Our Environment. Our Home. OUR CHALLENGE.

  • 1

If it recently felt like you were being watched while shopping, you might have been.

During April and May, volunteers observed shoppers at local stores to see what kind of bags they carried their purchases in. It was the first stage of ‘Pack Your Bags,’ a public education campaign launched by the Otsego County Conservation Association. The campaign’s goal is to increase the number of people bringing reusable shopping bags to stores.

“For us to know if the campaign is successful, we had to get an idea of how many people are already using reusable shopping bags,” said Jeff O’Handley, OCCA’s program director. “We broke shopper behavior down into five categories and counted the number of shoppers in each category.”

During the survey period, volunteers from OCCA’s recycling committee, along with members of the League of Women Voters of Cooperstown Area, observed nearly 900 shoppers at 17 locations around Otsego County. Stores included grocery, home improvement, sporting goods, hardware and discount stores. Volunteers spent anywhere from five to thirty minutes observing shoppers.

“The nice thing about the survey was you could spend a few minutes doing it before or after doing your own shopping,” O’Handley said. “It was pretty easy to use.”

“I was surprised to see how few people brought their own shopping bags,” said Martha Clarvoe, chair of OCCA’s recycling committee and one of the volunteer observers, “but I do recognize how hard this habit is to start.”

Overall, 74% of shoppers used single-use plastic carryout bags for all stores. Only 9% brought their own bags. Other categories included paper bags only (1%), combination of reusable and single-use paper or plastic (2%), and no bag (13%). When broken out by store type, more shoppers (11%) brought their own bags to grocery stores.

“People are comfortable bringing their own bags to grocery stores,” O’Handley said. “Part of our campaign is to remind people that they can—and should—bring reusable bags to any store.”

New York State recently enacted a law that will ban the distribution of single-use plastic bags at most stores, set to go into effect on March 1, 2020. According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Americans use approximately 100 billion plastic bags each year, which require 12 million barrels of oil to produce. An estimated 50 million plastic bags end up as litter every year, and become a choking hazard for wildlife and a source of toxic pollution in our soil and water. While paper bags decompose quickly in the landscape, it takes significantly more energy and water to manufacture them than plastic bags, and they are more costly to ship.

“Most people are surprised to find that paper bags have a higher carbon footprint than plastic bags,” O’Handley said. “The best answer to the question, ‘Paper or plastic?’ is ‘Neither.'”

OCCA’s ‘Pack Your Bags’ campaign includes print, radio and online ads and announcements promoting reusable bags, and will run through late August. OCCA will conduct a second set of observations in September and October.

“We’re hoping to see a big change in the number of people bringing their own bags,” O’Handley said. “It can make quite a difference for our world.”

For more information, contact OCCA at (607)547-4488 or visit occainfo.org/PackYourBags.

Founded in 1968, OCCA is a private, non-profit membership group dedicated to promoting the appreciation and sustainable use of Otsego County’s natural resources through education, advocacy, resource management, research, planning and practice. For more information on OCCA, or to donate, visit www.occainfo.org.

SAVE THE DATE

Walk on the Flat Side

June 5, 7-8:30 pm – Riddell State Park

OCCA Board member Patricia Riddell Kent and her husband, Steve lead this early evening walk around the northern portion of Robert V. Riddell State Park. Visit historic structures, fields, forests and wetlands, while learning about the interesting history of the land that was in the Riddell family for five generations. The park was opened in 2005 after the Kents donated it to the state. Meet at the Park’s main entrance on State Route 28, just north of I-88 Exit 17. This walk is offered in cooperation with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation—Central Region.

Riparian Buffer Walk

June 8, 1000-1130 am – County Rte. 166 across from Fish and Game Road

Otsego County Soil & Water Conservation District Stream Technician Mark Kugler will discuss the importance of riparian buffers, provide an overview of the riparian buffer program, and lead a tour of a buffer site. Meet at County Rte. 166 across from Fish and Game Road.  Wear closed toed shoes and long pants.

