The publication for "The First Twenty Years", on June
5, 1972, was prepared by Ralph Cioffi. The committee consisted
of Ella Brown, Ralph Cioffi, Jill Lamoureux, and Arthur McManus
This reminiscence is gratefully dedicated to the late Mrs. Mary
Bonnewell, without whose foresight, dedication and hard work
LLAS would not be celebrating its twentieth anniversary tonight.
A Long Island Audubon chapter was her idea, and the resulting
LLAS was entirely the product of her creative effort.
The publication on June 8, 1982 was prepared by Ralph Cioffi.
The committee consisted of Edna Boyd, Ralph Cioffi, and Jill
NEXT TEN YEARS
new history is dedicated to the memory of the late Arthur McManus,
for the many tasks he performed for LLAS, and for the clarity
and finesse he brought to our first history by his contribution
to it; and to the late Ella Brown whose personal reminiscences
of the early years gave form to our prose.
As we celebrate the thirtieth anniversary of the founding of
Lyman Langdon Audubon Society, we are reminded that many early
members, and some of the original small band of founders, are
still with us and are actively involved in bird study, conservation,
and other chapter activities. A look backwards helps us realize
the strength of Audubon movement is in the loyalty of its longtime
members and enthusiasm of its newcomers.
THE FIRST TWENTY
(from the 1972 text)
The climate in which the fledgling Lyman Langdon
Audubon Society first tried its wings with a public meeting
on September 10, 1952, was vastly different from that prevailing
today. In those days birders and conservationists were looked
upon as singular but harmless creatures whose nature activities
and environmental forebodings were greeted with tolerant smiles
and quips. The very word "ecology", much less its
meaning, was then virtually unknown.
The grim series of events of recent years
have wrought a radical transformation in public awareness and
outlook. The winds and odors of pollution have begun sweeping
through the crevices of even the best-insulated homes in the
best-insulated communities. The lesson is finally being grasped
that man enjoys no godlike immunity from nature's chain of life
-- that the continuing despoliation and eradication of our open
space and wildlife portends a worsening existence in our lifetime
and perhaps irremedial disastrous consequences for those who
It testifies to the vision and prescience
of the little band of founders of Lyman Langdon Chapter that
high on the list of priorities stood the immediate organization
of a conservation committee. From its beginning this standing
committee benefited from a succession of active and dedicated
chairmen, including Dr. Langdon himself. Over the years this
committee has battled fiercely, sometime futilely to preserve
specific wildlife areas and stream beds, to halt the steady
creep of pollution in its multiple guises, to alert the public
to the fact that ill-planned land development and population
density were threatening our water supply, our air purity, our
soil, our green space, our historic inheritance and the general
livability of the communities in which we had chosen to make
It is noteworthy that as far back as May 1957,
the LLAS Bulletin carried a passionate article by Sabra Kimball
decrying the aerial spraying DDT for the "control"
of gypsy moths. Subsequent articles in the Bulletin, no doubt
inspired by the lonely but steadfast efforts of Long Island's
most outstanding naturalist, Dr. Robert Cushman Murphy, dwelt
on the pesticide menace long before it began to receive more
than passing notice in the pages of our daily newspapers.
The Lyman Langdon Chapter owes its name to
an educator possessed of an extraordinary love and knowledge
of nature. This was combined in him with the rare ability to
communicate his zeal and inspiration to others, young and old.
With a doctorate in education, Dr. Langdon served many years
as principal of Port Washington Junior High School and associate
professor of education at then Hofstra College. He retired in
1955 and moved with his wife Dorothy, to Canton, NY, where he
died on January 25, 1963.
Dr. Langdon was a painter in oils and watercolors,
as well as the author of "The Natural History of Long Island",
which was published in 1955, and was dedicated "to the
many children and friends who have enjoyed wandering with me
along our shores or in our fields and woodlands." The chapter
bulletin of February 1963 carried a moving obituary of Dr. Langdon,
which included this tribute by Ms. Ella Brown:
"His greatest charm was his interest in
people. His friends were numerous, and no matter how young or
old they were, they received every consideration on field trips...
He inspired us all to more and to teach others... It was a delight
to know him -- we were blessed in his friendship."
