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Protectors Seeks to Preserve, Enhance Open Space

Over the last twelve years, Protectors of Pine Oak Woods has been led by Clifford Hagen, and we thank him for all of the excellent work he has done on behalf of our organization and Staten Island as a whole. As he transitions into a new role in our community, including being appointed to Staten Island’s Community Board 3, we look forward to seeing what he accomplishes as a leader in our community.

As we look to the future of the organization and its place in Staten Island’s environmental community, we see both hope and opportunity to engage in new partnerships, new projects and in new actions to bring about change in the Borough of Parks. As an organization, we will continue to push for preservation of greenspace on Staten Island, working with our members, the public, elected officials and agencies at multiple levels to ensure we receive our fair share.

In 2024, Protectors board members and members have continued to pursue projects focused on land preservation and conservation of species on Staten Island. Projects like the checklist of dragonflies of Staten Island are already underway, with results expected by the end of the year. With this project in particular, ecologist Seth Wollney and naturalist Dave Eib are using community-sourced data and their own data collected over the course of several decades to create the Dragonflies of Staten Island, a checklist of the dragonflies present on the Island throughout recorded history through the present. The checklist, like the lists of birds and butterflies published by Protectors over the last several years, is expected to be turned into a peer-reviewed publication. In our current era of human-induced climate and land-use change, inventories like the dragonfly checklist will provide a critical baseline for understanding how species are responding to these changes.

Work by our Land Preservation Committee continues to be focused on ensuring Staten Island gets a share of Environmental Bond Act funding and ensuring that environmental justice communities on the North Shore remain a priority.

As we move into spring, wildlife activity Island-wide is beginning to ramp up, with reports of river otters in their usual West Shore haunts from Anthony Ciancimino, and Bald Eagles nesting at their mid-Island and South Shore sites from numerous observers. Owl activity continues from the winter, with numerous pairs being documented Island-wide. Importantly, we urge caution in seeking out these nests, as these species are particularly sensitive to disturbance.

As always, we thank our members for their contributions and membership renewals. Obtaining membership in our organization provides our fully-volunteer board with critical funds to support environmental causes on Staten Island. For more information about membership, events, or on how you can be involved in Protectors, see our web site.

—José Ramírez-Garofalo

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