Wednesday, December 1, 2010

DEC: Hudson River Communities Must Prepare for Sea Level Rise

I haven't read the whole report, but I jumped to drinking water treatment because that's the first and most important impact I would expect Esopus will deal with. Here's what the report said:

Salt water intrusion...threatens the Hudson River, which is a primary water supply source for many communities.... Saltwater intrusion could affect freshwater intakes at the Chelsea Pumping Station, Castle Point Medical Center, Poughkeepsie, Port Ewen, Highland/Town of Lloyd, Dutchess County Water Authority, and Rhinebeck.

In addition, flooding and other sea level rise impacts pose many of the same risks to drinking water treatment facilities as those that threaten other infrastructure types: corrosion, erosion and deterioration.

Water treatment plants in the coastal zone are at risk from flooding and the associated corrosion caused by salt water infiltraion. In addition to the treatment facilities themselves, the substrate for distribution pipes could be damaged by erosion and a rising groundwater table....

Costs of necessary repairs, placements and updates to New York State's water infrastructure over the next 20 years have been estimated at $38.7 billion, although estimates of the costs of modifications to respond to climate change specifically have not been developed. These costs will, however, be significant.

In my mind, the Port Ewen water treatment plant has already likely been damaged by climate change, in combination with poor runoff management. Why? Climate change is expected to produce more frequent strong storms, and it's very strong storms on the order of 100-year storms that have repeatedly caused erosion that damaged the water treatment plant.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

10/19/10: GASLAND at UUCC Kingston

If you haven't seen GASLAND yet,
get thee to the UUCC tonight! --

7 PM on Tuesday, October 19
Unitarian Universalist Congregation of the Catskills
320 Sawkill Road
Kingston, NY

Sponsored by the Social Action Committee of UUCC
as part of its Issues Of Our Times series. Free admission.
For more information, call Paula at 845-679-2821.

Monday, October 18, 2010

10/18/10: NYS Gubernatorial Debate

Tonight at 7 PM:
Watch the first-ever NYS Gubernatorial Debate
live — on your TV or online.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Water, water everywhere....

Today is Blog Action Day 2010. The topic is water.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Now showing: GASLAND at Upstate Films

If you haven't seen GASLAND yet, here's your chance! It's showing this week - Tues (10/5), Wed. (10/6), and Thurs. (10/7) at 5:45 PM and 8 PM - at Upstate Films in Rhinebeck, NY.

When Catskill/Pocono filmmaker Josh Fox is asked to lease his land for natural gas drilling, he embarks on a cross-country odyssey uncovering a trail of secrets, lies, and contamination. Fox encounters EPA whistleblowers, congressmen, world-recognized scientists, and some of the most incredibly inspiring and heart-wrenching stories of ordinary Americans fighting against fossil fuel giants for environmental justice.

Fox: "Right now the Marcellus Shale is under attack by natural gas drillers. Nowhere is it more important for citizens to see GASLAND and get engaged in fighting unregulated hydro-fracking than in the Catskills. "

Congressman Maurice Hinchey: "GASLAND is a very important film about the risks posed by hydraulic fracturing - a method of drilling for natural gas that currently lacks proper oversight. We've seen what happens when energy companies are granted unfettered access to our precious natural resources without that oversight. In the wake of one of the largest environmental disasters in our nation's history, as millions of gallons of oil spew into the Gulf of Mexico, it is abundantly clear that we simply cannot rely on the promises made by those who have everything to gain and nothing to lose from drilling. We cannot allow drilling to move forward without rules in place to protect drinking water and our overall environment."

An important and timely exposé, GASLAND reveals the practices of the largest domestic natural gas drilling boom in history. Developed by Halliburton, hydraulic fracturing, or "fracking," has swept across the United States, opening up new territory in 34 states to extensive drilling, including the Marcellus Shale, a vast formation that underlies most of New York and Pennsylvania, as well as the New York watershed and the Catskills/Poconos.

