Rhinebeck Digs in, Mapping Natural Resources

RHINEBECK – The Town and Village of Rhinebeck have entered into a technical assistance partnership with DEC Hudson River Estuary Program and Cornell Cooperative Extension of Dutchess County for the creation of a Natural Resources Inventory (NRI). The partnership began in March. Data collecting and mapping has been ongoing through the summer, and a completed NRI is anticipated in 2022. By compiling and describing important naturally occurring, historic, cultural, scenic, and recreational resources, the NRI provides the building blocks for comprehensive land-use and conservation planning. The collection of maps, along with its narrative explanation, will be publicly available and the school district will be encouraged to use the NRI as an educational tool. Completion of the NRI will also provide the Town and the Village with action points for NYS Community Smart Certification in the Climate Smart Communities program.

DEC’s Hudson River Estuary Program offers grants to municipalities and non-profits located
within its Estuary Watershed Boundaries. The Town and Village of Rhinebeck are involved in a unique opportunity through the technical assistance partnership to receive technical knowledge and expertise directly from the DEC and mapping resources from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Dutchess County at no cost to the Town or Village. Hyde Park is participating in this partnership as well.

In an effort to provide public outreach during the development of the NRI, conservation and land use specialist Nate Nardi-Cyrus will be giving a brief presentation to the Rhinebeck Town Board during the regular Town Board meeting on September 13th at 6pm. The Village’s Climate Smart Task Force has invited Mr. Nardi-Cyrus to present for the Village Planning Board and Village Zoning Board of Appeals on September 21st. A presentation to the Village Board will be on September 28th. The public is encouraged to attend any of these meetings. Additional information can be found on the Town website under the Rhinebeck Conservation Advisory Board and the Village website under Climate Smart Rhinebeck.

In the era of climate change, it’s critical to understand how our natural and built environments interact—for example, how flooding moves across a landscape or how biodiversity could shift. An NRI is a planning tool, most often used by Conservation Advisory Boards and Planning and Zoning Boards when assessing the impacts of proposed development projects. In essence, it’s a collection of maps illustrating various resources within the community with narrative text explaining what is found on those maps. The content will also be helpful when the Village and Town undertake updates of comprehensive plans and zoning regulations. The completion of the NRI will gain the Village points towards silver certification in the Climate Smart Communities program. The NRI can also be used as a community tool, where residents and the school district can explore this public information and develop a deeper understanding of the various aspects of Rhinebeck’s ecosystem.

The core mission of the Estuary Program is built around the benefits of clean water, resilient communities, vital estuary ecosystems, estuary fish, wildlife and habitats, scenic river landscape, education, river access, recreation and inspiration. The Estuary Program works in close collaboration with many partners from nonprofit organizations to businesses, local governments to state and federal agencies, and interested residents. The Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University creates knowledge and facilitates learning to improve society’s stewardship of the environment and promote a conservation ethos for a sustainable planet.

For more information about the NRI process in Rhinebeck including future meeting dates and presentations, please visit https://www.rhinebeckny.gov/nri-project.html and/or https://www.climatesmartrhinebeck.org/natural-resources-inventory. If you are interested in volunteering for the NRI project, please contact the Town of Rhinebeck Conservation Advisory Board or Village Trustee Vanessa Bertozzi (trusteebertozzi@villageofrhinebeckny.gov).

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