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Yacht club in Ossining gets $59,000+ federal grant

August
21

The Shattemuc Yacht Club on the Hudson River in Ossining will receive a $593,501 grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to help build 31 new slips and 17 new moorings.

Transient boaters will be able to use the club’s pump-out services, restrooms, showers and pools, and the $1,069,325 project will include a concrete structure that will be able to shelter boaters traveling the river when a storm strikes.

The grant comes from the Boating Infrastructure Grant Program. Find information on all the projects awarded grants in the latest round here.

The Boat Owners Association of the United States issued the following release praising the latest round of funding from the program:


BoatUS Applauds US Fish and Wildlife Service
For Boosting Boating Infrastructure Grant Funding by $7.3 Million

Nine Local Marina and Yacht Clubs Awarded Grants For Transient Boating Amenities

ALEXANDRIA, Va., August 20, 2013—The federal agency that administers boating grant funds got a “high-five” today from the nation’s largest recreational boating <http://www.BoatUS.com>  organization, Boat Owners Association of The United States (BoatUS). That’s because the US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) took an extraordinary action to make added money available to boating communities nationwide for 2013 in the Boating Infrastructure Grant Program, or “BIG” program. Paid for by boaters themselves, BIG channels money to state boating agencies through a competitive grant process to build transient slips, add new moorings and otherwise improve facilities for cruising boaters.

In a letter sent today to FWS Director Dan Ashe, BoatUS President Margaret Podlich applauded the agency’s expedited response in awarding nine grants in seven states with surplus 2013 funds, money that otherwise would have sat idle until the 2014 grant cycle.

“Several of those grants will help mitigate damages from Superstorm Sandy,” Podlich wrote.  “But even more significant is the boost your agency’s action gives to boating in general as [we] continue to recover from the financial storms that have beset us all in recent years.”

Funding from the BIG program comes from excise taxes on boat gasoline and fishing tackle that boaters and anglers pay into the Sport Fish Restoration and Boating Trust Fund, formerly known as the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund. BoatUS was instrumental in creating the program that caters to recreational boats more than 26-feet in length. Often viewed by local municipalities as an economic development tool to attract cruising boats and related boater spending, over $170 million in grants have been awarded since the program began in 1998. Much of the money has been used to provide safe anchorage and boating access such as transient slips as well as restrooms, fuel docks, dingy docks, utilities, pump-outs and other boating infrastructure.

Two of the nine second-round grants for 2013 go to marinas in Belmar and Middle Township, New Jersey to rebuild transient facilities damaged by Superstorm Sandy last October. Another goes to Ossining, New York, a Hudson River town also damaged by Sandy. The nine grants include:

FL: Riviera Beach Marina Transient Docks, Riviera Beach: BIG grant: $850,000; non-Federal match: $922,736; total project cost: $1,772,736 The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission will partner with the City of Riviera Beach, the local redevelopment agency and others to complete Phase II of the City Marina expansion. The project includes dockage for up to 26 eligible vessels, which will be installed to withstand a Category 3 hurricane. Additional features for the benefit of eligible boaters include utilities, a gangway, a fueling platform, fire suppression equipment, and communications infrastructure.

NJ: Belmar Municipal Marina, Borough of Belmar: BIG grant: $270,059; non-Federal match: $94,886; total project cost: $364,945. Superstorm Sandy caused damage to Belmar Marina’s docks and gangways, floating fuel dock, utilities, and other facilities. This marina in northern coastal New Jersey at the Shark River Inlet is a critical harbor of refuge for boaters traveling along the coast. The State Department of Transportation’s Office of Maritime Resources will help the municipal marina fix and update damaged components and install a new security system and Wi-Fi service.

NJ: Grassy Sound Marina, Middle Township: BIG grant: $36,364; non-Federal match: $12,776; total project cost: $49,140. In October 2012, Superstorm Sandy did major damage to the transient docks and other infrastructure at Grassy Sound Marina in southern coastal New Jersey. The State Department of Transportation’s Office of Maritime Resources will help return the marina to its pre-hurricane condition by providing funds to repair gangways and utilities, re-build the marine fueling facility, and install bathrooms and showers for the benefit of eligible transient recreational boaters.