Take Action:
1. Submit written comments on NYS DEC's Draft Strategic Plan for State Forest Management by 10/29. Let's ask DEC to remove the entire Mineral Resources section (pages 225 to 242) from this document, and ask that our state forests never be leased to the gas industry.
2. Visit these sites for more action items:

Thursday, September 23, 2010

9/23/10: Public hearing on NYS DEC's State Forest Management Plan

Public hearing tonight (9/23):
6:30 to 9:30 PM
DEC Region 3 Headquarters
Main Conference Room
21 South Putt Corners Road
New Paltz

The NYS DEC's Draft Strategic Plan for State Forest Management includes information about how DEC will proceed with leasing our state forests* for natural gas exploration and use of water for gas extraction once the DEC's SGEIS on hydraulic fracturing ("fracking") is finalized.

Meeting agenda:
6:30 to 7 PM - Sign in (and sign up if you want to speak)
You can also speak "one-on-one" with DEC personnel at this time
7 PM - Welcome
7:10 PM - Presentation about the draft plan (20 to 30 minutes)
7:40 to 9:30 PM - Public comments on all aspects of the draft plan

Let's ask DEC to remove the entire Mineral Resources section
(pages 225 to 242) from this document, and ask that our state forests never be leased to the gas industry.

For the full plan and information about the public hearings, go to:

Written comments will be accepted through October 29.

For more information about fracking, go to:

* These forests include 786,000 acres, but not do not include the Adirondack or Catskill Forest Preserves.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Uh oh. Emerald Ash Borer Found in Saugerties

I don't know off hand how much of Esopus's forest cover is made up of ash trees, but it's very likely threatened now that the ash borer, an invasive species that has been spreading out of the Midwest in recent years (where it has been very destructive), has been found in Saugerties. One of the key strategies employed to stop its spread is to never transport firewood. Now that it's in our area, it's particularly important that people do not transport firewood from here to elsewhere.

grocery store shopping

Photo: David Cappaert/ US Forest Service

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Ulster County Recycles 40% (Yay!) Esopus Recycles Less than 20% (Boo!)

The Freeman had an article this week with good news: Ulster County has met a goal of recycling 40% of municipal waste. Though one factor for the county's success was the bad economy (less stuff bought by individuals and fewer buildings built, resulted in less waste and less construction debris), it's still a positive sign.

Unfortunately, Esopus recycled just 18.6 percent of its waste in 2009, according to Ulster County Resource Recovery Agency data -- among the worst in Ulster County:

2009 Ulster County Recycling Rates
  1. New Paltz - 62.0 %
  2. Hurley - 58.7 %
  3. Shawangunk - 45.9 %
  4. Gardiner - 44.3 %
  5. Marbletown - 39.9 %
  6. Rosendale - 36.9 %
  7. Lloyd - 30.9 %
  8. Saugerties - 30.0 %
  9. Ulster - 28.9 %
  10. Marlborough - 28.1 %
  11. Plattekill - 24.7 %
  12. Olive - 23.9 %
  13. Esopus - 18.7 %
  14. Wawarsing - 18.6 %
  15. Hardenburgh - 18.5%
  16. Kingston - 17.3 %
  17. Denning - 16.7 %
  18. Rochester - 16.7 %
Esopus is unique among those low-performing towns (under 20% recycled) in that its recycling rate has dropped consistently over the past three years: from 23.6 percent in 2007 and 22.3 percent in 2008.

The Shawangunk, Gardiner and Plattekill transfer stations used to be run by the same contractor that runs Esopus transfer station, but each is now run by town employees. Esopus is the only town in Ulster County to pay a contractor to run its transfer station.

In 2008 and 2009 combined, Esopus spent, on average, $15.98 per ton of recyclables and $102.89 on municipal solid waste (ie, landfill). In other words, it cost $0.16 cents to recycle for every dollar it cost to landfill waste.

