Our Environment.
Our Home.
OUR CHALLENGE.

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A note from the Executive Director

As Executive Director for Otsego County Conservation Association (OCCA), I was deeply concerned to learn that Otsego Now, the Otsego County Economic Development Agency, stated that OCCA is in favor of the Consolidated Funding Application proposal to install a Compressed Natural Gas (CNG) decompression station in the town of Oneonta, which would have the effect of expanding natural gas infrastructure in Otsego County.  While it is true that we have spoken with Mr. Zakrevsky about the project, make no mistake, OCCA does not support the proposal, and when asked to write a letter of support for the project we respectfully declined.

Earlier this year, the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce asked OCCA to participate in their newly-formed Energy Committee, chartered by the Chamber to examine the energy needs of Otsego County.  This project was discussed at the meetings, and OCCA has been the sole environmental advocacy member promoting alternatives to expanding natural gas and particularly for the proposed project. We have advocated for low-impact development for the proposed railyard project in the form of Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certified buildings and net-zero projects to help attract more eco-friendly businesses to the county and strongly suggested coordination with the town prior to submitting a proposal for funding a decompression facility.

OCCA did agree to help Otsego Now find alternatives to the natural gas project, offered to attend New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG) meetings to advocate for alternative solutions (yet to be scheduled), and put Otsego Now in contact with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) to take advantage of expertise in alternative energy research and funding mechanisms to help defray the costs of building and retrofitting buildings to help lower natural gas consumption and eventually transition to non-fossil fuel energy options. Further, we gave a presentation to the Energy Committee about our new project, funded by NYSERDA, to promote energy efficiency in existing buildings through envelope improvements and alternative technologies such as ground-sourced heat pumps and renewable pellet stoves and boilers. We, in no way, helped Otsego Now prepare their proposal, we do not support the proposal, and we find it disconcerting that Otsego Now included us in their proposal without our knowledge or permission.

For fifty years, it has been OCCA’s process to thoughtfully review each project before voicing our support or opposition. We have many concerns about the Otsego Now project and will continue to review all information as it comes to us. Members of the Board of Directors and our staff have been attending public meetings on the proposal and will continue to do so throughout the process. Rest assured, OCCA will not waver in our approach to this project. Our Board of Directors and staff are keenly aware of the contentious nature of this project and will be discussing the project and the current energy crisis in Oneonta and Otsego County at our next full board meeting in September.  If anyone has any concerns or questions about OCCA’s role on the Energy Committee or the question of support for the Otsego Now proposal, we encourage you to call or email us at (607) 547-4488 or director@occainfo.org.

Yours in conservation,

Leslie Orzetti, Ph.D.,
Executive Director
Otsego County Conservation Association

(COOPERSTOWN) – Otsego County Conservation Association is hosting two events during the week of August 20.

On Wednesday, August 22, the Be Informed! Lecture Series continues with Heat Smart Otsego. Bennett Sandler, Campaign Director for Heat Smart Otsego, will introduce participants to energy saving technologies such as ground-source heat pumps, air-source heat pumps, and modern pellet stoves and boilers. These technologies can reduce heating and cooling costs, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and can reduce the release of dangerous volatile organic compounds. The program will also highlight incentive programs that can help homeowners defray the costs of installing these technologies. The program begins at 6:30pm in the Community Room at the Clark Sports Center, 124 County Road 52, Cooperstown. The Be Informed Lecture Series is a joint program of Otsego County Conservation Association and Mohican Farm, The Clark Foundation.

On Thursday, August 23, OCCA Board member, Trish Riddell Kent and her husband, Steve, lead a walk through the field and creek portion of Robert V. Riddell State Park in Oneonta. In 2005, the Kents donated the land, which had been in the Riddell family for generations, to the state. This easy, 1.5-mile walk will pass through woods, fields and along part of Schenevus Creek, and will include discussion of the property’s unique history. The walk begins at 6:30 pm at the main parking area of Riddell State Park, Route 28, Oneonta, just north of I-88 Exit 17.

Both programs are free and open to the public, though pre-registration is appreciated. For more information, or to sign up for the program, visit http://occainfo.org/calendar/.