NJ: Silver Cloud Harbor Marina, Forked River: BIG grant: $65,710; non-Federal match: $34,290; total project cost: $100,000. The project will include new bulkhead and the renovation of an existing bulkhead, as well as decking for walkway to access six slips dedicated for transient boats. Electric and water pedestals and lighting will be installed plus signage designating the transient slip locations.

NY: Shattemuc Yacht Club, Town of Ossining, NY: BIG grant: $593,501; non-Federal match: $475,824; total project cost: $1,069,325. The State of New York’s Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation will support a request from the Shattemuc Yacht Club in Ossining, New York, one of the oldest yacht clubs on the Hudson River. Funds will be used to construct 48 slips and moorings for eligible vessels. Transient boaters will have access to the club’s existing pump-out services, as well as restrooms, showers, and pool. The state-of-the-art floating concrete structure will be built to withstand high winds and storm surge, and will serve as a harbor of refuge for boaters traveling the Hudson River.

MI: Bayshore Marina, City of Munising: BIG grant: $1,466,577; non-Federal match: $515,284; total project cost: $1,981,861. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources will team up with the City of Munising, Alger County, and the Sault Ste. Marie Tribe of Chippewa Indians to add 28 new transient slips and other amenities to the City’s Bayshore Marina. The project will also include extension of an existing L-dock, which will provide protection from northerly and easterly winds. Bayshore Marina is a key stopover and harbor of refuge in an 80-mile section of remote shoreline on the south shore of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

RI: Bristol Maritime Center, Town of Bristol: BIG grant: $861,028; non-Federal match: $896,180; total cost: $1,757,208. The Rhode Island State Division of Fish and Wildlife will partner with the Town of Bristol to renovate and update the historic Naval Reserve Armory to serve as a public maritime center for the benefit of visiting transient boaters. The facility will provide laundry, restrooms with showers, storage and a variety of other amenities for eligible public users. In addition to the Maritime Center, the project also includes installation of 16 additional transient moorings, and a dingy dock with fresh water for eligible boaters.

SC: Charleston City Marina, Charleston: BIG grant: $1,496,462; non-Federal match: $2,988,753; total project cost: $4,485,215. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources will partner with the City of Charleston to add critical new transient dockage capacity to the City Marina. Due to the success of this 2003 BIG-funded facility, the city seeks to expand to meet growing demand for transient facilities along the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway. The project will add approximately 50 new slips for transient non-trailerable recreational vessels up to 80 feet in length. Additional project features include a visitor’s welcome center, utilities such as power, water, communications, and high-speed, in-slip fueling equipment.

US Virgin Islands: St. John Marina, Island of St. John: BIG Grant: $1,273,689; non-Federal match: $1,400,000; total project cost: $2,673,689 The Government of the Virgin Islands’ Planning and Natural Resources Division will partner with private investment groups to establish the St. John Marina on the Island of St. John, in the US Territory of the Virgin Islands. This new facility – the first marina on the picturesque Caribbean island of St. John – will provide 96 slips and a boating activity center for eligible transient boaters. Other essential amenities include power and water for eligible traveling boaters.

For more information on the grant projects, go to http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov/Subpages/GrantPrograms/BIG/BIG.htm.

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Posted by Ken Valenti on Wednesday, August 21st, 2013 at 3:04 pm
Category: Ossining
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Lamont-Doherty director named to new post

January
21

The marine geophysicist who has served as director of Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory for the past decade has been named to a new post.

G. Michael Purdy will become Columbia’s executive vice president for research effective Feb. 1, the university said Friday.

Purdy will be replaced on an interim basis by Lamont-Doherty’s associate director, Arthur Lerner-Lam, who will serve while the university conducts what is expected to be a worldwide search for a permanent director.

Columbia University’s president, Lee Bollinger, and the Earth Institute’s director, Jeffrey Sachs, informed staff of the changes in an email sent Thursday.

Lamont-Doherty, part of the Earth Institute, is a research center dedicated to seeking knowledge “about the origin, evolution and future of the natural world,” according to its website.

