Verizon Wireless Recycling
Cell phone and electronic recycling options through Verizon.
a project of the Union of Concerned Scientists explains the impact of Global Warming.
Appalachian Mountain Club's conservation efforts
NYS Dept of Environmental Conservation
Info and news about the environment in NYS. Includes the Dunn Memorial Bridge Falcon Nest webcam (March - June) Maps section contains an interactive mapper showing trails and other recreation details for state lands.
Conservation is a major focus of the Appalachian Mountain Club. Consider signing up for the AMC's Conservation Action Network newsletter and finding out how you can help. Review the links and tips here for ideas on how you can help to reduce our carbon footprint, while saving money in the process. If you have some suggestions to add, we would love to hear them. Contact John Tifft, Conservation Chair
Information and Links for Some Citizen Science Projects
1. Control and Eradication of the Hemlock Wooly AdelgidNew York State Hemlock Initiative This particular citizen science project concerns itself with the infestation of the hemlock tree caused by an invasive insect called the Hemlock Wooly Adelgid. Right now the infestation is spreading northwards and has reached the Adirondacks as there are reports of it on Prospect Mountain. When you are out walking, look for the white masses of wax produced by the females at the base of the needles, or just the insects themselves on the underside of the lower branches of the hemlock. Hemlocks are identified by their short needles which are flat on both sides.
2. Control and Eradication of Invasive Species
For information relating to New York Partnership of Regional Invasive Species Management check out the Capital Mohawk PRISM website . That includes a PDF put out by the Cornell Cooperative Extension and Capital Mohawk PRISM showing pictures and descriptions of common invasive plants in our area. PRISM and Imapinvasives work together towards the identification, control and eradication of invasive plants, insects and animals. The New York State IMapinvasive site has yet to set a date on their "Spring Training Blitz "taking place throughout the state for training persons interested in learning about how to input data into their data base that they observe. Keep an eye out for it. To gain a further first hand knowledge of the the characteristics of common invasive species found in the local region, I have posted two workshops cosponsored by the Rensselaer Land Trust and the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance on April 7th and 28th, and a workshop sponsored by the Mohawk Land Conservancy on July 13th on the activities listings. At these workshops participants will have a first hand opportunity to learn some of the common invasive plants to be found locally.
3. Tracking and Documenting Frog and Toads
The Association of Zoos and Aquariums sponsors a science project called Frog Watch USA. Learn more here . Follow this link for a site on which you can hear the individual sounds of frogs and toads. The names of the frogs and toads which are common to this area are the Spring Peeper, the Eastern Spadefoot, the Green Frog, the American Bullfrog, the Northern Leopard Frog, the Wood Frog, the American Toad, the Green Tree Frog, Fowler's Toad and the Pickerel Frog, Frogs and toads have been in population decline. Their importance in maintaining a healthy ecosystem can not be overemphasized. Starting in the Spring volunteers involved with the Frog Watch USA citizen science project sit quietly after sunset recording which frog and toads sounds they are hearing. This information is then transmitted to the AZA to further their research into the frog and toad populations. The Pine Bush Preserve is going to offer training on June 6th at their Discovery Center for volunteers who wish to become frog watch monitors. On April 26th, there will be a frog and toad watch walk sponsored by the Pine Bush Preserve where we can gain an introductory appreciation of what is involved in this citizen science project.
Current Conservation Concerns
For comprehensive information about climate change visit a climate change resource provided by the Milken Institute School of Public Health.
The AMC Land And Water Conservation Fund 52 Week Campaign Initiative
For fifty two years, the Land and Water Conservation Fund has provided funding towards protecting some of our treasured outdoor places. Some of those places that it protects the land and trail right of ways include national parks, refuges, trails, forests, and battlefields. In addition it provides grants for individual states to use for land protection as well as trail development, and other improvements at state and local parks, beaches, and playgrounds. It is a bipartisan federal funding program. This program is due to expire in September of 2018. Its revenue comes from a small portion of federal revenues obtained from offshore and gas development. By putting this money back into conservation the impacts of the offshore and gas development are offset. Locally, two of our favorite parks have benefitted from this fund: Thacher State Park and Grafton Lakes State Park, as well as the Appalachian Trail nearby.
