Be a part of the solution
By DEBBIE SMORTO
Now more than ever is the time to get involved in local environmental issues. We are bombarded every day with new items involving the breakdown of our environment, the loss of species, melting ice sheets, mercury poisoning, and a host of other seemingly impossible problems to solve. We are also in the thick of an environmental awakening.
Its a wonderful yet frightening time for someone like me, who has spent her entire life devoted to saving the earth, from saving a baby mouse from my cats mouth, to teaching elementary students how to tread lightly on the earth, to chairing my local Environmental Management Council (EMC).
I have lived in Glen Spey for over 25 years. Ive raised my children here, and now my children are raising my grandchildren in this town. As a part of my love for this beautiful place and for them, I wanted to do something to help preserve the town that we put our roots into. Lumberland is one of the few towns in Sullivan County that has an active EMC. We spend our time planning how to educate the public about environmental issues and solutions; we monitor water quality in our local streams; we try to act as an advisory council to other agencies in the town; and most of all, we try to raise the awareness of our town board and residents into appreciating the valuable resources we still have in this Upper Delaware region.
Our most recent endeavor was to co-sponsor our Earth Day celebration with our local park committee, called Circle Park. Together we created a wonderful family day in which children and parents alike received education about environmental issues in a global warming presentation and a mammal show. We sponsored environmental crafts for children of all ages, and local agencies and groups demonstrated their talents and offerings to members of the community. Food and drinks were also served, with the proceeds donated to a local girl in need of support from all of us. We felt good doing this for our community and it invoked a community spirit among all who attended.
This is just one of the many things we do as an EMC. I would like to encourage members of other towns to form their own EMCs. We could certainly use the company. According to New York State Municipal Law, The local legislative body of any city, town or village may create a conservation advisory council to advise in the development, management and protection of its natural resources.
In order to start the creation process, all you have to do is gather together like-minded people (no fewer than three and no more than nine), bring up your proposal to your local town board and ask them to help you create your new advisory council. In Lumberland, our EMC members are volunteers; however, the law states that a legislative body may provide compensation to members if it so wishes. As a volunteer agency, however, your local town board may be more likely to grant your proposal. Members then form a charter, and then, following proper procedures, a new EMC is formed.
There are currently EMCs in approximately 23 other counties in New York State that are active, as indicated by information through the New York State Association of Environmental Management Councils, Inc.
For more information on this organization, visit them at nysaemc.org.
(Debbie Smorto is a resident of Glen Spey and chairperson of her local EMC.)