In that pursuit, Lamont-Doherty’s 300 research scientists study everything from global climate change and earthquakes to nonrenewable resources and environmental hazards. The scientists work on every continent and in every ocean on the planet.

In a statement, Bollinger commented on Purdy’s efforts.

“He helped build a world renowned interdisciplinary research institution with the capacity to apply its scientific expertise to the complex problems facing a global society,” Bollinger stated.

“He possesses not only the respected scholarly and administrative experience required for this position, but also a deep familiarity with Columbia’s academic culture, and our ambitious goals for scientific research in the years ahead,” Bollinger stated.

Lerner-Lam heads Lamont-Doherty’s Division of Seismology, Geology and Tectonophysics. He is an expert on earthquakes and other natural hazards, and Sachs said Lerner-Lam was responsible for “bringing seismological knowledge to earth-affected communities around the world.”

Lerner-Lam recently led an international scientific task force in assessing the future earthquake risk to Haiti and nearby nations following a devastating earthquake that struck more than a year ago.

Above, top, G. Michael Purdy; above, bottom, Arthur Lerner-Lam (Photos provided by Columbia University).

Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Friday, January 21st, 2011 at 2:41 pm
Category: Uncategorized
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Rockland Sierra reschedules Indian Point program

January
11

The Rockland Sierra Club will hold its program, “The Facts on Indian Point: Relicensing, Climate Change and Radionuclides in Our River,” Feb. 8 instead of today due to the snowstorm.

Marilyn Elie, a co-founder of Westchester Citizens Awareness Network, will speak. Elie has been working to shut down Indian Point for 17 years and has learned details about many issues surrounding the plant, the Rockland Sierra Club said.

The event will begin at 7 p.m. at the Nyack Public Library on South Broadway.

Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Tuesday, January 11th, 2011 at 1:08 pm
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Boats now allowed in winter on Kensico and New Croton reservoirs

December
1

The New York City Department of Environmental Protection is expanding access to two of its reservoirs in Westchester County.

From the NYCDEP:

Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway today announced the expansion of recreational opportunities at Kensico and New Croton reservoirs in Westchester County. The expansion follows three public hearings on the proposed amendments to rules for recreational use of water supply lands and waters. Previously, boat access for fishing during winter months was not allowed on these two reservoirs, which were closed from December 1 to April 1. Starting today, new regulations allow boat access for fishing on these reservoirs year round. The amended regulations also give DEP the option to prohibit the use of certain fishing equipment, such as felt-soled waders that increase the threat of invasive species like didymo—also known as “rock snot”—which may impair stream ecosystems.

“New York City’s reservoirs offer some of the best fishing opportunities in the country,” said Commissioner Holloway. “Opening Kensico and New Croton reservoirs for families and visitors to enjoy during the winter months will allow as many people as possible to take advantage of this great resource, and has the added benefit of encouraging tourism and economic activity.  Mayor Bloomberg is committed to working with our upstate partners to create recreational and economic opportunities that are compatible with maintaining high water quality, and opening the Kensico and New Croton reservoirs to fishing year round achieves both goals.”

The city’s water supply comprises dozens of streams, 19 reservoirs and two controlled lakes open for fishing. Kensico Reservoir is 3.2 square miles and is stocked with lake trout and brown trout. New Croton Reservoir is 3.0 square miles and has smallmouth bass, brown trout and lake trout. In 2006, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation extended the black bass fishing season from December 1st through the Friday proceeding the 3rd Saturday in June for catch-and-release fishing. In 2008, DEP revised its recreation rules to allow year-round boating for fishing on all its east of Hudson reservoirs except Kensico and New Croton, to be more consistent with the new state regulations.

Boating for the purposes of fishing is allowed on New York City reservoirs to those with DEP access permits and boat tags. Anglers must store their fishing boats at designated storage areas and all boats must be approved, registered and steam-cleaned by DEP or a designee. For more information on fishing on New York City reservoirs, visit NYCDEP.

