The Buzz: A CLC Blog

Watch Fireflies. Do Science!

Stepping outside to watch fireflies light up the night sky—an annual summer ritual that can now give scientists important insight into whether firefly populations are shrinking or growing, their geographic distribution, and what environmental factors are affecting them. Mass Audubon joined with scientists from Tufts University to create Firefly Watch, a citizen science project that you can be a part of! It’s easy to participate, all you must do is pick a location (it can be your backyard or favorite park) that you will visit once a week, spend 10 minutes observing the night sky for fireflies (or lack thereof), and then report your observations here.  It’s that simple! However, it’s recommended that you print out and familiarize yourself with the firefly watch observation form before heading outside so you know exactly what to look for. In fact, fireflies have three different flashing patterns that Mass Audubon wants you to watch for. (See visual chart here.)

Visit the Mass Audubon website for different resources related to fireflies or if you have any other questions about the Firefly Watch project.

Guest Blog: The Backyard Gnome

Thanks for the feature, Backyard Gnome!

“Urban expansion is without a doubt one of the most pressing issues facing rural communities along the 49th parallel. Cities what were once confined to a select area, now rapidly expand outwards thanks to the miracle of modern technology. While construction techniques and practices, similar to those employed by the future residents of the creeping sub-urban sprawl have become noticeably more environmentally progressive in recent years. Even so, the environmental impacts on nature, be it forest, farmland or field are an inconvenience at best. So, like the many other organizations around the New York region, the Columbia Land Conservancy fights for the present and future of Columbia County’s natural world…”

Click here to read more about CLC’s work and programs.

U-Pick Farms in Columbia County

One of the quintessential summer activities in Columbia County is spending the morning or afternoon hand-picking delicious fruits and veggies from one of the many farms offering a pick-your-own produce option. It’s a perfect activity for families or a day out with friends. Here is a list of “U-Pick” farms throughout Columbia County for your picking pleasure:

Thompson-Finch Farm (750 Wiltsie Bridge Road, Ancram, NY 12503)
Hours: Wed & Sat 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.

Thompson-Finch Farm is a family run fruit farm that specializes in strawberries, blueberries, and apples. Currently, they offer blueberry picking through August. Before heading out to the farm, make sure to check their website or Facebook page for up-to-date picking conditions.

Samascott Orchards (5 Sunset Ave, Kinderhook, NY 12106)
Hours: Wed – Mon 8:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.  

At Samascott’s, an old dairy farm turned fruit farm, the possibilities are endless—pick some sweet cherries to make a pie or summer squash to add to a summer salad. They are also currently offering blueberries, blackberries, and swiss chard. However, the produce available for picking changes almost weekly so check out their website for updated offerings.

Fix Bros. Fruit Farm (215 White Birch Road, Hudson, NY 12534)
Hours: Mon-Sun 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Black Sour Cherry season has just begun at the family-run Fix. Bros Farm and peach season is just around the corner. To stay current on their offerings, sign up for their “fruit blasts” via their website. While you’re there, make sure to check out their “Recipe” section for some delicious inspiration.

Love Apple Farm (1421 State Route 9H, Ghent, NY 12075)
Hours: Mon-Sun 9pm-5pm

While Love Apple Farm is most well-known for their delicious apple varieties (and those to-die-for apple cider donuts), they also offer a variety of other fruits like peaches, cherries, and berries for your picking pleasure!

The Chatham Berry Farm (2309 Route 203, Chatham, NY 12037)
Hours: Mon – Sun 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

Venture into the Chatham Berry Farm’s fields for a delightful day of picking. You will find blueberries, blackberries, and four different types of raspberries. Stop in the store for some yogurt, ice cream, or whipped cream, and have a tasty dessert!

 

What is a harmful algae bloom, anyway?

You may have seen quite a few notifications about harmful algae blooms lately and wondered just what they are, why they happen, and what you should do if you think you’ve seen one.

What’s a harmful algae bloom and why do they happen?

From DEC: “Blooms of algal species that can produce toxins are referred to as harmful algal blooms (HABs). HABs usually occur in nutrient-rich waters, particularly during hot, calm weather.” Often, HABs are at the whims of the weather – when it’s very warm outside and hasn’t rained much, still bodies of water like lakes and ponds can experience algae blooms. The blooms may look like someone’s spilled green paint on the surface of the water.

