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Story of the Week: Transforming Forgotten Spaces
Across Western New York, 102 gardens can be found in unexpected places. Thanks to Grassroots Gardens and local communities, each garden is a special place where residents have come together to transform forgotten spaces, and over the course of time, the gardens they create spark relationships and ideas, heal wounds, and nurture bodies and communities.
Grassroots Gardens WNY (GGWNY) exists to facilitate the visions of community members seeking to make physical and social change through community and school gardens. The organization's greatest point of pride is that each garden represents the unique group of cultures and people they serve. Annually, their network yields over 30,000 pounds of produce and actively engages more than 2,000 residents on previously vacant urban land.
In 2014, GGWNY recognized an opportunity to expand their work to include the development and stewardship of school gardens, and since then has grown their program from 3 to nearly 30 school gardens in the City of Buffalo. Their ability to expand the program can be credited in large part to support from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) through the NYS Conservation Partnership Program, which has allowed GGWNY to explore and strengthen school garden programs by supporting both the internal capacity of the organization through staff and policy development, and has funded innovative partnerships with environmental education providers.
In recent years, GGWNY led an EPF-funded initiative alongside the Buffalo Audubon Society, creating a pollinator awareness program for Buffalo school garden participants and engaged in a network-wide assessment of climate and food systems awareness. Through hands on, experiential learning, students made connections to the natural world and the food system through the lens of their gardens. Native plant mass was increased at every participating site, and students learned to identify and monitor pollinator populations in urban ecosystems while increasing their awareness of climate issues, fostering a new generation of environmental stewards! To learn more about Grassroots Gardens' work, visit grassrootsgardens.org.
More EPF Stories
A New Recipe for Recycling
What do the Jacob Javits Center in New York City, the Rosamond Gifford Zoo in Syracuse, Wegmans grocery stores, Destiny USA (the largest mall in Central NY), and 7,000 school students all have in common? They each are part of a unique composting program in Camillus, NY – just west of Syracuse in Onondaga County, where a "new recipe for recycling" is underway at the Onondaga County Resource Recover Agency's (OCRRA's) Amboy Compost Facility.
Composting is the process of turning food scraps and other organic materials into a nutrient-rich soil amendment that helps flowers and plants flourish. At the Amboy facility, food scraps from local grocery stores, restaurants, schools, universities, and local residents, are combined with shredded yard waste to create a high quality compost.
Traditionally, composting is a lengthy process, requiring a lot of mixing and churning. But at OCRRA's Amboy facility, a series of programmed blowers create optimal oxygen rich conditions for decomposition. The compost is ready in just 90 days – which is much quicker than the typical process.
Through this state-of-the-art technology, OCRRA has created an award-winning model for sustainability that is being replicated in other communities in New York State and beyond. The facility composts over 4,000 tons of food scraps annually, and now produces over 10,000 yards of compost each year, helping Onondaga County's 450,000 residents achieve a 57% recycling rate. This impressive feat makes OCRRA's Amboy site the largest municipal food scrap recovery program in New York State, and the only municipal program in NY producing compost certified by the U.S. Composting Council's Seal of Testing Assurance program.
OCRRA's compost is in high demand, and has been used in green infrastructure projects across the state, including Syracuse's Rosamond Gifford Zoo, on the green roof at the Javits Convention Center in NYC, on a habitat restoration project on Onondaga Lake, and in a highway embankment project in southern New York. OCRRA's bagged compost can also be purchased at over 30 locations throughout the community. If you live in this area and want to deliver food scraps to OCRRA's Amboy Compost Facility or purchase their STA-certified compost, visit www.ocrra.org/services/compost.
OCRRA also offers compost-related programming, including: master composter training classes; compost education and training to local businesses and schools; personal guidance and assistance to home composters seeking to recycle their own food waste with worms; and an award-winning online educational learning program aimed at 3rd - 5th graders. Learn more at https://ocrra.org/services/education-program/.
Grants from the Environmental Protection Fund's Municipal Waste Reduction and Recycling Program helped support the Amboy facility's development and construction costs, as well as the purchase of heavy equipment to operate the facility. To learn more about this program visit: http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/4776.html.
Connecting Kids to Nature + Expanding Environmental Education
Spending time in nature is good for the soul, and for kids, it offers a natural classroom alive with wonder and discovery. Thanks to Governor Cuomo's Connect Kids to Parks program, New York teachers and educators can take their classes (or afterschool/youth bureau group) to a park or historic site and have the transportation costs reimbursed. EPF grants cover school trips to parks, nature centers, historic sites, Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Education Centers, fish hatchery, or selected DEC sites. Across the state, New York is home to parks with diverse recreational opportunities - from Humphrey Nature Center at Letchworth State Park to Roberto Clemente State Park - along with historic sites and education centers that bring history alive.
The Connect to Kids program will inspire a new generation of environmental stewards! Thanks go to Governor Andrew Cuomo, NY State Parks & Historic Sites, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Environmental Justice program of the EPF for bringing thousands of preK-12 students – particularly those from underserved areas – to State Parks and public lands this year! EPF grants will reimburse bus costs, tolls, bus entry fees and any program fees, up to $1,000. Give your class a hands-experience in nature this year. Book a trip today!
Find a park, historic site, or education center near you with the Connect Kids to Nature map. Learn more and apply for funding at https://parks.ny.gov/environment/connect-kids/grant-program.aspx.