DEP attempts to open as much land as possible for recreation and bases decisions to do so on potential water quality impacts, whether the land is easily accessible to the public and input from the community. In May, DEP opened five additional square miles of Cannonsville Reservoir for recreational boating, which built upon last year’s decision to launch a three-year pilot program to expand recreational boating opportunities at Cannonsville Reservoir. In April, DEP announced plans to open 12,000 more acres for recreation throughout the rest of the year on a rolling basis. The 12,000 acres will bring the total number of acres open to recreation to 71,000. Also in April, DEP opened 24.5 acres, including 440 feet of river frontage, on the Beaverkill River, a famous trout fishing destination.

Kensico Reservoir, placed into service in 1915, can hold up to 30.6 billion gallons. It receives most of its water from the city’s west-of-Hudson reservoirs through the Catskill and Delaware aqueducts. The New Croton Reservoir, placed into service in 1905, is the largest in the Croton system and can hold up to 19 billion gallons.

DEP manages the city’s water supply, providing more than 1 billion gallons of water each day to more than 9 million residents, including 8 million in New York City, and residents of Ulster, Orange, Putnam and Westchester counties. Approximately 1,000 DEP employees live and work in the watershed communities as scientists, engineers, surveyors, and administrative professionals, and perform other critical responsibilities. For more information, visit NYCDEP or follow us on Facebook.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, December 1st, 2010 at 11:54 am
Category: Department of Environmental Protection, New York City water supply

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Temporary fracking ban awaits Paterson’s signature

December
1

Now that the state Assembly has voted in favor of a six-month moratorium on hydraulic fracturing, a controversial drilling technique needed to tap natural gas resources in rock upstate, the measure awaits the governor’s signature to become law. At the same time, environmental groups are lining up to applaud the Assembly’s move, which followed the Senate’s approval earlier this year.

“With this vote, the Assembly prevents New York from completing its hasty and ill-considered rush to embrace the dirty, dangerous technique known as hydrofracking, which has done so much damage in other states,” said Paul Gallay, Executive Director and Hudson Riverkeeper. “Good for the Assembly; good for the Senate, for passing this same bill earlier in the year; and, good for the thousands of New Yorkers who said: ‘not here, not now.’ This is their victory.”

“New York has shown the country that Americans have a right to stand up to big oil and gas companies,” said Kate Sinding, Deputy Director of the New York Urban Program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “This is the first time any state has ever taken this kind of action to protect the health and safety of its residents from the consequences of gas drilling. It sends a powerful message that New Yorkers don’t want new fracking here unless the industry proves it can be done safely.”

Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, December 1st, 2010 at 10:33 am
Category: hydrofracking

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Guide for creating vibrant waterfronts

November
16

The following came in from Scenic Hudson:

New Guide Helps Hudson River Communities Create Accessible, Healthy and Economically Vibrant Waterfronts
Publication also details preparedness for potential climate change impacts

HUDSON VALLEY – Communities throughout the region recognize that Hudson River waterfronts offer rich opportunities for economic development, recreation, environmental health and scenic beauty. These multiple values make the valley’s Hudson waterfronts hotspots for revitalization. But they also can create battlegrounds where competing priorities must be resolved. Scenic Hudson has created a new, practical how-to guide with strategies that can bring interested groups together to reinvent our precious waterfronts into powerful community assets.

Revitalizing Hudson Riverfronts: Illustrated Conservation & Development Strategies for Creating Healthy, Prosperous Communities aims to help local officials, planners, developers and concerned citizens realize the full potential of their shorelines. Written to be helpful to riverfront communities of all sizes, Revitalizing Hudson Riverfronts presents an economically sustainable and environmentally sound vision for waterfronts throughout the valley.

The Scenic Hudson publication illustrates for communities how to create publicly accessible, pedestrian-friendly, mixed-use waterfronts in municipal centers while protecting ecologically important natural areas and iconic views. The book offers tools that will enable municipalities to focus development in areas with existing infrastructure close to transportation hubs and concentrate water-dependent commerce along the river—marinas, maritime museums, fishing operations, etc. Strategies in the guide are aimed at attracting visitors and permanent residents to downtowns, spurring new business opportunities.

The guide may be one of the first published to include strategies to help municipalities prepare for and head off the impacts of sea-level rise associated with climate change. Revitalizing Hudson Riverfronts includes steps for reducing the carbon emissions of developments, promoting sustainable design.

