Tags Posts tagged with "Earth Day"

Earth Day

A scene from the Earth Day festivities at Manor Farm Park in 2022. Photo by Media Origin

By Heidi Sutton

Whether you choose to participate in a park cleanup, nature walk or a fun festival, there are plenty of ways to show your love for the planet for Earth Day. 

Centerport

Earth Day Celebration

Join the Suffolk County Vanderbilt Museum, 180 Little Neck Road, Centerport for an Earth Day Celebration on Monday, April 22. Enjoy special guided tours, hikes, crafts, and activities appropriate for all ages – all free with general admission. Advance registration is required to participate in a free guided hike or tour. To register, visit www.vanderbiltmuseum.org.

Cold Spring Harbor

Water Warriors

The Whaling Museum, 301 Main St., Cold Spring Harbor presents a kids program, Water Warriors on Thursday, April 25 at noon and again at 2 p.m. In Honor of Earth Day, join the fight against ocean pollution! Explore the dangerous side effects of water run-off through a hands-on, educator-led watershed model activity. Then, bring the water cycle to life as you construct your very own terrarium to grow plants at home. Admission + $10 participant, $5 Members. No registration needed. 631-367-3418

Huntington

Family Fun Earth Day Celebration

Town of Huntington hosts a family-friendly Earth Day celebration at Manor Farm Park, 210 Manor Road, Huntington on Sunday, April 21 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Attendees can enjoy a marine touch tank; a farm animals exhibit; composting, beekeeping, and English ivy removal demonstrations; face painting, story time, and arts & crafts booths for kids to enjoy; and more. 631-351-3177.

Port Jefferson Station

Train Car Park Cleanup

The Port Jefferson Station-Terryville Chamber of Commerce will hold an Earth Day  Community & Train Car Park Cleanup at the corner of Route 112 and Nesconset Highway, Port Jefferson Station on Saturday, April 20 from 10 a.m. to noon. along with a free bike inspection and tree sapling giveaway. Lend a helping hand to beautify the park. Community service hours given. 631-821-1313.

Ronkonkoma

Bird Walk and Trash Cleanup

Join the Four Harbors Audubon Society for a Bird Walk and Trash Cleanup at Lily Pond County Park, Smithtown Blvd., Lake Ronkonkoma on Monday, April 22 at 8 a.m.  in celebration of Earth Day and in memory of Diane Spitz, who spent many years as unofficial caretaker of the Park. Please bring gloves and bags. Email [email protected] to register.

St. James

Earth Day at Celebrate Park

Celebrate St. James presents a free Kids Community Earth Day Event at Celebrate Park on Lake Ave. in St. James on Saturday, April 20 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.  featuring a garden tour with Paul LI Landscaping, animals from Sweetbriar Nature Center, crafts, henna art, storytelling, plant sale, live music and more.  To register, visit www.celebratestjames.org.

Setauket

Community Beach Clean-Up

Gallery North in Setauket hosts a Community Beach Clean-Up, on April 27 and April 28. The Beach Clean-Up will take place at two locations – Flax Pond Tidal Wetland Area (15 Shore Drive, Old Field) on Saturday, April 27 and Smith Point Beach (1 William Floyd Parkway, Shirley) on Sunday, April 28. Each Clean-Up will be conducted in two shifts starting at 9 am and 10:30 am each day.  The Clean-Up will be free and open to the public and will be a rain or shine event. Pre-registration is encouraged by clicking here. All ages are welcome. Please dress appropriately. 631-751-2676

Shoreham

Metal for Tesla

Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, 5 Randall Road, Shoreham hosts a Metal for Tesla event on Saturday, April 20 from 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Recycle your scrap metal and contribute to the preservation of the planet and a historical treasure: Wardenclyffe, the site of Nikola last remaining laboratory. On this special day, every ounce of metal you recycle supports our mission to develop the site into a transformative global science center. 631-886-2632

Smithtown

Earth Day at Sweetbriar

Sweetbriar Nature Center, 62 Eckernkamp Drive, Smithtown invites the community to an Earth Day is Every Day celebration on Sunday, April 21 from 1 to 3 p.m. Celebrate the wonders of the natural world and living things that share the planet with us.   Children will meet resident animals, enjoy the natural world through their senses, and go on a scavenger hunt to find out some of the things they can do to help the natural world. Come away with a craft to help reduce your impact on the Earth. Best for families with children over 4 years old. $15 per child, $5 per adults. To register, visit www.sweetbriarnc.org. For more info, call 631-979-6344.

