Dr. Ashley Schiff was a dedicated and popular Associate Professor of Political Science and conservation naturalist at Stony Brook University. The natural environment of Long Island, with its woodlands and coastline forests, was in danger of being swallowed up by population growth and the University's expansion during the 60's. His professional life focused on forest conservation and management, and he worked to help his students understand the importance of the natural world. There was a legend that upon learning that a bulldozer was about to topple the tallest conifer on campus, he quietly chained himself to the threatened tree. No, he didn't use chains and his body to save that stand of trees, but his persuasive voice and reasoned writings.
In the early fall of 1969 he died unexpectedly at the age of 37, leaving behind a wife and three young children, one an infant. In 1970 a 26 acre woodland, often walked by Prof. Schiff and his students was set aside to honor him.
Ashley was also my uncle.
A variety of university courses make use of the Ashley Schiff Nature Preserve as a part of their curriculum, it is used for weekly guided nature walks, by art students, by those in the wider university community as a beautiful, untouched slice of nature in the midst of an increasingly urban landscape. It's beautiful, cherished, and threatened.
Sadly,the university never granted permenant legal status to the perserve. A large privately-funded conference center was allowed to chop away a portion, and as the university expands, the land will become even more in danger of the bulldozer. The current university president has said she will consider granting permenant protection if a demonstration can be made of support.
To that end, if any of you would consider signing an online petition, I'd be very thankful.http://www.jamesmickley.com/aspp/petition.php