In the Green Room: Ned Sullivan on Scenic Hudson
Chuck and Ned Sullivan talk about beginning of the Scenic Hudson organization and their efforts on land preservation. (Steve Bransford and Mike Lindsay/MNN)
Chuck: Well, today on Love of the Land, we’re here in the very beautiful, if very frozen and frigid, Hudson River Valley area, only about an hour or so north of New York City, believe it or not. And I’m here with my new friend Ned Sullivan who is the head of Scenic Hudson. Ned, welcome to Love of the Land.
Ned: Great to see you, Chuck.
Chuck: Glad to have you here.
Ned: Great to be here.
Chuck: First of all, just tell me about your work. Tell me what Scenic Hudson is all about.
Ned: Well, Chuck, Scenic Hudson is a land preservation organization and environmental advocacy group. We’re a not-for-profit. And our mission is to preserve this incredible landscape we have --
Ned: -- as a public and natural resource.
Ned: So, our philosophy is that this river, this valley, belongs to all of us. And that it’s important that we protect the natural resources so that they’re here for our children and future generations.
Chuck: I know we’re standing at the – right next to this mountain, which is called --
Ned: Storm King.
Chuck: Storm King Mountain.
Chuck: I think there’s a story about that.
Ned: There sure is.
Chuck: Tell us about it.
Ned: There sure is, Chuck. Forty-five years ago, Con Edison, which is the electric utility in this area, proposed to build a hydroelectric project on the face of that mountain, on the north face. They would have blasted the face off of it. They would have sawed off the top. Basically carved it up like a Thanksgiving turkey. And they would have pumped millions of gallons of Hudson River water out of the river, pumped it up to a reservoir that they were going to create by flooding the forests and the --
Chuck: The carved out mountain.
Ned: -- carved out mountain on the top. But these citizens, they invented and launched the modern environmental movement, because they said, “This is a bad idea. We’re going to stop it.” And they proceeded with litigation. And it took them 17 years to win the battle. That court ruling, and it’s called The Scenic Hudson Decision, after our organization.
Ned: Known in the law books. It really gave us a voice in how our government makes decisions that affect our communities and the environment.
Chuck: Excellent, excellent. Well, what a wonderful model that you're providing for other communities to see what you're doing and you showed them the possibilities and it can be done.
Ned: It can be done. It’s happening here in the Hudson Valley. And it just takes everybody to get involved. That’s what’s really crucial, Chuck, is for people to get involved in their community. That’s what this whole thing is about, is if people take an interest and get active and they can forge a future that will be, you know, smart and it’ll be great for them where they’ll be able to go to parks, walk to work, walk to school, you know, have a real community.