Wednesday, April 29, 2009

News That Matters - April 29, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you (Almost Daily) by PlanPutnam.Org

"It is doubtful whether any spot in the State has as many of the buried dead of the Revolution as this quiet spot." - James H. Smith, 1882

Good Wednesday Morning,

We've had a few days of July weather and now it's time to jump back to spring. Look for the next few days to be, um, normal, for a change. I tell ya, once it gets above 75 or so it's too warm for me... but the gardens love it and if you look outside now we have actual shade and the crab apple tree outside my window has, this morning, burst into bloom.

Carmel residents decided they didn't want a PARC group home in their community citing 11 already in existence, fear the "commercial" look and extra traffic that might have been generated (which amounts to a handful of staff cars and a van). With one hand, town officials praised PARC for their work while with the other slapped them down. I know there are (unfounded) fears regarding these facilities but I personally have a hard time saying no to people who need assistance.

What had long been known by historians as one of the most important Revolutionary War sites in the nation has been officially acknowledged by the Town of Fishkill. A letter from the state historian has confirmed that the Fishkill Supply Depot site at the intersection of Route 9 and I84 does, in fact, hold the graves of men who died while stationed there. The site, mostly paved over where American history succumbed to American commercialism several decades ago, is still threatened with additional development unless something is done to preserve what's left of it. We've followed this story in the past and will continue to do so.  The NY Times even ran a story about this (reposted in part here last week). See this website for more information.
Image: A signed 'pass' by Israel Putnam.
Courtesy Fishkill Historical Focus.

Over the past months I've been receiving three or four times a week, calls either from a company that promises to lower my credit card interest rates or to remind me that the warranty on my car is about to expire... press 1! Well, I don't use credit cards and the warranty on my vehicle is long since gone. I've written to the state to complain several times and each time the complaint has come back for insufficient information. Apparently they want finger-prints and DNA samples from the caller since the date and approximate time of the calls isn't enough. If you're also getting these calls, please write.

Website Watch:
The Greenhorns is a documentary film that explores the lives of America’s young farming community—its spirit, practices, and needs. As the nation experiences a groundswell of interest in sustainable lifestyles, we see the promising beginnings of an agricultural revival. Young farmers’ efforts feed us safe food, conserve valuable land, and reconstitute communities split apart by strip malls. It is the filmmakers hope that by broadcasting the stories and voices of these young farmers, we can build the case for those considering a career in agriculture—to embolden them, to entice them, and to recruit them into farming.

Visualizing The Grid - The U.S. electric grid is a complex network of independently owned and operated power plants and transmission lines. Aging infrastructure, combined with a rise in domestic electricity consumption, has forced experts to critically examine the status and health of the nation's electrical systems.
Lastly, several people have written to ask me to post one thing or another to the blog but it's been set up specifically for you to post yourself! It gets many hundreds of readers each week so your message will get out there... not to worry. Point your browser here, create an account and post away. That's what it's there for.

And now, the News:
  1. Hudson Valley counties receiving failing grades for ozone from American Lung Association
  2. Executive Order To Reduce Property Taxes In New York 
  3. Preservation groups snap up land
  4. How smart growth can keep our drinking water safe
  5. Proposed wind turbine law to get committee review in New Windsor
  6. The Battle Over New York's Marcellus Shale
  7. How cost-effective is it to make homemade pantry staples?

Hudson Valley counties receiving failing grades for ozone from American Lung Association

NEW YORK – All of the Mid-Hudson Valley counties measured for ozone by the American Lung Association in New York received failing grades for the period 2005 through 2007, the Lung Association reported Wednesday.

Westchester County had 36 high ozone days, Orange County had 29, Putnam County had 27, Dutchess County had 15 and Ulster County had 13.

Putnam County was one of only two counties in the state to have a “very unhealthy” day monitored, according to the EPA’s Air quality Index.

Read More

Executive Order To Reduce Property Taxes In New York 

Governor David A. Paterson today took a first step towards providing real property tax relief to New Yorkers by issuing Executive Order No. 17, which establishes measures to evaluate costs of mandates on local governments. The Executive Order, signed by Governor Paterson today, represents the first step in a broad mandate relief agenda that he will push during the current legislative session. It will ensure an increased flow of information in an effort to make better decisions about the impacts of proposed legislation and regulations on property taxes for New Yorkers. The Executive Order applies only to regulation and legislation from the Executive Chamber or State agencies.

“It’s time to put the brakes on the spiraling cost of property taxes by taking a close look at unfunded mandates that are handed down from the State to local governments, and in turn drive up the cost of property taxes for New Yorkers across the State,” said Governor Paterson. “This Executive Order will provide us with more detailed fiscal information about the effects of proposed legislation and regulations. By having more detailed information earlier in the process, we will be able to better evaluate possible costs associated with regulations and our own program and departmental bills to ensure that we are making responsible and cost effective decisions for the residents of our State.”

Read More

Preservation groups snap up land

Recession makes space available, cheaper
By Alexa James
Times Herald-Record
April 27, 2009 6:00 AM

SHAWANGUNK — Despite dour economic times, local land acquisition groups vow to continue working for their cause: preserving rural acreage in the Hudson Valley and Catskill Mountains.

Earlier this month, the Open Space Institute bought 35 acres of undeveloped mountain on the eastern side of the Shawangunk Ridge, bringing its total portfolio in the Sam's Point Preserve to about 5,700 acres. The organization is trying to collect a total of 7,500 acres for the park.

"Obviously, because there's less money in America than there was nine months ago, we have to be selective about what we do and prudent about what we buy," said Bob Anderberg, the institute's vice president and general counsel. But a shaky economy won't derail the group, he said. Over the past four decades, "we have been quietly protecting land through good times and bad."

Real estate in the Hudson Valley has turned into a buyer's market. Open space is at bargain-basement prices, and new construction has stalled.

Read More

How smart growth can keep our drinking water safe

April 27th, 2009
While we’ve done much to clean up our water sources since the 1970s with the passage of the Clean Water Act and the tightening of regulations controlling pollution in our water, the problem still remains in troubling ways.

PBS’s “Frontline” aired a piece last week called “Polluted Waters” about the abysmal way we’ve been treating two of our most vital waterways — the Puget Sound and the Chesapeake Bay. (You can watch the entire program online here for free.) The two-hour special takes a look at these two unhealthy waterways that continue to be contaminated by high levels of pollution more than three decades after the passage of the Clean Water Act.

Read More

Proposed wind turbine law to get committee review in New Windsor

April 18, 2009 6:00 AM

NEW WINDSOR — There’s been progress in the town’s effort to develop a law regulating wind turbines.
Supervisor George Green said a “semi-draft” of a proposed law will be presented to the town’s infrastructure committee – which includes town planning, engineering and legal consultants – on Tuesday.

If it passes muster there, Green said it will be put in formal draft form and presented to the Town Board.
The issue arose after a green business owner who would like to sell turbines asked to put up one on his property.

Read More

The Battle Over New York's Marcellus Shale

In an age of diminishing resources, the discovery of an untapped oil or natural gas reserve can stir messianic visions. Salvation is to be found in tar sands and what were once prohibitively expensive methods of extracting crude oil or natural gas from the earth. ‘Drill, baby, drill,’ 21st century scripture in some quarters of the United States, reflects the sort of devil may care attitude that, remarkably, in an age of scarcity still drives much of our energy policy.

Last summer, when oil was fetching $140 a barrel and the price of natural gas reached record highs hundreds of landmen descended on the Catskills and Poconos in New York and Pennsylvania. They crisscrossed the Delaware basin holding meetings with local residents in an attempt to persuade them to lease their land. They want what’s underneath that land—trillions of cubic feet of natural gas trapped in the Marcellus Shale, a formation that stretches from Ohio to New York and runs through West Virginia and Pennsylvania. There were tales of deception, of fraud, and of large sums promised. The frenzy has been described as a modern day gold rush.

Read More

How cost-effective is it to make homemade pantry staples?

By Jennifer Reese
Posted Wednesday, April 22, 2009, at 12:17 PM ET

Although I love to cook, I've always secretly, darkly, suspected it is costlier to craft at home what you can buy at Ralph's. Obviously, homemade bread tastes better than Wonder, but does playing Martha Stewart really save you money? While packaged food is mostly lousy, some of it can be spectacularly inexpensive. Out of work and increasingly obsessed with our grocery budget, I decided to test my intuition and run a cost-benefit analysis on how much I'd save—if anything—by making from scratch six everyday foods that I usually purchase from Safeway and my local bakery.

