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The Nature of Things

A blog about nature and the environment

Archive for February, 2008

RIT to host Pollution Prevention Institute


The Rochester Institute of Technology will host a new center for designing and testing environmentally-friendly manufacturing methods, the AP reports.

The center will also provide technical support for businesses to help them reduce their pollution.

RIT was chosen by a technical review panel through the state Department of Environmental Conservation, which received proposals from universities throughout New York, the AP said.

RIT is looking to create 16 laboratories across the state through partnerships with Clarkson University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and SUNY Buffalo.

The state budgeted $2 million for the endeavor last year, the AP said.

Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Friday, February 29th, 2008 at 5:07 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Our Pete Seeger


When you think “Pete Seeger” and all you think about is the Clearwater Festival or the sloop of the same name, you’re not thinking enough.

Sure, Seeger founded the Clearwater organization and launched the ship that helped lead to the Hudson River’s rebirth.

But there’s oh, so much more, to the folk singer who calls the Hudson Valley home. That’s what I came away with after watching this week’s American Masters on PBS that took a long look at Seeger’s life. I knew some of it. But when you sit down and let his life’s story just roll over you, its depth is amazing. tjndc5-5bavg2zmjs915eocc6bw_layout.jpg

There’s his involvement in the labor/union movement, weathering the 1959 1949 riot outside Peekskill against Paul Robeson, being blacklisted after appearing before the House Un-American Activities Committee, founding the Newport Folk Festival, active in the Civil Rights movement – and the list just goes on.

If PBS replays the show or you ever find it on DVD, it’s worth a look. (Update: Looks like it’s on again on March 6, Channel 13, 8 p.m.)

It’s filled with historical clips and appearances by Johnny Cash, Bruce Springsteen, Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Arlo Guthrie and others. Guthrie, by the way, recalls folks poo-poohing Seeger’s idea for the Clearwater – saying building a sloop won’t attract anyone to the Hudson. The link above to the show has a collection of clips, etc.

This Rolling Stone interview is worth a read and LoHud’s sister paper, the Poughkeepsie Journal, has some videos.

As a last note, Seeger was born in Patterson in Putnam County.

More update: Check below in the comments for Frank’s Seeger recollection and then check out the photo below.

Here’s the caption we have from TJN photographer Mark Vergari: The sixth grade chorus under the direction of Frank Squillante from the Ardsley Middle School, join Pete Seeger and his grandson Tao Rodriguez Seeger, as they sing a brand new song called “Take it from Dr. King” during the Clearwater Festival Saturday, June 15, 2002, at Croton Point Park.


Posted by Mike Risinit on Friday, February 29th, 2008 at 1:42 pm |

Got geese?


The state’s resident Canada goose population is at more than 200,000 birds and expected to climb, according to the Department of Environmental Conservation — especially if no one does anything about it. tjndc5-5e07g1jfx0w5vyggo54_layout.jpg

To that end, the DEC is offering local governments and landowners information on how to control goose populations on their own property and holding a special goose hunting season starting Saturday.

In addition, the state is pointing folks who may be interested in addling eggs (Coating the eggs with oil or puncturing them with a skewer and leaving them in the nest. The eggs won’t hatch but the goose won’t lay new ones.) to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. There, they can register to do such work.
More state information on goose control can be found here. Information from a goose-advocacy group is here.

(Photo:Peter Carr/TJN)

Posted by Mike Risinit on Thursday, February 28th, 2008 at 1:54 pm |


Garlic mustard enemy?


I know the woods on my property are full of it every spring. I’m talking about garlic mustard, the thin plant with somewhat triangular leaves and white flowers on top that pops up every year.

As its name suggests, the plant was brought from Europe to the U.S. more than 100 years ago, most likely as a culinary herb. It’s now run amok, threatening native animals and plants. Garlic mustard takes over an area, eliminating opportunities for native plants to grow, which, in turn, endangers wildlife that depends on those plants for food. tjndc5-5b1zrupfd3734480k3i_layout.jpg

The good news is a University of Illinois researcher has used computer simulations to determine that a tiny weevil may be the best thing to introduce as a biological control agent. The weevil, which passed a selection of tests to make sure it wouldn’t become an invasive pest, would feed on garlic mustard and could be released later this year into an infected forest.