Ned Sullivan, president of Scenic Hudson, said, “Revitalizing Hudson Riverfronts not only lays out a vision for ensuring a healthy economic and environmental future for the Hudson Valley, but also offers practical tools necessary to achieve it. The book’s strategies will help public officials, developers and citizens work together to increase public access to the region’s greatest asset, the Hudson River. They also will reduce sprawling development that would otherwise obliterate the breathtaking landscapes and quality of life that are the foundation of the region’s $4.7-billion tourism economy and magnets for new business. Further, the guide seeks to ensure viability of our important farming industry and the healthy, local food it yields.”

Jonathan F.P. Rose, president, Jonathan Rose Companies, is an award-winning thought leader on green urban real estate solutions and has been featured widely in media ranging from CNN to The New York Times. Commenting on the Scenic Hudson guide, Mr. Rose said, “Over the next 40 years, America’s population will grow by more than 90 million. We have a significant choice as to how to accommodate this growth—either we will continue to sprawl, with its negative economic and environmental consequences, or we will rebuild and concentrate development in our cities, where it is most efficient. The Hudson Valley is blessed with wonderful riverfront cities and towns. Revitalizing waterfronts is one of the key ways to attract people to live and work in them.

“Scenic Hudson’s guide to revitalizing waterfronts clearly lays out the principles and strategies needed to create great places along the river, and backs them up with examples of completed projects. We are cleaning up the Hudson. This excellent guide provides Hudson Valley communities with a pathway to benefit from the river’s return to health. Particularly important and groundbreaking are its recommendations on adaptation to sea level rise due to climate change.”

Kudos for the guide also came from Judith Enck, regional administrator, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Region 2. That region encompasses New York, New Jersey, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands and seven Tribal Nations. Ms. Enck’s 30 years of experience in the environmental field includes time as deputy secretary of the environment for New York State and policy advisor to New York State’s attorney general.

“Environmentally sustainable waterfront development is critical to connecting people to the Hudson River, a true jewel in our own backyard. This report gives solid, practical advice to local communities, businesses, planners, environmentalists and others on how best to improve access to the river in a way that protects the ecological integrity of the river. I applaud Scenic Hudson for this valuable report and their ongoing work to protect and restore this magnificent river,” said Ms. Enck.

Robert D. Yaro, president, Regional Plan Association (N.Y., N.J., Conn.), the nation’s oldest independent metropolitan policy, research and advocacy group, affirmed the guide’s value. A frequent author and sought-after expert, Mr. Yaro also is a professor of practice, City and Regional Planning, at the University of Pennsylvania and has taught at Harvard University and the University of Massachusetts. He expressed the importance of Revitalizing Hudson Riverfronts: “Scenic Hudson has produced what no doubt will be a standard reference for all those who care about the future of the Hudson River Valley. The guiding principles and wonderful illustrations of infill and other centers-oriented development strategies will be of use to citizens, decision-makers and design professionals seeking to grow the valley’s economy in the right places.”

Specific advice on waterfronts built to absorb climate impacts while revitalizing communities
Revitalizing Hudson Riverfronts includes practical strategies to help communities minimize damage to private property, public utilities and facilities as sea levels rise with climate change. By keeping critical infrastructure out of the way of rising sea levels, implementing green stormwater technologies and reducing greenhouse gas emissions, communities can lower risks and costs to their citizens while improving access and natural resource health along the river.

Continuous greenway corridor among key strategies
One of the book’s most important recommendations is to create a continuous riverfront greenway corridor extending inland to the 100-year floodplain. In addition to providing public access to the river, the greenway would allow for the conservation of critical wildlife habitat and offer a buffer from flooding and storm surges. The book also points to resources for restoring and rehabilitating wetlands and other natural areas, and safeguarding the quality of groundwater, critical for protecting communities’ drinking-water supplies.

Guide’s dynamic design, illustrations and other resources key to its effectiveness
Revitalizing Hudson Riverfronts features six chapters, 80 photographs and 30 drawings and maps that vividly illustrate strategies discussed in the text. It also offers links to dozens of additional online resources as well as an appendix of local ordinances that have helped communities across the state create more economically vibrant, environmentally healthy waterfronts.

