Building a Green Legacy: A Local Nonprofit

Bedford 2020 is making waves in local environmental planning

FCWC’s Announces its Three Honorees for its 50th Anniversary Gala on September 26, 2015

FCWC 50th LOGOOn September 26, 2015, Federated Conservationists of Westchester County (FCWC) will be holding its 50th Anniversary Gala to celebrate its achievements over the past five decades. The evening will be held at a private estate in Sleepy Hollow, and will be filled with music, hors d’oeuvres, and good company. We will be marking this milestone event by honoring three of Westchester’s most influential environmental leaders, Pace Law School, Bedford 2020, and Dr. Cynthia Rosenzweig.

FCWC took care in the selection of its honorees, as it was important to represent its the three founding pillars: Education, Advocacy, and Science. Additionally, due to the significance of this occasion, FCWC wanted to honor an institution, nonprofit, and individual. We are so pleased to award these outstanding environmental leaders with our selective Green Legacy Award; we thank them for their environmental contributions to our Westchester community and the world.

We are proud of what our honorees have accomplished in the realm of environmental progress, so would like to provide a little background on each of them.

Bedford 2020

Screenshot 2015-08-13 23.39.45A local nonprofit, Bedford 2020 has been a trailblazer for community outreach and grassroots environmental activism. Their mission has been to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 20% by the year 2020 in the town of Bedford, NY. Bedford 2020 has identified a five-part action plan to achieve this goal, the areas include: Energy, Food & Agriculture, Transportation, Waste & Recycling, and Water & Land Use. FCWC is appreciative of their many accomplishments and progress this group has made. We are delighted to have selected Bedford 2020 as one of this year’s Honorees, as they represent the importance of grassroots organization.

bedford2020This year, one the group’s most successful events was an Environmental Summit & Solar Action Day; an event that had over 550 attendees and over 88 sign-ups so far for Solarize Bedford – Mt. Kisco. An inspiring day of action, there were workshops, speakers, and expo to showcase the great green businesses and community groups in the area.  The Summit  brought great environmental visionaries all under one roof, and really jump-started (funny electricity pun!) the community into environmental action.

From one nonprofit to another, FCWC truly respects all the hard work Bedford 2020 has done to make their hometown a better place. This group has become a community hub, and a respected institution in Bedford and all of Westchester. We are delighted to be presenting this Award to this outstanding group.

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Building a Green Legacy: A Westchester Institution

Pace Law School creating the environmental legal leaders of the future

FCWC’s Announces its Three Honorees for its 50th Anniversary Gala on September 26, 2015

FCWC 50th LOGOOn September 26, 2015, Federated Conservationists of Westchester County (FCWC) will be holding its 50th Anniversary Gala to celebrate its achievements over the past five decades. The evening will be held at a private estate in Sleepy Hollow, and will be filled with music, hors d’oeuvres, and good company. We will be marking this milestone event by honoring three of Westchester’s most influential environmental leaders, Pace Law School, Bedford 2020, and Dr. Cynthia Rosenzweig.

FCWC took care in the selection of its honorees, as it was important to represent its the three founding pillars: Education, Advocacy, and Science. Additionally, due to the significance of this occasion, FCWC wanted to honor an institution, nonprofit, and individual. We are so pleased to award these outstanding environmental leaders with our selective Green Legacy Award; we thank them for their environmental contributions to our Westchester community and the world.

We are proud of what our honorees have accomplished in the realm of environmental progress, so would like to provide a little background on each of them.

Pace Law School

Pace Climate and EnergyIn 1980, Pace Law School became a pioneer in the world of environmental law; and in 2015, it has risen to become one of the premiere institutions for environmental legal studies. Pace Law School’s prestigious Environmental Law Program is consistently ranked among the top four environmental law programs nationally. Though the many accolades this program has received are impressive, FCWC has selected Pace Law School as one of our 50th Anniversary Honorees for its commitment to bettering its local community.

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New! A Look into the Past – “Listen to the Sound 2000 Aims to Preserve Open Space”

This is the eighth installment of our “A Look into Our Past” Series, honoring the past five decades of work done by Federated Conservationists of Westchester County. This series revisits some of our best accomplishments by featuring past articles from our original publication “Westchester Environment.”


“Westchester Environment” – Vol. 2000 No. 2, March-April 2000

Listen to the Sound 2000 Aims to Preserve Open Space

Listen to the Sound 2000By Jane-Kerin Moffat, Coordinator of the Listen to the Sound 2000 Campaign

In 1990, area residents described their vision for the Long Island Sound as “…waters are clean, clear, safe to swim in and charged with life…a vision of waters nourished and protected by extensive coastal wetlands, of publicly accessible, litter-free beaches and preserves, and of underdeveloped islands of abundant and diverse wildlife, of flourishing commercial fisheries, of harbors accessible to the boating public, and of a regional consciousness and way of life that protects and sustains the ecosystem.”