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

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SAVE THE DATE

Goodyear Lake Paddle and Pull

Aug 4 – 1pm:  Portlandville Fishing Access Site

Help in the fight against invasive species and enjoy a pleasant day on the water! Join OCCA and the Goodyear Lake Association as we paddle around in the “Stump Lot,” the northernmost portion of Goodyear Lake in pursuit of water chestnut, an aquatic invasive plant. You may reserve a space in an OCCA canoe by using the registration form, or can bring your own canoe or kayak. Meet at 1pm at the New York State Fishing Access Site on State Route 28 in Portlandville (approximately .15 miles south of Route 35A). Wear clothes that can get wet/muddy, a hat, and bring sunscreen and water. Please pre-register @ https://occainfo.org/program-and-event-sign-up-form/

OCCA 50th Anniversary Garden Party – Get Your Tickets Now!

August 11 – 5 – 8pm:  Mohican Farm, 7207 State Highway 80, Cooperstown, (corner of 80 and Allen Lake Road)

Come help OCCA celebrate 50 years of natural resource conservation with an exclusive garden party in the beautifully restored Spaulding Estate gardens at Mohican Farm.  We’ll have live music, great food, memories, and lots of friends on hand.  Tickets are $75. Please RSVP by August 4th at https://occainfo.networkforgood.com/events/6114-50th-anniversary-garden-party

Be Informed!  Lecture Series – Heat Smart Otsego

August 22 – 6:30pm: Clark Sports Center, 124 County Road 52, Cooperstown

Modern, updated technologies such as ground source heat pumps, air source heat pumps, and pellet stoves and boilers can reduce heating and cooling costs, reduce emission of greenhouse gases, and can reduce the release of dangerous volatile organic compounds and particulate matter. This program will introduce you to the technologies available, the environmental and economic benefits of those technologies, and provide you with the roadmap for finding the right technology and incentive program for making your home more comfortable and efficient. Bennett Sandler, Campaign Director for Heat Smart Otsego, and a former founding partner of Equity Energy leads the program.  For more information contact Bennett Sandler at campaigndirector@occainfo.org.

Walk on the Flat Side

August 23 – 630pm: Robert V. Riddell State Park

Join OCCA Board member Patricia Riddell Kent and Steve Kent, who donated the land for the state park, on this early evening walk around the northern portion of Robert V. Riddell State Park. Visit historic structures, walk through fields, forests, and along Schenevus Creek, and learn about the interesting history of the land on this 1.5-mile, mostly flat walk. Meet at 6:30 p.m. at the Park’s main entrance on State Route 28, just north of I-88 Exit 17. Register @ https://occainfo.org/program-and-event-sign-up-form/

NEWS AND ANNOUNCEMENTS

 

A Special Note from the President on the Oneonta Natural Gas Project

OCCA is aware of the recent proposal to expand natural gas infrastructure in Oneonta, and we are monitoring the project very closely.  We have been asked to serve on the Otsego County Chamber of Commerce Energy Committee where we have a seat at the table and a direct voice advocating for more sustainable solutions for Otsego County.  OCCA has always had a reputation for thorough research and discourse when it comes to issues that have an effect on our environment; to this end, our Board of Directors have been in discussions about this issue and will be preparing a statement of our stance once we have gathered all the facts and studied the impacts and alternatives thoroughly.  Know that OCCA takes pride in our commitment to carefully measure situations and make the best decision we can.  If you have questions or would like any information, please call or email us.  We will be happy to speak with you.

Thank you for your continuing support of OCCA.

Vicky Lentz

OCCA Board President

Come to the Butternut Valley Alliance Harvest Festival

August 16 – 3-6pm:  Guy Rathbun Park (behind Morris Firehouse)

The Butternut Valley Alliance is hosting a great local summer harvest festival. Join in the fun with live music, local craftsman and organization displays, farmers’ market, kids Zoomobile, and FREE FOOD!  This is a can’t miss local event.  Go and support our partner the Butternut Valley Alliance!

OCCA Citizen Science Stream Monitoring Program Seeking Volunteers

We’re about to finish up our first year of monitoring, and we couldn’t be happier with our stream team and the results they have collected so far!  Not long ago we received a grant to help us expand our program, and we’re looking for more volunteers to help us monitor an additional 5-10 sites around Otsego County.  If you’re interested in getting your feet wet, learning about water quality and the health of one of our local streams, this program is for you.  The project is perfect for school groups, church groups, scouts, and just your average Joe looking to do something to get out into the environment.  Volunteers can expect to monitor sites once a month throughout the year as conditions allow.  A time commitment of approximately 3-4 hours a month is required.  Interested in being a Stream Team member, call Leslie Orzetti at 547-4488 to sign up!