Except where noted, I chose the most affordable products and ingredients available (i.e., the 10-pound sack of generic sugar instead of a tiny pouch of organic cane sugar from Whole Foods) and priced everything down to the last grain of salt. Based on an estimate from my utility company, it costs around 32 cents per hour to run an electric oven. To melt butter slowly over a gas burner: 9 cents per hour. To boil water, more like 14 cents per hour. I take it as a given that everyone knows better than to quit their job—any job—to take up cracker-baking, so I attached no value to time. I happen to love messing around in the kitchen. Here's what I found:

Read More

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Monday, April 27, 2009

News That Matters - April 27, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you (Almost Daily) by PlanPutnam.Org

"A standard lawn creates nearly the same runoff surface for rainwater as asphalt or other hardscaping."
- Eric Groft

Quote of the Day:
"If a kid [on the Canada side] throws a Frisbee over here, he can come and get it," the local Border Patrol chief told the Washington Post. "But if he got the Frisbee and kept walking down to the Arby's to get a soda, we're going to stop him."
Good Monday Morning,

What a great weekend! I'm hoping everyone enjoyed it as much as I did though 90º in April is a little too warm, a little too early. The weather for the rest of the week, thanks to, looks like this:

Apr 27
Partly Cloudy 86°/57° 20 %
Apr 28
Partly Cloudy 88°/54° 10 %
Apr 29
AM Clouds / PM Sun 69°/41° 20 %
Apr 30
Partly Cloudy 65°/47° 20 %
May 01
T-Showers 68°/49° 50 %

Keep Friday night open for the Mayday Bonfire and Celebration here at the Asylum. As usual, all are invited.

Neighbors of a new Park and Ride lot being constructed in Mahopac are suing the county and the state Department of Transportation to stop work at the Mount Hope Road and Route 6 location. Judge O'Rourke refused to issue a temporary restraining order while the issue was being looked at, a benefit to the county/state as it will be harder to undo any construction if he should find merit in the lawsuit later on. It's a common tactic builders use to move projects to a point where enough 'significant construction' has taken place that the project must move forward to completion. This is the same judge hearing the Kent Manor case and we all know how that's going to turn out.

Legislators in Westchester are about to pass a law banning the use of fertilizers containing phosphorus in an effort to control - and improve - water quality. Many towns and communities have already done this, among them the Town of Kent, which has banned the use of such fertilizers on municipal grounds unless a soil test specifically says it is needed.
Phosphorus enters the environment and acts as an enriching food source for aquatic foliage, especially algae, a problem that is apparent on any local water body come summer when explosive algal growth chokes out the life of our lakes and ponds. Not only do I encourage the county to pursue this strategy, but encourage others to do the same.

Clicking here might open a video explaining the problems with fertilizers that will make it all easier to understand. If that link does not work, try here, and then select the third one down the page.
The Beacon Sloop Club was officially recognized by the EPA for doing what they do so well. Congratulations are most certainly in order.

For those of you living on Peekskill Hollow Road, your opportunity to (finally?) squelch the latest major highway project draws neigh. Stay tuned!

Swine flu is among us and world health experts don't know exactly what to do. Over the weekend the news was filled with words like "pandemic", designed to scare the bejeezus out of you. And, maybe it should. If it does come around in pandemic proportions, look for a national single-payer health care system to rise from the ashes, just like Europe's did after the end of WWII. Either that, or look for another trillion dollar public handout to what will remain of the over-bloated for-profit insurance companies. Does Putnam County have enough Tamiflu available for our 100,000 residents? If not, maybe it's a worthy investment. Dr. Amler?

Pontiac is going the way of the Edsel and along with it, 21,000 more jobs. While GM was buying the Hummer Division they could have been retooling to meet the needs - not the perceived wants - of the American car-buying public. Is it any wonder I see more Prius' on the road than Pontiac's? Chalk one up for marketing!

Fans of John Prine will be glad to hear that singer Jeffrey Foucault has released an album called, "Shoot the Moon (Right Between The Eyes)" a compilation of thirteen of John's songs.
Jeff's treatment of these long-heard standards is both familiar and fresh. "The Late John Garfield Blues", one of Prine's earliest and "Clocks & Spoons", one of Prine's rarest heard, are both given a swing edge that brings them alive in a way that you'll enjoy hearing again and again. "He Was In Heaven Before He Died", through Jeff's interpretation, echoes traditional country standards and "Mexican Home" has been reset as a the ballad it should have been.

Give the album a listen for a brand new hearing of one of America's greatest songwriters. Chill Richie, I already got you a copy.

And now, The News:
  1. N. Castle cracks down on recycle scofflaws
  2. 2009 EPA environmental award goes to Sullivan group
  3. Eco-friendly living, energy efficiency promoted at Dutchess county fairgrounds
  4. Officials in Three States Pin Water Woes on Gas Drilling
  5. FDA and CDC Warning: Eat No Sprouts
  6. Too Much Sugar Is Bad, But Which Sugar Is Worse: Fructose Or Glucose?
  7. How Cigarettes Calm You Down
  8. Your Conversations Are Being Intercepted: The Truth About Project ECHELON

N. Castle cracks down on recycle scofflaws

Elizabeth Ganga

NORTH CASTLE - Some homeowners pulled into their driveways last week and were confronted with an unusual sight: garbage left where they had put it out in the morning.

Brightly colored stickers saying "Oops!" gave them a clue what they did wrong. They had failed to separate garbage and recyclables, triggering the "refusal to collect" penalty in the town and county recycling law.

After months of warning letters and tracking of violators, last week the town and its garbage contractors, Suburban Carting, began leaving cans and bags of mixed garbage and recyclables where they found them. It is one of the escalating steps in an enforcement crackdown aimed at keeping recyclables out of the landfill and the incinerator.

Read More

2009 EPA environmental award goes to Sullivan group

MONTICELLO – A 2009 Environmental Quality Award has been presented to the Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development.

Congressman Maurice Hinchey nominated the group for its “strong leadership in recognizing and embracing the growing potential of green business and clean energy” in Sullivan County.

“This is an award that is kind of difficult to get; there is a lot of competition for it,” he said. “EPA examined the application very carefully and they came to the conclusion that Sullivan County was doing such a wonderful job here that they deserved that recognition and that award.”

The Sullivan Alliance for Sustainable Development has been working with elected officials, businesses, farms and the public to encourage and foster a greener and prosperous future for the county.

Read More

Eco-friendly living, energy efficiency promoted at Dutchess county fairgrounds

Electronics takeback event also offered

By Rasheed Oluwa
Poughkeepsie Journal

RHINEBECK - Olivebridge resident Vickie O'Dougherty already has a geothermal heating system installed in her home along with solar panels and any other products that are available to increase energy efficiency.

"Central Hudson paid me $37 last year," O'Dougherty said as she strolled around the Dutchess County Fairgrounds Sunday during the second annual Hudson Valley Green Fair. "I like the idea of them giving me a check than the other way around."

Thousands of green living enthusiasts such as O'Dougherty could be seen at the event, which featured more than 90 vendors and organizations.

Read More

Officials in Three States Pin Water Woes on Gas Drilling

by Abrahm Lustgarten, ProPublica - April 26, 2009 7:00 am EDT

Norma Fiorentino's drinking water well was a time bomb. For weeks, workers in her small northeastern Pennsylvania town had been plumbing natural gas deposits from a drilling rig a few hundred yards away. They cracked the earth and pumped in fluids to force the gas out. Somehow, stray gas worked into tiny crevasses in the rock, leaking upward into the aquifer and slipping quietly into Fiorentino's well. Then, according to the state's working theory, a motorized pump turned on in her well house, flicked a spark and caused a New Year's morning blast that tossed aside a concrete slab weighing several thousand-pounds.

Fiorentino wasn't home at the time, so it's difficult to know exactly what happened. But afterward state officials found methane, the largest component of natural gas, in her drinking water. If the fumes that built up in her well house had collected in her basement, the explosion could have killed her.

Read More

FDA and CDC Warning: Eat No Sprouts

A regional salmonella outbreak linked to alfalfa sprouts earlier this year continues, and could expand.

Americans should not eat any raw alfalfa sprouts, or sprout blends containing alfalfa sprouts, until the origins of a salmonella Saintpaul outbreak has been determined, according to the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The do-not-eat warning is most important for the elderly, young children, and those with compromised immune systems, who are at high risk of serious complications from a salmonella infection.

