March 27, 2009, Kingston Daily Freeman: As bats die, feds ask people to avoid caves

As bats die, feds ask people to avoid caves
Friday, March 27, 2009 3:06 AM EDT

ALBANY (AP) — Citing an “unprecedented” crisis of bats dying off from West Virginia to New England, federal officials on Thursday asked for people to stay out of thousands of caves in states struck by “white-nose syndrome.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service made the request to guard against the possibility that people are unwittingly spreading the mysterious affliction when they explore multiple caves. There is no evidence that white-nose syndrome, which has struck particularly hard in Ulster County, including in caves in Rosendale, is a threat to people.

Named for the sugary smudges of fungus on the noses and wings of hibernating bats, white-nose bats appear to run through their winter fat stores before spring. It was confirmed in eight states this winter from New Hampshire to West Virginia and there is evidence it may have spread to Virginia, according to wildlife service spokeswoman Diana Weaver.

Some death-count estimates run as high as 500,000 bats. Researchers worry about a mass die-off of bats, which help control the populations of insects that can damage wheat, apples and dozens of other crops.

The advisory seeking a voluntary caving moratorium also would cover states adjacent to affected states — a swath of the nation stretching from Maine down to North Carolina and west to Tennessee, Kentucky and Ohio, Weaver said.

Recreational cavers, who have enthusiastically supported past white-nose control efforts, seemed bewildered by the breadth of the request. Peter Youngbaer, white-nose syndrome liaison for the National Speleological Society, said the advisory covers tens of thousands of caves and would affect everything from organized caving events to equipment sales.

“The ramifications are mind boggling, and I guess we’re all just trying figure out what to do,” said Youngbaer, who is based in Vermont.

“I think to great extent it will be followed, but there will be a lot of discussion and tweaking about it,” he said.

Researchers suspect a fungus that thrives in cold, moist caves causes white nose and that it is spread from bat to bat. But the syndrome has spread more than 400 miles from the cluster of caves near Albany where it was first observed two winters ago.

Researchers are concerned that humans could be helping the spread, perhaps through jackets or boots worn in an infected cave. Weaver noted that some of the affected caves are popular with cavers.

Federal officials also ask that cavers nationwide refrain from using gear that has been used in states struck by white nose or the adjacent states. Officials ask that everyone avoid caves and mines during the winter hibernation season so bats will not be disturbed.

On the Net:—nose.html.


March 27, 2009, Watertown Daily Times: DEC's four summer camps have room in coming season

DEC's four summer camps have room in coming season

FRIDAY, MARCH 27, 2009
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ALBANY — Applications are now available for the state Department of Environmental Conservation's four summer education camps.

The residential camps, for youths from 12 to 17, focus on conservation education during eight one-week sessions between June 27 and Aug. 22. Outdoor activities and games teach "the wise use of natural resources," while overnight hikes and canoe trips are also standard fare. Campers with parental permission may participate in hunter safety training.

DEC operates four camps — Colby and Pack Forest in the Adirondacks, DeBruce in the Catskills and Rushford in Western New York. Each serves children 12 to 14 years old. Additionally, DEC also offers week-long ecology workshops for teens 15 to 17 years old at Pack Forest during the first five sessions of camp.

One week's tuition at any of the camps is $325 per camper. Many campers are sponsored by local civic groups, garden and sportsmen clubs. Spaces are still available throughout much of the season.

Interested parties may write to: NYSDEC Camps, 625 Broadway, Albany, N.Y. 12233-4500, e-mail to: [email protected], or call 1 (518) 402-8014. Full information is online at:


March 26, 2009, Schenectady Daily Gazette: Fly-Fishing: Mohawk advocates meeting at Union

Daily Gazette article
Thursday, March 26, 2009

Morgan Lyle

Fly-Fishing: Mohawk advocates meeting at Union

The Mohawk River begins and ends as fly-fishing water.

At its beginning, where it gathers at the foot of the Tug Hill Plateau, it’s a small, cool, trout stream with wild browns, and it ends as a vast, shallow plain of riffles, holes and falls below Cohoes Falls, loaded with smallmouth bass and carp, just before its confluence with the Hudson.

Its two main tributaries — and the Mohawk would be puny without them — are extraordinary streams rising in regions that are synonymous with trout fishing: West Canada Creek, draining the southwestern slope of the Adirondacks, and Schoharie Creek, flowing northward from the Catskills’ tallest peaks.

