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The Nature of Things

A blog about nature and the environment

Keep Rockland Beautiful volunteers to be honored for, well, you know.


Keep Rockland Beautiful will hold its 2010 awards gala from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Nov. 6 at the historic bath house at the foot of Hook Mountain at Nyack Beach State Park in Upper Nyack.

Among its many activities, KRB annually organizes roadside and waterside cleanups, offers environmental programs at local schools, encourages beautification projects to deter blight and create better looking communities, hosts a seminar with local highway department workers on issues ranging from proper road salt usage to fighting graffiti, and offers land-use planning programs to high school students.

Most of what KRB does wouldn’t be possible without the support of thousands of volunteers, including individuals, families, churches and synagogues, businesses, scout troops, neighborhood groups, elected officials, and so on.

The organization will take time to recognize the efforts of its volunteers at the gala.

Here are the honorees:
• KRB Sponsor Award: Anna Roppolo, executive director, Rockland County Solid Waste Management Authority.
• Beautification Award: Scott Milich, chairman, Town of Clarkstown Pride of Clarkstown Committee.
• Education Award: Daniel Sullivan, teacher, Fieldstone Secondary School in Thiells.
• Cleanup Leader Award: Donna Drygas, Pascack Brook Cleanup Crew in Nanuet.
• Public Art Award: Shirley Goebel Christie, teacher, Clarkstown South High School in West Nyack.
• Enforcement Award: David Basnight, code enforcement, Rockland County Department of Health.
• Adopt-a-Road Award: Mal McLaren, McLaren Engineering Group in West Nyack.

The Artists in the Parks program features artists who create during the day and exhibit their works at the gala. The works will be sold to benefit KRB. Visitors can watch the artists as they work in the hours before the gala.

Tickets are $75 per person, and proceeds benefit KRB’s efforts.

Get tickets or more information by visiting www.KeepRocklandBeautiful.org or calling 845-623-1534.

Above, Frank Heinemann, left, and Liridon Gjonbalaj, both of Congers and workers with Town of Clarkstown Highway Department, place decorative trash cans at a bus shelter in Bardonia in July. Keep Rockland Beautiful provides decorative trash cans painted by artists and civic groups to place at bus shelters around the county. (File photo/Meagan Kanagy/The Journal News)

Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Wednesday, October 20th, 2010 at 4:51 pm
Category: Uncategorized


Learn more about our foodshed


A conference, “ Advancing Our Regional Foodshed: The Role of Higher Education,” will be held from 8 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. Friday and from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Saturday at Rockland Community College in Ramapo.

The event is part of the Environmental Consortium of Hudson Valley Colleges and Universities’ seventh annual conference.

Highlights include a discussion about whether the regional “foodshed” — the geographic areas that feed population centers — can realistically supply enough.

The cost is $25 per student consortium member; $35 for non-member students; $125 for consortium members; $150 for non-members. Get details by visiting http://environmentalconsortium.org/news/annualmeet.html or call 845-574-4323.

Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Wednesday, October 13th, 2010 at 2:26 pm
Category: Uncategorized



Activists work to curb climate change


Supporters of efforts to fight global climate change plan to participate in a “Global Work Party” at sites around the world Sunday.

Locally, supporters will staff an information booth from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during the Nyack Street Fair. Information about the issue will be available and adults and children can write letters and create drawings that will be sent to Congress and state and local elected officials calling on them to take action.

Visit http://350.org for more information about the events and about climate change.

Email pkurtz9@gmail.com or call 845-358-3386 to volunteer to help staff the info table on Sunday or for information about Rockland Sierra Club, the local event host.

Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Thursday, October 7th, 2010 at 6:19 pm
Category: Uncategorized


Legislature considers sewer law changes to allow biological grease treatments


The County Legislature will hold public hearings on two proposed amendments to the Rockland County Sewer law when it convenes at 7 p.m. Tuesday in the Allison-Parris County Office Building, 11 New Hempstead Road in New City.

The first amendment, sponsored by Legislator Ilan Schoenberger, D-Wesley Hills, would charge single-family homes one fee even if they have two kitchens. Homes with two kitchens currently pay two charges.

The second amendment, sponsored by Legislator Alden Wolfe, D-Suffern, would allow biological treatments to be added to a grease or oil interceptor, such as those used by restaurants and other facilities. Such treatment is currently banned.

Here is a news release from Legislator Wolfe regarding the biological treatment (verbatim):

Rockland County Legislator Alden H. Wolfe has proposed an amendment to the Rockland County Sewer Law that if passed, would allow food establishments that generate grease and oil the option to use biological methods to pre-treat and breakdown the captured waste, improving grease trap management.

Under the current sewer law, establishments such as restaurants, cafeterias, centralized kitchen or dining facilities are required to maintain grease and oil interceptors to prevent excessive amounts of waste, which clog sewer lines, from entering the sewer system.

Establishments are required to follow a regular, documented process to maintain and clean the interceptor and
remove and properly dispose of the grease. Presently, use of biological systems or treatments are prohibited, however, research has shown that some biological treatments break down complex grease molecules into simpler components, accelerating the degradation process that occurs naturally.

“Grease and oil are the natural enemy of a sewer system, narrowing pipes like plaque lining a blood vessel. Pre-treating grease and oil lessens the negative impact on the system as a whole and should contribute to its overall efficiency,” said Legislator Wolfe.  “Grease removed from a grease trap is considered hazardous waste, and breaking it down in advance reduces the volume of waste needed to be pumped, transported, processed and ultimately disposed of.”

“I want to make it very clear,” said Wolfe, “that if adopted, this law would simply create an additional opportunity for food establishments, not a mandate.  For those who do opt to utilize this method, pretreatment would not be a substitute for the regular maintenance that is required by the law.”