The Reduction in Size of National Monuments
Just recently the Trump Administration announced that they are unilaterally slashing the size of two of the National Monuments located in Utah. Even though that announcement was focused on Utah, the action raises serious concerns for National Monuments across the country. AMC opposes the rescinding, shrinking or otherwise diminishing the protections for these special places.AMC believes the actions taken by the administration to change any National Monument's designation, size, allowed uses, or other provisions is inconsistent with the public process and public management planning systems already in place.
Locally two National Monument exist nearby in Maine. They are the Katahdin Woods and the Waters National Monuments. AMC will continue to monitor threats to our National Monuments, and especially those located in Maine.
Some Important Environmental Issues Facing the Capital District
Summaries Of Several Newly Reviewed Local Environmental Concerns and Updates Of Previously Considered Concerns
Boreas Pond Land Tract
In May of 2016, Governor Cuomo announced the purchase of 29,758 acres of land located within viewing distance and south of Mount Marcy in the central Adirondacks. The land was acquired from the Nature Conservancy. This completed the acquisition of 69,00 acres of the former Finch Paper and Nature Conservancy lands. The move was applauded because the land was largest piece of property added to the Adirondack Forest Preserve in a generation.
This past Fall there were several meetings throughout the state whose purpose was to explain the four possible classifications that the Adirondack Park Agency (APC) was considering. These classifications were criticized because of the narrow scope of what was offered by them. How restrictive to motor vehicles the land will finally become depends on which option is chosen. Three of the four options called for quite a bit of motor vehicle access. The fourth option is the most restrictive.
There exists a great deal of disagreement between the entrenched sides. The main argument revolves around whether the land should be designated as 'wild forest' or "wilderness". Under the "wild forest" designation motorized vehicles could have access all the way to the shores of the lake and even allow for motor boats on the lake. "Wilderness" advocates maintain that allowing for motor vehicle access and motor boats would represent a dramatic departure from the park's long history of preservation. Where the line should be drawn between these two fundamental positions is the primary question that the APC is now considering.
Your opinion matters on this important issue. Although the four classifications of the Boreas Pond are the considered opinion of the APC of possible avenues for future development of this land, at least two non-profit organization are proposing plans that go beyond the four proposals offered by the APC.
One such non-profit organization, the Adirondack Council, offers a synopsis of the four proposals advanced by the APC as well as their own alternative plan. This information may be found on the website: adirondackscouncil.org. Here, besides the four APC proposals, this particular organization also presents its alternative plan which steers a middle course towards keeping this land between a "wilderness" and "wild forest" designation. The closest aligned plan akin to a "wilderness" designation apparent to this writer may be found on another website: adirondackwilderness.org.
Even though the official comment period ended December 30th, 2016, you may still voice your opinion by writing or phoning the Adirondack Park Agency. The contact information may be found at the following web site: apa.ny.gov./contact.html.
It is possible that a classification decision will be made in early 2017. Once the APA decides on which option they will go forward with, the Department of Environmental Conservation will need to develop a "unit management plan" that will detail where trails and access points will be located along with the overall types of uses that will be permitted.
Expansion of Oil Barge Anchorage in the Hudson River.
The Hudson River has for centuries been used to transport petroleum products by barge. Now, because of an increased commercial demand by oil exporters, partly due to the lifting of the Crude Oil Export Ban, the number of barges and giant ships required for this increased demand has increased. Consequently it follows that with increased number of barges required for this task and with the limited number of ports for available for the transloading of the crude oil, space has to be found for the vessels while they wait their turns.
A proposal now before the Coast Guard would allow 43 new anchorages for the massive oil carrying ships and barges from Kingston to Yonkers. It is at these anchorages that the vessels would wait their turns, meanwhile increasing the threat of spills, spoiling the scenic beauty of the river and threatening the survival of critical species such as the Atlantic Sturgeon. The comment period ended December 6th, 2016. Updates will be posted here as they become available.
Proposed Boiler Facility and Transloading Facility at the Port of Albany
A review of the current status of the transloading of crude oil in the Port of Albany reveals new opportunities for reversing the potentiality of serious environmental threats. These threats include fires, spills, and odor and visual impacts. A new complication was brought forth when Global Partner made an application for a boiler facility at the port of Albany. This may be interpreted as a sign that their intention is to process tar sands oil since that kind of oil has a far greater viscosity and therefore needs to be heated to transform the oil into a more easily transferrable liquid. Tar sands oil is an especially dangerous oil when spilled into water as it sinks more easily than other oils and slowly oozes as a hazardous plume into the water.