And the Mohawk is the last stop for many little brooks chattering past the meadows of dairy farms and through culverts under 18th century factories, which in their headwaters still harbor the precious and irreplaceable wild brookie.

Many experts and advocates will gather to sing the Mohawk’s praises Friday when the Mohawk Watershed Group at Union College holds the first symposium to examine the physical aspects of the river and its many headwaters. They’ll also be talking about the tough fights that must be fought to make sure science and environmental preservation prevail over politics and business in the competition for natural resources.

The West Canada Riverkeepers will be there, and they’ll have potentially good news to discuss involving the Mohawk Valley Water Authority’s attempt to more than double the amount of water it siphons away from West Canada Creek every day. The Riverkeepers were formed in late 2007, after reckless withdrawals by the Water Authority and especially the state Canal Corp. nearly wiped out the creek. They have sought to become a party to the court battle over the creek’s water, and now the judge in the case, over the Water Authority’s objections, has adjourned the trial indefinitely to consider it.

Also presenting at the symposium will be Dam Concerned Citizens Inc., a citizens’ group that stakes out positions on a number of issues relating to safety and ecology on the Schoharie — including the need for New York City to right an 80-year-old wrong and restore the flow of the creek downstream of Schoharie Reservoir, creating a new stretch of trout water.

There will be a presentation by the Environmental Study Team, an organization of teenagers based at the Schoharie River Center in Burtonsville which has been celebrated by the National Wildlife Federation for things like rapid bio-assessments, stream monitoring and clean-up projects along the Schoharie and its tributaries.

Other symposium participants will discuss matters like the chronic ice jams that flood the Stockade, and fisheries, aquatic habitats, groundwater, etc. There will even be a guest appearance by a team that studied the Little Chazy River way up on the northern side of the Adirondacks.

And wrapping it all up will be Robert H. Boyle, the big-time sportswriter and pioneering envir­onmentalist who helped erase the Hudson’s reputation for pollution and is now in the trenches fighting for the West Canada.

Boyle does righteous outrage as well as anybody ever has, and he does the homework to back it up. His keynote address at the sym­posium banquet at Union Friday night will be titled, “Bums and Drums Along the Mohawk.”

It’s a great river and a great watershed, with delights that a fly-fisher could spend a lifetime discovering, and it’s greatly encouraging to see it being taken seriously by so many capable people.


March 19, 2009, Shawangunk Journal: From the Catskills Forest, Why is Vermont "Greener"

From The Forest
Why is Vermont "Greener"?
link to complete article is here:

Growing up in New York State in the Wallkill Valley has made me realize the value of land. It's expensive! My father has told me that no one really owns land, but instead rents it. He was referring to the exorbitant taxes he pays each year in the Town of Gardiner in Ulster County. Similar to renting, if my father fails to pay, the land is taken away. It's that simple. The property tax issue becomes significantly worse if you are a producer and wish to make a living off the land. Certain costs are fixed, such as taxes and maintenance operations that must be paid for each year whether tending a forest for a local source of timber, apples, or a small organic vegetable farm. What happens when these fixed costs become too expensive? The land may have to be parcelized, which usually leads to development and fragmentation, or rights are sold away in a conservation easement. The entire property may have to be sold in fee to another buyer. As a result, parcels become smaller, more development occurs, and the community is stripped of those landowners who produce locally grown products. The community becomes a consumer-based one that will need to procure resources and products from elsewhere. Is this sustainable?

In the 1970s, the Vermont State Legislature faced this issue head on. The legislature heard testimony that farm and forestland was being sold for development because the property tax bills could no longer be supported by the returns from working the land. In order to help mitigate this situation, the legislature enacted the Use Value Appraisal (UVA) program. Traditionally, land such as in New York State is assessed by its fair market value or highest and best use. Market value is determined by recent sales of comparable land. Therefore, if someone can afford to buy a parcel that is similar to yours near your property for more money, your property can be reassessed for a greater value and create an increase in your property tax bill. The UVA program shifts the assessment from a market value to a value that the property is currently being used for. If the property is currently being used for forest management that creates a crop of timber or for cropland, it is assessed on this value instead. For this reason the UVA program is also known as the current use program.