Enhancing Picture Perfect Views
Imagine a place with some of New York's most famous landscapes all in one view: the Hudson River, the Catskills, the Taconic Hills, meadows, lakes, native woodlands, farms, and more. It sounds so picturesque it could be an artist's muse, doesn't it? That is exactly the description of Olana State Historic Site. Not only the backdrop of his famous landscape paintings, Olana State Historic site was created and designed by the famous 19th century landscape artist, Frederic Church. Located in Hudson, New York and spanning 250-acres complete with a 360 panoramic view of the surrounding area, Olana is a must-see for all New York nature enthusiasts.
Combining art, architecture, landscape design, and environmental conservation, Olana draws 150,000 visitors a year seeking to take in what inspired Frederic Church and his paintings. Visitors can tour Church's exquisite Persian-inspired house while taking in stunning panoramic views of the Hudson Valley or exploring the artist-designed landscape. Now, thanks to grant funding from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), visitors can also access guided walking, driving, or cell phone tours, which explain the importance of the area.
Olana opened to the public on June 3, 1967 and is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year! This Fall, visit Olana to see the "OVERLOOK" exhibit, ride on an Autumnal Horse & Carriage tour, attend the "Tasty History" series on Bittersweet Tales from Latin America, gaze at the sky on Astronomy Night (10/21), attend free museum storytelling family tours, and much more! For details and other events visit www.olana.org/calendar.
One of the most visited sites in the state, Olana is a New York State Parks Historic Site and a designated National Historic Landmark. The Olana Partnership is a nonprofit that works with New York State (NYS) to support the restoration, conservation, and interpretation of Olana State Historic Site. To learn more about Olana and The Olana Partnership, visit www.olana.org.
The Olana Partnership received support for the public tour project through the EPF's Park and Trail Partnership Program (PTPP). Launched in 2015, the PTPP is administered jointly by Parks & Trails New York and the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP). It is a $500,000 capacity building, matching grants program that enhances NYS parks, trails and state historic sites and the nonprofit organizations that support them. If you have a project that promotes sustainability, stewardship, tourism, or economic development benefits of a NYS park, trail, greenway, or historic site, you may be able eligible for a grant from the Environmental Protection Fund's Park and Trail Partnership Program, too! Learn more about this program and the projects it supports at https://www.ptny.org/our-work/support/park-trail-partnership-program.
Revival of the Hudson Dayliner Tradition
Escaping the bustling city, a steamboat cruises across the Hudson River, bringing New Yorkers and tourists upriver to take in iconic Hudson Valley scenery, learn the region's history, and marvel at the ship's engines, ballroom, and expansive interior. A voyage first setting set sail in 1807, this type of excursion, known as the "Hudson Dayliner tradition," will be available to you soon thanks to the SS Columbia Project!
This special project is breathing new life into the Hudson Dayliner tradition through the restoration of a 1902 Detroit-made vessel, the SS Columbia, the oldest remaining excursion steamship in the United States. With restoration underway, project organizers hope that Columbia will be a new cultural venue in New York – a floating platform for arts, education, and entertainment connecting New York City to the Hudson Valley.
The project was originally envisioned by the late Richard Anderson, who sadly passed away before seeing his vision complete, but the SS Columbia Project board is continuing the project in his legacy. Acquired by Anderson in early 2000's, Columbia is one of only two ships of its kind remaining and a National Historic Landmark. For 89 years, she ferried passengers from downtown Detroit to Canada's Bois Blanc Island (Boblo Island) amusement park. However, her rich history, including the owner's involvement in a lesser known civil rights case, came to an end with the closing of the amusement park in 1991. For two decades, the boat slowly deteriorated at a Detroit pier, until Anderson found her while searching for a boat to carry out his dream of restoring the Hudson Dayliner tradition.
Through support from Anderson's estate, the Environmental Protection fund, and other donations and grants, Columbia has been towed from Detroit, spent a year in a shipyard in Toledo where she was made seaworthy again, and is now docked at Silo City in Buffalo. The next step is the great journey to the Hudson River where the restoration will continue in Kingston, NY. Once in service, Columbia will be berthed in New York City, making day trips upriver, stopping at cities and towns and providing passenger access to the expansive views, parks, historic sites, and cultural institutions of the Hudson Valley.
Luckily, we do not have to wait for the restoration to be complete to take part in this tradition! The SS Columbia Project will be piloting their arts and cultural programs aboard the historic covered barge Pennsylvania Road No. 399 along the Hudson this fall through a grant front the New York State Council on the Arts. "Hudson River Stories" barge will be a traveling celebration of arts and culture. Join the fun in Waterford at the Tugboat Roundup September 8th-10th or in Kingston during the O+ Festival October 4th-16th. Events will include free exhibits, performances, and interactive workshops. Find out more about upcoming events.
Restoration of SS Columbia is underway thanks in part to a Historic Preservation grant from the Environmental Protection Fund. Grants from the Historic Preservation program improve, protect, preserve, rehabilitate, restore, or acquire properties listed on the State or National Registers of Historic Places; grants are also available to complete structural assessments and/or planning for such projects. Learn more about the EPF's Historic Preservation grant program. online casinos usa mac
Learn more about the SS Columbia project.
The return of river herring after 85 years
In Rensselear County, the Wynants Kill stream flows from Crooked Lake, in the Town of Sand Lake, to the Hudson River in the City of Troy. It's a great place to fish, relax, and take in a waterfall or two. And now, thanks to the City of Troy, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), Riverkeeper, and the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), you can spot river herring for the first time in 85 years.
By removing a dam in the Wynants Kill, the City and its partners restored a quarter mile of historic spawning habit for river herring. Since the 1960s, herring populations along the Atlantic Coast have been in sharp decline due to overharvesting and the loss of spawning habitat. But after removing a metal barrier on May 4, 2016, DEC observed hundreds of herring enter the stream. In addition to river herring, American eel, yellow perch, and other fish species now have access to the stream as well. The removal of the dam also helps reduce flooding and improves water quality. This successful project is the first of its kind, but paves the way for similar projects.