So far, 31 people have taken ill since mid-March in Michigan, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Utah, and West Virginia, and federal investigators warned that illnesses may be present -- but as yet undiagnosed -- in other states.

Read More

Too Much Sugar Is Bad, But Which Sugar Is Worse: Fructose Or Glucose?

ScienceDaily (Apr. 25, 2009) — In 2005, the average American consumed 64kg of added sugar, a sizeable proportion of which came through drinking soft drinks. Now, in a 10-week study, Peter Havel and colleagues, at the University of California at Davis, Davis, have provided evidence that human consumption of fructose-sweetened but not glucose-sweetened beverages can adversely affect both sensitivity to the hormone insulin and how the body handles fats, creating medical conditions that increase susceptibility to heart attack and stroke.

In the study, overweight and obese individuals consumed glucose- or fructose-sweetened beverages that provided 25% of their energy requirements for 10 weeks. During this period, individuals in both groups put on about the same amount of weight, but only those consuming fructose-sweetened beverages exhibited an increase in intraabdominal fat.

Read More

How Cigarettes Calm You Down

ScienceDaily (Apr. 25, 2009) — The calming neurological effects of nicotine have been demonstrated in a group of non-smokers during anger provocation. Researchers writing in BioMed Central's open access journal Behavioral and Brain Functions suggest that nicotine may alter the activity of brain areas that are involved in the inhibition of negative emotions such as anger.

Jean Gehricke led a team of researchers from the University of California who studied the effect of nicotine patches on the subjects' tendency to retaliate in response to anger provocation. The subjects played a computer game and could see a video screen of another player who they believed to be their opponent, although, in fact, they were playing alone. After each round, the victor could give his opponent a burst of unpleasant noise – at a duration and volume set by the winner. In some of the subjects, nicotine was associated with a reduced tendency to retaliate, even after provocation by the 'opponent'.

Read More

Your Conversations Are Being Intercepted: The Truth About Project ECHELON

[Excerpt] “Who is that?” I asked the translator who told me that it was Republican senator Strom Thurmond. ‘Oh my gosh!’ I thought. We’re not only spying on other countries, but also on our own citizens. That’s when I realized in earnest that what we were doing had nothing to do with national security interests of the US.”

And US Senator Thurmond is just the tip of the iceberg. In 1983, British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher asked that government ministers who had challenged her on policy issues be placed under electronic surveillance, although it wasn’t until 2000 that former Canadian secret service insider Mike Frost blew the whistle: “[Thatcher] had two ministers that she said ‘…weren’t onside,’” says Frost. “[She] wanted to find out, not what these ministers were saying, but what they were thinking.”

Read More

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Friday, April 24, 2009

News That Matters - April 24, 2009 - Things To Do Edition

News That Matters
Brought to you (Almost Daily) by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Friday Morning,

A little frost on the pumpkin this morning, eh?

Putnam County is finally going to get a hotel but before you invite your uncle Ned up from Tuscaloosa just keep in mind that the hotel is in Putnam but only by about an inch or two. Slated for the old Kelties Bum Steer property on Route 6, the $3 million project - complete with tax breaks - is about to begin.

Tilly Foster Farm opens for the season tomorrow (Saturday) with a host of activities.

A woman in Scarsdale had had enough of her 10 and 12 year old fighting and bickering and did what every parent has threatened to do: "If the two of you don't stop now I'm putting you both out of the car!" They didn't, so she did. Her 12 year old ran after the car and caught up with it while the younger child was left standing on the street until a passerby notified police. Now, half of you will be sympathetic with the mother, half with the children. But whichever side of the coin you fall on, make sure your kids read the article about this before your next road trip!

Assemblyman Greg Ball said the other day... No, I don't want to ruin our day. Forget it.

Verizon Wireless still sucks. I've had a Verizon cell phone since Alex Bell and I used to bar hop together back in the day. They've got a deal that so long as you maintain a contract with them, every two years they credit you $100 towards a new phone. (As an aside, it's interesting how the phone only lasts two years but that's another post for another day.) Anyway, my two years is up and, you guessed it, my phone is starting to fail. So, I log onto the Verizon Wireless website and find out that my credit for the new phone is only $50! What happened? According to the customer service rep, they changed the plan two years back and anyone who re-upped during a narrowly defined window only gets $50. And, if I want the logical upgrade for my current phone I have to change my calling plan - to a more expensive one or, I can get a crappy phone. Have I written before that it's time to nationalize the phone company? Yeah, I think I have.

The case of The Pirate Bay, a music sharing website whose owners have been sent off to prison for, well, music piracy, has a twist. It seems the judge who presided over the case, Tomas Norstrom, is a member of the Swedish Copyright Association and sits on the board of Swedish Association for the Protection of Industrial Property. I'd say there's a conflict there.


Putnam Chorale - Elijah Oratorio (Mendelssohn)

8pm at the First United Methodist Church located on Main Street in Brewster, NY and Sunday, April 26, 2009, 3pm at the Temple Beth Elohim located at 31 Mt. Ebo Road North, Brewster, NY. Mendelssohn’s dramatic music has swept away audiences since its premier in 1846. Experience one of the greatest pieces of music ever written, with its gorgeous lyricism and its thrilling climaxes. The Putnam Chorale invites everyone to join them in the celebration of this piece. Featuring baritone Peter Clark. Admission: $15, Seniors & Students: $12, Children under 12 Free. More info here.


Celebrate Earth Day

8:30AM - Put Plaza, Route 6, Carmel - Lake Carmel residents, The Bereznak Brothers Band ( will be playing under a tent for the start of Putnam's official Earth Day fete. The Carmel Rotary Club is donating the use of the tent. Starbucks will have another tent to hand out free drinks and tasty treats. At 9AM, local politicians will contribute to global warming and at 9:30 volunteers will begin a roadside cleanup of Route 6. Write Walt for more information.

Here's a video of the Bereznak brothers singing, "Car Show".

Work on the Appalachian Trail

9AM - Folk from the RPH Cabin Volunteers are working on a section of the Appalachian trail this morning in an ongoing management and maintenance effort. This stage of the work is to create a flight of rock steps to reduce erosion and impact on the trail. Meet 1 mile north of Route 301 on the AT. Call Tim at 845-297-9573 or visit: for more information.

Swamp Monsters Adventure

10 AM Garrison - Like mud? School-aged kids and their caregivers are invited to spend the morning on this eco-adventure with Environmental Educator Pete Salmansohn and friends. We'll venture into the Garrison School Forest for a hike, and learn about wetlands and who lives in swamps and vernal pools. Bring a snack. Space is limited/registration required.

Three Moments in Time

8 PM - Three Moments in Time - A staged reading by the Blue Horse Repertory Company. Presenting: Slaughter in the Lake by Jose Rivera, Thoughts on the Instant of Greeting a Friend on the Street by Jean-Claude van Itallie and Sharon Thie and A Brief Period of Time by Don Rifkin. At Arts on the Lake, Route 52 Lake Carmel. Admission is $10 (9$ for members) Reservations: (845) 228-2685 or With *Peggity Price, *Brian Keeler, *Lora Lee Ecobelli and *Sean Hopkins. *Appearing through the courtesy of Actor's Equity Association staged reading guidelines.


Hudson River Estuary Trees for Tribs

9:00am - 4:00pm and Sunday, April 26, 2009:  9:00 am. Celebrate National Volunteer Week 2009 and Arbor Day The NYS DEC’s “ Hudson River Estuary Trees for Tribs” initiative will be hosting two volunteer bareroot-seedling “potting events” in celebration of this year’s National Volunteer Week (April 19-25), an event which seeks to honor the individuals who dedicate themselves to taking action and solving problems in their communities, and Arbor Day (April 24).  Arbor Day is a national observance that celebrates the role of trees in our lives and promotes tree planting and care. Our volunteers will help pot-up bareroot seedlings for the “Hudson River Estuary Trees for Tribs” initiative- a program that offers free native plants to landowners who qualify for stream buffer restoration projects.  In just two years, the “Hudson River Estuary Trees for Tribs” initiative has been responsible for planting more than 32,000 feet of stream buffers along the Estuary’s tributaries with 12,000 native trees, shrubs, and grasses.  Over 70 projects have been completed to date with the help of some 1,200 volunteers and 50 project partners.  For further information on “Hudson River Estuary Trees for Tribs”, please visit website: For specific questions regarding this volunteer event please contact Amy Bloomfield, Hudson River Estuary SCA Riparian Buffer Specialist, at and 845-256-3827.

