Summer is in full swing! It’s time to savor fresh fruits and vegetables from your favorite farm stand, listen to the summer birds chirping, and enjoy the sight of lightning bugs sparkling away in the evening dusk.
You are an essential part of a community of supporters working together to ensure the best parts of Columbia County endure through all seasons. Thank you.
Step by Step: Restore the boardwalk
Imagine yourself on a walk at Ooms Conservation Area – my personal favorite among the sites. It’s a beautiful day. The sun is shining, a chorus of bobolinks burbles away in the nearby bushes, the fish are jumping in Sutherland Pond. Then you hear another sound – a crash, followed by a loud cry. You look up to see that another visitor has crashed through a rotten board and is now ankle- deep in swamp. You help them out, then head back to your car, making a mental note to try a different trail next time.
Though this experience has happened before, CLC is committed to making sure it doesn’t happen again. We are excited to share that CLC has received a grant of $100,000 from the Land Trust Alliance’s Conservation Partnership Program to replace the boardwalk at Ooms with a better, more durable structure designed to last for decades.
This boardwalk will be the centerpiece of a multi-phase capital project at Ooms designed to make one of the most popular Public Conservation Areas accessible to people who use wheelchairs, push strollers, or have limited mobility. While this grant is much appreciated and a great step forward, we know more will be needed to fully realize our vision. The next step is to hire a design team to help us conceptualize this vision and determine the full cost for the project. As this design is finalized, we look forward to sharing the details with you and inviting you to join us in making this vision a reality.
Nature Quest: Coming Soon to a Trail Near You
This summer, CLC staff are hard at work preparing to launch a new way for people to connect to nature: Nature Quest! Nature Quest is an interactive way to experience select trails at Public Conservation Areas. Conservation Education and Communications staff have created educational signage and a booklet that draws attention to the natural features that make each site special. Tours will also be uploaded to TravelStorys, a web-based platform and smartphone app, that will provide visitors with the opportunity to experience the sites remotely or have the content narrated to them as they visit the trails.
An event celebrating the launch of the tours is planned for September 24 (National Public Lands Day) at Siegel-Kline Kill Conservation Area from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. There will be guided hikes on the Nature Quest trail, crafts and activities for kids, and local groups and vendors for all to enjoy. Learn more about Nature Quest at clctrust.org/naturequest!
Partnering with Friends of Oakdale Lake
CLC’s collaboration with Friends of Oakdale Lake continues! Our partnership is excited to announce that we have received another grant of $100,000 from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Environmental Justice Program.
This grant will make it possible to begin implementing water quality measures identified during a study completed earlier this year. These strategies are aimed at stopping the cycle of eutrophication in the lake. Eutrophication occurs when too many nutrients (usually from pesticides, fertilizers, and runoff) enter water and cause an algae bloom. When the algae dies and decomposes, it uses up available oxygen in the water, decreasing habitat for fish and other aquatic animals and contributing to unpleasant swimming conditions.
Strategies to interrupt this cycle include:
Hiring a professional to remove aquatic weeds from beneath the surface of the lake,
Applying barley straw, an experimental technique to help reduce nutrients in the lake
Installing a solar-powered pond aerator to increase oxygen in the water
Monitoring water quality to assess how these measures are impacting the lake
Support for Queer Farmers and Farmers of Color
CLC was recently able to help our friends at Rock Steady Farm in Millerton, NY by providing no-cost housing located at one of the Public Conservation Areas. Rock Steady is a queer owned and operated cooperative vegetable farm rooted in social justice, food access and farmer training.They operate a 500-member CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) program that feeds local upstate neighbors as well as New York City residents. Their CSA offers weekly vegetable shares, plus egg, fruit, meat, cheese and yogurt share options from neighboring farms. Sliding scale pricing, fundraising and strong community partnerships ensures food reaches people across all income levels and lived experiences.
As for many businesses and individuals, finding affordable housing for farmers and farmworkers has been difficult. Housing at CLC’s former Round Ball Mountain Conservation Area (now part of Overmountain) will support members of Rock Steady’s new Pollinate Immersion Program. Pollinate is a farmer training program for aspiring and beginner queer, trans, and gender non-conforming farmers interested in cooperative farm business models that center equitable food access.
Taghkanic Headwaters Conservation Plan Launches
Volunteers from the communities of Claverack, Copake, Hillsdale, Hudson, and Taghkanic began presenting the Taghkanic Headwaters Conservation Plan earlier this summer. Stakeholder committee members attended meetings of town boards, hosted a public water-themed event at the Taghkanic Fire House, and shared the plan with libraries, Conservation Advisory Councils, and others.
What’s next? The stakeholder committee has committed to meet quarterly to advance the goals laid out in the plan:
Forests and woodlands in the Taghkanic Headwaters are protected and managed so wildlife are able to move freely, water remains clean, and the woods are resilient to climate change.
The Taghkanic Creek has enough water so it is a high-quality habitat and it meets the needs of people,fish, and wildlife, including water supply and recreation.
In the watershed, build connections among people and communities, including leaders in the watershed towns of Claverack, Copake, Hillsdale, and Taghkanic, and the City of Hudson.
To learn more about the plan and how this community-led conservation collaborative will continue, visit taghkanicheadwaters.org. A limited number of print copies of the plan are available, please be in touch if you would like one.
Your support is essential in helping these, and all efforts to care for this land we love, to grow and thrive. Thank you for all you do to make this possible.
Please be in touch with any questions about the projects shared here, or anything else happening at CLC or in Columbia County.