Susquehanna River Clean Up Seeking Volunteers

Volunteers are needed on Saturday, August 18 to help with a cleanup of the Susquehanna River in Cooperstown, between the Mill Street Bridge and the Main Street bridge. Volunteer tasks include using canoes to identify and mark large items for removal and helping pull items to shore (OCCA will provide canoes), working on shore to unload items from canoes and a barge, and loading items into a trailer. Two shifts available: 8-10am and 10am to noon. The cleanup is being organized by the Cooperstown Lions Club and partners OCCA, SUNY Biological Field Station Volunteer Dive Team, Otsego Sailing Club, the Village of Cooperstown, the Otsego County Department of Planning and Solid Waste, and River Street and Mill Street Neighbors. For more information or to volunteer, contact John Rowley at jd16rowley@aol.com.

 

Household Hazardous Waste Day Seeking Volunteers

Otsego County’s annual Household Hazardous Waste Day will be held on Friday, September 7, from 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. in Unadilla, and Saturday, September 8 from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Cooperstown. This free event allows County residents to dispose of hazardous wastes, including pesticides, paints, antifreeze, batteries, electronics, and more. Check http://www.otsegocounty.com/depts/sw/HHW.htm for details. Volunteer Opportunity: Volunteers are needed on Saturday, September 8 to help with the annual latex paint recycling collection at Household Hazardous Waste Day. Volunteers will sort, open cans, and mix paint, and will also help direct traffic, flatten cardboard, and other tasks. Contact Jeff O’Handley programdirector@occainfo.org, to sign up.

Did You Know?

Currently, 0.4% of global electricity generation comes from solar. If Photovoltaic generation grows to 10% of global electricity generation, it could save $81 billion when compared to fossil fuel plants. Additionally, this change could lead to a 36.9 gigaton reduction in carbon dioxide emissions, and save $5 trillion in operational costs by 2050. Source: Project Drawdown.

(PORTLANDVILLE) – Otsego County Conservation Association is seeking volunteers to help hand-pull water chestnut plants at Goodyear Lake in Portlandville on Saturday, August 4 from 1 to 4pm.

“We removed two hundred pounds of plants in early July, it’s time to get out and take out the regrowth,” said Jeff O’Handley, OCCA’s program director. “We’re need to get as much out of it before it drops seeds later this summer.”

An invasive aquatic plant from eastern Europe introduced into the United States in the mid-1800s, water chestnut forms rosettes of leaves that float on the water’s surface. Left uncontrolled, the rosettes block sunlight and crowd out native vegetation. In late summer, the plant develops spiny nuts that fall to the bottom and can potentially cause injury to swimmers. OCCA and the Goodyear Lake Association have been working together since 2006 to eradicate the plant and keep it from spreading.

OCCA has a limited number of canoes for volunteers to borrow, or they can bring their own. Volunteers can sign up at occainfo.org or by calling OCCA at (607) 282-4087.  Meet at the Goodyear Lake Fishing Access Site on State Route 28 in Portlandville, just south of County Road 35A.

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

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(SPRINGFIELD)—Otsego County Conservation Association is celebrating its 50th Anniversary with a garden party at Mohican Farm in Springfield. The party will take place on Saturday, August 11, from 5-8pm.

“Looking at the past 50 years of OCCA activities makes me proud to be a part of the organization and confident that our supporters will continue to help us keep Otsego County a wonderful place to be,” said Vicky Lentz, President of OCCA’s Board of Directors.

OCCA was founded in 1968 by a group of citizens who were concerned with sustainable forestry and land-use issues in Otsego County. The organization quickly expanded its scope, establishing the Lake Otsego Committee in 1972, a glass reclamation center in Cooperstown in 1973, and sponsoring student interns and research at the SUNY Oneonta Biological Field Station. OCCA maintains a strong interest in these areas today, and also conducts programs in invasive species control, environmental education, and provides planning assistance to municipalities and citizens’ groups.

“Our focus has shifted depending on the interests of the board and the needs of the community,” said Lentz, who has been President since 2011. “Our flexibility and responsiveness are keys to our success and longevity.”