Into the Future:

Tuesday, Apr 28,

A Day in Your Watershed: Bottled Behavior

8:00a.m - 4:00p.m. At Clearpool Education Center, 33 Clearpool Road, Carmel.  The professional development conference features informational speakers, workshops and hands-on activities for school teachers, environmental educators and the general public. $20, includes breakfast and lunch.  Contact Deana Grimaldi,  845-225-8226 ext. 104.

Friday, May 1

May Day Bonfire and celebration

8 pm - At Jeff's House in Kent Cliffs
Come celebrate the traditional first day of summer with a bonfire and party to keep the bad spirits away. Drizzle or shine or dark of night. (Steady rain cancels but I'll still be here so come anyway.)

Historically Walpurgisnacht is derived from various pagan spring customs. Bonfires were built to keep away the dead and chaotic spirits that were said to walk among the living then. This is followed by the return of light and the sun as celebrated during May Day.

The earliest May Day celebrations appeared in pre-Christian Europe, with the festival of Flora the Roman Goddess of flowers, the Walpurgis Night celebrations of the Germanic countries. It is also associated with the Gaelic Beltane.

In Irish mythology, the beginning of the summer season for the Tuatha Dé Danann and the Milesians started at Bealtaine. Great bonfires would mark a time of purification and transition, heralding in the season in the hope of a good harvest later in the year, and were accompanied with ritual acts to protect the people from any harm by Otherworldly spirits, such as the Aos Sí. Like the festival of Samhain, opposite Beltane on October 31 Beltane was also a time when the Otherworld was seen as particularly close at hand.

Standard rules apply: If you're drinking, plan to camp or come with a Mormon who drives.

Saturday, May 2 and Sunday, May 3

Cinderella - The Trashy Musical

An Apple Tree Production - Where Recycling Meets Royalty. In this revision of the story, penned by Kent playright Chris Blossy, music by Lew Zwick, Judy Allen as the Fairy Godmother and with some notable roles reversed, Cinderella and the Prince meet for organic latte's at a recycling center. Okay, I made that up... well, maybe! Saturday at 3PM, Sunday at 2PM at the Cultural Center on Lake Carmel (the old firehouse) Admission $7 adults. $5 Children and Members. Visit Arts on the Lake for more information and to purchase tickets online.

Wednesday, May 13

Getting Your Feet Wet With Social Marketing, with Jack Wilbur

9:00 am - 5:00 pm or Thursday, May 14, 2009:  9:00 am - 5:00 pm For professionals, volunteers and municipal officials involved in:  watershed management, climate change adaptation and mitigation, wildlife management, invasive and nuisance species, forestland management, natural resource management and ecosystem-based management. Each workshop on “Getting Your Feet Wet With Social Marketing”, with Jack Wilbur Utah Dept. of Agriculture, will cover behavior change, assessing audiences and messaging.  Social marketing uses many of the principles of commercial marketing to bring about behavior change. Examples of social marketing campaigns are anti-litter like "Keep America Beautiful", anti-smoking and energy conservation. Jack Wilbur is a social marketing and marketing research specialist, see more info on his work here. (PDF) The early registration fee is $25.  Space is limited.  Brought to you by: NYSDEC Estuary Training Program of the Hudson River National Estuarine Research Reserve, NYSDEC Hudson River Estuary Program, Hudson River Watershed Alliance, Hudson River Sloop Clearwater,  and the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission.  For more information:  Stephanie Stanczak, or 845-889-4745 x 109.  Register online for either event at: May 13:  Plum Point, Kowawese Unique Area at Plum Point  Route 9W, New Windsor, NY  OR May 14:  Norrie Point Environmental Center, Staatsburg, NY:

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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

News That Matters - April, 22, 2009 - The Earth Day Edition

News That Matters
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Today is Earth Day - Do something nice for our home.

View of Fishkill Ridge from Mt. Taurus by Jeff Green

View of Fishkill Ridge from Mt. Taurus by Jeff Green

See last Friday's Things To Do edition of News That Matters for events taking place.

Good Wednesday Morning,

Denis Castelli reported yesterday that Eleanor Fitchen has died at the age of 96. He wrote,
"Eleanor and her husband Paul, who died in 1990, were benevolent forces in our community for several decades.  They reportedly spearheaded the effort to preserve Putnam County's Historic Courthouse in Carmel.  They co-founded Southeast Open Spaces [SOS] that later became the Putnam County Land Trust, the Southeast Museum, the Landmarks Preservation Committee of the Museum that later incorporated as the Landmarks Preservation Society of Southeast and later, the Concerned Residents of Southeast."
The lights went out in Carmel yesterday afternoon. NYSEG reported that the vast majority of the town was without power for several hours from late afternoon until early evening. Does anyone know why?

The NYJN reports this morning that County Executive Bob Bondi has vetoed a unanimous Legislative vote to expend $2 million in watershed funds (no cost to county taxpayers) to continue the septic replacement program for homes within 100' of a watercourse or water body in the Croton basin. CE Bondi says that giving some people money and not others is inherently unfair. But the point of the program is to assist in keeping the watershed - our drinking and playing water - clean and thus it does affect each and every resident who lives in the basin. I am sure the Legislature will override the veto and continue this excellent - and much needed program. Apparently the CE has no problem with spending watershed funds to make golfers happy. It's just our lake communities he seems to have a problem with.

I received a call on Monday night from a company called Pacific Press Research that I cannot find anywhere on the 'net. PCR was running a poll on same-sex marriage and asked about Senator Leibell. If the Senator commissioned this poll, please stand up since it's always nice to know who wants my opinion. If he did not... what's going on? And, for the record, I'm on the Do Not Call list which, over the past six months has been next to worthless... but that's another article for another day. Am I the only one constantly getting calls from those auto warranty and reduce-your-credit-card-rate people?

Philipstown For Democracy is holding an informational meeting on health care tomorrow night (Thursday) at the Desmond Fish library in Garrison beginning at 7PM. The speaker will be Dr. Philip Barland, M.D. who will help investigate the possibilities of a national health care system. You know, like the rest of the developed world has. Call 917-273-0808 if you need more information.
In order to celebrate Earth Day the US Fish and Wildlife Service has posted a list of ten things you can do. The top three are, 1) Visit a National Wildlife Refuge. 2) Buy a Duck Stamp. 3) Go hunting. Go figure.

16,500 condoms were recently delivered to a research base on Antarctica. The McMurdo Station, which usually has around 1000 scientists and staff during the summer, drops to about 125 scientists over the winter (which is starting now down there) and the problem has been that when it's night-time 24/7 and colder than the dark side of the moon you get bored and lonely. For those of us who thought scientists were boring geeks for whom sex is best achieved via 3D computer simulation in between Star Trek conventions, you'll be happy to know they're human. See for more information on life down there.
According to the Yonkers Tribune, a downstate rag that has a love affair with Assemblyman Greg Ball, the Assemblyman received an email claiming that the Pepsi Bottling Group, based in Somers, was thinking of leaving NYS due to the new "bottling tax" that, according to the redacted email would cost them millions. Ball says in the report,
“The poisonous 2009 budget has tipped the decision for Pepsi to move its headquarters, with 1,100 jobs in the 99th Assembly District alone, out of  New York,” Ball added. “I’m demanding that the Governor come to Somers and literally beg to keep them there. We have to do whatever it takes.”
In the email the writer says, "thinking about" moving yet the Assemblyman says, " tipped the decision... [to move] out of New York," which is something different. But I'm wondering if the sender of the email, whose name was blacked out, was confusing the Bigger Better Bottle Bill with something else. The new BBBB reduces the amount of money bottlers can claim from unclaimed funds (which are your dollars, by the way). The old bill allowed them to keep every nickel while the new one allows them to keep a few cents of each unclaimed coin with the rest going into the state's General Fund with a promise to spend what's collected on environmental projects. In other words, Pepsi and other bottlers have been gleaning millions of dollars of your nickels for years and that gravy-train has come to a crashing halt - as it should have years ago.

The Albany Times-Union reported something a little different:

However, Ted Potrikus, director of government relations for the Retail Council of New York State, said staff from the governor's office and both houses of the Legislature have been receptive to hearing his trade group's concerns.

"We know we have gotten, at least, a fair hearing and an opportunity to make our points," he said.

Call on the Assemblyman to release an un-redacted version of the email so we can get the full story.

