Tag Archives: #ILOVENY

L.O.V.E. = LAKE ONTARIO’S VALUED ECOSYSTEMS

14 Jun

L.O.V.E. = LAKE ONTARIO’S VALUED ECOSYSTEMS.

BY KRISTEN MOORE

Sun shines over Lake Ontario from Scott's Bluffs

A sunny afternoon glimmers from the eastern edge of Scott’s Bluffs.

When winter seemed like it would never end, this acronym came to me. Clean water has always been important to me, especially growing up beside Lake Ontario.

The lands along Lake Ontario’s southern shore are abundant with wildlife ranging from Bald Eagles, Ospreys and Great Blue Herons to turtles, trout and trillium. As an adventure educator, I hope experiential learning will captivate people and foster healthy behaviors including outdoor exercise, recreation and stewardship.

The Red Creek Marsh Unit is an area I’ve enjoyed exploring for years. Reading books in the shade of tall oaks, kayaking, picnicking, clearing litter and invasive species; I know it well. Mute swans and Canada geese rely upon these waters, as do turtles, beavers, raptors and others.

Still marsh waters foster huge reflection of sky and greenery

Still waters create a mirror of the sky, with a single lily pad showing off in the foreground.

Sunlight and white, puffy clouds reflect upon a marsh's waters beside the nose of a green kayak

White, puffy clouds and sunshine reflect from the waters of the Red Creek Marsh Unit.

Water chestnut is due to grow in here soon. Hydra algal blooms have been a problem in the past. Poison oak here has harmed me, along with wild parsnip? This wild area is a treasure to marvel and care for.

Sodus Bay, with Chimney Bluffs to the east and Crackerbox Palace/Alasa Farms to the south; the bay and lake have defined life in this area for quite a long time! Historic Huron and the Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum both have artifacts and information about our local families and culture that demonstrate great richness of people and environment.

A black horse named "Double" looks over the fence at the photographer.

“Double” looks at the camera, perhaps wondering if baby carrots are to be enjoyed today.

Stone Bench and View at Alasa Farms

This stone bench sits beside the eastern pastures at Alasa Farms. An animal sanctuary and Genesee Land Trust property, Cracker Box Palace is a gift to many species.

What can we do for L.O.V.E.? We can participate in invasive species removal events. We can clean spaces of litter, take pictures & video-while posting on social media. We can conduct watershed education with events like kayaking with local historians and conservation leaders. We can explore the geology of our beaches and bluffs, igniting people to learn about our glacial history and earth sciences. We can help Randy maintain trails at Crackerbox Palace/Alasa Farms. We can raise pints from Lunkenheimer’s to support the Genesee Land Trust and Sodus Bay Lighthouse Museum!

These spaces thrill me with their variety, rhythms and life. To me they are L.O.V.E., Lake Ontario’s Valued Ecosystems.

Oh, ho, ho December!

14 Dec

The holiday bells are ringing and I’m squeezing a post in while I wait for my car to be serviced. Festive gatherings are making me jubilant and inspired!

As sugary delights taunt me, I’m adding in additional exercise and fun. Socializing and being physically active increase energy unlike the negative effects of too many holiday treats.

At a recent party, another guest revealed that he had followed my blog but he had never received it! It was a friendly reminder to get back here.

Joining the National Audubon Society as an environmental educator this spring has been an exhilarating realization of my work and education. Working with Audubon to achieve our mission to conserve habitats for birds in the face of climate change is tangible work of great value for so many reasons. Delivering educational programming to children and adults at the Seneca Meadows Education Center and Wetlands Preserve is a true delight and honor. Audubon’s work teaching people about birds and how to help them directly achieves the goal I’ve state here; to connect people to the places where we work and play.

A volunteer potluck dinner at the Montezuma Audubon Center this month surpassed my expectations. Guests were surprised with a feast of venison and veggie chilis, chicken french, ordeurves, mashed potatoes and numerous desserts; including cream puffs shaped as swans! We talked about rare bird sightings and favored nature preserves, how fun our field trips are and the latest environmental news. Volunteer work ranges from gardening flower beds, running a store register to setting up and breaking down for events. The opportunities to meet others sharing the same interests and to learn are abundant. MARSH works in the Montezuma Wetlands complex area, while I often arrange events along Lake Ontario’s shore, cleaning beaches and collecting water chestnuts, for example. Working alongside others interested in helping birds, increasing positive feelings of engagement and widening our understanding of issues is proactive.

Many volunteer opportunities are in the warmer seasons but there may still be opportunities to contribute and get outside. Researching these organizations and learning about their work can help us remember Spring will come again!

Another place that protects water quality and provides habitat for wildlife and rescued domestic animals is Cracker Box Palace at Alasa Farms, on the southern shore of Sodus Bay on Lake Ontario. An animal sanctuary situated on a Genesee Land trust property, this historic farm is comprised of diverse lands beside the bay. Over 200 rescued farm animals call this property home, relying on three or four staff members and numerous volunteers. A network of trails is available for visitors to experience protected lands including bay views, forest paths and waterfalls in a stream salmon rely upon.

Amazing places surround us, ripe for our discovery and stewardship. Wild, silly, creative people are all around, yearning to engage-to be involved, be valuable and valued-to share joy. These gifts of the season, I wish for us all.

