Friday, August 25, 2023

Rangers, wildland firefighters deployed to help contain wildfires in Idaho and Montana

DEC engineers returned to New York on July 26, after spending a week in Vermont performing expedited visual safety inspections on non-hydroelectric and non-federally licensed dams following historic flooding.

Latest DEC Out-of-State Staff Deployment as DEC Water Engineers Return From Dam Safety Inspections in Vermont Following Floods

On Aug. 7, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced that DEC Forest Rangers and expert wildland firefighters were being deployed to assist with efforts to contain the Ridge Creek Fire in the Idaho panhandle and the Niarada Fire in northwestern Montana. The latest Forest Ranger deployments come as a team of DEC engineers recently returned from performing dam safety inspections in Vermont after being directed by Governor Kathy Hochul to assist in the recovery from the devastating flooding that inundated the Northeast last month.

New York State often deploys highly trained wildland firefighters to help battle wildfires as part of interstate and international firefighting compacts. The DEC Forest Ranger assisting in Montana will serve as a Task Force Leader and help coordinate the response to a fire that is currently estimated at 10,400 acres and zero percent contained. The fire on Bureau of Indian Affairs lands 12 miles west of Elmo, Montana, is currently threatening several structures. A pair of Rangers are also deploying to Idaho to assist with efforts to contain the Ridge Creek Fire north of Coeur D’alene.

» Continue Reading.

Thursday, August 24, 2023

Wetlands protection

bloomingdale bog

In the protection of its wetlands, the Adirondack Park goes the extra mile, taking a hard look at any sort of activity involving bogs, marshes and swamps of one acre or more in size, or of any size if it happens to be located adjacent to a body of water in which there is a “free interchange of water at the surface.”

Jackie Bowen, director of conservation for the Adirondack Council, said these regulations became all the more critical in May, when the Supreme Court took a swipe at the Clean Water Act, ruling that it did not protect wetlands that were not obviously connected to permanent standing or flowing waters.

Speaking to an online gathering sponsored by Talking Rivers, an organization that promotes river health through science, art and storytelling, Bowen said the “weaker protections open (wetlands) up to fragmentation and water quality risks.”

» Continue Reading.

Sunday, August 20, 2023

It’s a Flower; It’s an Herb; It’s Bee Balm

Very Showy and Frequently Cultivated in Gardens
Red-flowered bee balm (Monarda didyma L.) is a long-blooming perennial which is easily grown in any garden soil. It will achieve heights of 3- to 4-feet or more and, when in full bloom, can be stunningly spectacular in most any landscape or flower garden location.

Mine can be seen growing in a single, absolutely bee-utiful, eye-catching cluster, on a short steep rise along the wooded edge of the yard, amid large rhododendron bushes on one side and a cedar hedgerow on the other. The showy white flowers of queen of the meadow (Filipendula), which grows toward the bottom of the slope, enhance the beauty of the scarlet bee balm blooms, although the queen of the meadow fades long before the bee balm does. Hostas, daylilies, and several other perennial flowers, which grow at the foot of the hill, complete the picture. I’ve also seen attractive, crimson bee balm blossoms, like those that bring my little hillside to life in mid-summer, used delightfully among boulders in a rock garden and very appealingly, as a border planting along an old stone wall. » Continue Reading.

Saturday, August 19, 2023

Lake George Association President, Eric J. Siy, to Leave at End of Year

Lake George Association logo.

A Record of Leadership Highlighted by Landmark Accomplishments

Lake George, NY— Eric J. Siy, president of the Lake George Association (LGA), has announced that he will be leaving his post at the end of the year. Siy successfully led the LGA through its merger with The FUND for Lake George in July 2021. Prior to his current position, Siy served as executive director of The FUND since 2012.


In making the announcement Siy said, “I could not be more pleased or proud of all we have accomplished and all we are now doing to make Lake George a working model for freshwater protection. Driving our breakthrough progress is a powerful combination of partnership, innovation, education, and direct investment, guided by science. It’s a tested formula that works.”

» Continue Reading.

Thursday, August 17, 2023

Restoring river banks

Volunteers of the Ausable River Association planted dogwoods and willows along the East Branch of Ausable River in Jay in May. Photo by Mike Lynch

Work has begun in Upper Jay on a project that will help restore the East Branch of the Ausable River to its natural state.

The Ausable River Association (AsRA) has identified 13 sites in the town of Jay where the river, distended by industry over the last century and a half — is in poor ecological health, making it more prone to flooding and ice jams, and less friendly to aquatic life.