Stony Brook

Earthstock Festival at SBU

The signature Earthstock Festival returns to Stony Brook University’s West campus, 100 Nicolls Road, Stony Brook on Friday, April 19 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. with vendors, presenters and tables from various departments on the SAC Plaza, with the Green Pledge and other speakers taking the main stage at the Mall fountain at noon. Student performances will be held on a second stage by the SAC at 11:30 a.m. The annual Duck Race will take place at 2 p.m. Free and open to all. Visit www.stonybrook.edu/earthstock.

Train Station Beautification Project

The Three Village Community Trust invites the community to join them in The Stony Brook Train Station Beautification Project on Saturday, April 27 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. for Earth Day. The group will be weeding, clearing fallen branches, removing litter, de-vining trees, and other tasks to beautify the Station.
Bring your gloves, garden tools, and energy to this very special morning that will bring the community together in transforming this historic train station! Stay a few minutes, or a few hours and enjoy refreshments music and more. For more information, call 631-942-4558

Yaphank

Earth Day Celebration

Suffolk County Farm, 350 Yaphank Road, Yaphank hosts an Earth Day Celebration event on Saturday, April 27 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a Master Gardener Plant Sale (8 a.m. to 3 p.m.), family fun, eco-friendly demonstrations, pollinator treasure hunt, face painting, rain barrel demonstration and wagon rides (fee). Free admission to the event. 631-852-4600

Photo from PSEG Facebook

PSEG Long Island and Suffolk County join forces for the popular Energy-Saving Trees giveaway

In honor of Earth Day 2024, PSEG Long Island and Suffolk County, in partnership with the PSEG Foundation and the Arbor Day Foundation, will provide more than 250 customers in Suffolk County with a free tree through the Energy-Saving Trees program. The program showcases how planting the right trees in the right location can reduce utility bills and promote ongoing system reliability.

“Earth Day is a chance for all of us to stand up and do our part to help build a greener, more equitable future,” said David Lyons, PSEG Long Island’s interim president and COO. “Strategically planting trees helps save up to 20% on summer energy bills once the trees are fully grown, while also improving air quality and reducing storm water runoff for all residents across Long Island and the Rockaways.”

The free energy-saving trees can be reserved at www.arborday.org/pseglongisland starting Monday, April 15, until all trees are claimed. The reserved trees will then be available for pick-up on Friday, April 19, at the H. Lee Dennison Building in Hauppauge, from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. All reserved trees will be held until noon, when they will become available on a first come, first served basis.

“We continue to identify and find every opportunity to make Suffolk County environmentally sustainable, and planting just one tree can make a difference,” said Suffolk County Executive Ed Romaine. “We encourage all of our residents to take part in the PSEG Long Island Energy Saving Trees program and work collaboratively to embrace clean energy and improve our region’s air quality. Together we will continue to raise awareness and make a difference.”

“Trees add beauty to neighborhoods, help reduce energy consumption, filter pollutants that improve the overall health and wellbeing of our communities, provide places of respite, along with many other benefits. Of course, we also always recommend planting the right type of tree in the right place,” said Calvin Ledford, president of the PSEG Foundation. “The PSEG Foundation is proud to support the Energy-Saving Trees program, which will help provide more than 200 trees for Suffolk County residents. We are excited that our employees have this and many opportunities to provide energy efficiency information and help create a more sustainable ecosystem across Long Island and the Rockaways.”

The Energy-Saving Trees online tool helps customers estimate the annual energy savings that will result from planting trees in the most strategic location near their homes or businesses. All customers that participate will receive one tree and are expected to care for and plant them in the location provided by the online tool, taking into account utility wires and obstructions. The types of trees offered include the following: gray birch, eastern white pine, flowering dogwood and scarlet oak.

PSEG Long Island will also be on site at the H. Lee Dennison Building on April 19 to share information about energy saving and financial assistance programs. In addition, they will distribute reusable shopping bags and free LED lightbulbs to save customers money and energy, and to support the environment. Information, shopping bags and lightbulbs are available to all customers. The Energy-Saving Trees must be reserved ahead of time.

PSEG Long Island will host a similar event in Nassau County on Friday, April 26, and will participate in an Earth Day event in the Rockaways on Saturday, May 4.

PSEG Long Island is also having an Earth Day sale on its online marketplace this month, offering savings on energy efficient products, including smart thermostats for as low as $4.99.

Serving the community

PSEG Long Island is committed to giving back to the people and communities it serves by actively supporting hundreds of local charity events each year through the company’s Community Partnership Program. For more information on how PSEG Long Island supports the communities it serves, visit https://www.psegliny.com/inthecommunity/communitypartnership.

Two students paint birdhouses at the Comsewogue Community Garden. Photo courtesy CSD

Students in the Comsewogue School District showed their green thumbs this Earth Day by coming together with members of the community to recreate the Comsewogue Community Garden. 

