Have you noticed spongy moth egg masses in your neighborhood? Last year was a boom year for spongy moth (formerly known as gypsy moth) caterpillar populations, especially in Central and Western NY. Egg masses contain 600-700 eggs each and will hatch around May. If you find them now, you can scrape them off trees or buildings and drop them into a container of detergent to prevent the eggs from hatching.
Spongy moths are non-native, but are naturalized, meaning they will always be around in our forests. They tend to spike in numbers roughly every 10-15 years but outbreaks are usually ended by natural causes such as predators and disease. Removing their egg masses is not a cure for spongy moth infestations, but it is a small step you can take to help protect trees in your neighborhood. To learn more about this species and management efforts throughout the year, visit our website.
From sewers in North Creek to drinking water supplies in Essex and St. Armand, town supervisors often fight for years to get the funding to make improvements to their systems – updates that are often required under state directive. The economics of the park make these projects all the more challenging: too few residents to fund the work solely at the local level.
Scientist-like persons hired by the fossil fuel industry have long maintained we should celebrate an ever-increasing level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. This gas, a key building block in the photosynthetic process, can enable plants to grow faster and get larger. It’s been called the “CO 2 fertilization effect.” Many crop yields are projected to increase. And bigger woody plants, the reasoning goes, can amass more carbon, thus helping to slow the rate of CO 2 increase in a handy negative-feedback loop.
In other words, they argue that climate change is good for plants, which in turn will help curb climate change. It’s an elegant win-win situation, and environmentalists no longer have to lose sleep over skyrocketing carbon dioxide. However, as with many supposed “truths,” this argument falls apart upon close examination. It’s like in 1981 when former President Ronald Reagan said “Trees cause more air pollution than automobiles do.” He was referring to terpenols (responsible for the pleasant piney-woods aroma in the forest), which can react with auto emissions to form ozone. In the larger picture, trees reduce air pollution of all sorts – and sequester carbon as well – on a colossal scale worldwide. His statement was “true” in a minor, technical sense for a single pollutant, but it was misleading, and for all intents and purposes, false.
What you eat and drink is often no less a matter of fashion and tradition than what you wear, with the important qualifier that what you eat has generally much more impact on your health than what you wear, assuming that what you wear at least correlates with the seasons of weather and climate conditions and doesn’t offend people to such an extant that it invites abuse from others. Our Cro Magnon ancestors, who left Africa about 80,000 years ago, were hunter-gatherers who hunted mammals, fished, and routinely ate insects, all of which are good protein sources. They foraged plants which provided nuts, seeds, berries, fruit and roots. Proponents of the paleo diet claim that the fact that we subsisted for 200,000 years on such a diet, and evolved to accommodate such a diet, points to its efficacy.
What if you want to cut back on your meat consumption, whether for health or environmental reasons, but you lack the imagination to eliminate red meat from your diet altogether? I try to avoid beef whenever possible, and if I am cooking at home, substitute bison, which browse free range, and are much tastier and healthier for you anyway. Bison have lighter impact on the land, being like deer more browser than grazer (grass eater). The word “moose” is derived from “moswa”, a Native American word meaning “twig eater”. Elk are more grazer than browser, but unlike cattle move around to fresh graze, thus allowing grazed lands to recover.
Happy World Water Day (on March 22). This United Nations observance day was established in 1993 to celebrate water and raise awareness of the 2 billion people across the world living without access to safe drinking water. This year’s theme is a focus on groundwater: “Making the invisible visible.”
The world relies almost entirely on groundwater for drinking water supplies, sanitation systems, farming and other uses, according to the UN. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report emphasized concerns about the future of drinking water as warming trends and human development accelerate threats to water supplies.
Some people open Christmas gifts with relish. But it is with an equal amount of anticipation that we bird nerds open the annual PDF emailed by Gordon Howard highlighting the previous year’s count at the Crown Point Banding Station — a document that arrived in the mailbox this week. Volunteers at the station, located at the Crown Point Historic Site, net, count and band dozens of species each spring at one of the nation’s more significant avian highways. Prior to Covid, it had become a popular attraction for tourists, birders and school classes, but it’s been closed to the public for the past two years due to the pandemic. This year it will be open again, from May 6 to May 21 for the station’s 47th consecutive year of banding birds.
DEC Announces New Forest Conservation Easements for Land Trusts Grant Program
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the first round of competitive grants for the Forest Conservation Easements for Land Trusts (FCELT) Grant Program. In partnership with the Land Trust Alliance, a total of $1.35 million in grant funding is available for DEC to award to eligible, accredited land trusts to purchase conservation easements on forested land for the purpose of protecting these lands from future development. The goal of the grant program is to increase the pace of forest land conservation to keep forests as forests and combat climate change.
Applicants may apply for up to $350,000 to fund the acquisition of conservation easements on forest land in New York State. To apply, a 25 percent match of grant funding requested is required and land trusts must be accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.
