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

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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.

Inconspicuous Killer

5 Sep
Brown dog stands in calm, blue water.

Hope, a chocolate lab mix,  looks for fun in a favorite play spot.

September begins quietly, with a heavy heart and golden leaves.  Avid explorer and enthusiastic playmate, my dog Hope fell victim to Lyme disease and complications from Lyme disease this summer.  A vibrant three year old, she was as active as ever until she began a sharp decline.  Visits to various veterinarians and attempts to treat her were unable to thwart the disease processes within her.

My previous post entitled “June!” warned of dangers linked with adventures in the Finger Lakes.  Though wary of ticks and other dangers present in our local environment, my prevention practices did not keep my pet from becoming exposed to this deadly virus.  A visit to Tompkins CountyNY.gov  reveals staggering statistics regarding the increase in Lyme cases in humans since 2007.  There is cause for alarm and vigilance in protecting ourselves! Though there is a vaccine available for dogs, some people are uncertain of its efficacy or safety.  Given the prevalence of the Lyme virus in our area of the Finger Lakes prevention is a practice to be investigated fully immediately.

Dressing appropriately and routinely checking for ticks is necessary but one must do more.  Applying an insect repellent to clothing is a wise choice.  Ingesting garlic or turmeric has also been suggested.  Eliminating my exposure to the outdoors is impossible, yet peak times for tick activity and cycles should be considered.  Running and lying in tall grasses should be avoided like suntanning with baby oil. Once these activities were enjoyed but now the dangers are simply too high.

Hope was likely exposed to the disease that killed her on one of the walks we shared.  The few moments of intense freedom, when we retreated to the woods to run free and absorb the sights, smells and terrain together.  She run’s in my mind’s eye, up ahead on the trail, looking back to be sure I am following.

Reflections of a brown dog.

A ripple surrounds a brown dog as she looks into the clear, still waters of  Lake Ontario.

June!

15 Jun

June in the Finger Lakes is exciting! Happy to see green hills, ferns, flowers, trees with leaves, fresh produce and students anticipating summer, it is easy to forget the threats we face individually and on a larger scale. Ticks carrying Lyme disease are silent, tiny enemies that need to be avoided with diligence. Invasive species threaten the balance of ecosystems and chemicals from a multiplicity of sources can contaminate our fresh water resources. Learn what you can do to enjoy the outdoors safely and encourage the health of our local and global environment.

The Finger Lakes Institute of Hobart and William and Smith Colleges is doing great work in our region, engaging students and communities to become aware of their environment and ability to impact it negatively and positively.  Working as a Watercraft Steward for FLI allowed me to train with leading educators and others committed to preventing the transport and spread of invasive species.  “Clean, drain and dry” became more than a slogan for thoughtful boaters and more of a step by step directive for those who may be contributing to the spread of invasive species without even knowing it.

Read June’s monthly newsletter to discover the variety of projects FLI’s staff members are involved in around the area.  FLI Happenings

Individuals and small groups are also working to shed light on environmental concerns and to bring people together to discuss impacts and solutions.  Susan Peterson Gately is an environmental educator, sailor and author who has launched a KickStarter campaign to fund a video about Lake Ontario from her vessel, the Sarah B.  She hopes to share facts about the lake, current pollutants and possible improvements that can be made to improve the health of the Great Lake north of the Finger Lakes.  View her campaign,  Lake Ontario A Love Story and consider supporting this passionate scientist and advocate now.

Lindsay Parsons Biodiversity and Nature Preserve.

Lindsay Parsons Biodiversity and Nature Preserve.

Meadows and forests feed my sanity yet enjoying them must be done with care as Lyme disease carrying ticks are prevalent in the Finger Lakes region of NY.  Dressing sensibly is a necessity, even though one may prefer shorts to long pants, creating a barrier to ticks is logical.  High socks, proper shoes, a tucked in shirt and a hat are wise gear to choose.  One may also apply topical deterrents such as essential oils of lavender and/or eucalyptus.  Dogs can share in the protection if safely applied to a bandanna to be worn around the neck.  Essential oils can be strong so do not overuse them!

Permethrin was recommended to me this morning for tick prevention.  A quick search brought up product details and other suggestions that may be more gentle than those applications containing DEET.  What have you found to be useful in warding off ticks and other pests?

As you get out and enjoy this amazing place to visit and call home, please do so with care.  We are connected in ways we may not yet understand. Have fun!

 

Creme de la creme

18 Dec

Homemade triple berry pie brought back the vibrant flavors of summer. Summer in the Finger Lakes is delicious! Wild blackberries, corn on the cob, yellow squash, ice cream, cheese, wine, beer and more.  There is so much to enjoy this time of year one wishes the season would linger much longer. Fall brings a different blend of abundance that is a fine consolation.