Those who are about the estuary are urged to testify at Year 2000 citizens’ hearings to create a Long Island Sound reserve ecosystem – a comprehensive set of permanently protected open space and underwater lands around the Sound. Public testimony will help establish a compelling record of citizen concern for decision-makers at every level of government. It will help establish a consensus on what lands to protect and how, and it will focus public awareness on the need for stewardship of our shorelines.

This process was a success ten years ago. At that time Federated Conservationists was a major cosponsor when National Audubon Society created the first Listen to the Sound Campaign. Subsequently, FCWC was founding member of the Long Island Sound Watershed Alliance, which grew out of that campaign. The 1990 Citizens’ Agenda, which drew on testimony from over 500 area residents, and the ensuing coalition laid the foundation of the federal-state Comprehensive Conservation and Management Plan for the South, which was adopted in 1994.

FCWC has long championed preservation of such waterfront sites as Edith G. Read Sanctuary, Marshlands Conservancy, Jay Heritage Center, and advocated the acquisition of Huckleberry and, of course, Davids Island among other sites. Restoring wetlands and proving pubic access to the Sound are also important parts of FCWC’s mission.

Teaming up with Beczak

Teaming up with Beczak: Welcoming CURB and gearing up for new programming

CURB Research
Welcome Sarah Lawrence College Center for the Urban River at Beczak (CURB)

Established in 2013, the Center for the Urban River at Beczak (CURB), an alliance of Sarah Lawrence College and the Hudson River Valley Environmental Education Institute (aka Beczak), has been educating the public about the relationship between the Hudson River and its urban neighbors. The mission behind CURB has two main components: 1) the advancement of scientific pursuits in conservation and river health, and 2) the development of community integration into that field.

CURB has set out to achieve its mission by:

  • Providing high quality K-12 environmental education,
  • Establishing a hub for research and monitoring focused on the Hudson River estuary and urban watershed issues, and
  • Serving as a welcoming open community space for a variety of civic and cultural activities.

Beczak Center

The center, a fully outfitted research facility located at 35 Alexander Street in Yonkers, sits on a remediated brownfield that features a constructed tidal marsh to soften the shoreline of the Hudson River. The combination of research equipment and a rich natural subject like the restored greenspace allows for hosts of opportunities for interested parties to study conservation and other topics associated with river health.

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Hidden Gems of Westchester County

Three Westchester County parks you should see this summer

July means that summer is fully underway, and you may be finding the season’s early euphoria fading as you try to figure out what to do and where to do it. To help FCWC has composed a list of the three hidden gems from Westchester County.


Cranberry Lake Preserve
http://www.danbalogh.com/cranberry.html

1) Cranberry Lake Preserve – White Plains, NY 

Situated on a peninsula between the Kensico Reservoir and Rye Lake, Cranberry Lake Preserve offers 190-acres of land to explore and enjoy just outside bustling White Plains. One of Westchester County’s parks, this area it is unique to have such a large lake and 7-acres of bog and wetland so close to an urban area.

Cranberry Lake Preserve is also a place for viewing hard to come by plant species due to the quarry part of the park where minerals are leaching into the soil. Some of these species include pink lady slipper, sun dew, and of course the park’s namesake, cranberry. A huge rock excavation, the quarry provided the granite for the Kensico dam and is an important feature in the County. Today, visitors can explore the site which has a landscape that would be more common of areas Upstate.

Learn More!


Blue Mountain Reservation
http://www.westchestermagazine.com/Best-Top-Parks-In-Westchester/

2) Blue Mountain Reservation – Peekskill, NY

Known more for the sportsman center and mountain biking, Blue Mountain Reservation actually has a number of unique landscape features, making it a must-visit destination this summer. This County Park has the largest number of functioning vernal pools (over 136) in the County, offering important amphibian habitat and breeding area. The park features miles of trails, including challenging hikes to the tops of two park peaks, Mt. Spitzenberg and Blue Mountain.

Learn More!


Marshlands
http://juliejourneys.com/2015/01/06/westchester-hike-in-rye-marshlands-conservancy/

3) Marshlands Conservancy – Rye, NY

The Salt Marsh at Marshlands Conservancy is one of the largest remaining salt marsh mud flats along Long Island Sound in Westchester County. Located along the Atlantic migratory bird flyway, this area is a great birdwatching location; over 230 species have been sighted there. Visitors to Marshlands Conservancy can participate in nature studies or just enjoy the forest, meadow, salt marsh, and shore.