There are presently three permit actions before the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation that affect the proposed boiler facility application and air permit application made by Global Partners and Buckeye Partners. Global Partners had applied to modify its current Air Title V facility to allow a modification of it's oil handling operations to include heating of viscous petroleum products as described above. In May of 2015, DEC ruled to rescind the Negative Declaration then in place because of the significant proposed project changes and new found information after the issuance of the Negative Declaration and the Notice of Complete Application to Global that must be considered as part of an environmental review of the project.
A separate renewal application was made by Global Partners for an air permit. In September of 2016, the DEC informed Global that it would require an entirely new application that would require additional information to address issues identified by DEC. These include incidents involving fires, spills and visual impacts, attributable to the transport and processing of Bakken Crude. Along with the imperative to Global to submit a new application, Global will be subject to a State Environmental Quality Review Process.
Buckeye Partners is also involved with the transloading of crude at the Port of Albany. They too, applied for an air permit renewal application. In November of 2016, DEC sent a letter to Buckeye requiring additional information to address issues identified by DEC including incidents involving spills and fires attributable to the transport of Bakken crude, as well as odor impacts to the community, benzene emissions, and sea level rise.
The latest status on the application by Global on it's boiler facility application is that the matter has been consigned to the courts. There was a stay granted, and the parties will commence filing their appeal papers in February of this year. Because of the described new actions by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Global has not received nor transferred any crude for the last five months.
Public Health and the Environment in Albany's South Side
Because of the proximity of the residents of Albany's south side to the Port of Albany and to all the commercial activity involving the transportation of crude, The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has taken a number of significant steps to insure that the public health and the environment are protected from any harmful effects from the potentially dangerous work being done at the Albany Port. Some of these issues include the air quality, benzene emissions, flammability of stored crude oil, and spill response plans. The DEC has monitored the air quality of this "environmental justice community" since 1973. In 2016, based on a year's worth of data, the DEC found that benzene levels were higher than expected and higher than in others observed in similar locations upstate. Because of this report the DEC will now conduct a a one year study beginning this year to further assess benzene levels in the port community. In addition, the one year statudy will asses emissions coming from the high level of diesel truck traffic in the area.
1. PCB Contamination of the Hudson River by General Electric
At this point in time, the EPA has determined that the dredging phase of the Hudson River of PCB contamination has been completed, and considered successful. They are planning on moving onto the next phase. That phase involves the decommissioning of the dewatering facility and other related structures needed for the dredging of the PCBs found in the Hudson. However, a petition was submitted to the EPA by a number of environmental groups on December 17th, 2015 that stated that there is compelling evidence that PCBs remaining In the Hudson constitute a real and continuing danger. Their conclusion was that completed dredging has not resulted in conditions that were sufficiently protective of human health and the environment. EPA has recently signaled that it may look again at its conclusions by undertaking a five year review. The environmental groups have serious concerns as to the objectivity of such a review. They feel that an evaluation at a minimum must include full consideration of the NOAA analysis. It must also consider new scientific research demonstrating the potential human health harms posed by chronic exposure to air born forms of PCBs. It must also address the recent evidence of the failure of long standing fish consumption advisories to protect human health in the meantime.
UPDATE: A new Five Year Review of the EPA cleanup of the Hudson River of PCB's deposited by General Electric has been begun by the EPA itself. The last review was completed in 2012. The new Five Year Review will be completed by late 2016 or early 2017. The report will highlight investigative findings about water quality, fish and sediment. The gathered data may become open to questioning as to its objectivity.
2. Safety of DOT 111 Rail Train Cars.
Some of you may have noticed that the Port of Albany is packed with black railroad cars. These railroad cars are used to transport fracked crude oil from the Bakken Oil Fields of North Dakota, Montana, and Canada through the port of Albany. These rail cars have been called an unacceptable public risk by the National Traffic Safety Board. Even cars voluntarily upgraded by the industry may not provide sufficient safeguards. There have been numerous disastrous freight car derailments in the past few years of these cars resulting in oil spillage and the resultant fire damage to the cities and towns that the train passes through. Since July 2013, 11 trains carrying Bakken Oil have derailed and ignited causing great overall damage. They can be seen as easy targets for use by terrorists. Currently new regulations for the construction of these rail cars are being considered by the NTSB. Anyone interested in becoming actively involved with this issue is urged to consult the resources at the end of this report. In particular, a group called People of Albany United for Safe Energy or PAUSE is very much involved with this issue.