These blooms are dangerous to swimmers, boaters, and pets, and can cause symptoms like vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, and skin and throat irritation. You should never drink water from a source that’s suspected to contain harmful algae. If you have been in contact with a HAB, you should contact your healthcare provider.

What should I do if I think I’ve seen one?

Take a closeup photo, fill out this form, and send it to the DEC at HABsInfo@dec.ny.gov. If you think you’re experiencing symptoms after contact with a suspected algal bloom, contact the Health Department at harmfulalgae@health.ny.gov.

How can I find out where blooms have been spotted?

DEC maintains a website with information here. You can see past blooms here.

Volunteer for Water Chestnut Pulling!

We’ll be working hard to remove invasive water chestnut from the Alan Devoe Bird Club and Hand Hollow Conservation Area during the hot summer months. It’s a great way to get out on the water and do good at the same time! Water chestnut poses a big problem for wildlife and boaters, as it forms dense mats of vegetation and has incredibly unpleasant spiky fruits.

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation:

“Prevention is the most effective method for dealing with invasive species. If they are never introduced, they never become established.

  • Clean, drain, and dry your watercraft, trailer, and equipment before and after each use. Regulation 6 NYCRR Part 576 requires everyone who uses watercraft on public waters to, when possible, use the following methods to fully decontaminate your equipment:
    • Clean the outside of the watercraft and trailer with high pressure (2500 psi) hot water (140°F) for 10 seconds.
    • Flush the inside of the motor and all compartments (bilge, live well, bait buckets, ballast, etc.) with hot water (140°F) for two minutes.
    • Soak fishing gear and equipment in hot water (140°F) for two minutes.
  • Dump bait bucket water where it came from or on land.
  • View more information on how to clean your boat.

Early detection of infestations helps to reduce removal costs and ecological impacts

  • If you think you’ve found water chestnut please take several photos and submit a report to iMapInvasives.
  • Become a Chestnut Chaser! We know that water chestnut is underreported in New York State. Each summer we encourage folks to survey their favorite swimming holes, lakes, ponds, and nearby waterbodies for water chestnut and submit reports to iMapInvasives.
  • Share the water chestnut fact sheet (PDF, 300 KB) with others.”

Please bring your own boat if you have one, as CLC has a limited number of kayaks and canoes.

Email John Horton to join the volunteer list-serve and get more details on when and where these water chestnut pulls will be taking place!

Celebrate Summer on a Columbia County Hike

So, you’ve visited CLC’s Public Conservation Areas and are wondering where else you can hike in Columbia County? You’ve come to the right place! On the blog this week we’re rounding up the best hikes/walks in the area, so you can hit the trail for the first official day of Summer.

Taconic State Park/Copake Falls Area (Copake Falls)

After grabbing goodies from the Copake-Hillsdale Farmer’s Market, make the short drive to Copake Falls where you will find a well-developed area to park and set off for the day. From the parking lot you have the choice to stroll down the Harlem Valley Rail Trail, a picturesque paved trail with interpretive signs, hike to Bash Bish Falls via the NY Trailhead, or hop on the South Taconic Trail if you’re in the mood for a more challenging hike.

Lake Taghkanic State Park (Ancram)

With around 10.5 miles of trails extending throughout the Park, you’re sure to stay busy between the swimming, boating, and fishing that’s also available in the summer months. If you’re looking for a short, gentle loop trail hit the Fitness Trail (FT) which takes about 30 minutes and will give you a great view of the lake and the Catskills off to the west. If you’re looking for a longer hike featuring a large variety of flora and fauna check out the Lake View Trail (LT), which loops around the entire lake and takes approximately 2.5 hours.

Beebe Hill & Harvey Mountain State Forests (Austerlitz and Canaan)

Combined, these two State Forests boast over 30 miles of multi-use trails. Hike up Beebe Hill—1.7 miles out and back—and then climb the fire tower and you will be rewarded with expansive views of the surrounding Castkill and Taconic mountain ranges. While Harvey Mountain is the highest peak in Columbia County, the trek up is moderate and family-friendly. Climb the 1.5 miles to the top in late July and you may find the field covered in delicious wild blueberries.

Farmers’ Markets in Full Swing!

A Guide to Columbia County’s Farmers’ Markets

It’s not hard to find fresh, beautiful produce here in the Hudson Valley—there are a countless number of farms in Columbia County alone! So, next time you need to stock up, skip the grocery store and head outside to your nearest farmers’ market to support your local farmers.