Dr. Leslie Orzetti, OCCA’s Executive Director since 2016, said, “I’m proud to be part of an organization that has been serving Otsego County’s citizens since 1968, and I look forward to being part of sustaining our mission and moving us into our next 50 years.”

OCCA’s 50th Anniversary Garden party takes place at Mohican Farm in Springfield. The site of the former Spaulding Estate, Mohican Farm is owned and operated by The Clark Foundation. Sponsors include Five Star Subaru, Cooperstown Dreams Park, Steve Zerby Design/Build, LLC., Otsego Lake Association, Rich McCaffery, Community Bank, NA, Metro Cleaners, and L.M. Townsend Catering. Dinner is provided by L.M Townshend Catering. The Angus Mackie Trio will provide music.

Tickets for the OCCA 50th Anniversary Party are $75 and can be purchased at https://occainfo.networkforgood.com/events/6114-50th-anniversary-garden-party.

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.

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Otsego County Conservation Association is pursuing funding through the Consolidated Funding Application to create and enhance trails at four sites in Otsego County, organization officials said. If successful, the grant would bring in upwards of $100,000 to the community. The grant is being offered through the Environmental Protection Fund through the New York State Office of Parks Recreation and Historic Preservation.

The proposal includes rehabilitation of the boardwalk trail in Goodyear Swamp Sanctuary, improvements to the lower loop foot and cross country ski trail in Basswood Pond State Forest, creating a link between existing trails in Harvey Bilderbeck County Forest and Arnold Lake State Forest and make improvements to both. The project is a partnership amongst OCCA, the SUNY Oneonta Biological Field Station, and the Otsego County Soil & Water Conservation District.  The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Region 4 Forestry office is providing technical expertise for our efforts in the state forests.

“OCCA is excited to be entering into this process with our longtime partners,” said OCCA Executive Director, Leslie Orzetti. “By combining resources and coming together to submit this proposal, we’re hoping to bring funding into the County to enhance year-round outdoor recreation opportunities for residents and tourists.”

Overall, the project would create or make improvements to almost ten miles of multi-use trails in the state and county forest parcels. Work includes widening the trails, increasing overhead clearance, removal of tree stumps and rocks from within the trail, improving drainage on the trails and creating a functional, safe connection between Harry Bilderbeck County Forest and Arnold Lake State Forest. These trails will be suitable for walking, snowshoeing, cross country skiing, and horseback riding. Once completed, maintenance of the trails in the state forests will be carried out by volunteers under a Volunteer Stewardship Agreement between OCCA and DEC.

At Goodyear Swamp Sanctuary, approximately 600 feet of raised, wooden walkway that carries visitors over sensitive wetlands will be replaced, creating a safe space for walkers, researchers and school groups that visit the sanctuary. It will also include making improvements to a landing for non-motorized watercraft, providing a link between the sanctuary and sites such as Glimmerglass State Park.

“We believe very strongly that people should get out and explore our natural environment,” Orzetti said. “These trails will be a great benefit to our community.”

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.

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OCCA to host workshop on Monitoring and Managing Ash, July 24

(COOPERSTOWN) – Otsego County Conservation Association, Mohican Farm and Cornell Cooperative Extension Schoharie and Otsego Counties are hosting a training workshop for the Monitoring and Managing Ash (MaMA) program on Tuesday, July 24, from 1-4pm at Mohican Farm, 7207 State Highway 80, Cooperstown.

MaMA, developed and directed by the Ecological Research Institute (ERI), provides a framework of actions that can be taken to conserve ash and mitigate damage from the emerald ash borer (EAB), an invasive insect that is spreading across New York.

“Emerald ash borer is a significant threat to our region,” said Jeff O’Handley, OCCA’s program director. “As it spreads it will fundamentally alter the composition of our forests, parks and city streets.”

Attendees will learn how to recognize ash and detect emerald ash borer, how to report emerald ash borer via the MaMA Ash/EAB Surveys Anecdata project, how to establish ash mortality monitoring plots that form part of the MaMA Monitoring Plot Network, how to report “lingering ash,” and more. The workshop will include classroom and field activities, and will be presented by ERI Director, Jonathan Rosenthal and ERI Senior Scientist, Dr. Radka Wildova.

