Today’s announcement that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released draft greenhouse gas emission reduction regulations for over 1,000 existing power plants is a major landmark in environmental history. EPA estimates that 83% of greenhouse gas emissions are from carbon dioxide (C02) released into the atmosphere.
As a group these coal-fired power plants are the single largest sources of C02 pollution in the U.S., producing nearly 25%. These new rules expect to produce a 20% reduction in C02 emissions at these plants by 2020 and 30% by 2030 (based on 2005 levels). » Continue Reading.
Ever since humans invented agriculture and started moving from continent to continent, they have taken plants with them. In most cases imported, non-native plants do not spread much beyond the bounds of horticulture. But the exceptions are increasingly worrisome to biologists. Removed from the pests and diseases that kept them in check in their natural habitats, some plants multiply explosively. They can smother native ecosystems in a matter of a few years.
Some of these invasive plants, such as bush honeysuckle, Japanese knotweed, phragmites reed, and purple loosestrife, are all too familiar in our region. As if that’s not enough, we must now add a new menace to the list. The latest member of this rogues’ gallery is garlic mustard, a pungent herb in the cabbage family. » Continue Reading.
A new report—Boat Inspection and Decontamination for Aquatic Invasive Species Prevention: Recommendations for the Adirondack Region—is now available to help guide decisions on where to prioritize actions to prevent the spread of harmful aquatic invasive species (AIS).
This first-time analysis for the Adirondack region summarizes the best available science, analyzes current AIS distribution and boater use patterns and recommends initial locations to consider integrating boat inspection and decontamination to prevent landscape level spread of AIS.» Continue Reading.
This scenario is familiar to any backcountry enthusiast, regardless of whether they prefer the well-worn trails of a popular area or the trailless expanses that see more moose and black bear than they do people. Surrounded by forest, a multitude of birds singing in the canopy, a frog’s occasional throaty call emerging from a nearby wetland, it is as if there is not another living soul within miles around, and there may not be. Just as this feeling of remoteness engulfs the mind completely, the unnatural color of something on the ground assaults your senses, dispelling any fanciful notion of being in the only person in an unbroken wilderness.
Whether it is a candy bar wrapper, an old glass bottle, or a Mylar balloon, it does not matter. It does not belong here. It is not natural. It is litter. And it just shattered a finely-honed illusion of wilderness.
My backyard has a mixture of wildflowers and cultivated plants with an eye toward native perennials. I gently move the spring foamflowers, bunchberries and bluets that always manage to pop up in the middle of my kids’ baseball field. I protect the trillium from the puppy and neighborhood kids while making sure nothing invasive has traveled perhaps by squirrel, bird or child. Yes, my child.
I’ve had to educate my daughter that picking roadside plants, (which sometimes includes the roots, which is not a good way of keeping our garden and property safe from Adirondack invasives). Since she is also a fan of gardening, I’ve limited her transplanting to items already located to our property. » Continue Reading.
A new report tracks the progress of New York State agencies to achieve a sustainable environment by reducing the amount of paper used and waste generated, improving their recycling rates, and lowering energy consumption and the use of toxic chemicals in agency operations.
Highlights of the “Second Progress Report on State Green Procurement and Agency Sustainability,” which summarizes agency performance between state fiscal years 2008-09 and 2011-12, include: A reduction in paper use of 43 percent, saving the state $11.1 million over four years; a 35 percent reduction in waste generated; an average recycling rate of 56 percent; a 27 percentage point increase in the purchase of 100-percent recycled content copy paper; and the virtual elimination of bottled water purchases. » Continue Reading.
This year, New Yorkers are rightly commemorating the 50th Anniversary of the National Wilderness Preservation Act of 1964. Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, Rockefeller Institute of Government, NYS DEC, and SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry recently kicked off that anniversary with events in the Capital Region. More events and activities with students, faculty and college collaborators are planned.
2014 is also the 120th anniversary of our “forever wild” clause of the NYS Constitution protecting the Adirondack and Catskill Forest Preserve. It was that late 19th century constitutional protection which so inspired the 20th century’s Howard Zahniser of The Wilderness Society to undertake his 18-year campaign to both author and lobby for the National Wilderness Act. That’s one reason, and there are others, why wilderness preservation, in terms of designation and protection, began in New York State. Bob, George and Jim Marshall’s upbringing in the Adirondacks by noted forever wild advocate and attorney Louis and his wife Florence Marshall, and the later creation of The Wilderness Society by Bob and allies is another reason to make this claim.
