Kathy Schneider Signs “Birding the Hudson Valley” at the Chatham Bookstore

Kathryn J. Schneider brings her book “Birding the Hudson Valley” to the Chatham Bookstore on Saturday, December 8. The author signs books at 4:00 p.m. as part of Chatham Winterfest. At 5:00 p.m., a conversation with Thomas Chulak from the bookstore and Q & A follow a presentation by the author. A portion of the proceeds from book sales will be donated to the Columbia Land Conservancy.

Published by University Press of New England in October, “Birding the Hudson Valley” is a guide to birds and birdwatching in the Hudson Valley. Designed for birders of all levels of skill and interest, the book contains explicit directions to more than eighty locations, as well as useful species accounts and hints for finding the valley’s most sought-after birds. But beyond providing tips about topics like learning bird calls, buying binoculars, and using apps, Schneider also explores Hudson Valley history, ecology, bird biology, and tourism.

According to Jeremy Kirchman, curator of birds, New York State Museum, “This book is an excellent guide to the best birding sites in the Hudson Valley that will lead me to plenty of places I have not yet explored.”

Kathryn Schneider grew up in Claverack, went to Hudson High School, and then attended  Cornell and Princeton Universities, where she completed her PhD. She taught college courses in general biology and ornithology at the University of Richmond and later at Hudson Valley Community College. In 1986, she returned to Columbia County and for 14 years directed the New York Natural Heritage Program, a biodiversity inventory program run jointly by The Nature Conservancy and then the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). In the 1990s she became a member of the NYS Ornithological Association (NYSOA), later serving as president and vice president.

Currently, Schneider is a Master Gardener for Cornell Cooperative Extension and an active volunteer for the Columbia Land Conservancy. As a consultant, she has conducted bird surveys for the US Fish and Wildlife Service. She lives in Stuyvesant Falls.

The Chatham Bookstore, located at 27 Main Street in Chatham, NY, features a large selection of books for adults and children, as well as an array of art supplies. For more information, call 518.392.3005. https://chathambookstore.com/

We’re hiring!

CLC seeks a Public Lands Manager to serve as our lead Public Conservation Area steward and to manage and supervise the Public Conservation Area team.  As the team leader, this position will work to ensure that the PCA team is maintaining conservation areas to provide a safe and positive user experience. This position will also work closely with senior management to plan, develop, and manage CLC’s fee lands and public conservation areas and to evaluate properties for their natural resources and advise on best management practices.

Bachelor’s degree in forestry, resource management, biology, environmental sciences, or related subject is required.  Minimum of five years of experience in property maintenance and management (residential and/or park/conservation areas) and three years supervisory experience. Competitive salary with full benefits. Please email cover letter and resume as a single pdf document to jobs@clctrust.org with “Public Lands Mgr” in the subject line. A full description of the position is available here. Deadline to apply is December 3.

Great Song Farm is Looking for Its Next Farmers!

Great Song Farm is a successful CSA based on leased land in Milan, NY.  Longtime Farmer-Landowner Match Program participants, Anthony Mecca and Sarah Ahearn, began this operation in 2011 in close partnership with landowners Betti and Larry Steele.  Over the years, Great Song Farm has developed a strong community through their CSA membership and by hosting on-farm community events.  While Anthony and Sarah have decided to move on with their careers away from the farm, both they and Betti and Larry hope that Great Song Farm continues on its mission to foster, “diverse community farm managed using organic and biodynamic practices” and are actively seeking its next farmers.

Please  follow the instructions found here if you would like to be considered for this opportunity.

Hunting Season Begins at Several Public Conservation Areas

Hunting Season Begins October 1

Hunting season at several of CLC’s Public Conservation Areas begins October 1. 

The Columbia Land Conservancy issues permits every year to a small number of individuals to hunt deer at six of our sites. When visiting these sites during hunting season – October through December – particularly during early morning and evening hours, please wear orange or other bright colors. Hunting is allowed at select sites by permit only. 

If you’d rather not hike at a site where hunting is taking place, visit Borden’s PondSiegel-Kline KillOoms, or High Falls.

Click here to learn more about why hunting is an important part of managing CLC’s Public Conservation Areas.

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.

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.