Tuesday, January 6, 2009

News That Matters - January 6, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Tuesday Morning,

What's in the News:

  1. 2008 Environmental Excellence Awards (Brewster)
  2. Retailers to Collect and Recycle Plastic Bags per New Bill
  3. One river - many ecosystems
  4. Exporting Leaves, Importing Compost
  5. Kick the Invasive Exotic Gardening Habit with Great Native Plant Alternatives
  6. Early Detection Invasive Plants By Region
  7. The Greene Boom
  8. Pete Seeger, Still Singing His Message at 89

This morning's JN carries an article about how yet another Putnam politicians (Dwight Yee) is considering a run for Sheriff. By my count come election day, so many people will have their names on the ballot there won't be anyone left to vote. It seems like the pool is open so let's all get in there and run for Sheriff! Last one in gets to be Coroner!

The Tilly Foster contract remains in negotiations this morning as the County Law Department has taken over control. I don't know if this is good news or bad news but all we can hope for is that in the end everyone is made happy and The Farm has a long and healthful life. I really do have to thank you, my readers, for being vocal on this. There was an overwhelming view from residents of this county that, while the contract with Preserve Putnam is a good thing, you also wanted proper oversight and accountability. There were only a few voices who thought the original contract was a good one and I'm hoping they've finally come over to the side of fiscal and governmental responsibility.

While we're talking about Southeast, the Brewster School District is being honored by the State Department of Environmental Conservation for its Environmental Education  and Sustainable Practices Project. See the story below.

If you're looking for something to do come inauguration night and those tickets from Washington are not yours for the taking, there are several events planned here in the county. One, reported on last Friday, is in Putnam Valley. But Patterson is also planning a party, a spaghetti dinner, at the Rec Center. Admission is a $9 donation. The event runs from 6-8:30PM. For more info or to RSVP, call 845-878-6169 or 878-4352.

Across the ocean, Israel and Hamas are still slugging it out and no one is going to come out of this one a winner. It's a mess, there's no doubt about that. The death toll mounts, homes and lives are being destroyed, and a kindergarten was blown up in Israel yesterday. Perhaps we should send them some of our candidates for Sheriff to see if those guys can sort that mess out?

Oh, and I'm still waiting for Governor Paterson to call me. I mean, really! I'm packed and ready to head to DC to take my place in the US Senate and the phone has yet to ring. It's been since December 18th when I decided I'd be the right dude to represent NY but damn, if money and fame don't trump effort and hard work! Maybe Caroline will hire me?

And now, the News:

  1. 2008 Environmental Excellence Awards (Brewster)
  2. Retailers to Collect and Recycle Plastic Bags per New Bill
  3. One river - many ecosystems
  4. Exporting Leaves, Importing Compost
  5. Kick the Invasive Exotic Gardening Habit with Great Native Plant Alternatives
  6. Early Detection Invasive Plants By Region
  7. The Greene Boom
  8. Pete Seeger, Still Singing His Message at 89

2008 Environmental Excellence Awards

More than 40 candidates from industry, local governments, advocacy groups, educational institutions and the hospitality sector submitted applications for the 2008 Environmental Excellence Awards. A committee of 20 representatives from the public and private sectors selected the winning submissions. Summaries of this year's winners are below.

Brewster School District, Putnam County
Through its "Environmental Education/Sustainable Practices Project," the Brewster Central School District includes capital improvements and managerial processes to save energy and protect the region's water supply by preventing excessive plant growth, loss of oxygen and fish kills in the receiving waters. The project also provides educational activities that have developed students' awareness of environmental issues. Accomplishments to date include a 50 percent district-wide reduction in solid-waste production, a student-run organic garden and a technologically advanced wastewater treatment facility built in 2007. Improvements have resulted in more than 17 percent in annual energy savings, 1,724,388 pounds of carbon dioxide emissions prevented and 250,000 cubic feet each of paper and plastic waste diverted from landfills.

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Retailers to Collect and Recycle Plastic Bags per New Bill

Stores over a certain size will have to provide bins for plastic bags and recycle the returned bags.

Governor David A. Paterson has signed legislation to increase the collection and recycling of plastic carryout bags. Beginning January 1, 2009, the new law will require retail establishments with more than 10,000 square feet of retail space or those that are part of a chain with more than five stores (each with more than 5,000 square feet of retail space) to provide bins for the collection of used plastic carryout bags and recycle the returned bags. They also must keep records for three years describing the amount of plastic bags collected and recycled.

With a comprehensive plastic recycling law in place at the state level, local governments are pre-empted from adopting their own laws on this topic. However, additional legislation will be enacted to amend the bill to allow New York City to retain an effective and popular local law that established a recycling program throughout the city for plastic carryout bags and film plastics and to require the recycling of film plastics as part of the statewide program. Governor Patterson urged lawmakers to move swiftly to pass this amending legislation.

Read More

One river - many ecosystems

Species depend on different parts of Hudson estuary

By Catherine McGlynn
For the Poughkeepsie Journal

Hudsonia Ltd., a nonprofit institute for environmental re-search and education, has been studying estuaries, streams and wetlands and their inhabitants for more than 25 years. A few years ago, these studies were consolidated under the institute's Wetlands and Waterways Program. Hudsonia biologists provide information about these ecosystems to public and private organizations, landowners, planners and developers to help with planning for conservation and development.

The estuary

The Hudson River is a tidal estuary - where freshwater river meets and mixes with the sea - for more than half its 315-mile length. The estuary corridor has been the focus of much human activity, but we tend to forget it is also part of an immense ecosystem extending thousands of miles into the open ocean.

