OLC Blog

Monday, July 11, 2016

Restoring The Butterfly Meadow at the Slocum-Mostachetti Preserve in Wingdale

A few cooler days and a break in the weather opened up the opportunity for some volunteers to help advance Oblong's Butterfly Project - the restoration of the Butterfly Meadow at their Slocum-Mostachetti Preserve in Wingdale.  Located just off County Route 21 the 100 acre Preserve is home to over 47 species of butterfly and the Butterfly Project is an on-going initiative to restore and enhance suitable habitat.

Earlier this year the Butterfly Meadow was cleared of invasive Autumn Olive and Sunday's outing was to plant two species of Milkweed in an effort to attract Monarch butterflies.  A total of nearly 150 Asclepias Incarnata and A. Syriaca (Swamp and Common Milkweed) were planted in the Meadow and elsewhere in the Preserve.  The Milkweed is the sole host plant for the Monarch's larval stage and the dramatic decline in the Monarch's population is due to a number of factors including decimation of habitat and eradication of the Milkweed along the path of the Monarch's eastern migratory pattern.  This butterfly overwinters in Mexico and covers thousands of miles in this annual movement.  A remarkable aspect of this migration is that it takes up to three generations of butterflies to make the trip to the north-eastern US, with each generation living for 2 to 6 weeks.  On the return trip the fourth generation has a life of up to 9 months allowing the trip south to be accomplished in one generation - another of Mother Nature's miracles.

The planting provided the opportunity for some students of the Pawling Central School District to work with the Oblong Land Conservancy in their efforts to engage with the PCSD on environmental science issues.  Our thanks to the team of planters Peggy Maasz and son Ryan, and to Preeti Govindarajan and daughter Ananya who made themselves available at short notice.

The plants were made available through a grant from the Natural Resources Defense Council administered by Monarch Watch.

Friday, April 8, 2016

Local Conservation Groups promote the Great Swamp Initiative

Friends of the Great Swamp (FrOGS), the Oblong Land Conservancy (OLC) and the Putnam County Land Trust (PCLT) are pleased to announce that they have formed a collaboration and jointly entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that will lead to increased focus on conservation efforts in the Great Swamp Watershed.

The Great Swamp, one of the largest wetlands in New York State covers some 6,678 acres and drains a watershed of approximately 62,343 upland acres.  The 20-mile long Watershed lies in the Harlem Valley that extends from Brewster to Dover and occupies parts of Putnam and Dutchess Counties in New York and Fairfield County in Connecticut.

Conservation of this natural resource is vital for a number of reasons:
  • It provides the sole recharge facility for the aquifer that serves over 40,000 people in the Watershed
  • It forms the headwaters of the Croton Reservoir System that provides New York City with some of its drinking water, and
  • It provides critical habitat for a wide variety of flora and fauna, some of which are endangered.

The MOU identifies two specific initiatives that will raise public awareness of the importance of the Watershed.  The first involves the creation and placement of signage at the points of entry on the principal roads to the Watershed so that everyone can become familiar with the Great Swamp’s existence and boundaries.  The second initiative involves the development of an educational program called Swamp Smart.  This will inform watershed residents about the importance of the Great Swamp and what each individual can do to protect its quality.

Financial support for this collaboration was provided by a grant from the New York State Conservation Partnership Program (NYSCPP) a unique program of the Land Trust Alliance and the New York State DEC .Funding for priority conservation projects and land trust initiatives around the State help communities protect water quality, wildlife habitat, community gardens, working forests and farmland.

OLC and PCLT jointly applied for a Catalyst Grant to initiate local and regional partnerships and community initiatives that will lead to greater engagement in, and increased public support for, the protection and stewardship of environmentally significant lands. Conservation Catalyst projects for land trusts should engage multiple partners and stakeholders, have clearly defined outcomes, and advance the land trusts’ missions, strategic goals, and programs. Funded projects typically involve collaboration with local municipalities, other land trusts, or other conservation partners and to that end FrOGS has joined the collaboration to build on the work they have undertaken in conserving large areas of the Great Swamp.

FrOGS is an all-volunteer conservation organization dedicated to protecting and promoting stewardship of New York’s Great Swamp. FrOGS pursues this mission through Education, Scientific Research, and direct Conservation Action.  They provide science based information for local issues and focus on protecting habitat and species of conservation concern through collaborative coalitions with other organizations.   
OLC is an all-volunteer organization based in Pawling that undertakes conservation in the greater Harlem Valley.  It was founded in 1990 and now has approximately 1,100 acres under stewardship.

PCLT is an all-volunteer organization based in eastern Putnam County.  Its mission is to preserve and maintain for the public, open spaces and the natural resources within, for the purpose of conservation, education and recreation.  PCLT's fee properties total 1,058 acres and it holds easements on another 138 acres.

