Thursday, July 10, 2014

Down the road and back

It was such a beautiful day today that I was drawn out to take an afternoon walk down nearby Brownell Road.
 I love this road. I don't know how much longer I will love it, but right now, I still think it is a wonderful place.
 A few of our neighbors still have small farms: a few beef cattle, a few horses, some large vegetable gardens.
 Some land lies fallow and it, too, brings forth fruit.
 As I walked, I could hear bullfrogs, see a turtle slip into a quiet pool, hear a steer low.
 On other days, I have seen deer here, foxes, wild turkeys, a coyote slipping across the road like a quick shadow.
 A neighbor once told me that twenty years ago, a farmer had an old beagle that would take afternoon naps in the middle of this road. She guessed that the warm pavement felt good on his old bones.
"No one ever hit him," she told me. "We all knew to watch for him and we drove slowly. He died of old age."
 I don't think that dog would last long today. The Town of Malta is growing so fast. Houses are sprouting up and people zip by, going to and fro to work. They don't hear the frogs, they don't smell the fresh-cut hay.
No one likes change. But I do wonder: can we save some of THIS before it's too late? Can local governments fund programs to purchase the development rights for farms like these?

Saratoga County used to do that, used to have a very successful Farmland and Open Space Fund. It conserved farmland, created trails, and  protected natural areas. 

Money troubles caused them to stop funding the program. But now the county's economic picture has changed. Money isn't so tight this year. I hope the supervisors bring back this program. 

Because once all of this is gone, it won't ever be coming back. And I, for one, will sorely miss it.

I am asking for the support of the Saratoga County Board of Supervisors for a modest investment of $500,000 in the Farmland and Open Space Fund in the county’s 2015 budget. Will you join me? Please call or email your  town supervisor soon. They start putting the budget together in August. Thank you.