OLC Blog

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

Friday, February 6, 2015

An update on the Hudson to Housatonic Conservation Initiative (H2H)

Last fall, the Westchester Land Trust (WLT) launched the Hudson to Housatonic (H2H) Conservation Initiative - a landscape scale, inter-state collaboration of more than three dozen local and regional conservation partners across Westchester, eastern Putnam and Dutchess Counties in New York, and Fairfield County in Connecticut.  H2H is led by WLT, Highstead Foundation (on behalf of Fairfield County Regional Conservation Partnership), Mianus River Gorge and Housatonic Valley Association.

More than 50 conservation leaders from local and regional organizations, including Board members of the Oblong Land Conservancy (OLC) as well as municipal partners in Westchester and Fairfield Counties, took part in a full-day intensive training program on Saturday, February 1st at Teaown Lake Reservation to gain the tools necessary to engage local landowners in the care and conservation of their woodlands.

During the training, leading conservation professionals coached H2H partner attendees in a variety of possible engagement strategies including agroforestry, backyard birding, and estate planning.  The workshop built upon lessons learned at H2H's first workshop in December which focused on aligning stewardship practices with climate resiliency.  A third workshop will focus on proven communication techniques and will be led by a team from Yale University following the Tools for Engaging Landowners Effectively curriculum developed by the Sustaining Family Forest Initiative.

The goal of H2H

The vast Hudson to Housatonic region is home to thousands of private woodland owners whose land plays a critical role in providing wildlife habitat, carbon storage, air purification, and buffer tributaries contributing to the drinking water supply for millions of people living in NY and CT.

Many of these woodlands also have attributes making them more adaptable to changes in the climate. H2H documents these key features, harnesses their natural synergies, unites partners across parcel, town, county and state lines.  The activities funded by the H2H initiative are designed to appeal to these woodland owners leading to tangible long- and short-term conservation and stewardship gains.

This project is funded in part through a grant awarded by the, U. S. Forest Service, Northeastern Area State and Private Forestry.