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
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.