The current site, upstream of the Route 9N bridge, is the second of the sites to be remediated. It will narrow the river channel, speeding the flow and making it less conducive to the creation of great slabs of ice that can cause considerable damage and flooding downstream.

» Continue Reading.

Monday, August 14, 2023

Speculator gets serious about water quality

High water levels in Lake Pleasant following the Halloween storm flooding in 2019. Explorer file photo by Mike Lynch

The village of Speculator, whose three lakes are its life blood, has passed septic-inspection regulations for properties that are being transferred.

Mayor Jeannette Barrett said the village has watched inspection programs in larger jurisdictions such as Lake George and Queensbury, and is taking “measured steps” to follow along.

“We’ve been very concerned about our lakes,” she said. “If we don’t have our lakes our communities will basically die.”
The regulations apply to Lake Pleasant, Whitaker Lake and Lewey Lake.

» Continue Reading.

Thursday, August 10, 2023

The Golden Rule

Goldenrod and New England Aster – David D Taylor US Forest ServiceUnless you have bees up your nose on a regular basis, don’t blame late-season allergies on goldenrod. However, if you do find bees in your schnozz, seek medical (and perhaps entomological) help immediately.

While most plants respond to the shrinking hours of daylight in the late summer by starting to wind down their business for the season, goldenrod is a “short-day” plant, the type that is stimulated to bloom by dwindling light. It is a perennial in the aster family, and is widespread across North America. Continent-wide, we have something on the order of 130 species of goldenrod in the genus Solidago.

As one of the most abundant blooms of late summer and autumn, this native wildflower is for many pollinators, including numerous bee species, a vital source of nectar and nutritious pollen. Unfortunately, this latter item has given goldenrod a black eye (but not a black-eyed Susan) among allergy sufferers.
Goldenrod’s showy yellow flowers are in full view along roadsides and in meadows and pastures at about the same time one of the more intense waves of seasonal hay fever typically begins.
So it’s understandable that goldenrod has been blamed for the red itchy eyes, sinus congestion, sneezing, and general histamine-soaked misery that many folks experience this time of year. But it turns out that goldenrod pollen is innocent of all charges. Goldenrod can’t be guilty because its pollen is heavy. That’s a relative term, I suppose, since it’s light enough that bees manage to cart away loads of it. But in the pollen realm it weighs a ton, and thus cannot blow far from the plant. It isn’t that goldenrod pollen is incapable of eliciting an allergic response; it’s just that to do so, something – a bee, for instance – would have to deliver it to your nasal passages. » Continue Reading.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Wild Parsnip: An Edible Root with Poisonous Sap

A Vegetable Gone Rogue

Wild parsnip seedling Ken Chamberlain, The Ohio State University via

Often referred to as poison parsnip, wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa) is a biennial plant, native to Asia and Europe. It’s widely accepted that wild parsnip plants are actually descended from cultivated parsnips brought to North America by the European colonists. Documents suggest that cultivated parsnips were grown in Virginia as early as 1609.

Over time, the plants have reverted back to a wild strain. The wild genes were always there, but they remained suppressed until eventually being displayed through natural selection. The edible first year taproots are genetically identical to the vitamin-C-rich parsnips we plant in our gardens. There are significant differences however, in the biochemical properties of cultivated versus wild parsnip.

Today, wild parsnip is considered an invasive member of the carrot family; related to Queen Anne’s lace; that has become naturalized across most of the United States and Canada.

» Continue Reading.

Sunday, August 6, 2023

Chris Maron and Champlain Area Trails Receive Adirondack Council Award

CATS Adirondack Council award

At its Forever Wild annual event on Saturday, July 15, the Adirondack Council presented its Special Recognition award to Chris Maron and Champlain Area Trails (CATS) for “all the work he and the organization have done to further conservation in the greater Champlain Valley and Adirondacks.”

In presenting the award, John Davis, who serves as the Rewilding Advocate for the Council, said, “CATS, under Chris’ inspired leadership, has had a tremendously positive impact on the Champlain Valley. People now have more local trails to explore. As for saving land, CATS has worked with other land trusts to conserve almost half of the 20,000 acres of the Split Rock Wildway wildlife corridor, which connects Split Rock Wild Forest and woodlands in the Adirondacks.”  As he invited Maron to the stage, the crowd of over 200 people burst into a spontaneous standing ovation and applause.