And now, the News:
  1. Teens' water bottle sale aids charity
  2. State Park System Gives Back Five Times State Investment
  3. Michelle Obama's Fresh Food Revolution
  4. Tons of Released Drugs Taint US Water
  5. Venice mayor launches dirty war against other Italian cities
  6. MoJo Forum: Is Recycling a Waste?
  7. $2 Billion Wind Turbine Order Is Largest Ever
  8. The Queen Buys The World’s Largest Wind Turbine: 7.5 Megawatts

Teens' water bottle sale aids charity

Dana Paschetti
For The Journal News

CARMEL - Mahopac High School freshman Daniel Ehrenpreis has traded in his plastic water bottle for a sleek alternative.

And he's not alone. Some 400 Mahopac students were convinced to bag the plastic water bottles that clog the school's recycling bins and are bad for the environment in favor of 26-ounce stainless steel water bottles.

Doing the convincing were the school's Create the Change and Biology clubs, which together launched a project selling the $10 bottles to raise money for charity:water, a nonprofit organization that brings clean drinking water to Third World countries, while raising the awareness of their fellow teens. "We are hoping to save the world one bottle at a time," Ehrenpreis said in a statement.

Read More

State Park System Gives Back Five Times State Investment

New study reveals annual economic impact close to $2 billion, plus 20,000 jobs

A new economic analysis released by Parks & Trails New York shows that the New York State Park System is a valuable economic asset to the Empire State. It supports up to $1.94 billion in output and sales for private businesses, plus 20,000 jobs.

The analysis also demonstrates that the economic benefits exceed the direct costs of operating and maintaining the State Park System many times over. The benefit-to-cost ratio is more than five to one-more than $5 in benefits for every $1 in costs.

"New York's State Park System produces substantial revenue for New York's businesses and jobs for New Yorkers. The Governor and Legislature should reinvest in our state parks to put money in New Yorkers' pockets today and for the state's economic future," says Robin Dropkin, Executive Director of Parks & Trails New York, in the press release on the report.

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Michelle Obama's Fresh Food Revolution

By Mark Hertsgaard

When Michelle Obama began planting an organic garden on the South Lawn of the White House recently, there was no doubt she was sending a message, but the message was more subversive and far-reaching than most American media coverage recognized. On March 20, joined by a class of local fifth graders, the first lady lifted the first shovels of dirt onto a 1,100-square-foot plot that will feature fifty-five kinds of vegetables, including spinach, peppers, arugula, kale, collards and tomatoes (but no beets--the president reportedly does not like beets). Various herbs and berries will also be grown in the garden, which is fully visible to the thousands of tourists and other pedestrians that pass by the White House daily. (There will also be two boxes of bees for pollination.)

Michelle Obama's stated message was simple and was clearly aimed at her fellow Americans: fresh food tastes better and is better for you, so kids and grown-ups alike should eat lots more of it. "A real, delicious heirloom tomato is one of the sweetest things you'll ever eat," she told the 10-year-olds, adding that freshly picked vegetables were what prompted her daughters to try new kinds of foods.

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Tons of Released Drugs Taint US Water

Monday 20 April 2009

by: Jeff Donn, Martha Mendoza and Justin Pritchard  |  Visit article original @ The Associated Press

U.S. manufacturers, including major drugmakers, have legally released at least 271 million pounds of pharmaceuticals into waterways that often provide drinking water - contamination the federal government has consistently overlooked, according to an Associated Press investigation.

Hundreds of active pharmaceutical ingredients are used in a variety of manufacturing, including drugmaking: For example, lithium is used to make ceramics and treat bipolar disorder; nitroglycerin is a heart drug and also used in explosives; copper shows up in everything from pipes to contraceptives.

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Venice mayor launches dirty war against other Italian cities

Tom Kington in Rome The Guardian, Monday 20 April 2009
It started, as many things do, in a fit of pique. Venice's mayor was furious at the steady drip of rancour over the state of his city. According to detractors, the jewel of the Adriatic had become the shame of Italy, with its litter, illegal street vendors and ubiquitous dog turds.

But not content with trying to clean up his own city, Massimo Cacciari had a better idea: he mounted an undercover mission to document and publicise the filth of other Italian cities, to show that Venice was no different from its peers.

Cacciari said he would be posting on the Venice city website photos he took during an Easter visit to Rome's Piazza Navona and Florence's Santa Maria del Fiore church.

Read More

MoJo Forum: Is Recycling a Waste?

Join a MoJo writer, a recycling pro, a consumption critic, and a historian of garbage for some serious trash talk.
The modern recycling movement got its start alongside the first Earth Day, nearly 40 years ago. In the months surrounding April 22, 1970, around 3,000 voluntary recycling programs sprung up around the country, started mostly by counterculture types looking for a practical, virtuous way to minimize their environmental impact. Since then, recycling's gone mainstream: Americans now recycle and compost a third of their trash, up from just 6 percent in 1970. Yet even as we load up our recycling bins, we're generating more waste than ever before. In just 5 minutes, we use another 1,060,000 aluminum cans, 2 million plastic bottles, and 15 million sheets of paper. We're still drowning in plastic, New York recycles only a fifth of its garbage, and trash haulers still find landfill more profitable than recycling. Then consider that municipal solid waste—that's the stuff that fills our home garbage cans and office paper bins—is just 2.5 percent of our total "Gross National Trash" output. While we've been agonizing over whether our plastic yogurt lids can be recycled, have we been missing the big picture? Is recycling giving us a false sense that we're solving our waste problem?

We put that question to four experts: Elizabeth Royte, Eric Lombardi, Annie Leonard, and Susan Strasser. Check out their answers below. Then post your comments or questions for them. For the rest of this week, they'll be checking in to respond to readers, discuss and debate the future of recycling and waste, and perhaps even solve the mystery of the yogurt lid. 

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$2 Billion Wind Turbine Order Is Largest Ever

Texas oilman T. Boone Pickens has placed an the largest ever order for wind turbines: he ordered 667 wind turbines from GE, each costing $3 million dollars, making the total order $2 billion. Pickens plans to develop the world’s largest wind farm in the panhandle of Texas.

The $2 billion order is just one quarter of the total amount he plans to purchase. Once built, the wind farm would have the capacity to supply power to over 1,200,000 homes in North Texas. Each turbine will produce 1.5 megawatts of electricity. The first phase of the project will produce 1,000 megawatts, enough energy to power 300,000 homes. GE will begin delivering the turbines in 2010, and current plans call for the project to start producing power in 2011.Ultimately, Picken’s company, Mesa Power, plans to have enough turbines to produce 4,000 megawatts of energy, the overall project is expected to cost $10 billion and be completed in 2014.

Read More

The Queen Buys The World’s Largest Wind Turbine: 7.5 Megawatts

The Queen is investing in the world’s largest wind turbine. It’s a prototype of a new line of wind turbines called “The Britannia” which will be produced by Clipper Windpower, based in California. The turbine tower stands about 328 feet, has a diameter of 492 feet, and can generate 7.5 megawatts. Currently, the largest installed wind turbine is the massive Enercon E-126, which is rated at 7 megawatts (see of our previous post here).

The sale was made to the British Crown Estate, which owns most of the seabed off Britain’s shores, regularly leases out its land to wind farm projects but has never invested in the turbines. The prototype turbine is part of Britain’s ambitious goal of generating 33 gigawatts of offshore wind energy by 2020.

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Monday, April 20, 2009

News That Matters - April 20, 2009

News That Matters
Brought to you (Almost Daily) by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Monday Morning,

What a great weekend!

The band BATIK premiered their new album, "VUDU", at the Lake Carmel Cultural Center on Friday night. I've run sound and lights at shows there since the beginning and I can safely say the stage has never had that many (5) preeminent musicians on it all at the same time. BATIK's leader, Barry Hartglass and their trumpet/fluglehorn player, Tim Ouimette, are both from Lake Carmel. The other three members of the band (Dave Anthony on drums, Tom Nazziola on percussion and John Roggie on keyboards) hail from as far away as central New Jersey and NYC. But when the night was over they all agreed it was worth the trip and the full-house audience tunefully agreed.

The Putnam County Land Trust's 40th annual dinner was a great success. Awards were given to Dr. Marian Rose for her work on clean water and to the Correll family of Patterson for their Leadership in Giving. There was a bevy of politicians in attendance that is too long to type out but suffice to say that even the County Executive, that ghostly figure around Carmel these days, was there. Patterson Supervisor Mike Griffin did grumble a bit when Ms. Rose mentioned that some 60 acres of trees would have to be cleared for his pet project, but aside from that everyone had a smashing good time.