Above right, Legislator Alden Wolfe (The Journal News/file photo)

Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Monday, October 4th, 2010 at 3:59 pm
Category: Uncategorized


Lamont-Doherty’s ‘giant science fair’ is Saturday


The theme of this year’s open house at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory is “Earth on Alert.”

The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Route 9W campus in Palisades.

Here’s some information from the LDEO press release:

Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, a global leader in studying the natural world, opens its doors once a year to the public for demonstrations, talks and exhibits detailing its work — a giant science fair for all ages featuring top researchers.

This year, many scientists will discuss natural and manmade hazards they studied in 2010, including the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti and the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

• Tsunami layers in the Hudson River from one or more impacts of extraterrestrial bodies (11 a.m.)
• Earth Institute director Jeffrey D. Sachs on the outlook for next month’s world climate summit (11:15 a.m.)
• Lecture on hurricanes and climate change (11:30 a.m.)
• Haiti earthquake: panel on geology, socioeconomic impacts and prospects for recovery (noon)
• Latest findings on volume and consequences of the oil spill, from scientists now working in the Gulf (2 p.m.)
• Earthquake prediction in the shadow of chaos (2:30 p.m.)
• Tripling crop yields in rural Africa (3 p.m.)

Check out the complete schedule because the event offers loads of hands-on activities and other interactive opportunities.

Above right, a postcard announcing the open house (Provided by LDEO)

Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Tuesday, September 28th, 2010 at 6:30 pm
Category: Uncategorized


Putnam County’s Rain Garden Demonstration Project


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Posted by Mike Risinit on Thursday, September 23rd, 2010 at 10:54 am
Category: Uncategorized



A shad from the Hudson


There was no recreational or commercial fishing for shad in the Hudson River this year in an effort to help the dwindling fish population recover. But my daughter, along with a handful of others on Saturday, got a glimpse of some of this year’s young shad as they made their way out to the Atlantic Ocean.

Tom Lake, an estuary naturalist with the state Department of Environmental Conservation, netted a few during a Hudson River Valley ramble session. He figured the young fish born this year would be out in the ocean by the end of the month.

Posted by Mike Risinit on Wednesday, September 22nd, 2010 at 1:44 pm
Category: American shad, Hudson River, Hudson River Valley Ramble, Uncategorized


Biodynamic farming conference


The Biodynamic Farming and Gardening Association will hold its national conference at Threefold Educational Center, 260 Hungry Hollow Road in Chestnut Ridge, from Sept. 30 through Oct. 3.

The keynote speakers include Fred Kirschemann, president of the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Westchester County, and Sister Miriam MacGillis, co-founder of Genesis Farm in Blairstown, N.J.

Conference workshops will cover a range of topics, from biodynamic farming to making raw sauerkraut to the honeybee crisis. A benefit biodynamic food and wine tasting will be held at 6 p.m. Oct. 2 and include a special screening of “Queen of the Sun,” a new documentary on the honeybee crisis.

The cost to attend the full conference is $195 per person; the cost to attend the benefit is $25 for conference registrants and $50 per person for walk-ins; the cost to attend the conference as a walk-in on Oct. 2 or 3 is $90 per day. Visit www.threefold.org/bda for more information or to register.

Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Tuesday, September 21st, 2010 at 6:49 pm
Category: Uncategorized


Kids can learn more about Hudson River Estuary


A free program to help children ages 5 to 11 learn more about the Hudson River Estuary will be held from noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 26 at Memorial Park in Nyack.

The goal is to help kids gain a greater knowledge of the river and to foster a sense of environmental stewardship.

Activities will include beach combing, using seine nets then seeing what was caught, and studying fish to learn how they adapt.

The sponsors are the Nyack Park Conservancy and Clearwater. Space is limited and registration is required. Send an email to HudsonRiverKids@gmail.com or call Diana Cutt at 845-596-6631 to register or for more information.

Right, Eli Schloss, director of Tide Line programs at Clearwater, shows Ryan Gross a fish caught as the group used a seine net in the Hudson River at Nyack Memorial Park. (File photo by Kathy Gardner)

Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Thursday, September 16th, 2010 at 4:49 pm
Category: Uncategorized


Gardening therapy classes


The Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland will offer a conference from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Sept. 23 on therapeutic gardening, horticultural therapy and adaptive gardening techniques.

The program is for staff and volunteers who work with special populations, including people with disabilities and the elderly, in hospitals, mental health and assisted living facilities, nursing and group homes, and health and wellness organizations.

The speakers include Nancy Chambers, a horticulture therapist from the Glass Garden at the Rusk Institute for Rehabilitation Medicine in Manhattan.According to the institutes’s website: “The Glass Garden opened in 1958 as an amenity to Rusk Institute — a place where patients, visitors and staff enjoy the soothing, natural environment of plants, water birds, and beauty as a retreat from the hospital atmosphere.

“In the mid-1970s, one of the nation’s first horticultural therapy programs began in the Glass Garden. Patients of all ages work with trained horticultural therapists on activities that help to rehabilitate physical and cognitive functioning as part of their occupational therapy program. These horticulture activities also help the patients to achieve a sense of personal accomplishment, productivity and self-reliance.”

The cost to attend the Cornell program is $50 per person and includes lunch. Registration is required by Monday. Send an email to rockland@cornell.edu or call 845-429-7085, ext. 117 to register or for more information.

A Painted Lady butterfly enjoys nectar from a flowering Butterfly Bush during a monthly tour of the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Rockland’s demonstration garden in Thiells. (File photo by Kathy Gardner)

Posted by Laura Incalcaterra on Thursday, September 16th, 2010 at 4:35 pm
Category: Uncategorized