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The Nature of Things

A blog about nature and the environment

Archive for January, 2007

A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon we’re talking real money


The earliest word out this morning on the Gov. Spitzer’s first spending plan for the state should leave those concerned about the environment breathing a little easier.

Despite capping spending on such things as Medicaid funding and taking other steps to keep costs down, Spitzer added 109 jobs to the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation, bolstering what is effectively the police force for New York’s clean air, water and other environmental concerns.

Under Gov. Pataki, depending on who was doing the counting, the DEC lost between 700 and 1,000 people through attrition, and those positions stayed empty to save money. That may be sound budget management to some, but in order to stay on top of water and air polluters alone, the state needs enough sets of eyes and ears to do the job. Many people felt the cuts were too deep.
Environmentalists credit Pataki for his open space conservation efforts, but the shrinking DEC was a bone of contention even for his strongest supporters in the green world.

Spitzer’s budget – out today – looks like he’s delivering on his promise to shore up the state’s watchdog role. Stay tuned to lohud.com and the Journal News for more on the overall budget and what it means for environment as well as other areas of concern.

Posted by Greg Clary on Wednesday, January 31st, 2007 at 12:21 pm |
| | 1 Comment »



I heard a mention of this on the radio this morning and figured it was too good not to post. In LoHud land, we just admire the occasional eagle. But in Alaska, apparently they sometimes present a <a href=”http://www.juneauempire.com/stories/012907/loc_20070129013.shtml” target=”_blank”>hazard</a>.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, January 31st, 2007 at 11:09 am |

Ice, please


The freaky winter weather, I imagine, has left ice fishermen and women yearning for solid ponds, lakes and reservoirs. An informal survey this morning showed a variety of ice conditions in Putnam: Lake Carmel in Kent seemed to have some ice on it, Lake Gleneida in Carmel was open water and Diverting Reservoir in Southeast was iced over.

One eager angler was out on Diverting and had at least a couple of holes drilled in the ice. The photo shows some ice fishing on Diverting several years ago.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, January 30th, 2007 at 12:29 pm |


LoHud’s Arctic visitor


Don’t miss Laura Incalcaterra’s <a href=”http://www.thejournalnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070128/NEWS01/701280350/1025/NEWS09″ target=”_blank”>story</a> on the visitor from the Great White North.

For those interested in other local, rare bird sightings, visit this <a href=”http://birdingonthe.net/mailinglists/NYSB.html” target=”_blank”>site</a>.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Monday, January 29th, 2007 at 2:01 pm |
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Photo show


This just in from the <a href=”http://www.westchesterlandtrust.org/” target=”_blank”>Westchester Land Trust</a>:

Stop by Historical Hall in Bedford Village tonight (Friday, 1/26) for Westchester Land Trust’s fifth annual photo show. It features more than 50 photographers and 125 photos, and a special section of photos by North Salem and John Jay High School students. The theme of the show is “All Westchester’s Creatures, Great & Small,” and is a celebration of the county’s wildlife and farm animals.

The opening is from 6-8 p.m., and it’s free. The Bedford Historical Society is a co-sponsor of the show.

Historical Hall is on the Village Green, at the intersection of Routes 22 and 172.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Friday, January 26th, 2007 at 12:51 pm |
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Baby, it’s cold outside


I remember field trips as being a chance to get out of the classroom and do something different. Even a bad field trip might have been considered better than a good day at school.