Not only are the taste buds happy with premium local food and drink but the visual aesthetics of the Finger Lakes region are satisfying.  In especially rural areas, neat fields cover the landscape in grid-like patterns, only being interrupted by vineyards, dairy farms and the lakes. Keuka Lake proved to be an excellent locale to enjoy scenery, good times with friends and the bounty of the surrounding hills.

Domaine LeSeurre one of Keuka Lake’s newest wineries is producing amazing wine via a blend of New and Old World wine making techniques. Celine and Sebastion LeSeurre originated in France, met in New Zealand and launched their winery in Wayne, NY alongside Keuka Lake. They recently released their first red wine, a Pinot Noir, that I was happy to try during a recent stop to their tasting room.

Domaine LeSeurre released their first red wine earlier this month, a stunning Pinot Noir.

Domaine LeSeurre released their first red wine in 2014, a stunning Pinot Noir.

Visiting friends were thrilled to try this amazing new Pinot Noir! An enormous full moon rose above the hillside to cast its reflection upon the lake as we enjoyed the fine wine of Domaine LeSeure and an assortment of local cheeses from Heron Hill’s Blue Heron Cafe.

The full orange moon begins to rise over the Bluff and reflect upon the water.  Abandoned chairs hold wet towels.

The full orange moon begins to rise over the Bluff and reflect upon the water. Abandoned chairs hold wet towels.

Keuka Lake becomes quiet as the full moon rises and night advances.

Keuka Lake becomes quiet as the full moon rises and night advances.

Colder temperatures helped turn my attention to Coltivare in Ithaca.  This farm to bistro project, launched by the TC3 foundation in downtown Ithaca plans to be a leading example in hospitality and culinary operations.  A sixty acre farm located in Dryden, near Tompkins Cortland Community College, will provide much of the produce used in the restaurant, Coltivare.  The farm will also provide experience for students in the Sustainable Farming Systems and Culinary programs. This unique project emphasizes sustainability throughout the agriculture, culinary and design practices.  Re-purposed barn board and brick dominate the interior of the dining space, while tin and stainless steel lighting fixtures offer pleasant  accents. The inviting atmosphere may help beat cabin fever while the impressive menu is sure to delight.  13 local beers are on tap, and wines from leading local wineries are certainly available too. (Plans for 3 local ciders on tap are in the works too!)

Winter in the Finger Lakes can be rough. Cold temperatures or heavy snowfall make travel brutal at times. Err on the side of caution but consider the changing weather and seasons as opportunities to explore and have new experiences.  Whether you are inspired to read, snowshoe or snowboard, here in the Finger Lakes the options are endless!

Looking Back and Looking Forward

30 Apr

On this wet, last day of April in upstate NY,  I’m pleased to recall an assortment of fun recent events and to forget snow for now, while enjoying the blossoming wild flowers.  Crimson and white trillium brightened my morning last week at a favorite hiking spot.

Trillium bud.

Trillium bud.

Mother Nature offered a bit of warmth and sunshine before many April showers. The peepers came out to close our Saturday barbeque with song, while a hazy moon sat high above our campfire and wooded pond.  We shook off our social skills like our warmer weather clothes, only to retreat once again indoors.

One wet morning I happened upon the Montezuma Audubon Center on Rte. 89 north of Savannah.  My pup and I explored a new hiking trail that looped around north of the center.  Our curiosity was heightened as we looked around each bend, through the trees, at the forest floor and up at the sky.  Our impromptu visit was so refreshing that the center and its grounds may be one of my new favorite places! This Saturday, May 3, a Wildlife Festival will be held at the Montezuma Audubon Center.  Live animals including a Bald Eagle named Liberty will help attendees learn more about wildlife. Find out more details here.

My tolerance for weather may be much greater than many others.  Winter hikes and rainy treks are a reality for some, for others such experiences are far from fun.  Plans for a beach cleanup, 4OG,  along the shore of Lake Ontario were postponed due to rain.  Hopefully a bit of sun and warmer weather will make our event more fun for the little ones and their parents.  Many thanks to GreenStar Co-op for their financial support! It only seems natural to feed volunteers who come together to clean our shores.  GreenStar is committed to sustainability and our local food system.  Apples from Little Tree Orchard in Newfield, filled my basket and I was awarded 2 wooden nickels for bringing my own bags.  I tossed the tokens in bins marked with the names of local charities.  I know the Cayuga Dog Rescue scored 5 cents that trip.

Excursions around the region have offered as much variety as the weather patterns.  “Lean Forward,” a digital art show at The Mill Art Center and Gallery, entranced me with the breadth of techniques and subjects.  Long-time fans of digital art will appreciate the advanced techniques and sentiments expressed via digital media in this show.  A second and third visit are high on my list of things to do.  Dinner at The Rabbit Room made this show’s opening reception even more rewarding.  The Parisienne gnocchi is one of my favorite dishes anywhere.

