Allegheny National Forest
Allegheny National Forest in PA (Shell)

Environmental conservation has been a part of my life since I was a child. I owe a lot of that to my parents who constantly reinforced the idea that nature was an important part of human life. Various trips to the Adirondacks, learning to rehabilitate wildlife and what seemed like an endless stream of World Wildlife Foundation, Sierra Club and The Nature Conservancy mail that arrived at our doorstep all subliminally imparted in me a desire to protect the wild places of our country.

Over the course of my life I have faced opposition to this core belief. I’ve also forged lifelong friendships with the people I share this belief with. We are youthful and we want to lead sustainable, environmentally conscious lives. We live in a time where climate change is bearing down upon us and our natural resources are being exploited with reckless abandon. The future is a scary place for us to think about and it becomes easy to lose hope in saving a planet we constantly damage. However, it doesn’t have to be this way, the future can be bright and it isn’t irrational to have hope.
I’ve always been proud to say I’m from New York. New York State has a long standing history of natural conservation The lasting power of Forever Wild Act which was approved by voters in 1894, The State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) of 1975, the Acid Rain Deposition Control Act of 1984 and the NYS Brownfields Cleanup Program of 2003 all showcase New York  State’s environmental history.
New York State has now prohibited the practice of high volume horizontal hydraulic fracturing (HVHF). This is a landmark decision, especially for the new wave of environmentalists. It shows that taking action against something can lead to real results. It proves we can win. New York is the first state with significant marcellus shale deposits to prohibit fracking and that was made possible through a comprehensive effort by the people. It is also the largest environmental movement I have been a part of. I wasn’t alive to see the passing of SEQR and I wasn’t even aware of what brownfields were in 2003 however I certainly understand HVHF and appreciate the scope of this victory.
Elk State Forest
Elk State Forest in PA (EOG)

It wasn’t an effort solely conducted by individuals though. The influence of groups like the Natural Resource Defense Council, The Adirondack Mountain Club, New Yorkers Against Fracking, New York Water Rangers and other New York environmental groups was integral to the success. Their testimonies, public speaking and research contributed a wealth of power in the fight against fracking.

The DEC Commissioner Joseph Martens, Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker and Governor Andrew Cuomo should be applauded for their decision to protect the air, waters, lands and health of New Yorkers. This was a victory for the people and their environment who were protected from harmful resource exploitation. It is more than that though, it is a sign to environmentally conscious millennials that here in New York your voice can be heard.  It gives us meaningful proof that hope certainly isn’t lost and that it is worth it to advocate for what you believe in. A quote by Winston Churchill comes to my mind at a point like this, where I’ve definitely found the courage to continue my fight for the environment.

“Success is not final, Failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” -Winston ChurchillPhoto Credit: Cathy Pedler/Allegheny Defense Project