Many organisms require freshwater portions of the estuary for certain life stages, but spend other parts of their lives in the sea. "Anadromous" species live as adults in saltwater and breed in fresh water: Atlantic sturgeon, striped bass and American shad, for example, all enter the freshwater portion of the river estuary to spawn.

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Exporting Leaves, Importing Compost


A PUFF of wind blew the last leaf off of the pin oak in Ken Knowles’s yard here six weeks ago. The 30-foot drop to Mr. Knowles’s tidy front lawn was the beginning of a journey that will carry his leaves along with a stream of others from nearby towns out of the county to fields and farms, sometimes hundreds of miles away.

Each fall, Westchester County sends more than 85,000 tons of leaves to rural areas in a handful of states as far away as New Hampshire, where they are turned into compost and topsoil that is used throughout the region. Some of the products come back to Westchester as organic produce or soil enhancers sold at local nurseries.

“It’s unfortunate that we have to burn so much fuel to transport our leaves, but real estate is expensive around here,” said William McDavid, 62, a retired lawyer who lives in Rye, while buying groceries at June and Ho, a gourmet store on Purchase Street in the Village of Rye.

Mr. McDavid, a regular June and Ho shopper, buys heirloom and organic tomatoes there that have been grown with compost made from Westchester’s leaves at McEnroe’s Organic Farm in Millerton, in the Catskills.

During the fall, the City of Rye’s six orange garbage trucks pick up thousands of leaf bags a week and dump them in a lot behind Disbrow Park on Oakland Avenue. The leaves are transferred to 100-cubic-yard trailers that are hauled upstate and to Connecticut, New Jersey and New Hampshire by City Carting of Westchester, a private trucker. During a typical December week, Rye sends nine container trucks full of leaves on the road.

Read More

Kick the Invasive Exotic Gardening Habit with Great Native Plant Alternatives

It’s time to eradicate those unruly invasives from your garden and add some new choices to your plant inventory. Famous for stepping beyond garden boundaries, invasive exotics wreak havoc on natural areas. We’ve all seen how English ivy smothers wildflowers and topples shade trees or how Japanese honeysuckle literally strangles shrubs and small trees. Leaving old garden standards behind is difficult but necessary if our natural parks, forests, and fields are to have a future.

Invasive plants turn into landscape thugs by out-competing the surrounding natives. In the mid-Atlantic region, they tend to put their leaves out earlier in the spring and lose them later in the fall than their native counterparts. This extended growth period gives them a significant advantage over the native species. In addition, these plants have no natural enemy—neither insect nor disease—and quickly produce abundant offspring. Many invasive plants are unpalatable to deer and quickly take over where deer are abundant.

Before choosing a native plant alternative, first think about the characteristics of the invasive plant you are replacing. Using Japanese honeysuckle as an example, its sweet fragrance or vining habit might be the desired characteristics. So, get rid of the honeysuckle and replant with fragrant summer bloomers like sweetbay magnolia, Magnolia virginiana, a tree, and add the summer-blooming leatherflower vine, Clematis viorna, if you like the vine habit. The new combination gives you everything you liked about the honeysuckle without its devastating weediness.

Read More

Early Detection Invasive Plants By Region

IPC has developed an Early Detection list for each of the eight PRISM regions in the state (see PRISM map at bottom of page).  Each of the plants listed below is on the Early Detection List for one or more PRISMs.

    * Cllick on "ED Regions" to sort the list by Region. However, please note that for plants that occur on more than one Regional ED list, the plant is listed with the first Region, so check the entire list to see all ED plants for a specific PRISM.
    * Click on the NYFA icon to see the NY Flora Atlas County Distribution Map for that plant.  Some of the county distribution maps are incomplete.  The NY Flora Atlas is based on voucher specimens; invasive plants are under-reported.  Please consider taking time to submit a voucher specimen to fill-in a "missing" county.  Voucher Specimen Directions.

Read More

The Greene Boom

Business is picking up in Greene County
by Christina Kaminski, December 30, 2008

With the economy slipping and slumping into 2009, it’s tempting to pity our small-business-owning friends and colleagues. We might call them brave, inspiring, or even crazy. But the truth is this: Depending on where they are, they might be on to something. Greene County, which has long been considered a timeless and picturesque getaway for leaf-peepers and other weekend warriors, is also one of the fastest-growing counties in New York. This fact has not escaped notice by county’s legislators, nor has it eluded local business owners themselves. The Greene Business Partnership and the Greene County Planning and Economic Development Board have recently completed a comprehensive economic development plan designed to facilitate balanced economic growth in Greene County for the next 10 to 20 years.

Some of the goals of the plan include the development of programs capable of assisting the growth of businesses in the county, enhancement of programs geared toward enhancing local quality of life, support of telecommunications and other business-oriented infrastructure, and identification of projects and programs that warrant federal, state, and local investments that would lead to better employment opportunities, especially for young people. In short, Greene County has adopted a long-term plan designed to keep its towns and villages bustling, beautiful, and open for business.

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Pete Seeger, Still Singing His Message at 89


PETE SEEGER, who has written or helped popularize more than a few of America’s most memorable songs — “Turn, Turn, Turn,” “If I Had a Hammer” and “This Land Is Your Land,” among them — is 89 and, he said, has started forgetting a few lyrics.

But as he looked to his next concert, on Saturday at White Plains High School, he had little problem recalling a life of joyful protest that has enraged a few and endeared him to many.

Saturday’s concert will celebrate that life as it commemorates the 20th anniversary of the Walkabout Clearwater Coffeehouse. In classic Seeger fashion, the show will bring together many of the artist-activist’s friends for an evening of participatory entertainment promoting social justice.

“My job,” he said, “is to show folks there’s a lot of good music in this world, and if used right, it may help to save the planet.”

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