I got the following e-mail 9/13/2004.  I think it provides an excellent opportunity to perhaps start a debate on secretiveness in nature organizations.  I provide my reply below the received e-mail


From: "Jo-Ann Munoz" <[email protected]>
> Date: 2004/09/13 Mon PM 01:43:08 CDT
> To: <[email protected]>
> CC: "Bill Rawlyk" <[email protected]>,
> "Kate Buttolph" <[email protected]>,
> "Linda Mead \(Linda Mead\)" <[email protected]>
> Subject: Error in Information on NJ- NY- CT Botany Online
> Dear Dr. Cooney:
> I am Director of Communications for Delaware & Raritan Greenway, central New
> Jersey's regional land trust. We were a partner in the preservation of a
> 197 acre property in West Amwell Township known as Fiddler's Creak Farm.
> The information copied into the body of this email (please scroll down) was
> obtained through a Google search for Fiddler's Creak Farm. It must be
> resident on your website (although when I go to NY-NJ-CT Botany On Line, I
> can't find the page).
> Please remove this listing from your website. The information is incorrect.
> The majority of this 197 area property is protected by conservation easement
> and public access consists of a 25 foot trail along the stream corridor
> which has not yet been marked.
> The 20 acres of this parcel containing the buildings and farmhouse indicated
> in the information on your website are not part of the conservation
> easement. They are PRIVATE PROPERTY. There is no public access or parking
> here.
> And since the public access trail along the stream corridor has not been
> constructed, the public should not be directed to this property for hiking
> or nature study at this time.
> Hikers drove up to the private home on the property this weekend and
> disturbed the owner and caretakers. This must not occur again.
> If you have any question, I may be reached by return email or at
> 609-924-4646 ext. 125.
> Thank you very much for your cooperation in removing this erroneous
> information from your website.
> Sincerely,
> Jo-Ann C. Munoz
> _________________________________________________________________________________________

Dear Jo-Ann:

I got the information from:

Source: "New Jersey Land Preservation Initiative Moves Forward: DEP Announces Sourlands Acquisitions."

as it says on my website.

I find that all too many nature-minded organizations are very closed mouthed or close-to-the-vest and this makes it difficult for nature lovers to explore many of the properties because virtually no information is published on the places, even though many of the places are supposedly open to the public.

Many, many a time (hundreds in fact) I have had to use my detective skills to find a nature place that is "open" to the public. Thank goodness for MapTech and detailed County Maps as well as the web.

If there is erroneous information out there, I would think it is more the fault of the nature organizations than those of us who are trying to give the public information on where these places are. Secrecy is great for the CIA and the FBI (up to a point), but I don't think it's so great for nature organizations.

I am sure I have many mistakes on the web. But at least I have provided the start of the public discussion. And what I have done is almost completely without help from the nature organizations.

"Erroneous" information comes about when there is too little information made open to the public on these natural areas, and so organizations or persons like myself have to piece together the information from inadequate or sometimes downright misleading sources.

I went out to the farm myself, but did not want to hike around so I checked my map to figure out where I would go next. The owner or farmer or someone from the farm stopped to ask if I needed help and I talked to him a bit. He did not seem hostile or perturbed. There were no private property signs posted. And there were no signs indicating where the public access is and where it is not. That is another bad practice of the nature organizations; too little signage.

I say shame on the nature organizations, not Outdoor Central or NY-NJ-CT Botany.

In a way, I am kind of glad someone went out there and sought to use the land. At least such visits may get some of these nature organizations off their asses and make information and signage available.

I am glad you brought the information to my attention, although I did not care for the tone. But I go my own way hoping to open up our natural areas to those who want to know more about them (and even where the hell they are.)

Patrick L. Cooney, Ph. D.