UPDATE: On May 14th,2016 a civil disobedience rally organized by grassroots activists from the Northeast took place in downtown Albany. This was part of world-wide actions on that day to break free from fossils fuels. The rally started at Lincoln Park and then marched to the bomb trains clustered at the Port of Albany environs. The civil disobedience rally was held there. The previous day a flotilla of boats floating on the Hudson gathered near the Port of Albany. Part of the rally and the flotilla’s purpose was to raise the awareness of our citizen to the potential environmental and personal threat that bomb trains represent to the port of Albany, to the low income, minority community nearby, to the Hudson River and to the greater Capital District. Another parallel issue recently raised and which potentially may threaten these same areas is an application by Global Partners to build a crude oil heating facility. There is potential with the operation of this facility of decreased air quality for south end residents, the risk of contaminating the Hudson, and putting more CO2 into the air. The DEC has been studying this proposal and has until the 13th of June to make its decision. On a positive note, on March 4th, 2016 Governor Cuomo sent a letter to U.S. Transportation Secretary Foxx and Homeland Security Johnson urging federal officials to expedite and strengthen rail safety standards, require railroad to more clearly identify and track rail cars carrying crude oil, and to require reporting by railroad companies of derailments and increase inspections.
3. Three Pipelines Proposed to Transport Fracked Oil Whose Routes Pass Near the Capital Region
There are currently three pipelines that are being proposed whose purpose is the transportation of crude fracked oil. (For information about similar pipelines that are threatening the environment that are within our AMC territory, please refer to the Conservation page of the main AMC website.) Their proposed routes will all pass through areas very close to the Capital Region. The dangers of transporting the fracked crude oil are potentially very grave to lands, water, wildlife and ultimately to humans. These are some of the dangers:
UPDATE: A further review of the risks to our area that this particular pipeline potentially presents reveals some that were not discussed previously below. The proposed pipeline map shows that it would cross the Hudson in two places in our immediate Albany, Rensselaer area. These crossings would be from the Port of Albany to the Port of Rensselaer, and the other crossing from East Greenbush to Glenmount. It would then follow a route south through the South Albany area before paralleling the New York State Thruway. Because of the tidal component of the Hudson, any spill would wash up and down with the tides along the entire Albany, Rensselaer waterfronts. Taking into account that that the capacity in gallons per day for the pipelines of 8.4 million gallons, it would mean that 5x and 6x the number of "bomb trains" would be required to transport the crude into Albany.
There are several agencies involved with the vetting process, but we as citizens are an important component. On August 7,015, Pilgrim submitted an application to the New York State Thruway Authority to construct the pipelines within the Thruways right of way. Between November 16th and December 17th, 2015, 29 municipalities that are involved agencies denied their consent to the Thruway Authority as lead agency and urged the New York Department of Environmental to serve in this capacity. On December 21st, 2015, the NYS DEC and the NYSTA agreed to be co-lead agencies. On September 14th, 2016, the DEC and the NYSTA issued a Positive Declaration that the proposed action Pilgrim Pipelines may have a significant impact on the environment and that a Draft Environment Impact Statement (Draft EIS) will be prepared. SoPub what follows is the preparation of a Draft Scoping Document prepared by Pilgrim. Then, this will form the table of contents for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement and will establish the parameters for the environmental impact statement. From all this will come a time when the public will have the opportunity to comment. Of particular importance are identification of local impacts not anticipated by the state. Meanwhile, you have the right to call Governor Cuomo at 866-846-4075 anytime and how many times a day you wish at this number: 866-846-4075.
