Following Roosevelt’s belief in conservation


There wasn’t a hootenanny, a square dance or a pig roast at the Planting Fields on Sept. 22, but most people were dressed appropriately for any of those events. They were there for the North Shore Land Alliance’s 15th annual Wine Auction and Dinner, and were responding to an invitation that encouraged them to wear country Western chic — Stetsons, cowboy boots, bold plaid shirts and bolo ties. Sipping a jalapeno margarita or a bourbon gold rush, they mingled before heading to the auction table or over to an area on the lawn where two vintage games, Nine Pins and Hit the Milk Bottles, could be played under a blanket of stars.

Hoyle Jones, chair of the Land Alliance board of trustees, noted the nonprofit’s accomplishment — the protection of over 1,200 acres of land through acquisition and conservation easement, and its success in securing $265 million in public and private funds for land and water protection.

“It’s nice to see young people along with the older folks here,” Jones said, smiling broadly.

Lisa Ott, the alliance’s president, reminded attendees, who were by this time sitting at tables awaiting dinner, that conservation is important all over the world, and especially on the North Shore of Long Island. “We are lucky to live here,” Ott said, “and along with that comes the responsibility to preserve it.”

The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Award was presented to Verena and Rod Cushman and their family, for their successful efforts to preserve the 28-acre Cushman Woods in the Village of Matinecock. Rod Cushman, Ott said, is a Manhattan native who once spent his weekends on Long Island. “He loved Long Island so much he chose to raise his family here,” Ott said. “He is a lifelong conservationist.”

Verena said that the Cushmans believe that “land preservation is crucial and key to a healthy community.” People need a place where they can find peace, she added. “We will all benefit from land that is protected.”

Carter Bales was presented with the Chairman’s Award for his role as founding chair of the Land Alliance. He has been committed to it as its leader for the past 15 years.

“Carter has been the wind behind our sails,” Ott said. “He likes to stop the bulldozer, his daughter has told me.”

The Land Alliance’s mission is “to protect and preserve, in perpetuity, the green spaces, farmlands, wetlands, groundwater and historical sites of Long Island’s North Shore for the enhancement of quality of life and enjoyment and benefit of future generations.”

Judging by the large crowd at the fundraiser, and the generosity shown by so many, it appears that the Land Alliance has much support for its efforts.