"We're very proud of the City of Troy for being first in this initiative. By helping to restore life to this stream, Troy is demonstrating that communities can not only benefit from the river, they can also benefit the river in return," Riverkeeper Captain John Lipscomb said. "The river is better off today than before Troy took this action. How many communities can say the same?"
"We talk about environmental damage as 'death by a thousand cuts,'" Lipscomb said. "This heals one of those cuts – a really bad cut. The construction of the Wynants Kill barrier almost 100 years ago cut off a tributary that was owned by the herring and other species. Now it's theirs again. That's how the Hudson River will recover. That's how the Hudson will be restored. By healing one cut at a time. We can be proud of this. And we need to immediately look for another opportunity."
The project was funded by the EPF, through a Hudson River Estuary Program Grant awarded to Troy in 2016. The Estuary program helps people enjoy, protect, and revitalize the Hudson River Estuary. For more information, including funding opportunities, visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/5091.html.
Creating a tree inventory for Norwich
The City of Norwich is nestled in the hills of central New York. Designated an economically distressed community by the State, Norwich has a small but active community and they strive to make their city beautiful. From May to October, they host festivals such as the Norwich Pumpkin Festival and Blues Fest, which draw visitors from all over the country. A Tree City USA for the last two decades, trees are an essential part of Norwich's landscape, which not only make the town look good, they also help the community feel good.
But one thing Norwich didn't have was a usable inventory of their street trees. So they applied for an EPF grant to change that. In 2012, the City of Norwich conducted a city-wide inventory of their street and park trees. It was a joint effort undertaken by staff from the City of Norwich, Cornell Cooperative Extension of Chenango County, and The Place; the effort was led by Todd Dreyer, a city planner, and Rebecca Hargrave, a professor. A team of young people, employed by a local AmeriCorps program known as the Headwaters Youth Conservation Corps (HYCC), were trained to conduct the tree inventory for the City.
HYCC collected tree data on paper forms and collected location data with GPS units. Identifying tree types and determining a consistent condition for each tree challenged the young conservationists, but they persevered. The quality of their work was excellent, and Professor Hargrave highly recommends working with youth corps on tree inventories.
Mr. Dreyer said of the process, "The City of Norwich considers the work that was done with the inventory to be extremely important in the ongoing management of community's street and park tree resources. In addition to helping us decide where to plant new trees, it alerts us as to where disease or decay issues may arise."
Funding for the project came from an urban forestry grant through New York State's Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). Dryer said of the funding program, "Given the financial challenges our community faces, we very much appreciate that the program allows us to count in-kind services as our local match. The funding opportunities are refreshingly straight-forward, and they provide a high probability of funding success. Therefore, it is definitely a program other communities should consider."
The Department of Environmental Conservation is currently accepting applications to fund urban forestry projects that will enhance landscapes and provide green spaces in urban areas across the state. Applications are due by 2pm on March 1, 2017. Learn more about the grant program by visiting http://www.dec.ny.gov/press/108756.html.
Protecting the recreational paradise of Long Island's South Shore
Where can you find miles of sandy beaches, a plethora of marinas and trails, and an abundance of opportunities to fish, hike, swim, boat, or just sit back and enjoy the coast? Long Island's South Shore, of course!
Home to a million and a half people, Long Island's South Shore Estuary anchors the region's tourism, seafood, and recreation industries; each year, attracting millions of visitors to enjoy the beauty and serenity of the shore. 23 years ago, the New York State Legislature established the Long Island South Shore Estuary Reserve in order to protect and manage the South Shore Estuary to ensure its long-term health as the foundation of the local economy and a natural and cultural treasure. Now that's good government in action! Especially considering the high concentration of water-dependent businesses in the South Shore Estuary Reserve depend on clean water and health living resources to thrive.
Over the years, the Environmental Protection Fund along with local governments, estuary-related businesses, and nonprofit organizations have helped the State protect the long-term health of the Reserve's bays and tributaries, its tidal wetlands and wildlife, and its tourism and economy from improving water quality to restoring living resources to enhancing public use and enjoyment.
The Reserve's many beaches, tidal wetlands, salt marches, seagrass beds, and open waters provide critical habitat for hundreds of species of wildlife, which in turn, support fishing, shellfishing, recreation, and tourism. Tidal wetlands also play a crucial role in protecting nearby communities from storm surge and flooding. The South Shore Reserve contains more significant coastal fish and wildlife habitats than any other region in New York.
Want to visit this recreational paradise? Then you may want to check out the South Shore Blueway Trail. The trail is a network of 22 launches and landings that provide safe access points for non-motorized boaters to experience the natural, scenic, and cultural wonders of Long Island's South Shore. The Blueway Trail was made possible by more than a thousand local residents, the Village of Freeport, Nassau County, and received funding support from the EPF. Thanks New York State!
Creating a green oasis in Northern Brooklyn
East River State Park offers visitors a stunning view of the Manhattan skyline, a delightful play area, and invaluable urban green space for recreation and relaxation. The area was previously the site of a 19th century shipping dock. The EPF provided $8.3 million to purchase nine acres along the East River waterfront, transforming the area into a community park while preserving and protecting the many natural and historical resources along the shoreline.
The park hosts special events that have become quite popular. Smorgasburg, held every Saturday in the park, has grown into an international tourism destination and the Summer Movie Nights series is a popular draw for neighborhood families.
