Sharing Concerns and Joys Helps Us All

15 Aug

Nature feeds me.  To run up a steep wooded trail and emerge high on a bluff overlooking an enormous inland sea, mere miles from my home, has been a great joy to me since I began high school.  Listening to the waves crash in consistent rhythm and to watch the sun as it sets upon the day brings me to the present moment and the wonder around us.  I’ve watched a solar eclipse with friends in these woods and spent many happy times with dogs and friends alike.  Each season offers something different, from snow covered beaches, to springtime melt and wildflowers, to summertime fun and vibrant Fall; our shore of Lake Ontario is an amazing location to be protected and savored.

An increase in news coverage and facilities, as well as the prevalence of social media has brought untold numbers of visitors to this fragile environment.  A local treasure, it is a fascinating place to witness quick changes in the landscape brought upon by erosion.  “Bluff mud or dirt” is a unique, colorful type of soil that can cake one’s shoes.  Pebbles beg for closer inspection and pockets or buckets often become filled with the rounded stones.  Visitor’s are directed not to remove stones from the beach but they often have a strong pull.

Sun shines upon Lake Ontario's blue waters as a dog walks along the varied shore, leaving paw prints in the clay.

Sun shines upon Lake Ontario’s blue waters as a dog walks along the varied shore, leaving paw prints in the clay.

Though I am happy to clean the beaches and shore, I’m bored by pictures of garbage myself! So, I’ve dug into my archives for some photos celebrating special times in varying spots in this stunning place.

Two dogs run in a happy play-date at water's edge. This was not taken at Chimney Bluffs where dogs are not allowed on the beach.

Two dogs run in a happy play-date at water’s edge. This was not taken at Chimney Bluffs where dogs are not allowed on the beach.

We impact others with purpose and by accident.  This balloon may have brought cheerful wishes to someone, but it came to rest upon the beach.  Balloons become tangled in nature and create traps for wildlife and clutter up the outdoors. Please use them with care if you must!

Balloons oftentimes get away from their owners and end up where they don't belong.

Balloons oftentimes get away from their owners and end up where they don’t belong.

Many people become overwhelmed by negative conditions or circumstances.  Sharing these troubles can be helpful.  This worry box was seen in Ithaca, NY at Gimme! Coffee two years ago.  A fourth grade class made it to gather coffee patrons worries and ease their discomfort.  How sweet!

Created by a class of fourth graders in Ithaca, NY, this worry box encourages coffee shop patrons to leave their worries behind.

Created by a class of fourth graders in Ithaca, NY, this worry box encourages coffee shop patrons to leave their worries behind.

"Join us in transforming this weight into hope."

“Join us in transforming this weight into hope.”

How does the worry box relate to Lake Ontario? Many of us DO worry about the lake and how the water affects us both positively and negatively.  Our behavior affects our environment.  We can change our behaviors for the better and share our concerns and successes.

Limiting use of plastic, in beverage bottles and shopping bags is a great place to start to change one’s own habits. Bottle caps, juice box straw sleeves and beverage containers are some of the most frequent debris left on beaches.

Join me August 20 at Chimney Bluffs at 9 am for a morning paddle and hike, before we clean the beaches of debris.  Contact me to reserve a kayak ASAP.  Great Lakes 2016 will be occurring on all of the Great Lakes as teams simultaneously test for micro plastics and clean shorelines.  Susan Peterson Gately‘s film, “Lake Ontario: A Quest for Hope” will also be showing in Fair Haven on August 20 at The American Legion from 4-7 pm.  Guest speaker Jean Siracusa of Happy Bee Heirloom Farm will be there.

Many people do care about the environment we share and each other.  Ursula Gaul Graf was one of those people.  Her legacy continues. A bench bearing her name invites visitors to sit on the west end of Chimney Bluffs State Park and to “Please Enjoy the View.”   This brass plate made me wonder who she was and led me to read about her life well-lived.  Please read her obituary and consider accept her invitation.

A brass nameplate shares Ursula Gaul Graf's wish for visitors to enjoy the view at Chimney Bluffs.

