In recent months Orange Environment has been actively seeking to preserve the prehistoric caves located at Mt. Lookout in Goshen.  Archeological studies date human use of these cave as early as 12,000 years ago, placing the caves as one of oldest sites of human activity east of the Mississippi River.  Yet most people who live in Orange County are unaware of the historical importance of these caves. To increase recognition of this significant landmark and to advocate for a better understanding of this unique site, Orange Environment (OE) is sponsoring a poster contest for high school students titled “Save the Caves at Mt. Lookout.”  The competition is open to 10th and 11th graders in Orange County’s public schools. We think this will be a great interdisciplinary learning tool about the history of humankind in North America encompassing the arts, the sciences, and social studies. Please refer to the Resources section on this website for info on: the caves and their history, contest rules, and a reference list of articles and videos your students can use as a starting point to develop ideas for their posters.                                                                                            Contest Rules are as follows:                                                                                           -Contest open to all 10th and 11th graders in Orange County public schools                    -Posters must say “Save the Caves at Mt Lookout”                                                            -Size requirement: 11” x 17”                                                                                                -Two media categories: hand-painted art (acrylic, watercolor, marker, etc.) and                 digital (computer-generated) art                                                                                        -Prizes in each category:                                                                                                     Hand-painted:1stplace=$75 gift card/2ndplace=$50 gift card/ 3rdplace=$25 gift card           Digital art: 1stplace=$75 gift card/2ndplace=$50 gift card/ 3rdplace =$25 gift card             -Submission deadline is Thursday, April 15, 2021                                                               -Prizes will be announced Monday April 26, 2021                                                               -Digital works to be emailed to as attachment                 -Submission requirements and drop off info will be sent in a follow-up letter                     -All prize-winning works will be exhibited at schools and venues around the county            and promoted in the media and through the Orange County Arts Council                       -Criteria for judging the posters will be creativity of delivering the message                       -Judges to be announced in a follow-up letter                                                                           We look forward to seeing all the inspiring and informative artwork students can create! If you have any questions or need additional information please contact us at                                                                                  Mary Altobelli, OE Caves Contest Coordinator           Toby Schack, OE Vice President

Press Conference: SAVE THE CAVES!

When: Sunday, October 25, 2020, 2:00PM (Rain date: Sun, Nov. 1, 2020, 2:00pm)    Where: 55 Main Street, Chester, NY (outdoor patio)                                                     (Please wear a mask and social distance)

  • Preservation Efforts—not Mining—are Needed to Preserve Dutchess Quarry Caves                                                                                                                      —Orange County NY is the site of the internationally significant Dutchess Quarry Caves on Goshen’s Mount Lookout.                                                         
  • One of the oldest sites of human habitation east of the Mississippi River, occupation of these prehistoric caves has been dated back to between 12,500 to 15,000 BC! The caves were discovered by boy scouts in the 1940s and have been the subject of ongoing archeological investigation beginning in the 1960s. Eight of the caves are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Looking out over Orange County’s Black Dirt Region, occupants of the caves surveilled a viewshed where mastodon and giant beaver abounded in the primordial cedar swamp stretching out below Mt. Lookout. Here, we come to an understanding of our region at the earliest point of human presence on our continent. This site is perhaps Orange County’s most important historical treasure and is a place sacred to our indigenous peoples as a direct connection to their original ancestors.
  • The bad news is that, from the late 1930s, Mt. Lookout was mined for its limestone rock. As the rock mass was destroyed, some of the caves were too. In the 1980s, Orange Environment, local archeologists and many others acted to protect the caves. Even as Orange County allowed mining to continue—the label Dutchess Quarry caves derives from this practice—the caves were to be protected with a 200’ buffer zone and restricted access. But just beyond that buffer a shear drop of 200’ reveals a giant chasm mined into the mountain. Pumps run constantly to prevent the chasm from filling up with water so that mining can continue. Seismographs measure vibration of the caves. Now Orange County must decide whether to allow a mining company to acquire the remaining portion of Lookout Mountain for additional mining; it awaits an appraisal of the mining materials in preparation for exploring a potential sale.
  • Under former planning commissioner Dave Church, an exhaustive study of the caves was published in 2012, “Dutchess Quarry Sites National Register District- a management and conservation report” (available on the OC website). This report echoes recommendations made in the past by many, including Orange Environment.
  • In holding this press conference, Orange Environment announces its opposition to additional mining on Mt Lookout. And we demand a complete reclamation and preservation plan. There are many good reasons for this position.
  • The Mt. Lookout (Dutchess Quarry) caves are an unparalleled resource for County and the world. This a potential source of education and tourism opportunities for the future if an interpretive center, distributed educational kiosks, related curriculum and further research are developed around the caves (albeit not allowing further disturbance of them).
  • These caves should not be jeopardized through additional blasting, drilling and weakening of the thin remaining shelf they are perched atop of. We will be joined in the press conference by partners to help underscore the importance of the site and its vulnerability.
  • The Lookout Mountain caves are sacred to the Native Americans of our region who view the caves and the potential burials and objects they contain as their responsibility to protect, even if the county and mining companies have not. We will be joined in our press conference by Chief Vincent Mann, head of the Turtle Clan of the Ramapough-Lenape tribe, who represents a network of Native Americans who seek to protect the caves.
  • The county has allowed severe environmental degradations to occur on Lookout Mountain without having an overall plan for reclamation. Now they are caught literally between a rock and a hard place. If they stop the pumps, the chasm will fill up with water—Lake Lookout—that will require security and management. But to keep the pumps on is a major responsibility. Plus, there is the responsibility to protect the National Register site. The rockface where the caves lie may be drying out from the pumping. But if water is let back into the site, might it dissolve the cave’s foundation? A major reclamation and cave protection study is required at this juncture to create a long-overdue site plan.
  • This press conference will further elaborate the reason for Orange County to prevent additional mining, better protect the caves, promote this educational and tourism resource and plan for the best long-term reclamation of the site. If it instead moves to allow further mining (including through a property sale); a full environmental impact statement will be required. And future mining permits will be actively opposed. This press conference also welcomes our indigenous community, for whom this site is sacred, to the broad but not always connected coalition of citizens and scientists that have long sought to protect this resource. It is time for us all to respect this treasure, this connection to forebears and this remnant of the early environmental history of our region. 