But over the last decade, several feet of the park's beach and lawn have been lost to erosion. Then when Superstorm Sandy struck, a third of the park was flooded and experienced significant damage. A shoreline restoration project was undertaken to repair the park and complete its transformation from a rail-to-barge shipping terminal into a green oasis. online casinos us accepted
Funded by the EPF, the restoration project included rebuilding the stone rip rap buffer, replenishing beach sand, installing a low-lying wall of reclaimed granite blocks at the edge of the lawn, adding new native plantings, and creating a new kayak launch. The restoration project completed a series of improvements outlined in the initial vision for the park, which opened in 2007.
Creating Community Forests for Generations of New Yorkers
Where can you find scenic views, outstanding recreation, and diverse wildlife? The Adirondacks or Catskills may come to mind, but this week, we’re celebrating Rensselaer Plateau, a place just as beautiful but perhaps less well known. The Rensselaer Plateau is one of the largest intact native habitats in New York, stretching from the town of Hoosick to the Village of East Nassau.
The Rensselaer Plateau Alliance works hand-in-hand with surrounding communities to preserve the area’s forests and ecologically important areas, which in turn, protect clean air and water. In 2011, the idea for creating a community forest was born. Thanks to the passion of Alliance board and staff, the hard work of hundreds of volunteers, and federal grants along with state funding from the EPF, the 350-acre Poestenkill Community Forest is now open to the public, and more community forests are in process.
Local resident, Donna Heald, said, “The presence of the Community Forest on our road has been a great source of pride for us. We have enjoyed learning about native trees and the importance of controlling invasive plants, sustainable forestry, wetland ecology, trail building, as well as the local history of the land where our home resides. In addition, we have enjoyed participating in recreational activities hosted by the Community Forest such as nature walks and snowshoeing.”
The Poestenkill Community Forest has all kinds of wildlife and recreational activities for the public to enjoy including hiking, biking, hunting, and skiing. The Alliance works with dozens of partners on various projects; right now, they’re working with the Saratoga Mountain Bike Association to develop trails for mountain bikers. The forest also serves as a demonstration area for best forest management practices. Education programs for forest landowners are held on site along with service learning and citizen science projects.
To learn more about the Alliance and their work including creating community forests for generations of New Yorkers, visit http://www.rensselaerplateau.org.
Expanding Access to Nature
Black Rock Forest, just south of Newburgh, boasts some of the best hiking opportunities in the Hudson Highlands. Now, thanks to two EPF grants, a new Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) accessible pathway was created at this popular old growth forest. This trail can be safely accessed by just about everyone—including people using wheelchairs or walkers, as well as families with young children and strollers.
Douglas Hovey, the executive director of Independent Living, Inc. offered this perspective, “As a person who uses a wheelchair, being able to experience nature and the great outdoors is such an essential part of my well-being. There are very few outdoor resources for people with disabilities, therefore this addition at Black Rock Forest is significant for the thousands of people living with disabilities in the Hudson Valley.”
“We are thrilled that more visitors will be able to enjoy the expansive trails that make up Black Rock Forest, thanks to the great new addition of the Visitor Access Pathway,” said State Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. “This is a great example of how the Environmental Protection Fund provides real recreational opportunities for New Yorkers.”
This past spring, parks and environmental communities celebrated an historic expansion of New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). Thanks to Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature, the EPF grew to $300 million in 2016. This historic expansion translates into greater investment in cleaner water and air, park expansions and farmland protection, among many critically important programs. Improving the public’s access to parks and all that they offer are among the great achievements of the EPF.
“Every year, Open Space Institute (OSI) and our many partners work together to make the case for greater investment in the EPF,” said Kim Elliman, OSI CEO and president. “It is gratifying to see how the EPF is making our state’s most spectacular natural landscapes more accessible to a fuller range of visitors and explorers.”
Black Rock Forest is an intact, mature deciduous forest dominated by native species, including rare and endangered plants and animals. The forest provides critical refuge for mammals like the bobcat, coyote, otter, and black bear. The Black Rock Forest Consortium manages the forest and works closely with its partners, including the Open Space Institute, the Orange County Land Trust, and the Hudson Highlands Land Trust, to preserve key parcels of land. Together, they have created a wildlife corridor between Black Rock Forest and Schunemunk Mountain encompassing more than 117,000 acres of habitat. To learn more, visit http://blackrockforest.org. internet casino gambling in the usa
Protecting the home of 1,500 species
The Albany Pine Bush Preserve is a globally rare ecosystem filled with pitch pines, dense shrubs, and prairie grass rooted in sweeping sand dunes. This unusual landscape is home to 1,500 plants and animals, many rare or threatened, including the endangered Karner blue butterfly. The 3,200-acre preserve is located in New York’s Capital District, and is a critical migratory path for all kinds of birds. The preserve contains 18 miles of trails that are open to the public for a wide variety of recreational activities including hiking, cross country skiing, mountain biking, horseback riding, bird watching, and much more.
The Pine Bush is a place where learning comes alive for children and adults alike. The Pine Bush’s Discovery Center introduces you to everything that makes the Preserve rare, significant, and distinct. The Discovery Center has interactive exhibits where people of all ages can learn about the unique environment and human history of the Albany Pine Bush, and provides an accessible outdoor Discovery Trail for users of all abilities. Throughout the year, the Pine Bush hosts public programs including Science Lecture Series, Walks and Talks, and Pine Bush Pups (programs designed for children ages 2-6).
This Friday evening is the opening of a special photo exhibit and during the winter school break, they’re hosting a week of Science Lab investigations with topics that include crystals, ground water exploration, microscope magic and owls. Visit their events calendar to learn more.