The first seed of LLAS was planted in September
of 1951 when Ella Brown, Helen Graseck, the late Muriel Stevenson,
Jill Lamoureux, Mr. and Mrs. John Porter, Mr. and Mrs. William
LeVeen, the late Mary Bonnewell, and Don Ross were among a group
of twelve who registered for an adult education course in "Beginning
Ornithology" conducted by Dr. Langdon. As the sessions
progressed, Mrs. Bonnewell suggested and pressed for the formation
of a local Audubon chapter. The idea did not meet with instant
acclaim, but her enthusiasm succeeded in fanning the spark in
at least some of her fellow registrants.
A pre-organizational meeting held at Mary
Bonnewell's home on February 20, 1952 had the benefit of the
advice and guidance of Carl Buchheister, of the Audubon Society.
A second such meeting was held on June 7, 1952 at the home of
Rawson Wood and third on June 29 at the home of William LeVeen
at Sands Point.
The first session as an Audubon affiliate
was on August 27, 1952, by Dorothy and John Porter. Officers
were chosen from those attending the meeting who were already
Audubon members. Mary Bonnewell became the first president,
serving with Don Ross as vice-president, John Porter as treasurer
and Helen Graseck (later Mrs. Helen McClure) as secretary. Bill
LeVeen suggested that the chapter be named for Dr. Langdon,
who later was elected honorary president.
The first public meeting was held on September
10, 1952 at the Port Washington Junior High School library.
The first program, a slide presentation of local birds, was
given by Dr. Heathcote Kimball, a leading spirit of the Baldwin
Bird Club, who was accompanied by the late John Elliot, a former
president of that club and a birder of the first rank, who at
that time wrote a "Bird Notes" column for the Long
Island Press. Since the early programs organized by Dr.
Langdon, a steady succession of interesting programs have attracted
All 24 Audubon members who attended the first
meeting became charter members. The many and diverse activities
of the chapter attracted a steadily growing membership until
today our membership exceeds 1100, even though the region from
which we draw our membership is now more restricted.
With Dr. Langdon as leader, the first field
trip on September 13, 1952 was to Shu Swamp at Mill Neck, then
still the property of the Church family, but now maintained
by local residents as one of Long Island's finest nature preserves
through the North Shore Bird and Game Sanctuary, Inc.
The birding list for the day included bluebirds. In those early
days bluebirds were common and it was a disappointing day when
they were not seen.
The first overnight trip was to Montauk Point
on the weekend of October 18-19, 1952, with the group staying
at the old Montauket Hotel which was opened especially to house
the LLAS birders. Among the accounts of the trip were the notes
"we enjoyed a delicious boiled lobster dinner and dancing
before retiring to the sound of the surf .... At 5 a.m. we were
awakened by the sound of Dr. Langdon pounding on everyone's
door." Dr. Langdon took the group first to Fresh Pond where
according to a vivid memoir, "we saw seventeen wood ducks
brilliant in the early morning sun."
Through the years the field trip program has
increased in variety and sophistication under the direction
of some of Long Island's outstanding birders such as Aline Dove,
Orville Dunning, Jill Lamoureux, Albert Bell, Ralph Cioffi,
and Jeanette Doran. Certain trips, the "all clubs"
gathering at Montauk in January, the April trip to Quogue, the
"Big Day" count in mid-May and the August expedition
to Bird Island, have taken on the dignity of traditions.
Besides its Saturday and Sunday field trips,
LLAS began in the spring of 1954 to sponsor mid-week trips under
the able and enthusiastic leadership of Muriel Stevenson. Her
successors, Sue Stevens, Anne Baker, Erika Engelfried, Elsie
Fruson, Jeanette Doran and Helen McClure kept mid-weeks as one
of LLAS's most active programs for adult nature education.
The first of the children's field trips, which
were to become a regular activity of the chapter, was held on
September 20, 1952, also led by Dr. Langdon. These walks went
on rain or shine, once with as few as two children and sometimes
with as many as sixty eager young nature scholars. The trips
built up to such a point that many volunteers were needed. Among
those faithfully serving in this way were Jill Lamoureux, Aline
Dove, Marylouise Matera, Betty Forquer, and Joanne Willis.
