Listen to the frog sound walk

Liz LoGiudice
Liz LoGiudice, Extension Educator at Agroforestry Resource Center, led an “Amphibian Adventure” WGXC fundraiser Friday night, giving a “frog walk” across the street at the Siuslaw Model Forest. We listened to peepers, tree frogs, pond frogs, and found tadpoles and snails.

Click here to listen to an mp3 sound recording of the “Amphibian Adventure” or paste this url into your computer’s media player:
http://archive.free103point9.org/2010/05
/AmphibianAdventure_AcraSoundWalk_WGXC_AgroforestryCenter.mp3

Siuslaw Model Forest

Siuslaw Model Forest.

Audio recording of Lafarge DEC hearing last night in Ravena

WGXC’s Sam Sebren made it out to record the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation legislative hearing for renewal and modification of the existing Lafarge Title V Air Permit application last night at 6 p.m. at the Ravena-Coeymans Selkirk High School Auditorium.

Click here to listen to mp3 audio recording of the hearing, or paste the following url into your computer’s media player:

Review the complete LaFarge application documents at this link: http://www.dec.ny.gov/dardata/boss/afs/draft_atv_l.html. The DEC will be accepting written comments until May 21. Please mail or email your comments & include the application number so your comments aren’t lost.
Mail to:
Sarah H. Evans
NYSDEC Region 4 Headquarters
1130 North Westcott Rd.
Schenectady, NY 12306
518-357-2069
r4dep@gw.dec.state.ny.us
Application ID# : 4-0124-00001/00112

30 speak, largely worried about mercury at Lafarge

From Brian Nearing in The Albany Times-Union:

Several hundred people turned out for a hearing Tuesday on the proposed state air pollution permit for the Lafarge cement plant, and nearly all gave the same message — the state must do more to limit the amount of mercury and other toxins coming from the smokestack. “I think we are splitting hairs here over just how much they are poisoning us,” said Leigh Jamison, who lives about seven miles downwind of the Route 9W plant in Stuyvesant, Columbia County. Nearly 30 people spoke during the three-hour hearing held across from the plant at Ravena-Coeymans-Selkirk High School by the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Read the entire story in the Times-Union.

WGXC’s Sam Sebren was at the hearing, and made a recording we will upload on Wednesday.

NY Environmental Facilities and Cancer Map

New York’s Department of Health’s Environmental Facilities and Cancer Map shows the number of people diagnosed with cancer (cancer counts) for the years 2003-2007 in small geographic areas of New York State. Locations of certain environmental facilities can also be viewed.

GE says dredging causes more pollution

From Andrea Bernstein at WNYC:

The General Electric Corporation is arguing that its clean-up of PCBs from the upper Hudson River is making the pollution worse. GE is telling a panel of scientists meeting today [through Thursday at Queensbury Hotel, Adirondack Room, 88 Ridge Street, Glens Falls] that phase one of the dredging stirred up the toxic chemicals into the river. But the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says that GE is exaggerating the problem. The panel will make recommendations on how to proceed with the clean up. GE has long argued against the clean up, but in 2001 the Bush administration ordered the company to remove tons of PCBs it released into the Hudson before the chemicals were banned in the 1970s. The Hudson River is the nation’s largest Superfund site.

The Times-Union said of the first day’s meeting:

GE believes so many PCBs were stirred up and moved downriver that future dredging ought to be scaled back and PCBs left behind in the river should be covered over. EPA counters that GE is using one-sided data of questionable reliability, that PCB levels released by dredging were never dangerous and future dredging can be improved to reduce the amount of PCBs escaping into the river.

Amphibian Adventure

Amphibian Adventure!
A Fund-Raiser for WGXC Community Radio

May 21, 2010: 7 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.

Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Greene County Agroforestry Resource Center
6055 Route 23, Acra, NY 12405
518-622-9820

Support your local community radio station and listen to the sounds of our resident frogs – all in one, fun evening! This family-friendly program will include a brief, indoor presentation on frogs and salamanders by Dr. Richard Wyman and an evening walk to the ponds at the Siuslaw Model Forest to hear the dulcet tones of spring peepers and other evening sounds. This program will be recorded for broadcast on WGXC!

Final Lafarge public hearing May 11

Hilary Hawke in The Daily Mail reports:

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has announced a legislative hearing for renewal and modification of the existing Lafarge Title V Air Permit application on May 11, 6 p.m. at the Ravena-Coeymans Selkirk High School Auditorium. All New York State contaminant-emitting facilities must have either a Title V Air permit, a state facility permit or a registration certificate. Lafarge’s permit expired in 2006 and it has been running under an extension since then. The company, which manufactures Portland cement and operates a limestone quarry, has extensive plans for modernizing the plant, the kilns and for reducing emissions. Administrative Law Judge Richard A. Sherman will preside over the hearing session and will accept unsworn statements on both the Title V application and the draft permit. Any member of the public potentially affected by the proposed project is invited to attend and provide oral or written comments. DEC originally gave public notice for the project in November 2009 and provided a 30-day comment period, later extended to 68 days, which ended on January 11, 2010. Rick Georgeson, DEC Region 4 spokesman, said the agency scheduled the May 11 hearing based on 44 comments, all in written or e-mail form, received during the public comment period. He also said 32 individuals expressed interest in further hearings. Georgeson said that after the May 11 hearing, “DEC will issue a response to the public comments. Going forward DEC can either issue or deny the Lafarge permit or issue a permit with added conditions.” The final decision can take anywhere from months to years. Read the entire story in The Daily Mail.

Hunter officials ask to keep park open

Devil's TombstoneFrom Colin DeVries in Windham Journal:

In an effort to save a key piece of the Mountaintop’s economic puzzle, county and local officials are rallying to keep the Devil’s Tombstone Campground open through 2010. A county resolution was unanimously approved Wednesday requesting that New York State reconsider closing the Devil’s Tombstone Campground in Hunter….The campground, located amidst Route 214’s Stony Clove, has been slated for closure along with six others throughout the state due to a massive $8 billion state budget deficit. “The North-South Lake and Devil’s Tombstone campgrounds bring people here from outside of region and the state,” said Michael McCrary, president of the Town of Hunter Chamber of Commerce. “If they close the campground we can’t put it in any of our promotions.” Officials are now rallying to come up with solutions to keep the campground open… Another alternative posed was the use of national service groups to maintain the campground and keep it operating, particularly the federal Corporation of National and Community Service’s AmeriCorps program. Read the entire story at Windham Journal.

DEP opens public lands

From Watershed Post:

This just in from the DEP: The agency that polices New York City’s upstate watershed will open 12,000 acres of city-owned watershed land to recreation. A total of 71,000 DEP-owned acres in the New York City watershed are now open to the public, according to a press release from the agency.

The 71,000 acres includes approximately 30,000 acres of property designated Public Access Areas which were opened in the last three years, where public hiking, fishing, hunting and trapping is allowed without DEP permits. The remaining acres require a DEP permit for access.

Gordon to host Hudson River estuary forum Thursday

From The Columbia Paper:

Assemblyman Tim Gordon (I-108th) will hold a public forum to 6 p.m. Thursday, April 29, at the Castleton Boat Club, 92 Main Street to discuss ideas and future plans for the Hudson River estuary. Castleton is on Route 9J just north of the Columbia County line. Among the guests at “Our Hudson River: A Community Conversation” will be state Department of Environmental Conservation Hudson River Estuary Coordinator Fran Dunwell, who will present the 2010-12 Draft Action Agenda and will field questions from the community about the DEC’s vision for the river. Other presenters and guests include Rene Van Schaak, a member of the Hudson River Management Advisory Board, and representatives from several community groups in the region. Parking is available at the club as are docking facilities for those arriving by boat.