Ryan William Vineyard was also an unexpected stop yet I am quite thankful to have visited this farm winery on the south-eastern side of Seneca Lake.  The wines offer complexity and flavor that hint at the care given to both the grapes and wine production process. The Late Harvest Riesling amazed with apricot flavor and residual sugar near 17%!  This wine does well in the bottle, making it a wise choice for special occasions.

There is so much to be enjoyed in the Finger Lakes! What are you looking forward to as summer nears?

Tea Time at The Rabbit Room, Annual Mad Hatter Tea Party Mania

16 Feb
James DeMarco striking a pose in his handmade hat.

James DeMarco striking a pose in his handmade hat.

Tamara Stopinksi knows how to throw a tea party! This past Sunday, I entered The Lower Mill in Honeoye Falls, with a feeling of wonder, after following a queen bedecked in black and red with very high silver heels, from the parking area.  Inside, costumes ranged from ridiculous to traditional brunch attire.  The bartender’s ears were ten inches long, the hostess wore a mustache and lime green pants while others were dressed as specific characters from Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis C. Carroll. Alison DeMarco was stunning as the Snow Princess, reigning over a court of Mad Hatters.

Brunch at The Rabbit Room surpassed my many Sunday excursions into breakfast at lunch time.  This annual event infused the cold February morning with zaniness and flavor.  My weakness for French Toast didn’t stand a chance with the Wonderland French Toast! Made with chocolate chip bread and donned in maple syrup, the toast had a slight chipotle kick that balanced perfectly with the accompanying strawberries and pineapple.  A spicy bloody Mary complimented the meal while The Ghost Peppers played nearby, in full costume.

Loose-leaf teas were sipped from fine china tea cups before visiting the upstairs.  At this point, I felt a bit like Alice, with few assumptions, and no idea what I might encounter next.

Artisans had arranged their creations in a crescent shape around the outer walls of the gallery.  Featured artists included Amy Brand, Pam Nakoski of Vintage Soul, Amy Borelli and Janet Zorhorsky. Tamara, the owner of Talulah’s Fancy and Friends, was cheerfully moving about her shop and the gallery as she helped guests and greeted friends.  This Sunday was the 4th Annual Mad Hatter Tea Party and marked the anniversary of her store opening.  The first party was documented beautifully in the Autumn 2012 issue of the national magazine, “Where Women Create” with photographs of Nancy Wiley’s Wonderland inspired creations and the acclaimed doll artist’s

Little Red Riding Hood. By The Brothers Grimm, Illustrated by Nancy Wiley

Little Red Riding Hood. By The Brothers Grimm, Illustrated by Nancy Wiley

interpretation of Little Red Riding Hood.  Mrs. Stopinski looks forward to the appearance of Ms. Wiley’s Cinderella next year at the 5th Annual Tea Party.

Amy Brand’s felt creations, Sweet Pea Felts, continue to steal many hearts! Her interpretations of animals melt away winter blues and conjure images of bliss and wonder.  Her scenes seem to capture moments in the lives of her characters, be it a chipmunk with his acorn or a fox busy painting at his easel.  Cards, characters and 2 dimensional pieces offer a variety of options for her fans, new and old.  Like Ms. Wiley, Amy Brand’s passion for her craft and creations nearly guarantees we will see more from her.

As The Mill Art Center and Gallery and the inhabitants of The Lower Mill attract artists and patrons alike, events like the annual Mad Hatter Tea Party will amaze and inspire.  Many thanks to Talulah’s Fancy for providing a fun, festive family friendly activity during this cold and gray time of year in upstate New York!

WinterFest at PollyWogg Holler

3 Feb

In spite of the brutal cold, WinterFest at PollyWoggHoller was heart-warming.

Having fun at WinterFest

Having fun at WinterFest

This past Sunday, nearly 300 people made the trek to PollyWogg Holler, an Eco-Retreat located in Allegheny County, to enjoy music from Shaky Stage.  Good cheer was in the air as guests danced and enjoyed the afternoon.  Patrons wore multiple layers of clothing, many in full snow suits or down coats. Bonfires burned in a snow covered meadow as the band played from a diverse sound book.

There was much to enjoy at “The Holler” this weekend. One active guest, Jonah DeMarco stayed busy during his entire visit, brushing snow from benches, making piles of snow and sliding down hills.  The warmth of the main lodge beckoned cold guests.  It was an unforgettable luxury to sit in chairs made by Bill Castle, eating fresh wood-fired pizza and sipping Cabernet Franc from Eagle Crest Vineyards with friends.

The extreme temperatures and snowy roads may have amplified the joy of fellowship at this annual event.  It took careful planning and a positive attitude to enjoy this gathering. Like many others, I too, am already looking forward to next year’s WinterFest at PollyWogg Holler!

Proud father, Andy Penner, with sons, Jonah and Jimmy DeMarco.

Proud father, Andy Penner, with sons, Jonah and Jimmy DeMarco.