Chop and Cheese

June 12 6pm – 8pm – Mohican Farm, Corner of Rte. 80 and Allen Lake Road, Cooperstown

Japanese knotweed is one of the most difficult to control invasive species in Otsego County. Join us at Mohican Farm for an hour or two chopping down Japanese knotweed, then enjoy cheese, crackers and a spectacular view of Otsego Lake afterward. Participants should dress to get dirty and should bring work gloves, pruners and their preferred beverage.

Float the Butternut

June 15, 10am – Bailey Road Bridge, Morris

Back by popular demand, join OCCA and the Butternut Valley Alliance for a fun and informative paddle down one of the county’s most beautiful creeks. We’ll start at Bailey Road and end in Gilbertsville, a distance of about 5 water miles. Bring water and a snack, and your own canoe/kayak (a limited number of spaces are available in OCCA canoes). Pre-registration required. 10am-noon.

Susquehanna River Clean-Up

June 22, 7am, Mill Street Bridge, Cooperstown

The Lions Club of Cooperstown is again working with many partners in the area to organize the Susquehanna River Cleanup.  OCCA is coordinating volunteer help in our canoes.  If you are interested in volunteering this year in a canoe to help remove debris and garbage from the river, please email Jeff O’Handley at programdirector@occainfo.org

Learn 10…Trees

June 23, 1-4pm – Clark Sports Center, County Highway 52, Cooperstown 
Botanist Dan Spada will guide participants in a beginner’s course on how to identify 10 native tree species through the use of keys, guides and their senses during a combination of lab and field sessions. The route is over moderate terrain, but participants should be prepared with sturdy shoes, sunscreen, hat, water, and bug dope.  A 10x hand lens is optional.  Participants may bring guidebooks, although guides will be provided to borrow.  Anyone interested in how to know the trees is encouraged to participate; no prior botanical training is necessary. This program is limited to 15 participants and will take place at the Clark’s Sports Center.

Paddle and Pull – Silver Lake

June 29, 10am – 1pm – 162 Silver Lake Road, New Berlin 
Water chestnut (Trapa natans) is a highly invasive aquatic plant that disrupts native ecosystems. Join OCCA and members of the Silver Lake community as we seek to remove water chestnut from Silver Lake, a 40-acre lake on the western edge of Otsego County. Enjoy a good morning on the lake pulling water chestnut, followed by lunch, generously provided by the lake’s owner. Please note: outside canoes/kayaks are not permitted at Silver Lake. Sign up at occainfo.org to reserve space in one of ours.

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Get ready for the bag ban—pack your bags

In March, 2020 New York’s ‘bag ban’ is set to go into effect. This plan will end the distribution by retailers of most single-use plastic bags with sales. The ban is expected to save natural resources used in the manufacture of bags, reduce costly breakdowns and repairs in recycling and trash facilities, and cut down on unsightly and dangerous pollution. Now is a good time to start stocking up on durable, reusable bags, and getting into the habit of taking them with you. When you go to the store—any store—remember to “pack your bags” to help protect the environment.

OCCA and Heat Smart Otsego Seeking Volunteers

Bennett Sandler, Campaign Director of Heat Smart Otsego, is looking to recruit volunteers to help spread the word on the value of clean heating and cooling technologies (heat pumps and wood burning systems).  He is especially interested in individuals who can help coordinate outreach events within their own town.  Outreach events could be general public information presentations, presentations to Town Boards, tabling at community events, arranging for home tours of installed technologies or any other creative format for sharing information.  Volunteers will receive technical training on clean heating and cooling technologies, so anyone with time and interest is encouraged to join the team.  You can learn more about Heat Smart Otsego on our website at https://heatsmartotsego.org.  If interested, please contact Bennett by email at campaigndirector@occainfo.org or by phone (607) 435-1364.

Lunch-Break Workshops with Master Gardeners

Noon-1pm, CCE Education Center, Cooperstown

Take a break with the Master Gardeners and learn about interesting and important gardening topics. Sessions are free and open to the public, but call (607) 547-2536 x 228 and let them know you’re coming.

