Comeau stewards honored at Vernal Fling

The Comeau today. (photo by Dion Ogust)

(Photo by Dion Ogust)

Remember all the bad blood that circulated for years around the town’s Comeau property and a variety of visions for its future? Would it be home to a new highway garage, or housing? How much parking was necessary? How much protection was necessary for the Comeau family’s great gift — well, sale — to Woodstock? And what about all the competing uses it was hosting, from kids sports to quiet adult leisure walks. Or the dog poop?

All is usually forgotten, it turns out, as soon as local residents get out and enjoy the site’s scenic 77 acres of woods and fields, wetlands and hidden treasures. And all will most definitely be history this Saturday, May 11, when the Woodstock Land Conservancy hosts a very special Vernal Fling event at the Byrdcliffe Barn to honor the seven members of the Comeau Stewardship Advisory Committee with its annual William R. Ginsberg Stewardship Award, and accolades from a host of the region’s top environmental advocates.

“This our grand welcome to the Catskill Springtime,” noted the WLC’s announcements of its third big Vernal Fling fundraiser, part of an ongoing Vision 2020 strategic plan unveiled last autumn to build on a host of recent fundraising and conservancy successes that were capped with a sizable state stewardship grant announced in the past fortnight.

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“Good stewardship requires information. Good stewardship is active. Good stewardship is practical. Good stewardship is balanced,” read the original presentation that set the Comeau Stewardship Advirsoy Committee into motion a year and a half ago. “This stewardship plan balances protection of the land, preservation of natural areas, and protection of natural resources with responsible use and enjoyment of the property for the benefit of all people in the town.”

The committee being honored — made up of Terry Funk-Antman, Jim Hanson, Richard Heppner, Pat Jackson, Kathy Longyear, Grace Murphy and Jeff Viglielmo — was put in place, through town board action, in October, 2011 as part of the town’s conservation easement set up with the land conservancy to protect approximately 74 of the municipally owned parcel’s 77 acres, in keeping with a voter-approved Comeau Stewardship Management Plan.

In the years since, the committee has not only managed to draw the beloved Comeau out of the realm of public controversy, but keep abreast of its needs…as well as those of the townsfolk who use it.

The Ginsberg stewardship award is given in memory of the late pioneering environmental attorney, and went last year to now-retired Congressman Maurice Hinchey, who will be hosting this year’s Vernal Fling alongside Catskill Mountainkeeper’s Ramsay Adams, Grace and Jerry Wapner, Diane and Garry Kvistad, and Ilene Marder Hinchey.

Reservations for this Saturday’s Vernal Fling celebration  are $65 per person, or $75 at the door. The event starts at 5:30 PM this Saturday, May 11 at the Byrdcliffe Barn. For reservations and further information see ulsterpub.staging.wpenginelandconservancy.org. or call 679-6480.

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