The example set by Dr. Langdon as a teacher
of nature appreciation and ornithology was emulated by Aline
Dove, Edna Boyd, and Jeanette Doran. Their well-attended classes
became a constant source of strength and recruitment for LLAS
and the conservation movement.
The first LLAS scholarship award went to Jill
Lamoureux, to attend the Audubon Camp in Maine. She subsequently
became an instructor in the nature study courses being conducted
at the Cold Spring Harbor Biological Laboratory. John Ricks
represented the chapter at the first annual meeting of the Long
Island Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, later assuming
the chairmanship he still holds.
On September 18, 1952, Mary Bonnewell was
the first LLAS representative to attend a national convention
of the Audubon Society. The chapter undertook its first unofficial
Christmas Count on December 20, 1952. The first officially recognized
count took place on December 27, 1953, when Jill Lamoureux,
as compiler, reported 64 species. When the count was turned
in to Mrs. Margaret Hickey, wife of the famed ornithologist,
she questioned the reporting of a laughing gull. When told it
was verified by Dr. David Skaar, however, she accepted the report
"without question". The following year Dr. Skaar became
compiler, and due to his knowledge and organization the species
count rose to 88, including 63 bluebirds! In subsequent years
other competent compilers such as Orville Dunning, Paul Gillen,
and Al Bell, making ever-improving teams of field workers, gradually
increased the count until it now tops one hundred.
The chapter later became affiliated with the
Federation of New York State Bird Clubs, Inc., and
on August 27-28, 1954, Ella Brown, Mary Bonnewell, and Muriel
Stevenson represented the chapter at the federation's annual
convention at Cornell University.
The first Bulletin appeared in 1953, with
Don Ross as editor. Since that time the Bulletin has been published
regularly, at first four times a year and now monthly. A fortunate
succession of accomplished and conscientious editors, including
Mrs. Kimball, who introduced the osprey masthead, Carol Stevenson,
Aline Dove, Betty Forquer, and Al Bell, established high standards
for the Bulletin which has consistently won high praise even
outside our own periphery for its content and format.
A nature library was established in 1957,
with Marylouise Matera as Librarian. Today's sizable collection
of books, pamphlets and memorabilia is maintained by Jeanette
The moving away of a top birder is always
a difficult experience for an Audubon group. When the time came
for Dr. Langdon and later for Mary Bonnewell to move away from
Long Island, those were critical days for the young chapter.
It was feared by some that LLAS could not survive the loss of
their skills and leadership. Fortunately, however, LLAS had
prospered so that other leaders such as Paul Gillen, Jill Lamoureux,
Orville Dunning and Aline Dove rose to the challenge and by
their example attracted more good birders, increased membership,
and improved the effectiveness of LLAS as a nature organization.
Space will not permit the listing of the many
environmental battles in which LLAS has been engaged over the
years. Particularly deserving of mention, however, is the never-ending
struggle to preserve our shorelines, our wetlands and our green
The chapter's Wildlife Preservation Committee,
headed by Jill Lamoureux as a sub-committee of the Conservation
Committee, was successful in 1958 in having the Sands Point
Wildlife Preserve established. This was the culmination of efforts
extending back to 1954. For many years this sanctuary was the
scene of much LLAS activity, including field trips, children's
education walks, and conservation and maintenance work. Unfortunately
the woodland section of the preserve no longer exists, the owner
having opened it up for "development" a few years
In 1968 then conservation chairman, Ralph Cioffi,
and president, Joanne Willis, were the leading spirits in organizing
the "Citizens for the Hempstead Plains", a small coalition
of nature-minded groups dedicated to preserving the last sizable
remnant of the historic Hempstead Plains. Out of our Hempstead
Plains effort emerged the Long Island Environmental Council.
Many of our members soon became active in the daily environmental
battle engaged in by the LIEC.
The Lyman Langdon Audubon Society can look
back proudly over the twenty years of achievement that even
the most fervent imagination among its founders could not have
anticipated. It is a record whose impact for good can not truly
be measured or documented in this brief reminiscence.
looking back, however satisfying, wins no battles. Today we
must be imbued with a heightened sense of urgency if we are
to avert the "silent spring" which the late Rachel
Carson wrote about so fearfully and so fearlessly. It gives
us confidence, however, that the new leaders needed for tomorrow's
battles are already among us, ready to take the places of our
older members as time compels them to lay down their arms.