The company hired by the county to run the Putnam National Golf Course, RDC Golf Group,  has been unable to secure a liquor license from the State and hence income is way down, so down that they've failed to pay the county money owed us. It's a real mess. Another favored contract, another messed up deal. But it's this liquor license thing that really bothers me.

From the "I'm Not Making This Up" Department
Late last week the Alaska State legislature voted to outlaw sex with animals. Why, after all these years has Alaska done away with interspecies peccadilloes? Oh, it's not what you think! In Klawock, Alaska, a 26 year old man was convicted of stealing a dog and, ah, er... well, you know... and the rest is history. If that guy had just dallied with his own dog legions of Alaskans would still be able to cuddle up with their favorite moose, polar bear or seal without keeping an eye out for the Coppers. Not to be outdone, the Georgia State Senate voted a couple of weeks ago to disband the United States. Meanwhile, in Indianapolis, a 12 year old boy is facing felony pornography charges for sending a nude picture of himself to a same-aged girl acquaintance. Gee, in my day they just took away TV privileges for a week. Oh, and, Al Franken is finally the Senator from Minnesota. Norm Coleman, decidedly defeated in the courts, has promised to stamp his feet, clench his fists and cry "foul!" for passersby at the Minnesota State House for the next two years.
Time Warner Cable was ready to introduce a new internet pricing plan last week when they suddenly recanted saying the new plan was on hold. The plan would have set a basic price for general web browsing and email but would have increasing rates based on bandwidth use. In other words, the moment you clicked on a you-tube video or two you'd incur additional charges. Watch a movie from Netflix online and pay upwards of near $100 a month. What made TWC change their minds? A deluge of emails from tens of thousands of their customers  and politicians who made the honest claim that the new plan would create a tiered system of internet haves and have-nots. And before you think this will not affect you... think again. Once the gates are opened the flood waters of corporate greed know no bounds.
The major costs involved in bringing the internet to your computer are not borne by your service provider, but by hosts of the websites you visit who, in order to keep the pages loading quickly, need to add servers and storage. The 'net itself and the cables and wires that interconnect those servers with the rest of the world are pretty cheap in comparison. So, why the new pricing plan? Profits. Greed. Crybaby corporations that didn't get free government money and that are losing business to the 'net.
A note on FIOS: Verizon has been busy bringing glass fiber cabling to homes across the county and many of you have received letters and postcards from them telling you about the new service and their pricing plans. While 20meg 'net service or combined phone, net and TV seems sweet, there is a caveat you need to be aware of:
When you agree to have FIOS connected to your house Verizon pulls the copper wires out leaving you with the new fiber installation and your new pricing plans. If you decide that you don't like or need the service you cannot go back. So, before you decide to move forward (and they desperately want you to) call them three separate times and get the low-down on what it costs if you want to go back to just regular phone service. Why three times? Because each time *I* call I get a different answer.
Earth Day is this week so articles here will tend to follow that theme. For other articles (politics, events, views, etc.,) visit the blog.

And now, the News:
  1. To Preserve or to Pave Over History
  2. Study: 98% of Products' Green Claims Are Misleading
  3. Danbury to purchase 17 acres of open space for Ives Trail
  4. Lecture highlights denizens of river
  5. How do trees reduce noise pollution?
  6. Ocean Dead Zones Likely To Expand
  7. Getting on Track: The President Lays Out a High-Speed Rail Plan

To Preserve or to Pave Over History



History is what we choose to remember, and there have been many reasons not to remember too much about the Fishkill Encampment and Supply Depot, a sprawling military city that became the most important northern supply center during the Revolutionary War.

No stirring battle was won there. Life was brutish and often short, a place of smallpox, frostbite and mutiny, where wounded soldiers had limbs sawed off and covered with tar, where, as one contemporary account put it, soldiers “patched their clothes until patches and clothing both gave out and the garments dropped from their bodies,” where hundreds, perhaps well over a thousand, were buried in unmarked graves.

No grand building was left behind. And over time the lure of commerce and utility — the Dutchess Mall on one side of Route 9, a Hess gas station and a Mexican cafe on the other, a pump station up the road — meant more than the hoarse whispers of history.

It’s probably too late for Fishkill to become New York’s Valley Forge or Morristown, even though it was in use, not for a winter or two, but for nearly the entire American Revolution, from late 1776 through 1783.

Still, perhaps a combination of technology and recession, passion and politics will mean that after all these years and more setbacks than successes, what’s left of a 70-acre site will find its place in history after all.

Read More

Study: 98% of Products' Green Claims Are Misleading

By Dan Shapley

7 Sins of Greenwashing report outlines all the ways marketers deceive us, when we're trying to make responsible purchases.

According to one set of high standards, only 2% of products claiming in some way to be "green" actually measure up. The rest -- a whopping 98% -- are making false claims that mislead consumers into thinking a product is sustainable.

Things are so bad out there that the report's author, TerraChoice Environmental Marketing, had to add a seventh sin of greenwashing to the original six it developed for its first report, in 2007.

Since then, the market for green products has exploded; the rate of green advertising has tripled from 2006 to 2009, according to one TerraChoice survey. Of 2,219 products surveyed in North America in 2009, 98% committed at least one "sin" that could mislead consumers. The most sinful categories of products: kids toys and baby products, cosmetics and cleaning products.

Terrachoice defines greenwashing as "the act of misleading consumers regarding the environmental practices of a company or the environmental benefits of a product or service." For consumers trying to make responsible decisions in the marketplace, it's a huge problem.

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Danbury to purchase 17 acres of open space for Ives Trail

By Dirk Perrefort

DANBURY -- The city is looking to purchase a 17-acre property as open space that would provide a direct link between Wooster Mountain State Park and Pine Mountain in Ridgefield.

Jack Kozuchowski, an environmental consultant to the city, said that while the two mountains are already connected on the trail, the property would provide a more direct route.

The city is looking to purchase the landlocked property on the Ridgefield border near Sugar Hollow Road for $26,000.

"This property was identified by the Ives Trail Task Force as a more logical link," Kozuchowski said. "This will provide a more gradual and more direct route along the trail. Before we had to swing the trail south through some more challenging topography."

Read More

Lecture highlights denizens of river

Norrie Point will offer monthly talks through October.

By John W. Barry
Poughkeepsie Journal

HYDE PARK - Did you know eels secrete a slimy sheen to protect from bacterial infection or that mitten crabs are an invasive species in the Hudson River and considered a gourmet meal?

Those were only two of the things several dozen people - adults and children - learned Saturday during a free program at the Norrie Point Environmental Center in Staatsburg. The center is run by the state Department of Environmental Conservation.

Set to run monthly through October, "Fishing the River: Seining and angling for Hudson River fish," featured a lively, interactive lecture by Chris Bowser of the DEC's Estuary Program and Research Reserve. Also, fishing rods and bait were provided at no charge and those who attended the program were invited to don hip waders, enter the river and drag a net to collect fish for study.

Read More

How do trees reduce noise pollution?

By PlentyMag.comFri, Apr 17 2009 at 2:30 PM EST

 Photo: BeccaG
Q. I know trees are helpful for CO2 exchange and provide shade for cooling, but lately I heard about trees being useful to reduce noise and sound pollution. How does this work? - Barbara S. Alton, IL

Read the answer here

Ocean Dead Zones Likely To Expand

Increasing Carbon Dioxide And Decreasing Oxygen Make It Harder For Deep-sea Animals To Breath

A new study by marine chemists at MBARI suggests that deep-ocean animals such as this owlfish (Bathylagus milleri) may suffer as carbon dioxide increases and oxygen concentrations decline in the deep sea. (Credit: Copyright 2001 MBARI)ScienceDaily (Apr. 18, 2009) — New calculations made by marine chemists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) suggest that low-oxygen "dead zones" in the ocean could expand significantly over the next century. These predictions are based on the fact that, as more and more carbon dioxide dissolves from the atmosphere into the ocean, marine animals will need more oxygen to survive.

Concentrations of carbon dioxide are increasing rapidly in the Earth's atmosphere, primarily because of human activities. About one third of the carbon dioxide that humans produce by burning fossil fuels is being absorbed by the world's oceans, gradually causing seawater to become more acidic.

However, such "ocean acidification" is not the only way that carbon dioxide can harm marine animals. In a "Perspective" published in the journal Science, Peter Brewer and Edward Peltzer combine published data on rising levels of carbon dioxide and declining levels of oxygen in the ocean in a set of new and thermodynamically rigorous calculations. They show that increases in carbon dioxide can make marine animals more susceptible to low concentrations of oxygen, and thus exacerbate the effects of low-oxygen "dead zones" in the ocean.