DEC issues de facto ban on gas drilling in NYC watershed

From Lissa Harris in Watershed Post:

This just in: The DEC has declared that their draft regulations on natural-gas drilling don’t apply to New York City’s watershed. (Or, for that matter, Syracuse’s Skaneateles Lake watershed, also among a handful of water systems in the nation allowed by the EPA to operate without filtration.) From the New York Times:

While not an outright ban, state officials said, leaving the watersheds out of the regulatory plan would make it virtually impossible for a natural gas company to seek to drill in the watershed because of the costs and bureaucratic hurdles involved.

Read the entire article in Watershed Post.

DEC proposes new outdoor wood boiler regulations

The Department of Environmental Conservation is proposing to new rules for outdoor wood boilers, with emission limits, siting requirements (distance from neighbors), stack height, and operating requirements for both new and existing boilers. The DEC proposes phasing out existing boilers by August 31, 2020. Written comments are accepted through 5 p.m., July 2, 2010 and should be directed to:
John Barnes, P.E.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
Division of Air Resources
625 Broadway, 2nd Floor
Albany, New York 12233-3251
Telephone (518) 402-8396
E-mail: 247owb@gw.dec.state.ny.us

Shad on the rebound?

From The Watershed Post:

American shad, once plentiful in the Hudson and the smaller rivers they return to each year to spawn, have suffered tremendous declines in recent years–so much so that the NY DEC declared them off-limits in the Hudson this year. Nevertheless, the guides at Cross Current Fly Fishing think this is going to be a good year for shad on the Delaware:

Reports of 20+ fish days are common throughout the river up to the Delaware Water Gap. This past week the Pennsylvania Fish & Boat Commission electrofished a stretch of river near Raubsville, PA and averaged 39 fish per hour, a very high number according to fisheries biologists. Read the entire story in The Watershed Post.

Stream management program funds awarded

Michael Ryan in the Windham Journal writes:

Thousands of dollars were handed out when the Schoharie Watershed Advisory Council awarded its second round of Stream Management Program funds, last week, during a meeting at the Windham Country Club. SWAC members awarded $77,627 to seven entities in Greene and Delaware counties for projects aimed at preserving water quality in the New York City reservoir system and increasing awareness of watershed related issues. All of the funds are provided by the Department of Environmental Protection, which has set aside $2 million to be distributed over a 5-year period, with two years having passed on the contract, administered by the Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District. [Greene County] Funds were allocated in round two as follows:

—EDUCATION AND OUTREACH: The Mountaintop Arboretum in Tannersville, $6,810, with a $750 In-kind contribution to create landscape design plans for a Wooded Walk outdoor classroom, accommodating approximately 45 people. The natural amphitheater will offer year-round outdoor programming on ecological and natural history topics relating to the watershed such as wetland plants, insect and wildlife along riparian areas, birding, stream health and leaf pack workshops to learn about geology.

—EDUCATION AND OUTREACH: Greene County Cornell Cooperative Extension, $1,884 with a $498 In-kind contribution to set up a rain barrel workshop that will be held at the Sugar Maples Arts Center in Maplecrest. The hands-on workshop will take place during Schoharie Watershed Week, May 17-23, 2010, providing materials and instruction for approximately ten families, teaching them to construct a rain barrel for home use. While the rain barrels will be fun to build, they will also be functional. The workshop will also introduce participants to methods of stormwater control, non-point pollution prevention and conservation of water resources in a residential setting.

—EDUCATION AND OUTREACH: the SWAC Education and Outreach Committee, $5,100 with an In-kind contribution of $4,125 to conduct a series of events, activities and workshops for people of all ages during Schoharie Watershed Week, taking place throughout the region. On tap will be a watershed-related film series (at the Hunter Theater in the town of Hunter), fly-fishing demonstrations, downspout disconnect programs, an Adopt-A-Stream clean up, a watershed scavenger hunt and kayak and canoe demonstrations.

