Sustaining — Renewing — God’s World

IMGP0897engel with eagle
Rick Engel (left) and Michael Catania (executive director of Duke Farms) pose with an eagle replica in front of the live eaglecam showing the adorable nestlings at Duke Farm. Now that New Jersey’s chemically polluted sites are being cleaned up, the bald eagle population has grown exponentially.  Photo and blog post by Barbara Fox. 

Today more than a dozen PUMC members explored Duke Farms, the 2,000 acre property with 18 miles of trails that are open to the public. Michael Catania — an environmental lawyer who has had a long association with PUMC member Rick Engel, also an environmental lawyer — described how the property transitioned from the private estate of the late Doris Duke into a thriving, free-to-the- public environmental center that focuses on sustainability.

Here is a link to some of the photos from the excursion  that was organized by the Membership Committee. (More are welcome!)

Visible traces of Doris Duke are gone. Many of her possessions were auctioned off (link to some photos)  But the brilliance of her father’s hydroelectric and landscaping plan endures. James Buchanan Duke, a tobacco mogul, had hired hundreds of men to excavate nine lakes, construct 45 buildings, and build more than two miles of stone walls. Here is the timeline, 

Now, with a $10 million annual budget from the foundation, Duke Farms supports numerous research projects and serves as an education center for visitors to learn about  sustainability practices on both a large and small scale.

One of the most endearing research projects is an extensive study of bald eagles. Here is the link to an eaglecam; you can see the nestlings 4 x 7  and watching is addictive!

That eagles flourish makes us appreciate this passage in Isaiah all the more.  If “sustainable land-use practices” help us to be good stewards of God’s world, a “sustainable prayer life” nurtures our spirits.

they who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength;
    they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
    they shall walk and not faint. Isaiah 40:31 

— by Barbara Fox