In order to be eligible for the program a landowner must have at least 25 contiguous acres. However, a minimum of 2 acres are excluded if a home is on the property. Therefore, 27 acres is the minimum acreage for enrollment. The property owner must hire a private consulting forester who develops a forest management plan. The forest management plan must be followed and trees must be cut when appropriate. A report must be filed with the state detailing management activities, and the state must be allowed to inspect forest management practices to ensure good forest management standards are being upheld. Farm land can be eligible in the program too, but does not require a management plan or inspection of the property. Farmland that is enrolled in current use can be less than 27 acres if the sale of crops grosses $2,000 annually. If an enrolled property owner does not comply with the current use criteria, he or she can be charged a Land Use Change Tax.

Overall, the program has been greatly successful in Vermont and has helped preserve its working forests and farms. One of the fixed costs of management, such as property taxes, has been held lower so that profit margins for sustaining locally grown businesses and economies are more feasible and sustainable.

New York State does have programs for forest and farm owners. However, there are some key differences. First, forest owners who want to enroll in the New York State Forest Tax Law (480a) program in order to re-assess the value of their property to forest land must have 50 forested acres. In Vermont the minimum is 27 acres. This eliminates most forest owners, since the average parcel size in the Catskills is already approximately 16 acres. Agricultural assessments exist in New York as well, but farmers must gross $10,000 annually. In Vermont, the minimum is $2,000. In New York if a town does not have at least 3 percent of its parcels enrolled in the 480a program, lower tax bills on enrolled property is shifted to neighboring properties in that town to make up the difference since the town still requires tax revenue. In Vermont, the state picks up this burden and reimburses the assessment difference to all towns.

Vermont has taken progressive steps in meeting the property tax issue and preserving its working farms and forests. This problem in both states will continue to worsen as more people move to rural areas and demand more services that require higher tax revenues. Parcel sizes in both states continue to decrease, while the number of parcels increase, often leading to land that is more difficult to manage for production forcing local markets elsewhere. In New York the remedy to this situation has been for our public agencies such as the State of New York to acquire forest preserve lands in the Catskill and Adirondack Parks. However, this land is taken out of production and resources have to be acquired from, yet again, somewhere else. For example, most New Yorkers buy their maple syrup not in the Adirondacks or Catskills, which have plenty of sugar maples, but from Vermont! Why? Well, working landscapes have been preserved which lead to sustainable forest and agricultural practices and sustainable local economies and communities. A comparison of Adirondack and Catskill communities with those of Vermont would show that Vermont is still ahead. Another example would be the paper companies of the Adirondacks that have packed up and left behind vacant buildings and ghost-towns. In New York we are building museums about old wood products businesses that used to be vibrant, paralleling healthy communities. In Vermont, they are making things. In New York, we are looking at our forests as museums. In Vermont, they are managing them, because they can afford to. We need real property tax reform if we truly want to be environmental stewards of our region and state. The old notion of fence and forget inside a preserve is not working. We can do better! Find out more about how to manage your forest @ or give us a call @ (845) 586-3054.

Information provided in part from Northern Woodlands: The Place You Call Home: A Guide for Caring for your Land in Vermont. "Current Use: Property Tax Program Helps Keep Working Land Well-Managed."


March 25, 2009, Ang Lee's "Taking Woodstock" staring Demetri Martin Trailer Released: Watch Here

A man working at his parents' motel in the Catskills inadvertently sets in motion the generation-defining concert in the summer of 1969. From 'Important Things with Demetri that aired on 3/25/09. ...
A man working at his parents' motel in the Catskills inadvertently sets in motion the generation-defining concert in the summer of 1969. From 'Important Things with Demetri that aired on 3/25/09.

Directed by Ang Lee.

Release Date is August 14, 2009.
Category:  Entertainment

Sometimes a movie trailer can be deceiving. Other times it gives the viewer a glimpse of greatness. In the case of Ang Lee's upcoming film, "Taking Woodstock," I'm betting on the latter. The movie stars Demetri Martin in a comedy about the "true" story of Woodstock; of a man working at his family's motel in the Catskills and who wound up hosting the biggest and most important concert in history -- by accident. Lee has had success with "Brokeback Mountain" and "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon." But he also bombed with "Hulk" and "Lust, Caution." Perhaps an indie comedy is just what he needs. Besides, "Woodstock" co-stars Emile Hirsch, Liev Schreiber and the reliably-funny Eugene Levy. How can you go wrong with a cast like that? The first teaser trailer has hit the Web and the folks over at were lucky enough to nab it for all of us to enjoy. Click on the arrow above to watch it.

