Tag Archive | "conservation"

Frank Quevedo

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By Mara Certic

Frank Quevedo is the executive director at the South Fork Museum of Natural History. He spoke to us about the conservation needs of the state and on the East End.

 The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation recently released a list of the Species of Greatest Conservation Need, which named 186 species of animals, which are in need of immediate conservation action. What were your thoughts on first seeing the report?

This is just a revision of an existing list that already came out. So this list that just came out right before Christmas is the updated, revised list from the DEC letting the public know and environmentalists know that these species are now of greatest concern and we need to implement management plans now, or else in 10 years their populations won’t be sustainable. So this is really concerning to see this list—and there’s a lot of species on this list that we didn’t really know were in danger of decline.

Are there any species in particular that you were surprised to see listed?

 The one that stands out, right off the bat, for high priority species of greatest concern is the American black duck. As a birder, I see a lot of American black ducks around, and I wasn’t really concerned about their population because I see them pretty often. What I think this represents is that the American black duck is now hybridizing with the American Mallard. Another thing that jumped out at me is like the wood thrush. Our understory in our woodlands are being depleted because of a high deer population—the deer are really destroying our understory. A lot of these thrushes and warblers that nest on the ground in that understory are not having that habitat anymore. What it really comes down to is that our habitats need to be focused on as a whole, for all of these species. All these species are connected, and we’re connected to the natural world too, so we have to really focus on the ecosystem as a whole, rather than the individual species. That’s just my opinion. The primary reason for this, however, is habitat loss and habitat development. And now we’re in a crisis mode, now we have a 10-year window to do something about it and this should have been implemented many years ago.

In addition to all of the animals put onto the list, 18 species were removed from the list and their populations were deemed secure within the state. Is this due to conservation efforts or natural events?

It’s funny, ecosystems and how animals interact with one another is very complex. The reasoning behind why Coopers hawks are removed from the SGCN list probably has to do with a high abundance of more prey available for these predators. Maybe they’re thriving because there isn’t enough habitat for birds to hide in—Coopers hawks feed on other birds. Believe it or not, even though the Coopers hawk was taken off the list, there’s still an imbalance there. They’re taken off the list because something is thriving in their world, making them more abundant. I don’t have the scientific data to support my opinion here, I don’t know exactly why they were taken off the list, that’s something maybe the DEC can answer.

What are some of the things we can do here on the East End to continue and further conservation efforts? 

Education is not the solution, it’s the beginning point. Letting people understand how important biodiversity is in nature, how fragile ecosystems are, how sensitive the natural environment is. In such a short period of time, we’ve seen a decline in wildlife; whether it’s pollution, habitat fragmentation, climate change, whatever the factors are, it all comes down to educating people and making them understand the connection we have with nature, but also how sensitive it is too. So education is, without a doubt, first and foremost.


East Hampton Sets Alternative Energy Goal

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By Stephen K. Kotz

The East Hampton Town Board on Tuesday voted to set a goal of meeting 100-percent of the community’s electricity needs with renewable energy sources by 2020.

“Energy efficiency improvements and solar rooftop systems can save homeowners several of thousand dollars a year while building local solar farms can generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in lease revenue for the town,” said Supervisor Larry Cantwell in a press release.

In response to several LIPA/PSEG-Long Island requests for proposals, the town has already selected a number of proposals from solar developers for large scale solar farms on town-owned land. Looking further ahead the Town Board also set a goal of meeting the equivalent of 100 percent of communitywide energy consumption in electricity, heating, and transportation with renewable energy sources by the year 2030.

“Our everyday lives are impacted by the effects of global warming. We owe it to the children of East Hampton to do something about climate change and air pollution caused by fossil fuels,” said Town Councilwoman Sylvia Overby.

The move comes as the area has seen an increase in summer peak demand for electricity and PSEG Long Island began installing unsightly transmission lines which have become a point of public contention and legal action. The 100 percent goal was prompted by a unanimous recommendation from the Town’s Energy Sustainability Committee and builds on a Comprehensive Energy Vision document, adopted by the Town last October, which called for establishing specific energy efficiency and renewable energy goals and timelines.

“Establishing goals for renewable energy is the lowest hanging fruit in sustainable energy practices since the technologies have advanced sufficiently to be efficient and cost effective,” said Frank Dalene, chairman of the town’s Energy Sustainability Committee.

Rededication Celebrates Family Committed to Conservation

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Family members David Mulvihill IV, his son Liam and Mary Ann Mulvihill-Decker plant a Prunus Virginiana native cherry tree in memory of Dolores Zebrowski during the re-dedication ceremony for the Anna and Daniel Mulvihill Preserve on the grounds of the preserve on Friday, May 9. Photo by Michael Heller.