The book is available online at www.revitalizinghudsonriverfronts.org .

Scenic Hudson planner will present on guide at upcoming conferences
Jeffrey Anzevino, director of Scenic Hudson’s Land Use Advocacy department, will make a presentation on the guide to professional groups at the New York State Conference on the Environment on Saturday, Nov. 20, at the Thayer Hotel, at West Point, and at the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance’s annual conference on Tuesday, Nov. 30, in New York City.

Planning, environmental experts head editorial team
Revitalizing Hudson Riverfronts was created for the New York Department of State’s Office of Coastal, Local Government and Community Sustainability with support from the Environmental Protection Fund administered through the City of Kingston. Theodore Eisenman was senior editor; Scenic Hudson staff serving as editors were Jeffrey Anzevino; Steve Rosenberg, senior vice president and executive director of the Scenic Hudson Land Trust; and Sacha Spector, Ph.D., director of Conservation Science.

The editors were guided by an Editorial Advisory Committee composed of leading experts on the Hudson River, planning, climate change and the environment. They included Heather Boyer, senior editor, Island Press; Suzanne Cahill, city planner, City of Kingston; John Clarke, development and design coordinator, Dutchess County Department of Planning and Development; Dr. Klaus H. Jacob, senior research scientist, Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University; Barbara Kendall, watershed special projects coordinator, Department of Environmental Conservation Hudson River Estuary Program; Lynn Richards, Office of Policy, Economics and Innovation, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; Dr. David Strayer, freshwater ecologist, Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies; Sarah van der Schalie, Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; and David VanLuven, former Hudson River Estuary program manager, The Nature Conservancy.

About Scenic Hudson
Scenic Hudson works to protect and restore the Hudson River and its majestic landscape as an irreplaceable national treasure and a vital resource for residents and visitors. A crusader for the valley since 1963, we are credited with saving fabled Storm King Mountain from a destructive industrial project and launching the modern grass-roots environmental movement. Today with more than 25,000 ardent supporters, we are the largest environmental group focused on the Hudson River Valley. Our team of experts combines land acquisition, support for agriculture, citizen-based advocacy and sophisticated planning tools to create environmentally healthy communities, champion smart economic growth, open up riverfronts to the public and preserve the valley’s inspiring beauty and natural resources. To date Scenic Hudson has created or enhanced more than 50 parks, preserves and historic sites up and down the Hudson River and conserved more than 28,000 acres. www.scenichudson.org <http://www.scenichudson.org/>

Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, November 16th, 2010 at 10:44 am
Category: Hudson River, Scenic Hudson

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Along came a spider

November
9

I’m always amazed how simple some creatures’ names are. Take, for instance, a spider that is black and yellow and hangs out in your garden. Ta-da! It’s a black and yellow garden spider. This one spent weeks in the herb garden at home, weathering several rainstorms and adding a creepiness factor to cutting sage or rosemary.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, November 9th, 2010 at 10:57 am
Category: black and yellow garden spider, spiders
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October
29

Today marks the 100th anniversary of the gift of land and money that led to the creation of Bear Mountain and Harriman state parks, and that ignited the national land preservation movement.

Without the gift, a new prison may have been built at Bear Mountain, something Mary Averell Harriman and her husband, Edward H. Harriman, deplored.

Instead, in 1910, a year after her husband died, Mary Harriman proposed donating money and land if the prison plans were dropped and others kicked into the overall effort to create a park and facilities.

Here’s a news release with information about the celebration and what’s being done to continue the parks’ mission:

The world-famous Empire State Building will be bathed in green light on the evening of Oct. 29 to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the Harriman Family gift that led to the creation of Harriman and Bear Mountain State Parks. The Palisades Interstate Park Commission has partnered with the Empire State Building Company to mark the historic anniversary.

On Oct. 29, 1910, 18-year-old Averell Harriman, the future governor of the state of New York, represented the Harriman family in donating 10,000 acres of land in the Lower Hudson Valley and $1 million dollars to the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. The family’s gift created Bear Mountain and Harriman state parks, which now encompass more than 50,000 acres, more than three times the size of Manhattan.