After Maron expressed his thanks, he explained how, just fifteen years ago, there were few trails in the Champlain Valley which limited people from connecting with nature and hurt the economies of Champlain Valley communities because people bypassed them on their way to trails deeper in the Park.

“Now, we’ve created 45 trails totaling 78 miles and promoted them by publishing the CATS Trail Maps yearly,” said Maron. “These actions, along with all our outdoor activities, have connected people with nature, and as I hear from many business owners, town officials, and people out and about, the CATS trails are a big boost for local economies and our quality of life.”

And then, to the audience’s cheers, he pulled the newest edition of the CATS Central Champlain Valley Trails Map out of his back pocket and announced that CATS had published and received the newest edition of the map just two days before.

As the audience quieted, Maron acknowledged that “looking back is great, yet it’s about looking to the future. And that’s exciting because we have so many more trails to build—trails to cool places you hike to with friends, family, and on your own. And especially town-to-town trails that connect our communities. Meanwhile, we must conserve the vibrant natural communities, farmland, clean water, and scenic vistas people see from the trails.”

He then thanked the Council again for the award. He said to the audience that “Along with it honoring me, Champlain Area Trails, our board, staff, trail hosts, and volunteers, it honors you and the vision you have of life and love here in the Champlain Valley, the Adirondack Park, and the entire world.”

About Champlain Area Trails: Champlain Area Trails, founded in 2009, is an accredited land trust with a mission to make trails, protect land, connect people with nature, and promote economic vitality in the Champlain Valley. CATS has made 78 miles of trails, protected 983 acres, and hosted hundreds of hikes, outdoor education outings, and volunteer events, attracting thousands of visitors to the Adirondack’s Champlain Valley. Learn more at

Photo Credit: From left to right, Adirondack Council’s Rewilding Advocate John Davis, Executive Director Rocci Aguirre, then Chris Maron, Adirondack Council Board Chair, Sarah Hatfield and Council Director of Conservation Jackie Bowen.

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Boaters Needed for Invasive Species Monitoring Weekend

If you have a motorboat, kayak, paddleboard, or canoe — and a couple of hours to enjoy Lake George — here’s a great opportunity to make a meaningful contribution by surveying for aquatic invasive species on the Lake.

For the second year, we are hosting a lake-wide Aquatic Invasive Species Monitoring Weekend, August 18-20, and we hope you will cover one of 115 locations, looking for the six invasive species we know are present in the Lake:

  • Eurasian watermilfoil;
  • Curly-leaf pondweed;
  • Zebra mussel;
  • Asian clam;
  • Chinese mystery snail;
  • Spiny water flea

We will also be on the lookout for highly destructive non-native species, such as Hydrilla, that we desperately want to keep out. We need your help.

No invasive species identification experience is necessary to participate. And swimming is not required (but you can if you want to). We do encourage families and small groups to team up for a fun and educational Lake Protector experience.

Learn more and sign up here using our interactive map that allows you to choose the specific area of the Lake you would like to monitor. These locations are available on a first-come, first-served basis, so pick your favorite area as soon as possible.

Last year, our volunteers found more than 100 locations of invasives in Lake George. If left unchecked, invasive species can degrade the Lake’s water quality, impede recreational activities, and outcompete native plants and animals, which impacts property values and the region’s Lake-based economy. Working together, we can ward off this threat to keep our Lake clear and clean.

Saturday, August 5, 2023

Herkimer County Fish Stocking Program offers fish for sale

Herkimer County Soil and Water Conservation Fish Stocking Program

LARGEMOUTH BASS will spawn in smaller farm ponds with a water depth of 4 feet or more. Remember, Bass usually reproduce as 2 year olds and occasionally not until the third year. For best results, try to avoid fishing the pond until the Bass have spawned. The pond should then provide many years of fishing fun with occasional stocking of feeder fish such as Fathead Minnows. The recommended stocking rate for 2-4” Bass is 100 – 125 per surface acre along with 500 – 600 minnows per surface acre.

TROUT can live in water between 33 and 75 degrees, but they make their most rapid growth in water of 50 to 65 degrees. Not only do trout make their fastest growth within this temperature range, but they are less susceptible to parasites and diseases. It is not likely that you will be able to keep the water temperature in your pond within this range all year, unless you have a constant source of cooler water from a spring or well. Brook Trout prefer a water temperature range of 65 degrees Fahrenheit or less, and most are acid tolerant. They grow well in ponds 10 feet deep or shallower ones that are spring fed and may reproduce in ponds fed by gravel bottomed streams and springs. They are easily caught, with a life span of 3 to 4 years. Rainbow Trout prefer a water temperature range of 70 degrees Fahrenheit or warmer and are good for ponds 8 feet deep or deeper, best in clear ponds. They are very acid sensitive, but grow quickly, with a life span of 5 years. The number of trout a pond will support depends on its surface area, water quality, and size of fish. The standard fall stocking rate for 4-6” fingerlings is 300 to 400 per surface acre.