Funding for the grant program is provided by the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). In the 2022-23 Executive Budget, Governor Hochul proposed increasing the EPF to $400 million, the highest level of funding in the program’s history. The EPF provides funding for critical environmental programs such as land acquisition, farmland protection, invasive species prevention and eradication, enhanced recreational access, water quality improvement, and an aggressive environmental justice agenda.
FCELT has a two-step application process, which includes a letter of interest followed by a full application. Letters of interest are now being accepted and are due by May 16, 2022. Full applications are by invitation only. Applicants invited to submit a final application will be notified by June 13, 2022, after which final applications will be due by July 28, 2022. Complete details about this grant opportunity including eligibility requirements and other program elements can be found on the FCELT webpage.
Photo: Land conserved on Upper Saranac Lake, courtesy of Adirondack Land Trust
In a few words, sustainability is the practice of using resources responsibly. It focuses on meeting the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.
The concept of sustainability can be traced back to the forest management philosophies of Hans Carl von Carlowitz (1645–1714), in his work Sylvicultura Oeconomica (Instructions for Wild Tree Cultivation), in which he established a set of concepts for sustainable management of forest resources. His belief that timber removed from a forest stand should never exceed that which can be regrown through planned reforestation continues to be a guiding principle of forestry today.
Sustainability, as a policy concept, is most-often thought of as the ability to continue use over a long period of time, or as long-term goals and / or the strategies that may be applied to achieve those goals.
Exams Online April 1; Registration Deadline March 25
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) recently announced that examinations for individuals seeking a license to practice the sport of falconry, become a volunteer wildlife rehabilitator, or use leashed tracking dogs to find wounded or injured big game animals are scheduled for Friday, April 1. The registration deadline for these free exams is Friday, March 25. To provide broad access to these examinations, DEC is offering them exclusively online.
To register for any of these exams, visit the NYSDEC Special Licenses Unit webpage. The link to the registration website (leaves DEC website) is provided on each of the individual license webpages, along with directions on how to register. An email acknowledgment of registration will be sent to applicants along with an additional one-time link to access the website on the day of the exam.
New bus shelters with green, living roofs are coming to public transportation stops throughout the North Country thanks to a collaboration between Paul Smith’s College, the Franklin County Highway Department and The Heart Network.
The senior capstone project is led by students in Paul Smith’s College Environment and Society Professor Deb Naybor’s Social Research and Sustainability classes. Students produced 40 initial designs for the living roofs, and the senior capstone students honed them down to create a set of environmentally responsible concepts for review by the county’s Highway Department.
March is filled with days that feel like spring, even if they don’t feel like spring. The angle of the light, the birds and buds, and the blue, silviculture IV’s running from maple to maple all suggest a mood that the temperatures do not.
As we hardy, resilient outdoor types watch the calendar shift from complaining-about-ice season to complaining-about-mud season, there are bound to be some cold, sopping wet days where we just look out the window and think — no.
But there were other things to do this week, thanks to the Adirondack Garden Club, which was hosting Becca Bernacki of the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, who was speaking on a quinella of insects that have the potential to do great harm in the forest, and how we can do our part to stop them.
From discussing tree cutting along roads (which in some places could require a constitutional amendment) to potential winter tire mandates or lower speed limits, members raised numerous complicated challenges that underscored the task ahead.
It’s Sunday evening (March 6) and we just came home from the movies in Old Forge in a howling wind with the temperature at 55 degrees which breaks the record of 43 degrees set in 2004. The power was off a couple times during the movie but came back on, so we didn’t lose much of the plot. As this weather (with changing temperatures) came across the country a few tornadoes touched down across Iowa and one near Des Moines killed 7 people including two children.
This string of unsettled weather is now going through the southern part of New York with quite a bit of red showing on the weather map. This warming trend and the rain overnight last night pretty well whipped many of the snowmobile trails and most of the paved roads they had been using which also bared up. There were some washouts in the Moose River area that the snows this week filled in nicely by the groomer. These were those frozen culverts that I mentioned last week which will have to be repaired before opening in May.
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail (NFCT) is hosting virtual screenings of the World Tour Paddling Film Festival. The annual festival showcases the very best paddling films of the year and is now screening in living rooms everywhere. A portion of proceeds from ticket sales benefits NFCT stewardship and programming.
“We’re excited to once again offer the year’s best selection of paddling films to the NFCT community,” said Karrie Thomas, NFCT’s executive director. “Whether you’re in it for the exploration of secluded quiet waters, or the adrenaline rush of big wave whitewater, the film fest has something for everyone.”
Our crew has a lunch policy. “Not a rule mind you, just a policy” put forward years ago by John Rosenthal. Lunch may not be taken before noon, seating should be comfortable, in the sun, and out of the wind. Given we had been skating for hours on incredible black ice, we were euphoric and ravenous. The speck of dirt called Diamond Island in Lake Champlain’s Narrows would have to do. Then, I saw the loons. I almost missed lunch, and the next day would be one I will always remember.
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