For those who might need a tangible gift, South Shore Artisans in Fair Haven, NY is full of locally made creations. Drop in to find durable pottery, colorful, joyous paintings, and much more throughout the co-op’s three rooms. Avoiding waste and supporting local artists are actions with more benefit than we may remember. Happy Holidays!

 

Yoga Hike at Sterling Nature Center Invigorates Body and Mind

20 Jun

Participants look north over Lake Ontario as they strike a yoga pose on top of MacIntyre Bluffs at Sterling Nature Center in Sterling, NY.

Our busy lives can affect our health in many ways.  Therefore it is particularly important to develop and maintain a wellness practice that will enhance one’s physical vitality and resilience to stress.  Recently, I was thrilled to team up with Karen Haas and Susan Gately to facilitate a yoga hike at Sterling Nature Center in Sterling, NY.

Teachers from Red Creek gathered at the 1,428 acre nature preserve to follow yoga instructor Karen Haas of Bayview Wellness Center in Fair Haven, NY in yoga poses throughout the Cayuga County park. Lake Ontario sailor and scholar, Susan Gately provided insight into glacial geology, erosion of the bluffs and beach, beaver activity, bird identification and more.  A treasure of a property along the shoreline of the Great Lake between New York and Canada, attendees practiced yoga and hiked in many different settings.

A meditative walk through a quiet forest set the tone for yoga beside the lake.  Group poses, chosen to match the location, warmed participants up before a quick walk along the sandy beach and up the steep trail to MacIntyre Bluffs. Practicing poses high up over the lake in perfect June weather was a spectacular experience! We placed our arms upon each other’s shoulders and moved into a group eagle pose, as if we were going to soar to Canada!! Liberation, joy and slight pain were all bursting through this part of our session.

Participants took pictures before descending the trail to the beach to observe our surroundings. Evidence of beaver activity drew us away from the pebble beach to look over the tip of a marsh adjoining the lake shore.

A tree stump and logs shows evidence of the labor of beavers.


Exploring and researching new locations and activities is a favorite part of my work.  Before developing this walk, I was unacquainted with this nature preserve.  Now that I know how to get here and I’m aware of the numerous and diverse trails and waterways, I’ll be sure to return!

If you do go to the Sterling Nature Center, don’t rely upon Google Maps.  Numerous guidance tools may be wise, including a paper map.  Trail maps are likely available onsite at the kiosk beside the parking area and can be viewed here.

Participants reach to the sky while overlooking Lake Ontario’s blue waters during a recent yoga hike.

 

B is for Butterfly

28 Apr

There is a little boy named Cedric who shouts my name three times when he sees me.  His joy for life is incredible and refreshing.  He knows all of his letters and just turned 3. One of his favorite books came from the Family Reading Partnership, located just outside of Ithaca, NY.  “Love Those Letters” introduces children to letters, encouraging practice of sounds and providing matching imagery.  Cedric or Ceddy quotes the book in conversation, saying things like “J is for Jumping.”

              Cedric enjoys a round hay bale on a chilly day.

In the book, B is for Bike, but as butterflies have been on my mind since January, at least, I realized, B is for butterfly.  Beyond their personal or metaphorical symbolism, butterflies are a unique part of the web of life.  Discussing our upcoming efforts to support butterflies, I discovered many people are very concerned about bees. Also, bugs, like ladybugs.  Chattering away one day about butterfly efforts, an entomologist from Cornell University told me she could explain why ladybugs are ‘more important(?!)’ than butterflies.  I’m still waiting to hear her contributions to the discussion but I began hearing a buzz in my ear from all of these Bs.

A force known as Bill Castle, co-owner of Pollywogg Holler passed away recently.  He was happy to hear my ideas about butterflies and he loved to host people. B is for Bill and Barb, his beloved wife.

    Bill Castle poses with a bee at his golden wedding anniversary.

I’ve always worked in hospitality and tourism, often in the world of wine.  This year, I’m on the east side of Cayuga Lake at Aurora Ale & Lager Co.  The views are amazing and the beer is fantastic!  The nano-brewery has a casual atmosphere where people come to relax, enjoying time at a slower pace than typical of our hectic lives.  Musicians are beginning to gather and regulars are visiting us often.

Guests do get hungry, so I’m hoping to arrange for a caterer specializing in barbecue to visit the brewery. B is for beer, barbecue and brewery.

Catching up with a friend, I told him my ideas about bees, and bs.  He said he is building bat houses and planting his favorite trees, birch trees…Really?! Ha, ha, b is for bats and birch trees, too?!

The synergy of interests and ambitions kind of amazes me! In these difficult times, it is the simple things that can inspire and support us.  The little insects that foster reproduction of plants through pollination, the warmth of a smile and strong handshake or hug, the time spent watching a sunset with friends and sharing finely crafted local products.

We hope to host informal talks regarding bees and butterflies this season.  I’m looking forward to the delivery of monarch larvae in June, so we can begin raising monarchs in a small nursery at the brewery.  I would love to see people caring for monarch larvae across New York state! This is a great project for people who would like to help support monarchs and witness their metamorphosis.  There is so much good that we can do and share.  I’m looking forward to it!

B is for butterfly.

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.