A brass nameplate on a bench beside Lake Ontario shares Ursula Gaul Graf’s wish for visitors to enjoy the view at Chimney Bluffs.

We Love It, Therefore We Work For It

15 Jul Brown dog looks into Lake Ontario.
Sun shines upon the pretty blue waters of Lake Ontario

As foamy waves recede, rounded pebbles are revealed before the blue waters of Lake Ontario

 

The Community Room at The Wolcott Public Library filled up with citizens on July 11, 2016 for a showing of Lake Ontario: A Quest for Hope, by local resident, Susan Peterson Gately.  Ages ranged from six to seventy eight.

Residents gathered at The Wolcott Library July 11 to learn more about Lake Ontario

Residents gathered at The Wolcott Library in Wayne County, NY July 11 to watch and discuss “Lake Ontario: A Quest For Hope by Susan Peterson Gately

Audience members listened attentively as the film explained numerous aspects of Lake Ontario and its watershed that can surprise visitors and residents alike.  From shoreline dynamics and geology to living aquatic species to industrial pollution, the film offers a comprehensive view of this body of water.  Roughly forty people attended the film on a hot, July evening.

The dangers of microplastics were explained by Dr. Sherri Mason of SUNY Fredonia.  In the film she explains how plastics absorb chemicals in the water which are desorbed into creatures who consume them.  This means humans are consuming concentrations of chemicals that are stored within  the tissues of organisms.  So, not only do plastics become stuck inside species and their habitats, they also concentrate pollutants.

“What can we do?” was a question repeated by viewers.  Lifestyle choices were discussed including reusable shopping bags.  Reusable containers for drinks and food also save resources and reduce pollution.  Growing one’s own food reduces carbon emissions created during transportation and can also reduce chemicals used in the growing process.  Buying in bulk and using reusable containers can save money, reduce waste and it feels great! Small changes in one’s behavior do add up and can motivate and influence others too.  @PlasticFreeJuly is active on Twitter offering enthusiastic advice as people aim to reduce their reliance on plastic this July.  The Plastic Bank, (@SocialPlastic on Twitter) intends to use plastics reclaimed from the oceans and recycled into usable goods like these sunglasses.  Read more about this company who intends to clean oceans while empowering people in this June 8, 2016 Forbes article, “Social Plastic Makes Headway in Haiti.”

Beaches along this part of Lake Ontario are made of sand, clay and brightly colored pebbles of great variety

Beaches along this part of Lake Ontario are made of sand, clay and brightly colored pebbles of great variety

For those who enjoy scrambling upon beaches or viewing the shoreline from boats, there will be at least one event this summer when people can come together to clean beaches and test for plastics.  On August 20, 2016 volunteers in the Wolcott, NY area will take part in an effort occurring simultaneously on all Great Lakes with Mission eXXpedition.

Small Plastic Fills A Bag Quickly As It Is Extracted From a Favorite Fishing Access Site

Small Plastic Fills A Bag Quickly As It Is Extracted From a Favorite Fishing Access Site on Lake Ontario in upstate New York.

Paul Baines of the Great Lakes Commons was on hand to share the concept of “Commons.” Commons refers to things which offer value to others and which require care, like bodies of water or algebraic equations.  His group suggests that the Great Lakes be governed by the people who share the shores and waters for their mutual benefit.  Though a unique idea to many in attendance, The New York Times featured an article with a similar notion yesterday, July 13, 2016. Read the full article here: http://nyti.ms/29Hdomc

A short excerpt from the article reads: Chris Finlayson, New Zealand’s attorney general, said the issue was resolved by taking the Maori mind-set into account. “In their worldview, ‘I am the river and the river is me,’” he said. “Their geographic region is part and parcel of who they are.”

It was an honor to introduce Mr. Paul Baines to Lake Ontario from the rural shores of Wolcott, NY where the immensity of the lake impresses quietly.  Our aim is to connect people, to each other and to the lands where we work and play.  Please consider how your actions and choices affect the lake whose shores we live upon and join us in celebration of what can be done!

