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The Nature of Things

A blog about nature and the environment

Archive for December, 2008

We forgot to get a card

December
31

The Endangered Species Act turned 35 years old on Dec. 28. The act was signed into law in 1973.

“In 1972, President Nixon declared that conservation efforts in the United States aimed toward preventing the extinction of species were inadequate and called on the 93rd Congress to develop comprehensive endangered species legislation.”

Check out a question-and-answer session with the director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service about the act and what the past three-and-a-half decades have meant.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, December 31st, 2008 at 4:14 pm |
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Seeger’s coming to town

December
29

Pete Seeger and some of his musical pals are coming to the Lower Hudson Valley next month, but if you really want to see and hear them, don’t wait to buy your tickets. Seeger is considered a role model by many who support the environment.  

The gang will make two local appearances, one in White Plains and the other in Nyack. Seeger himself will only perform at the White Plains gig.

The 20th Annual Celebration with Pete Seeger and Friends David Bernz, Travis Jeffrey, Magpie, Tao Rodriguez Seeger, Sarah Underhill and the Walkabout Clearwater Chorus will take place at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 10 at the Walkabout Clearwater Coffeehouse at White Plains High School, 550 North Street, White Plains. An audience songfest starts at 6:45 p.m.

The tickets cost $35 at the door or $30 if you buy them online. Children ages 6 to 12 pay and students with a student ID pay $25. Get advance tickets or more information at www.walkaboutclearwater.org.

The next event, “Pete Seeger: Power of Song – The Next Generation,” will be held at 7:30 p.m. Jan. 23 at Riverspace, 119 Main St., in Nyack. The benefit will feature music by Tao Rodriguez-Seeger, Sarah Lee Guthrie, Johnny Irion and other guests, and will be followed by a screening of a film about Seeger and his efforts, along with a Q&A with filmmakers.

All seats cost $30 and the proceeds will help pay legal expenses for the Clearwater organization to defend its Environmental Justice contention regarding the relicensing of Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant for another 20 years. Clearwater opposes the relicensing.

Get tickets or more information by calling Riverspace at 845-348-1880 or by visiting www.riverspace.org.

This file shot of Seeger was taken by staffer Stuart Bayer.

Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Monday, December 29th, 2008 at 8:11 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Junior hunters hit the woods

December
29

More than 15,000 14- and 15-year-olds went big-game hunting with a firearm this year. The state Department of Environmental Conservation announced that figure today, results from the first year that those teenagers could go deer and bear hunting with a firearm (while accompanied by an adult hunter).

Previously, 14- and 15-year-olds were limited to small-game hunting with a gun or deer hunting with a bow. Gov. Paterson signed a bill this year, allowing the teens to hunt with a gun and an adult.

“Hunters who are 14 and 15 years of age who hunt big game with a firearm must do so under the direct supervision and control of the adult hunter who must be a parent, guardian or other adult over the age of 21 designated in writing by the parent or guardian, have a minimum of three years of big game hunting experience, and maintain close and constant visual contact and physical control over the minor hunter.”

There’s also deer and bear hunting figures in the latest announcement.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Monday, December 29th, 2008 at 5:36 pm |
| | 7 Comments »

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Counting turkeys

December
28

See some? Count them. Wild turkeys, that is.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation wants anyone who spots a flock of wild turkeys this winter to count them and report them. From the DEC:

“The Winter Wild Turkey Flock Survey is conducted from January through March and is used to monitor trends in relative abundance of turkeys statewide and within major regions of the state. This survey helps us assess the general health of the wild turkey population prior to the breeding season in the spring.”

Here’s a story from the Albany Times Union newspaper about the effort.

The state has a survey form here, with additional instructions.

The photo by TJN photographer Frank Becerra shows some turkeys crossing the road in Heritage Hills in Somers in 2006.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Sunday, December 28th, 2008 at 10:21 am |
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Catskills hiking spot protected

December
27

Another 186 acres is being protected on Overlook Mountain near Woodstock in the Catskills. The Open Space Institute recently announced its acquisition of the land, its fifth in the last five years on that mountain — a very popular hiking spot in the Catskills.

