The Town of Lloyd Historical Preservation Society (TOLHPS) moves into natural history again this month, when Ryan Trapani, Catskill Forest Association Director of Forest Services, takes on “The Growing Deer Debate,” at the Society’s upcoming program.   The event will be held on Monday, November 6 at 7 pm, in the Vineyard Commons Theater in Highland.

The debate is certainly a historical one.  “Deer and humans have an ancient relationship going back thousands of years,” Trapani says.  In some ways, that relationship has been beneficial to both.  Deer have provided humans with food, buckskin, bone-tools, and other necessities.  At its best, land management by humans created safe tracts with abundant food supplies for deer.  But the history of deer in the Catskills reveals a more complicated connection.  In the early 1800s, the Catskill forests were a natural home to deer.  But as settlers moved in and cleared those forests, the deer populations fell dramatically in the late 1800s and early 1900s.  Then, as farms were abandoned, the deer returned.  But as the new forests matured, the trees created a shaded understory and the lower food plants diminished, again driving deer away.

Now, as the deer in the mountains and the Hudson Valley move into populated areas, we are all impacted by them.  Whether we look out our windows, see does and fawns on our lawns and think, “How beautiful!” or fume as they eat our garden vegetables and flowers, we are all affected by them.

Hence the debate.  Deer, says Trapani, are a microcosm for environmental issues. What to do?  Do we kill them or attempt to manage their impact?  If the latter, how?  He will explain his own goals and encourage audience members to contribute their opinions.

Trapani grew up in New Paltz, and has family in Highland. He has an Associate Degree in Applied  Science in Forest Technology from the New York State Ranger School and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Forest Resources Management from the SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry.  Prior to joining the Catskill Forest Association, he worked for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation as a forest ranger and at the Frost Valley YMCA as an environmental educator.

TOLHPS sponsors free monthly public programs from September to June, usually on the first Monday of the month.  Vineyard Commons is at 300 Vineyard Avenue, about a mile and a quarter from the Hamlet of Highland on Route 44/55, just south of the Hudson Valley Rehabilitation Center.  To reach the theater, turn into Vineyard Commons and follow signs to Building 6.  Early arrivers get the best parking spaces.  For more information about TOLHPS programs and plans, consult the organization’s website, or call 845-255-7742.