President's Letter

Environmental Regulation’s Gift
to Staten Island

Exhibit highlights the comeback of the Bald Eagle to our shores.

IN 1970, THEN PRESIDENT RICHARD NIXON signed into law landmark environmental legislation, the Clean Air Act. That bipartisan achievement mandated that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) enforce science-based rules and regulations designed to protect and preserve the health and well-being of America’s precious natural resources.

Forty-eight years ago the EPA “issued a cancellation order for DDT based on adverse environmental effects, such as those to wildlife, as well as potential human health risks” according to EPA’s website. Today, many of those successful rules and regulations are no longer enforced, having been amended or worse, repealed. The environmental laws we have championed for nearly fifty years are now under assault.

To commemorate the success of the Clean Air Act and to acknowledge the need to maintain the original intention of that legislation, Protectors of Pine Oak Woods is sponsoring an exhibit of photography dedicated exclusively to the Bald Eagle, a national treasure.

When the Clean Air Act was enacted there was less than 500 pairs of bald eagles nesting in the United States. In 1973, Congress passed the Endangered Species Act and the Bald Eagle soon received protections. Together, the Clean Air Act and the Endangered Species Act saved the Bald Eagle from extinction. Once found across the country, so easily recognized as our national symbol of strength and pride, the Bald Eagle was tragically euthanized by the previously unregulated use of toxic chemical within industries. The wanton spreading of DDT eventually led to the deleterious chemical collecting in fish. Eating poisonous fish, every eagle was ingesting chemicals which softened egg shells. Within a few, short years our once proud, national symbol disappeared from the landscapes of America.

Now, forty-eight years later, forty-eight years since the banning of DDT, since the discharge of chemicals into our waterways and skies has been regulated, the Bald Eagle is no longer considered endangered. Now, forty-eight years since the passing of the Clean Air Act, the Bald Eagle is successfully nesting in all lower 48 states.

In particular, here on Staten Island, we have enjoyed watching our local pair of bald eagles raising young these past few years. Most often found soaring above the grasslands or fishing along the beaches of Mount Loretto Unique Area (in 1994, Protectors membership played a pivotal role in the preservation of Mount Loretto) our bald eagles are a willing study for the many enthusiast visiting the area for a chance encounter with those majestic birds.

The photo exhibit, opening June 18, 7:00 p.m. at the Conference House Park Visitor’s Center, will show a collection of submissions which endeavor to capture the bold beauty of our avian neighbors. The many members of Protectors of Pine Oak Woods know that they set the stage for the success of Staten Island’s bald eagles and we are excited to celebrate our success, the success of the Clean Air Act, the EPA and the success of our local bald eagles.

—Cliff Hagen

Spring 2020

© 2020 by Protectors of Pine Oak Woods, Inc.