Students and their families planted flowers, fruits and vegetables and beautified the garden by creating birdhouses and decorative signs.

“Creating and rebuilding our community garden each spring teaches our students lessons about the importance of community service, taking care of the environment and how to be self-sufficient,” said Superintendent of Schools Jennifer Quinn. “This was a great way to celebrate Earth Day and show our appreciation for our planet and the environment.”

Clinton Avenue Elementary School nurse Kelly Klug spearheaded the garden and organized the Earth Day event for community members to come together and rejuvenate the important resource. All produce grown in the garden is harvested and donated to families in the community facing food insecurity.  

For more information about the Comsewogue School District, please visit the District’s website at www.comsewogue.k12.ny.us.

Volunteers gathered at the eastern trailhead of the Setauket-Port Jefferson Station Greenway on Saturday, April 22. Photo by Gretchen Mones

At the eastern trailhead of the Setauket-Port Jefferson Station Greenway trail, a group of volunteers and community members met on Earth Day, April 22, kicking off the first cleanup of the season.

The Friends of the Greenway, a subsidiary of the Three Village Community Trust, hosted the event, which featured volunteers from various community groups, including the Stony Brook-based Avalon Nature Preserve. The cleanup coincided with Earth Day, a global holiday that recognizes the achievements of the environmental movement and the need for sustainable planning.

Greenway: an environmental triumph

“We schedule this [cleanup] in April for Earth Day to celebrate the Earth,” Herb Mones, TVCT president, said during the event.

Mones first became involved with the trail in 1999, when former New York State Assemblyman Steve Englebright (D-Setauket) asked him to head a task force for its planning. The task force included educational programming and active community collaboration, followed by a planning phase, which took 10 years. 

The concept of a multipurpose trail was revolutionary for its time, Mones suggested.

“In Suffolk County in particular, there are very, very few greenways that are multimodality paths — paved paths for residents, pedestrians and bicyclists,” he said. “It was a process of getting people to understand what a bike path would look like.”

The task force’s vision was soon enacted, and the Greenway has been servicing locals since 2009. Mones described the trail as in “pretty good condition,” though regular pockets of litter have tended to stick around. The Friends of the Greenway organization targets those areas once per month, keeping its community trail tidy and clean.

Celebrating Mother Earth

Volunteer cleanup initiatives are putting the themes of Earth Day into practice at the community level. 

Englebright, for whom the trail was renamed in 2022, was present during the cleanup. For him, the convergence of local cleanup efforts with Earth Day reflect the environmental movement’s local and global momentum.

“The volunteerism was very heartening and very rewarding to me,” he said. “When people are volunteering their time and focusing their energies on Earth Day, it’s just a positive vibration and it speaks well for the role of the trail in the maturation of our communities.”

Throughout his time in public life, Englebright has been a vocal advocate for the environment, one of the earliest voices to ring the alarm on overdevelopment and sprawl, open space preservation and water quality protection in Suffolk County.

Over time, however, the former assemblyman said he had observed even greater attention for sustainability and environmental consciousness.

“I’m greatly encouraged to see people of all ages — there were people with white hair and people at various grade levels of our public schools — all working together with their enthusiasm reinforcing one another, reinforcing the premise that Earth Day should be special,” he said.

In Port Jefferson Station, there are several new development proposals, most notably at Jefferson Plaza, just a block from the trailhead. [See story, “Developers pitch plans for Jefferson Plaza,” June 24, TBR News Media website.] 

While Mones accepts new development projects as “inevitable,” he said those projects should be grounded by sound community plans, considering the interests of all concerned parties. 

“Development and the environment can work together, but it takes kind of a synergy between town planners, the developer and the community to work together to do a plan that works for everybody,” he said.

Englebright said the redevelopment plans for Jefferson Plaza and other projects have been, up to this point, guided by such concepts. He expressed optimism that the Port Jeff Station/Terryville community could hash out a workable compromise.

“When you say redevelopment, it’s also reinvestment into a community,” he said. “I hope that we can bring those projects forward that are being planned for the redevelopment of Port Jefferson Station in a way that lifts all of the boats in the harbor at the same time.”

The North Shore Rail Trail, which connects Mount Sinai to Wading River, was formally opened last summer. The two trailheads at Port Jefferson Station and Mount Sinai are about a mile apart. Englebright remains optimistic that the two may soon intersect, enabling a continuous bike ride from Setauket to Wading River.

“They should be linked up,” he said. “Look, if the Appalachian Trail can go the length of the Appalachians from Maine to Georgia, and they can link that together, then we can link our trails together here on Long Island.”

