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The Nature of Things

A blog about nature and the environment

Archive for September, 2009

EPA tightens air pollution requirements for large power plants and other industrial sources

September
30

Lisa Jackson, head of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is announcing tighter limits on what big emitters can release through their smokestacks by next year and environmentalists say the changes will help clean the air and lessen the pace of global warming.
EPA officials say the just announced limits parallel standards already in place for cars and other smaller sources of pollution.
Under the tighter restrictions, new power plants and industrial sources nationwide to address heat-trapping pollution as part of construction and operating permits.
The new standards would take effect when the EPA finalizes its proposed greenhouse gas standards from motor vehicles next March.
“Today’s action focuses federal climate policy on the largest sources of heat-trapping pollution,” Mark MacLeod, director of special projects at Environmental Defense Fund said in a statement. “EPA’s leadership to limit emissions from the biggest sources is smart policy that can achieve big results for the country.”
The non-profit says EPA’s “tailoring” proposal would establish a regulatory threshold of 25,000 tons of annual carbon dioxide emissions. The threshold would focus EPA policies at large sources that collectively comprise over 80 percent of the nation’s heat-trapping emissions.
Major federal climate legislative proposals also use this threshold.
Senators Barbara Boxer and John Kerry today also introduced legislation to address global warming pollution and advance clean energy solutions.
The EDF says that a 25,000 ton annual carbon dioxide threshold is comparable to the emissions from:
(1) 131 rail cars of coal consumed
(2) 58,000 barrels of oil consumed, or
(3) The emissions from the annual energy use of about 2,200 homes.

Posted by Greg Clary on Wednesday, September 30th, 2009 at 5:42 pm |
| | 4 Comments »

Watch some hawks

September
29

Want to (hopefully) get an eyeful of hawks heading south? You can try on Sunday (10/4) at Bedford Audubon Society’s Chestnut Ridge Hawk Watch above Interstate 684. The society’s official hawk counter, Arthur Green, and its naturalist, Tait Johansson, will be on hand to help you discern a passing redtail hawk from a broad-wing hawk or a turkey vulture from a black vulture.

Here’s more information about the society’s hawk watch. Sunday’s event runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. The photo by TJN photographer Ricky Flores shows Green watching the skies last year.

Directions: From I-684: take exit 4 (Route 172) west toward Mt. Kisco. After 100 yards, turn left onto Chestnut Ridge Road and go 1.2 miles. Turn right over bridge into parking area. Follow sign. The hawk watch bleachers sit on a ridge high above I-684 and are reached by a moderate–strenuous 10-15 minute trail.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, September 29th, 2009 at 10:33 am |
| | 1 Comment »

Saltwater fishing licenses

September
25

You’re going to need one beginning Thursday Oct. 1 if you’re 16 or older and fishing in “the Marine and Coastal District or fishing any water (such as the Hudson River, Delaware River, or Mohawk River and their tributaries) where the angler is fishing for “migratory fish from the sea” (such as striped bass, American shad, hickory shad, blueback herring, alewife). The Marine and Coastal District includes all the waters of the Atlantic Ocean within three nautical miles from the coast and all other tidal waters within the state, including the Hudson River up to the Governor Malcolm Wilson Tappan Zee Bridge.”

So if you’re fishing for flounder off New Rochelle or bluefish off Port Chester, you need a license. Striped bass in the Hudson? Get a license. It’s a first for the state and, environmental officials acknowledge, a way to keep license revenues in New York.

“New York’s coastal waters provide excellent angling opportunities offer anglers a wide variety of species to target, from scup and sea bass to bluefish and striped bass,” Department of Environmental Commissioner Pete Grannis said. “Realizing that the federal government was going to soon require marine fishing licenses if there were no state requirement in place, New York elected to implement this new license in order to keep the fees here to help fund state conservation programs. While we know this is a big change for the coastal fishing community, this was the best available option for New York. We appreciate the understanding of marine anglers.”

The licenses will cost $4, $8, and $10 for 1-day, 7-day and annual resident licenses, respectively. More information is in the announcement. You can buy the new marine fishing licenses anywhere you buy hunting and freshwater licenses.