June 12: Culinary Herbs, with Gert Coleman, Vegetable & Herb Specialist

The Great Healthy Yard Project

Wednesday, July 10 at 10AM at Templeton Hall

The Lake and Valley Garden Club is hosting a program with the Dr. Diane Lewis, author of The Great Healthy Yard Project. Dr Lewis will describe in cogent, nuanced terms how we are polluting our drinking water and how it’s putting our children’s future at risk—and she offers a surprisingly easy way to chart a happier, healthier course forward, starting with changing the way we steward our yards.

Delaware-Otsego Audubon Summer Camp Registration

The DOAS is again holding summer camps for kids entering grades 1-6.  The camps run through July and August and provide fun, hands-on experiences in natural science and environmental education through field investigations, crafts and games.  Campers will explore a variety of habitats and learn about creatures that live there.  For more information and to register see: http://doas.us/2019-audubon-day-camp/.

Session 1: July 15, 16, 17, 18 – 9:30am-3pm at DOAS Sanctuary on Franklin Mountain, Oneonta 
 (for children entering grades 3 and 4) – 5 SPOTS LEFT

Session 2: July 29, 30, 31, August 1 – 9:30-3pm at DOAS Sanctuary on Franklin Mountain, Oneonta
(for children entering grades 5 and 6) – 3 SPOTS LEFT

Session 3: August 19, 20, 21, 22 & 23 – 9am – noon at Oneonta World of Learning, Fortin Park
(for children entering grades 1 and 2) – 8 REMAINING

OCCA Citizen Science Stream Monitoring

We are deep into data land having monitored for almost two years nine different sites in Otsego County.  This amounts to approximately 1000 data points on stream temperature, dissolved oxygen, specific conductance, pH, water clarity, nitrogen and phosphorus.  Data from our two sites on the Butternut Creek will be used to help inform the Butternut Creek watershed management plan which OCCA will be working on this coming year.  This summer, we are adding a NEW facet to our program, benthic macroinvertebrate monitoring.  Volunteers will be collecting there wonderful creatures from their sites and identifying them for a more robust data set.  All of this data is a part of the Chesapeake Monitoring Cooperative, so we are doing our part to keep track of the headwaters of our larger Chesapeake Bay watershed.  None of this can be done without our many volunteers!!!  Become a part of our team and adopt your own stream site.  We’ll provide the gear, training, and a snazzy t-shirt….you get to have fun and know you’ll be a part of a great team helping to monitor and protect water quality not only in our own back yard, but for our neighbors in the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  Contact Leslie Orzetti at director@occainfo.org if you would like to be a part of the action!

DID YOU KNOW?

  • It takes approximately 12 million barrels of oil to produce the 100 million plastic bags used in the United States every year.
  • 50 million plastic bags end up as litter every year, costing taxpayers $10 billion to clean up.
  • Plastic bags clog wastewater treatment plants and get tangled in machinery at recycling facilities, leading to costly delays and repairs.
  • Plastic bags pose threats to fish and wildlife in their natural habitats.
  • Paper bags use more water and have a greater carbon footprint than plastic bags.

THE CHOICE IS CLEAR

When someone asks, “Paper or plastic” say, “Neither!”

Bring reusable bags to the store. Any store.

Pack Your Bags!

Where can I get reusable bags?

Most retail stores have inexpensive reusable bags for sale. OCCA has a limited number of reusable bags–some made from cloth, some made from repurposed pet food and animal feed bags–available for a small donation at our events.

Attractive and durable bags can be made from old t-shirts, repurposed pet and animal feed bags, and many other items. This is a fun project to do with kids or friends!

Below is a three-part video demonstrating how to make tote bags from pet food bags (total time of all three videos ~40 minutes):

To make bags from t-shirts:

New York’s “Bag Ban”

Beginning on March 1, 2020 the New York State Bag Waste Reduction Act will effectively ban single-use, plastic carryout bags. Any retail establishment required to collect New York State sales tax will no longer be able to provide plastic carryout bags (with some exceptions). Paper bags will still be available; however, Otsego County may impose a five cent fee per paper bag. Customers cannot be charged for bringing their own bags.

