2021 Environment Feature Local government Parks

Natural Resources Inventory: Taking Stock of What We’ve Got

By Jim Striebich

Another long-time goal of Peekskill’s Conservation Advisory Council appears poised to come to fruition in 2021. Over the holidays, the CAC received word that the Hudson River Valley Greenway Association had awarded a $10,000 grant to complete Peekskill’s Natural Resources Inventory, or NRI.

A Natural Resources Inventory is a comprehensive group of documents that record nearly every natural element and condition in a given place. It basically memorializes and documents everything from the physical geography, to watershed conditions, plant and animal life, soil and subsurface geology, topography and even the natural history of a place. 

It gathers loads of existing documents into one central repository, does some fact-checking, and finally wraps it all up with a well-written overlay to tie it all together. Creating a detailed NRI is one of the few very specific missions mandated by Chapter 24 of Peekskill’s Municipal Code, which creates and defines our Conservation Advisory Council:

D. To keep an inventory and map, as defined in S 239-y of Article 12-F of the General Municipal Law, of all open areas within the City of Peekskill with the plan of obtaining information pertinent to proper utilization of schedule open lands, including lands owned by the state, any other municipality within the state or by the City of Peekskill itself.

E. To keep an inventory and map of all open marshlands, swamps and all other wetlands in a like manner, and it may recommend to the Common Council a program for ecologically suitable utilization of all such areas. 

A detailed NRI is a wealth of important information for residents, developers, and conservationists. It is considered critical in land use planning, evaluating and updating zoning regulations, and helping a community prioritize the resources it considers essential to its identity and that deserve special preservation efforts. It also puts a stake in the ground for understanding the current natural conditions of Peekskill at this moment, creating an important baseline for measuring the impact future changes, be it from climate change, urban development, or (hopefully) the improving health of our natural environment thanks to the work of everyday citizens…and folks like the Conservation Advisory Council.

Peekskill’s NRI moved one step closer to reality on January 11th, when the Common Council voted to approve issuing a request for proposal (RFP) to hire a consultant to complete the inventory in 2021. Once they’ve received bids on the RFP, the CAC will choose a consultant who will gather all the information about the natural character of Peekskill, write the text to accompany maps, do a “ground proof” (actually walk around the city and fact-check what’s in the NRI), and finally assemble it into one well-designed document.

Our Natural Resources Inventory has been in the works since at least 2019, and some of the work of organizing it has already been completed. It’s worth taking a spin through the in-progress Peekskill NRI website to see many of the elements that will ultimately make up the completed inventory. To get a sense of what our finished NRI might look like, several other Hudson River Valley Greenway communities have posted their completed inventories online, including Cornwall, NY, and this gorgeous brochure from Hudson, NY (pdf).

Lead photo by Andrew Barthelmes

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