Here’s a list of farmers’ markets in Columbia County that are worth a visit:

Copake Hillsdale Farmers’ Market

Saturdays 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. May 26 – October 27, 2018

From baked goods to fresh flowers and live music, this market won’t disappoint. It’s situated right next to the Roeliff Jansen Park so bring along your dog and take a hike after you buy some goodies.

Hudson Farmers’ Market

Saturdays 9:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.  April 28 to November 17, 2018

Start by hitting up the Destino tent for some delicious breakfast tacos before visiting the different vendors at Columbia County’s largest farmers market.

Chatham Farmers’ Market

Fridays 4:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m. June – October

Before heading home after work, make a quick detour to the Chatham Farmers’ Market located near the gazebo in the center of town and pick up some fresh ingredients for a delicious Friday night dinner!

Kinderhook Farmers’ Market

Saturdays 8:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. May – October

Join local farmers and food producers at the Village Green in Kinderhook for a wonderful market featuring different specialty vendors—from coffee roasters to creameries—every week.

Valatie Farmers’ Market

Sundays 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. May – September

End your weekend in Valatie picking out handmade soaps and fresh herbs at the market located just outside the Valatie Medical Arts Building. Make sure to stick around for the live music and occasional raffle drawings!

Om at Ooms!

Join us every Tuesday between June 5 and September 4 for all-levels yoga at Ooms. Classes are for practitioners of all levels. They are donation-based, run from 6:00 p.m. – 7:00 p.m., and your contributions support CLC and Supersoul Yoga.

“We’re excited to partner with Supersoul Yoga to offer these classes as another way to connect people to our Public Conservation Areas,” says Peter Paden, CLC Executive Director. “They’re such special places, and this is just one way to enjoy them.”

“We’re enthusiastic about the opportunity to serve the community and take our practice outdoors – doing yoga at beautiful places like Ooms is inspiring, and we’re so happy that the donations collected will help to further the work of CLC to maintain these areas,” says Studio Manager Mike Andryszewski.

This is the 3rd consecutive year of Om at Ooms, and this effort supports our similar initiatives of connection with and through nature. These classes are offered at  Sutherland Pond at Ooms Conservation Area, with Proceeds support CLC and The Foundation for Inspired Living, a non-profit established by Supersoul Farm to fund education in meditation, yoga, and permaculture farming.

Best Spring Walks at Public Conservation Areas

Spring is finally here and it’s time to hit the trail! Lucky for you, CLC has miles of stunning trails open to the public at our Public Conservation Areas scattered throughout the county. To make it even easier, we have compiled a list of the can’t-miss walks and hikes of the season. What’d we miss? Let us know in the comments!

Blue/Stockport-Greenport Trail (Greenport Conservation Area)
After grabbing lunch in Hudson, take a walk near the Hudson River along the Stockport-Greenport Trail. Once you pass through fields of wildflowers, cross streams, and traverse forested slopes, you will be rewarded with breath-taking views of the Hudson River and the Catskill Mountains. To access this trail, follow the Access for All Trail until you reach the Blue Trail. This is a moderate out-and-back route around 2.6 miles.

 

Yellow to Blue Trails (Harris Conservation Area)
A great walk for families—follow the blue trail from the parking lot and find yourself walking upland into a beautiful hemlock forest. After connecting with the yellow trail, which will eventually loop you back around to the parking lot, you will pass a tranquil woodland pond, multiple active vernal pools, and an old stone wall. This site is rich in biodiversity, so while this walk is only one mile, you could spend hours here admiring the cool habitats and even cooler creatures.

Blue Trail to Green Trail (Drowned Lands Swamp)
Start on the relatively flat blue trail and skirt along the edge of the swamp. Your proximity to the wetland will be perfect for wildlife viewing, as well as catching sight of spring ephemeral wildlflowers. On your way back, you can take the Cross Trail to get to the Green Trail, which will lead you to the summit of Old Crocken where you will take in beautiful views of the Taconic and Catskill Mountains. This shorter walk is suited for visitors of all ages.

Green Loop Trail (Ooms Conservation Area)
This trail is beautiful at any time of the year, offering an almost two-mile walk around Sutherland Pond. Be sure to bring your binoculars because the rolling grasslands around the pond provides habitat for grassland birds, including the bobolink and several different sparrows. We’ve also seen eagles at the site, and heard rumors of osprey! If you get tired along the way, take a seat at one of the benches you pass or at the gazebo, which offers Catskill Mountain views to your west.