On Saturday, April 22, Town of Huntington councilmembers Joan Cergol (D) and Sal Ferro(R) co-sponsored an Earth Day event at Manor Farm Park. Other elected officials in attendance included Suffolk County Legislator Stephanie Bontempi (R-Centerport), Legislator Manuel Esteban (R-Commack), Huntington Town Clerk Andrew Raia and Receiver of Taxes Jillian Guthman. 

The event featured a number of different interactive opportunities. The Volunteers for Wildlife set up a booth and had a 20-year-old, one-eyed turtle for attendees to look at. She lost her eye in a dog attack, so she could no longer live in the wild. Cornell Cooperative Extension brought a marine touch tank with clams, a horseshoe crab, mud snails and other creatures. Children excitedly gathered around the booth to pet and touch them.

The Little Shelter Animal Rescue and Adoption Center showed up to raise awareness for their not-for-profit shelter. They brought a litter of five 6-week-old kittens for attendees to play with through the bars of their cage.

There was also a beekeeping demonstration put on by local resident Joe Schwartz. He showed a large crowd of people frames from beehives, which displayed the brood in the honeycomb as well as how the bees cap their honey.

Brandon Stephan Davis, a local Huntington resident, said that the highlight of Earth Day so far for him was the beekeeping display. “I learned a lot,” Davis said. “I didn’t know so much about the details of the hive. I’m grateful that he’s doing this event.”

Schwartz said that he volunteers a lot of his resources at Manor Farm, which is run by Starflower Experiences. He keeps roughly a dozen hives on the property. “They have a farming program,” Schwartz said. “They do a sunflower maze. That’s so much pollen, so much nectar for them. It’s just an ideal place.”

Schwartz went on to say that these should be one of the best-producing hives out there, but they can still struggle due to pesticides in the area, since bees can travel up to a couple of miles to get pollen.

Schwartz said that pesticides and insecticides are bad for the environment and that alternatives like setting up bat boxes may be preferable for getting rid of ticks. He said that bees can survive modern pesticides, but they then bring tainted pollen back to the hive, and then when their larvae feed in the spring, many of them die, and the hive collapses.

Schwartz is also passionate about getting children involved in outdoor activities. In the summer, he does beekeeping classes at Manor Farm twice per month. “We need to get the kids out of the house,” Schwartz said. “I know what COVID did to the kids. It was not a help. You need to get them back outside. They need to appreciate what we have here, and this is one way to do it.”

Ferro was pleased with the results of the event. “It was great to see the large turnout at this year’s Earth Day festivities at Manor Farm Park,” he said in an email. “The event was filled with fun and educational programs for people of all ages with the shared goal to safeguard our environment.”

Ferro’s office estimated that over the course of the day 500 people had shown up for the event.

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In celebration of Earth Day, community groups throughout the Three Village joined forces to clean up Stony Brook train station. Volunteers were armed with rakes, leaf blowers, pruning scissors and more on Saturday, April 22.

The North Suffolk Garden Club, along with Three Village Community Trust, Three Village Civic Association, Three Village Chamber of Commerce, The Stony Brook School, Brookhaven Town Councilmember Jonathan Kornreich (D-Stony Brook), Long Island Rail Road and Suffolk County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) have been working on cleaning up the station since last summer. 

 

Pixabay photo

By Daniel Dunaief

The weather outside has been frightful and local researchers suggest the trend has been anything but delightful.

Over the last year, the country has confronted numerous violent and intense storms, causing property damage and leading to evacuations and rescues. Just last week, Fort Lauderdale, Florida received a month’s worth of rain in an hour amid a storm that dumped over two feet of rain on the city. Such a torrential storm isn’t unique to Florida, as areas including Dallas experienced significant rains last August that crippled the city.

Malcolm Bowman

“The extremes are increasing,” said Malcolm Bowman, Professor Emeritus at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University. “It’s part of the prediction of climate science.”

Indeed, as the atmosphere becomes warmer, the increase in water vapor raises the amount of rain in a particular storm, added Edmund Chang, Professor in the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University. Chang and other local scientists discussed their concerns and potential cause for optimism amid the approach of the 54th anniversary of Earth Day.

Climate Change report

This March, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) released a report that suggested that climate change was worsening and that the Earth will likely increase by more than the 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial revolution averages that would lead to numerous environmental damage.

“Since the last IPCC report, there has been a lot more research looking at these weather extremes,” Chang said.

Edmund Chang

In warmer temperatures, which have increased on average for the Earth by 1.1 degrees, storms carry significantly more precipitation.

