Herkimer County Soil and Water Conservation District (HCSWCD) staff are pleased to announce that the organization’s annual tree and shrub sale, an earned income program held in the spring, is currently underway. The Herkimer County Soil and Water Conservation District is taking orders for trees, shrubs, and other items through Monday, March 25. This year, the group is bringing back many popular species along with a few new items for guests to consider. Available for planting this spring are low-cost bare root evergreen seedlings and transplants, deciduous trees, a variety of bushes and shrubs, semi-dwarf apple trees, and wildflower seeds. Grown by private commercial nurseries, these plants provide an economical source of conservation landscaping materials, windbreaks, and quantities for reforesting.
The salt pollution challenge can be daunting: years and years of salt use have already penetrated surface and groundwater and will stick around for years to come. And salt is still the No. 1 way of keeping winter roads safe.
But the small highway crew in Hague, on the western shores of Lake George has started to show that if you use less salt on the roads, less salt will show up in the water. After the Hague crew reduced its salt use by nearly 70% over the last five years, researchers with RPI’s Darrin Fresh Water Institute have found an average 4% annual reduction in chloride concentrations in Hague Brook. More study is needed but it’s a positive sign that Hague is reducing salt on the roads and in the waters.
Read more about what Hague has been up to and my recent visit to their garage. I also spoke with North Country Public Radio Adirondacks reporter Emily Russell this week about the latest on the state’s road salt reduction task force.
The road salt issue has also started to draw more national coverage in recent weeks after a scientific research review published in Frontiers in Ecology and the Environment highlighted the dire public health and environmental downsides of rampant salt use – which has tripled in the last 45 years.
Photo: Hague plow operator Tim Fiallo mixing a brine solution at the Hague garage. Photo by Zachary Matson
Editor’s note: This first appeared in Zach’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.
Have you seen tree of heaven plants in your neighborhood? This fast-growing invasive tree is easy to identify and found all over NY, particularly in urban areas. Tree of heaven (Ailanthus altissima) is the preferred host plant of the spotted lanternfly, an invasive insect being found in more and more parts of NY that could have severe impacts on our state’s agriculture and forests. Finding and reporting tree of heaven to NY iMapInvasives can help supplement state efforts to prevent negative impacts from these two species.
The village of Lake George is days away from turning on its new wastewater treatment plant – a major overhaul years in the making.
I visited the new facility (located in the same place as the old plant) last week and got a tour from plant operator Tim Shudt, who is nearing 10 years in the position. Construction is basically complete, but they are still working out some final details before the new plant can be switched on.
Calling all hikers, xc skiiers, and snowshoers in the Saint Lawrence/Eastern Lake Ontario (SLELO) Region! Our friends at SLELO PRISM invite you to take a hike to protect the region’s hemlocks (and win cool prizes) this winter through their Virtual Hike Challenge. The challenge is running now through March 1st, and you can participate any time you get outside. All you need to do is take a hike, check a hemlock for signs of invasive hemlock woolly adelgid, and take a photo. Share a photo of your experience on Facebook with the hashtag #VirtualHikeChallenge for a chance to win prizes!
You can find more information about the challenge, including featured trails, on the SLELO PRISM website. Brush up on hemlock ID, and take a quiz to test your knowledge on the New York State Hemlock Initiative website. Happy trails!
Photo: White woolly egg masses of invasive HWA on a hemlock branch
WILMINGTON — The Ausable River Association (AsRA) will distribute a salt use survey this winter to residents, businesses, and independent contractors in Lake Placid. Developed with our partners at the Adirondack Watershed Institute, the survey is essential to determining the amount of salt entering Mirror Lake and the Chubb River. Funded by the Lake Champlain Basin Program through a multi-year technical grant, it’s another piece of our ongoing science-based effort to find a solution to road salt contamination in these waterways.
The salt survey is specific to residents and business in the Chubb River watershed. The watershed encompasses the area surrounding Lake Placid and includes the Village of Lake Placid. Completing the survey will take approximately 5-20 minutes, depending on the size of the area that you care for in your winter maintenance.
An upswing in woodstove use might sound yawn-worthy, but recent findings about the dire health effects of wood smoke might mean the long-term future of wood as a heating fuel is in question.
As someone who grew up with wood heat, I assumed it was hands-down one of the most sustainable, eco-positive fuels for home heating. Like many other widely shared conventions, it turns out the veracity of that assumption depends on a lot of things.