Read More

Getting on Track: The President Lays Out a High-Speed Rail Plan

Peter Lehner
Natural Resources Defense Council Executive Director, New York City

[ Ed note: Mr. Lehner is a resident of the Town of Kent]

Standing in front of an audience of members of the transportation industry, policymakers local and state officials as well as NRDC staff (including Deron Lovaas, our transportation specialist, and me as representatives of the environmental community), President Obama this morning fleshed out his plans for launching the construction of a new high-speed rail system connection metropolitan regions across the country.

The new three-part program -- projects to remove bottlenecks in existing rail systems, building new high-speed corridors, and making drawing up even bigger rail plans - is being launched right away thanks to the unprecedented $13 billion downpayment from the recovery bill and his budget proposal. And I do mean right away: The Administration intends to announce the first round of projects, after a competitive process that will include analysis of greenhouse gas reductions of different projects (I asked), in September. So this is high-speed delivery of the first links in a new system.

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Friday, April 17, 2009

NtM - April 17, 2009 - Things To Do Edition

News That Matters
Brought to you (Almost Daily) by PlanPutnam.Org

Good Friday Morning,

The National Weather Service has issued a Red Flag warning for today running from noon until 7PM this evening. Warm weather combined with dry winds of 15 mph with gusts to 25, create an environment where fires can easily spread. Be extra special careful out there today.

While I was driving down Peekskill Hollow Road yesterday (Thursday) I saw the most wonderful thing: at home after home signs have sprouted calling for the protection of that road from a threatened "improvement" which would ruin the look and feel of Putnam's most exurban byway and alter forever the lives of those who live alongside it. Congratulations to the Friends of Peekskill Hollow Road for their organization and attentiveness. More community groups should follow your example.

If you're going to be working in the garden this weekend, and I wholly support that effort, here's what can be planted now, even before the last frost: lettuce, beets, carrots, radishes, dill, cilantro, cabbage, broccoli, celery, kale and potatoes. It's also a good time to start preparing your flower garden beds. Turn the soil, rake out the rocks and add heaping shovels full of the compost you've been working on all winter. You have been composting this winter, right?

There's an awful lot going on out there in Putnam-land this weekend. I'll be running sound and lights at the BATIK show at Arts on the Lake tonight, picking up garbage along roadsides in Kent's community cleanup day tomorrow morning and attending the Land Trust's 40th Annual Dinner that evening. What will you be doing?

If you're looking for a relatively easy 3-hour hike in the Highlands this weekend, Round Hill is the place for you. The trail starts on Route 9 just north of Route 301 (map) and follows an old country road for the first couple of miles of this ~6 mile loop hike. The hike will take you past the remnants of a day when this part of the Highlands was intensively farmed and then up the slope of Round Hill for a two mile long ridge walk culminating in a spectacular vista before the gentle descent back to where you began.

A full description of this hike can be found here. Other hikes and open spaces can be found at the Outdoor Recreation page at PlanPutnam.

Here's what's going on:


Fulton, Livingston & the Steamboat

7pm Travis Bowman, lecture of Robert Fulton's trip up the Hudson River on a steamship in August of 1807.  At the Beacon Sloop Club, (next to the ferry dock). Free. Info:, 845-265-2969


8PM - At Lake Carmel Cultural Center. We are pleased to announce the debut of BATIK's new jazz album,"VUDU". For almost two years, a group of five accomplished musicians from the NYC area have joined together to create and record a magical CD incorporating styles and influences from all over the world in a jazz setting. Come celebrate the change of season with a new musical direction filled with exotic rhythms, harmonic color, lyricism and a tongue-in-cheek sense of humor. Dave Anthony (Drums & Percussion), Barry Hartglass (Electric Bass & Soprano Sax), Tom Nazziola (Percussion), Tim Ouimette (Trumpet & Flugelhorn), John Roggie (Keyboards). Reservations $12 ($10 for Arts on the Lake members) Hear samples at BATIK's Myspace page. Additional funding for this performance has been contributed by: Margherita's Lake View 47 Route 311, Lake Carmel, NY (845) 228-4000


Kent Community Cleanup Day

9AM - Noon - Gather at the Kent PD at the Town Center (Route 52) to pick up garbage bags and gloves and for assignments to locations, if you need one. Sponsored by the town's Beautification Committee and supported by the CAC and Stormwater committees.

Spring Gardening School

8:30 - 4:30PM - Spring Gardening School sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extension. Start the season off by spending a day with Cornell Cooperative Extension Master Gardener volunteers and professional horticulture extension educators.  These classes will help you grow salad greens, learn how to propagate annuals and perennials, use all the beauty of Coleus in your garden, manage garden pests organically, have healthy trees and much, much more. Our keynote speaker is sure to inspire and energize you.  Duncan Brine founded his naturalistic landscape design and installation firm, Horticultural Design, Inc., in 1984. It specializes in native plants and whole property gardens. For mre information call 845-278-6738 or visit

Go Green at Black Rock Forest

9AM - Celebrate sustainability with a tour (2 hrs.) of "green" buildings at Black Rock Forest Consortium in Cornwall. Executive Director Bill Schuster will lead us through this impressive facility, which features sustainable building materials, a geothermal heating system, solar panels, etc. Pack a picnic lunch for a hike (2 hrs.) in the Forest where Con Ed proposed building a hydro-electric plant, now the home of an active environmental education and research center. Meet: 9am Black Rock Forest Lodge Duration: 2-4 hrs. Level: Moderate

Hudson River Ecology/Outdoor Activities Workshop for K-12 Teachers

9:00 am - 2:30 pm. Teachers will have the opportunity to interact with a scientist from the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, seine in the river, test water quality, and gain resources for teaching students in a variety of grade levels. Sponsored by the Hudson River Research Reserve, Hudson River Estuary Program, NYS Department of Environmental Conservation, and the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies. Six hours of professional development credit hours available. Space is limited, so register soon! Free event.  To register, email Questions? Please call Cornelia Harris (845) 677-7600 x321 or Kim Notin (845) 677-7600 x303.

Town Hall Event - Health Care

3:00pm  Town Hall event on healthcare at Beulah Baptist Church, 92 Catharine St, Poughkeepsie. Part of nationwide effort during April to highlight the issue of universal healthcare, sponsored by the coalition HealthcareforAmericaNow. Congressmen Maurice Hinchey & John Hall were invited. or 845-797-4177

Putnam County Historical Society Members Opening Reception

5 pm - (Opens to the Public Sunday, April 19) George Pope Morris: Defining American Culture will focus on the life and work of this pioneering 19th century journalist and publisher who had a home in Cold Spring. The exhibition includes paintings, prints, photographs, letters, books, periodicals, and sheet music covers. It was organized by the Putnam County Historical Society and the Boston Athenaeum and will remain at the Foundry School Museum until mid-August. For more information, click here. To RSVP for the Members Opening Reception, call 845-265-4010 or email. 63 Chestnut Street, Cold Spring.

Putnam County Land Trust 40th Annual Dinner

The Putnam County Land Trust is celebrating it's 40th Anniversary this year with a Dinner and Auction at the Star Ridge Banquet Center in Southeast on Saturday evening, April 18th. The annual benefit features an outstanding buffet, live music, a silent auction, and a live auction led by Ivan and Laura Cohen. Past auction donations have included weekend getaways, golf outings, antique furniture, wine baskets, unique jewelry, original art, lovely plants, gift certificates, and many items handcrafted just for this event. There will be displays and presentations about Land Trust properties and Putnam County’s many scenic areas. Awards and recognitions will be presented to individuals who have made a difference for the environmental community by volunteering their time, skills and resources. Tickets are $50 and is money well spent. More information is available here or call (845) 228-4520.


Trail Land Boundary Marking

9:00AM - 4:00PM - During this one-day workshop, participants will receive first hand experience checking land boundaries and trail corridors for illegal uses such as ORV activity, trash dumping, trail land encroachment and other common problems. The "in the field" portion of this workshop will be spent off-trail, therefore students should feel comfortable with off-trail hiking situations. Visit to sign up. Location: the AT's RPH Shelter in Dutchess County.

FrOGS Litter Pickup Day

10 AM - FrOGS picks up litter four times a year along route 22 from Haviland Hollow Road to Route 164.  Please join our happy crew for litter pickup scheduled for this Sunday at 10am, meeting at the Rec Center in Patterson. Pickeruppers and safety vests are available.  It's a dirty world out there - we need as much  help as possible. Meet at Magnolias for lunch at 1:30.