(end of 1972 text)
TO 1982 TEXT
An event that joined the first two decades with the third was
the celebration of our Twentieth Anniversary on June 5, 1972,
by more than one hundred members and friends at Lauraine Murphy's
Restaurant in Manhasset. Jill Lamoureux was singled out for
a special award that night, and Charles H. Callison, then executive
vice president of National Audubon Society, was an honored guest.
The speaker for the evening was Anthony Taormina, who spoke
on the growing threat to Long Island's water supply.
THE NEXT TEN YEARS
Some other highlights of the decade just past
were our incorporation, Welwyn preserved, new field trips, association
with the Muttontown Preserve, the defeat of the Bayville-Rye
Bridge, and the rescue of the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary.
In 1971 research began into the need for a
new constitution and the benefits of incorporation. In October,
1972, member and attorney Arthur Goldstein proposed to General
Meeting that an incorporation committee be formed to draw up
the necessary documents. At the meeting of February 22, 1973,
a motion for incorporation and the new constitution was approve
and LLAS became Lyman Langdon Audubon Society, Inc.
The General Meeting has continued to be an
important means of achieving membership action and interaction.
The program content ranges from the educational and informative
to the entertaining. In January 1973, program chairperson Mary
Schreiber organized our first educational forum. The evening's
events consisted of discussion groups, displays, and audio-visual
demonstrations of birds, ecology, and conservation. Participating
in the first forum were George Horton, Orville Dunning, Carol
Johnston, Joanne Knapp, Helen McClure, Kathy Sacco, Jo Ann Larson,
and Ted Zinn. The popularity of this format was such that LLAS
continued with it and used it to celebrate its 25th anniversary
on January 24, 1977.
LLAS educational zest continued undiminished.
In 1972 a series of educational field trips were conducted in
cooperation with the Nassau County Department of Recreation
and Parks. Members who participated were Ruth Neumann, Cathy
and Bill Overton, Margret Nathanson, Helen McClure, Erika Englefried,
and Jo Ann Larson.
In 1973 Elizabeth Baehler announced the establishment
of research and development grants to members. These grants
were made in addition the scholarships awarded each year for
nature study. Innovative was a seminar course in ornithology
offered by LLAS at C. W. Post College. In 1981 Lois Lindberg
gave a very interesting adult education course in Great Neck
called the "habitats of Long Island."
A conspicuous field of activity of our education
committee was the contribution of time to "manning"
conservation exhibits at various flower shows and ecology fairs.
Leadership in this area was supplied by Jo Ann Larson, Elizabeth
Baehler, Kathy Sacco, Kathy Denston, and Lois Lindberg.
The urge to share the delights of birding
brought out the inventiveness of LLAS people. In January 1972
Helen McClure and Jeanette Doran taught a January Bird Study
Course to prepare members for the coming spring migration. In
the spring of 1974 a Wednesday-Saturday migration watch was
organized in local preserves.
A new concept in field trips began in September
1975. Al Hobart and Don Thompson developed a schedule in which
the Wednesday morning field trip was followed by an encore trip
the following Saturday morning. September 1975 also saw the
start of the late George Lehr's extremely popular Great Neck
Bird Walks in response to the idea that member act as area resource
personnel in their own neighborhoods. The first walk was at
Kings Point Park and was very well attended. Many new people
were introduced to the Audubon ideals through these contacts.
Saturday Field Trips continued without interruption
each month from September to June. Jill Lamoureux and Herb Roth
were among the members who gave these all-day trips their support
by their frequent participation. The Christmas Count remained
our prime winter activity. In December 1973 we counted an all-time
high of 120 species. There were even 3 Eastern Bluebirds seen
on count day. In April, Al Bell was recognized for ten years
of service as Christmas Count compiler. He was followed in this
office first by Jack Huke and then by Herb Roth.
In 1973 new ground was broken when LLAS began
looking at birds from a new angle. The June Resident Bird Census
was based loosely on the idea of a Christmas Count in June.