Not so sure that was the thinking of a bunch of kids gathered this morning at <a href=”http://www.teatown.org/” target=”_blank”>Teatown Lake Reservation</a> in Yorktown. A dozen or so stood on the lake’s ice as part of an aquatic study program. The wind chill is about zero right now as I write this . . .
Can’t get your head around wind chill, frostbite etc.? Check <a href=”http://www.weather.com/ready/winter/wind_chill.html?from=wxcenter_news” target=”_blank”>this</a> out.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Friday, January 26th, 2007 at 12:36 pm |
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Spitzer’s environmental cops


The choices for Eliot Spitzer’s top environmental enforcers are in and the brand new governor should find few who can quarrel with their qualifications.
Spitzer tapped New York Democratic Assemblyman Pete Grannis from Manhattan to head the Department of Environmental Conservation and one of his ablest lieutenants, Judith Enck, as his Deputy Secretary for the Environment.
Both have track records on environmental issues that will have activists giddy with the idea of bolstering the DEC’s oversight function as well as taking the state in a greener direction.
According to the Associated Press, Grannis was a DEC lawyer from 1970 to 1972 and worked as an environmental lawyer in private practice for several years.
Enck worked as an environmental policy adviser to Spitzer when he was attorney general and previously worked on environmental issues with the New York Public Interest Research Group. She knows as much about the Hudson River and the PCB controversy as anyone in Albany, for my money.
Within a few hours of Spitzer’s announcement of the two posts, environmental groups chimed in with congratulations.
Environmental Advocates of New York noted that Grannis was named “Legislator of the Year� three times by their sister organization, EPL/Environmental Advocates, which tracks lawmakers’ voting records.
They obviously think highly of Enck – she used to be their EA’s executive director.
The New York League of Conservation Voters said the two appointment will bring “proven environmental advocates to these powerful offices.�

Posted by Greg Clary on Thursday, January 25th, 2007 at 1:20 pm |
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One of the perks of a cold, snowy winter are the bald eagles that flock south to the Lower Hudson Valley in search of open water and fish. This winter, so far, has been a bit of a bust, according to some eagle watchers. But who knows . . . things could pick up in the coming weeks if the cold weather keeps up.

One person who hasn’t been bemoaning the lack of eagles is Putnam Lake resident Kelly Adams. Check out my colleague Marcela Rojas’ <a href=”http://www.lohud.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20070125/NEWS04/701250365/1231″ target=”_blank”>story</a> in today’s paper on Adams and her personal eagle-palooza. She sent Marcela a few photos of her visitors, one of which appears above.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Thursday, January 25th, 2007 at 11:26 am |

FrOGS news


The Friends of the Great Swamp’s Spring 2007 newsletter is out. The <a href=”http://www.frogs-ny.org/index.shtml” target=”_blank”>group</a> advocates for the protection of a massive wetland that sprawls across Putnam and Dutchess counties.

The newsletter includes several tidbits.

One item is the results of a fish study done in the Great Swamp that was recently published in a scientific journal.

The <a href=”http://www.findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_qa3845/is_200601/ai_n16810382″ target=”_blank”>study</a> concluded that forests, as opposed to other land cover, protect the diversity of fish in a stream and maintaining 100-meter buffers along forested streams helps lessen the impacts of development.

Plus, there’s FrOGS annual board meeting on Sunday, which will include a visit from Atka. She’s an Arctic gray wolf from the Wolf Conservation Center in South Salem. The program will include information about the history of wolves in the U.S.

The meeting starts at 1:45 p.m. at the Patterson Recreation Center, 65 Front St. Atka is expected at 2:15 p.m. For more information about the meeting, call Evelyn at 845-877-6498.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, January 24th, 2007 at 1:56 pm |
| | 1 Comment »


From the bench, more on geese


This is from my colleague, Terry Corcoran, who chatted with Judge Judy today. The TV judge was in Putnam as a proud mom. Her son, lawyer Adam Levy, was announcing his run for D.A.

Terry writes:

Was it the lure of Hollywood and a lucrative contract that caused TV’s Judge Judy Sheindlin to sell her Putnam Valley home a few years back? No, the petite, fast-talking jurist said. It was the Canada geese.
Sheindlin said the droppings the foul fowl from the north left around her Lake Oscawana property hastened her decision to sell.
She now maintains homes in Florida, New York City and Greenwich, Conn.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, January 23rd, 2007 at 4:12 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

About this blog
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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