The Albany Pine Bush is a fire-dependent ecosystem. To stay healthy, the Pine Bush requires reoccurring fires to maintain its unique character. The Pine Bush Preserve staff manage this need by conducting controlled, prescribed fires and by doing so, rejuvenate the habitat and increase food supplies for insects and other animals native to the Pine Bush. By keeping the landscape healthy, the Pine Bush is able to support threatened and rare wildlife species including birds, reptiles, amphibians, and insects.
The Albany Pine Bush is one of the best remaining examples of an inland pine barrens in the world. Chosen as a National Natural Landmark for its extraordinary sand dunes, the Preserve is also a Hudson River Valley National Heritage Area Site, New York State Unique Area, Bird Conservation Area, and a National Audubon Society Important Bird Area. In 1988, the New York State Legislature created the Albany Pine Bush Preserve Commission to protect and manage this globally rare ecosystem. Significant funding for the Commission comes from the EPF.
Protecting NY's most fragile ecosystem
The climb is hard and long, the views are breathtaking, and the wind can knock you over. This is what you encounter when you climb New York’s Adirondack High Peaks. You can look for miles and see only wild places, if the clouds haven’t decided to submerge you in a dense white mat. It is a place where the trees disappear, the rock gets steep, and the plants get very small. The alpine zone is a special place where, no matter the harsh mountain weather, you can encounter a summit steward.
The Summit Steward Program is in its 27th year protecting the arctic alpine vegetation that grows above tree line on New York’s tallest peaks. There are only about 100 acres of habitat, spread across 21 summits, for these rare, threatened, and endangered plants. Most of the alpine vegetation is concentrated on Mount Marcy and Algonquin Peak. Summit stewards climb to the top of these mountains every day to talk to hikers on the importance of staying on the rocks and off of the fragile plants. Summit stewards not only protect alpine vegetation through education, but also through high elevation trail work and research.
As the popularity of outdoor recreation has boomed, the number of people coming to enjoy the Adirondack High Peaks has drastically increased. This year, five summit stewards and twenty volunteers spoke with 36,355 hikers, almost 5,000 more than last year. The peaks offer an incredible opportunity for New Yorkers to explore their backyard and grow to appreciate and protect a unique ecosystem.
Want to support this fragile ecosystem? You can stay on the rock and off the alpine plants while visiting the summits, share the message of doing the “rock walk” with others, become a summit steward or volunteer, or carry a rock from our designated piles for summit stewards to use for trail work. Click here to learn more.
The Summit Steward program is a partnership between the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK), the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy (TNC). The Summit Steward program and the ADK’s Professional Crew are supported by the the EPF. Last year, ADK received funding from the EPF, which helps ADK maintain the High Peak trails, protect New York’s most fragile ecosystem, and bolster their award-winning programs.
Thanks to Governor Cuomo and the NY State Legislature, the EPF received record funding of $300 million in the 2016 budget. Protecting wild places is just one of the many ways the EPF protects and enhances New York for future generations (thanks NY State!). Click here to read more EPF success stories.
Connecting forests around Ithaca, NY
Where can you find 78 miles of Finger Lakes trails, two Audubon-designated Important Bird Areas plus several dozen Unique Natural Areas? It's called the Emerald Necklace, and thanks to Finger Lakes Land Trust, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and the EPF, it will eventually be a contiguous crescent of protected lands around Ithaca, NY. The Emerald Necklace project was launched by the Finger Lakes Land Trust and when completed, it will extend from the Finger Lakes National Forest in the west to the Hammond Hill and Robinson Hollow State Forests in the east.
The Emerald Necklace is an ambitious project that will link 50,000 acres of public land in Tompkins and Schuyler Counties. So far, the Land Trust has preserved more than 2,000 acres in the hills surrounding Ithaca. Working with DEC, together they protected 167 acres, which helped create a 6,000+ acre block of conserved lands. online casinos with highest payouts
Thanks to the EPF, DEC purchased 87.5 acres and added those lands to the Yellow Barn State Forest. The Land Trust added the remaining 79.5 acres to their Roy Park Preserve, where they built an accessible boardwalk and trail that connects to the 20+ mile trail system at Hammond Hill. The boardwalk project also received funding from the EPF through a NYS Conservation Partnership Program grant. In addition to great recreational activities, the preserve protects a significant stretch of Six Mile Creek, which is the source of drinking water for the City of Ithaca.
The area also contains wetlands that play a crucial role in filtering nutrients and other runoff while maintaining the steady flow of the creek. The property's wetlands also serve as host to a stunning variety of wildlife. Birds such as Wood Ducks, Virginia Rails, and Great Blue Herons can be found there. In particular, the wetlands attract a colony of herons nesting in the existing Park Preserve. The property's adjacency to other protected open space provides a wildlife corridor for wide-ranging mammals such as black bears, which have been documented on the land.
And there's lots more in store, including a network of hiking/skiing trails. To learn more about the Land Trust's Emerald Necklace project and its conservation benefits, visit fllt.org.
Protecting open space + enhancing military training
In Jefferson County, dairy farming has been a way of life for generations. Meeks and Sons Farms is a 473-acre farm, nestled between the towns of Pamelia and LeRay. The farm has been in the Meeks family for four generations, and the grandkids love playing on the farm. Greg Meeks and his son Ryan own the farm, and they work the farm together along with Greg's youngest son Jack. They plan to convert the farm into an organic dairy operation, and Greg hopes his sons will keep on farming.
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"I work every day outside, and I want my sons and grandkids to have the farm. My wife loves this land and we don't want to lose it to development," said Greg. In the future, the granddaughters and grandsons may be taking over the family's organic dairy farm and expanding it into an even larger business.