Kathy Skafidas 845-988-7687; Mary Altobelli 845-469-9487                                                                                           Please visit our website at



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Orange Environment, Inc., Orange County’s longstanding environmental watchdog, will host an online public climate education event on Sunday, October 12th from 3 to 4 p.m. featuring Harriet Shugarman, author of the recently released How to Talk to Your Kids About Climate Change. The event is part of the global 24 Hours of Reality conversation about the climate crisis and how we solve it. As many as 1,000 such events will be held worldwide organized by volunteer Climate Reality Leaders trained by former Vice President Al Gore.

Harriet Shugarman’s book provides a comprehensive description of the climate crisis, how to communicate it to the children in your life, and how you can work together to be part of its solutions. “This is not an easy topic to discuss with your children. On one hand, they need to know about it. On the other, we do not want to frighten them or cause them to lose hope. Harriet Shugarman has been long working with parents to find the right balance for family conversations about the climate  crisis. No one has given this more thought and practice,” noted Dr. Michael Edelstein, founder and president emeritus of Orange Environment, Inc. Dr. Edelstein, who heads the Environmental Studies Program at Ramapo College of NJ, is a Climate Reality Leader. He will host this event. 

According to the 2018 National Climate Assessment, the northeast is the region of the US most impacted by climate change impacts already evident. According to the 2018 SR15 report of the IPCC, the global authority on climate change, we have only a decade to act before climate change begins to further accelerate. Many climate change impacts are already irreversible. 

Harriet Shugarman is Executive Director of ClimateMama, a senior Climate Reality Leader, adjunct professor of Global Climate Change Policy and World Sustainability at Ramapo College of NJ, and Chair of the Climate Reality Project’s NYC Metro Chapter. She is a nationally recognized influencer, connector, and trusted messenger for parents on solutions to our climate crisis. A recipient of the prestigious Climate Reality Green Ring Award, Al Gore praised her as “an outstanding Climate Reality Leader who has demonstrated an exceptional commitment to her role as a climate communicator and activist.” She lives in New York and shares her message of hope and action at

Founded by former Vice President Gore in 2005, The Climate Reality Project is a non-profit organization devoted to solving the climate crisis. Through grassroots leadership trainings, global media events, digital communications and issue campaigns, Climate Reality works to spread the truth and raise awareness about the climate crisis.

Orange Environment, Inc. has been addressing the region’s major environmental threats and promoting sustainable solutions since 1982. Climate change has become one of its major concerns.

This online program is free and open to the public. Recommended for parents and families, teachers and anyone concerned with communicating about this overarching crisis.

For Press Release only:

Press Contact: Michael R. Edelstein, 

Practice Sustainable Living II-Growing Vegetables From Seed to Harvest and Composting -Cultivating Oyster Mushrooms on Straw

Orange Environment, Inc is hosting a day of workshops with 2 sessions at The Oasis at Warwick, 10 Fence Road, Warwick, NY, on Saturday, October 17, 2020. Please see details below.

