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The Nature of Things

A blog about nature and the environment

Archive for May, 2010

Not Cal Ripken


This Baltimore oriole spent a bit of Saturday afternoon at the top of (what I think is) some type of wild cherry tree in my yard. I manage to see one or two orioles in my yard every year and they are always attracted to this tree. Fruit is one component of their diet.

These attractive birds frequent woodlands and eat common creatures including caterpillars and insects supplemented by fruits and berries.

The birds are also heralded as a sign that spring is well underway, since many spend their winters way down in Central America or at the top of South America and it takes them a while to get here.

It’s also the official state bird of Maryland.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Monday, May 10th, 2010 at 11:57 am |
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DEC and two other Hudson River trustees back EPA on dredging


Here‘s the latest from the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation on the PCB dredging.

Posted by Greg Clary on Friday, May 7th, 2010 at 3:39 pm |
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Business alliance protests state DEC decision on Indian Point’s water use


A group of business and labor officials is warning that the New York Department of Environmental Conservation’s decision to make Indian Point change the way it uses Hudson River water to cool its nuclear operations “will drive businesses out of New York, cost jobs across the state, and raise (electric) rates.”

In a letter this week sent to DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis, 14 leaders warned of the impacts from the cost of this proposal, estimated at $8.5 billion.

Included in the group are state and county business councils; the Hudson Valley Economic Development Corporation; insulator, millwright and building unions as well as the Westchester and Rockland business associations.

The officials said the decision, which Indian Point owner Entergy Nuclear is appealing, would effectively require large cooling towers to be built at the Buchanan nuclear plant.

The letter also cautions that the proposal could “jeopardize the reliability of New York’s electricity grid” and asks the DEC to be mindful of a 2009 U.S. Supreme Court decision that found that cost-benefit analysis can be used when determining environmental regulatory policy.

The business and labor leaders also ask for an independent study to pinpoint the number of jobs that will be lost and the additional costs in the form of
higher electricity.

The organizations included are members of the New York Affordable Reliable Electricity Alliance.

Posted by Greg Clary on Friday, May 7th, 2010 at 2:39 pm |
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A robin family


So maybe I spoke too soon in regards to the robin’s nest near our porch. Given the cracked egg I found last month on our driveway and last year’s failed attempt by robins to raise a family in the same tree, I figured this year would be more of the same.

But I was wrong. Three eggs in the nest hatched earlier this week, maybe Tuesday, and mom seems to have become used to our comings and goings by the tree.  However, it’s still not clear sailing from this point on. Check out this math from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology.

An American Robin can produce three successful broods in one year. On average, though, only 40 percent of nests successfully produce young. Only 25 percent of those fledged young survive to November. From that point on, about half of the robins alive in any year will make it to the next. Despite the fact that a lucky robin can live to be 14 years old, the entire population turns over on average every six years.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Friday, May 7th, 2010 at 11:18 am |
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Water study assessment to be offered


Rockland County Legislator Connie Coker, D-South Nyack, said today that members of the Legislature’s Environmental Committee will hear an assessment of water resources in Rockland County, based upon a five-year study by the U.S. Geological Survey .

Paul Heisig, a USGS hydrologist who conducted the study, will present the assessment at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Allison-Parris County Office Building, 11 New Hempstead Road in New City. The public is invited to attend, Coker said.

Coker has also invited Bob Dillon of the Rockland Coalition for Sustainable Water to make a presentation, “Hackensack River Reservoirs and Rockland’s Water Rights.”

“This is a critical time for Rockland residents to know everything they possibly can about our water supply – both the quality and quantity,” Coker said in a news release today. “Paul Heisig and Bob Dillon will provide us with an opportunity to learn the facts about our situation so that we can develop a comprehensive approach to protecting our water supply.

“At this time, the (state) Public Service Commission is reviewing a United Water (New York) request for a 23 percent rate hike – yet United Water has not developed a definitive program for a sustainable water supply for Rockland. We are at a crossroad. I encourage residents to attend the meeting on the 12th to become better informed about our water supply,” Coker stated.

Coker also said she encourages residents to take advantage of the PSC public comment period, which ends May 15, to voice opinions on the water company and the proposed rate increase. Anyone wishing to comment may do so by writing to Hon. Jaclyn A. Brilling, Secretary, Public Service Commission, Three Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12223-1350; by calling the commission’s Opinion Line at 1-800-335-2120 or via the “PSC Comment Form” in the “Consumer Assistance” file on the commission’s website at www.dps.state.ny.us. In all cases, comments should reference “Case 09-W-0731 United Water New York Rates.”

Coker is chairwoman of the Legislature’s Environmental Comittee.

Above, Legislator Connie Coker, D-South Nyack.

Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Thursday, May 6th, 2010 at 8:56 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

What’s coming out of your faucet?


Lot of fun Wednesday trying to figure out where the best tap water is in Westchester. Check out the story and video

Posted by Greg Clary on Thursday, May 6th, 2010 at 12:17 pm |
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Rockland Farm Alliance benefit is Friday


Music For Farms, a new ensemble, will perform a benefit for the Rockland Farm Alliance at 8 p.m. Friday at the Threefold Auditorium, 260 Hungry Hollow Road in Chestnut Ridge.

The Rockland Farm Alliance works to nurture local sustainable agriculture in the county.