(Photo by Steve Schmitt/TJN)

Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, February 27th, 2008 at 2:49 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Love in the Big Apple


These two should know that privacy is hard to find in New York City, especially in Central Park. This may not be G-rated material over at the Living the Scientific Life blog, so use your discretion.

For those looking for more information, raccoon mating season apparently runs from January to March.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, February 26th, 2008 at 6:14 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Deer and bear numbers


Deer up. Black bears up. That’s the news from the state today on harvests of both those animals last year by hunters across New York. tjndc5-5hei3d1748p1g5wdfbic_layout.jpg

Hunters took about 16 percent more deer last year than in 2006. In addition, researchers reported finding no cases of chronic wasting disease after testing about 7,500 deer.

As for bears, hunters took 1,117 last year compared to 796 in 2006.

“Overall, bear harvest statewide has steadily increased over the last two decades in correlation with a continuous rise in the bear population,” the DEC said.

Don’t forget about tonight’s black bear management seminar that Laura recently wrote about.

(Photo courtesy of TJN photographer Ricky Flores)

Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, February 26th, 2008 at 3:01 pm |
| | 1 Comment »


Another view of the Hudson


Tired of your same old view of the Hudson River? Need a change from Croton Point Park, Little Stony Point or the Rockland shore? Try Margaret Lewis Norrie State Park in Dutchess County. eagle2.jpg

Admittedly, it’s a bit of a drive from Westchester, Putnam or Rockland. It’s about 20 minutes north of Poughkeepsie. But the park is also within 5 minutes of the Vanderbilt Mansion and FDR’s home – so you history buffs could make a day of it.

I checked the place out yesterday with my daughter. With snow on the ground, we didn’t do much. But it does provide a nice, warming south-facing view of the Hudson. The property is also home to the headquarters for the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve.

Plus, it provided some easy, quick bald eagle spotting. Within 30 minutes, practically at midday, we racked up five or six eagles – some mature, some immature. One adult was even close enough on an ice floe that my daughter could easily spot the bird with just her eyes. This guy (or girl) was holding down a fish with its right foot and trying to rip it apart. As he flew off, the fish appeared to be an eel as it twisted about in the eagle’s right talon.

eagle.jpgMy daughter eventually caught the hang of peering through the spotting scope. I knew she had because every time an immature eagle I hoped she was watching on an ice floe hopped or spread his wings, she would exclaim a little something about the maneuver.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Monday, February 25th, 2008 at 1:46 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Robins in the snow


I’ve said it before, but here it is again. As much as a robin is a harbinger of spring, it’s not unheard of to see some in the winter. Even when it’s snowing. Outside the paper’s office in Mount Kisco this morning, there were at least 50 robins gathered in the trees. robin2.jpg

These photos don’t do the event justice, but the birds were hanging out in the trees for quite a while.


Posted by Mike Risinit on Friday, February 22nd, 2008 at 5:25 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Eclipse follow-up


So the clouds moved out last night in time for the lunar eclipse. I went outside to check it out and it was quite chilly. tjndc5-5itmnvkrngnlc4whhgu_layout.jpgMy colleague Frank Becerra made some photos of the event and a video. There’s other photos here from around the world.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Thursday, February 21st, 2008 at 12:56 pm |
| | 1 Comment »


Weigh in on the future of NY’s black bears


The state Department of Environmental Conservation wants pubic input as it works to develop a black bear management plan.

Thousands of black bears call New York state home, and luckily, few serious incidents occur between the bears and people each year.

But bears and people are encountering each other more frequently throughout the Lower Hudson Valley because the bear population has increased thanks to conservative hunting strategies and to the reforestation of most of the state, the DEC said.

The agency will hold a public education program, and seek input regarding its bear hunting and management policies, to help thwart trouble.

The session will take place from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Feb. 26, at the DEC’s Stony Kill Farm Environmental Education Center, Route 9D, in Wappinger Falls, about a 55-minute car ride from West Nyack.

According to the DEC press release, the meeting will also: “provide information on common bear- human interactions and the typical attractants that entice bears into human environments.

“Removing the common attractants such as garbage, pet food, greasy BBQ grills, and bird seed is critical for reducing bear-human conflicts. Unfortunately, a bear which learns of such easy meals can develop increasingly bold behavior when in search of food and become a chronic nuisance.”

Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Thursday, February 21st, 2008 at 6:30 am |
| | 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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