On September 8, 2021 after the morning trip with Linnaean NY to Rockefeller SP ended we went with our friend Kathleen to Croton Point to possibly see birds and eat lunch. There where so many bees we ate in the car. After a brief stop at the Echo Canoe launch we decided to drive to Cold Springs, New York for coffee. After that we drove up to Stonecrop Gardens nearby STONECROP GARDENS – 81 Stonecrop Lane – Cold Spring New York 10516. It is a drop-dead gorgeous garden and well worth a visit. The view from the hills of the Hudson Highlands is magnificent.
Stonecrop, opened in 1992, began as a private garden. In 1958, Garden Conservancy founder Frank Cabot and his wife, Anne, built their home on sixty hilltop acres of fields and woods outside Cold Spring, New York. The land was a gift from Anne’s grandmother, Evelina Ball Perkins (more history at the website).
We stopped at Croton Point Park for lunch. Lunch was curtailed by bees so we decided to move on to the village of Cold Springs. On the way out of the park we stopped to see if there were any birds at the Echo Canoe Launch. There was only a mockingbird. I saw a sign there with a poster of The Hudson Valley Echoes written and illustrated by Theodore Cornu. I researched his name at home later and found more of his artwork (two included here). And I found an article about him which points out that he could be the father of the Environmental Movement. I paraphrased the article below.
Remembering Theodore Cornu
Theodore J. Cornu was born in New Jersey to a Swiss mother and father, who abandoned his mother and siblings. Cornu demonstrated an affinity for art and became employed as an “engrosser” in a Manhattan studio hand lettering diplomas and other documents. Canoeing was popular amongst his colleagues, which led him to the boating community in Ft. Washington. His love for canoeing fostered his interest in the Hudson River and Native American customs. He paddled up the Hudson to explore the Croton River.
Soon thereafter he met Anne Van Cortlandt. The two hit it off and he was able to rent The Ferry House on the shore adjacent to The Van Cortlandt Manor House. He became adept in the process of building canoes.
His activism emerged after years of enduring the oil slicks washing up the Croton River from the New York Central Railroad facility, where the waste from its cleaning procedures was discharged into the mouth of the Croton River. The fish caught in the river were said to smell and taste like oil. In 1933 Cornu enlisted the support of some fishermen in Crotonville to implore the State to pressure the railroad to clean up its act. They won.
By the late thirties, Cornu was a member of four canoeing associations. In 1936 he was involved in the founding of the Hudson River Conservation Society. His use of native American inspired environmental care and wisdom to foster environmental protection was uniquely his.
Cornu took on another fight in 1956. Westchester County’s used Croton the point as a malodorous dump. From 1926 on Cornu observed the loss of wetland bird habitat as the marshland filled with garbage. His led the initial salvo against the county, eventually dumping ceased 30 years later, in 1986 by order of the courts.
In the 1987 in “The Art of River Saving,” an article in the ”Complete Revival Program” published by Clearwater stated that Cornu, deceased at age of 101 in 1986, “had perhaps the longest association with the Hudson River of any conservationist.“
Most claim that the start of the Modern Environmental Movement began with the 1962 publication of Rachel Carson’s “Silent Spring”, or perhaps with the battle against Con Edison’s Storm King power proposal (fought from 1962-1980. The first Earth Day was celebrated on April 22, 1970, roughly a year after Cornu’s demise. By that time Cornu had been protesting and advocating for the environment for over 35 years. Cornu’s environmental activism pre-dates the Environmental Movement by decades. This calls for a re-examination of his place in environmental history.
On Wednesday, September 8, 2021, we went on a Linnaean NY field trip to Rockefeller State Park Preserve, thirty miles north of New York City. The preserve consists of forested hills and valleys surrounding pastoral fields. The property is the former Pocantico Hills and Rockwood Hall country estates of the John D. Rockefeller family and William Rockefeller. Since 1983, the Rockefellers have donated over 1771 acres to New York State to safeguard these lands for the future. Managed by NYS Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation, the Preserve is open to the public year-round, sunrise to sunset.
The 45 miles of crushed stone carriage roads designed to complement the landscape where laid out by John D. Rockefeller Sr. and Jr. in the first half of the 20th century. Combinations of trails lead through varied landscapes and past natural and historical features, such as Swan Lake, the Pocantico River with its wood and stone bridges, streams, colonial stone walls, and rock outcroppings. Mapsare available to download and at the Preserve Office.
There are huge oak, tulip poplar, maple, and beech trees in the hardwood forest. Pileated and Red-headed Woodpeckers can be found deep in the woodlands. The forests, fields, streams, and wetlands support resident and migratory birds, mammals, insects, amphibians, reptiles, fish and aquatic species, some of which are now uncommon in Westchester County. With 202 recorded species of birds the Preserve draws many birders. Environmental stewardship is underway to promote native biological diversity.
The Japanese Angelica is a food source for the migrating birds. This invasive species’ seeds are spread by the birds. We watched many birds feeding on the Angelica, such as Tennessee Warblers, Black-throated Blue Warblers, Northern Parula, Magnolia Warblers and more.
Rockwood Hall built between 1886 and 1922 has views of the Hudson River and Palisade Cliffs. William Rockefeller’s estate was 1000 acres with a 202-room mansion, a working farm, and a landscape designed by Frederick Law Olmsted. While the house and buildings are now gone, massive rock walls around the site and extensive grassy fields with magnificent trees harken back to the heyday of the estate.
Maya Lin: Ghost Forest — Madison Square Park Conservancy 49 dead white cedars to depict climate change at Madison Square Park, New York City by Maya Lin. Play the audio tour which highlights some of the sounds of animals that where once found in Manhattan. The names are given in English and Lenape.
Here are some of the fungi we saw on July 29th by Stony Brook in Harriman State Park, NY. There were more mushrooms than I have seen in years that day. Conditions must have been just right. I did my best to ID these with my two books on Fungi. I am not 100% sure if I got them right. If there are any mycologists out there who can correct me, please do.