While it is outside the realm of his own research, Chang said that other researchers have demonstrated that storms in the Northeastern United States have had an increase in higher precipitation events, which is also linked to the fact that these storms are moving more slowly, drenching areas with rain before slowly leaving.

Chang is particularly concerned about sea level rise. “I have lived in coastal areas all my life,” he said. “We know that the sea level is rising. The rate of rise is accelerated.” Counteracting the effects of melting ice sheets in Greenland and the Antarctic are among the more difficult processes to mitigate, he added.

In his own research, Chang is assessing the bias in models that predict whether a season will likely be stormier than average. He is looking at how model biases may impact the accuracy of longer range forecasts.

Different models have different biases, he explained. Weather channel fans, and those who watch storm models for approaching hurricanes and other events, may recognize that meteorologists often overlay American and European weather models, particularly when describing approaching hurricanes.

In Chang’s research, he has found that combining different models improves the forecast. “A better way of improving models is to understand where the model biases or error comes from” rather than averaging errors that cancel each other out, he said.

Reasons for optimism

Chang believes there are reasons for optimism about efforts to mitigate the effects of climate change. The current administration is “starting to impose more stringent emissions controls from vehicles,” he said. “It’s getting a bit more encouraging.”

In other areas, world leaders have also taken encouraging steps towards protecting the oceans and biodiversity. Last month, the United Nations announced the legal framework for a High Seas treaty, which protects biodiversity, reduces pollutions and shares ocean resources. After 20 years of work, 193 countries verbally agreed to a treaty to protect 30 percent of the world’s oceans by 2030.

Ellen Pikitch

The treaty is “of monumental importance,” said Ellen Pikitch, endowed professor of Ocean Conservation Science and executive director of the Institute for Ocean Conservation Science at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences at Stony Brook University. “The treaty will enable marine protected areas (MPAs) to be created in areas outside national jurisdictions and allow fisheries management of species in international waters not currently covered by regional agreements.”

Citing recent reports, Bowman said global emissions of carbon dioxide have declined 2 percent over the last 12 months. “There are moves, even in China, to bring in solar and wind” power, he added.

Local concerns

As storms hit areas like Florida and Texas, Long Islanders frequently wonder about the readiness of the region for future storms. Indeed, Hurricane Sandy wreaked havoc in the Middle Atlantic states in 2012.

“If we had another Sandy, it could be just as bad or worse,” said Bowman, who has been a part of a storm surge working group in New York.

In the fall, the Army Corps of Engineers published a tentatively selected plan for the area after the administration of President Biden (D) reinstated the Harbor and Tributary Study, which was temporarily halted in 2019. The plan doesn’t involve enough protection along the harbor with concrete and steel, Bowman said. 

“They say [concrete] is terrible,” Bowman said. “We say it’s necessary.”

Any plan for flooding in and around the New York area would not only have to address how to handle a storm surge that brought water in from the ocean. It would also have to provide a way for any heavy rains to get out.

The reality of global warming is “scary,” said Bowman. And yet, “how many people are changing their living habits?”

As for his native New Zealand, Bowman said a tornado touched down in recent weeks, which is “unheard of.” While the tornado was not on the scale of such twisters in Kansas, he said it ripped through several homes.

New Zealand, with a population of five million people, is moving toward using electric cars, while the country is also considering a genetic modification in cattle that reduces the production of methane from when they burp or pass gas.

“There’s a big push in New Zealand to do its bit,” Bowman said.

A pair of Bald Eagles. Photo by Carl Safina

By Patricia Paladines and Peter Martin 

A few of months ago my husband and I received a text message from one of our neighbors, “There’s a bald eagle at the top of one of your trees.” At the time we were in our car a few miles away from our home on Main Street in Setauket. 

Bald eagle sightings are becoming more common on Long Island, and we have seen a couple flyover our home in the past, but have never knowingly had one grace over our yard. We were delighted, but also concerned. Our hens were free ranging around our house as they usually do. Was this eagle assessing whether one of our 5 girls was going to be their next meal? The neighbor texted a phone photo — a representative of the United States’ national symbol sat atop one of our red cedars looking like a tree-topper on a Christmas tree. We drove into our driveway shortly after the photo was sent but the eagle had already flown away. Our first instinct was to search for our hens and count them. They were all there. No birds were harmed on this day. 

The American bald eagle became our national symbol in June of 1782 when Charles Thomson, then secretary of Congress, decided to incorporate the bird into William Barton’s design for the Great Seal of the United States. As the seal began to appear on official documents, flags, currency, and public buildings the bald eagle became an American icon, representing the strength and freedom of a fledging nation. 