In calendar year 2008 and 2009, the Esopus transfer station ran a $91,000 combined deficit, a loss which is borne by local taxpayers. The cost to landfill waste amounted to 46% of that cost, and the cost of contracting for its operation was 52%.The cost of recycling was just 1.5%.

More to come.

Friday, April 23, 2010

4/24/10: Breathe Green Esopus!

To celebrate Earth Day, the Town of Esopus Environmental Board is holding its fourth annual tree and shrub seedling giveaway for Town of Esopus residents on April 24 at the Town of Esopus Library, 128 Canal Street, Port Ewen. Residents of the Town of Esopus can pick up seedlings from 11:30 AM to 2:30 PM during the "Breathe Green Esopus" event.

The seedlings are available free of charge. Pre-ordering is not necessary. Residents can just stop by and select seedlings that fit their planting needs.

The species of seedlings available include Northern Bayberry, Wild Raisin and Dwarf Sand Cherry. Each resident is entitled to three seedlings of any variety, as supplies last.

Planting trees and shrubs reduces erosion, provides food and shelter for wildlife, adds value to properties, filters water pollutants and sequesters carbon dioxide. In addition, planting species native to New York, such as Northern bayberry, wild raisin and sand cherry is preferable to planting invasive foreign plants, which may crowd out native species of not only plants, but the insects, birds and animals that rely on them. The benefits of planting a seedling magnify over the years, and last for a generation or more. The specific attributes associated with the seedlings being offered are as follows:

Northern Bayberry
A remarkably versatile shrub, this sun-loving shrub is tolerant of a wide range of soil types, but as one of the few shrubs which can fix nitrogen, Northern Bayberry can grow well on even the poorest sandy soils. The leaves make great potpourri, and the waxy gray berries are the source of fragrant bayberry candles. The berries are held well into winter and are eaten by many bird species. Bayberry makes a fine urban or roadside shrub because of its high tolerance for salt spray and its resistance to insect pests and diseases. It can be pruned as a hedge or allowed to spread as a low maintenance ground cover shrub.

Wild Raisin
Also known as Withe-rod for its long flexible shoots, Wild Raisin is most notable for its clusters of berries, which turn from pink to red to dark blue, often showing multiple colors in a single cluster. When the berries finally turn black, they are fully ripe and can be eaten. The flat-topped clusters of small white flowers are attractive in contrast to the glossy, somewhat leathery, green leaves. In fall, the leaves turn multiple shades of red. Although Wild Raisin grows well on a variety of sites, it is more tolerant of wet conditions than many viburnums, and makes a nice addition to a riparian site.

Dwarf Sand Cherry
One of the few naturally prostrate native shrubs, Dwarf Sand Cherry grows less than 18 inches high, but develops long creeping branches that develop roots where they touch the ground. Its low spreading habit and extensive roots make Dwarf Sand Cherry valuable for stabilizing slopes. It also makes a beautiful shrub for urban planting, especially where its branches can trail from raised beds or across gravel mulch.

Residents should plan to plant the bare-root seedlings as soon as possible. Instructions and advice will be available at the event. DEC Community Forester Lou Sebesta will be available to answer questions about tree planting, tree pruning and all other tree-related questions.
The Environmental Board is a volunteer advisory board to the Town of Esopus. Board members will be available to discuss energy efficiency, recycling, natural resources and other local environmental issues.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Celebrating Rachel Carson on Ada Lovelace Day

In honor of Women's History Month and Ada Lovelace Day, check out my blog post on environmental activist Rachel Carson, author of Silent Spring...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Finally, a Place to Proplery Dispose of Drugs in Ulster County

The Household Hazardous Waste Collection Event, which is partially funded by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, was created to bring hazardous waste disposal services into the community and to provide a drop off location for Ulster County residents. By offering alternatives for the safe disposal of household hazardous waste, Ulster County is taking a proactive role in protecting the environment by preventing these items from ending up in landfills or contaminating water sources and wastewater treatment plants.

