The excitement East Enders feel when spotting the first osprey of the season is a predictable recurrence in springtime, but it was not always that way. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, “the breeding population declined from an estimated 1,000 active nests in the 1940s, between New York City and Boston, to an estimated 150 nests in 1969.” Something had to be done.
As raptor populations were plummeting, Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring was published in 1962 and drew attention to the negative environmental effects of pesticides, especially on these large birds of prey. Ten years and countless hours of advocacy later (in 1972), the harmful pesticide DDT was banned by the U.S. government and our East End osprey population finally stood a chance.
“In addition to Carson, many Long Island environmental activists were instrumental to the success of the environmental movement in the 1960’s and beyond,” said Dai Dayton of Friends of the Long Pond Greenbelt. “Victor Yannacone, an attorney in Yaphank, developed legal strategy and publicity campaigns to ban DDT.”
“Dennis Puleston, a naturalist in Brookhaven, presented studies of declining Osprey populations and sued the U.S. government to start a movement that would eventually ban DDT,” said Frank Quevedo of the . “Until recently, the Dennis Puleston Osprey Fund operated a live webcam to educate the public about these beautiful birds.”
“Many local environmental organizations were forming by the mid-1970s and into the 1980s to combat irresponsible development, raise awareness, and ensure a healthy environment in our region,” said Bob DeLuca, President of . “We all contribute to a healthy environment in our own way, drawing inspiration from early environmental leaders like Rachel Carson.”
Kathryn Szoka, whose photo essay "Vanishing Landscapes" chronicles the changing rural landscape of the East End, says, "Rachel Carson's work and legacy inspires me, and shows us all that speaking up for a balance between human needs and the health of the natural environment can bring about positive change. It's the speaking up that matters most."
To honor Rachel Carson, the 50th anniversary of Silent Spring, and the many environmental accomplishments of the past 50 years, East End environmentalists are ready to celebrate!
An event planned for Saturday, April 28, will feature guest speaker and author, Linda Lear, who wrote the biography Rachel Carson: Witness for Nature as well as the introductions to all of Carson’s published works. Wine and hors d’oeuvres provided by Grapes of Roth, , and Cavaniola’s Cheese Shop.
Date/Time: Saturday, April 28 from 4 to 7 p.m.
Location: South Fork Natural History Museum (SoFo)
377 Bridgehampton/Sag Harbor Turnpike, Bridgehampton
Tickets: $50 before April 20, $60 after April 20
More Info: www.longpondgreenbelt.org