Peter Lewis – Editor

Peter has found a way…

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“Even over twenty-five years, it was difficult to feel any impact I might have made on the New York City environment, despite being an environmentally aware—neigh, radical—citizen. Moving sixty miles north, to the small patch of landscape known as the Hudson Highlands, some twenty years ago, however, was an entirely different kettle of fish. The Highlands are a sparsely populated region; any club, organization, or body you join has a very immediate—be it frustrating and gratifying—impact. Being on the board of the Old Road Society, a group that works to preserve our dirt roads, has led not only to a deep fascination with the history and construction of dirt roads, but also direct-action efforts to keep our unhinged superintendent of highways from tarring every road and bird in the town. The Highlands have a number of land trusts, all happy to welcome new members, who work to encourage public-access conservation easements, and if you think that is a commonsensical preservation act…well, you pretty much have to Socrates to get landowners behind the notion. Finally, as a town planning board member, there is a vital sense of working with a well-wrought code of laws, drawn up by the citizenry over years and years of experience, to prevent the degradation of our very unusual local landscape. It is a real watchdog post, as many would build in wetlands and upon steep slopes without a second thought. Particularly vexing is that almost every code stipulation has a loophole—especially vulnerable to the well connected and deep pocketed—that has to be challenged whenever warranted, which is frequently. Granted, some of these activities are done out of self-interest, some out of righteous indignation, some from a sense of stewardship and responsibility, but mostly I act out of respect and an understanding that I am part of the big picture, and neither a solely independent actor nor a grand governor thereof.”

 

Peter Lewis is a Book Review editor for the American Geographical Society.

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