Its rigors caused us to develop a more intensive type of field
work and rewarded us with a greater knowledge of local bird
distribution. A spin-off from it was the One-Square-Mile of
Birds, a special census of every "nook and cranny"
of Sea Cliff. The June census served as a precursor and training
ground for LLAS participation in the ongoing Atlas Bird Project.
This is a 5-year field study to determine the breeding status
of all the resident birds of New York State. In the first two
years LLAS workers had the greatest overall success in our region
in approaching this goal. Among those working on the Atlas Project
are Jeanette Doran, Barbara Spencer, Herb Roth, Zu Proly, Helen
McClure, Ralph Cioffi, Allan Lindberg, Estelle Capelin, Joseph
Bookalam, Bill Patterson, Don Thompson, Al Bell, Jerry Morea,
and Jo Ann Larson.
The full range of national conservation issues
engaged the energies of LLAS and its conservation committees.
The 1972 Environmental Bond issue, Alaska Wilderness legislation,
controls on all-terrain vehicles, limits to offshore drilling,
and nuclear power restrictions were all causes championed by
our board and conservation chairmen Basil Tangredi, Kathy Sacco,
Betty Forquer, and Kurt Sundheimer. in 1972 the LLAS board voted
to support legislation to permit citizen suits to enforce environmental
laws. We joined the Environmental Planning Lobby and
we continued to support the Long Island Environmental Council.
The words of past-president Basil Tangredi,
"Think globally, but act locally" could well describe
LLAS. Local environmental issues were solid waste disposal,
resource recovery, air quality, and water quality. Water was
prime concern because of Long Island's dwindling potable water,
its vanishing wetlands, and degraded quality of its harbors
Being a member of LLAS helped some of us perceive
our civic duty more clearly. The great wave of environmental
awareness of the late sixties and seventies led to the appointing
of many local environmental boards, on several of which LLAS
LLAS members have always been concerned about
the loss of our precious open space. Many became supporters
and workers for The Nature Conservancy. In 1975 LLAS
proposed a wildlife preserve in the Port Washington Sand Pits.
The Pine Barrens and underlying reservoir of sweet water found
our support in 1979.
One of the high points in the history of LLAS was our successful
participation in the setting aside of the Pratt "Welwyn"
estate in Glen Cove as a county preserve. Originally slated
to be a much needed landfill site by the city, it was saved
by a coalition of environmentalists spearheaded by local Audubon
members. Among these were Dorothy Blumner, Florence McDonough,
and Ralph Cioffi of Glen Cove and Helen McClure of Locust Valley.
In September 1974 Barbara Conolly led an LLAS-sponsored "Walk
for Welwyn" on the grounds of the estate for Glen Cove
residents and friends. The Great Horned Owl that nests there
became the symbol of wildlife preservation to the people of
the city. Responding to the ground swell of public opinion,
the mayor of Glen Cove, Vincent Suozzi, and County Executive
Ralph Caso reached an agreement to dedicate "Welwyn"
to passive recreation and education for the people of Glen Cove
and for county residents as well. LLAS members are proud of
the role they played in achieving this and they are dedicated
to support the concept of "Welwyn" as a nature preserve.
The Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary in Oyster
Bay is the oldest continuously run sanctuary of the National
Audubon Society. It was set aside in 1923 as a memorial to conservation-minded
president. By 1971 when it appeared that National Audubon Society
was about to abandon it, LLAS representatives began to meet
with concerned people from other Audubon chapters to discuss
ways to save it. By December 1972 we had joined with three neighboring
chapters "to undertake to protect and maintain its facilities
and eventually to provide an educational outreach into Long
Island communities." Betty Forquer, Herb Roth, Al Bell,
and Barbara Spenser have served on its governing board. Roz
Fisher, Helen McClure, Rose Miller, Basil Tangredi and Elizabeth
Baehler also made important contributions to the sanctuary.
One of the important jobs of the local chapters
has been to raise funds to support a full-time director and
staff for the sanctuary. Each year bird seed has been sold in
bulk at "Bird Seed Savings Day" and the profit channeled
to the sanctuary coffers. John Meirs has been a prominent worker
in this effort, aided by the efforts of Bob and Helen McClure,
Zu Proly, Midge Maple, the late George Lehr, Herb Roth, Kurt
Sundheimer, and Adolph Gehde.