This collection provides a free and safe disposal alternative for hazardous pesticides, solvents and household chemicals. Materials being accepted are lead and oil based paint (Note: latex paint will not be accepted as it is not a hazardous material), fertilizers, pesticides, household cleaners, paint solvents, hobby chemicals, etc. Also being accepted at the event are electronics for recycling for a $7 per carload fee: computers and their components, VCRs/DVD players, keyboards, printers, monitors/TVs, etc.

In addition to household hazardous waste and electronics, residents will also have the opportunity to discard their unused and/or expired medications at this event. When pills or liquid medicines are poured down the sink or flushed down the toilet they remain diluted in the water supply after treatment and these trace amounts are suspected of causing a range of health problems, according to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Bring any prescription or over-the-counter pills, ointments, lotions and liquids for disposal. Liquid medications should be in their original packaging and inside sealable plastic bags. Pet medications are welcome as well. The entire container along with its medicine will be placed into a sealed waste receptacle.

A Deputy Sherriff of Ulster County will be on site to control the collection of these medications as well as to witness the best means of permanent disposal of medications at the Dutchess County Energy-From-Waste Facility located in Poughkeepsie. There is no charge for this service but registration for an appointment is required.

An appointment must be scheduled if you are interested in participating in the event. Please visit our website at or call the Recycling Hotline at (845) 336-3336 to request more information or to make an appointment.

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Forum on Innovative New Energy Efficiency and Alternative Energy Financing Options is Feb. 27

The PACE program discussed below is a great option for homeowners, that allows you to invest in certain renewable energy and efficiency projects but pay them off over time. If you sell the house, the remaining payments are the responsibility of the new homeowner, and typically the deals are designed so your monthly energy savings is equal to or greater than the loan payments. The catch: It requires each local municipality to enact legislation creating the program. Here is info on an upcoming conference that includes information about the project and others:


A Briefing on New Energy Efficiency and Alternative Energy Initiatives
and Funding Strategies for Municipalities

Sat., Feb. 27, 9 AM - 1 PM
SUNY/New Paltz Lecture Center 102
(SNOW DATE: Sat., March 13)

This is a forum about new financing strategies for energy efficiency and renewable energy projects, which will build momentum and create markets for green jobs.

· PACE (Property Assessed Clean Energy) programs, just authorized by NY State, enable property owners to upgrade buildings using low-cost loans without out-of-pocket upfront costs then repay the investment on their tax bill with dollars saved from reduced energy consumption. Renewable energy and efficiency upgrades can be designed to yield positive cash flow benefits from day one.
· Power Purchase Agreements allowing owners of large buildings to contract for solar installations and pay for installation costs out of energy cost-savings.
· NYSERDA's programs for local governments, businesses, and schools; including Green Job/Green NY.
· The Ten Percent Challenge, a framework to hasten the implementation of energy efficiency and renewables and draw attention to the Hudson Valley as a clean energy corridor.
· Vendor show with sustainable energy-related exhibits and other green businesses, which will showcase products and services with a sustainable lifestyle theme.

Featured Speakers include:

Assemblyman Kevin Cahill
Representative of the 101st Assembly District and
Chair of the Assembly Standing Committee on Energy.

Karen E. Villeneuve
Director of NYSERDA’s Residential Efficiency and Affordability Program

Jackson Morris
Senior Policy Advisor, Pace Energy and Climate Center (PECC), representing PECC and the National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) in advancing clean energy policies in the State Capitol.

David Gabrielson, Councilman,
Town of Bedford's case study of a Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) initiative

Patrice Courtney Strong
Outreach and educational services provider for New York State Energy Research & Development Authority
and coordinator of Mid-Hudson Energy $mart Communities.

Michael O'Hara
Director of Operations, Sustainable Hudson Valley, organizing the Ten Percent Challenge.

Sponsors and Collaborators: Central Hudson Gas & Electric Corp., Hudson River Estuary Training Program, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Hudson Valley Regional Council, Hudson Valley Smart Growth Alliance, League of Women Voters of Mid-Hudson Region, Mid-Hudson Energy $mart Communities/NYSERDA , SUNY New Paltz Center for Research, Regional Education and Outreach (CRREO), and Sustainable Hudson Valley.