But there’s an older 19th century anniversary this year that cannot be overlooked without missing what has influenced humanity around the globe to conserve since 1864, the year a Vermonter named George Perkins Marsh (1801-1882) wrote Man and Nature; or Physical Geography as Modified by Human Action. Woodstock and Burlington, respectively where Marsh was born and lived parts of his adult life and which influenced his book, could legitimately make the claim that Vermont is where wilderness preservation began in America and, indeed, in the world. » Continue Reading.
My father Howard Zahniser, who died four months before the 1964 Wilderness Act became law 50 years ago this September 3, was the chief architect of, and lobbyist for, this landmark Act. The Act created our 109.5-million-acre National Wilderness Preservation System.
Had I another credential, it would be that Paul Schaefer—the indomitable Adirondack conservationist—was one of my chief mentors and outdoor role models. Paul helped me catch my first trout. I was seven years old. That life event took place in what is now the New York State-designated Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area in the Adirondacks. Izaak Walton should be so lucky. » Continue Reading.
On a summer night last July, the charming French-Canadian town of Lac Megantic literally exploded. A tanker train carrying crude oil derailed and caught fire, incinerating much of the downtown and killing forty-seven people.
Other train explosions followed in Alabama and North Dakota. Now people are wondering if it could happen here in the Adirondacks.
Since the disaster in Lac Megantic—located 180 miles northeast of the Adirondack Park, in Quebec—officials in northern New York have taken notice that similar trains, up to a hundred tankers long and filled with eighty-five thousand barrels of oil, roar regularly through the Champlain Valley. Most of the oil is in tankers that federal regulators have deemed unsafe. » Continue Reading.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the appointment of Timothy A. Duffy to the position of director of the Division of Law Enforcement. As the new director, Duffy will oversee more than 330 sworn members of DEC’s Division of Law Enforcement.
The division focuses on enforcing the Environmental Conservation Law although they are empowered to enforce all laws of the state. Their mission encompasses two broad enforcement areas: fish and wildlife and environmental quality. » Continue Reading.
If the existential issue of our time is climate change, the Keystone XL pipeline project is the decisive political issue of the day. As Bill McKibben has said, “If we’re trying to do something about climate change, which theoretically all our governments are committed to doing, then (Keystone) is a very big deal. It’s the equivalent of adding six million new cars to the road.”
Other analysts say the impacts would be even greater over an extended period of time – the equivalent of 1 billion vehicles or 1,400 coal-fired power plants in greenhouse gas emissions. Legislators’ position on the Keystone project, which would extract oil from Canadian tar sands and pipe it through midwestern states to the Gulf Coast, is then, an indication of how seriously they take the threat of climate change to the communities they represent. » Continue Reading.
Vendors, exhibits, speakers and other activities to inspire attractive low impact shoreline landscaping will be featured at the “Stewardship with Style: A Lakescape Event” on Saturday May 10, 2014, from 9 am until 2 pm at Shepard Park in Lake George Village. Displays on rain gardens, shoreline buffers, permeable pavers, invasive species, and native plants, along with kids “make and take” crafts, and the Em2 River Model. There will also be prizes and giveaways. » Continue Reading.
A U.S. Supreme Court decision today has revived the Cross-State Pollution Rule that makes it illegal for states to cause air pollution that harms neighboring states. The rule was reinstated in a 6-2-1 ruling, led by Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg. Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas dissented. Justice Samuel Alito recused himself.
“The Cross-State Pollution Rule should never have been struck down in 2011 and we are thrilled that the Supreme Court has revived it,” William C. Janeway, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council, said in a statement to the press. “The Adirondack Park has suffered for decades from pollution drifting in from Midwest states. Nearly all of our acid rain is created by smokestacks hundreds of miles away.” » Continue Reading.
Recently the Warren County Soil & Water Conservation District received funding from the Lake Champlain Basin Program for a program called “Soil Savers”. The program is starting with a Conservation Celebration educational event, open to all on Saturday, April 26th from 9 am to 1 pm at Hovey Pond Park, 25 Lafayette Street in Queensbury.
Many people do not realize that Hovey Pond Park is part of the Lake Champlain Watershed since it is so close to the Hudson River. However, Halfway Brook flows north alongside Glenwood Ave. on the eastern side of the park and eventually enters the Champlain Canal in Fort Ann. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is accepting applications for the 2014 Environmental Excellence Awards program. The Environmental Excellence Awards program recognizes and gives visibility to outstanding, innovative and sustainable projects or programs.
Eligible applicants include businesses of all sizes, not-for-profit organizations and education, health care and recreational facilities. Individuals and local, state, federal or Indian Nation government agencies implementing innovative, sustainable actions or working in creative partnership to improve and protect New York’s environmental resources and contribute to a viable economy are also eligible. » Continue Reading.
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