UPDATE: An historic couple of days took place on April 20th and April 22nd, 2016 for those concerned with the potential risk to the environment that the construction of two proposed pipelines through our area represented. On April 20th, Kinder Morgan/Tennessee Gas suddenly announced that it would suspend all work on its 420 mile Northeast Energy Direct due to economic reasons. The Kinder Morgan/Tennessee Gas announcement appears to coincide with the general downturn in new and existing fossil fuel developments as more investors are looking towards renewables. The Pilgrim Pipeline is still under consideration. The Bethlehem Town Board just recently passed a unanimous resolution against the pipeline. Many towns along its route have also passed resolutions against the construction of the pipeline. To find out more information about this pipeline, and what you can do, check out the following: https://stoppilgrimpipeline.com. On March 11th, 2016 the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission approved a natural gas project called the Connecticut Expansion to be developed by Kinder Morgan/Tennessee Gas. The plan show a New York Loop passing through the town of Bethlehem in Albany County and also loops in Massachusetts and Connecticut. Of special interest to residents of Berkshire County is the fact that the Massachusetts loop would cut through Otis State Forrest. More information may be found here.
4. The Continued Safety Concerns of the Indian Point Nuclear Power Plant
During the past year of 2015, five mishaps occurred at the Nuclear Power Plant, once again bringing into question the safety from nuclear disaster for citizens in surrounding communities. In addition to these mishaps, there is the question of the fire prevention safeguards. At this point, there is only a 24 minute elapsed time between when a fire starts and when the fire prevention components can safely contain that fire. Here again, the incentive to convert to clean energy is compromised if we continue to rely on this potentially disastrous source. The group Riverkeeper is very much involved with this issue, and ultimately want to shut it down. Please refer to the RESOURCES at the end of this statement.
UPDATE: Governor Cuomo announced on January 9th, 2017 that the two reactors will be shutdown by 2021. This represents a victory for concerned citizens who have worked for decades to stop the massive environmental damage to the Hudson River and to those living within a nearby radius. Meanwhile until 2021, citizens should remain ever vigilant in regard to this potentially dangerous environmental risk.
UPDATE: As per a new report dated March 30th, 2016 to be found on the Riverkeeper website at www.riverkeeper.org, an alarming number of essential bolts inside the Indian River Power Plant are impaired, or degraded enough so the reactor remains closed until a robotic repair can access the extend of the damage. This is just the latest of a number of incidents within the past year as well as further back which raise doubts about the reliability of the nuclear facility. More information about this troubled nuclear facility may be found on the Riverkeeper website.
More Sites and phone numbers to find out more Information about some of the above described concerns:
Of course mention should be made of the Rensselaer Plateau Alliance. We as a chapter have committed to their conservation goals by joining their Alliance. We intend to provide whatever assistance we can towards their goal of keeping the Rensselaer Plateau green. Please refer to their web site at Rensselaer Plateau Alliance for information about all their exciting plans. Finally, this is by no means all the resources available to you. As you become more familiar with the above issues or other local issues, you, yourself, will perhaps find other avenues towards improving the environment of our local area.
The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) has launched a new "Marcellus Shale's Greatest Treasures" interactive website http://www.outdoors.org/shale featuring first-hand accounts of the impact of natural gas development by people who rely on the public lands and waters in Pennsylvania’s Marcellus Shale region for outdoor recreation. Through personal stories and photos, this new website gives Pennsylvania residents and visitors an opportunity to better understand and discuss natural gas development on and near public forests, parks, trails, and waterways. The individual stories represent a variety of outdoor recreation perspectives, including hikers, paddlers, hunters, and rock climbers, as well as popular destinations such as Pine Creek Gorge, Ricketts Glen, and Ohiopyle.
Govenor Cuomo has signed the agreement to purchase the Finch Pruyn lands for inclusion in the "Forever Wild" Forest Preserve. You can read the Times Union Article and/or read about the original controversy.
To learn more about this controversial topic, read this article by Cathy Frankenberg, AMC's Mid-Atlantic Policy Associate.
To read more about AMC's Natural Gas policy, visit http://www.outdoors.org/conservation/issues/natural-gas.cfm
The AMC is undertaking a study of the development lifecycle of certain flowering plants with the goal of using this information to monitor climate change. As temperatures get warmer, plants should start developing earlier in the year. To find out more about this study and how you can help, visit this website
To learn more about the new horrible menace affecting our area, the Emerald Ash Borer, and what you can do to help thwart it, see the article Emerald Ash Borer On the Move in the Fall 2011 edition of On the Western Slope
Conservation Activites the Mohawk Hudson Chapter conducted in 2011