“The significance of the Harriman Family’s gift toward the formation of a statewide park system is immeasurable,” said Andy Beers, acting commissioner of the New York state Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation.

“From its remarkable land stewardship commitment to its evolution in providing children and families of all means the opportunity to experience the beauty and importance of the natural world, the generosity of a hundred years ago continues to represent the very best of the spirit of giving,” Beers said.

Once the parks were established and open to the public, a defining commitment was made to share the acres of wilderness with all, particularly the underserved populations. Accordingly, the PIPC created a range of social programs for the relief of the urban poor. The essence of these social programs was the group camps—tents and cabins with facilities—to make the outdoors accessible to those who could barely afford to take time off.

“Thanks to the generosity of the Harriman family, the New York state park system boasts some of the most breathtaking public green spaces in the country,” said Senator José M. Serrano, chairman of the Senate Committee on Cultural Affairs, Tourism, Parks and Recreation.

“Their altruism, and its subsequent positive effects, highlight the importance of parks and their power to strengthen the fabric of society by improving our quality of life,” Serrano said. “Countless families, including my own, have enjoyed the recreational opportunities offered by the Hudson Valley parks, and it will be a joy to see the Empire State Building go green to commemorate this momentous anniversary.”

Saving the Harriman Group Camps

Throughout the last century, more than three million children have experienced the fun of camping, hiking and swimming through the Harriman Group Camps. Camps run by non-profit organizations, including the Henry Street Settlement, the YMCA and Vacamas programs for youth, continue to offer urban and disadvantaged children the opportunity to experience nature first-hand.

Yet over the past decades, the camps have fallen into disrepair, forcing closures of camps from a high of more than 100 in the 1940s to just 32 today.

In recognition of this year’s historic anniversary, PIPC has initiated a fundraising effort to rebuild, repair and restore the Harriman Group Camps, with a goal of $2 million. The effort hopes to build a new generation of philanthropy for the Harriman Group Camps so future generations of children can share in the wilderness experience. A kick-off fundraising event honoring the Harriman family held in June by the Palisades Park Conservancy raised $130,000 for the camps.

Connecting with Harriman Group Camp Graduates

Another initiative coinciding with the anniversary is an effort to connect with the millions of people who have directly benefited from the creation of the Group Camps and the tremendous generosity of the Harriman family.

A Facebook page has been established seeking to connect Harriman Group Camp alumni, share some of the thousands of photographs in PIPC’s archives, and raise funds for camp restorations. In particular, photos and stories are being sought to share from those that attended the Harriman camps.

For many, the time spent at the Harriman Group Camps taught lessons of stewardship, loyalty and teamwork and left lasting impressions.

“We hope that through this new Facebook page, Harriman alumni can join in the celebration of the park, connect with friends from the past, and help guarantee that the experiences which so positively impacted their lives can be repeated by millions yet to come,” said James Hall, executive director of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission.

In recognition of the Harriman family’s four generations of groundbreaking philanthropy and service to the people of New York, PIPC Media has produced The Harriman Touch, a film which taps the PIPC’s rich archive of more than 100,000 images spanning over 100 years.

Available on Youtube, the film traces the vital role the family’s generosity has played in such diverse fields as transportation, education, recreation, preservation, and the fine arts. Donations for the Harriman Group Camps can be made to the Palisades Parks Conservancy Group Camp Fund at https://palisades.exhibit-e.com/donate/

ABOVE: 100 YEARS AGO TODAY: W. Averell Harriman (right) hands a $1 million check to George W. Perkins Sr. at the dedication of Bear Mountain and Harriman state parks. Harriman went on to become governor of New York. Perkins served as the first president of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission. (Photo/PIPC)

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Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Friday, October 29th, 2010 at 12:01 pm
Category: Uncategorized

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Program helps households save energy and money

October
28

From the New York state Public Service Commission:

The New York state Public Service Commission wants to help people reduce their energy waste and lower their utility bills through a new program, “Jumpstart NY.”

The PSC, which oversees utilities in New York, is looking for a select group of households to participate. Energy monitors will be installed in select households so residents can monitor their energy use.

