May 20, 2017

Honesty Or Loyalty

I find that I can't sleep, pondering over the significance of honesty or loyalty, or of simply caring too much. President Trump asked the FBI Director, James Comey for his loyalty, to which Comey replied that he would have his honesty[1].

Yesterday, I had planned a brief stop in the Long Island Pine Barrens, after delivering a truck full of native plants to Southampton. I wanted to stop, finger the pitch pine, and directly see the puff of its pollen. This pollen was dusting our roads, cars, and air with fine yellow powder. Despite the onslaught of the southern pine beetle, the trees stood firm.

As I drove into the NYSDEC Parking Lot #18 on Whiskey Road,  I was pleased to find a replaced, well designed and crafted, entrance way into the Rocky Point Pine Barrens State Forest.

Rocky Point Pine Barrens State Forest Entrance

But to my dismay, spent too much time there. I walked the entire length of the recently cleared administrative road. Administrative roads are used by staff, and somehow don't seem to count as environmental impacts. Dead pine trees had been bulldozed up a hillside and dumped. I also noted road cuts (installed for water drainage even though some areas were sandy and well drained), piled sand, and exposed tree roots. Volunteer time to restore an onsite hiking trail with a reroute, were set to higher standards, even when these impacts would be much less harsh.

Many of us took great pains to replant and narrow and stabilize this road, to protect it from erosion and illegal ATV abuses.

My gut reaction was to call the NYSDEC and complain, then to realize later that my honesty usually always backfires. It won't matter that, "I meant well, but was misguided [2]," that I more than likely just antagonized the guy, that I would further the opinion of being troublemaker, aka, not being a loyal citizen of the republic.
What would it take to cover exposed tree roots?

President Trump offered Comey, "honest loyalty," to which Comey furtively agreed. But this oxymoron was doomed to fail. Shortly, thereafter, the FBI Director was fired.

Instead of being fired,  I run a struggling nonprofit perceived as a threat. But maybe that's not so bad, compared to Honduras. "Nowhere are you more likely to be killed for standing up to companies that grab land and trash the environment than in Honduras [3]."

Reflecting back on yesterday's outing, I realize the need to move beyond the "too muchness" of honesty or loyalty.  Lost in a repeating cycle of human and environmental degradation,  John F. Kennedy challenges us to "hold office."

"For in a democracy, every citizen, regardless of his interest in politics, 'hold office'; everyone of us is in a position of responsibility; and, in the final analysis, the kind of government we get depends upon how we fulfill those responsibilities. We, the people, are the boss, and we will get the kind of political leadership, be it good or bad, that we demand and deserve [4]."


The next step is to further document damage and NYSDEC road clearing standards in state forest.
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References

[1] - https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/11/us/politics/trump-comey-firing.html

[2] - An employee's advice to my friends who were new at their government jobs.

[3] - https://www.globalwitness.org/en/campaigns/environmental-activists/honduras-deadliest-country-world-environmental-activism/

[4] - [p. 265] - John Kennedy - Profiles of Courage. https://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Research-Aids/Ready-Reference/JFK-Quotations/Profiles-in-Courage-quotations.aspx


May 9, 2017

When Picking Up Trash Goes Viral

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
When Picking Up Trash Goes Viral


What: Great Brookhaven Cleanup, Hands Across The Sand, Endangered Species Day
Where: Cedar Beach Harbor Road, NY
When: Saturday, May 20, 9-2 pm


Why: Trash is going viral, ever since Keep America Beautiful began their Great American Cleanup, nineteen years ago, and locally as Great Brookhaven Cleanup. Trash is polluting our coastal waters. Trash is a danger to endangered species, like turtles, that mistake it for food. Trash feeds landfills, and the resulting methane gas adds to climate change. Trash is going viral, but in a bad way too.

April 26, 2017

IMMP: World Trade Organization Rewards Dolphin Killing By Mexican Tuna Fishing Fleet


The International Marine Mammal Project (IMMP) of Earth Island Institute slammed yesterday’s World Trade Organization (WTO) Panel ruling.  Director David Phillips called it “a ploy to undermine the highly successful and popular US Dolphin Safe tuna labeling law that has protected dolphins since 1990.” 

