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2011 was certainly packed with news-worthy stories, many of which center around our environment. EarthShare New York has come up with a list of 11 stories from 2011 that stick out in our minds, each from a member of EarthShare New York. These stories, each in a different way, show a connection from our environment and our earth to us, the citizens, the community, the people. 2011 was a year full of successes, but not free of tragedies and discouragement. What we take away from this list is how important our world is to our well-being and how critical our conservation and preservation initiatives are to our own lives, and the lives of others. So, in no particular order, we give you…


ESNY’s 11 New York Environment Stories of 2011


1. Throughout the year, Hydraulic Fracturing, or “fracking” has threatened New York’s drinking water and the health of its citizens as organizations and people continue to battle against it. Read more about fracking from Environmental Advocates of New York here and find out from Riverkeeper what you can do to keep our waters clean and safe. 

2. While many New Yorkers feel that the city and state over-prepared for Hurricane Irene, others in this area lost their homes, possessions and even lives due to this extreme and rare storm. Climate change is real and we are now starting to see it in more places that hit close to home. With a hurricane and earthquake in New York in 2011, climate change has started to have a real impact on each of us. Learn more about how extreme weather relates to climate change from ESNY member Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) here. Also, take a minute to read Group for the East End’s Fall 2011 Newsletter "Lessons from Irene."

3. With issues like fracking and hurricanes, it’s more important than ever to connect New Yorkers with nature, to show the real value that lies in protecting and conserving our earth and the creatures who call it home, including both humans and animals. That’s why ESNY was excited to learn that the New York State Parks Department has teamed up with Audubon New York to form Adubon in the Parks, which will work to “advance bird conservation in State Parks through outreach, interpretation, and habitat enhancement efforts.” Birds are a vital, native inhabitant of New York and we’re confident this new effort will contribute to sustaining important eco-systems throughout the area. Read the press release to learn more.

4. With the economy still struggling, this year New Yorkers saw an 18% budget cut in the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, resulting in the loss of many staff members and a shortening of hours of operation. A study from Parks and Trails New York (PTNY), an ESNY member and constant advocate for our parks, has revealed that New York parks have a 5-to-1 return on investment and advises that New York not continue cut funding of the parks. Read the full letter from PTNY Executive Director, Robin Dropkin. You can also read more about PTNY and their work for keeping our parks available on their website.

5. With the 10th Anniversary of September 11th, the date time stood still for many New Yorkers, as well as others around the country and world, New Yorker’s for Parks has continued its annual Daffodil Project in remembrance of those who lost their lives that tragic day. Read an article by the Daily News about the Daffodil Project’s history. And visit New Yorker’s for Parks website to learn even more about the Daffodil Project and the other valuable programs this organization offers to New York.

6. A huge milestone was met this year for New York Restoration Project’s Million Trees NYC. The   500,000th tree was planted in St. Nicholas Park in Harlem on October 18th. Read more about their landmark success and their goals for the next 500,000 tree here.

7. Another ESNY member who has done tremendous work for New York this year is the Westchester Land Trust. While all of their programs are noteworthy, the connection between our environment and our well-being is best expressed through their Food for the Food Bank program. Read here about how Westchester Land Trust's farm is contributing to local efforts to end hunger.  

8. Garbage. It’s something we all have to deal with on an almost daily basis. No matter how much recycling you do, there’s always going to be some garbage to take out. It’s something easy to forget about as soon as the garbage men cart it away, but that isn’t the end of the story. What happens after it leaves your curbside has the most impact on our environment. This year we can celebrate a clean energy victory over Covanata’s (an “Energy-from-Waste and power generation projects”) request to have garbage incineration included in New Yorks “Renewable Portfolio Standard.” At least seven EarthShare members urged the New York State Public Service Commission to reject this petition. Read more about the victory on New York Public Interest Group’s website.

9. For years environmentalists have been fighting with General Electric to stop dumping polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) into the Hudson River. In recent years, Riverkeeper and others were able to celebrate victories over this long, hard battle as GE and the EPA began Phase 1 of the cleanup. And this summer they were able to celebrate more as Phase 2, the final phase, was implemented. Read about the hisotoric Hudson River clean up here.

10. Clearwater’s America’s Great Outdoors Initiative, part of their Green Cities Initiative, made a huge impact on the communities of the Hudson Valley as citizens, including youth, spoke up on their need for access to open space and environmental education. Read Clearwater’s newsletter about this initiative.

11. Lastly, we leave you with the Open Space Institute’s Reflections on Conservation in 2011. They have worked for decades to give New Yorkers open space to enjoy and 2011 was certainly a year of victories for them, protecting 2,725 acres of land in New York, including nearly 1,400 acres of farmland. Read about their land acquisitions and the impacts they had on New York communities here.

 

Baba Dioum

EarthShare New York is proud to support to it's member charities and the work they do to keep New York healthy and beautiful. Would you consider making a donation or monthly gift to continue supporting all of the organizations listed above and many more?

 

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