March 18, 3009: Eco Politics Daily, NYLCV: Tensions Run High At NYRI Hearings

Tensions Run High At NYRI Hearings

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Submitted by Dan Hendrick on Wed, 2009-03-18 17:49.

The big guns were out in full force earlier this week for the Public Service Commission's evidentiary hearings about the proposed New York Regional Interconnect (NYRI), a high-voltage transmission line that would run 190 miles between Marcy and Orange County.

The proposed route for New York Regional Interconnect.The proposed route for New York Regional Interconnect.Lawyers for Communities Against Regional Interconnect made sure the group's position was abundantly clear: the line is not need and will have adverse effects on the environment and economy.

One argument for building the controversial line seemed to be undercut when George Vanderheyden, chief executive of UniStar Nuclear Energy, testified that his company does not need additional transmission lines to carry power from its planned new nuclear power plant in Scriba.    

However, David Kalson, a spokesman for for NYRI, countered, "Without the line, congestion and inefficiency would continue to mount, leading to brownouts and blackouts.  It's a matter of efficiency."


GET OUT: Water works

by Jodi Lee Reifer
Friday May 16, 2008, 1:00 AM

As any know-it-all can attest, tap water comes from the faucet. Duh.

But true trivia-hounds know NYC's H2O is collected in the Catskills Mountains. One of the spots is called Neversink Reservoir. No joke.

The American Museum of Natural History leads a bus trip up there Saturday for a behind-the-scenes tour of the water works. It comes in conjunction with the museum's "Water: H2O = Life" exhibit.

Meet at 8:30 a.m. on the museum steps at Central Park West at 79th Street, Manhattan. The bus returns at 5 p.m. Fee: $25. Lunch included. Reservations necessary. 212-769-5100,


March 20, 2009: Fly Rod & Reel: Abel/Prosek new Super 3N Rainbow Trout Reel will benefit Theodore Gordon Flyfishers

Abel/Prosek new Super 3N Rainbow Trout Reel will benefit Theodore Gordon Flyfishers.

New Prosek Reel

A limited edition Abel Super 3N large arbor fly reel – in a rainbow trout design inspired by wildlife artist James Prosek – will benefit the Theodore Gordon Flyfishers, a New York-based conservation organization announced Don R. Swanson, president of the tackle manufacturer.
    One hundred of the individually colored and anodized reels will be produced.  Reels will be accompanied by a signed and numbered 11x14-inch gicleè print of a rainbow trout by Prosek.  The print number will correspond to the reel number.
    Reel numbers one and two together with corresponding gicleè prints and the original rainbow trout watercolor by Prosek are being donated to the Theodore Gordon Flyfishers by Abel and the artist.
    The new reel size from Abel for 2009 was designed with a tall frame and narrow spool for maximum retrieval rate.  At 4.7 ounces, the Super 3N or Narrow reel with a 1.50-inch hub has been precision machined for 3- and 4-weight flylines. 
    According to Swanson, the Abel Super 3N is “the perfect tool for spring creeks and technical meadow streams . . . it balances with virtually every split bamboo or high tech graphite rod currently in production as well as antique rods.” 
    Funds derived from the Abel reel and accompanying Prosek prints will be used by the Theodore Gordon Flyfishers “to carry out a large-scale stream conservation project on the famed Beaverkill in New York and some of its spawning tributaries: TGF Beaverkill Restoration,” according to TGF president Bert Darrow.  
    “Continuing our history of protecting cold water fisheries through litigation, oversight and labor, TGF is undertaking our largest hands-on initiative with this multi-year, multi-phase action to improve spawning access and habitat for both native and wild trout. It is a great challenge,” Darrow said. 
    Theodore Gordon Flyfishers is a not-for-profit angling organization, formed in 1963 by fly-fishing legends including Lee Wulff, Ernest Schwiebert and Arnold Gingrich. TGF was founded on American fly-fishing traditions to promote stream and river protection and self-sustainable salmonid populations through conservation, environmental oversight, activism, catch-and-release practices and education, added Darrow.
    The American-made Abel Super 3N is machined from cold finished 6061-T aircraft quality aluminum.  Reels are then precision machined (not die cast) on C.N.C. lathes and mills.
    Prosek, who has authored and/or illustrated Trout an Illustrated History, Trout of the World, Joe and Me, Fly-Fishing the 41st Parallel, Early Love and Brook Trout a children’s book, A Good Day’s Fishing, and his most recent children’s book, Bird, Butterfly, Eel has been called the James Audubon of fish.
    His rainbow trout gicleè print is an individually produced high resolution reproduction.      The collectors’ edition rainbow Super #3N reel to benefit the Theodore Gordon Flyfishers is priced at $750.  The reels are available at Authorized Abel Dealers. 
For information or sales, phone 866 511 744, e-mail [email protected] or visit 