Brown Dog Trots Happily Upon Lake Ontario's Shore

 

Mission EXXpedition Leads Simultaneous Great Lakes Events

20 Jun

2015-04-20 19.00.09

Adventures in the Finger Lakes will be hosting an event in partnership with Mission EXXpedition at/or near Chimney Bluffs along Lake Ontario’s shore in Wayne County, NY on August 20, 2016.
Participants will collect water samples for analysis of microplastics. Volunteers are also encouraged to clean beaches and shoreline.

Bluffs constantly change. A previously safe perch loses stability and can easily give way.

Bluffs constantly change. A previously safe perch loses stability and can easily give way.

Mission EXXpedition is an organization with crews largely comprised of women, traveling our waterways creating documentaries, collecting data and sharing their discoveries and insights.  Learn more about this group and details about the upcoming Great Lakes event here.

Sun Reflects on Flat Blue Water

A brown Labrador retriever, named Hope, sips water while a sun sets and reflects upon the flat waters.

Local author and sailor, Susan Peterson Gately will be showing her film, “Lake Ontario: A Quest for Hope” in Fair Haven on August 20 also.  The title is not a deliberate homage to the dog but it still works.

Befitting Adventures in the Finger Lakes, there will be healthy food on hand, water crafts and possibly lodging.  We will pause to come together and celebrate our shared environment.  More details will follow.  Please communicate your interest in participating via email, blog comment, Twitter, etc.   Thank you so much! It is sure to be fun!

Volunteers Clean Stream and Woods to “Embrace the Lake”

9 Apr

Happy Volunteers

The Cayuga Lake Watershed Network and Adventures in the Finger Lakes co-sponsored a cleanup event on April 2, 2016 to kick off a month of “Embrace the Lake” events.

Our goal was to remove trash from the designated stream and woods with hopes of restoring the ecosystem to a healthier condition.

Blue skies and puffy clouds top this view of a stream without trash.

Blue skies and puffy clouds top this view of a stream without trash.

Volunteers from as far as Rochester, NY gathered to harvest trash from the stream and woods on a Saturday with ever changing weather.

Harvesting rusty metal, wire and plastic

Collected objects include: a tire with rusting rim, plastic sheets, long ribbons of packing ties, springs from a chair, rusting barbed wire, plastic jugs, glass beer bottles, plastic liquor bottles, a shredded segment of a truck tire, a large plastic bowl, a syringe, squares of rusting sheet metal, a plastic tarp…

Trash collected includes many types of bottles, plastic and metal.

Plastic and glass bottles, aluminum cans, metal machinery parts and plastic debris are shown here after being collected from the woods.

 

The formerly sighted and documented satellite dish-was gone! Did an artist pick it up to be used in a sculpture?  A casual mention of the discarded equipment piqued the interest of a local artist.  Further details as to the whereabouts of this dish will be reported here. Enthusiasm for up-cycling is nearly silly but it is far preferred to occupying space in a landfill, hillside or stream flowing to Cayuga Lake.

GreenStar Co-op treated our volunteers to healthy snacks which did prove key to uplifting morale during the dirty, tough work involved. Mocha Madness was the group favorite-chocolate covered espresso beans, nuts and chocolate.  Sincere thanks to GreenStar and all who came together to care for this neglected area in the watershed of Cayuga Lake!

Volunteers work together to clear this stream of trash

Volunteers were sure to be sore the next day after pushing, pulling and moving garbage. Many adjourned to Bellwether for tastings and a picnic before heading to Taughannock for a quick hike.

 

 

Trash pollutes a stream on a wooded hillside descending to Cayuga Lake.

Polluted stream flows through woods towards Cayuga Lake, miles north of Taughannock Falls State Park. (Photo before cleanup 4/2/2016.

April 2 2016 cleanup

Adventures Aren’t Always Glamorous!

22 Mar

This adventure is going to start out ugly.  Miles north of Taughannock Falls State Park on Rte. 89 in the Finger Lakes region of New York State, a littered roadside pull off area greets visitors.  A welcome sight after many miles on this straight road through farm country, one finds all kinds of trash feet from one’s vehicle.