All revenues generated from sales of annual, 7-day, and 1-day resident and non-resident recreational marine licenses will be deposited into the Marine Account. The Marine Account is a special sub-account of the Conservation Fund, and, in accordance with State Finance Law, monies in this account shall be available to the DEC specifically for the care, management, protection and enlargement of marine fish and shellfish resources. All revenues generated from the sales of lifetime recreational marine fishing licenses and lifetime combination fishing and recreational fishing licenses will be deposited into the Fish and Game Trust Account as per State Finance Law. Monies in the fish and game trust account are invested by the State Comptroller and the earned income is transferred into the Conservation Fund to be used for intended purposes.

The state has also put together a marine fishing guide, which includes a map and description of the affected area on pages 8 and 9.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Friday, September 25th, 2009 at 2:35 pm |
| | 2 Comments »

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FrOGS on NPR

September
25

Friends of the Great Swamp, a local organization that seeks to protect the Great Swamp, will be featured on NPR this afternoon. The Great Swamp is one of the state’s largest freshwater wetlands and sprawls over parts of Southeast and Patterson and into Dutchess County. Here’s the information, which was sent to me in an e-mail.

Flora Lichtman, interviewer for Science Fridays on NPR, investigates the Wood Turtle Project in the Great Swamp, an excellent example of public-private partnership: MTA, Town of Pawling, FrOGS, and local volunteers. Gordon Douglas drew attention to Mike Musnick’s project in “On the Wild Side,” his column in the Pawling News Chronicle in which he described working with Mike to help save the Wood Turtles.
(FrOGS board member)  Mike Purcell, (FrOGS sponsored researcher) Mike Musnick and (FrOGS chairman) Jim Utter on NPR Fri 9/25 2-4pm
Science Fridays: Saving the Wood Turtles in the Great Swamp
Time:2:00PM Friday, September 25th
Location:NPR, on the radio, & the video will be on www.NPR.org

Posted by Mike Risinit on Friday, September 25th, 2009 at 10:58 am |
| | 3 Comments »

Beavers

September
23

Quick. What’s New York’s official mammal? It’s the beaver, which is the largest member of the rodent family – averaging  3 to 3 ½ feet long and weighing 30-60 pounds. You can read all about beavers in this week’s Outdoor Discovery newsletter put out by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009 at 12:51 pm |
| | 3 Comments »

5th Annual Aquefest

September
22

“The Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct will host their 5th Annual Aquefest on Sunday, October 4 from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Dobbs Ferry and in Hastings-on-Hudson and Saturday, October 3 from 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. in Yonkers. Bike, hike, jog or stroll over to one or all of our celebration stations on the Aqueduct trail for an afternoon of local music, dance, Aqueduct art, history and awareness about our beloved Historic State Park and National Historic Landmark. All are invited to Join the Friends, renew your membership, purchase Aqueduct maps, caps or t-shirts (new tots size!) and enjoy the day.”

A list of Aquefest entertainment and activities can be found here.

Highlights, according to the Friends of the Old Croton Aqueduct:

In Hastings, October 4, on the trail between Edgars Lane and Minturn Street (above Zinsser Field): Fiddle Circle with Heather Martin Bixler and Friends followed by a traditional Irish Session (bring your fiddle, drum or penny whistle), up-in-the-air fun with Let’s Fly Kites, Bash the Trash Aqueduct Parade, Morris Dancing, Students on Stage by Broadway Training Center, Save Water Games, Aqueduct art, story circle, music by Spuyten Duyvil, Zach Hart & Friends, Acoustic Riverrun and the Clearwater Walkabout Chorus connects the trail with song from Hastings to Dobbs Ferry at 2 p.m.

In Dobbs Ferry, October 4, at the Keeper’s House on Walnut Street off Broadway:
At 1 p.m. Award-winning Storyteller Jonathan Kruk treats young and old to high energy, interactive tales of the Aqueduct and the NYC water supply in “Go with the Flow: Local Water Myths, Facts and Fairytales.” Music on the new Keepers House porch with Fred Gillen Jr. at 12 p.m.; Sleepy Hollow String Band at 2 p.m.; The Clearwater Walkabout Chorus, The Janet Grice Trio at 4 p.m. Plus Morris Dancing, Kids Unplugged, face painting, Aqueduct artists and more.

In Yonkers, October 3, on the trail between Wicker and Lamartine: Don’t miss our first ever Bicycle Rodeo at 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. only in Yonkers. Bring your bike and a helmet! Plus local artists and the Nepperhan Community Center Drum and Bugle Corp celebrate the Aqueduct!

