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The right decision

By Greg Belcamino and Lori McKean
July 5, 2012

The Eagle Institute Committee of the Delaware Highlands Conservancy commends the Lava Fire Department for its economically and environmentally intelligent decision to cancel this year’s fireworks display and to find another location for 2013.

In February, the Eagle Institute, an organization whose leadership and educational activities are largely responsible for the resurgence of the eagle in this region, merged with the Delaware Highlands Conservancy. The Conservancy is focused on protection of clean water and farm and forestlands. We work diligently to support locally sustainable economies. As a unified organization, the Eagle Institute and the Conservancy protect eagles, the lands and waters that are their habitat, and the ecotourism and outdoor recreation opportunities that our beautiful lands, clean waters and healthy wildlife generate in the region.

Though the fireworks may be a one or two-day boon for Narrowsburg’s Main Street and near-by businesses, our eagles bring thousands of visitors from all over, who support a wide range of local businesses along the Upper Delaware River year-round. Eagle-watching is particularly important in the winter. In winter, income from outdoor activities typically decreases, yet thousands still flock to our region for winter eagle-viewing. In a recent article in the New York Post-Journal, titled, “Birds Mean Business,” Audubon New York makes the case that “bird watching is the fastest growing outdoor recreation in New York.” A study by the Fish and Wildlife Service notes that, “in New York alone, 3.8 million people watch birds and other wildlife, and generate approximately $1.6 billion in ecotourism revenue annually.”

Making the responsible decision to assure eagle safety protects eagles and protects our region’s reputation as the place to come for eagle-watching and for fulfilling outdoor experiences. In a town known as the “Eagle Capital of New York State,” the importance of that reputation to tourism dollars cannot be overstated.

The eagle was adopted as our national bird shortly after the Revolution because its majesty and might seemed to our Founders to represent freedom and strength. As we celebrate Independence Day, the Lava Fire Department can be proud of its patriotic decision to protect such a magnificent symbol of what is best about America and in Americans.

[Greg Belcamino is president of the Delaware Highlands Conservancy, Narrowsburg, NY and Hawley, PA. Lori McKean is chair of the Eagle Institute Committee of the Delaware Highlands Conservancy.