I've lived on Long Island my whole life and I have seen the progressive, destruction of development happening almost everyday that I can remember in my adult life. The Pine Barrens (both Long Island's & New Jersey's) are unique places and not because they hold so much beauty but because they are the last of a wilderness - one that does not exist anywhere else on planet earth. Within these small patches of Pitch Pine forests there are even smaller habitats that only exist there. These are places that once they are gone they are gone forever like a fleeting breeze on a summer afternoon.
The thing to consider is that there isn't as much plant diversity here as there is on the west coast for example, and this is something to really think about because this means that these plants & trees have existed here for thousands of years, undisturbed by serious adaptation. They have thrived here unchanged and have fortified their territory where other plants did not. It is truly and naturally a place like no other.
Which is why I feel sorrow when I step that first step into the trailhead. There isn't a tree, in three of my favorite places to hike, that doesn't have a pine beetle infestation. In the last year I've seen more than 75% of pitch & white pine, spruce & fir trees literally die. There was a time collecting pitch and resin form these guys wasn't so easy - I actually had to search for hours to find a small drip or a fresh spout from a broken limb. Now I don't have to walk 10 feet and I find hundreds of pitch tubes oozing fresh, piney goodness. This comes with a large price as these tubes are caused by the irreversible damage these beetle do when they don't die off in the winter cold. Its a problem that is being addressed on a very small scale here on LI but needs to be addressed on a much larger one. Could you imagine in 10 years walking into the Pine Barrens and seeing no pines? This is a reality we are facing and it is one that many people here do not think about because it doesn't effect them in their daily lives.
In the past we have donated product to organizations like The Pine Barrens Society and in the last year we have spread the word about protecting places through demonstrations at festivals and local taverns but seemingly this is just never enough. There is never a limit on what you can do to better our environment. It is something we are passionate about and we will never stop fighting that good fight so in the next coming months we will be releasing new products that really tell the story of the Pine Barrens and we will be donating proceeds to help the fight for the preservation of our beloved wilderness places. Its only a small step but it's that first one that counts.
Be The Trailhead.
This year that forest was a little different. Not in any way different from years when those pines had dropped their cones in the road but you are older now and more aware and it seems this year the cones are so many you can hardly believe your own eyes. The crunching of them when you run them over, driving up that meandering driveway, just seems a lot louder. Nature has a way of surprising you all the time even though you've seen those same gardens every spring and you've planted the very plants that surprise you. Those same white pines that were like family all those years, surprised you this year because they are trying to tell you something.
...Plum Islands biowarfare ties date back to World War II and Operation Paperclip, a top secret government program to shield Nazi scientists from trial or punishment by quietly bringing them over to the U.S. and giving them new identities and U.S. citizenship in exchange for working for the government and military.