—RECREATION/HABITAT IMPROVEMENTS: the Town of Windham, $15,000 with an In-kind contribution of $6,536 (and a potential to raise more in community contributions) to be used toward the creation of a multi-use, non-motorized trail on the Batavia Kill. The 1.1 mile loop trail will be built on a 68-acre parcel owned by the town at the former Police Anchor Camp, along Route 23, on the eastern outskirts of the hamlet district, allowing for improved access to the popular fishing stream. Bridge and boardwalk materials are needed to cross over a wetland and a tributary. A trail committee of local residents and business owners is planning the Windham Path with assistance from the Greene County Soil and Water Conservation District.

–PLANNING & ASSESSMENT: the Town of Hunter, $35,000 with an In-kind contribution of $5,000 to conduct a detailed review of current land use regulations with an intent to adopt revisions and write new regulations and/or guidelines promoting low impact design, climate smart and smart growth principles. In the absence of zoning, the town is seeking to investigate, and adopt as appropriate, innovative land use practices which will be an incentive to achieve desirable future growth related to private housing, development and commercial enterprises.

–PLANNING & ASSESSMENT: the towns of Ashland, Jewett, Lexington and Windham and the villages of Hunter and Tannersville, $12,000 with an In-kind contribution of $21,500 from the Catskill Watershed Corporation to hold “Mountaintop-wide Better Site Design Plan Workshops.” The workshops will guide each community through a comparison of the local codes against model development principles using a consensus building approach. Model principles will then be compiled into a General Guide for Mountaintop Communities, facilitating specific recommendations for each community.

SWAC has thus far awarded a total of $518,957.50 in the first two rounds of programming, leaving $1.481,042.50 for future projects. The application deadline for round three is August 2, 2010, with approvals formally taking place on October 27, 2010. Projects awarded funding in round one included improving stream access along the Schoharie Creek in the town of Prattsville by constructing a parking area and installing floodplain drains under Vista Ridge Road in the Town of Jewett, reducing backwater conditions causing channel aggradation. Stormwater retrofits were approved at the Mountaintop Library in the village of Tannersville and Town of Hunter, reducing the quantity of, and improving the conveyance of, stormwater runoff, vastly improving water quality.

New DEP rules for NYC watershed

From The Daily Freeman:

Updated regulations for the New York City reservoir system watershed took effect on Sunday. City Department of Environmental Protection Commissioner Cas Holloway said the new regulations amend existing regulations to align them with changes made in federal and state law over the past 10 years, and address issues that have been raised during the city’s administration and enforcement of the regulations since their adoption. The previous regulations were adopted in 1997 as part of the Filtration Avoidance Determination issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, which allowed the city to continue operating its unfiltered drinking system from the Catskill and Delaware watersheds…. Fourteen sections of the Watershed Regulations have been updated to prevent contamination to and degradation of the city’s surface water supply. Highlights of the provisions, according to the news release, include:

• Enhanced standards for the control of stormwater runoff from certain construction sites. For example, in commercial areas with a large amount of impervious surfaces, the revised regulations will require additional stormwater treatment, such as construction of larger or secondary detention basins. The Department of Environmental Protection has also adopted the requirements of the State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit for construction activities to ensure complementary enforcement of the latest regulatory standards for stormwater runoff.
• New provisions to allow for sewage treatment plants in certain areas of the Croton watershed. This will authorize city agency to grant variances for new or expanded surface discharging wastewater treatment plants in closer proximity to the Croton reservoir.
• Updated criteria defining the quality of drinking water reservoirs consistent with state and federal standards, specifically concerning stricter phosphorus limits for select basins.

The changes that took effect Sunday apply to all counties located within the Croton, Delaware and Catskill watersheds, according to the news release. The city agency said it started the process of revising the watershed regulations more than five years ago and that the revised regulations were published for public review and comment in the City Record in 2008. Public hearings on the proposed changes were held that same year. After reviewing comments, the agency made revisions and the updated regulations were submitted to the state Department of Health in 2009. The agency received approval in February for final publication in the City Record, which occurred on March 3, and the regulations became effective 30 days after final publication, according to the release.

