighting in the last century and a half? All this creature has done is kill many projects due to its alleged existence. "
Muddy Boots wrote on Feb 13, 2009 2:13 PM:
There is an axiom in wildlife biology: "An absence of evidence is not evidence of absence." Your position has been used to downplay the existence of Canada Lynx in Colorado.
Karner Blues have been sighted in the past, their habitat and lifecycle is well-documented, and from this information, there are logical places to protect if we deem such protection a worthwhile proposition (which, apparently, you do not). Karner Blues had a viable population in the Pine Bush that extended for thousands of acres in the mid-Hudson prior to accelerated development without knowledge of consequences.
Perhaps you are right: in our rush to develop the area for our own thneeds, we've probably destroyed all potentially suitable habitat for the Karner Blue butterfly. Who or what is to be lost next? the Bald Eagle (threatend in NYS), the Cougar (endangered in NYS), fresh water, ecosystem services, clean air?
Suzanne, while you are correct that the K B Butterfly is an insect, it plays an important part in the interconnected "web of life" where no species exists in isolation from its community. Too often reductionists ignore the inter-species interactions to the peril of so-called nuisance species. Exterminate the pest and endanger its predator. "
Dale Ordes wrote on Feb 13, 2009 5:15 PM:
" According to Muddy Boots above, lack of evidence is not evidence of lack of existence. I suppose that means that dragons are might still be lurking in Saratoga Park, even though they haven't been seen in quite a while.
Don above questions how many Karner Blues have been seen. Based on my daily observation, the answer is: not many. Someone should make a cost-benefit analysis of tieing up hundreds of acres of public land in the unlikely hope of possibly seeing one or two Karner Blues in a season. In 15 years of dog walking there, I have seen exactly two of the little blue creatures, but I have seen hundreds of happy dogs and their owners, most of whom (the owners) pay taxes, both local and State.
To answer Matt above, this is not a "free" dog park. Almost every dog walker has already paid for it through taxes.
Ever notice how "preservation" of our public lands initially calls for the destruction of those lands? The "improvers" will cut down more trees and scrape off the top soil in order to plant the lupine which the finicky Karner Blue uses as its almost sole source of nutrition. There currently are plowed and scraped fields located in the park left over from previous planting efforts. Nothing grows there.
One critical endangered specie in the Saratoga Springs area is the Tree. With any more "improvement" that cuts down trees, we will have to go to a Tree Museum just to see'um, as Joanie Mitchell once said.
We thankfully have new political administrations at all levels of government. One of the promises of of the new politicians is transparency in governmental operations. Well, actions about the dog park are shrouded in bureaucratic mystery. Open meetings were a joke, with most of the public's input being dismissed out of hand.
This new wave of government is supposed to reflect the will of those who are affected by governmental decisions. I challenge the parks administration to take a poll or have an election concerning use of the park lands in Saratoga Springs and just see what the public feels on this subject. Want to bet that the public prefers dogs to blue bugs?
The eco-fascists who are trying to expel our dogs from public land are quick to tell the rest of us what we should want and how we are supposed to behave. No one ever elected them for that task.
There is some Federal guilt money that underwrites the Karner Blue. The State parks administration wants this money -- public be damned. That little bit of Federal subsidy is not worth excluding the public from its own parks.
We need a true open and honest forum on how these park lands are to be used.
A.Walker wrote on Feb 13, 2009 5:35 PM:
" I agree with the above writer - there is more to this than meets the eye... and it is probably money. The dogs and the butterflies have co- existed for many years and will probably continue to do so if left on their own.
The issue is not have to chose between endangered species or dogs - it is far more political than any of us has been told.
I thought that the State was having a financial crisis - don't they have really important things to do with the money that they do have?
A taxpayer "
Huh wrote on Feb 13, 2009 5:38 PM:
" The fact that they want to cut down trees and start modifying the environment to better suit the butterflies pretty much says it all. What an absolute joke. If the butterflies can't live there as it is then that should be their tough luck. To go and start cutting down trees and splitting the atom for them is about as dumb a plan as I have heard yet. If the place is so unsuitable for them then that might explain why their notable absence. 4 years of going there and zero sightings.
I wonder what Darwin would say about this butterfly. "
Huh wrote on Feb 13, 2009 5:41 PM:
" And what is it about dogs that the butterflies find so offensive? How come they can co-exist with deer, rabbits, chipmunks, squirrels, BIRDS and every other animal in the woods, but the mere sight of a dog sends them to their doom?
Maybe they should be relocated? You could employ a bunch of stoner college students to run around all summer with nets and round them up. "
Jackson wrote on Feb 13, 2009 5:48 PM:
" This should be provided by the City of Saratoga Springs. Plenty of municipalities have this. It is not the state that should provide it. This is land that is nice to walk on, has an endangered species using it and is natural area that is a buffer for the entry into town. If this is a dog park it will probably be fenced in and will look worse than it does now with the lawn torn up. Tell the city that they should build us a dog park not the state. "
Huh wrote on Feb 13, 2009 5:55 PM:
" "Adult Karner blues usually live about 5-7 days"
"Karner blues are small, with a wingspan of about one inch."
"Most Karner blues stay within about 200 meters of their home lupine patch."
So they live a week, have a wingspan of an inch, which explains why people without an electron microscope don't see them and are finicky eaters.
You know what would be a better use of tax payer dollars? NOT WASTING MONEY ON THESE THINGS!
"Most Karner blues stay within about 200 meters of their home lupine patch."
Which means the home they have is where they live. Now they want to cut down a section of the woods and try and create another suitable growing area for the butterflies. What if they don't move there? Nature has a way of being able to identify real from man made.
You know what folks? Given the economic situation we are in I think the butterfly ranks somewhere around dead last for any tax payer dollars, whether it be from state, federal or local sources.
This is so ridiculous. "
z wrote on Feb 13, 2009 6:13 PM:
" Please save our butterflys!!!!!!! "
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