As the world is in the midst of a pandemic from the COVID-19 virus, maple trees that dot the landscape across the northeast continued to flow this spring like nothing had changed in the world. Despite the interruption to daily life for most Americans, sugar-makers continued to collect sap from their maple trees and boil it down into nature’s sweet treat – maple syrup. For sugar-makers, long days and nights of boiling and collecting sap are required. As a result, little time is left for socialization so life has not changed as drastically for sugar-makers as it has for others. Coronavirus or not, this was the time we had to collect the sap to make syrup. Maple is an agriculture practice and part of our food system so sugar-makers are deemed essential. Many who enjoy maple syrup would agree that maple syrup production is an essential job.
The Preservation League of New York State has announced targeted grants to projects in the Adirondack communities of Whallonsburg, Saranac Lake and Blue Mountain Lake. The grants will play a role in the restoration and reuse of historic buildings in areas affected by the downward trend in the forest products industry.
The funds are made possible by an award granted to the Preservation League of New York State, the Preservation Trust of Vermont, Maine Preservation, and the New Hampshire Preservation Alliance from the Northern Border Regional Commission (NBRC). This 4-state coalition has evenly split the $1 million award to fund 15 projects called the Northeast Heritage Economy Program. Here are the projects that have been funded in New York state:
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and Agriculture and Markets have announced that the seventh annual Invasive Species Awareness Week (ISAW) will be held June 7-13.
ISAW is an annual statewide campaign with the purpose of building an awareness of the threat invasive species pose to New York States ecosystem. This year, considering the COVID-19 public health crises, organizations taking part in ISAW are encouraged to plan and incorporate virtual experiences and events that adhere to social distancing guidelines. This would allow New Yorkers to participate in ISAW from the safety of their homes.
After days of back and forth about the closure of privately owned boat launches and marina and what that means for state-owned facilities, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced on Saturday an easing of restrictions that were put into effect last week.
In a news release sent over the weekend, Cuomo, in conjunction with New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont announced marinas, boatyards and marine manufacturers will be allowed to open for personal use as long as strict social distancing and sanitization protocols are followed. Chartered watercraft services or rentals will not be allowed, and restaurant activity at these sites must be limited to take-out or delivery only, like anywhere else in the three states.
This April 22 marks Earth Day’s 50th anniversary and ours too. There are a number of ways to celebrate Earth Day even with physical distancing guidelines in effect.
Start by looking at our curated list, Caregiver Resources While at Home: Surviving at Home with Youth. This page has DEC-created lesson plans, DEC YouTube links, Tips to Help Caregivers Transition to Remote Learning, Professional Development Opportunities for Educators, loads of online resources from places around the state and the world (NY Botanical Garden, National Wildlife Federation, American Museum of Natural History, the Wild Center, Cornell Lab of Ornithology, and WXXI, Greater Rochester’s PBS channel). There are two databases of community science projects and what community science is, along with a long list of live animal cams to visit and Zoos and Centers offering Facebook content weekly or daily.
On the international level, Earthy Day Network has provided resources that allow you to take action while social distancing. For example, they have created the Earth Challenge 2020, a community science app for iPhone and Android that allows users to track plastic pollution and local air quality. By taking photos in your neighborhood, you provide important information on pollution issues in your area. Another feature is “Create Your Own Act of Green”. In this section, you can report family or class activities you do to help the Earth. Your local actions are combined with hundreds of efforts by others around the world which add up to big impacts on the Earth. Visit the Earth Day Network’s Take Action page for details on these actions and more to help the planet this Earth Day.
I came of age in the late 1960s and early 1970s. It was a turbulent time in American history; marked by the rise of the antiwar movement (Vietnam, nuclear weapons) and the expansion of movements promoting equality for groups of marginalized people including woman, African Americans, Native Americans, and the LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer and/or questioning) community.
Many also consider the 60s and 70s to be the beginning of the modern American environmental movement; which is often portrayed as having started with the publication of Rachel Carson’s best-selling book, Silent Spring (thirty-one weeks on the New York Times best-seller list), in 1962. The book described how the adverse environmental effects caused by the indiscriminate use of chemical pesticides threatened both animals and human beings. “These sprays, dusts, and aerosols are now applied almost universally to farms, gardens, forests, and homes,” she wrote. “They should not be called insecticides, but “biocides… It is our alarming misfortune that so primitive a science has armed itself with the most modern and terrible weapons, and that in turning them against the insects it has also turned them against the earth.”
I don’t personally believe that the sixties birthed the modern environmental movement in this country. I believe the modern environmental movement really began with Theodore Roosevelt, Gifford Pinchot, John Muir, and the conservationist / preservationist activism of the early 20th century. The 60s, however, kicked off a resurgence of interest in these issues, starting with passage of the Clean Water Act of 1960; followed by the Clean Air Acts of 1963 and 1967, the Wilderness Act of 1964, and the Water Quality Act of 1965. In fact, between 1963 and 1968, President Lyndon Johnson signed nearly 300 conservation and beautification measures into law.
The arrival of American Woodcock back to New York is a telltale sign that spring is here to stay. Despite their diminutive size, woodcock are one of the earliest ground-nesting birds in the state. Just this week, DEC Biologist Jeremy Hurst found this female nesting in the snow on his property near Albany. If you’re curious where NY’s woodcock come from – DEC is currently part of a large cooperative research project to track both Fall and Spring migration of woodcock throughout their eastern range using tiny GPS transmitters. For weekly updates on their migration, please visit the Eastern Woodcock Migration Research Cooperative’s website.
I am often asked why I decided to become a beekeeper. My journey into beekeeping came from my deep concern for the fate of honeybees (apis mellifera), which have been dying out in droves. There are very few things that can prepare you for the experiences you will discover with the amazing creatures we call honey bees.
Beekeeping is like teaching or practicing law or medicine, and so many other things. Until you’ve actually done it and gotten some experience under your belt, all the reading and classroom time in the world doesn’t truly prepare you for the real thing. I love beekeeping but there are plenty of times the work is heavy, hot, tiring, and extremely sticky. It’s vital you do your homework and make sure you want to be a beekeeper before investing in hives, clothing, tools and other equipment – all of which can quickly run into the hundreds of dollars. So what’s the best way to prepare for this rewarding and eco-friendly hobby and be sure it’s right for you? The best preparation you can undertake is to find other local beekeepers and ask lots of questions.
“When the APA was created by the state legislature in 1971, the Park had existed for eighty years, and the new agency was expected to provide more sense of Park-ness than had obtained before. … For some it was a sense of a shared future in a newly defined park; for others it was hostility to regional zoning and land-use controls imposed by the state. Court challenges, hopes for a protected future, a Park-wide feeling of optimism interspersed with a sense of victimization—all gave the Adirondacks a regional identity it had never previously possessed.”
In the mid and lower Hudson estuary watershed, egg masses of wood frog, spotted salamander, and Jefferson-blue spotted salamander complex are developing under water, still weeks away from hatching into frog tadpoles or salamander larvae. Further north in the estuary watershed, where the breeding season gets a later start, male wood frogs may still be calling from woodland pools to lure females for breeding. Their distinct call resembles the sound of quacking ducks.