Despite its newfound public celebrity, the bald eagle was not appreciated by farmers in the 19th century. They believed the birds to be villains who killed their livestock, even spreading strange myths that the raptors were capable of carrying away helpless human babies. In reality, bald eagles can only lift a maximum of 5 pounds, so yes, maybe a chicken as my husband and I feared, but not most domesticated mammals living on early American farms. Their habit of scavenging probably made them scapegoats for killings perpetrated by predatory mammals. The unjust accusation caused the decline of their populations across the country. 

It is estimated that in the early 1800’s there were 400,000 American bald eagles across their range which extends north from the Mexican border, throughout the United States, and into Canada. Later that century their numbers had decreased to around 100,000 due to hunting and destruction of their preferred habitat, forested area near large bodies of water; habitat similar to what was found on Long Island before settlers arrived and cleared forests for farming, cordwood and construction of homes and ships. 

Bald eagles were originally not protected by the Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 because it was falsely believed that the birds did not migrate. In 1940 Congress passed the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act providing full protection to our iconic bird of prey. At around the same time the birds were granted full protection the use of the synthetic pesticide known as DDT (dichlorodiphenyltrichloroethane) became popular for use on farms and mosquito-ridden marshes, but it took some time before it was understood how this pesticide would affect the lives of many of our country’s predatory birds, including the bald eagle. By 1963, the population of eagles reached its lowest point with an estimated 417 breeding pairs of bald eagles in the lower 48 states. In the 1970’s it was estimated that there were two bald eagles left in New York state. They seemed to have completely disappeared from Long Island, along with the peregrine falcons and beloved ospreys. 

It was a Brookhaven Town resident, Dennis Puleston, who first noted the decline of ospreys on Long Island. He had been studying a large breeding colony of the birds—also known as fish hawks—on Gardiners Island. He shared his concern with members of the Brookhaven Town Natural Resource Committee (BTNRC), founded in 1966 by group of environmentally minded individuals that met at an adult marine biology class taught by Art Cooley at Bellport High School. The group included Stony Brook University professors Robert Smolker and Charles Wurster. 

Informed by Rachel Carson’s book, Silent Spring, the group analyzed osprey eggshells and found that DDT weakened the shells so much that they would easily crack and prevent the embryos from developing into chicks. Puelston and the others from BTNRC testified in a class action suit, initiated by Victor Yannacone, Jr., a feisty Long Island attorney, demanding the ban of DDT usage across Suffolk County. 

The case was originally dismissed but the group persisted, successfully having DDT banned across Suffolk County in 1967, New York state in 1970 and nationwide in 1972. Their unique approach to environmental issues, suing the government for protection of the environment, led to the group’s founding of the Environmental Defense Fund. Their first office was located behind the mechanical eagle that adorns the front of the Stony Brook Village post office. 

Ospreys have now been a familiar sight around Long Island for many years, returning from their wintering grounds in mid-March, raising young, and leaving the island again in the fall. Eagles are following on their wings,  sometimes even taking over osprey nests. There are now over 8 known bald eagle nest on the island. 

The memory of the appearance of an American bald eagle atop our Eastern Red Cedar on Setauket’s Main Street, where it is said that George Washington walked when he came to thank the members of the Setauket Spy Ring, seems like a beautiful way to celebrate Earth Day and the conservation successes initiated by small groups of people who care.

About the authors:

Patricia Paladines is an Adjunct Instructor at Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and
Atmospheric Sciences, as well as a photographer.

Peter Martin is a graduate student in the Marine Conservation and Policy Program at Stony
Brook University.

Attract butterflies to your yard by starting a pollinator garden. Photo by Raina Angelier

By Cayla Rosenhagen

Cayla Rosenhagen

“Think locally, act globally.” It’s a popular expression conveying how small changes accumulate into a significant positive impact felt on a larger scale. Well, in honor of Earth Day, I’d like you to think very locally. Not just close to home, but your home itself—more specifically, your own yard. 

The typical suburban community features perfectly manicured lawns maintained by toxic pesticides. Oftentimes, they are home to ornamental shrubs and trees that are non-native species that provide few benefits to local fauna, that generally prefer to seek food and shelter in plant life that is native to the area. Here’s a list of ways you can take action to support Long Island’s diverse wildlife and the entire planet just by making a few changes in how you care for the greenspace right outside your door.

Grow plants that are native to your region. Your favorite backyard critters will thank you. Native plants offer nutrients that are especially healthy for our local wildlife. For instance, dozens of species of wild birds will flock to a red mulberry bush, and common milkweed will attract endangered Monarch Butterflies. Not to mention they need less of your time and maintenance! Because they’re so well-adapted to our climate, native plants don’t need much (if any) watering and are extremely hardy. To see which species are native to your area, please check out Audubon’s Native Plant Database. https://www.audubon.org/native-plants. 