For further information please contact:

FrOGS at (845) 878 0081 frogs.ny.org
OLC at (845) 855 7014 www.oblongland.org
PCLT at (845) 278 2808  www.pclt.net

Friday, March 4, 2016

Great Swamp, A Conservation Strategy

The Great Swamp, stretching nearly 20 miles across five municipalities from Southeast to Dover is one of New York’s largest wetlands and lies at the heart of a 62,500 watershed in the Harlem Valley and extends over parts of Dutchess and Putnam Counties in New York and Fairfield County in Connecticut.  This ecological treasure was the subject of an extensive collaborative conservation strategy that culminated in 1999 with the publication of a report by The Nature Conservancy.

 The conservation of the Great Swamp is a key objective of the Oblong Land Conservancy and we, including Sibyll Gilbert, were one of the many participants in this collaborative effort.  The report "The Great Swamp - A Watershed Conservation Strategy" is available here.  You can also learn more on The Nature Conservancy Website here.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

All The World’s A Stage

Shakespeare, in his pastoral comedy As You Like It, has Jaques recite one of The Bard’s best known monologues:

All the world’s a stage,
And all the men and women merely players. . . .

Those who are familiar with this will know that it goes on to speak of the seven ages of man from the mewling and puking infant through to second childishness and mere oblivion, sans teeth, sans eyes, sans teeth, sans everything.

In 1600 or thereabouts when the play was believed to have been written the world’s population was estimated to have been between 500 and 580 millions.  We are now at some 7 billions and anticipated to be around 9 billions by 2050.  Understandably some 400 years ago nobody was paying much attention to the stage even though it was recognized that we, mankind, are just the players.
As time has moved on so the number of players has dramatically increased although the stage, from a certain perspective, has remained unchanged. Moreover, we still take it for granted.  Planet Earth, for all practical purposes, is essentially the same size and occupies the same planetary location.  What has changed, of course, is the surface of the planet and how it is used (and abused).  With a population of 500 odd millions climate change, resource depletion and a host of other issues had yet to raise their heads in any comprehensive way.  That is not to say that all was fine and dandy in 1600, the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse were certainly making their presence felt.

What was different, however, was that then we were not bumping up against planetary limits.  Indeed, that there might be such things as constraints on growth, food insecurity or tipping points probably never came up as topics of polite conversation.  Contrast that with today, barely a day goes by without some reference in the media to climate change, pollution, recycling and a host of other environmental issues.  Not to mention all the related economic and social implications of a burgeoning world population on a finite planet.  Whether we think about this or not the choices that we, and the 7 billion others, exercise daily are having their impact upon our environment.

For most of us, and by that is meant all of us - East and West, North and South, our concern is with earning a living, providing shelter and putting food on the table.  This preoccupation inevitably leaves little time for reflecting upon the larger issues of life.  Understandable as that may be the fact is that whether we appreciate it or not we are all stewards of Mother Earth.  As the old Native American adage would have it ‘We do not inherit the Earth from our Ancestors but borrow it from our Children’.

For this to become a practical proposition some things have to change.  We have to think differently about ourselves and our relationship with the environment.  We, the players, are an integral part of that environment and the web of life it supports.  Without a stage upon which we, and the generations to come, can properly act out our parts there will be, at best, the prospect of a greatly diminished performance.

Monday, April 27, 2015

OLC Cleans up Route 22

The Oblong Land Conservancy is part of a Nationwide effort to beautify our highways.  Thousands of communities in all 50 states have signaled their commitment to keeping America beautiful by adopting stretches of highway and pledging to keep them litter-free.  Two years ago the Oblong Land Conservancy (OLC) obtained a Highway Work Permit from the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) and entered into a formal agreement to adopt a 2-mile segment of Route 22 in the Town of Pawling as part of the NYSDOT’s Adopt-A-Highway Program.  Currently there are approximately 2,400 such agreements in place for this program that cover about 5,000 miles of roadsides in New York State alone.

On Saturday, April 25th, the OLC conducted their first cleanup of 2015 with the help of 5 volunteers, and collected over 20 bags of trash along 1/2 mile of highway.  The OLC conducts 4 cleanups a year, and is a volunteer-based non-profit land trust.  As such, we value and rely on the help of other volunteers.  Please contact our office if you are interested in helping with future cleanups.  The more help we have, the better our chances of maintaining a litter-free highway that everyone can enjoy.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Oblong Land Conservancy awarded grants at start of Earth Week

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, on Monday, April 20th, announced $1.8 million in Conservation Partnership Program grants for 55 nonprofit land trusts, including Oblong Land Conservancy, across the State. Representatives of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Land Trust Alliance unveiled the grantees at an event today at Teatown Lake Reservation in Westchester County. The announcement launches a weeklong celebration of Earth Week, which recognizes New York’s commitment to protecting our environment, conserving open space, increasing access to the state’s vast and magnificent natural resources, implementing clean energy initiatives and preparing for the effects of climate change.