Earth Day Gathering and potluck at the Beacon Sloop Club

Noon - Everyone welcome.  Come share your experiences, goals, needs, etc. to preserve and protect our beautiful River Valley. River Sweep at 2:30. At the Beacon Waterfront. Contact: John McLaughlin 845-542-0721. At 2PM, Earth Day Riverfront Clean-up at the Beacon Waterfront. Music, snacks & gloves provided to volunteers (put on your work clothes & join in to beautify the river). Info: 845-542-0721,

Wetlands 101

3:00 - 4:30 - Please join us for an informative presentation and discussion on why wetlands are important and why you should protect them. Town of Patterson Recreation Center, Front Street, Patterson. Please RSVP today to Patterson Town Hall at 845 878-6500. Presenters include Ted Kozlowski, Town Environmental Conservation Inspector, Rich Williams, Town Planner, Lauri Taylor, Soil and Water District Manager.

Hunger in the Hudson Valley: How Can We Help?

3:00 - 5:30PM - Connecting Food, People and the Land  - A Public Forum Sunday, at Mohonk Mountain House Parlor. Join us for an in-depth exchange with local workers from: Community Gardens & Farms, Gleaners, Processors, Storage Facilities, Food Pantries, and Soup Kitchens. Help make the connections that will feed more people in our communities. Reservations Required Call 845/256-2726  or email: Suggested donation: $10; Srs & Students $5

Into the Future:

Monday, April 20

Blanding's Turtle Habitat Mapping

 7PM - Hudsonia biologists will present the findings of a project to identify and map habitats for the NYS Threatened Blanding's turtle in the Town of Wappinger. Town Hall, 20 Middlebush Rd, Wappinger, Contact: Tanessa Hartwig, 845-758-0600, or .

Tuesday, April 21

An evening with Dr. James Hansen

7PM - Free - An evening with Dr. James Hansen, sponsored by the Beacon Sloop Club. Special musical guests, Victorio Roland Mousaa, Guy Davis, Tom Chapin and Pete Seeger. Dr. Hansen, a world-renowned, outspoke authority on global warming, Columbia professor and NASA scientist. At the Beacon High School Auditorium.

James E. Hansen heads the NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City, a part of the Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland, Earth Sciences Division. He has held this position since 1981. He is also an adjunct professor in the Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences at Columbia University.

After graduate school, Hansen continued his work with radiative transfer models and attempting to understand the Venusian atmosphere. This naturally led to the same computer codes in modified form being used to understand the Earth's atmosphere. He used these codes to study the effects that aerosols and trace gases have on the climate. Hansen has also contributed to the further understanding of the Earth's climate through the development and use of global climate models.

Hansen is best known for his research in the field of climatology, his testimony on climate change to congressional committees in 1988. That helped raise broad awareness of global warming, and his advocacy of action to limit the impacts of climate change.

Wednesday, April 22


Earth Day 2009, April 22, will mark the beginning of the Green Generation CampaignTM! This two-year initiative will culminate with the 40th anniversary of Earth Day in 2010. With negotiations for a new global climate agreement coming up in December, Earth Day 2009 must be a day of action and civic participation, to defend the Green Generation’s core principles: Family with windmills: Renewable energy for future generations.

  • A carbon-free future based on renewable energy that will end our common dependency on fossil fuels, including coal.
  • An individual’s commitment to responsible, sustainable consumption.
  • Creation of a new green economy that lifts people out of poverty by creating millions of quality green jobs and transforms the global education system into a green one.
Under the umbrella of the Green GenerationTM, thousands of events are currently being planned in schools, communities, villages, towns and cities around the world. As in 2008, on April 19th Earth Day Network will celebrate Earth Day on the National Mall in Washington, DC, plus large-scale volunteer events in New York, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, Los Angeles, Denver, Austin, Atlanta, and DC in partnership with Green Apple Festival. Sign up to volunteer! Our partners in Cleveland, Columbus, Tokyo, Buenos Aires, Beijing, and Manila, among others, are planning large events where everyone can participate. Find an event or activity near you!

Earth Day Program at Tivoli Bays Visitor Center

Enjoy a Closer Look at our Natural World
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Research Reserve will offer a family-friendly program at the Tivoli Bays Visitor Center on Wednesday, April 22, 2009 from 4:30pm to 7pm.  Here’s your chance to celebrate Earth Day! There will be many “green” stations with activities such as: Beach Combing, Recycled Paper Making, “Earth Day Nature Hunt”, Solar Oven Cooking, “Unnatural Scavenger Hunt”, Predator vs. Prey games, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Relay Race”, Mammal Fur Touch Table and much more!
Admission is free. Children twelve years and younger should be accompanied by an adult helper. For directions to Tivoli Bays Visitor Center:

Thursday April 23

The World is Blue:  How our future and the world's are one

4PM - One of the world's most distinguished marine scientists, Dr. Sylvia Earle is an explorer in residence at the National Geographic Society and founder of both the Sustainable Seas Project and Deep Search Foundation.  Her decades-long campaign against ocean pollution, harmful coastal development, and over-fishing has earned Dr. Earle the title of "Ambassador of the Oceans."  She has explored the ocean's deepest depths for over 40 years, logging 7000+ hours underwater and spending weeks at a time in an undersea station.  For more information, see Location:  Auditorium at Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies, 2801 Sharon Turnpike, Millbrook, NY

Health Care for All - Can We Afford Not to Have It?

7 PM, Dr. Peter Barland, Physicians for a National Health Program will speak and lead the discussion; sponsored by Philipstown for Democracy and MHPA; Desmond-Fish Library Meeting Room, Rte 403 at Rte 9D, Garrison; contact: Margaret Yonco-Haines, 917-273-0808,

Friday, April 24

Celebrate National Volunteer Week 2009

9:00am - 4:00pm and Sunday, April 26, 2009:  9:00 am. Celebrate National Volunteer Week 2009 and Arbor Day The NYS DEC’s “ Hudson River Estuary Trees for Tribs” initiative will be hosting two volunteer bareroot-seedling “potting events” in celebration of this year’s National Volunteer Week (April 19-25), an event which seeks to honor the individuals who dedicate themselves to taking action and solving problems in their communities, and Arbor Day (April 24).  Arbor Day is a national observance that celebrates the role of trees in our lives and promotes tree planting and care. Our volunteers will help pot-up bareroot seedlings for the “Hudson River Estuary Trees for Tribs” initiative- a program that offers free native plants to landowners who qualify for stream buffer restoration projects.  In just two years, the “Hudson River Estuary Trees for Tribs” initiative has been responsible for planting more than 32,000 feet of stream buffers along the Estuary’s tributaries with 12,000 native trees, shrubs, and grasses.  Over 70 projects have been completed to date with the help of some 1,200 volunteers and 50 project partners.  For further information on “Hudson River Estuary Trees for Tribs”, please visit website: For specific questions regarding this volunteer event please contact Amy Bloomfield, Hudson River Estuary SCA Riparian Buffer Specialist, at and 845-256-3827.

Saturday, April 25

Three Moments in Time

8 PM Three Moments in Time - A staged reading by the Blue Horse Repertory Company. Presenting: Slaughter in the Lake by Jose Rivera, Thoughts on the Instant of Greeting a Friend on the Street by Jean-Claude van Itallie and Sharon Thie and A Brief Period of Time by Don Rifkin. At Arts on the Lake, Route 52 Lake Carmel. Admission is $10 (9$ for members) Reservations: (845) 228-2685 or With *Peggity Price, *Brian Keeler, *Lora Lee Ecobelli and *Sean Hopkins.

*Appearing through the courtesy of Actor's Equity Association staged reading guidelines.

Tuesday, April 28

Low Impact Development Conference

1PM - 5:30PM - Low Impact Development Conference - Dover Town Hall, 126 East Duncan Hill Road, Dover Plains, NY. Presented by Housatonic Valley Association. Sponsored by the Community Foundation of Dutchess County and Mark K. Morrison Associates. Adequate water supply and the health of our Aquifer are vital to the quality of life in the Harlem Valley and the Housatonic Watershed in which we live. Town Planning Departments need to balance the desire for economically favorable development with the negative aspects of increased stormwater runnoff. Not only does the increased stormwater runoff from poorly planned development negatively affect the quality of life of neighboring residents in the form of flooding and contamination of groundwater, it can and has taxed the limited resources of our Highway Departments, which in turn burden our Towns' budgets. Please come to both learn and contribute to the ongoing dialogue.

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