March 16, 2009, Albany Times Union: Catskill advocates seek to keep state campground open

Catskill advocates seek to keep state campground open

A covered bridge is a highlight of the Beaverkill Campground.

As New York continues with its plans to close six state park campgrounds, at least one community is fighting back.

Sullivan County advocates are planning to lobby Albany to keep open the Beaverkill Campground, reports The River Reporter newspaper in Narrowsburg.

Four other campgrounds are slated to not open this summer in the Adirondacks, including Poke-O-Moonshine, Sharp Bridge, Point Comfort and Tioga Point.

But in Sullivan County, advocates say the closing of the campground will hurt the region financially. The campground is located in the mountains a few miles off Route 17, next to a covered bridge and a popular fishing creek. While the state says the campgrounds it’s closing are underutilized, advocates say the numbers at Beaverkill are skewed because of flooding in the few years previous.

To read the entire Beaverkill story, click here.


March 16, 2009, Science Daily: Tree Species Composition Influences Nitrogen Loss From Forests

Tree Species Composition Influences Nitrogen Loss From Forests

ScienceDaily (Mar. 16, 2009) — Throughout the world, nitrogen compounds are released to the atmosphere from agricultural activities and combustion of fossil fuels. These pollutants are deposited to ecosystems as precipitation, gases, and particles, sometimes many hundreds of miles downwind of their release point.

The Catskill Mountains of southeastern New York are a case in point—though they contain little in the way of industrial or agricultural pollution sources, they receive some of the highest nitrogen deposition rates in North America due to pollutants drifting in from midwestern power plants and east-coast cities.  

Anyone who grows plants for food, fiber, or flowers, knows that nitrogen is crucial for healthy plant growth. But excess nitrogen that leaches from a forest can acidify the soils and streams and decrease water quality. Prior research has shown that in addition to plant uptake, microbial processes are very important in retaining nitrogen in forest soils, and that forested watersheds in the Catskills vary markedly in the amount of nitrogen they can absorb and prevent from leaching away. So why would atmospheric nitrogen deposition lead to increased losses of nitrogen from some forests and not from others?

The research is focused on the tree species control on nitrogen cycling dynamics in the Catskill Mountains. Part of a long-term research project on nitrogen cycling in Catskill forests, this study utilized a stable isotope technique to determine how the microbes consume and transform nitrogen in the soil under stands of five different tree species that are common in the Catskills. Half of the forest plots also had experimental nitrogen fertilizer treatments.

The study showed that forests dominated by sugar maple are particularly susceptible to nitrogen leaching, while soils under red oak and hemlock forests are better at retaining nitrogen and preventing leaching losses. This difference was partially related to the ratio of carbon to nitrogen in the soils. The microbes under the different tree species vary considerably in their production of nitrate, the form of nitrogen that is most readily leached into streams. However, unlike previous studies from western forests, this study found very little consumption of nitrate by the soil microbes in any of the forest types. Because of the low nitrate consumption, the forest types that have high nitrate production (such as sugar maple) also have high nitrate losses via leaching. 

Lead author Lynn Christenson of Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, NY noted, “The most significant difference we see in nitrogen cycling under sugar maple trees compared to other tree species are much higher rates of nitrification, with very little consumption of this nitrate occurring in sugar maple soils. Why the soils and trees are not consuming this nitrogen is still a mystery.”

Project Leader Gary Lovett of the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY stated, “It is important for watershed managers to know that differences in tree species composition can influence nitrogen retention.  Some forest types are more likely to saturate with nitrogen than others.”

This study was funded by the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.


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