Last year, Meeks and Sons Farms became the 24th farm protected through the Army Compatible Use Buffer (ACUB) program. The program has multiple benefits: it limits encroachment near military bases while protecting conservation values, open space, and family farming. Ten years ago, Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust, Ducks Unlimited, and the Fort Drum Military Base formed a unique partnership to create the ACUB program. Meeks Farm is paid not to develop their land, which protects the Army's ability to train. The program is a win-win-win, benefiting the Army, local farms, and forwarding Tug Hill Tomorrow's mission.
It's a great example of neighbors working together, with funding and support from the EPF and the NY State Department of Agriculture and Markets. Families work with Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust and Ducks Unlimited to create a conservation plan with both immediate and long-term goals for their future. To learn more about the ACUB program, visit Tug Hill Tomorrow Land Trust.
Improving quality of life for millions
Did you know there is a 550-acre park in Manhattan? It's the borough's second-largest park and the New York's only urban estuarine sanctuary. It's the Hudson River Park, which connects New Yorkers of all ages to the river and offers a beautiful place to play, relax, learn, enjoy a meal, and even shop. And that's not all - the Hudson River Park hosts events throughout the year from fishing and fitness classes to movies and music and so much more. There are also opportunities to volunteer, a great way to connect with other New Yorkers while helping to keep the park clean and beautiful.
Since 1999, the Hudson River Park Trust has used EPF funds to rebuild the piers, bulkheads and land areas that comprise the park. The Hudson River Park has helped transform the area from urban decay to a waterfront renaissance. EPF funding also boosts local economies. Local parks increase nearby property values, which leads to increased revenues for schools and local governments. The creation of the EPF-supported Hudson River Park has added more than $200 million to nearby property values. In addition, the park is a tourist attraction that connects millions of visitors to the natural world while supporting New York's economy.
Parks also provide important natural services including managing stormwater and improving air quality by removing harmful airborne pollutants. The Hudson River Park serves as an environmental steward, protecting native species of the Hudson and assisting in their recovery after years of heavy industry, while also educating the public about the ecology and history of the waterfront.
Protecting drinking water from Long Island to Rochester
What took 15,000 years to make, provides drinking water to more than 1.5 million people, and boosts the greatest diversity of plants and animals in all of New York? It’s the Long Island Pine Barrens!
One of the Northeast’s great natural treasures, the Environmental Protection Fund was critical in the protection of the Long Island Pine Barrens, which sit atop Long Island’s sole source aquifer as well as the Hemlock and Canadice Finger Lakes, which provide drinking water to the City of Rochester. Which means the Pine Barrens protect groundwater, surface water, and future drinking water for generations of New Yorkers.
The Pine Barrens are also a rare and threatened landscape. It is home to thousands of plants and animals, many of them rare, endangered or threatened including the eastern tiger salamander, buck moth, eastern mud turtle, and norther harrier hawk. More than a 100 bird species live in the Pine Barrens, including outstanding populations of butterflies and moths.
The barrens include dry upland areas, dominated by the pitch pine that gives the region its name, along with diverse range of wetland communities that include marshes, red maple swamps, and rare Atlantic white cedar swamps. And more than a dozen species of orchids grow in the Pine Barrens.
To learn more about the Long Island Pine Barrens and how they became protected, visit the Long Island Pine Barrens Society's website.
Connecting Hudson River Towns
The world’s longest footbridge, 2 ½ miles of nature trails, and two bustling waterfronts, you'll find all that and more at Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park. Connecting the towns of Lloyd and Poughkeepsie, the Walkway Over the Hudson sits more than 200 feet in the air, giving pedestrians, bicyclists, joggers, and hikers a stunning view of the Hudson River.
Before it became a pedestrian bridge, it was known as the Poughkeepsie-Highland Railroad Bridge, which for one year, was the longest bridge in the world. It was a transportation hub that linked New York and New England to an extensive national railroad network, until a fire decimated the bridge in 1974. 18 years later, a determined community began working to bring the bridge back to life.
Led by a nonprofit, Walkway Over the Hudson, a public-private partnership was formed with essential support from the State of New York (and the EPF!), the federal government, Scenic Hudson, and the Dyson Foundation along with Dutchess and Ulster Counties, the Town of Lloyd, and the City of Poughkeepsie.
In 2009, the Walkway Over the Hudson State Historic Park opened as a legacy project of the Hudson-Fulton-Champlain Quadricentennial. It is now one the Hudson Valley’s top attractions for locals and tourists alike. A glass elevator provides families and people with disabilities access to the bridge, park, and the Poughkeepsie waterfront. The park also offers interpretive signs and audio tours along with great events throughout the year. The Walkway also offers connections to other great Hudson Valley destinations including the Franny Reese State Park, the Dutchess Rail Trail, the Poughkeepsie Center Historic Trail, and the Mid-Hudson Children’s Museum. There’s so much to love about Walkway Over the Hudson, visit this autumn to experience the stunning fall foliage!
Creating urban green spaces
Harbor seals, red-clay bluffs, an 1828 lighthouse, and a paradise for birders. You'll find all that more at Mount Loretto Preserve on Staten Island. A peaceful park tucked away in the big city, Mount Loretto is just under 200 acres; the area includes a peaceful shoreline with a panoramic view of New Jersey and Raritan Bay as well as biodiverse wetlands and grasslands. It's the perfect natural getaway for New Yorkers, relax by the shore or spend the day biking, hiking, fishing, paddling, or watching wildlife. It's a migratory stopping site for birds and butterflies and this time of year, you'll likely see Eastern Meadowlarks heading south for the winter. You might also spot a bald eagle!