He continued:  “Shame on the WTO and shame on Mexico for trying to force dolphin deadly tuna back onto US supermarket shelves with a phony Dolphin Safe label.   Mexican fishermen should comply with the same Dolphin Safe label requirements that every other tuna fishing country uses.  Chasing, netting, and killing dolphins is not Dolphin Safe and it never will be.”

“It is high time that Mexico quits this environmentally disastrous fishing practice, rather than trying to force its dolphin deadly tuna onto US supermarket shelves by constant whining about fictitious trade barriers,” added Phillips.

April 13, 2017

Protecting The Endangered Species Act

Mindy Block Quality Parks Founder and President, who did her graduate thesis work on the endangered piping plover, contacted the Center for Biological Diversity to become more active in the resistance movement. Quality Parks joined the coalition and took the the 501(h) option to clarify abilities to speak out against environmentally damaging legislation.  Shortly thereafter, Quality Parks became one of the signers of a letter opposing Anti ESA legislation. ​​​​

March 14, 2017

It's More About The Vision Than The Pine Barrens Trail Center Dedication

Article Contributed by Ken Kindler

Trails Center Meeting
March 2017
Attending:  Mindy Block, Kara Hahn, Al Krupski, Annelies, Jane Fasullo, Ken Kindler

A small group of us met at the Riverhead County Center last week to discuss the re-opening of the Trails Center in Manorville. As we introduced ourselves, I was flattered that Kara Hahn recognized me – saying “oh, you’re the guy who helped create the Forsythe Meadow Trail in Stony Brook.”  That’s a 36-acre park dedicated to Nora Bredes, A Suffolk County Legislator who died after a long battle with breast cancer in August 2011 at the age of 60.  Nora was a champion of drinking water protection and open space preservation. ​​I then remembered how I had learned about the dedication of the trail a couple of years ago while I was surfing the internet the day before the event and decided to attend. To her credit, Kara recognized me in the crowd and without having prepared it in her statements and while praising the Boy Scouts for the work they had contributed on this Suffolk County Parks-built trail, gave me credit for my work on the trail.

Nora was a champion of drinking water protection and open space preservation.


March 10, 2017

Trump Takes it Personally: An Environmentalist's Point of View

Contributed by Mindy Block, Quality Parks President

Connecting the dots is often mentioned by economist, Robert Reich, who recently explained that corporations are doing just fine with environmental regulations. Then why is it that President Trump has an agenda to strip the EPA of its budget and regulations?

For those unfamiliar with environmental regulations, let me bring forth two bills of consequence.

The National Environmental Protection Act (NEPA) declared: to "encourage productive and enjoyable harmony between man and his environment; to promote efforts which will prevent or eliminate damage to the environment and biosphere and stimulate the health and welfare of man; to enrich the understanding of the ecological systems and natural resources important to the Nation" [1].  

And the Endangered Species Act declared: to provide "a means whereby the ecosystems upon which endangered species and threatened species depend may be conserved, to provide a program for the conservation of such endangered species and threatened species" [2].

So when it comes to the President Trump agenda, well nothing made sense to me for quite some time, unless you think about property rights [3] being at odds with government.  A case in point is 
Ferry Point Park (NYC Parks). This public park is approximately 414 acres, and is located in Bronx, NY.  I grew up in the Bronx. And I know how important it is have access to open space and in an otherwise urban area. Most of the park, unfortunately is developed. Trump golf properties leases and operates over half of the park as a  222 acre golf course.


December 23, 2016

CLIMB Meets with Suffolk County Legislature, begins with Al Krupski

Originally Posted  by Michael Vitti, on CLIMB Facebook page - 12/21/16


This past week CLIMB met with Suffolk County Legislator Al Krupski, along with the Long Island Sierra Club, Quality Parks, and Open Space Trails Advocate, Ken Kindler, to introduce ourselves and let them know that we feel under appreciated by the county. 

We informed him of all the things we do to benefit the public by creating a resource the county would never be able to do on their own yet they don't return our emails or phone calls in a timely manner. Should it really take six months to return an email reporting a neighboring property owner bulldozing the woods within the park to make his own personal ATV track? Like Rodney Dangerfield I tell you we don't get no respect!

One of the basic problems is that the county doesn't value the recreational trails we have created and currently maintain.