We’ve all been grumbling about what has seemed like an endless winter. But, last spring was also slow in arriving: a fact I vividly recall, because last April, on what felt more like a February than an April day, I participated along with a number of other freezing folks from this congregation, in the “Healing Our Sacred Sites” tour of the Peekskill waterfront, an event that was planned and led by the Presbytery equivalent of our Greenfaith group.
On this tour, we visited several places along the Hudson River that have been reborn- that is, places such as factory sites that were once environmentally devastated, rendered dead by industrial pollutants and toxic dumping that are now reborn/resurrected. One example is Lake Mitchell, a favorite Westchester fishing site located in the middle of Peekskill’s Depew Park.
Due to building and use of lawn fertilizers, by about 1972, this small lake had become a smelly, unpleasant algae-choked pond, no longer capable of supporting wildlife- evidenced by ever increasing fish kills. Then, several years ago, the Peekskill Parks Advisory Board chaired by Andy Torres, created a water monitoring project focused on the situation at Lake Mitchell.
And now here comes one of the most uplifting aspects of this resurrection story: Just as our nation’s young people have been empowered and are leading the way in the battle to conquer gun violence, the students of the PMS Environmental Club, encouraged by the advisory board, took on the problem of monitoring and working toward a solution to the algae overgrowth in Lake Mitchell. The outcome has been astonishing and it has been achieved without the use of herbicides or pesticides. The students are involved in creating floating planted islands built with barley straw. The root system created by these little islands pulls from the water, the problematic nutrients that foster the algae and bacterial overgrowth that had been causing the death of Lake Mitchell. Thanks to concerned citizens both adults and future adults, we are witness to a resurrection of Lake Mitchell.