There are many ways to conserve. There are plenty of things that are a detriment to conservation. Sadly, there are so many things that are seemingly out of our control and we think, perhaps, that since I have no control, what can I do. Well, for one senior here at North Salem High School, he has stepped up and done something. His name is Brian Lange and in addition to being a senior in high school he is an Eagle Scout candidate.
Brian built eight high quality, four chambered bat houses and set them in several of NSOLF's preserves. Specifically, Gaymark, Bloomerside, Sporn, and Hayfields-on-Keeler are now home to beautifully constructed enclosures complete with a bright neon batman symbol so that any passers-by will clearly recognize their purpose.
In his project Brian writes, "Over time, bat populations have been dwindling in the Northeastern U.S., primarily because of White Nose Syndrome, a fungus that has killed millions of bats since it was discovered in 2006. In fact, the bat population has been estimated to have decreased by 80% since 2006. Bats are very important to the ecosystem, and consume 20-50% of their total body mass daily in insects, amounting to hundreds or even thousands of bugs! Not only do bats serve as great pest control in New York, but they also are the only flying mammals, and can live 30+ years! It would be a great shame if these interesting creatures were to not inhabit our area anymore."
Open Land Foundation has a long and important history of working with the high school and especially the Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts. One of our main goals is to engage our town residents and non-residents with not only our open spaces but to engage in conservation as a mindset. As a society we are hopefully swinging the pendulum in the proper direction to help conserve bats and other threatened animals, sensitive plants and ecosystems in general, and doing what we can to ensure a cleaner, more healthy environment for us all. One of the best ways to accomplish this is through education and action.
Brian and his peers are taking action. Not only has he constructed his bat houses with such detail and precision, he is educating us as well. As he writes about his project, "With bat houses available for bats to roost in, the chance of bats being infected with White Nose Syndrome drops dramatically, and improves the bat's life expectancy. The bat houses also create a clean, safe, and optimal environment for bats to live in. A single bat house can hold hundreds of bats, and is not a huge eyesore." In fact Brian, your bat boxes are an intriguing part of the landscape that now attracts people to be more curious about what is out there and why.
We look forward to continuing the work of our local scouts and continuing to fulfill our mission. We are proud that we are engaged in conservation that's working. To quote Brian one last time, "I am very proud of my project, and I believe that it will play a direct and effective role in helping the bat population of Northern Westchester and North Salem. It has been an honor to engage in this type of service, and I would like to express my thanks for all of the support the North Salem Land Foundation has given me to make my dream of being an Eagle Scout a possibility, as well as the kind volunteers who spent many hours making this possibility a reality."