In 1971, New York State amended the legislation concerning Conservation Advisory Councils (CACs) to include Article 12-F, Section 239-y. This section enables a CAC to become a Conservation Board (CB), thereby strengthening the body’s governing authority. In order to accomplish this, a CAC must prepare an Open Space Inventory and map. This document must be approved by the municipal legislative body as the official Open Space Index of the municipality.
Once approved, the CB must be given the opportunity to review any proposed land use application affecting any open areas listed in the index. Although still an advisory board, this status denotes the support and acceptance of the CB as a valid agency of municipal government. CACs are strongly urged to do the necessary work to become a board.
In local municipalities throughout New York State, CACs and CBs serve as important advisory bodies to town boards, planning boards, and zoning boards of appeals. By providing a scientific perspective on land use proposals, marine conservation law proposals, comprehensive plans, environmental ordinances, open space protection, and biodiversity conservation, CACs and CBs can contribute to the preservation and improvement of the natural environment and quality of life for residents.