A North Flicker in leaf litter. Photo by Raina Angelier

Leave the leaves and dead trees. Postpone your spring clean-up and raking the leaves until temperatures reach at least 50 degrees during the day for 7 consecutive days. The dead leaves provide shelter for nesting insects that are the perfect sustenance for many kinds of animals, including baby birds who are hatching this time of year. Dead trees also provide beneficial insects with a home. As long as the dead tree on your property is not threatening any nearby structures, leave it standing to promote a biodiverse ecosystem in your yard. If you are planning on having a tree removed, please do so after nesting season.

Start a pollinator garden. Without pollinators like beetles, flies, bees, butterflies, birds, and ants, three-quarters of all our staple crops wouldn’t exist. Tragically, bee and bird populations are shrinking, primarily due to habitat loss. By growing plants that attract and feed pollinators, you are doing your part to protect hundreds of species of friendly creatures essential to life.

Weed out harmful pesticides and fertilizers. We have become accustomed to depending on weedkillers and chemical-filled plant food to grow pristine gardens and lawns. But these products do more harm than good. 

Pesticides don’t only kill the harmful insects, they kill the good ones, too. They also hurt larger creatures including humans. They can harm your pets and backyard birds, and lead to health complications in people. Fertilizers wreck the balance of natural nutrients in the soil and can make your yard less fertile in the long run. Both pesticides and fertilizers contribute to ground and water pollution. Native plants do not need pesticides and fertilizers as they are already perfectly adapted to our soil composition and ecosystem.

Make your yard a Bird Oasis. Turn your yard into a safe haven for feathered friends by offering them multiple food sources, water, and shelter. Plant native flowering and fruit-producing plants, fill your feeders with a variety of seeds, and put out a birdbath, and watch the chickadees, sparrows, warblers, finches, cardinals, and jays flock in. I also implore you to keep your cat indoors. Outdoor cats are deadly predators to birds and kill 2.4 billion annually in the U.S. alone. Watching birds is a wonderful way to reduce stress and enjoy the beauty of the natural world. To learn more, please visit https://4has.org/bird-oasis.

Reduce your lawn. By shrinking the manicured area of your lawn, not only will you leave more room for native plants, but you’ll also lower your water bill and your emissions by mowing less.   

Harvest rainwater by collecting it in a rain barrel. You can use rainwater to water your garden and lower your water bill. This sustainable water management strategy also eases the stress on utilities during peak water usage. 

Start a compost bin. Composting will reduce the amount of waste you send to the dump and aid your garden as a natural fertilizer. This can be considered a long-term investment in your yard. Plant products like food scraps and paper garbage will decompose to make nutritious plant food in around six months to two years.

To learn more about how to make your yard more eco-friendly, please reach out to the Four Harbors Audubon Society. Also, be sure to stop by the 4HAS’s Tree Fest at the Three Village Historical Society on May 6 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. It will be educational and fun for the whole family, with craft activities, educational exhibits, a native plant sale and raffle prizes.

Cayla Rosenhagen is a local high school student who enjoys capturing the unique charm of the community through photography and journalism. She serves on the board of directors for the Four Harbors Audubon Society and Brookhaven’s Youth Board, and is the founder and coordinator of Beach Bucket Brigade, a community outreach program dedicated to environmental awareness, engagement, and education. She is also an avid birder, hiker, and artist who is concurrently enrolled in college.

Slippery slopes

The Village of Port Jefferson and the Village of Belle Terre need to get together about the views from Port Jefferson Harbor. The views to the west side of the harbor are of busy commerce while the east side has historically been a beautiful natural bluff, with houses discretely sited, until the advent of the McMansion. The new buildings are becoming an eyesore, but worse, the steep slopes are eroding.

 

Michael Schwarting

Port Jefferson

Earth Day is every day

Celebrate Earth Day, April 22, every day. Besides recycling newspapers, magazines, glass, plastics, old medicines, paints and cleaning materials, consider other actions which will contribute to a cleaner environment. 

Leave your car at home. For local trips in the neighborhood, walk or ride a bike. For longer travels, consider public transportation. MTA NYC Transit subway, bus, Long Island Rail Road, the buses of Suffolk County Transit, Huntington Area Rapid Transit (HART) and Nassau Inter-County Express (NICE) offer various options funded with your tax dollars. They use less fuel and move more people than cars. Many employers offer transit checks to help subsidize costs. Utilize your investments and reap the benefits. You’ll be supporting a cleaner environment and be less stressed upon arrival at your destination. 

