Last week, President Biden canceled a former Trump regulation that weakened government protection of endangered, threatened, and species of special concern, including dozens of birds, butterflies, amphibians, plants and other categories of wildlife located right in our own neighborhoods in Westchester County. A shockingly long list of very vulnerable species, many of which are local, is provided here.
This is the latest significant effort by the Biden administration’s Fish and Wildlife Service to reverse all of Trump’s policy changes to the Environmental Species Act. Trump’s changes undermined the government’s authority while helping industry and landowner groups. Once Biden had taken office, he called for a complete review of Trump’s environmental policies and that review is ongoing.
According to the Associated Press (AP), “One former Trump measure required regulators not to designate areas as critical habitat if there would be greater economic benefit from developing them.” As a result, industries such as mining, logging, oil, and gas gained an upper hand because regulators received “speculative claims of economic harm” that they could not disprove.
In Westchester County, fortunately, many parks and related areas already have been designated “biodiversity protection areas.” Also, several parks are recognized as important fish and bird areas; for example, 184 bird species are identified on a checklist at the Trailside Museum in the Ward Pound Ridge Reservation. A state list of endangered fish and bird species is here.
Several local nature centers offer exhibits and other programs to help residents identify and better understand endangered species. At several local nature camps, for example, kids entering grades 1 through 12 can learn how to be stewards of our local environments.
Camps are held at Cranberry Lake Preserve In West Harrison, Lenoir Preserve in Yonkers, Marshlands Conservancy in Rye, Edith G. Read Wildlife Sanctuary in Rye, and Trailside Nature Museum in Pound Ridge. Each weekly camp focuses on different aspects of nature with themes centered on animals, insects, plants and more. Review the full list of weekly themes.