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Sagamore Hill To Be ‘Climate Friendly’

Sagamore Hill has initiated the process of becoming designated as a “climate friendly” park. Through the Climate Friendly Parks Program, parks assess and reduce their contribution to climate change and educate staff and visitors about its impacts.

Eric Witzke, Sagamore Hill’s Chief of Preservation and Maintenance and currently acting superintendent, explained that each National Park or Historic Site has an Environmental Management Program, which outlines protocols for dealing with waste management, either through disposal or recycling, energy use, or transportation management. The Climate Friendly Parks program takes the further steps of measuring and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, educating National Park Service staff and visitors about climate change and developing strategies to mitigate climate change impacts.

Sagamore Hill is at the beginning of the process, and convened a three- day workshop from June 25 – 27 to develop a strategy. National Park staff and environmentalists came together to discuss what aspects of climate change would affect parks, and what would be the most effective and useful strategies to address it. The workshop was open to the public, and the information shared there was useful not only to the staff at Sagamore Hill, but to anyone planning for a changing climate.

Some of the topics discussed included “Options for Protecting Historic Resources in the Face of Climate Change;” “Climate Change Science Overview;” “Climate Change Science – Invasive Plants and Birds;” and “Greenhouse Gas Inventory Results.” Some of the consequences of climate change are not immediately obvious, however, they must be addressed.

For example, some bird and insect species are showing a shift north, which is troubling because they act as pollinators and seed spreaders. Plants, insects and birds have complex patterns of dependency. They have evolved over time to be in sync with migration patterns and blooming times. Climate change is disrupting this timing and effects on populations are beginning to be seen. We may need a new definition for invasive species.  

Superstorm Sandy made Long Islanders painfully aware of their vulnerability to coastal flooding and sea level rise. Weather patterns show a tendency towards increased heat and tropical downpours, with more flooding and tree damage. There may be an increase in the variability of rain, with extremely rainy years followed by very dry years. This will pose a challenge for water resource managers.  These patterns will affect the fresh water ecosystems, as well as animals, like amphibians, which depend upon them.