New York State trout season opens April 1

(The brook trout, left, and the rainbow trout, right, from DEC.)

From DEC:

“Trout season opens April 1 in New York State, and anglers can again look forward to a great year of fishing, thanks to the natural diversity of angling opportunities within New York and management of the state’s fisheries by DEC. Due to the existing snowpack and high flow in many of the state’s rivers and streams, anglers are urged to use extreme caution along slippery stream banks and while wading in high water. The early season is a great time to try some of the smaller tributaries. Smaller streams will have more manageable flows, and are also more likely to hold larger populations of wild trout. Although many of the larger, more popular streams are more reliant on stocked fish, last year’s relatively cool, wet summer promises plenty of holdover fish from last year’s stocking. Remember, everyone 16-years-old and over needs a valid fishing license to fish on any of New York’s waters. While children do not require a fishing license, adults who assist a child in taking or attempting to take fish, are considered to be fishing themselves, and therefore need to have a valid fishing license. Anglers and New York fishing tackle retailers are reminded that effective May 7, 2004, the sale of small lead sinkers weighing a half-ounce or less is prohibited in New York State. Selling jig heads, weighted flies, artificial lures or weighted line is not included in this prohibition. Although the law does not prohibit the use of lead sinkers of this size, anglers are encouraged to use non-lead alternatives which are readily available in tackle stores. Ingestion of lead sinkers can result in the death of loons and waterfowl. The general creel limit for brook, brown and rainbow trout is five fish. The open season for trout in most New York State waters runs from April 1 through October 15, but there are exceptions in all DEC regions, so anglers should check the Fishing Regulations Guide before heading out. There are also new procedures for fishing New York City reservoirs. Updated information and permit applications can be obtained using the New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYC DEP) link below, or by calling NYC DEP at 800-575-LAND.”

Hudson, Athens get boat launch funds

The New York Environmental Protection Fund’s Local Waterfront Revitalization Program will provide $38,542 for the city of Hudson to construct a canoe/kayak launch at the southern end of Henry Hudson Riverfront Park with a secure storage rack for canoes/kayaks will be provided and $22,500 for the village of Athens to construct a dockage system for non-motorized boaters to complete its Fourth Street boat launch, The Business Review (Albany) reports.

AG: New York settles with Lafarge over emissions

From Casey Seiler in Capitol Confidential:

[A] multistate settlement, just announced by the office of Attorney General Andrew Cuomo, includes 11 other states and affects operations at 13 cement plants — including the Ravena facility that’s been the subject of controversy for years.

According to the Attorney General’s press release, the settlement requires LaFarge to take the following steps:

* Eliminate a total of over 9,000 tons of nitrogen oxide and 26,000 tons of sulfur dioxide each year from its plants, including those in upwind states whose pollution impacts New York.
* Either construct a new Ravena plant – as the company has proposed – or retrofit the existing facility with aggressive air pollution reduction technology. In either case, Ravena’s air pollution emissions will be cut by roughly 2,000 tons of nitrogen oxide and 10,000 tons of sulfur dioxide each year – equivalent to reductions of more than 30% and 80%, respectively.
* Pay a civil penalty and provide funding for environmental benefit projects totaling $5.07 million, with $3.38 million of that amount going to the federal government and the coalition of states receiving $1.69 million. Of that amount, New York State will receive $490,000 to fund energy efficiency and pollution reduction mitigation projects in communities near the Ravena plant.

Ghent planning board to unveil plans for Price Chopper store

The public can view the plans for a proposed Price Chopper store on Rt. 66 in the Town of Ghent at the Ghent Planning Board’s next regular meeting on February 3 at 7 p.m., according to an article in ccScoop by Mike McCagg. The 43,000 square-foot store, on land adjoining the existing Price Chopper Plaza, would be adjacent but separate from the existing plaza. The plans include many trees blocking the view of the store from the road, according to the story. The store would be next to a proposed extension of the Harlem Valley Trail from its current northern end in Copake to Chatham.