The latest acquisition, which OSI will convey to the state, supposedly provides a less strenuous hike with views comparable to those awaiting hikers who make it to the top.

Read more about hiking Overlook and its fire tower.

The 2004 AP photo shows Overlook Mountain surrounded by low hanging clouds, as seen in this view from the fire tower.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Saturday, December 27th, 2008 at 1:40 pm |
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A snowy emu

December
19

Shovel the driveway, clean off the car and, oh, yeah, brush off the emu. This guy lives at the Green Chimneys school in Patterson and the photo just came in courtesy of Deborah Bernstein, the school’s marketing director.

Read more about emus.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Friday, December 19th, 2008 at 4:30 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

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Snow, snow, snow

December
18

Should you be struggling with your snow shovel or snow-covered roads tomorrow (or enjoying your sled), consider how animals make it through the cold, wet winter. Their choices, as pointed out in the latest Outdoor Discovery newsletter by the state Department of Environmental Conservation, are hibernation, adaptation or migration.

“Hibernating animals like woodchucks and bats eat more food than usual during the fall so that during the winter, they can rely on their body fat to keep them nourished. Their breathing and heart rate usually slow down as well, and their body temperature drops. Other animals such as bears and raccoons will sleep very heavily during the winter, but may awaken if disturbed.”

The photo by TJN photographer Frank Becerra shows a robin on snow in 2007.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Thursday, December 18th, 2008 at 2:34 pm |
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Pheasant future

December
17

Pheasant hunting in New York may become a casualty of Gov. David Paterson’s budget cuts. Paterson last week announced the closure of the state’s Reynolds Game Farm near Ithaca. The state releases 25,000 pheasants every year, just before the fall hunting season, which are (were) raised on  Reynolds farm.

Why?

Because, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, “the wild pheasant population is at an all time low.” So, one would think, no stocked pheasants means fewer and fewer hunting opportunities. A recent DEC survey found that some 60,000 hunters took part in pheasant hunting.

Whether the DEC will stock pheasants next year – ones, I’m assuming, that would be bought from private breeders – remains to be seen. DEC spokesman Yancey Roy this afternoon declined to comment on the matter.

The photos were made by TJN photographer Joe Larese in September 2007, when DEC biologists came to Patterson to release some pheasants. I’ve pasted a story from then after the break.

Read more of this entry »

Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, December 17th, 2008 at 3:14 pm |
| | 9 Comments »

One chickadee, two chickadees . . .

December
16

Sure, December means snow, school vacations, etc. But it also means its time to tally the birds who hang around for the winter, a.k.a. the Christmas bird count. The Bedford Audubon Society does theirs on Dec. 20. One in Putnam County takes place on Jan. 3. Bedford Audubon has more information here, including contacts, etc.

While it sounds like a serene way to spend the day and look at birds, a Christmas bird count is actually a long, often cold and somewhat hectic day scurrying from spot to spot. The goal is to count as many different species of birds as possible, so you end up going to as many different spots as possible: fields, forests, ponds, lakes, etc.

This is the count’s 109th year. It is fun and is all done for science, as the National Audubon Society points out:

“Each of the citizen scientists who brave snow, wind, or rain, to take part in the Christmas Bird Count make an enormous contribution to conservation. Audubon and other organizations use data collected in this longest-running wildlife census to assess the health of bird populations – and to help guide conservation action.”

(Black-capped chickadee and ring-necked duck photo both by TJN photographer Kathy Gardner.)

Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, December 16th, 2008 at 11:42 am |
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A full, no, really big moon.

December
12

Should the skies clear tonight, the full moon hanging above will “appear about 30 percent brighter and 14 percent larger than the other full moons seen so far this year.”

That’s according to this National Geographic story, which bills tonight’s moon as the biggest and brightest of the year.

Why? Because Luna will be only 221,560 miles away from the Earth – the closest its orbit will bring it this year. The farthest point, according to the story, happens the day after Christmas, when the moon will be 252,650 miles away.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Friday, December 12th, 2008 at 4:42 pm |
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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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