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Sustainability Forum

On Sunday, April 3, 2016 the Hudson Highlands Land Trust hosted Healthy Yards, Healthy Woods, a community forum on the connection between individual yard maintenance and a healthy environment at the Highlands Country Club in Garrison, NY.  This free event featured an informative, moderated panel discussion that focused on how to create outdoor space that is safe for your family and good for the environment at large. Breakout sessions delved in to topics in-depth with experts and knowledgable neighbors.

See below for downloadable information materials and helpful links.

Meet our Expert Panelists and Breakout Session Leaders:

Moderator: Dr. William Schuster, Executive Director, Black Rock Forest Consortium

Ecologist Dr. William Schuster is an HHLT board member and has served as Executive Director of the Black Rock Forest Consortium in Cornwall, NY since 1992 with adjunct appointments at Columbia University and Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. He has a BA in Biology from Columbia University, an MS in Forest Ecology from Pennsylvania State University, a PhD in Ecology from the University of Colorado, and was a postdoctoral research fellow at University of Utah before becoming Executive Director of Black Rock Forest Consortium. His primary research interests are in ecology, ecosystem management and environmental change, and he has authored or co-authored nearly 100 scientific publications.


Eric Lind is the Director of Audubon New York’s Constitution Marsh Center and Sanctuary in Garrison, New York. Comprised of 270 acres of tidal marsh, the site serves as critical natural habitat for birds and other wildlife of the Hudson Estuary. Audubon recognizes the importance of the marsh as an Important Bird Area (IBA), and it is identified as a New York State Bird Conservation Area and Significant Coastal Fish & Wildlife Habitat. Heavily influenced by human activity, Constitution Marsh is a fascinating case study of the relationship of human activities on natural systems, and like all coastal wetlands, is of increasing importance as it serves to protect the shoreline by buffering the growing threat of sea-level rise caused by climate change. Mr. Lind is also coordinating habitat management activities at an additional 2,000 acres of diverse habitat types at other three other Audubon properties in the Hudson River Valley.

Eric believes an accompanying theme of community engagement must be developed to ensure the long-term sustainability of natural areas and wild bird populations. Restoring native plant habitat is vital to preserving biodiversity. We can all play a role by creating native plant gardens that transform our sterile lawns to patches of habitat that benefit wildlife, and participate in a collective effort to nurture and sustain a living landscape for wildlife.

Brendan Murphy, grew up in Westchester, and has worked as a forester in the public and non-profit sectors for 10 years.  At the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, he helped to actively manage 70,000 acres of State Forest in central New York.  In his current role as Watershed Forester with the Watershed Agricultural Council, Brendan heads the Croton chapter of Trees for Tribs and supports the 36,000 private woodland owners within the NYC Water Supply Watershed with technical support, cost-share programs, and the newly launched My Woodlot website.

Jen Stengle grew up in Putnam County and learned to love its woods, streams, ponds, and overgrown pastures, travelling on foot or on horseback, often with field guides in her pack. She graduated from Cornell University in 1987, and recently completed her Masters work with an emphasis on Beneficial Organisms in Managed Landscapes. She is currently a Horticulture Educator with Cornell Cooperative Extension in Putnam County where she is involved with a wide variety of issues including agroforestry, landscape gardening, pollinator support, and invasive species.

Tim Stanley founded Native Beeology in 2013 as an educational platform to foster an understanding and appreciation of our native bees and to inspire people to take action on behalf of native pollinators.  Tim has an AAS in forestry from SUNY ESF and a BT in agriculture from SUNY Cobleskill.

Additional Breakout Session Leaders:

Suzie Gilbert is a licensed wild bird rehabilitator and the author of "Flyaway: How a Wild Bird Rehabber Sought Adventure and Found Her Wings" (HarperCollins) and "Hawk Hill" (Chronicle Books). She writes a bi-monthly blog for, and lives in Cold Spring.

Ian Kingsley is a professional arborist with eight years of experience, who owns and operates Kingsley Tree Care in Putnam County. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Forest Health from the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. In addition, Ian is an avid birder, gardener and nature enthusiast. 

Linda Rohleder developed the New York- New Jersey Trail Conference’s Invasives Strike Force volunteer program, which currently has about 400 trained, invasives-mapping individuals who have collectively surveyed more than 1,000 miles of trail for invasives. She has also coordinated dozens invasives-removal workdays in parks across southern New York and northern New Jersey. Linda received a PhD in Ecology from Rutgers. She is the coordinator of the New York State Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) in the Lower Hudson Valley, and continues to run the Invasives Strike Force.

Edwin von Gal has been designing landscapes that are based on simplicity and nature for private and public clients since 1984. In 2002, Edwina went to Panama to design a park for the Frank Gehry Biomuseo. She stayed on in the country to co-found the Azuero Earth Project, which explores and implements sustainable, toxin-free land management practices in rural Panama. She then moved closer to home and, in 2013, founded the USA-based Perfect Earth Project, which promotes toxin-free lawns and landscapes.

Downloadable Resources:

Create a Bird-friendly Habitat

Help our Native Bees

Creating a Bird-friendly Backyard

Native Plants for Native Pollinators

Nests for Native Bees

Pollinator Plants/Northeast Region

Plant Wise NY/Know before you Grow

Do you know what is going on your lawn?

The Basics of a PRFCT Lawn

Stop The Spread of Terrestrial Invasive Species

Other Useful Links:

National Wildlife Federation/Garden for Wildlife

The Cornell Lab Yard Map Network
The Cornell Lab of Ornithology
Audubon/10 Plants for a Bird-Friendly Yard
New York Invasive Species Information



Sustainability Expo 2008