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The Nature of Things

A blog about nature and the environment

Archive for August, 2010

Menhaden tales


My only recollection of menhaden, a.k.a. bunker, is that they are bait fish — snagged in the Sound and then used to catch bluefish. But the fish are also prized for their use in Omega-3 capsules popular among Americans for the fish oil’s vaunted health benefits, as the linked-to AP story points out.

The fish are tangled in a debate over whether their low numbers are the result of overfishing or not. Along with their Omega-3 properities, menhaden are also an important prey species for larger fish. Some are concerned that commericial fishing for menhaden in the Chesapeake Bay is leaving too few behind for striped bass and other species that depend on them for food.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Monday, August 30th, 2010 at 12:14 pm |

Birding festival is set


The Hackensack River begins flowing in Rockland, with its headwaters located near the Clarkstown-Ramapo border near South Mountain Road. The river is a major source of drinking water for Rockland and communities in New Jersey, helping to fill Lake DeForest in Clarkstown and Lake Tappan on the Rockland and Bergen County, N.J., border, as well as reservoirs in Woodcliff Lake and Oradell.

One group dedicated to safeguarding the river and its watershed is the Hackensack Riverkeeper. The organization is based in New Jersey but advocates for the overall watershed, including the part in Rockland.

Hackensack Riverkeeper is also an organizer of a variety of activities each year and one of the most popular is the annual Birding Festival, set to take place Sept. 11 and 12 in the Meadowlands. There is a fee and you should consider signing up early because some of the programs, which include birdwatching,  pontoon boat rides, paddling tours, and talks, fill up fast.

Get the details on this year’s event by clicking below.

Above, a Northern Mockingbird. Photo by Doug Goodell; provided by Hackensack Riverkeeper.

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Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Tuesday, August 24th, 2010 at 12:31 pm |

Uncle Sam wants you


To keep an eye out for invasive beetles threatening the nation’s trees. Both the emerald ash borer, as my colleague Greg Clary wrote about, and the Asian longhorned beetle pose a serious threat to hardwood trees. By examining trees in your yard or neighborhood and passing on information to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, you can help keep track of these invasive pests.

Check out Beetle Detectives for more information and online reporting forms.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, August 18th, 2010 at 4:34 pm |


Forest Pest Awareness Month


Kind of just rolls right off the tongue, doesn’t it? August, Gov. Paterson and the state agriculture department have declared, is Forest Pest Awareness month — a chance for you and your neighbors to learn “about the risks associated with forest pests and pathogens, and the actions (you) can take to help safeguard New York’s valuable and abundant forests.”

“Forests are important to the quality of life to all New Yorkers, and August is dedicated to protecting these valuable lands from unwanted pests, such as the Emerald Ash Borer and the Asian Longhorned Beetle,” Commissioner Patrick Hooker said. “Awareness is the first step towards changing the behavior of others, and over the next month, we hope to increase the awareness of forest pests in New York State and awaken a level of interest and knowledge by citizens of how they can help detect these pests and safeguard our natural resources.”

Emerald ash borers are small Asian  beetles that can infest and kill ash trees. Asian longhorned beetles can kill many types of hardwood trees.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010 at 2:41 pm |
| | 1 Comment »

See any turkeys?


August is the month when the state Department of Environmental Conservation conducts its Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey. Basically, if you see a wild turkey this month, the agency wants to know about it.

DEC conducts the Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey annually during the month of August to estimate the average number of wild turkey poults (young of the year) per hen statewide and among major geographic regions of the State. This index allows us to gauge reproductive success in a given year and allows us to predict fall harvest potential. Weather, predation, and habitat conditions during the breeding and brood-rearing seasons can all significantly impact nest success, hen survival, and poult survival.

For instructions and to download a survey form, go here.

(TJN photo by Frank Becerra)

Posted by Mike Risinit on Monday, August 2nd, 2010 at 4:26 pm |

Your thoughts wanted on the future of conservation


Representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, Department of the Interior, the Environmental Protection Agency and other federal agencies will be in the Hudson Valley this week to get your thoughts on “conservation, recreation and reconnecting people to the outdoors.” The listening stop is part of the America’s Great Outdoors initiative put forward by President Obama.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation, Scenic Hudson and other environmental groups are pushing this Friday’s (Aug. 6) event at Marist College in Poughkeepsie.

From Scenic Hudson:

HUDSON VALLEY – Los Angeles, Calif.; Denver, Colo.; Missoula, Mont.; Minneapolis, Minn.; and Charleston, S.C. are among the special places across the U.S. where senior officials from President Obama’s “America’s Great Outdoors Initiative” have been engaging citizens in conversations as the federal government seeks to develop a 21st-century conservation agenda to reconnect Americans with our great outdoors. Comments shared at these sessions will be included in a report to be presented to President Obama on Nov. 15, 2010. Hudson Valley residents are excited about the administration’s visit—and are reaching out to friends and neighbors, encouraging them to step up and speak out for the region’s great outdoors when a group of high-level federal representatives comes to the area for two listening sessions on Thursday, Aug. 5, and Friday, Aug. 6. Pete Seeger, local legendary folk singer and environmentalist, and area youth from Clearwater’s Power of Song program, will open the Aug. 6 general listening session with a song.

Valley land preservation, environmental education, and recreation and tourism groups are asking residents to join senior representatives from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, U.S. Department of the Interior, Environmental Protection Agency and other agencies for public listening sessions in Hyde Park and Poughkeepsie.

Ned Sullivan, president of Scenic Hudson, said, “This is a terrific opportunity for Hudson Valley residents to tell why being outdoors in the region is special. It’s a chance to tell top federal decision-makers how we can partner with them, with kayak outfitters, park managers, local government and community groups to improve our outdoor experiences for tourists and residents. People should join the gathering to let the Obama administration officials know we want to work with them. If you care about healthy water, working farms, great parks or other parts of being outdoors—come participate.”

More information and registration details can be found at America’s Great Outdoors.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Monday, August 2nd, 2010 at 10:31 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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