The lectures, which will take place on Thursday evenings at SUNY New Paltz and the Ellenville Public Library, include experts speaking on fracking, freshwater life in the region and the return of the peregrine falcons to the Ridge, a once endangered raptor that has returned to the Shawangunks and has begun to breed and flourish.
The first public lecture is a timely one with the NYS DEC considering whether or not to allow “fracking” and rental of their state forests to energy companies that want to use horizontal hydraulic fracturing of the state’s Marcellus Shale region in an effort to extract natural gas. The negative impacts of this technology are well documented in the film “Gasland,” which will be screened and discussed after an overview by Cara Lee, Shawangunk Ridge Program Director of the Nature Conservancy, and Nadia Steinzor, Marcellus Regional Coordinator for Earthworks Oil and Gas Accountability Project.
After the screening, there will be a discussion about what the gas rush could mean for communities, landowners and landscapes in this region and how the public can get involved. This lecture takes place on Jan. 27 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at SUNY New Paltz Lecture Center 100. It will also be held at the Ellenville Public Library and Museum, 40 Center Street on Feb. 24 at 6:30 p.m.
Then on Feb. 3 at the SUNY Lecture Center at 7 p.m. will be a lecture on “Fascinating Freshwater Creatures,” by George Schuler, director of conservation science for The Nature Conservancy.
“This presentation will focus on the diversity of freshwater life found in the Delaware and Hudson River watersheds and will include examples of some of the more unique and unusual freshwater creatures which comprise the treasure trove of aquatic life many of us take for granted,” explained Schuler.
This will be followed by yet another provocative lecture at SUNY New Paltz on Feb. 10 at 7 p.m. by Matthew Schlesinger, chief zoologist with the state DEC. “Our changing climate presents a host of challenges to wildlife conservation in the Shawangunk Ridge and around the world,” mused the zoologist. “For example, how do we preserve land for wildlife if we think wildlife will move, but we aren’t sure where?”
This presentation will cover the basics of climate change science -- what we know, what we don’t know, and what’s controversial -- and discuss the already documented and potential future effects on wildlife, highlighting strategies that conservation organizations, government agencies and the public are employing to combat this imminent threat.
Then on Feb. 17 at SUNY New Paltz’s Lecture Center 100 will be “Peregrine Falcons on the Wing,” presented by Thomas Sarro, professor of biology, and John Thompson, of the Mohonk Preserve. The dynamic duo will discuss the return of the peregrine falcons to their home on the Shawangunk Ridge after nearly being driven to extinction after ingesting DDT’s dumped into the Hudson River. This is, at once a tragic and yet triumphant story about what non-organic chemicals can do to disrupt the ecosystem and what great conservation, legal and remediation efforts can do to help save and restore what was once a mighty predator.
For more information and a complete listing of lectures, times and dates, visit http://www.mohonkpreserve.org/index.php?events or contact Gretchen Reed, Mohonk Preserve, at 255-0919, or Lee, The Nature Conservancy, at 255-9051.