Have questions? The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is compiling an FAQ about the “Bag ban.” To submit your question, and opt in to receive the FAQ when it’s prepared, visit the New York State Association for Reduction, Reuse and Recycling.

Bag and Film Plastic Recycling

In 2009, New York State enacted the Plastic Bag Reduction, Reuse and Recycling Act which requires certain stores to recycle single-use plastic bags. This law was amended in 2015 to include a wider range of film plastics, including produce bags, package wrap, shrink wrap and more. Despite the “Bag Ban,” stores will still be required to comply with this law. Click here to learn what materials can be recycled and where you can take them to do so. Please remember: Plastic bags and film plastic should never be put in your recycling bin or dropped off with other recyclables at the transfer station!

NEW DATE: May 29 – 6:30-8:00pm

We’re sorry to report that we will be postponing the Build a Meadow OCCA/Mohican Farm lecture series. The super-saturated ground has made prepping the meadow site impossible. Rather than break the program up into two sessions, we have decided to postpone until Wednesday, May 29 at 6:30pm at Mohican Farm, 7207 State Highway 80, CooperstownBob Sutherland walks you through the steps of converting part of your property to a native wildflower meadow that will be good for pollinators, pleasing to look at, and will reduce your carbon footprint! Part of the program will be indoors learning about the benefits of meadows and short- and long-term care requirements, and some will be outside working on an actual meadow project. Dress to get dirty!

Well Spent Wednesday at Alex’s Bistro

May 22 – 11am – 10pm – Alex’s Bistro (149 Main Street, Cooperstown)

Come join OCCA for a meal at Alex’s Bistro in Cooperstown.  Alex has generously offered to donate 15% of your bill to OCCA.  This can only work if you come out for a wonderful meal at Alex’s!  We LOVE Alex’s eclectic menu and hope that you will as well.  Just mention OCCA when you dine.  We’ll have an OCCA employee at the restaurant for most of the day if you want to stop by and say hello!

Mohican Farm Manager, Bob Sutherland will demonstrate the basics of converting lawn to a wildflower meadow as part of the OCCA/Mohican Farm Be Informed Lecture Series.  The program will take place at Mohican Farm, 7207 State Route 80, from 6:30-8pm on Wednesday, May 15.

During the indoor portion of the program, Sutherland will discuss the environmental benefits of meadows, short- and long-term care requirements, and plant selection. The program then shifts outside, where participants will help prepare and plant a meadow on the Mohican Farm grounds. Participants should dress to get dirty.

The program is free and open to the public, but pre-registration is preferred. Visit https://occainfo.org/signup/ to register, or call (607) 282-4087.

###

SAVE THE DATE

The Birds of Mohican Farm

May 11, 7-9am

Mohican Farm’s fields, woods and shoreline make it a great location for birds. We’ll look for spring warblers, swallows, bluebirds, shorebirds–maybe even bobolinks and eagles. The walk is led by Becky Gretton, Co-president of Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society, and is suitable for all levels of birders. Bring binoculars and a field guide, and get here early! Please pre-register, enrollment is limited to twenty people. Meet at OCCA’s office at Mohican Farm.

Be Informed! Lecture Series – Build a Meadow

May 15, 630 pm

Mohican Farm Manager, Bob Sutherland walks you through the steps of converting part of your property to a native wildflower meadow that will be good for pollinators, pleasing to look at, and will reduce your carbon footprint! Part of the program will be indoors learning about the benefits of meadows and short- and long-term care requirements, and some will be outside working on an actual meadow project. Dress to get dirty!

