Updates to Environmental Resource Inventory Are Presented at General Information Session
By Anne Levin
At a February 22 meeting of the Princeton Environmental Commission, details of the town’s Environmental Resource Inventory (ERI), which is currently being updated, were presented to the public.
The general information session was designed to encourage feedback from the public.
While only a few people offered comments at the end of the session, Princeton’s Open Space Manager Cindy Taylor said anyone who has suggestions, special knowledge, or data they want to contribute can do so by emailing her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
“We want to know if anyone has a specific question about Princeton’s environmental resources,” she said. “We don’t want to overlook something that is important, or perhaps specific to Princeton.”
An ERI is a compilation of texts, tables, and maps detailing natural characteristics and environmentally significant features of a municipality. The document acts as a baseline for measuring and evaluating resource protection issues, and a tool for decision-making by the
municipality. The standard for updating an ERI is once every 10 years. Princeton’s last ERI was in 2010.
The new document, which will not replace the 2010 ERI but augment it, will ultimately be adopted into the town’s master plan and used to make land use decisions. The recommendations are not binding, Taylor said. “Most of what this will give us is information-gathering and analysis.”
Ryan Gibson of the ecological restoration company Ecotone displayed the new recreation and open space map that has been created, noting that it is fluid and will be updated as more properties are acquired for open space. Included on the map are areas designated as municipal or state parks, areas restricted from some development, properties protected by Green Acres regulations, and land that is owned by nonprofits such as D&R Greenway Land Trust, The Watershed Institute, and Friends of Princeton Open Space.
Not included are private golf courses with no environmental restrictions, playgrounds, or natural open space areas without any environmental restrictions. About 3,202 acres are designated for recreation and open space in Princeton, Gibson said. About 40 percent is owned by the municipality and 40 percent is owned privately.
The collection of data has changed and improved since the last ERI was done. Newer technologies and tools are being used. “But there may be some we don’t have time for, which is why we want some feedback tonight,” said Gibson. “We’re only as good as our data allows us to be. Good data is good analysis.”
Data on land use, soil mapping, invasive species, climate, and environmental justice is to be collected. An inventory of bike paths, sidewalks, and public parking will also be done, pointing out specific areas of habitat connectivity and analyzing “greenspace deserts,” which Gibson said are not within a half-mile of open space.
Erica Mosner, a resident of Princeton Community Village, a mix of moderate- and low-income housing, commented that she hopes that area does not get overlooked in the ERI. “Many people who live here are very conscious of these sorts of issues,” she said. “We do have issues with our trees and shrubs. And we’d be happy to help in any way.”
For further information about the ERI and a recording of the meeting, visit princetonnj.gov and click on the link for the Environmental Commission.