In another show of cooperation LLAS met with
the various Long Island chapters in the fall of 1972 on the
need to work together on mutual conservation concerns. Once
all Long Island belonged to one chapter, LLAS, but as the Audubon
cause flourished, it was necessary to found many new chapters.
Eventually this meeting led to a new unity in the establishment
of the Long Island Audubon Chapters Coalition.
Because of a natural feeling for all living
things, LLAS tried to promote the protection of endangered species.
The "Save the Great Whale" program of the June 1974
General Meeting typified this spirit.
A fear of all ecologists is the terrible losses
of wildlife caused by oil spills. In 1973 Basil Tangredi worked
to set up a program to treat birds contaminated by oil. Instructions
in cleaning procedures were offered to LLAS volunteers. This
project continues today in cooperation with other agencies including
the Theodore Roosevelt Sanctuary in an umbrella group called
"Coast Watch". LLAS volunteers in this good work have
been Lucille Young and Zu Proly.
Wildlife and energy may seem worlds apart
but Audubon people have always understood the unity of all conservation.
The subject matter of two General Meetings should make that
clear: "That Upon Which We Depend -- Energy" and "Energy,
Are We Part of the Solution?" In 1979 LLAS developed a
comprehensive energy policy and gave it prominent space in the
September Bulletin of that year.
During these eventful ten years we remember
fighting the battle of "The Bridge." LLAS members
participated in all aspects of this cause. Success came with
the signing by Governor Nelson Rockefeller of legislation to
block the construction of the Bayville-Rye Bridge. Our Bulletin
celebrated in September 1973 with an article titled "Thank
God It's Over."
The publishing of the Bulletin has continued
without interruption these past ten years. Each of its editors
has maintained the basic style, developed and refined over the
years, that makes the Bulletin outstanding in its class.
Field notes first appeared sporadically in
some of the earlier editions of the Bulletin, but they did not
become a regular feature until the sixties under editors Aline
Dove and Al Bell. Since 1972 field notes have been given increased
coverage. The value of these records, aside from the interest
they afford our members, is that they contribute to the storehouse
of local bird information.
A very happy story to tell of the past decade
was the growing cooperation between LLAS birders and the staff
of the Muttontown Preserve. Since 1971 the preserve's meeting
room has been the scene of our Christmas Count summary. The
hospitality and cooperation of Bill Paterson and his staff have
been unfailing. The success of the June Resident Bird Census
and Atlas Project were greatly due to their efforts. The high
quality of their nature education program has set a standard
for others to imitate. In the field of bird study, in particular
of the raptors, Allan Lindberg has few peers. In return LLAS
members served the preserve as worker-volunteers in impressive
numbers. Visitors to the preserve were sure to see one or more
of the following people: Ruth Neumann, Zu Proly, Don and Virginia
Thompson, Rose Miller, Helen McClure, John and Virginia Meirs,
Lee Dauvergne, Roz Fisher, Ken Stier, the late Arthur McManus,
Margret Nathanson, and Al and Helen Hobart.
The amazing growth of LLAS from its first group of 24 continued
to impress under the direction of membership chairperson Doris
Rowe. In 1975 a special membership drive was organized. Wildlife
artist Guy Coheleach's donations of prints to new members and
to their recruiters gave us an added boost. By July 1975 Martha
Van Loan informed us that we had grown to 1450.
While there were impressive gains there were
some losses. We were saddened by the passing of Arthur McManus,
Ann Baker, George Lehr, Kagen Christensen, Ella Brown, Joe Wing,
Muriel Stevenson, Dave Skaar, and Elsie Klein, but we were buoyed
up by the remembrance of the good days we had known with them
and of all they had done for LLAS.
At the beginning of this decade, Basil Tangredi,
then our conservation Chairman, said aptly, we should seek a
"balance between field trips and conservation work."
As we examine the record, we see this was exactly the path laid
out for us by the founders. Each new wave of leaders, from our
first president, Mary Bonnewell, to our latest, Dorothy McConnell,
continues to illuminate this path in a way particular to the
needs of the day.
we look ahead to the next decade, we envision: good times birding
and serious bird study, the enjoyment of nature and conservation
crusades. It will all be there when needed, balanced and in
PRESIDENTS OF LLAS AND NSAS