Well Spent Wednesday at Alex’s Bistro

May 26 – 11am – 10pm – Alex’s Bistro (149 Main Street, Cooperstown)

Come join OCCA for a meal at Alex’s Bistro in Cooperstown.  Alex has generously offered to donate 15% of your bill to OCCA.  This can only work if you come out for a wonderful meal at Alex’s!  We LOVE Alex’s eclectic menu and hope that you will as well.  Just mention OCCA when you dine.  We’ll have an OCCA employee at the restaurant for most of the day if you want to stop by and say hello!

National Trails Day

June 1, 11am-1pm

Join OCCA program director Jeff O’Handley for some trail maintenance and sprucing up at Basswood Pond State Forest in Burlington. Tasks will include moving woody debris off the trails, trimming back encroaching vegetation, and improving drainage on wet parts of the trail. Volunteers should wear clothing appropriate for working in the woods and can bring water, gloves and hand tools. Please register for the event by May 24 so that we can submit proper paperwork to the NYS DEC.

Walk on the Flat Side

June 5, 7pm

OCCA Board member Patricia Riddell Kent and her husband, Steve lead this early evening walk around the northern portion of Robert V. Riddell State Park. Visit historic structures, fields, forests and wetlands, while learning about the interesting history of the land that was in the Riddell family for five generations. The park was opened in 2005 after the Kents donated it to the state. Meet at 7:00 p.m. at the Park’s main entrance on State Route 28, just north of I-88 Exit 17.

Buffer Walk

June 8

Otsego County Soil & Water Conservation District Stream Technician, Mark Kugler will discuss the importance of riparian buffers, provide an overview of the riparian buffer program, and lead a tour of a buffer site. Time and location to be determined.

Float the Butternut

June 15, 10am

Back by popular demand, join OCCA and the Butternut Valley Alliance for a fun and informative paddle down one of the county’s most beautiful creeks. We’ll start at Bailey Road and end in Gilbertsville, a distance of about 5 water miles. Bring water and a snack, and your own canoe/kayak (a limited number of spaces are available in OCCA canoes). Pre-registration required. 10am-noon.

Learn 10…Trees

June 23, 1-4pm 
Botanist Dan Spada will guide participants in a beginner’s course on how to identify 10 native tree species through the use of keys, guides and their senses during a combination of lab and field sessions. The route is over moderate terrain, but participants should be prepared with sturdy shoes, sunscreen, hat, water, and bug dope.  A 10x hand lens is optional.  Participants may bring guidebooks, although guides will be provided to borrow.  Anyone interested in how to know the trees is encouraged to participate; no prior botanical training is necessary. This program is limited to 15 participants and will take place at the Clark’s Sports Center

ANNOUNCEMENTS

Plastic Bag Challenge

The winners of the first annual Otsego County Plastic Bag Challenge are the elementary and middle/high schools of Gilbertsville-Mt. Upton!  Combined, these students, families and teachers collected over 1700 points of film plastic.  These recycling champions have won a visit from the Utica Zoo Mobile.  This year’s runners up were:  Morris Elementary and middle/high school who collected over 600 pounds of film plastic together.  Other participating schools who also did a FANTASTIC job were Cherry Valley/Springfield, Cooperstown, Oneonta Middle School, Richfield Springs, Unatego, Valleyview Elementary.  All together, the schools kept over 4000 pounds of plastic out of the landfills, a feat they should all be proud of. For more information on how YOU can recycle film plastic, the where, the what, and the how, see the Trex© Company website at:  https://www.trex.com/recycling/recycling-programs/.  But, the best way to reduce film plastic is not to use it in the first place, so be sure to remember your reusable bags when you go the store!

OCCA and Heat Smart Otsego Seeking Volunteers

Bennett Sandler, Campaign Director of Heat Smart Otsego, is looking to recruit volunteers to help spread the word on the value of clean heating and cooling technologies (heat pumps and wood burning systems).  He is especially interested in individuals who can help coordinate outreach events within their own town.  Outreach events could be general public information presentations, presentations to Town Boards, tabling at community events, arranging for home tours of installed technologies or any other creative format for sharing information.  Volunteers will receive technical training on clean heating and cooling technologies, so anyone with time and interest is encouraged to join the team.  You can learn more about Heat Smart Otsego on our website at https://heatsmartotsego.org.  If interested, please contact Bennett by email at campaigndirector@occainfo.org or by phone (607) 435-1364.

