Open Space Planning

Open Space Banner
Open space planning has been actively discussed in Bethlehem for over a decade. It was identified as a goal in the 2005 Comprehensive Plan, and has been raised in Town Board discussions and by a number of advisory committees.  Due to interest in the community to learn more about open space planning we are providing links to the recent Town Board discussions and related documents. This page will be updated as further information becomes available.

Draft Open Space Conservation Values Maps – join in the discussion through the summer and fall!

At the June 14th Town Board meeting, a series of four Draft Open Space Conservation Values Maps were presented to kick off a public comment and discussion period through this summer and fall.  These maps will ultimately be analyzed to identify key open spaces in the community and to develop a composite open space conservation priority map and an open space plan (to be finalized late fall of 2017).  Take a look at the draft maps linked below and join in the open space discussion!  These maps will be displayed through the month of July at the Bethlehem Library, where there will be a comment box available.  Also, see Public Participation Dates section below for more ways to become involved.

Questions or comments about the Draft Open Space Conservation Values Maps?

  Please email us at:

See the presentation to the Town Board on June 14, 2017 to learn more about how these maps will inform the planning process.
Draft Community Character Value Map

Scenic Bethlehem Photo Survey:  Get out your cameras!

Find promotional flyer here – print, email, and share with friends!

View a map of Bethlehem’s Open and Natural Spaces (map is large – you can zoom in to see streets, paths, etc.) You can find your favorite open spaces on the map to plan your photography outing.

The Town of Bethlehem invites residents to get out their cameras and photograph Bethlehem’s natural scenic beauty this spring and summer! Bethlehem is working on identifying scenic views and natural open spaces that are important to the character of our town.  People have different ideas about which scenic views and open spaces are important to them, so we want to hear (and see!) from as many residents as possible.  The photo survey is part of an ongoing effort to identify the town’s open space resources and to adopt an open space plan that could be used as one tool to help protect the town’s community character, natural resources and open space. Thank you for participating!

  • Email your digital photos of scenic views and natural open spaces by July 28th to
  • In the subject line, write: Scenic Bethlehem Photo Survey
  • In the body of the email, please provide:
    1. Your name, address and telephone number;
    2. Location or cross-streets where the photo was taken, and;
    3. A brief explanation of why this photo shows something important to you.

Ideas for photos might include: a scenic road your family loves to bike on, a forested area that you drive by on your way to work, an open field that is blanketed with summer wildflowers, a meandering local stream, or a farm field that is dotted with grazing cattle – it’s up to you!

When taking your photos, please be safe and be aware of any traffic around you.  Also, please respect private property – do not enter property if you are unsure of whether it is open to the public; take photos from a public road, sidewalk or path. Note: by emailing your photos to the survey, you give the Town of Bethlehem permission to use and display photos digitally or in print form, without credit, for planning and public education purposes.  Thank you!

Selected photos may be displayed at town meetings, in public places, and on the town’s Facebook page (be sure to “Like” Bethlehem’s page at to see featured photos)!

Public Participation Dates for open space planning – we are looking for your input!

  • June 14th Town Board meeting (6:00 PM at Town Hall), a series of draft open space values maps will be presented to initiate a public comment period over the summer and fall.  After the presentation, these maps will also be available on this webpage for your review and comment.
  • July 1st – 31st at the Bethlehem Public Library

    The draft open space values maps will also be displayed for comment all month.
  • July (date TBD) Town Board meeting

    Join us for a presentation of “Bethlehem’s Natural Areas and Wildlife” given by staff at the Hudson River Estuary Program.
  • August 5th at the Delmar Farmers Market

    - Visit us at the market’s community table, where town staff will have draft open space values maps available for comment and discussion.
  • September and October (dates TBD

    : In the early fall, the town looks forward to active participation in two public workshops to be held in September and in October, where revised open space values maps will be used to develop the town’s open space plan.

Hudson Kayak Eco-tour -  Thursday, August 10th at 6:00 PM


Did you know that the entire eastern edge of Bethlehem is bordered by the great Hudson River?  Nature along the Hudson in Bethlehem can be grand (like bald eagles), subtle (like umber shadowdragon dragonflies), and crazy (like fish that can climb waterfalls). Join Bethlehem Town Board member and ecologist, David VanLuven, for an easy Hudson River Kayak Eco-tour of the river and its tributary, the Vlomankill, to learn about local fish, birds, the watershed, and even see a small waterfall. Participants MUST bring their own kayaks and gear, including personal flotation device, and be proficient paddlers, paddling at their own risk. David will provide the ecological info, but is not a boating instructor.

Registration is limited. Please register by August 1st by emailing, including your name, phone number, and confirmation that you have your own kayak, paddle, and personal floatation device. This event is free and open to the public! Call Karen Shaw at 518-439-4955 x 1106 with any questions.  See you on the Hudson River!  Click here for the kayak program flyer.

Recent Town documents regarding open space planning

Conservation Easement Exemption Program for Bethlehem Landowners with 5 or more acres of open space

  • The Conservation Easement Exemption Program, overseen by the 5 member Conservation Easement Review Board, is intended to conserve open space lands, help maintain the character of the Town, and provide financial incentives and assistance to those landowners willing to forego development and maintain open space. Property owners with five (5) or more acres of land who commit to conserving their land as open space for a minimum of 15 years (and up to perpetuity) can receive an exemption on their property assessment resulting in a reduction in property taxes corresponding to the length of their conservation commitment.  Landowner applications for the program are accepted on a rolling basis; if you own 5 or more acres in town, please consider applying.  The Planning Department is happy to answer any questions you may have (518-439-4955 x 1157).

Earlier Town documents and efforts

Examples of Open Space Plans

How can I enjoy Bethlehem’s open spaces and get involved?