2016-03-20 14.58.18

Trash resting in a stream beside a roadside pull off greets visitors.

Discarded Styrofoam containers, bags of trash and rusted cans decorate this area at the top of a steep slope descending to Cayuga Lake.

This scene is disgusting and certainly does not send visitors a message that we care about the land we inhabit and share.  Adventures in the Finger Lakes and the Cayuga Lake Watershed Network are co-sponsoring a clean up event on April 2, 2016 from 12-2pm at this roadside pull off.  GreenStar Co-op has donated healthy snacks to our volunteers. Gloves and trash bags will be provided.    Volunteers should dress appropriately for variable spring weather conditions and be certain to have safe, appropriate footwear.  Please be sure to bring clean drinking water and maybe a friend or relative.

This area has a great deal to offer visitors! Bellewether Ciders is minutes north of the pull off area on Rte. 89 and Taughannock Falls State Park is two or three miles south.  Volunteers are encouraged to bring a picnic and explore the local area, possibly with a new friend or two.

This post ends with more garbage yet we look forward to sharing reports and pictures of our cleanup on April 2.  Contact me if you would like to participate and for further details.

Broken glass is dangerous.

A broken beer bottle blends into the ground cover.

A satellite dish lies in the grass at a popular pull off area, miles north of Taughannock Falls State Park

A discarded satellite dish lies in the grass at this popular pull off on Rte. 89, on the west side of Cayuga Lake.

 

 

 

 

Discovering New Paths, Roy H. Park Preserve

1 Dec

Though the state parks near Ithaca, NY are amazing, I’ve been seeking new vistas and paths. Recently, I visited the Roy H. Park Preserve in Dryden, NY, a Finger Lakes Land Trust Property.  Connecting Yellow Barn and Hammond Hill State Forests with Cornell University Old 600 Natural Area, this preserve serves as a link in FLLT’s Emerald Necklace Project. The Emerald Necklace project is a mission to preserve contiguous habitat surrounding the southern end of Cayuga Lake.  Seen from an aerial perspective the conserved green spaces would form a deep u-shape, similar to an emerald necklace.

With over 30 preserves open to the public, conservation and management are key factors of the FLLT’s operations. The Roy H. Park Preserve is the first FLLT area to connect two state forests. Yellow Barn and Hammond Hill State Forests are substantial locations with 1289 and 3618 acres respectively. New York State Department of Conservation websites offer important trail, history and safety information. Ideal for fishing, hiking, snowmobiling and hunting in some areas, these forests were planted by Civilian Conservation Corps labor under President Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal. According to Yellow Barn Forest DEC website, Camp S-125 planted between 400,000-600,000 Scotch pine, European larch, Norway spruce, red pine, white pine, jack pine, red oak and Austrian pine seedlings.

FLLT’s relatively new website, http://fllt.org/, offers maps, articles, event information, volunteer needs and conservation successes.  Signage from the kiosks at the preserves is also available on the website.  Familiarizing oneself with trail maps and the information provided before heading to the preserve would be an ideal way to prepare for a safe and fun experience.

The site credits many contributors for their involvement in the establishment of the Roy H. Park Preserve, including a significant contribution by the daughter of the preserve’s namesake.  Frank and Blythe Baldwin’s work with FLLT to protect this area creates numerous benefits for humans, the environment and wildlife.

Two parking lots on Irish Settlement Road in Dryden, NY provide convenient access to the preserve. The northern parking area of the Roy H. Park Preserve is adjacent to “Howard’s Walk,” a wooden boardwalk leading over the marsh, named after local conservation and literacy advocate Howard Hartnett.  The grey boardwalk opens up to a wide sitting area, ideal for absorbing the surrounding wetlands, or perhaps reading a book.

