Monday, March 7, 2011

Minutes from PRESERVING OUR NATURAL HERITAGE given by Dr. Bruce Gilman for the Canandaigua Botanical Society on Saturday, March 5,

Attended by: Bill Bross, John & Marion Fladd, Margo Gilman, Maya Hobday, John Hyde, Peggy Kane, Dick Kent, Carman Kuenen, Laura Ouimette, John & Mary Purdy, Dave Spier, and Connie Watkins

Dr. Bruce Gilman began his presentation with an introduction of the biological diversity of NYS created from the ancient oceans to an ice invasion which created 28 broad glacial valleys including our 11 Finger Lakes. He referenced the book Roadside Geology of New York by Bradford B. VanDiver.

When looking at protecting our natural heritage we need to identify the “elements” of biodiversity. The New York Natural Heritage Program (http://www.dec.ny.gov/animals/29338.html) states their mission to facilitate conservation of New York's biodiversity by providing comprehensive information and scientific expertise on rare species and natural ecosystems to resource managers and other conservation partners.”

The biodiversity on New York includes several elements which Bruce Gilman expanded on:

Vascular plants (3195 species)

Nonvascular plants (insufficient data)

Birds (over 250 breeding species)

Mammals (over 75 species)

Fish (165 species)

Reptiles and amphibians (71 species)

Invertebrate species (insufficient data)

Bruce continued to explain the following information from the New York Natural Heritage Program

Assessing New York's Biodiversity

NY Natural Heritage data provide a picture of the status of biodiversity in New York. The graph {below} represents all 2,863 vascular plants, natural communities, and vertebrate animals native to New York State. It does not include data regarding invertebrate animals. Although NY Natural Heritage tracks several invertebrate groups (notably butterflies and moths, dragonflies and damselflies, beetles, and mollusks), insufficient data are available to make general statements about the status of native invertebrate species. In the graph, New York's biodiversity is separated into six categories as described below.


Half of New York's biodiversity appears to be secure, but 37% of the state's native plants, vertebrate animals, and ecosystems are in jeopardy of extirpation, and 7% may have been lost already.

Presumed extirpated - 4%: All known occurrences are gone and there is little chance of finding new populations.

Historical - 3%: No occurrences have been reported in the last 15 years, but more survey work is needed. These may still be present within NY or they may be extirpated.

Critically imperiled - 15%: Known at five or fewer locations in the state.

Imperiled - 10%: Known at just six to 20 locations.

Vulnerable - 12%: Known at 21 to 100 locations.

Believed Secure - 56%: Known at more than 100 sites.


Bruce discussed the Ecological Communities of New York State (Edinger et al. 2002) using the Southern Honeoye Lake Watershed as an example. How to protect and the need for timely implementation were also discussed.

Examples of protected locations and areas include:

French Creek Watershed (NY and PA), Alleghany State Park, Rome Sand Plains, Chaumont Barrens Preserve, Eastern Lake Ontario Shoreline, Zurich Bog, Hemlock & Canadice Lakes, Finger Lakes Land Trust, Genesee Land Trust, Byron Bergen Swamp Preservation Society, RMSC Cummings Nature Center,Boy Scout and Girl Scout properties, military properties, and Seneca Army Depot.


Bruce concluded the presentation urging the need for environmental education noting that many of our children today are growing up in “E-bubbles”. He proposed we ought to instill a program called “NO CHILD LEFT INSIDE”. Author Richard Louv of Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children From Nature-Deficit Disorder would probably agree.


We were left with these quotes to ponder:

“You shall enter the living shelter of the forest. You shall walk where only the wind has walked before.” ~ Ansel Adams

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” ~ Henry David Thoreau

“And this, our life, exempt from public haunt, finds tongues in trees, books in the running brooks, sermons in stones, and good in everything.” ~ William Shakespeare

"In the woods, too, a man casts off his years, as the snake his slough, and at what period soever of life is always a child." “…in the wilderness, I find something more dear and connate than in the streets or villages…in the woods we return to reason and faith.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson

"They tell us that plants are perishable, soulless creatures, that only man is immortal, etc.; but this, I think, is something we know very nearly nothing about. Anyhow, this palm was indescribably impressive and told me grander things than I ever got from a human priest.” ~ John Muir

“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” ~ Albert Einstein

I am the Lorax. I speak for the trees. I speak for the trees, for the trees have no tongues. ~ Dr. Seuss

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