How many people burn wood in a given locale is an obvious factor. The number of homes using wood heat rose sharply in the years following the 1998 ice storm which left residents without power for weeks on end. Also no surprise, the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the use of wood heat.
While visiting family in Oregon recently, I spent some time reflecting on what makes the Adirondacks special, while also enjoying some of the incredible nature that makes the Pacific Northwest special.
(Please forgive this small departure from water issues – though forests, as any Adirondack history will remind you, are crucial to water quality.)
I visited Oregon’s largest state park, Silver Falls, about 50 miles south of Portland, which includes a loop trail that passes by as many as 10 impressive waterfalls. While on the coast, I hiked through extraordinary, old-growth forest and across cliffs that opened to admittedly-clouded ocean views.
A new coalition launched this week, advocating saving the Adirondacks forever, through a campaign for clean water, people and wilderness.
The Forever Adirondacks Campaign Director Aaron Mair released a bold 15-point agenda for protecting clean water, creating new jobs and preserving wilderness in the Adirondack Park. Elements of the platform have already gained crucial support from a broad array of Adirondack residents, activists, educators and elected officials.
“The focus of this campaign is on three goals: cleaner water, better employment opportunities and wilderness preservation,” said Campaign Director Aaron Mair. “I am thrilled to say we are building a strong and diverse coalition of support for these goals, starting here inside the park and moving outward as we go. We want everyone to know that the coalition will welcome support from all those who love the Adirondacks — whether you are lucky enough to live nearby or come to us from far away.
The Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) recently announced that it has been awarded a grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program to expand the Adirondack Lake Assessment Program (ALAP) and further safeguard waterbodies across the Adirondack region.
Connecting to our environment
“Our oldest unity is our relationship with the earth,” writes John Philip Newell, an internationally acclaimed spiritual teacher and author. He calls for us to reawaken to the sacredness of the earth and challenges us to take transformative action. Our environmental groups in the Adirondacks are taking action as are inter-faith communities.
Since May 2020 members of the Keene Valley Congregational Church (KVCC), under the auspices of the Creation Justice Church Task Force, have continued to address what we can do as a faith-based community. When commissioning this seven-member Task Force, Rev. John Sampson, pastor of KVCC, asked us to reflect upon and lead the congregation through a time of listening for how God may be calling us.
To encourage this listening, the Task Force sponsored spiritual-based explorations in the Adirondack woods and waters – a number of silent paddle trips and Forest Bathing gatherings. Using our senses, these events helped to deepen our personal connection with the natural environment.
Effective Jan. 1, 2022, no covered food service provider or store (retail or wholesale) will be allowed to sell, offer for sale, or distribute disposable food service containers that contain expanded polystyrene foam in New York state. In addition, no manufacturer or store will be allowed to sell, offer for sale, or distribute polystyrene loose fill packaging (commonly referred to as packing peanuts) in the state.
Gov. Kathy Hochul announced nearly $14 million has been awarded to protect clean water across the state. This funding will support agricultural water quality conservation projects across the state, benefiting 91 farms, and is provided through the Agricultural Nonpoint Source Abatement and Control program, which supports projects that address water quality challenges in priority watersheds and protect the environment.
“New York continues to take decisive action to protect access to clean water across the state,” Governor Hochul said. “This money will go towards fulfilling both those goals by encouraging the implementation of cost-effective waterway protection and reducing our carbon footprint.”
The projects have been awarded to 25 County Soil and Water Conservation Districts, on behalf of the farms, who will support on-farm environmental planning and the implementation of best management practice (BMP) systems to keep nutrients and other potential pollutants from entering waterways. BMPs include a variety of measures, including vegetative buffers along streams, cover crops, nutrient management through manure storage, and other conservation measures.
The late fall and early winter is a time of winding down in the Adirondacks, and that’s the case for the many programs combating invasive species across the park.
Earlier this month a group of around 40 representatives from government, nonprofits and local associations and private individuals hopped on a Zoom meeting to rehash a season of anti-invasive programs. This gathering of the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program — a multi-agency/public-private partnership that coordinates parkwide efforts to combat invasive plant species — was a helpful briefing on the latest in Adirondacks invasives.
With their marvelous interpretive-dance routines, complex social life, and delicious honey, honeybees are widely respected, but they’re anything but sweet to wild pollinators. In fact, a surfeit of honeybees is a big threat to our native bees and butterflies.
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