Endorsing Organizations (Partial List): Ashokan Center, Building Performance Contractors Association/NY State, Dutchess County Association of Supervisors and Mayors, Historic Hudson River Towns, Hudson Valley Climate Change Network, Independent Dutchess Energy Alliance (IDEA), The Nature Conservancy, New Paltz GreenWorks, Pace Energy and Climate Center, S3 Consulting, Ulster County Association of Town Supervisors and Mayors, US Green Building Council-NY Upstate Chapter.

Registration: Please go to to register. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged to facilitate morning check in. Event is free, however tax-deductable donations are welcome; checks should be made payable to League of Women Voters Education Fund.

Parking: Please use Lot 2 for Lecture Center, located on the western edge of the campus off of Fairview Ave. From intersection of Rt. 299/32 and Rt. 208, turn south on Rt. 208, then turn left (east) onto Hasbrouck Ave., turn right onto Tricor Ave., turn left onto Mohonk Ave. and finally right onto Fairview Ave. Alternately, park at Sojourner Truth Library lot. See: for campus map

Monday, February 1, 2010

Volunteers Needed for Herring Survey

The DEC's Hudson River Estuary Program is seeking volunteers to help with a survey of river herring abundance in the Hudson's tributaries. The herring monitoring program runs from April 1 - May 31, at the time when herring would be expected to be spawning. Herring spend their lives in the ocean, but spawn in the tributaries of inland rivers like the Hudson. Up and down the Atlantic coast, herring numbers have been in steep decline, and other states have restricted or banned fishing for herring in order to encourage a recovery. Anecdotal evidence suggests the same decline is happening on the Hudson; however, until this survey began last year, scientists had little recent hard data to measure the abundance of herring in the Hudson (with the exception of American shad, the biggest of the herring, and for hundreds of years the most important food fish caught in the river; commercial fishing for shad is banned, starting in 2010 in an effort to correct historic population declines.) River herring numbers (blueback and alweife herring) may be in decline because they are caught in large numbers as bait for striped bass anglers. Black Creek once had a huge spawning run of herring, but anecdotal evidence suggests it has waned or even disappeared. Black Creek is the only monitoring site in Ulster County.

Volunteers are asked to look for signs of herring, at least twice a week for 15 minutes. Training will be provided and no experience is necessary.

For more information, email or call 845-256-3182.

The Hudson River Estuary Program is also currently taking public comment on its latest Action Agenda, the document that guides the public-private effort to restore and protect the Hudson River watershed. You can learn a lot just by reading the plan, but it's also good to comment if you want to support or criticize any aspects of the plan.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Winter Fun Day at Esopus Meadows Preserve is Monday, Jan. 18

From Scenic Hudson:

"Banish cabin fever by letting your kids do something fun, free -- and good for them -- on their day off. Join us on Monday, January 18 at our Esopus Meadows Preserve for our annual Winter Fun Day. In addition to sledding and ice skating, we'll offer guided snowshoe treks, tips on building snow caves and igloos and Native American fire-making demonstration.

"Activities will run from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Visit the RSVP page for additional details and a schedule and directions."

Monday, January 11, 2010

Funding Source for Small Community Projects

Museums, afterschool programs, libraries, community centers, and other local organizations are encouraged to apply for mini-grants from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s “Celebrate Urban Birds” project. Grants average $250-$500 and are used to fund neighborhood events that may involve art, gardening, science, community service or other cultural activities. To apply for a mini-grant, visit Organizations working with underserved communities are strongly encouraged to apply. No experience with birds is required.

Application deadline is February 15, 2010.

Celebrate Urban Birds is a free, year-round citizen science project in which participants watch birds in their neighborhoods and report what they see. This information helps scientists better understand how birds survive in cities and make use of green spaces, including parks and gardens.