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About the Stewart Buffer Lands

A 7,000-acre natural resource is in imminent danger of privatization. This state-owned land adjacent to Stewart Airport÷west of Drury Lane÷is known as the Stewart Buffer lands. New York State is offering these lands for sale and commercial development. The Stewart Park and Reserve Coalition (SPARC) is working to save these lands as open space.

The Stewart Buffer land was obtained in 1971 from private homeowners and farmers through condemnation under eminent domain proceedings. Approximately 400 homes were leveled.

Precious Resource

Located between Route 207 and I-84 (from Drury Lane west to Maybrook) this is the only public cooperative hunting area in Orange County. For the hiker, birder, bicyclist, horseman or naturalist, the land offers an absolutely unique blend of abandoned farmland and returning wilderness, with some areas still under active cultivation.

In addition to abundant game animals and fish, this open space supports many species of rare and protected wildlife.1 Because the diverse habitat combines wetlands, ponds, streams, hills, woods and fields, this area is a botanical paradise as well.

"Healthy ecosystems cannot survive in patch works of fragmented habitats. Biologists and land-use planners now recognize that in order to conserve a full complement of species and ecosystem functions ... requires thousands÷even tens of thousands÷ of acres."2 Suggestions to compromise by developing portions of the Buffer are just as destructive as developing the entire tract.

If development starts, we may ultimately lose all of this important natural resource. New York State's Open Space Plan contains provisions which if followed would qualify these lands for preservation. Preserving the Stewart Buffer lands would also benefit surrounding residential areas by promoting increased property values, forming a noise and safety buffer, and mitigating airport pollution.

Unfair Competition or Planned Use?

SPARC supports commercial development in Orange County, but not on the Stewart Buffer lands west of Drury Lane. There are also many
privately-owned, commercially-zoned business parks surrounding the Stewart facility with access and utilities in place. Undeveloped land east of Drury Lane and adjacent to the Airport is available for commercialization and was identified in the 1992 FEIS.4 Development of the Stewart Buffer west of Drury Lane could bring serious competition to investment in these surrounding sites.

No Purchase Necessary

The Stewart Buffer is already owned by New York State. It is readily accessible from the New York / New Jersey metropolitan region. The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) states, "The Stewart Co-op is particularly important for it serves a region where rapid urbanization and extensive posting is greatly reducing the amount of land available to the average hunter."

SPARC proposes the 7,000 acres west of Drury Lane be dedicated as a multi-use area. As such it could continue to serve as a public cooperative hunting, fishing and trapping area, and provide hiking, biking, and horseback-riding trails, a rich opportunity for birding, sites for special conservation and study projects, diverse wildlife habitats and active farmland.

Activities on the Buffer Lands

Contact SPARC at sparc@frontiernet.net about the organization.  Send mail to bge@edgeblur.com with questions or comments about this web site.