Monday, November 29, 2021

Honeybees: Posing threats for native bees?

western honeybee

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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Tuesday, November 23, 2021

Stuff the Turkey, Not the Trash

adirondack tukey

Regardless of how you’ll be celebrating Thanksgiving this year, you can still keep wasted food out of the picture by reaching for your favorite tips and tricks to avoid throwing out good ingredients and your holiday meal favorites! Check out some of our tips below.
Ways to waste less food this Thanksgiving:

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Kid next to water
Monday, November 22, 2021

Still blooming

HABs map

The HABs keep on happening on Lake George. Shortly after we reported on an early-October harmful algal bloom on Lake George, the state Department of Environmental Conservation updated its useful map of HABs across the state. And state officials confirmed yet more HABs on Lake George on Nov. 8-11.

Harmful algal blooms – or HABs – are formations of cyanobacteria, which can rise to the water’s surface under the right conditions. While HABs have the potential to turn toxic, toxins have not been detected in the Lake George HABs. The HABs on Lake George continued in the Harris Bay area and in November the confirmed blooms included some around Cotton near Bolton Landing, according to the DEC map.

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Saturday, November 20, 2021

Remnants Of Life

remnants of life

The Adirondack Mountains is an amazing place to witness the natural lives of wild animals.  With 2,000 miles of hiking trails, there is ample opportunity to witness new life as well as the passing of life.  The mountains are full of the cycle of life as we witness baby animals of various species and come upon a pile of dry bones.  The cycle of life escapes no creature calling this Earth their home and there is evidence all around us of this fact.  Is it possible for death, the dry bones of an expired animal to once again be a part of the building blocks of life?  In the lives of some mountain animals this is most certainly possible and is an important factor in survival as a source of essential minerals.

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Monday, November 15, 2021

The Season of Northern Lights 

aurora

In late October and earlier this month, spectacular aurora activity was visible across much of the northern hemisphere. Sightings were reported from Maine to Washington State and as far south as Connecticut and California.

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Monday, November 8, 2021

Trail Blazers discover there is more to scat than just a plop of poop

When Hamilton County Community Services’ Prevention Educator Evangeline Wells invited me to give an outdoor presentation to Trail Blazers kids, I knew I wanted to mix fun and nature facts to keep things light and interesting for this summer event.  Students traveled to the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District office on July 21 and discovered that there is more to scat than just a plop of poop in the woods.  I packed the morning with activities and information about animal tracks and scat.

Photo at left: I ask the Trail Blazers to describe the story of track photos.

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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

Salt solutions?

Billy Jones salt bill

Lake George has been a leader in road salt reduction and now some of those lessons will be coming north.

Wilmington Supervisor Roy Holzer, who attended the sixth annual Lake George road salt reduction summit last week, said his town has applied for a grant that would pay for cameras on the Whiteface Highway, a steep climb out of the hamlet to elevations where it can snow before it does down below. But not always. With cameras, plow drivers can open an app and assess conditions before driving up and salting a road that may not need it. Salt pollution has been recognized as a threat both to the environment and public health.

Essex County Department of Public Works Director Jim Dugan said some methods used further south, such as brining the highway, aren’t as effective in the mountains where it’s colder. But that doesn’t mean local governments are powerless.

Dugan said the county, with a $750,000 state grant and a $250,000 match, is building a shed to keep its stores of sand under roof. Before it’s stockpiled, salt has to be mixed into the sand to keep it from freezing into unspreadable chunks. Dougan said the shelter will keep the sand dry, and greatly reduce the ratio of salt to sand.

Dugan said he would also like to be allowed to cut trees in the highway right of way to let in the ice-melting sun, but even though environmentalists agree this is an important strategy, in the Forest Preserve that’s not allowed.

Holzer follows the late Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston, for which road salt reduction law is named.

“I certainly feel an obligation to carry through with his mission, and I feel like Wilmington is leading change in the North Country,” Holzer said. Smart salt law can strike a balance between safety and the environment, while saving taxpayer money by reducing the need to purchase salt, he said.

NYS Assemblyman Billy Jones speaks Dec. 4, 2020, at a commemoration of the signing of the Randy Preston Road Salt Reduction Act. More than 10 months later, the task force created by the bill is still without members. Mike Lynch photo 

Editor’s note: This first appeared in Adirondack Explorer’s weekly “Water Line” newsletter. Click here to sign up.


Tuesday, October 26, 2021

The Wild Center to send delegation to U.N. climate talks in Scotland

youth climate rallyWhen world leaders convene in Scotland for critical climate change negotiations later this month, The Wild Center’s Youth Climate Program will be there.

The organization is sending a nine-person delegation to Glasgow for COP26, the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties. The Wild Center’s delegates will have a front-row seat as representatives from 197 countries seek solutions to mitigate ongoing effects of climate change.