Family members Daniel Mulvihill IV, his son Liam and Mary Ann Mulvihill-Decker plant a Prunus Virginiana native cherry tree in memory of Dolores Zebrowski during the re-dedication ceremony for the Anna and Daniel Mulvihill Preserve on the grounds of the preserve on Friday, May 9. Photo by Michael Heller.

By Kathryn G. Menu

Long before Anna and Daniel Mulvihill purchased what would become known in the Mulvihill family as “The Farm” off Brick Kiln Road in 1921, a native cherry tree had taken root in front of the home.

“By the time I played here in their front yard, the tree was huge, strong, solid and like one of the family,” said Anna and Daniel’s granddaughter, Mary Ann Mulvihill-Decker, last Friday. “My cousins, sisters and I all played up in its labyrinth of thick branches.”

Ms. Mulvihill-Decker spoke these words at a rededication of the Anna and Daniel Mulvihill Preserve on Friday, shortly before she joined three generations of family members in planting a new cherry tree in the same location the old tree once stood. The new tree was dedicated in memory of the late Dolores Zebrowski (the daughter of Anna and Daniel Mulvihill), and was nourished with water from a holy well in Ireland where her great grandfather, Patrick Mulvihill, was born.

Friday’s rededication ceremony celebrated Ms. Zebrowski’s efforts to preserve 85 acres of land off Brick Kiln Road—land that was home to generations of her family. Ms. Zebrowksi worked with Southampton Town and the Peconic Land Trust to establish the original 75-acre preserve and, according to family members, worked tirelessly until her death in October 2012 to preserve the remaining acreage as well as the Mulvihill farmhouse, which is now a historic landmark. In December 2013, the house and remaining 10 acres of land were purchased by the town through the Community Preservation Fund.

Ms. Zebrowski’s dedication to conservation was matched by her brother, William P. Mulvihill, who preserved 34 acres adjacent to the Anna and Daniel Mulvihill Preserve in the Great Swamp in 2006.

The 300-acre Great Swamp is bounded by Brick Kiln Road, the Bridgehampton Turnpike and Scuttlehole Road, linked to the Long Pond Greenbelt and a part of the Peconic Bioreserve. Centered on the Bridgehampton moraine, according to research gathered by William Mulvihill and fellow conservationists, the Great Swamp contains a host of vernal ponds and freshwater wetlands, untouched stretches of red maple-hardwood swamp and pitch pine oak and mixed mesophytic forests, providing a sanctuary for a number of animal and plant species, allowed to grow wild under the stewardship of the Mulvihill family.

On Friday, Southampton Town Councilwoman Bridget Fleming, the board’s liaison to Sag Harbor, said the board was unanimous in every effort to help preserve the acreage, but gave much of the credit to the Mulvihill family’s conservation ethos, and to New York State Senator Ken P. LaValle and Assemblyman Fred W. Thiele Jr., the architects of the Peconic Bay Regional CPF, which has enabled towns on the East End to preserve vast acreage over the last 15 years.

“This year alone we have expended over eight million CPF dollars to preserve more than 44 acres and there is much more to come,” said Councilwoman Fleming at the rededication. “With the addition of these 10 acres and the landmarking and preservation of the farmhouse, we have accomplished the vision of Bill Mulvihill, Dolores Zebrowski and the whole Mulvihill family to assemble all 110 acres, which is now preserved in perpetuity as wild lands for the benefit of the public and in support of the wildlife and natural resources of this beautiful place.”

According to Assemblyman Thiele, within the next two years over a billion dollars will have been collected through the CPF for preservation purposes during the program’s 15-year history.

“To put that in context, that is more money than the State of New York has spent on open space preservation across the entire state,” he said.

“That being said, CPF or private conservation, it doesn’t work without one thing—you have to have a family that has the conservation ethic and sees the bigger picture, a family that realizes the stewardship of the land is not just important for the family but critical for the future and that is something the Mulvihill family recognized.”

“I think his legacy was really his children,” Daniel Mulvihill III, the grandson of Anna and Daniel Mulvihill and nephew of Ms. Zebrowski, said of his grandfather. “They inherited from him and my grandmother a love for this land and the desire to keep it this way for future generations.”

Daniel’s father, Daniel Mulvihill II, would introduce his own children to “woods walks,” days spent meandering the acreage around the farm.

“I think my grandfather imbued in his children a great sense of conservation and William and Dan were great disciples,” he said. “And then there was Dolores. I really think Dolores was the most remarkable woman I have ever met. When she died I think she was Sag Harbor’s most beloved person.”

“She wanted to complete this puzzle,” he added. “And she literally worked on this project until the day she died. I think in my mind, and for a lot of people in the family, this is a tribute to the dedication of Dolores.”