As NYC Audubon puts it, "the park contains some of the finest remaining tracts of grassland habitat in the metropolitan region. Ecologically, it is a superb natural site with a wealth of botanical diversity and excellent birding in any season. The number of recorded goldenrod species and asters is impressive." The preserve boosts five ecosystems: marine/coastal, forest, grassland, tidal wetlands, and freshwater wetlands. The area is a haven for birds whose habitat is disappearing such as bobolinks, meadowlarks, and sparrows. Interested in an educational visit? The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has you covered. Contact them to set up an environmental education event.
To create the preserve, New York State purchased 194 acres from the Archdiocese of New York, after Protectors of Pine Oak Woods and the Trust for Public Land led a successful effort to conserve the preserve area. Funds from the Environmental Protection Fund helped create the preserve. Starting in the late 19th Century, the Archdiocese operated an orphanage and a farm on the property. Today, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation manages the property as a nature preserve.
Enhancing State Parks
This summer, Governor Cuomo, the New York State Office of Parks, Friends of Letchworth, Open Space Institute (OSI) and the Natural Heritage Trust celebrated the opening of the Humphrey Nature Center at Letchworth State Park (voted the best state park in the nation). The Center is the place to learn about the park's exceptional beauty, many recreational offerings, natural and cultural history, geology, and its various ecosystems. It's an all-season gateway to the spectacular landscape of Letchworth State Park, nestled between New York's Allegany foothills and the Finger Lakes. online casino that accepts visa gift cards
Open year round, the new 5,000 square-foot education center boosts a butterfly garden and interactive exhibits that promote park activities, as well as classrooms and meeting space. More than 850,000 people visit Letchworth State Park each year, nicknamed the "Grand Canyon of the East." The dramatic Genesee River flows through the gorge and over three major waterfalls, as it cuts through western New York toward Lake Ontario. Close to Rochester and Buffalo, the park is home to lush forests, riparian wetlands, vernal pools, and scores of wildlife including bald eagles, great blue herons, ruffed grouse and hawks.
There are 66 miles of hiking trails, which can be enjoyed by foot or via horseback, snowmobile, or cross-country skis. Other activities include guided walks, whitewater rafting, kayaking, swimming and hot air balloon rides. The new Center is a launching pad to experience all the park has to offer. And through a recent EPF grant, Friends of Letchworth is recruiting and training more volunteers to better steward the park and its trails.
Special thanks go to the organizations that led the successful campaign to build the Humphrey Nature Center at Letchworth: NYS Office of Parks, Friends of Letchworth State Park,OSI's Alliance for NYS Parks, Genesse Region State Park Commission, Natural Heritage Trust, and SUNY at Geneseo. And of course, we can't forget funding from Governor Cuomo's NY Parks 2020 initiative and the Environmental Protection Fund, thanks New York State!
Making New York Cleaner & Healthier
Many of us know that dry cleaning poses dangers to our public health and the environment. Traditional dry cleaning uses a toxic chemical to clean our clothes. Perchloroethylene or "perc" is dangerous to people and nature. It cleans well, but may cause cancer and it contaminates our soil, water, and air. But there's a better way!
New York dry cleaners now have a safe and effective alternative, thanks to our friends at NYS Pollution Prevention Institute (P2I) along with support from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) & U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). The process is called "Professional Wet Cleaning" and it effectively cleans delicate clothes using water instead of liquid chemical solvents (like traditional "dry" clearing). online casino that pays
Wet cleaning has a lot of benefits. For the customer, clothes last longer and there is less shrinking and color loss. For dry cleaners, it's safer and more cost effective. Wet cleaning uses less energy, water, and natural gas, all saving money. And it eliminates hazardous waste and air pollution, very important for both dry cleaning workers and those living near dry cleaning businesses.
P2I has been traveling around the state, co-hosting demonstrations of wet cleaning in action. Thanks to their efforts, and funding from DEC & EPA, many dry cleaners across New York are switching to professional wet cleaning. Rainbow Cleaners of Manhattan and All Fabric Cleaners of Farmingville have converted their operations and the results are excellent: cleaner clothes, greater efficiency, lower energy and natural gas costs, and total elimination of dangerous toxins. Now that's a great alternative!
Want to know where you can switch to wet cleaning for your delicate "dry cleaning only" clothes? You're in luck. P2I has a map of professional wet cleaners throughout NY state. Just make sure to request wet cleaning when you drop off your clothes.
Reducing dangerous toxins in our environment is just one of the many ways the #NYEnviroFund makes New York cleaner & healthier (thanks New York State!).
P2I helps NY businesses reduce pollution & save money. P2I is funded by #NYEnviroFund and is a unique consortium of four academic centers led by Rochester Institute of Technology. To learn more about P2I, visit https://www.rit.edu/affiliate/nysp2i. And stay tuned for more stories like this. We'll be sharing more #NYEnviroFund stories this fall. Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to get the latest (and be the first to learn about grant funding opportunities!).
Protecting Precious Farmland in the Hudson Valley
Indian Ladder Farms was founded 100 years ago by the Ten Eyck Family. Near Albany, Indian Ladder Farms is located in Altamont, NY nestled in the shadow of the dramatic Helderberg escarpment. Now a fourth generation apple orchard and farm market, Indian Ladder Farms serves thousands of customers a year who visit to pick apples and berries, enjoy cider doughnuts, celebrate special events, pet baby farm animals, and much more. They also provide educational field trips to more than 4,000 school children each year. And this year, thanks to Governor Cuomo’s NYS Farm Brewery Law, the farm opened the new Indian Ladder Farmstead Cidery and Brewery using hops and malting barley they grow on the farm. Their new tasting room and beer garden is open to the public, where you can enjoy farm-brewed beer and hard cider by the glass or pick up cans and have your growler filled.