The Music For Farms ensemble includes John McDowell, owner and farmer of the Camp Hill Farm in Pomona; Emmanuel Vukovich, owner and farmer of Vukovich farm in Quebec, Canada; and musician Julia MacLaine.

McDowell is a founder of the farm alliance and is also well known for his musical accomplishments. He composed the score to the Oscar-winning “Born into Brothels;” has toured as a pianist and percussionist with the platinum-selling rock/world music band Rusted Root; and founded the Mamma Tongue band.

Vukovich is a violinist trained at both the prestigious Juilliard and McGill music schools, and is the recipient of Canada’s first Golden Violin Award.

MacLaine is a cellist who has performed at Carnegie Hall and in Europe, North and South America and Iceland.

Their program, “An Agricultural Rite of Spring,” will feature works by Bach, along with original compositions, some that weave Eastern and Western traditions and incorporate African drum rhythms.

Buy tickets in advance or at the door. The cost is $20 per adult; $15 per student; and $10 per child. Send an email to events@rocklandfarm.org, call 845-362-0207 or visit www.rocklandfarm.org/benefit.html for tickets or more information.

Above, farmer/composer/musician John McDowell working at Camp Hill Farm in Pomona in this Journal News file photo.

Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 at 5:03 pm |
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Environmental watchdog groups putting lawmakers on notice


The following comes EPL/Environmental Advocates, Long Island Environmental Voters Forum and the New York League of Conservation Voters. They’re not happy and they want state legislators to know it.



(ALBANY, NY)—Given the deep and disproportionate cuts to environmental programs included in Governor David Paterson’s budget proposal for 2010, EPL/Environmental Advocates, the Long Island Environmental Voters Forum, and the New York League of Conservation Voters announced today that the groups are coordinating their efforts to hold individual legislators accountable this fall.  Lawmakers’ votes to restore the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) as well as operating resources for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and to keep state parks open will be heavily weighted in their environmental ranking, endorsements and PAC support by the watchdog groups.

“While tough times require prudent budgeting, New York’s Environmental Protection Fund has been unfairly singled out in the Governor’s budget proposal,” said Richard Amper, Chairman of the Long Island Environmental Voters Forum. “Nearly $500 million has been swept from the Fund in recent years, and this year Governor Paterson proposes additional cuts to the tune of $69 million, a 33 percent hit. ‘We Love New York’ is not just a slogan—it means that we must hold lawmakers accountable for their actions.”

In January, Governor Paterson proposed the most expensive budget in New York State history but at the same time, his proposal takes an axe to environmental programs and leaves the DEC bleeding from staff losses. Under his plan, the DEC will lose 54 staff and the EPF will be reduced to $143 million, down from $212 million. Cuts to New York’s primary fund for environmental projects means that programs that range from water quality improvement and waterfront revitalization, to municipal parks, recycling and land conservation will be drastically reduced or shut down due to lack of funds.

“Everyone recognizes New York’s economic challenges, but our elected representatives must not imperil our air, water and natural resources by disproportionately cutting environmental programs and enforcement staff,” said Marcia Bystryn, president of the New York League of Conservation Voters. “In the upcoming campaign season, the Climate Action PAC – NYLCV’s political action committee – will not give a dime to any elected official who does not put their money where their mouths are when it comes to protecting and prioritizing environmental funding in the State budget.”

Proposed cuts to New York State’s DEC mean that the agency will have fewer personnel to oversee water and air pollution discharged into the State’s environment, as well as dozens of other critical functions. The loss of 54 staff positions, in addition to the more than 450 staff lost over the last few years due to budget cuts, a hiring freeze and retirement incentives, will leave the agency unable to fully protect New York’s environment and health.

“If lawmakers restore cuts to essential programs for protecting drinking water, state parks, and agency staff, we’ll recognize their effort. If they don’t lift a finger you can bet we’ll recognize that too,” said Robert Moore, EPL/Environmental Advocates, an organization that publishes the only environmental scorecard in New York State. “Every year, we score legislators’ performance on environmental issues and this year the budget will be a key part of that evaluation.”

EPL/Environmental Advocates, Long Island Voters Forum and New York League of Conservation Voters are inspired by the “We Love New York” campaign to defend the State’s environmental fund. The campaign includes billboard, online and print advertisements, including personal ads, asking state leaders to demonstrate their love for New York by supporting the Environmental Protection Fund. Campaign ads are available at www.KeepProtectingNY.org.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 at 1:00 pm |
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Indian Point’s latest siren test successful


Indian Point and county officials conducted a quarterly emergency alert test Wednesday morning and only one of 172 sirens failed to operate. The lone malfunctioning siren was in Rockland. The final tally was 99.4 percent, well above the federal regulatory requirement.

Posted by Greg Clary on Wednesday, May 5th, 2010 at 11:28 am |


DEC fines Mount Vernon landlord for pesticide use


State environmental regulators have fined Joseph Ofeck and Hope Horizon Realty, LLC of Mount Vernon $40,000 for using a restricted pesticide in a tenant’s bedroom. New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Regional Director Willie Janeway announced the fine Tuesday, adding that the employee was not certified to apply pesticides and that the incident didn’t appear to be isolated event. “This case is especially egregious since the misuse of pesticides happened in a resident’s bedroom and inappropriate exposure can sometimes result in numerous illnesses linked to chemical sensitivity,” Janeway said.

Posted by Greg Clary on Tuesday, May 4th, 2010 at 5:10 pm |
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