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 grants will further goals/strategies identified in the New York State Open Space Plan, the New York State Wildlife Action Plan, the New York State Forest Action Plan, and/or other local, regional or statewide land protection plans.
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
Maple Syrup Production Combines Principles of Silviculture, Forest Management, Sustainable Agriculture, and Agroforestry
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.
Members of the state task force charged with reducing salt use in the Adirondack Park met for the first time Monday and showed that they won’t steer away from thorny topics.
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.”
By Eric Teed
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.
For the first time, the Adirondack Council’s Essex Farm Institute’s Micro-Grants for Adirondack Farms and Value-Added Producers will offer grants of up to $8,000 for the implementation of environmentally-beneficial and sustainable projects led by Adirondack farms and value-added producers. Prior grants had not exceeded $5,000, with most awarded in the $1,500 range. The grant application was updated for the 2022 cycle to provide more resources for larger operations or those projects led by a team of applicants.
The 2022 guidelines have also been updated to provide clarity with respect to eligibility criteria and gives preference for historically-underserved or socially-disadvantaged groups. As the Adirondack Park’s largest environmental advocacy organization, the Adirondack Council recognizes the huge role agriculture plays in meeting climate goals, sustaining the health of natural resources and fostering economically vibrant communities. It adopted the Essex Farm Institute to ensure that local farmers would have assistance in reducing costs (fuel, fertilizer, electric power, waste removal) and increasing profitability/sustainability by adopting sustainable, environmentally friendly methods.
“Curbing climate change will require new investments in those parts of the economy that can help us conserve energy and reduce fuel use,” said Adirondack Council Executive Director William C. Janeway. “That also reduces pollution, creates more local jobs and make the Adirondacks less dependent on easily-disrupted supply chains that reach halfway around the world.”
Over the course of time, the Adirondack Park Agency’s permit practice has drifted too far away from what the 1973 Agency Act and the State Environmental Quality Review Act require.
The State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQR) requires any State or local agency that undertakes, funds, or approves a project to evaluate the actual or potential environmental impacts of the project prior to taking final action. SEQRA clearly sets forth the state’s policy that adverse environmental impacts of proposed actions be fully considered and either minimized or avoided.
An agency must identify all areas of relevant environmental concern with respect to the project, take a hard look at them, and provide a reasoned elaboration for its determination as to whether the action may have a significant adverse impact on the environment. The agency must require preparation of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) if the proposed action may have any significant environmental impacts.
DEC Region 6 colleagues in the Herkimer County office have collected at least 30 mylar balloons in 2021. Nicknamed the dirty 30, coincidentally, the giant 3-0 balloon corresponds with the number of balloons in the pile. Herkimer County staff collected the mylar balloon trash while doing their daily jobs in both wilderness areas and local state forests.
“I’ll bet most of our regional field staff could collectively quadruple this number if they started saving balloons,” said Steve Heerkens, DEC Wildlife Biologist. DEC staff often encounter littered balloons. Littered balloons can be found on the ground, stuck in trees, in water bodies, and other sensitive ecosystems.
If you celebrate with balloons, make sure they are tied down tightly and avoid balloon releases. Dispose of balloons properly in the trash. Balloons do not belong in the recycling bin. Consider alternatives to balloons such as bubbles, bells, paper or fabric garlands, or planting a tree for remembrance.
A group of scientists and representatives of government agencies met this summer in Saratoga Springs with an enormous mission: outline plans for a survey of hundreds of Adirondack Lakes.
The emerging plan hopes to focus on the effects of climate change on Adirondack lakes and would build on the last major survey of Adirondack lakes in the 1980s, which focused on lake acidification and served as a scientific basis for the 1990 federal Clean Air Act amendments. » Continue Reading.
If fruit is nature’s candy, the breakup of an ice jam is nature’s performance art. Half flood, half avalanche, they move with both a wild fury and a deceptive grace as they storm down Adirondack valleys, just looking for trouble.
In the Ausable River Valley, the phenomenon is a matter of pop culture, having given a name to an Upper Jay lodge and restaurant known as the Ice Jam Inn, and inspiring residents to jockey for the best vantage points along Rt. 9N as a one-mile procession of frozen blocks thunder by — the local version of the Running of the Bulls.
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