Using their computers, participants will be able to observe how their homes use electricity in real-time. Online tools will help them spot wasted electricity and eliminate it through simple actions like unplugging appliances that are not in use or setting the thermostat at a lower temperature.

Participants will also be able to interact with other Jumpstart NY households through an online community, where they can share information and personal experiences. A total of 250 households will be selected.

This initiative is the first phase of the PSC’s education and outreach effort to help New Yorkers reduce energy waste. A broader statewide campaign will be introduced in coming months.

The Jumpstart NY effort is being led by PSC staff under a contract administered by the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, also known as NYSERDA.

Visiting www.jumpstartNY.org to learn more about the program and the eligibility requirements. Anyone interested should apply immediately.

Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Thursday, October 28th, 2010 at 7:31 pm
Category: Uncategorized

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Keep Rockland Beautiful volunteers to be honored for, well, you know.

October
20

Keep Rockland Beautiful will hold its 2010 awards gala from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Nov. 6 at the historic bath house at the foot of Hook Mountain at Nyack Beach State Park in Upper Nyack.

Among its many activities, KRB annually organizes roadside and waterside cleanups, offers environmental programs at local schools, encourages beautification projects to deter blight and create better looking communities, hosts a seminar with local highway department workers on issues ranging from proper road salt usage to fighting graffiti, and offers land-use planning programs to high school students.

Most of what KRB does wouldn’t be possible without the support of thousands of volunteers, including individuals, families, churches and synagogues, businesses, scout troops, neighborhood groups, elected officials, and so on.

The organization will take time to recognize the efforts of its volunteers at the gala.

Here are the honorees:
• KRB Sponsor Award: Anna Roppolo, executive director, Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority.
• Beautification Award: Scott Milich, chairman, Town of Clarkstown Pride of Clarkstown Committee.
• Education Award: Daniel Sullivan, teacher, Fieldstone Secondary School in Thiells.
• Cleanup Leader Award: Donna Drygas, Pascack Brook Cleanup Crew in Nanuet.
• Public Art Award: Shirley Goebel Christie, teacher, Clarkstown South High School in West Nyack.
• Enforcement Award: David Basnight, code enforcement, Rockland County Department of Health.
• Adopt-a-Road Award: Mal McLaren, McLaren Engineering Group in West Nyack.

The Artists in the Parks program features artists who create during the day and exhibit their works at the gala. The works will be sold to benefit KRB. Visitors can watch the artists as they work in the hours before the gala.

Tickets are $75 per person, and proceeds benefit KRB’s efforts.

Get tickets or more information by visiting www.KeepRocklandBeautiful.org or calling 845-623-1534.

Above, Frank Heinemann, left, and Liridon Gjonbalaj, both of Congers and workers with Town of Clarkstown Highway Department, place decorative trash cans at a bus shelter in Bardonia in July. Keep Rockland Beautiful provides decorative trash cans painted by artists and civic groups to place at bus shelters around the county. (File photo/Meagan Kanagy/The Journal News)

Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Wednesday, October 20th, 2010 at 4:51 pm
Category: Uncategorized

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The Nature of Things provides a chance to talk about the wild denizens that share the Lower Hudson Valley with us and the natural settings that make this place home for everyone. From Long Island Sound to the Hudson River to the Great Swamp and beyond, almost anything related to the environment is fair game in this blog.

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About the authors
SBenischekJournal News staff writer Greg Clary writes Earth Watch, reporting on environmental issues in the lower Hudson region. Clary has been a reporter, editor and columnist at the Journal News since 1988 and has covered police and courts, transportation, municipal government, development and the environment in the Lower Hudson Valley, among other topics.
Laura IncalcaterraLaura Incalcaterra covers the environment, open space and zoning and planning issues for The Journal News. A Boston College graduate, Laura grew up in Rockland, attended East Ramapo schools and has worked for The Journal News since 1993. Laura has written features and covered North Rockland, crime, government and a host of other issues.
SBenischekMike Risinit covers Patterson and Kent in Putnam County, as well as environmental topics touching on the Hudson River and the Great Swamp. Risinit has been a reporter at The Journal News since 1998.
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