Lunch-Break Workshops with Master Gardeners

Noon-1pm, CCE Education Center, Cooperstown

Take a break with the Master Gardeners and learn about interesting and important gardening topics. Sessions are free and open to the public, but call (607) 547-2536 x 228 and let them know you’re coming.

May 8: GROW Initiative, with Francine Stayter and Carol Phelps, Otsego Master Gardeners
June 12: Culinary Herbs, with Gert Coleman, Vegetable & Herb Specialist

Get ready for the bag ban—pack your bags

In March, 2020 New York’s ‘bag ban’ is set to go into effect. This plan will end the distribution by retailers of single-use plastic bags with sales and will also impose a fee of $0.05 for paper bags. The ban is expected to save natural resources used in the manufacture of bags, reduce costly breakdowns and repairs in recycling and trash facilities, and cut down on unsightly and dangerous pollution. Now is a good time to start stocking up on durable, reusable bags, and getting into the habit of taking them with you. When you go to the store—any store—remember to “pack your bags” to help protect the environment.

Information wanted—amphibian crossing sites

In the coming weeks, amphibians will start moving from their winter hibernation areas to wetlands and vernal pools to breed. The combination of rain and night-time temperatures above 40ºF can lead to what are known as “Big Nights,” where thousands of frogs, toads and salamanders are on the move. Unfortunately, they often have to travel across roads, where many are hit by cars. OCCA is seeking information on the location of amphibian crossing zones in Otsego County. If you are aware of an area where large numbers of amphibians cross roads in spring, let us know. Send an e-mail to Jeff O’Handley (programdirector@occainfo.org) and let us know the road name and location (street address).

The Great Healthy Yard Project

Wednesday, July 10 at 10AM at Templeton Hall

The Lake and Valley Garden Club is hosting a program with the Dr. Diane Lewis, author of The Great Healthy Yard Project. Dr Lewis will describe in cogent, nuanced terms how we are polluting our drinking water and how it’s putting our children’s future at risk—and she offers a surprisingly easy way to chart a happier, healthier course forward, starting with changing the way we steward our yards.

Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society Spring Programs

May 4: Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society will lead a walk at the Oneonta Susquehanna Greenway (OSG) trail, located on Silas Lane, off Rte. 205 in Oneonta’s west end to view returning migrant birds. Participants should meet at the parking lot by the soccer fields just past the transfer station at 800am. For more information, contact: Charlie Scheim at 607-434-4880. 

May 17:

June 2Birding By Ear-with brunch! with Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society will take place at the scenic Betty and Wilbur Davis State Park in the Town of Westford on Sunday, June 2, 2019 at 8:30 AM till Noon to unlock the secrets of bird ID through birdsong.   $25.00 for adults 18 and older, and $15.00 for children 12-17 who are accompanied by an adult, non-refundable.  Register online at http://doas.us/event/birding-by-ear-2019/ .  Contact Becky Gretton at 607-547-5648 for more information.

Delaware-Otsego Audubon Summer Camp Registration

The DOAS is again holding summer camps for kids entering grades 1-6.  The camps run through July and August and provide fun, hands-on experiences in natural science and environmental education through field investigations, crafts and games.  Campers will explore a variety of habitats and learn about creatures that live there.  For more information and to register see: http://doas.us/2019-audubon-day-camp/.

I Love My Park Day

Three of our State Parks are hosting activities for “I Love My Park” day.  Gilbert Lake State Park, Glimmerglass State Park and Betty and Wilbur Davis State Parks will be hosing that brings together thousands of volunteers to celebrate and enhance New York’s parks, historic sites, and public lands. Activities include cleanup, improvement, and beautification events.  To sign check out specific local events and to sign up see:https://www.ptny.org/events/i-love-my-park-day/find-event.

