Friday, April 1

Travels by Eric Horstman

In January I traveled to Yale University to participate in the 22nd Annual Yale International Society of Tropical Forester´s Conference on tropical forests and sustainable development.

I was given the challenge to try and synthesize twenty five years work and experiences in forest restoration in a five minute presentation. The words of Roshi Joan Halifax, a teacher of mine came to the fore, go to the essence, indeed! My presentation on our dry forest restoration work in the Cerro Blanco Protected Forest was well received and we have been asked to write up the results of our work for possible submission in a journal put out by the Yale ISTF chapter.

After dipping back into the life of a student by staying with Sumit a Yale Forestry student and even participating in a Friday night pizza party with the forestry club members, I moved on to upstate New York, the Catskills to be exact.

Through a special bird, a Grey Cheeked Parakeet named Tangerine that lived with Cliff and Jane Johnson and enlivened the lives of anyone ¨Tang¨ came in contact with, I was contacted to provide information on the species, which is globally threatened and also finds a home in the Cerro Blanco Protected Forest. One thing led to another and Cliff and Jane Johnson and I developed a lasting and enduring friendship much of it maintained by e-mails and phone calls. The Johnson´s have come and visited Cerro Blanco two times and had extended the invitation to visit their bioregion, which I gladly did.

I was put to work so to speak and gave talks at Hearts Home an international Catholic organization that works among many other places in the barrios of Isla Trinitaria, a poor neighborhood in the city of Guayaquil where we are based. We have hosted a visit by Ecuadorian children that were brought to Cerro Blanco and hope to be able to work with Hearts Home in the future to develop a more extensive program that would include overnight camp outs. Taking advantage of the balmy weather of 40 degree or more days I also had the opportunity to visit the Basha Kill Wildlife Management Area ably run by the Basha Kill Area Association.

The Basha Kill includes over 2,000 acres of land that was purchased in 1972 by the State of New York through the Department of
Environment Conservation. Almost 200 species of birds, 30 varieties of fish and many species of plants, reptiles, mammals and insects are found in the area. Our hosts for the visit were Mike and Paula who head up the Basha Kill Area Association. We walked along an old road on the edge of the wetland covered with logs. It was a quiet morning and besides some ducks and Canadian Geese out in the wetland calling, all was quiet. Mike said that a pair of Bald Eagles nest on a small island where a viewing platform has been built to observe the Bald Eagles which have nested every year for several years producing chicks to help bolster the population of this once endangered symbol of the United States.

No eagles were seen on my short visit but it was almost palpable the hidden life that surrounded us waiting to manifest itself as spring came to the area. It was a pleasure to be invited to speak on the night of February 3rd to the members of the Basha Kill Association and be interviewed for an article to appear in their newsletter, The Guardian.
For more information on the Basha Kill Area Association please visit their website at or Facebook page For more information on Hearts Home please go to

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