President’s Message – Summer 2015

President’s Summer 2015 Message

by Cliff Hagen

My involvement with the preservation of open space on Staten Island begins with my small home on my small lot in Eltingville. I tend to my lawn and gardens, trim my shrubs and compost diligently. I protect my gardens from pests and my lawn from weeds by removing that which is harmful. I defend the birds I feed from free roaming feral cats being fed by a neighbor. I love my home and enjoy my yard and so cherish the native fauna which share the flowers and seed that I offer.

My small lot is but a stepping stone along a natural corridor connecting Wood Duck Pond with Blue Heron Park. Each day grackles and blackbirds which nest in the foliage abutting Wood Duck Pond traverse the neighborhood, alighting in my trees and shrubs on their way to finding food for their young among the wetlands and woodlands of Blue Heron Park. Throughout the year a collection of songbirds and woodpeckers move from pond to park stopping in my yard for seed and suet.

My yard, and both Wood Duck Pond and Blue Heron Park, are situated along an ancient geological feature known as the Terminal Moraine. This Terminal Moraine is a remnant of the second glacial epoch which buried the north east thousands of years ago. This glacial deposit, beginning in Tottenville, runs the length of Long Island to Cape Cod and forms a natural topographic flyway for migrant birds, butterflies and dragonflies. Each year, untold numbers of these winged creatures find respite on Staten Island, at Blue Heron Park, Wood Duck Pond and in my yard.

The regal monarch butterflies lay eggs on the milkweed I grow in my garden and their south bound young enjoy the September blooms of goldenrod which set up after the milkweed expires. Ruby-throated hummingbirds flit about in September’s sun. During days of change each October thousands of raptors fly south toward their winter homes. Autumnal winds carry countless hawks, falcons, osprey and eagles across the skies over Staten Island. The monarch, hummingbirds and every bird of prey utilizes the Terminal Moraine, the green spaces of Staten Island, even my small yard, as they fly thousands of miles between their nesting grounds and the areas they winter.

My small yard plays a role in the miracle of migration. Blue Heron Park and Wood Duck Pond play a role as does each property Protectors of Pine Oak Woods has fought to have preserved. From Heritage Park, to the Goodhue Woods, to Pouch Camp and Long Pond Park Protectors has worked to preserve critical open space along the migratory flyway here on Staten Island.

Each of us is responsible for our small part. Each of us can play a role in protecting our environment by providing safe haven, a stepping stone along the migratory flyway.   Try planting wild flowers rather than cultivated flowers in your yard for the butterflies to enjoy. Offer seed or fruiting shrubs for tired and hungry birds. And if you already tend your garden with wildlife in mind then add your voice to Protectors’ growing call for preservation of open space on Staten Island. Become a member of Protectors and help us create new stepping stones for migration. And for those of you who already stand with us and advocate the preservation of open space then convince a friend to join you in calling for a better, greener, healthier future for our Borough of Parks.

###Cliff Hagen



 (photo by Lawrence Pugliares.)