The Town of Maryland invites its residents to its first public hearing on the Town’s 2019 Draft Comprehensive Plan at the Schenevus AMVETS Post 2572, Main Street, Schenevus, on Thursday, May 9th from 6:30-8:30 p.m. The Town is seeking input on the Draft Comprehensive Plan to ensure that the document accurately captures the Town’s identity and charts a path for future economic development. 

The 2019 Draft Comprehensive Plan will replace the adopted 2008 Comprehensive Plan.

The public has played an important role in the creation of the 2019 Draft Comprehensive Plan. Information we receive from the public at this meeting will be incorporated into the Final Comprehensive Plan to the greatest extent practicable. Once public comments are delivered, a revised plan will be prepared and eventually adopted. 

This meeting will educate the public on the contents of the Comprehensive Plan, allow the public to provide input, and help to form the creation of  the 2019 Comprehensive Plan.  

For more information, please visit the Town of Maryland’s website at http://www.marylandny.org .

Steve Kent will lead a hike to Mud Lake in Robert V. Riddell State Park on Sunday, April 28 at 1 pm, as part of Otsego County Conservation Association’s nature walk series. Steve and his wife, Trish Riddell Kent donated the property to New York State in 2005.

“Steve has tremendous knowledge of the property and its history,” said Jeff O’Handley, OCCA’s program director. “We are quite fortunate to have him lead this hike through one of our loveliest parks.”

Participants will meet at the Pine Lake Environmental Campus of Hartwick College at 1894 Charlotte Creek Road, Davenport, and carpool to the hike’s starting point on Gersoni Road, just south of Interstate 88 Exit 17. The 4.5-mile hike traverses moderately steep slopes, passes through diverse forestland, and stops at Mud Lake, a sphagnum bog located at the top of South Hill. The walk will take approximately three hours. Participants should bring water, a snack, appropriate footgear and clothing, and insect/tick repellent. The walk is free, but pre-registration is appreciated. Visit https://occainfo.org/signup/ to sign up.

Found in 1968, OCCA is a private, non-profit environmental membership organization dedicated to promoting the appreciation and sustainable use of Otsego County’s natural resources through education, advocacy, resource management, research, planning and practice. For more information on OCCA, or to support programming, call(607) 547-4488 or visit www.occainfo.org.

###

Otsego County Conservation Association, in conjunction with the Otsego County Department of Solid Waste and Recycling, Casella Resource Solutions, Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society, and Otsego 2000 announced the winners of the first annual Otsego County Plastic Bag Challenge on April 13.

This year’s winners of the challenge are the elementary and middle/high school of Gilbertsville-Mt. Upton School District.  Together, these two schools collected over 1700 pounds of plastic with the elementary school collecting 1382 pounds itself.

In total, 13 Otsego County schools participated in the three-month challenge, collecting over 4000 pounds of film plastic.  The contest ran from January 1 through April 1. The winners will receive a visit from the Utica Zoomobile. 

“We’re so proud of these teachers, students and their families for making the conscience choice to recycle plastic bags and film plastics properly,” said Leslie Orzetti, OCCA’s executive director. “Congratulations to all the participants, but especially to the Gilbertsville-Mount Upton Community.”

During the challenge, students and teachers were asked to collect clean, dry film plastic, including single-use grocery bags, Ziploc-style food bags, newspaper bags, wood pellet bags and more in bins at the school provided by Casella Resource Solutions. Students weighed and recorded the amount of film plastic collected each week, and a volunteer delivered the collected plastic to a participating retailer for recycling. The material is recycled into new bags, composite lumber, pipes and other plastic products.

New York State has required retailers that meet certain conditions to collect and recycle single-use plastic bags since 2009. The law was expanded in 2015 to include a wider range of film plastics. “The challenge was launched to make Otsego County residents more aware of film plastic recycling,” said Karen Sullivan, director of Otsego County’s Department of Solid Waste and Planning.

“We find many people still don’t know they can recycle their plastic bags and film plastics,” Sullivan said. “It’s also important for people to know this is the only option for recycling film plastics. They can’t put it in their recycling bin or take it to the transfer stations.”

