By Grace Scalzo
After thirty-nine years of living on Long Island, Ted and I have made the decision to move to Texas where our daughter lives. We are a small, close family and living this far from her has been difficult.
When we began thinking about moving, our one criteria was “interesting land”. On a trip to the Lone Star State in December, we found a 14 acre parcel, in between San Antonio and Austin. Some years ago, Texas realized that its open space is shrinking and legislation was enacted which offers land owners a tax break if they agree to manage their land for the benefit of wildlife. This approach merges perfectly with our goals and desires, so we took the plunge and bought the land. In exchange for relatively low taxes, we will be obligated to undertake and maintain projects designed for the benefit and encouragement of the native species that need a place to call home. We will be offering food and water for species such as turkey, other birds, mammals, clearing non-native, invasive species, replacing them with native grasses and wildflowers, just to cite a few examples of our upcoming projects.
Leaving Long Island is certainly bittersweet. We have enjoyed terrific careers, made wonderful friends, and absolutely loved the beaches, parks, and wildlife that call this sand pile home. Photography became a way for me to merge my love of the outdoors with an art form and the enjoyment and friendships that I have made along the way know no bounds.
Things have changed since I began photographing nature in 2007. Social media, along with the accessibility of relatively affordable camera gear has led to more and more folks getting out in nature. While this is positive and to be encouraged, there can be problems. I am so extremely proud to have been a member and administrator of the Long Island Wildlife Photography Facebook page, founded by Mike Busch. As this group grew exponentially by the week, we took some positions which initially were seen as unfavorable, such as forbidding the location of owls and nests, banning those few folks who found rudeness acceptable, and as a result, we have evolved into a respected and respectful community of nature photographers and enthusiasts. We try hard to act ethically when in the field which includes keeping a reasonable distance from sensitive subjects, not lingering beyond what is tolerable, and acting in a kind manner with our fellow photographers. The level of sharing and encouragement that we see on our LIWP page is heart warming and not often found in our competitive, dog eat dog world.
Our wildlife and our open spaces are under constant pressure. I encourage you to use your pictures, your voices, and your energy to inspire and advocate for preservation and conservation. If you have some time, consider getting involved in citizen science projects. I guarantee that you will reap great rewards and get back far more than you give. Long Island is special and deserves our best efforts toward making it so for future generations.
So I leave you with what are some of my favorite photos taken here on Long Island. I will share my Texas shots with the Long Island Wildlife Photography Facebook page on “Free for All Fridays” and on the other six days, I will pop in and enjoy the wonderful photos that members post.
Be safe everyone, and most of all, continue to enjoy the peace that is to be found in our great outdoors.