Wednesday, March 19, 2008
By Carol W. LaGrasse, President, Property Rights Foundation of America
The Hudson River Valley is the object of a number of state and national preservation efforts that would limit the economic future of this historic commercial corridor of New York State. These well-funded efforts are beginning to have a significant impact in restricting the future of the communities along the Hudson River: The local communities should hold unto all existing and economic activity along the river, such as the Hudson Correctional Facility, in the face of the increasingly hostile climate related to practical use of land in the river valley.
The most powerful of the preservation efforts is the New York State Hudson River Greenway, which aggressively promotes preservation zoning at the local level. The Greenway ties in with land trust and government preservation-oriented land acquisition along the river, while the state environmental department obstructs property owners along the river by imposing regulations to protect wildlife habitats and the like.
Equally hostile to classical commercial activity is the lavishly funded National Park Service Hudson River Valley National Heritage Corridor, which was established by Congress to manage land use in all the counties adjacent to the river for preservation of nature and scenic beauty. An administratively established Hudson River American Heritage River federal designation geared to the entire watershed reinforces the goals for the National Heritage Corridor.
Working parallel with these greenway designations is the development of public shoreline hiking trails that interfere with residential and commercial uses.
As these preservation forces combine, they are in the process of greatly stymieing land use along the Hudson. This preservation philosophy is in diametric opposition to the historic viewpoints about the Hudson Valley and the nearby countryside, where shipping, industry, and farming prospered.
On the other hand, the Hudson Correctional Facility is a stronghold of societal and economic use of the land along the shore of the river. The prison provides important employment for many residents in the vicinity of the city of Hudson, while providing a setting along the magnificent river that promotes the health and restoration of the people incarcerated there.
It is important that the current use of the Hudson River shore by the correctional facility be maintained. This bastion of economic and societal land use in the city of Hudson is also a bulwark against the preservationist pressures with which the local communities along the Hudson River are increasingly faced.