From the ccScoop story:

“[Planning Board Chair Jonathan] Walters said town planners are generally pleased with the proposal as it stands…the project still has some major hurdles to clear. Among them, developing a plan to deal with the wetlands in the area to satisfy the State Department of Environmental Conservation, traffic entrances and exists that meet with the Department of Transportation’s guidelines, and the extension of water and sewer lines from the Village of Chatham. The latter has been the subject of great debate among village leaders, some of whom are supportive of extending the lines for a fee and others who question the ability of the current system to handle a new demand.”

Andy Turner speaks at Cairo Eco Faire


Click here to listen to or download mp3 of Andy Turner speaking at Eco Faire.
Andy Turner, the Executive Director for Cornell Cooperative Extension of Greene County, speaking Sun. Sept. 13 at the Cairo Eco Faire in Cairo Town Park, streamed live on WGXC Online Radio. Turner is also on WGXC’s Radio Council, the board overseeing the community radio station. He speaks about sustainability at the Eco Faire, which was put on by the Cairo Chamber of Commerce.

Cairo Nature Center called ‘political football’


What sort of town does not want volunteers to create a park? Cairo, apparently. Susan Campriello in The Daily Mail reports on last Thursday’s Cairo Town workshop meeting, where the Cairo Nature Center Committee met with the Town Board. The Nature Center opened two years ago, and then the town closed it for a year to argue about what sort of permit process should be instituted, eventually closing the park off to everyone except Cairo town residents who pay a $15 fee. Earlier this summer a bridge railing in the Nature Center was broken and someone left some trash in the facility, which features hiking and biking trails, picnic areas and fishing spots in a reservoir. The small bit of vandalism caused Town Board members Ray Suttmeier and Rich Lorenz to complain that Nature Center was a gigantic headache for the town. At the meeting Thursday, Cairo Nature Center Committee members Michael Esslie, Jim Little, and committee Chairman Neil Schoenfeld disagreed. “Since this place has been open it has been nothing but a political football,” he said. Some of the Nature Center volunteers have also been working to rehab the St. Edmund’s Chapel as a town facility, and Cairo Town Supervisor John Coyne used the town meeting to complain about the tone of a letter from that group, a letter bemoaning how the town government also was trying to stop that project. Suttmeier, at previous town board meetings, said he illegally visited the Nature Center without getting the proper permit. Schoenfeld, who is also working to turn former railroad tracks in the town into a nature trail, is just about ready to give up all his work to benefit the Town of Cairo, just as the Town Board seemingly wants. This Sunday he will help host an Eco-Faire in the town park.

UPDATE: The Greenville Press (no web site to link to) weighs in on the issue with the best headline ever for Cairo politics: “Another project, another roadblock.” Linda L. Fenoff quotes Town Board members Rich Lorenz and Ray Suttmeier complaining after the park has been created that the location along the county’s main highway, Rt. 23, is too remote.

Today’s local headlines

New Congressman Scott Murphy (D-NY20) voted for H.R.2454 (the American Clean Energy and Security Act) Friday, which passed the House 219 to 212. It was the first time Murphy’s vote mattered, as 44 Democrats voted against the measure that works to slow the pace of global warming. Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth also opposed the measure, saying it didn’t begin to solve the earth’s problems. The bill sets a limit on emissions of heat-trapping gases while allowing emitters to trade pollution permits, or allowances, among themselves….The New York State Senate again failed Thursday to act on any items important to the people of New York. Senate democrats, however, did manage to hold a moment of silence for Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett….Austerlitz adopted zoning regulations, according to ccScoop. Anyone who would like to serve a five-year term on the town’s new Zoning Board of Appeals, should send applications to the Town of Austerlitz, P.O. Box 238, Spencertown, NY 12165 by July 9.