According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Americans use more than 100 billion plastic bags each year. Only about 1% are recycled.

“Even though the challenge is over, we’re hopeful that the community will continue to recycle their bags and film plastics,” Orzetti said.

Information about what kinds of bags and plastic films can be recycled and where they can be taken can be found atplasticfilmrecycling.org.

Found in 1968, OCCA is a private, non-profit environmental membership organization dedicated to promoting the appreciation and sustainable use of Otsego County’s natural resources through education, advocacy, resource management, research, planning and practice. For more information on OCCA, or to support programming, call (607) 547-4488 or visit www.occainfo.org.

###

The fourteenth annual Earth Festival is this Saturday, from 11am-3pm. Organized by Otsego County Conservation Association, Earth Festival includes exhibits and displays by local environmental organizations; crafts, food, services and products from area businesses; an art contest; clothing swap; and workshops and activities throughout the day.

“We’re proud to bring so many interesting organizations, businesses and individuals under one roof for the day,” said Leslie Orzetti, OCCA’s executive director. “This is a great opportunity for the community to learn about the many environmental programs, products and services available in Otsego County.”

Nearly forty exhibitors and vendors are expected to attend, Orzetti said. Among them are Ariginal Art, Country Pride Cheese House, Carpe Diem Baits, Otsego ReUse Center, Leatherstocking Beekeepers, Gilson’s Native American Crafts, and Intelligent Green Solutions. Food vendors include Tickled Pink BBQ and Origins Café.

The Earth Festival Schedule is below:

Friday, April 12, 7pm: Earth Festival Movie Night: Paris to Pittsburgh, sponsored by Otsego 2000 and Glimmerglass Film Days. 22 Main Street, Cooperstown. Free

Saturday, April 13, 8am: Earth Festival bird walk with Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society. Meet at Milford Central School parking lot

10:30am: Contestants drop off entries for EcoArt Competition

11am-3pm: Earth Festival Exhibit and Vendor Fair, Milford Central School gym

11am-1pm, Workshop: Historic Window Restoration and Weatherization, classroom (pre-registration necessary, see www.otsego2000.org).

11am-2pm: Free paper shredding service, provided by Empire Recycling. Outside.

11am-3pm: Special Earth Festival Recycling opportunities, sponsored by Casella Resource Solutions, Otsego ReUse Center, OCCA. Outside and inside.

11am-3pm: Clothing Swap, cafeteria.

11am-11:45: Yoga Big & Small, small gym

12-1:30: Presentation: Case Studies of Renewables and Efficiency Upgrades in Otsego County by Bennett Sandler, Campaign Director of Heat Smart Otsego. Auditorium.

Noon: Border Collie Duck Herding Demonstration by Fly Safe Wild Goose Management, outside.

1:00: Bike Safety Activity, small gym.

2pm: Announcement of winners of OCCA’s ‘Plastic Bag Recycling Challenge,’ auditorium.

2:30pm: Announcement of winners of EcoArt contest.

3pm: Earth Festival closes.

Established in 2006, Earth Festival is an environmentally-focused, interactive event featuring exhibits, workshops, vendors, food and entertainment. This year’s event is sponsored by Five Star Subaru, CNY Tent Rentals, Otsego 2000/Cooperstown Farmers’ Market, Cooperstown Natural Foods, Farm Credit East, ACA; Casella Resource Solutions; Otsego County Chamber of Commerce; Carol Malz & Mike Empey; Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society; Rich McCaffery; Cornell Cooperative Extension Schoharie Otsego Counties; Otsego Lake Association; Susquehanna Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club; Dave Brandt Chapter Trout Unlimited; Country Pride Cheese House.

Founded in 1968, OCCA is a private, non-profit membership group dedicated to promoting the appreciation and sustainable use of Otsego County’s natural resources through education, advocacy, resource management, research, planning, and practice. For more information on OCCA, or to donate, visit www.occainfo.org.

###