This topic holds a special place in my journalist heart. When I worked in Auburn, Owasco Lake, which is the drinking water source for a large part of Cayuga County, had harmful algal blooms (more accurately called cyanobacteria) near the City of Auburn’s drinking water intake pipe. Nearly every day in the summer and fall I was writing a story about whether the water was safe to drink and safe to swim in, not just for people, but for pets, too. I wrote about dogs that had died from ingesting the scum. Some cyanobacteria blooms have liver and neurotoxins that are fast-acting and kill pets, waterfowl and other animals.
Cornell Cooperative Extension Essex County (CCE Essex) received a $2500 grant from the International Paper’s Ticonderoga Branch, and the International Paper Foundation. The money will be used to host two “Game of Logging” courses through the Northeast Woodland Training with instructor David Birdsall, taking place at North Country Creamery in Keeseville.
Let me wrap up something I’m really happy to be a part of: a series of stories looking at the Adirondacks’ rivers, its dams and efforts to return salmon to the rivers despite the dams.
Over the last month, we published a story from the series every week or so, but I want to make sure you’ve had a chance to see them all in one place:
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos has announced the start of the DEC’s Annual Arbor Day Original Artwork Poster contest. This contest is held by the DEC’s Urban and Community Forestry Program yearly in order to commemorate Arbor Day. The public is invited to submit original photos and artwork celebrating the immeasurable value of trees.
The contest is sponsored by the New York State Arbor Day Committee, and the DEC will be accepting photographs and artwork submissions for the committee through December 31, 2020. The photos and artwork submitted must include trees within New York State, and can be sent to [email protected]. Participants will be limited to five submissions and each submission should include a completed artist information form available on DEC’s website.
To obtain past New York State Arbor Day posters, contact any local DEC forestry office or call 518-402-9428.
A report from Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA):
Earlier this month, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that $11M in funds from the State’s allocation of the federal Volkswagen Settlement will be used to expand electric transportation infrastructure across New York.
The program addresses goals of the Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (CLCPA) to increase access to clean energy and the benefits of sustainable infrastructure. This latest announcement will advance EV adoption and improve access to charging stations in disadvantaged communities in upstate and northern New York.
Charging station developers for the North Country region are invited to apply by February 18, 2021.
This is great news, coming on the heels of ON-RAMP, ANCA’s clean transportation summit, where we convened stakeholders and partners who are committed to advancing clean transportation efforts in the region.
In the far north of the state, the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe’s Environmental Division announced it will use Volkswagen Settlement funds to invest in electric vehicles and charging stations in the Akwesasne community. Kudos to the National Tribal Air Association for advocating for Indigenous communities to be included in the federal settlement, and to St. Regis Mohawk Tribe Air Quality Program Manager Angela Benedict, whose hard work resulted in $249K for the purchase of two new trucks and installation of four charging stations in 2019. The second settlement payment will go toward the purchase of low-emission vehicles for the community’s casino and transfer station.
Newly protected property, located west of the West Mountain Ski Area, aids in clean water protection and efforts to fight climate change
The Open Space Institute (OSI) has announced the permanent protection of land in the Town of Lake Luzerne- building on over thirty years of land protection in and around the Adirondack Park Preserve. The town is composed of hard and softwood forests and wetlands, within the Hudson River watershed. This acquisition will be providing protections for clean water, as well as contributing to the fight against climate change via the capture of carbon.
If you plan to fertilize your lawn this fall, remember that it is against New York State law to fertilize lawns between December 1 and April 1. Some areas also have local laws about selling and using lawn fertilizers.
Visit DEC’s Lawn Fertilizer webpage
Choose a lawn fertilizer with no phosphorus.
Lawn fertilizer can have unnecessary phosphorus that runs into waterbodies. Excess phosphorus in freshwater lakes and ponds can cause algae overgrowth, with serious impacts to the environment and public health.
Comments on Draft Amendments Due by Dec. 4, 2020
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released for public review and comment revised draft amendments to the Kildare Recreation Management Plan and the Five Mile Interim Recreation Management Plan (RMP).
The revised draft amendments to the Kildare Tract Conservation Easement and the Five Mile Tract Conservation Easement RMPs will provide for public motor vehicle/overland access to the Kildare tract for the first time since it was acquired in 1989.
In an unfortunate coincidence that may be no coincidence at all given the warm temperatures, two of the region’s famed lakes have been partly covered by harmful algal blooms in the past several days.
The first is Lake George, which hadn’t had a confirmed algal bloom on its surface.
The second is Mirror Lake, the lake at the center of the Village of Lake Placid. This algal bloom could also be a first for that lake.
I’ve been writing about the potential for harmful algal blooms to strike Adirondack lakes over the past year, starting with a look at the worst case scenario, which is what years of runoff have done to Lake Champlain. That story include a quick primer on what we’re talking about:
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos has announced funding for seven projects throughout the Mohawk River watershed. The projects will contribute to flood risk reduction and resiliency, improve stewardship and stakeholder engagement, and protect fish and wildlife and associated aquatic and riparian habitats. The grants are supported via the State’s Environmental Protection Fund.
“The Mohawk River basin is an environmental, recreational, and economic asset that will benefit from the projects announced today and the ongoing partnerships we are helping to strengthen,” Commissioner Seggos said. “This funding will help reduce flooding due to climate change, increase habitat, and improve water quality, ensuring the preservation and protection of the Mohawk watershed and the communities that depend on it.”
Over the summer, long before any hint of fall and far before the fall of snow, I spent a while on the phone talking about the ups and downs of the Saranac River.
The Saranac was dammed way back in the late-1700s and hasn’t been the same since. Now, a series of dams along the river cause dramatic changes in the flow and elevation of the river. Those changes, the ones that started over 200 years ago and continue to this day, upend the lives of fish and insects in the river and make it hardly the sort of wild river it at first may appear.
Hang on to those paint cans in your basement and garage just a little bit longer!
Soon, consumers will have more opportunities to recycle their unwanted waste paint. On December 16, 2019, the Governor signed the Postconsumer Paint Collection Program into law.
Hamilton County students got a first-hand look at controlling the spread of invasive plants, thanks to the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District’s Leaf Munchers project. As part of the program, kids reared and released leaf-munching beetles to keep the invasive wetland plant purple loosestrife in check.
An upcoming presentation at 6:30 pm tonight via Zoom will focus on boreal species such as Black-backed Woodpecker, Olive-sided and Yellow-bellied Flycatchers, Canada Jay, Boreal Chickadee, Bicknell’s Thrush, Lincoln’s Sparrow, Rusty Blackbird, and Blackpoll and Palm Warblers, among others, and their high and low elevation habitat. The presentation will utilize photographs, video, and audio of these iconic bird species of the Adirondacks, along with a few mammal species.
As leaves and temperatures are falling it’s that time of year for sweaters, apples, and pumpkins. It is also the right time to prepare your home for winter. We have a few tips that you can use to save energy and money, help curb climate change, and preserve natural resources. So, roll up your sleeves – or roll them down and put on proper safety gear if insulating – and let’s start weatherproofing.
Tips for your home:
- Test run your furnace early in the season to make sure it is ready when cold weather hits.
- Use foam electric outlet and switch sealers on the inside and outside walls of your home. These sealers are one way to prevent cold air from entering through outlets.
- Seal cracks in your driveways, walkways, and stairs. This can protect against water seeping in, freezing, and making cracks worse.
Interested in more weatherproofing tips? Visit Living the Green Life on DEC’s website for monthly updates to help you be a friend of the environment. Follow DEC on social media and share your pictures and ideas with us by using #LiveGreenNY in your social media posts — we would love to hear from you.