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Sunday, October 24, 2021

Watching the salmon run

salmon run

The warm October has slowed the fall salmon run a bit, but the fact that there is any salmon run at all in the rivers that flow from the Adirondacks into Lake Champlain is a point of some celebration. The dams that powered industry, the resulting pollution from this industry and overfishing destroyed the Atlantic salmon fishery in Lake Champlain prior to the Civil War.

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Sunday, October 17, 2021

The Real Johnny Appleseed

apples

There’s little in life more pleasing than biting into a fresh, crisp, juicy, mouth-watering, slightly sweet, slightly tart, apple. And what could be healthier? Apples contain vitamins C and A, antioxidants, potassium, pectin, fiber, and no cholesterol. They can be eaten fresh, baked, or stewed. They can be juiced or turned into cider; made into sauce, butter, jelly, vinegar, and wine; or cooked into pies, crisps, crumbles, cakes, doughnuts; even meat dishes. They make delightful confections when coated with candy (sugar syrup), caramel, or toffee and nuts, too.

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Monday, October 11, 2021

When it comes to permaculture, we have a lot to learn

permaculture gardenI’ve never been fond of buzzwords. “Organic,” “Natural,” and “Sustainable” lost their foothold in reality decades ago when they were co-opted as marketing labels. Corporate buzzwords, cynical and empty, are often buzz-phrases anyway: “Whole-Systems Thinking,” “Trickle Down,” “Customer Journey.”

In my view, “Permaculture” has been teetering on the edge of irrelevance for some time.  Just look how it’s described in Wikipedia, which can usually be trusted for succinct and reasonably cogent (if not entirely accurate) definitions: “Permaculture is an approach to land management that adopts arrangements observed in flourishing ecosystems, and includes a set of design principles derived using whole-systems thinking.” Wait a minute – whole-systems thinking? I’ve heard that somewhere.

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Saturday, October 9, 2021

NYS Birding Trail Takes Flight

bird watchingDEC Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the launch of the new NYS Birding Trail to highlight world-class birding opportunities across the state. Birding or birdwatching is one of the fastest-growing recreation and tourism activities and requires little to no experience or equipment to get started.

The New York State Birding Trail provides information on places anyone can go to find birds amid beautiful natural settings across the state. The trail is not a physically connected or built trail but a network of promoted birding locations that can be accessed by car or public transportation and provides an inclusive experience for all.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2021

When doing your best means doing nothing

Painting: Dawn Loading by Kathleen Kolb

Painting: Dawn Loading by Kathleen Kolb

“If I knew for a certainty that a man was coming to my house with the conscious design of doing me good, I should run for my life.” David Henry Thoreau’s statement, funny in a way, also brings to mind the grave harm done to cultures around the world by Western powers in the guise of “helping” them. In a less horrific sense it applies to how we’ve “assisted” nature to disastrous ends. Cane toads in Australia, mongoose in Hawaii, Kudzu in the Southeast, and Asian harlequin ladybeetles that invade our homes each fall are a few examples of being too helpful.

I get a lot of questions from folks who’ve recently purchased a few acres of forest or home on a wooded lot and want to know if they should clear brush, thin trees, or do other things to improve the woods. It’s a fair question, and an important one.

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Tuesday, October 5, 2021

ESF’s Center for Native Peoples and the Environment and The Nature Conservancy Embark on Transformational Partnership

center for native peoples (ALL INTERNAL RIGHTS, LIMITED EXTERNAL RIGHTS) June 2015. Jamaica Bay Wildlife Reserve. Photo credit: © Kevin Arnold and the environment

Syracuse, NY – A new partnership between the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s (ESF) Center for Native Peoples and the Environment (CNPE) and The Nature Conservancy (TNC) will serve as a bridge between traditional ecological knowledge and Western scientific approaches, embracing a “two-eyed” way of seeing and informing conservation.

“This partnership arises out of shared interests and common goals to conserve cherished landscapes and biodiversity,” said Dr. Robin Kimmerer, CNPE Director, botanist, and enrolled member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. She is also the author of the bestselling book ‘Braiding Sweetgrass: Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge and the Teachings of Plants.’ “This as an opportunity for co-learning between the CNPE and TNC and Indigenous communities, who are a critical partner in this work.”

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Kid next to water
Monday, October 4, 2021

A Harvest of North Country Cranberries

Gathering cranberries with a floating 'boom'

The 2021 growing season is nearing an end. And, as the last of the greens, Brussels sprouts, and turnips are taken from the ground, I’m grateful for the diverse variety of vegetables that family, friends, and neighbors have harvested, processed, stored, and shared; everything from tomatoes, potatoes, summer squash, and zucchini, to Romanesco broccoli, Kohlrabi, purple cauliflower, tomatillos, and blue dent corn. Tree fruit and nut yields from both wild and cultivated trees were bountiful this year, too. Wild and cultivated herbs and edible medicinal plants are being readied for use as spices, teas, tinctures, and poultices. And the harvest of forage corn, hay, and beans, which will feed dairy and meat cattle in the months ahead is nearly complete.

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Kid next to water

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