Friday, April 24, 2009

Our neighbors at Saratoga Tree Nursery need our support.

The Saratoga Tree Nursery is being targeted for closure by the Department of Environmental Conservation in order to meet mandated budget and personnel cuts as set by Governor Paterson. This decision to close the Nursery is not set in stone, but is a grave possibility if a consensus is not reached between the Governor and the Unions regarding a raise freeze and the enactment of a proposed one week lag pay for the state work force.

The Saratoga Tree Nursery Program was started in 1902. The State Nursery in Saratoga began in 1911. The Nursery Program survived the Great Depression, and created many jobs for Civilian Conservation Corps men and women in the 30's who were instrumental in re- planting the barren areas in New York with seedlings grown at NY State operated nurseries.

At one time NY had as many as 9 state operated nurseries. All nursery operations were consolidated to Saratoga in 1972.

Today the Saratoga Tree Nursery produces and supplies over 1.2 million seedlings a year to New York residents at cost for various conservation plantings such as soil erosion control, wildlife habitat improvement, and the creation of riparian buffer zones. The Nursery produces NY seed source seedlings from seed collected by its staff from orchards they maintain throughout NY. The seedlings produced at Saratoga preserves the qualities of New York natives which have shown superb characteristics.

The Tree Nursery also supplies over 32,000 seedlings to NY state schools through the "School Seedling Program". This program is open to all NY public and private schools and offers 50 free seedlings to each school that applies to be used within their curriculum. Tree awareness and respect for our environment needs to start with NY's youth

If the State Tree Nursery closes the cost of the many ongoing conservation projects in NY will increase significantly. Many would no longer be cost effective to pursue. Those projects which continue will not have the benefit of using local NY seed source material. The integrity of NY's forests could be at stake. The State Nursery also gives away tens of thousands of seedlings to NY residents during special events (Arbor Day, fairs, Environmental events) in order to promote tree planting and preservation. The Saratoga Nursery also produces 40,000 flowers a year for use at DEC campgrounds and facilities. The Nursery also supplies seedlings used to replant state land and for other special projects throughout NY.

If you agree that the NYS DEC Saratoga Tree Nursery is still a vital part of the preservation of the New York State environment please contact your local state legislative representatives, Commissioner Grannis of DEC, and even the Governor's Office and tell them NY still needs its Nursery and that the vital role it plays can not be replaced.

Thank you for your support,

Friends of Saratoga Tree nursery


Anonymous said...

Who are the "Friends of Saratoga Tree nursery" ? and what is their contact info ?

Anonymous said...

Friends of Saratoga Tree Nursery is just the name chosen to use inorder to alert the viewers of this website of the proposed closure of the last remaining State operated tree nursery. The State Nursery has been part of the Saratoga Community since 1911. It is hoped that this closure is not set in stone and that individual letters of support to those mentioned may encourage DEC to distribute the needed cuts more evenly and not wipe out a whole program which is not regulatory but provides a beneficial service to NY residents.

George said...


Thacher 'sprayground' is empty promise

First published in print: Thursday, April 30, 2009

It's going to be another summer without swimming of any kind at John Boyd Thacher State Park in New Scotland. For the third season in a row, the former swimming pool, which over the years has attracted thousands of people who have used it as a cheap way to beat the heat, will remain closed.

No families trekking up for a picnic and a swim. No CDTA busloads of kids from the city of Albany's youth programs for a day to escape city heat.

Eileen Larrabee, a spokeswoman from the state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, said the project isn't dead, it just isn't moving. "Unfortunately, there is no timeline," she said.

It turns out that what has happened with the pool at Thacher Park is just one tiny illustration of a much more vast problem: New York's state parks, all 178 of them, are in bad need of repair after years of neglect. There is a list, Larrabee said, of capital improvements and repairs totalling about $650 million.

Why such a long list?

There are electrical systems, including lighting, that need to be fixed all over the state. There are grassy parking areas that need to be mowed because they have become fire hazards, Larrabee said.

Last year, her agency got a start, spending about $70 million toward needed improvements.

But, we all know what happened next.

With the economy in a major recession and the state budget with gaping holes to close, that money just isn't there. In fact, the Parks agency had its budget cut by about 15 percent, to $175 million, over the last two years.

Which means, in the grand scheme of things, there are larger and more numerous problems for the agency than what to do about one swimming pool at one state park.

But I think this needs to be higher on the list of priorities, and I'll tell you why.

In 2007, Albany Mayor Jerry Jennings, state parks commissioner Carol Ash, and others gathered at Thacher and announced $7 million in upgrades, including a bigger recreation area and a "sprayground." The plan was to replace the existing swimming pool with a concrete play area with 40 features that spray water at kids looking for summer fun. One might argue that a "sprayground" doesn't have the same appeal as a pool, but it's certainly better than nothing.

"Generations of Capital Region families have headed up to John Boyd Thacher to escape the summer heat, relax with friends and family, and take in the stunning vistas," Ash said at the time.

"A revitalized park with a new sprayground and great new play area will ensure that Thacher State Park remains a family-friendly destination and important part of the community for years to come."

And just because the swimming area won't be open this year doesn't mean Thacher is being neglected. The Parks Commission plans on spending $550,000 this year at Thacher to improve the drinking water system.

While that's certainly important, I think we need to be reminded that a public swimming pool — or, yes, even a "sprayground" — in good repair is a symbol of optimism. A perpetually closed pool looks like decay. And when a pool or water park is up and running it's a small, visible luxury on a hot day that shows taxpayers with no swimming pools of their own, that they're getting some return on their tax dollars, too.