Many employers allow employees to telecommute. Others use alternative work schedules, avoiding rush-hour gridlock. This saves travel time and can improve gas mileage. Join a car or van pool to share commuting costs. 

Use a hand-powered lawn mower instead of a gasoline or electric one. Rake your leaves instead of using gasoline-powered leaf blowers. Pollution created by gas-powered lawn mowers or leaf blowers will surprise you. 

A cleaner environment starts with everyone.

Larry Penner

Great Neck

Silence on upcoming school bond vote

Did you hear that? No? Neither did I.

I’m not hearing much about the Port Jefferson School District’s nearly $16 million bond that’s up for a vote soon. It’s the same day as the budget vote on Tuesday, May 16, from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. in the Earl L. Vandermeulen High School cafeteria.

School tours? Not a word.

Postcard in the mail? Nope. But it must be coming. It’s the law.

Robocall? My phone’s not ringing.

Why the different tactic from last fall’s failed bond proposal when the rusty pipes and other wanted design changes were highlighted for the public? 

Even a recent Facebook post about the school district presenting at a coming Port Jefferson Village public board meeting mentioned the budget and omitted the proposed bond. The district, I was told, must present the budget at the village board. But, apparently, not so much the bond. Further inquiries were being made.

You see where this is going.

You say budgets? Boring! 

You say $16 million bond and some folks might be interested in attending … and voting.

So what is going on here? What’s the secret? Why the silence?

Silence works.

Silence is the sound of a harried resident with no student in the district unaware and uninformed about having their voice heard and their vote recorded on an issue directly affecting their increasingly strained pocketbook. Silence is the enemy of a fair and open government and process. Silence should never be condoned.

Omission, too, is a form of silence. A laryngitis. And it’s happening right before our ears.

I’m reminded of the school district administration’s postcards sent last fall announcing an important meeting for residents that conveniently omitted the then bond proposal. Remember? The district omitted the word “bond” on the postcard, I suspect, to not rally budget-strapped residents. The district, I’m sure, will deny my interpretation but optics matter.

Rinse. Recycle. Repeat. It’s happening again.

Now, the school district is presenting its school budget to the village board and public attendees on May 2 at Village Hall. The proposed $16 million bond should be given equal time, public discussion and attention and not just passing mention as a part of an annual budget presentation. The bond amount, time and date of the vote should be plastered across the village including on a banner across Main Street.

When the district is purposefully transparent, it will have rightfully earned my vote, and maybe yours too. I hope they do.

Until they do, sign up at www.myvillagemyvote.com to be reminded about upcoming important budget votes and elections. If they won’t do it, residents can.

 

Drew Biondo

Port Jefferson

Legitimate issues with wind and solar power

The letter by George Altemose [TBR News Media, April 13] raises some very legitimate issues with wind and solar power. Politicians are often happy to say that power will be 100% carbon free by a certain date. Such claims as Sunrise Wind providing power for about 600,000 homes as Altemose recounts makes clear the claim is about making electricity generation carbon free; the much more difficult issue is to make all energy use carbon free. Currently, electricity generation amounts to one-third of the energy used by New York state, and of that, about half is already carbon free, coming mainly from nuclear and hydro sources. The other energy uses are about one-third for transportation and one-third for everything else, such as heating buildings and industrial uses. The national goal is to decarbonize electrical generation at the same time that other energy requirements are shifted to electricity, for example, electric vehicles and heat pumps. 

Electrical power generation has to be matched with the demand. As Altemose points out, wind and solar are intermittent sources and there are times when more power is needed than they can produce. It is important that the system includes sources that provide a baseline power such as nuclear, and also power that can be turned on when needed such as hydro. Altemose mentions several forms of energy storage systems that would need further development to address the shortfall in renewable energy. Another key component is the ability to import power from other regions where the wind may be blowing or the sun shining, and for this the grid must be modernized and upgraded. The Inflation Reduction Act includes $65 billion to upgrade the grid and make it more resilient. Once the grid is improved then market forces for electricity should help to distribute energy from the whole country to where it is needed. A high voltage DC line can carry power 1,000 miles with only a few percent losses. 

Additional power will need to be added to the electrical system, to account for electric vehicles and heat pumps. Estimates are that this is comparable to the percentage increase in electrical demand that happened when air conditioning became more widespread. It will happen over tens of years and all systems must be improved over that time scale.

This transition to green energy will not be easy, and the fossil fuel companies will continue to fight it tooth and nail, but we must do it to keep the Earth a good place for humankind. The U.S. has put more CO2 into the atmosphere than any other country, including China, so we must lead the solution of this worldwide problem, and it is good for business to do so. 

Peter Bond, Stony Brook 

Gene Sprouse, South Setauket