Jehovah’s Witnesses have begun construction of their new world headquarters facility near Sterling Forest Lake (Blue Lake) in rural New York State. How are they protecting the wildlife and the habitat there?
The Witnesses built a temporary fence around the construction site to prevent timber rattlesnakes, eastern box turtles, and wood turtles from entering the area where they might be harmed. The fence is checked regularly to make sure that animals cannot get through and be trapped in the work zone. After construction is completed and the fence is removed, any rattlesnake found too near the facility will be relocated by someone trained to do so safely.
Trees were harvested during winter months to avoid disturbing the eastern bluebirds during their nesting season. After construction in the affected areas is finished, the Witnesses will install nesting boxes to encourage the birds to return.
Likewise, they are grading and clearing certain areas between October and March to allow any seeds of the endangered hyssop skullcap to disperse and germinate effectively. This schedule is being followed even though none of these plants have been found on the Warwick project site since 2007.
Sterling Forest Lake, which borders the site, supports a variety of waterfowl as well as fish, such as trout, bass, pickerel, and perch. To protect the lake, designers chose a variety of green construction techniques. These include provision for planting vegetation on the roofs of buildings, which will filter out pollutants from rainfall and reduce runoff. In addition, the natural vegetation around the lakeshore is being preserved and protected.
A Witness closely involved with these aspects of the project says, “Even though doing so will require additional planning and time, we are committed to protecting the ecosystem at the Warwick site.”