MORNING SESSION – Fee $45 (Compost bin not included. See note below*)(20 people maximum)                                                                                                      HOME COMPOSTING  9:00 – 10:15 A.M.  Instructor Frank Dragone will discuss how to create fertile garden soil for your plants by composting food waste. Not only does a composter recycle nutrients but also reduces landfill waste. *A compost bin is NOT required for this workshop but if you would like to purchase one you can order it here and pick it up at the workshop.                          GROWING VEGETABLES FROM SEED TO HARVEST 10:30 – 11:30 A.M.                  Instructor Frank Dragone discusses how to save seeds from your garden and germinate them indoors. You reap the benefits – less cost, a larger selection, better quality plants, and a healthier you!  He will talk about best practices and give a hands-on demonstration to get you started!                                                                              11:30-1:00 Composter Display & Earth Machine Composter Demo                            12: 00-1:30 Lunch- Please bring your own refreshments & lunch if staying for PM session                                                                                                                  AFTERNOON SESSION – Fee $55 (Fee includes a free bag of inoculated straw)            (20 people maximum)                                                                                                  CULTIVATING OYSTER MUSHROOMS ON STRAW 1:30-2:30 P.M. Instructor Joe Gregoire will conduct a class on learning the basics of growing oyster mushrooms on straw for culinary use. Life cycle of the mushroom and varieties will be discussed.          2:30- 3:30 Demonstration and hands-on session on straw pasteurization and inoculating straw with mushroom spores. Take your free bag of inoculated straw home and see it fruit in 2-4 weeks!                                                                                          3:30 – 4:00 Program Evaluation and Farm Tour                                                      IMPORTANT!!  ALL CDC GUIDELINES WILL BE FOLLOWED.  PLEASE BRING MASK, HAND SANITIZER, WATER, REFRESHMENTS AND GLOVES AND MAINTAIN SOCIAL DISTANCING AT ALL TIMES.                                                Please note: all sessions will take place at the Oasis at Warwick adjacent to the Town of Warwick soccer field on Union Corners Road.                                                 * To Register: contact Peter Lai at  845-313-4246 or to reserve a spot, print out and complete the Registration Form below and then text or email a photo of it to Peter.  Please follow directions on the registration form to make a payment through our PayPal portal below for the cost of the sessions you will be attending (or call Peter to make other arrangements). Orange Environment members get a 10% discount.  If you sign up for both sessions pay only $90.  PrSustLivIIRegistration10-17-20

Sponsored by Orange Environment, Inc, a non-profit organization whose mission is to protect the natural resources of Orange County, NY and its environs and promote the sustainability of our communities.

Practice Sustainable Living Workshop

Attend Workshops on Saturday, September 12th, 2020
Sponsored by Orange Environment, Inc., a non-profit organization whose mission is to protect Orange County’s natural resources and to promote the sustainability of its communities.
Put your boots on and get your feet muddy with two hands-on/feet-on sessions on how to put sustainable methods into practice in your own backyard!
Essentials of Natural Building Rainwater Catchment
• When: 9:00 AM to noon • When: 1:30 – 4:00 PM
• Where: Manza Family Farm, 4 Hathorn Road, Warwick, New York 10990
• Cost: $45 • Cost: $65 (includes a free rain barrel)
Topics Covered:
• Intro to Permaculture Principles
• Incorporating natural building elements into your existing home
• versatility and use applications of clay, sand, straw, stone, wood, and grasses
• Cob applications to build: walls, floors, bathrooms, kitchen, or an outdoor pizza oven
• Mixing clay paints from simple ingredients for use on a variety of surfaces Topics Covered
• Installing a home Rainwater Catchment System
• Harvesting rainwater provides an alternative to drinking water for gardening and other uses
• 55-gallon barrel will be provided free to workshop participants and use of workshop tools that will be provided
• You will also be requested to bring some simple tools (will be specified when you sign up)
• Instructor: Jamie Manza, Organic CSA Farmer and Natural Builder;
Jamie began his natural building career at the Ashevillage institute and designed and built the northeast’s first bale cob structure in High Falls, NY • Instructor: Frank Dragone, a Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardener, has been an avid organic gardener for over 40 years, from seed starting to harvesting and food preservation
• CDC Guidelines will be followed: Total participants limited to 15 for safe social distancing. Masks are required. All activities will take place outside.
• Please bring your own masks, snacks, drinks, and lunch if you are staying for both sessions.
Pre-registration and pre-payment required by Sept. 9th – please go to to sign up. For more info contact Peter Lai at 845-313-4246 or at If signing up for both sessions OR are an Orange Environment member, a $10 discount will be applied.

Payment is available via PayPal:

PrSustLivFlyer9-12-20 PrStLivRegistration9-12-20 (2)

Practice Sustainable Living

Contact: Peter Lai, 845-313-4246 or

Practice Sustainable Living
Put your boots on and get your feet muddy with two hands-on feet-on sessions on how to put sustainable methods into practice in your own backyard! On Saturday, August 8th, Orange Environment, Inc. is sponsoring two workshops at the Manza Family Farm at 4 Hathorn Road in Warwick, NY. During the morning session from 9 AM to noon, the Essentials of Natural Building instructor, Jamie Manza, will guide you in how to use natural materials like clay paints, cob, straw, and stone in natural building for applications around your home (fee is $45). The afternoon session on Rainwater Catchment runs from 1:30 to 4:00 PM and will be led by Frank Dragone. A 55-gallon drum will be provided to each participant so you can build your own water collection system (fee is $65). CDC Guidelines will be followed and total participants will be limited to 15 to provide for safe social distancing of 6’ apart and masks will be required. Please bring your own masks, snacks, drinks, and/or lunch (if you are staying for both sessions). Pre-registration is required!! Please go to our website and print out a registration form and/or contact Peter Lai at 845-313-4246 or for more info. Then mail your completed registration form and check to Orange Environment Inc., P.O. Box 25, Goshen, NY 10924. *If attending both sessions OR are an Orange Environment, Inc. member, a $10 discount will apply.