In the age of mega-stores, food delivery services, and suburban sprawl, it’s easy to lose the connection between the land and the food we eat. The Hudson Valley has a long history of farming with 20 percent of the economy being farm-based. But today, local farming is in jeopardy. When Indian Ladder Farms opened, there were more than 60 commercial fruit farms in Albany County. Now only two remain. Farmland is quickly disappearing and turning into housing and shopping developments. In 1997, American Farmland Trust named the Hudson Valley one of the nation’s ten most endangered farm land areas. Recognizing what it would mean to lose more farmland, Laura Ten Eyck led an effort to retire the development rights to the majority of the land of Indian Ladder Farms. Thanks to Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy and the Open Space Institute, along with funds from the #NYEnviroFund’s Farmland Protection Program, they successfully protected 317 acres of land, preserving the land for farming. Long after the Ten Eyck Family are gone, Indian Ladder Farms will be protected forever.
A little history of the farm
Founded by Peter Gansevoort Ten Eyck in 1916, the farm is now operated by the fourth generation of the Ten Eyck Family along with a team of experienced managers and staff. Today, at the height of the season, the farm employs a 100 workers. In 1916, Peter purchased the first of five existing farms that the family would ultimately buy, creating Indian Ladder Farms (with an “s” to acknowledge the original farms). They began with an apple orchard and a dairy farm. A creamery on the farm bottled fresh milk and delivered it door-to-door in Albany. The family competed in cattle shows and their prize bulls won blue ribbons at the New York State Fair. They also raised flocks of chickens and turkeys.
In 1949, following a fire that destroyed the dairy barn, the family closed down the dairy portion of the farm; they began raising beef cattle and added new orchards of apples and pears. In 1966, a new apple packing house was built and the family opened a retail market on the farm to sell apples. They family began to press cider on the front porch, which is now the location of the Cidery and Brewery Tasting Room. In the 1970s, the family began hosting school field trips and making cider doughnuts.
In 2000, Indian Ladder Farms joined a group of apple farmers to collaborate with Mothers and Others, an environmental and public health organization, to produce fruit under the guidelines of an eco-label called “Core Values Northeast.” The label certified that participating growers use ecology-based agricultural practices that promote soil and tree health, nurture pollinators, and protect biodiversity. Later Indian Ladder Farms partnered with Red Tomato of Boston and the Integrated Pest Management Institute of North America to become one of 18 “ECO Apple” growers in New England and New York operating at the highest standards of fruit production, maintained by 3rd party on-farm inspections.
In keeping with the sustainable values, Indian Ladder Farms worked with the Mohawk Hudson Land Conservancy, the Open Space Institute, the Town of New Scotland and the State of New York’s EPF Farmland Protection Program to place a permanent agricultural conservation easement on the farm that will travel with the deed to the land. That means long after the Ten Eyck Family are gone, Indian Ladder Farms will be protected from real estate development in perpetuity.
In 2011, the family began to grow hops and malting barley to supply the growing craft beer movement seeking local products. One thing led to another and they began to experiment with making beer and then hard cider. This year, along with their partner Stuart Morris, they have opened the Indian Ladder Farmstead Cidery and Brewery, featuring a Tasting Room offering beer and hard cider made with ingredients grown right on the farm.
Protecting Natural Splendor along the Niagara River Shore
Butterflies and birds. Native plants. A vivid blue, peaceful shoreline along the Niagara River. Historic trails, kayaks, and canoes. A peace memorial honoring JFK. That's what you'll find – and so much more – when you visit the 29-acre Stella Niagara Preserve in Lewiston, NY just north of Niagara Falls. Not just beautiful, the area is also globally significant, designated as an "Important Bird Area," a status it shares with other great places like the Everglades and Yellowstone. When you visit, you might just spot a bald eagle. And if you look down, you might see all kinds of fish including lake sturgeon, smallmouth bass, yellow perch, and rock bass.
The Preserve also has historical significance. For hundreds and hundreds of years, it was an important landing spot for the region's Native American tribes as they used the river for fishing, trade, and transport. It's also the location the British landed in 1813 before they burned Lewiston and attacked Fort Niagara. Starting in 1907, it was the home of the Sisters of St. Francis. In 2015, they decided to protect the area forever by selling the land to the Western New York Land Conservancy. The Land Conservancy created the Stella Niagara Preserve, which was made possible by funding from the #NYEnviroFund (along with other public funding and private donations).
But the creation of the preserve was just the beginning. The Land Conservancy is in the process of enhancing this important place. The Land Conservancy hired nationally renowned landscape design team, Darrel Morrison and Nancy Aten, to transform the Preserve. After months of planning and engaging the local community, the Land Conservancy is creating new walking paths and removing invasive species along with trees killed by the emerald ash borer, a highly destructive invasive beetle. This work will restore natural habitats and increase the plant and animal diversity at the preserve. They're planning new trees – gray birches, white pines, red cedars – and adding almost 100 native plants to the area. Much of this work will be completed by the fall of 2017.
But no need to wait to visit! The Preserve is open to the public from dawn to dusk every day.
Creating the Stella Niagara Preserve is just one of the many ways the #NYEnviroFund protects and enhances New York's natural beauty, historical places, and ecological diversity (thanks New York State!). To learn more about the Western New York Land Conservancy and their critical work permanently protecting important lands in Western New York, visit http://wnylc.org. online casino top ten
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