“New York’s natural resources play a vital role in our economy, and today we are taking another step forward in protecting and preserving them for generations to come,” Governor Cuomo said. “With these grants, New York’s Environmental Protection Fund is securing critical funding for environmental and open space programs that will continue to protect our environment, generate jobs and revenue in local communities and ensure a cleaner and healthier New York.”

The grants, funded through the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), will leverage an additional $1.7 million in private and local funding to support projects to protect farmland, wildlife habitat, water quality, enhance public access for outdoor recreational opportunities, and conserve priority open space areas important for community health, tourism and regional economic development. The Land Trust Alliance administers the Conservation Partnership Program in coordination with DEC.

Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens said, “DEC’s partnerships with land trusts are crucial to achieving our conservation goals, without which there would be many land conservation projects that would not be possible. Governor Cuomo continues to demonstrate his commitment to the environment, diversity, providing opportunities for sportsmen and sportswomen, and improving recreational access opportunities near where people live in New York State. This year’s budget provided a $15 million increase to the Environmental Protection Fund including increases to land acquisition, municipal parks and environmental justice grants.”

In this 12th round of Conservation Partnership Program grants, administered by DEC, Oblong Land Conservancy and other local land trusts received grants to help sustain and expand community and landowner outreach initiatives as well as develop an array of land conservation, stewardship and education programs.  

Oblong Land Conservancy received two grants, the first a Capacity Grant to improve access and visitor experience at its centerpiece Slocum-Mostachetti Preserve in Wingdale, NY.  The funding will be used to construct a new trailhead kiosk and additional signage.  The second, a Conservation Transaction Grant, will assist in the acquisition of 44 acres located in the Town of Dover and lying within the Great Swamp Watershed.  This transaction is part of a larger initiative to conserve property through the North American Wetlands Act (NAWCA) involving a number of partners including the Town of Dover, Friends of the Great Swamp (FrOGS) and Oblong.

Since the program’s inception in 2002, the Conservation Partnership Program has awarded over 647 grants totaling $11.3 million in EPF funds to 86 different land trust organizations across the state. The state’s investment has leveraged $13 million in additional funding from local communities and private donors.

The 2015-16 State Budget increased the Environmental Protection Fund by $15 million to $177 million. An additional $20 million in Wall Street settlement funds is allocated for permanent farmland protection in the Hudson Valley to help secure New York City’s foodshed.

Recent research underscores how New York’s investment in land conservation and open space boosts property values, supports local businesses, saves taxpayer dollars and protects public health. A 2011 study by the Trust for Public Land found that every dollar of investment from New York’s Environmental Protection Fund generates $7 in total economic benefits from tourism, reduced government costs and public health.

The EPF grants announced today will support local efforts that contribute substantially to the Hudson Valley region’s $800 million agricultural sector and $4.3 billion tourism economy by helping to preserve the state’s most productive agricultural lands and expanding public access to trails and other popular recreation areas. According to the Outdoor Industry Association, outdoor recreation in New York directly supports 305,000 jobs across the state, generating $15 billion in wages and tax revenue.
Oblong Land Conservancy, an all-volunteer organization based in Pawling, NY, has recently completed the application process for Accreditation demonstrating its commitment to rigorous national standards for nonprofit governance and organizational excellence.

Monday, March 9, 2015

The Oblong Land Conservancy Seeks Accreditation

The Land Trust Accreditation program recognizes land conservation organizations that meet national quality standards for protecting important natural places and working lands forever. The Oblong Land Conservancy is pleased to announce it is applying for Accreditation. A public comment period is now open.

The Land Trust Accreditation Commission, an independent program of the Land Trust Alliance, conducts an extensive review of each applicant’s policies and programs. The Oblong Land Conservancy believes that accreditation will strengthen its ability to fulfill its mission through engagement with the community, maintain the natural resources of the Harlem Valley, to include wildlife habitats, water quality, agricultural lands and scenic vistas.

The Commission invites public input and accepts signed, written comments on pending applications. Comments must relate to how the Oblong Land Conservancy complies with national quality standards.

These standards address the ethical and technical operations of a land trust. For the full list of standards see http://www.landtrustaccreditation.org/tips-and-tools/indicator-practices.
To learn more about the accreditation program and to submit a comment, visit www.landtrustaccreditation.org, or email your comment to info@landtrustaccreditation.org.

Comments may also be faxes or mailed to the Land Trust Accreditation Commission, Attn: Public Comments: (fax) 518-587-3183; (mail) 36 Phila Street, Suite 2, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Comments on the Oblong Land Conservancy’s application will be most useful by May 24th 2015