Town of New Paltz, NY (September 29, 2020)— The Open Space Institute, in coordination with research scientist and Cub Scout Representative, Christopher Nadareski, released four rehabilitated peregrine falcons on OSI’s River-to-Ridge Trail. The late summer release occurred before a local cub scout group and other trail users who were not only able to witness the spectacle, but also learned more about the bird species. Peregrine Falcons are known as the fastest bird for the ability to reach speeds over 200 mph while diving for prey.
The River-to-Ridge Trail was identified as an ideal location for the release by the local bird rehabilitator because of the trail’s proximity to the Shawangunk Ridge and its expansive site lines that allow greater monitoring as the birds take flight and re-enter the wild. Peregrine falcons prefer to nest at high altitudes and along cliff faces, like those found at the nearby ridge.
“Not only is the is the River-to-Ridge Trail popular with people, it turns out we have a great launching site for rehabilitated birds,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “We are glad to work with the community to host educational events, such as this falcon release and tree planting to improve water quality of Wallkill River. This trail underscores how protected land serves many functions, including recreation and wildlife habitat while also supporting clean water and healthy communities.”
Having worked on the nest-site management and peregrine falcon rehabilitation and release program in the Hudson Valley, New York City, and Long Island for the past 35 years, Mr. Nadareski has extensive experience rescuing and nursing peregrine falcons back to health before setting the birds free. In addition to performing peregrine falcon rehabilitation and release as part of his professional responsibilities at the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP), Mr. Nadareski also volunteers his time and falcon expertise with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and also leverages the releases as educational opportunities for others, including with the local cub scout troops he represents.
“New Paltz has a long history of peregrine activity and was a location instrumental in the early recovery of the species,” said Chris Nadareski. “In my line of work, I have found that public relations and education has been a key component to the success of the peregrine rehabilitation and release program. It continues to be as much of a joy and a privilege to work with falcons, today, as it was when I first became involved.”
Mr. Nadareski’s responsibilities include: the development of protection strategies for nest sites on natural cliff ledges and on buildings, bridges, and towers in urban landscapes; banding young birds in the nest; working with wildlife rehabilitators to band and release rehabilitated falcons, and environmental education.
After a significant decline between 1950-1970, peregrine falcons remain on New York State's endangered species list, though populations of the bird have seen growth in the last few years.
Peregrine falcon populations continue to expand, and have also adapted to urban landscapes, like New York City, where the concrete, steel, and glass canyons resemble that natural mountains.
The falcon release was one of many events that has been held along the trail since its opening in 2018. Previously, OSI has partnered with organizations to host events at River-to-Ridge including, a monarch butterfly release, an annual 5k running challenge, a social distancing tree planting, a festival along the Wallkill River, and more.
About the Open Space Institute
The River-to-Ridge Trail provides access to a shared, public space that is open to diverse user groups. Created in partnership with Mohonk Preserve, and with funding from the Butler Conservation Fund, the River to Ridge Trail traverses 400 acres of the River-to- Ridge Preserve and connects people to one of OSI’s most successful conservation landscapes — the Shawangunk Ridge.
Over the past 40 years, OSI has protected nearly 33,000 acres on and along the Ridge, and now sets its sights on further connecting people to land it has protected and improved — from restoring over 12 miles of Victorian carriage roads, to the creation of a new Visitor Center at Minnewaska State Park Preserve. In downtown New Paltz and on the River-to-Ridge Trail, OSI’s commitment is already having an impact.