Some of our staff here at the Democrat live in Liberty and commute every morning to Callicoon. The drive takes about a half hour and, compared to morning commutes in other parts of the country, it's …
Some of our staff here at the Democrat live in Liberty and commute every morning to Callicoon. The drive takes about a half hour and, compared to morning commutes in other parts of the country, it's actually quite relaxing. There's no toll booths or bumper to bumper traffic. There's only you and the open road.
While driving along the stretch of 17B that straddles the Callicoon Creek, it's easy to look up in the trees to see a bald eagle perched on a frozen branch, patiently surveying the water below for its breakfast.
It wasn't so long ago that the bald eagle was a less common sight. As we approach the 50th anniversary of the New York Department of Environmental Conservation this year, it's important to remember the men and women who work to preserve our natural environment for future generations to admire.
During the 19th and early 20th century, the New York DEC estimates that the Empire State was home to more than 70 nesting pairs of bald eagles, and was the chosen wintering grounds of several hundred.
By 1960, the state had only one known active bald eagle nest remaining, and the number of wintering visitors had been reduced to less than a few dozen.
The DEC says that decades of indiscriminate killing, along with increasing competition for habitat and the widespread use of harmful new chemicals nearly destroyed New York's bald eagles.
Just as human activity was disrupting more and more eagle habitat, DDT and other organochlorine compounds were contaminating prey species and accumulating in the eagles' bodies, with the unanticipated effect of thinning their eggshells until they could no longer survive incubation.
A national ban on DDT in 1972, prohibits against taking or killing bald eagles in the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973 and the initiation of New York's Endangered Species Program in 1976 began a dramatic turnaround for our national symbol.
New York's Bald Eagle Restoration Project undertook an unprecedented goal - to bring back a breeding population of eagles to New York by importing young birds from other states and hand rearing them to independence (a process known as hacking). Between 1976 and 1988, biologists collected 198 nestling bald eagles, most of them from Alaska. They transported the eaglets to suitable habitats in New York, provided food while the birds became accustomed to their new environment, and released them when they were able to fly.
The hacked eagles thrived, returning to New York to nest and breed. By 1989, the hacking project had reached its goal of establishing 10 breeding pairs, and was ended. Today, more than 170 pairs of eagles nest in the state.
“New York state has been a leader in the restoration and recovery of the bald eagle in the northeastern United States," DEC Commissioner Basil Seggos said recently about the population increase. "This news confirms that our rivers, lakes and forests are capable of supporting our nation's symbol for generations to come.”
During this anniversary year for the DEC, we look forward to highlighting more of the great work they do.
There's plenty we can do individually to conserve Sullivan County's greatest resources - from recycling more electronic waste to purchasing reusable grocery bags instead of single-use plastic ones.
Our forests, rivers and lakes are not inherited from our forebearers. They're borrowed from our descendents.
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