Today is #NationalWildlifeDay. It is an opportunity to learn more about preservation and conservation efforts around the world. Our community and region remains an ecologically vital area with high plant and wildlife diversity across a landscape that ranges from the extensive hardwood and boreal forests to the grasslands and agricultural habitats.
Our region is part of the Upper Hudson Basin which reaches from the Adirondacks to below the Catskills. In our basin region, the predominant habitat type is forest (about 70%), including deciduous, coniferous, and mixed forest habitats. Anthropogenic uses dominate about 25% of the Basin which includes residential and commercial/industrial development (5%), agriculture (row crops 7%, pasture, hay land 10.7%), lawns and golf courses (0.7%), and barren areas (quarries, strip mines, gravel pits 0.1%). The remaining land cover (5%) is classified as emergent wetlands, wooded wetlands, and open water. These habitats accommodate 158 Species of Greatest Conservation Need. This is about 1/3 of the 537 species designated as SGCN in New York State and includes 52 bird species, 51 insect species, 27 amphibian and reptile species, 11 marine fish species, 7 mammal species, 5 mollusk species, 4 freshwater fish species, and 1 species of crustacean. There are 53 species that historically occurred in the Basin, but are now believed to be extirpated.
Farms and farmland remain cornerstones of our community, linking the past to the future through a landscape of fields and pastures, stone walls and weathered barns shaped by generations of hard-working farm families. This landscape, cherished by so many, is often taken for granted.
America’s vision of itself as a unique country is rooted in the Hudson River basin.The wild mountains and forests were in sharp contrast to the tamed European countryside. The paintings of Samuel Morse (1791–1872), Thomas Doherty (1793–1856), Thomas Cole (1801–1848), Frederic Church (1826–1900), and Albert Bierstadt (1830–1900), as well as the writings of Washington Irving (1783 –1859) documented and shaped American attitudes toward nature.
Their portrayals of people living in harmony with nature, a view also reflected in the valley’s legends and folklore, helped mold a national identity and American aesthetic ideal.
Architecture and landscape design reflected this vision, and it is still visible today in the gardens, barns,Victorian era homes, and the great estates.
Asher Durand (1796–1886),Thomas Cole (1801–1848), Jasper Cropsey (1823–1900),Frederic Church (1826–1900),andAlbert Bierstadt (1830–1900),as well as the writings of Washington Irving (1783 –1859) documented and shaped American attitudes toward nature.Their portrayals of people living in harmony with nature, a view also reflected in the valley’s legends and folklore, helped mold a national identity and American aesthetic ideal.
It is this landscape that helps define this community. That is why studying the people of Saratoga is integral to a good understanding of the condition of being American.