The following riders caught our attention:
Quality Parks signed on to this big coalition letter expressing opposition to all the major environmental riders attached to the NDAA bills (80 signed organizations and counting). Riders are additional items added to a bill, as a tactic used to get them passed. We also contacted the Defenders of Wildlife to learn that they will be drafting a summary statement regarding the extent to which the Trump administration is undermining environmental protection.
The following riders caught our attention:
"During each five-year environmental review, the military (usually the Department of the Navy) must consult with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service to analyze the impacts of its readiness activities, estimate incidental take of marine mammals, and determine appropriate mitigation measures in coordination with agency scientists." The rider would extend this review process to 10 years.
Written by Mindy Block (Statue of Liberty photo - National Park Service )
Why am I a Naturalist? For me, it began with the cutting of my favorite tree -- the tree grew in the Bronx. My family came from Eastern Europe, immigrating to America, where the Statue of Liberty and a message "never forget," signified what little I knew of my Jewish heritage.
Written by Mindy Block
President Trump had asked the FBI Director, James Comey for his loyalty, to which he replied that he would have his honesty. Locally, in the Rocky Point Pine Barrens, an administrative road was "upgraded" to a fire road. The magnitude of the impact and my honesty (despite a troubled sleep) called upon me to rise early the next morning to take pen to paper. I've been loyal too. But the "upgraded" fire road )from what I understood of it's purpose) did more than enable two brush trucks to pass side by side.
Trees slashed and bulldozed to the top of a hill to clear the road. Theses same trees Ray, Kenny and I had planted to stabilize the road. In hindsight, would we do it again?
Trail maintainers take great pains to create sustainable trails that flow, that guard against erosion, that minimize illegal ATV opportunities, that are elegant. What irked me more than anything else was that us trail maintainers were being held to a higher standard than public land managers. We had just spent the last several months working out a plan to "upgrade" a hiking trail that would rehab an existing 100 feet of trail with minimum impact.
My gut reaction would have been to call Ray, as I had always done. But yesterday, I called the NYSDEC and a fellow trail maintainer to speak out my pain. "Why? Can you believe this? It looks like a development project. It's a one lane road. And Whiskey Road is right over there. There's piles of sand, and road cuts, and bare roots." To think that I should have been more loyal, but to whom, for what reason and for what purpose, and why?
President Trump offered Comey, "honest loyalty," to which he furtively agreed. But this is an oxymoron. Shortly, thereafter, the FBI Director was fired. In a private joke shared between others who chose honesty, I recalled, "You meant well, but was are misguided ." My loyalty, like respect, needs to be earned by actions observed. But at the same time, my outburst also deepened the divide between the public and the public land manager.
I recently read Profiles of Courage, in which John F. Kennedy kept his eye on the prize. To "hold office" is to be a responsible citizen. We are all citizens. And we are all accountable. And this new "upgraded" fire road is not acceptable on public lands.
"For in a democracy, every citizen, regardless of his interest in politics, 'hold office'; everyone of us is in a position of responsibility; and, in the final analysis, the kind of government we get depends upon how we fulfill those responsibilities. We, the people, are the boss, and we will get the kind of political leadership, be it good or bad, that we demand and deserve ." - John F. Kennedy - Profiles of Courage
More time is needed to improve standards of excellence that reduce the environmental impacts of fire roads, not just trails. What we need is a better way "to be doing environmental good and to be doing good business too ."
(M.Block - Last Updated June 18)
 - https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/11/us/politics/trump-comey-firing.html
 - An employee's advice to my friends who were new at their government jobs.
- [p. 265] - John Kennedy - Profiles of Courage. https://www.jfklibrary.org/Research/Research-Aids/Ready-Reference/JFK-Quotations/Profiles-in-Courage-quotations.aspx
 - My Uncle's thoughtful advice, who is a retired NYC real estate manager
Written by Mindy Block
Property rights advocates hold the belief that they can do whatever they want with their land, including privatizing public lands for their own personal profit. Is that why President Trump has an agenda to strip the EPA of its environmental protection power?
Case in point is Ferry Point Park (NYC Parks). This public park is approximately 414 acres, and is located in Bronx, NY. I grew up in the Bronx. And I know how important it is have places to walk and connect with the natural world. Most of the park, unfortunately is developed. Trump golf properties leases and operates over half of the park as a 222 acre golf course. Yet it's up to our government to protect our natural resources and ensure public access.
. . . the city's proposal for Ferry Point Park will provide the East Bronx with a crucial recreational amenity, waterfront access, and a protected wetland - Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development 
The Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development on Oct, 2016 wrote, "regarding your request to expand the licensed premises of Trump Golf Links at Ferry Point, extend the length of your contract, and significantly change the planned make up of a public park on the water front. . . We have no interest in changing direction in order to allow a cosmetic improvement to a golf course that is, as you letter notes, already recognized as one of the best new course in the nation. "
Economists aren't the only ones who can connect the dots. Naturalists call it the web of life. We could all learn the how and why of doing environmental good from the likes of Rachael Carlson (connecting the damaging affects of pesticides on bird life,), Aldo Leopold (land ethic), John Muir ( legendary founder of Sierra Club), and President Teddy Roosevelt (a strong advocate of environmental conservation).
President Trump has the power to develop our nation as he sees fit. But the "Art of The Deal" will never be profitable unless it takes into account, not the laws of man, but the laws of Nature.
(M.Block-Last updated: June 18, 2017)
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