» Continue Reading.

Friday, August 4, 2023

Fly Research Yields Possible Trauma Treatment

Though the phrase “garbage in, garbage out” is a decades-old caution for techies to be mindful when writing code or entering data, I thought my mom invented it. It was her stock retort when we kids asked why two hours of Saturday cartoons was plenty. “Garbage in, garbage out. Fill your heads with foolishness, and you’ll act that way.” I guess she was afraid we’d start chasing roadrunners across the
desert, which typically leads to sprinting off cliffs and being struck by falling anvils.

It turns out she had a point. Numerous studies confirm that exposure to graphic TV violence raises a child’s level of aggression and anxiety in the short term, and is a sound predicter of hostile behavior as an adult. Disturbing images, whether on-screen or in real life, can have a profound impact on us if viewed frequently enough. People who moderate online content, for example, evaluate and remove hundreds of appalling photos and videos daily. In 2021, Facebook paid $85 million to settle a US class-action lawsuit brought by 10,000 of its content arbiters who were suffering from work-related trauma.

» Continue Reading.

Monday, July 31, 2023

Searching for Answers on Beech Leaf Disease

beech leaf disease

KEENE VALLEY – The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) is seeking volunteers to identify and report any occurrences of beech leaf disease in the Adirondack Park. Monitoring for this newly emerging invasive forest pest will begin on Aug. 2 with a free online training from 10-11:30 a.m. called “Forest Pest Hunters: Surveying for Beech Leaf Disease” and continue through October 10. The first confirmed case of beech leaf disease (BLD) in the Adirondacks was in Herkimer County in 2022; it was first confirmed in the U.S. in 2012.

“With most invasive species, we understand how they spread and how to manage infestations of the plant or animal,” said APIPP Terrestrial Invasive Species Coordinator Becca Bernacki. “Beech leaf disease is different—we don’t know what causes it, how it spreads, or how to manage it, which is why it’s so important for scientists to have as much data as possible about where it is and what its impacts are.” One thing scientists do know is how devastating BLD is to forests. It can eventually kill affected trees, with current data from the Midwest showing that saplings die after a few years and mature trees die in six to 10 years. The disease also moves fast. It was first confirmed in New York’s Westchester and Rockland counties in 2019, and since then its symptoms—which include dark striping between the leaf veins, leaf curling, and a leathery leaf texture—have been found on beech trees throughout that region.

» Continue Reading.

Saturday, July 29, 2023

DEC Offers Tips to Prevent the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species

A boat is inspected and cleaned to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species.

With boating season upon us, it’s important to remember to help prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species (AIS) using the “clean, drain, dry” method for boats, as well as disinfecting fishing gear. Boat stewards are available at more than 200 launches across New York State to educate and assist boaters in practicing these techniques every time they come off the water and prior to launching.

» Continue Reading.

Monday, July 24, 2023

A Warming Climate


Tulare Lake Basin flood progression
Extreme Weather Events

I recall reading, earlier this year, about unprecedented flooding, in several areas of California that, until that time, had been stricken by years of climate-change-induced mega-drought so dire that, in August of 2021, a major hydroelectric power plant, Edward Hyatt Power Plant, was forced to shut down for the first time since it opened in 1967, due to extraordinarily low water levels. The plant’s reservoir, California’s second-largest, Lake Oroville, had fallen to just 24% of total capacity.

After this year’s January storms, however, the water level started to rise. It was 82% full on March 10th, when officials began letting water out of the reservoir for the first time in four years. Earlier this month, Lake Oroville had filled to 100% capacity.

In April, California’s Tulare Lake, a dry lake, was refilling, due to torrential rainfall. It’s currently five – to seven-feet deep. Fish now populate its waters. And birds have flocked to its shores. Tulare Lake was once the largest lake west of the Mississippi River. When full, it covered 800 square miles and fed several rivers. But it dried up completely nearly a century ago, as a result of dams, canals, and levees being built in and around California’s San Joaquin Valley; the largest agricultural region in the state of California. The last time a portion of the lake resurfaced was in 1983.

» Continue Reading.