Old Croton Aqueduct State Historic Park follows the route of the buried pipe that supplied drinking water to New York City from 1842 to 1955. The unused pipe remains below the hiking, biking and walking trail that snakes 26 miles from Croton to the Bronx line. The historic park is one of six state historic sites and 13 parks administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation – Taconic Region.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009 at 4:08 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

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Leave no child inside

September
22

A new film exploring the connection between a child’s learning and nature will be shown 4:30 p.m. Friday (9/25)  at Sarah Lawrence College in Yonkers. “When Learning Comes Naturally” is produced by Jonathan Diamond Associates in association with Sarah Lawrence College’s Child Development Institute.

CDI director Rachel Grob says the film comes at a time when many children are losing touch with the natural world as they hunker down in front of TV or computer screens.

“There’s a growing recognition that children really require a strong connection with nature, both to promote creative learning and to develop deep affection for the environment–an affection which children must have for the natural world before they come to understand it and take responsibility for it,” she says. “We need to find more ways to nurture that relationship and find more opportunities to introduce children to the natural world.

The effort to get more kids to spend more time outside, away from computers, Ipods, Xboxes, etc. — has been gaining steam in recent years. To capitalize on children’s connections to all things electronic, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is using a video game to get kids outside. (Seems counter-intuitive, I know.) But by completing the game, kids can get a free tree to plant.

The overall goal of the Neighborhood Explorer game is to meet the audience where they are – on the computer – and offer a “safe” place to explore nature. Then, as their comfort level grows, explorers are encouraged to go outside to explore their “real” neighborhoods.

Even Oprah’s trying to encourage kids to play outside.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009 at 1:47 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

Car-free lifestyle isn’t for everyone

September
21

With organizers pitching the car-free alternative and its annual day of recognition, there are those who don’t see it that way.
The Competitive Enterprise Institute, “a non-profit, non-partisan public interest group that studies the intersection of regulation, risk, and markets,” wants to remind everyone “of the value of personal mobility and the advantages of car ownership.”
“While many people love the idea of a car-free lifestyle, for most people it would be difficult, inconvenient and isolating,” said Sam Kazman, CEI General Counsel. “The handicapped, the elderly, parents with kids and groceries, suburban residents getting to work, rural residents running their lives – all depend on cars. The car-free lifestyle itself requires other motorized vehicles, which deliver everything from organic flour to fair trade coffee.”
CEI calls the annual observance “harmless,” it wants to ensure that consumer choice is not restricted.
“There are a host of activists and policymakers who would like to use taxes, fees, zoning restrictions and other regulations to make owning one’s own car more difficult and expensive,” CEI officials said. As a press release about the opposition points out, a “realistic day of car-free living,” should include: rain, grocery bags, babies and toddlers, crutches, late at night.

Posted by Greg Clary on Monday, September 21st, 2009 at 5:05 pm |
| | 3 Comments »

Driving your car Sept. 22?

September
21

Organizers of “World Car-Free Day” have chosen September 22, as the annual opportunity for people from around the world to get together in the streets, intersections, and neighborhoods to remind the world that it doesn’t have to be a “car-dominated” society.
The group wants every day to be as car-free as possible, but taps this day annually for what organizers hope is an international day of reminders. For more on the day and the effort, log onto the group’s Web site.

Posted by Greg Clary on Monday, September 21st, 2009 at 4:55 pm |
| | 2 Comments »

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Was that a gunshot I heard?

September
21

Indian Point will conduct security demonstrations for its employees Wednesday with simulated weaponry, so nuclear plant officials are reminding the public that gunshot sounds and other loud noises may occur throughout the day.
“We are taking steps to notify the public now about these events so there is no undue alarm caused by what they may hear around the site,” said Joseph Pollock, the plant’s top local official.
Local municipalities and law enforcement agencies have been informed, company officials said.
The demonstrations are part of the plant’s “Safety and Human Performance Appreciation Day,” – a day of information sharing and education among Indian Point employees.
Staff from departments throughout the site will be demonstrating the safe work practices employed while using their various tools and equipment.
Entergy Security will employ Multiple Integrated Laser Engagement Systems (MILES) gear, which duplicate the effects and sounds of live ammunition.
The simulated movement and shooting accuracy of the user and other data are collected by a computer for analysis. MILES gear is used for military and counter-terrorism training across the country to be as realistic as possible without using real bullets.

Posted by Greg Clary on Monday, September 21st, 2009 at 4:32 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

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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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