Learn More!


Special thanks to John Baker, Director of Conservation and Ken Uhle, Landscape Architect for Westchester County Department of Parks, Recreation, and Conservation for assistance in putting this list together.

A Look Into Our Past – “Ward Pound Ridge Reservation gets Biodiversity Preserves”

This is the seventh installment of our “A Look into Our Past” Series, honoring the past five decades of environmental work in Westchester County. This series revisits some of our best accomplishments by featuring past articles from our original publication “Westchester Environment.” 


“Westchester Environment” – Vol. 97 No. 3 – March & April 1997

4059_001(1)Ward Pound Ridge Reservation gets Biodiversity Preserves

By Gudrun LeLash, FCWC Executive Director 1997

For several years FCWC studied how to protect biodiversity and habitat in Westchester. It received funds for computer hard and software for data gathering and public education through the good offices of State Assemblyman Richard Brodsky. Preexisting and new data were collected.

In 1994, under the leadership of Michael Klemens, herpetologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society, a cooperative effort among the Westchester County Parks and Planning Departments, WCS and FCWC began in county parks – land already protected and accessible to us. Since it is public land, we felt we might be able to influence the management and protection of sensitive natural areas.

After three years of field study, two areas of Ward Pound Ridge Reservation, nearly 1,500 acres, were declared Biodiversity Preserves by the Parks Board. The land was deemed of significant value, and biodiversity protection will be a major consideration in future plans for the park. Although not as strongly worded as we would have liked, it is, however, a beginning in the effort to secure the species and habitat diversity.

Our efforts notwithstanding, safeguarding Westchester’s natural resources will still depend on interested public citizens 50 or 100 years hence. If the Reservation were developed outside the Biodiversity Preserves, these protected areas would be at risk. For that matter, if the rural neighborhood bordering the Reservation were paved up to its boundary, the preserves would be jeopardized.

As they say, in this democracy, educated citizens and eternal vigilance are vital. What we have achieved, however, is a heightened sense of awareness about the species and habitats that exist within Ward Pound Ridge Reservation and elsewhere in our region.

A Look Into Our Past – Westchester Environment, “Farmland in Westchester?”

This is the sixth installment of our “A Look into Our Past” Series, honoring the past five decades of environmental work in Westchester County. This series revisits some of our best accomplishments by featuring past articles from our original publication “Westchester Environment.” 

In this post we would like to highlight the importance of farmland in Westchester County, as per our theme for this month’s E-News. This article, written by Gudrun “Goodie” LeLash our then Executive Director, cites the need to preserve a local farm on the Cortlandt/Yorktown border called Hemlock Hill Farm and owned by the DeMaria family. The call to action was a success and today Hemlock Hill Farm is able to provide its community with farm-fresh products. Visit their website at http://www.hemlockhillfarm.com.


“Westchester Environment” – Vol. 96 No. 2 – March & April 1996

Farmland in Westchester?

By Gudrun LeLash, FCWC Executive Director 1996

FullSizeRender

It may be hard to believe, but vestiges of the county’s rural heritage still exist. However, one of Westchester’s few remaining farms is threatened with foreclosure, and New York City may be the only entity that can preserve it.

The DeMaria Farm, “Hemlock Hill,” situated on a scenic hilltop straddling the Cortlandt/Yorktown border, is in grave jeopardy. With the help of Westchester Land Trust a conservation plan has been proposed to the owners, the mortgage holders and the NYC Department of Environmental Protection. It would involve DEP acquisition of the land through its watershed protection program. The DeMarias would use the proceeds for settling outstanding debts and as working capital for the farm.

About half the farm’s roughly 120 acres is in active agricultural use. The rest is wooded buildable land, although some areas are steep, rocky or wet. The land drains into Hunter Brook which runs directly into nearby Croton Reservoir. The farm is one of just a few large parcels comprising the Hunter Brook drainage area and has been a top property conservation site for over 20 years. Efforts to develop a greenway along Hunter Brook are being renewed by the Westchester Land Trust.

It is urgent that the DEP make a commitment soon since foreclosure would result in a Sheriff’s sale of the farm and eviction of the DeMarias within the next couple months. If the lenders gain title to the farm, it will undoubtedly be developed. Time is of the essence.

The DEP has visited the DeMaria Farm but has not committed to its protection. However, County Executive O’Rourke has urged the DEP to pursue acquisition of the land’s development rights. The Watershed Agricultural Council, set up as a watershed farm assistance bureau, funded by the DEP and Cornell, has shown interest in helping the DeMarias develop a watershed-sensitive farm plan that also makes financial sense.

This would be a wonderful opportunity to save a farm, create a greenbelt and demonstrate environmentally sound farming.