We looked out over the marsh from the boardwalk, observing wide, muddy trails that led to the water, baring witness to the labor intensive habits of beavers. Beaver dams and lodges kept us busy considering their motives and activities. The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife website answered many questions about beaver’s habits, yet inspired even more interest. According to Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, these semi-aquatic rodents averaging forty pounds live in colonies that may contain 2-12 individuals. The colony is usually made up of the adult breeding pair, the kits of the year and kits of the previous year or years. This preserve lies beside a busy highway and sadly we saw a deceased beaver in the roadway.

The Finger Lakes Trail heads east into dense forest, just after the boardwalk ends. Hunting season is open and while gun shots rang from the west, we chose to return to our car.  Though dressed for the cold we were not wearing bright clothing. Other hikers wearing blaze orange set out on the red Finger Lakes Trail with dogs on leashes.

At the southern parking area we were greeted by another fabulous kiosk of important information regarding safety precautions and best practices while at the preserve. A detailed map of the trail system helps one to become oriented within the wooded surroundings.   We chose the blue trail leading to an overlook of Six Mile Creek. The woods were quiet on a Sunday morning as we followed the gentle, wide paths through a variety of trees. Two interpretive signs were posted beside the trail naming at least two species.

A view of the creek and a large green pool was an especially interesting natural area after the flat trails through the forest. Our next discovery, surprised and delighted me so, I almost want to offer a spoiler alert! The creek’s edges display heart-shaped rocks, carefully placed by past visitors. Hearts of all sizes, fashioned over time by wind and water, sit in this natural art installation.  Standing in the creek, I wondered who made this master-piece. I’m grateful to those who conserved these spaces and encourage you to explore these local resources. Enjoy!

Heart shaped stones adorn creek edges in an art installation made by both man and nature.

Heart shaped stones adorn creek edges in an art installation made by both man and nature. Photo by Kristen Moore.

Here and Now

23 Nov

Current events worldwide seem surreal when one looks around our area and observes rural agricultural lands, immense clean lakes, forests, fields and parks etc.

Our cultural and natural resources are incredibly numerous, yet there are threats of all types.  The 2015 Annual Research Conference of the Finger Lakes Institute at Hobart and William Smith Colleges focused upon regional environmental threats. On November 12, scientists and researchers gathered from across NY to share current findings and project successes and difficulties.

The collective of dedicated researchers and policy makers present offers our region current research concerning the health of our lakes with respect to mercury contaminants, nutrient pollution and invasive species. SUNY Brockport, Cornell University and Hobart and William Smith Colleges all shared current findings. Yet, up and coming researchers were also recognized throughout the conference.  Bob Johnson of the STOP Hydrilla Task Force noted that hydrilla was first detected within Cayuga Lake by a high school student conducting research on the Floating Classroom! (For those unfamiliar with the Floating Classroom please check out the link or get on the boat for a unique hands-on research experience.  I’m excited for my first trip aboard this Cayuga Lake research vessel.)

A student poster session offered an opportunity to view recent research and speak with the researchers.  Ranging from domestic landscaping plant surveys to data collected by FLI’s Watercraft Steward Program, it was rewarding to see so much work being done to ascertain the health of our environment and the potential impacts of our behaviors. The atmosphere of collaboration and active study offers much promise for the area.

Reports of mercury contamination and round gobies were offset by a positive report concerning hydrilla in Cayuga Lake.  Identification of hydrilla in Tinker Pond in Henrietta prompted a little head-scratching.  This small body of water is quite land locked.

This has been a month of travel and will be for many over the upcoming holiday week.  Enjoy family, friends, safe travels and the outdoors. Below are a few recent photographs of the beauty all around us.

Happy Thanksgiving!!

 

Rainbow over eastern ridge of Cayuga Lake.

A faint rainbow arks into the clouds from a rosy horizon on the eastern ridge of Cayuga Lake. Photo captured at the Finger Lakes Cider House by Kristen Moore.

 

 

Dog walking through shallow waters along shore of Lake Ontario.

Beloved brown dog walking through shallow waters along shore of Lake Ontario.

Pink skies and waters create stunning scenery over Lake Ontario in Huron, NY.

Pink skies and waters create stunning scenery over Lake Ontario in Huron, NY.