The workshops are open to the public with an emphasis on land and forest owners, Master Gardeners, high school and college students, and other seeking to play an active role in invasive species management. The program is free, but pre-registration is required.  For more information or to register, contact OCCA Program Director Jeff O’Handley at (607) 282-4087 or sign up at https://occainfo.org/program-and-event-sign-up-form/. This program is provided for free through funding by the Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP)

Founded in 1968, Otsego County Conservation Association is 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

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Insects to be subject of OCCA walk

(ONEONTA) – SUNY Oneonta professor, Dr. Jeffrey Heilveil leads a family-oriented search for insects at the Oneonta College Camp on Saturday, July 21 at 10am. The walk is part of Otsego County Conservation Association’s nature walk series.

“Insects are an important part of our world,” said OCCA Program Director, Jeff O’Handley. “Dr. Heilveil is passionate about insects and an excellent teacher.”

Participants will take an easy walk through woods and fields, catching, observing and learning about a variety of insects that call Otsego County home. Dr. Heilveil will talk about insect adaptations, distinguishing characteristics of different groups, where to find the species, and some of the astounding life histories of local insects.

The program will take place at the SUNY Oneonta College Camp, located at 119 Hoffman Road, Oneonta. The 276-acre camp is used for educational, recreational and social opportunities for the college community. The program is free and open to the public. To get to the camp, turn off East Street at Hoffman Road, then bear left and follow the road to the camp. The group will meet near the observatory.

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.

Otsego County Conservation Association (OCCA), The City of Oneonta, and the Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) are combining to hold an Invasive Species Teach-In on Saturday, July 14 from 11am to 3pm at the small pavilion in Wilber Park, Oneonta. The event is free and open to everyone.

“We’re very excited to be offering this new program,” said Jeff O’Handley, OCCA’s program director. “

Local botanist and OCCA board member Donna Vogler and her team of students from SUNY Oneonta will share their expertise about invasive plants with displays, activities, and a plant identification booth. Attendees will learn how to report infestations and what is being done to control them. In addition, there will be a nature walk focused on urban forestry and invasive plants at noon. Activities will be ongoing throughout the day.

“One of the highlights will be the identification station,” O’Handley said. “If you have a suspicious plant, you can either bring a good quality cellphone photo or the plant itself, tightly sealed in a Ziploc bag, for identification. Suspicious insects can also be brought for later identification, provided it is in a baggie and has been frozen overnight.”

Invasive species are plants or animals that are not native to an area and cause or are likely to cause harm to the environment, the economy, and human health. In the United States, invasive species are responsible for approximately $120 billion dollars a year in damages.

The Invasive Species Teach-In is free and open to the public. For information, visit occainfo.org.

Otsego County Conservation Association is sponsoring three invasive species events as part of the fifth annual New York State Invasive Species Awareness Week (ISAW).

On Sunday, July 8, OCCA hosts a “Paddle and Pull” on Goodyear Lake aimed at finding and removing water chestnut (Trapa natans), an invasive plant from eastern Europe. Participants will meet at the New York State Fishing Access Site on Route 28 in Portlandville and head out into the ‘Stump Lot,’ the northernmost portion of the Lake. Any water chestnut plants found will be pulled by hand and composted. The event takes place from 1 to 4 p.m.Volunteers should bring sunscreen, a hat and water, and should wear clothes that can get wet and/or muddy. OCCA has a limited number of canoes available for participants to use, or they may bring their own canoe/kayak.

On Wednesday, July 11, OCCA will be tackling Japanese knotweed at Mohican Farm in Springfield from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Japanese knotweed grows in dense clumps and spreads rapidly, crowding out native vegetation. OCCA and Mohican Farm have been working together for the last two years to try to bring this stubborn invasive under control without the use of herbicide. Participants may bring hand tools such as pruners, loppers, and picks or mattocks.

Invasive Species Awareness Week draws to a close on Saturday, July 14 with the “Invasive Species Teach-In” at the small pavilion in Wilber Park, Oneonta. This event will include educational displays, an urban forest/invasive species-themed nature walk, activities for children and adults, and a plant identification booth. The Invasive Species Teach-In will run from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is sponsored by OCCA, the Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP) and the City of Oneonta.

All events are free and open to the public. Pre-registration is required to reserve canoe space in the “Paddle and Pull,” and is preferred for the Japanese knotweed removal. To sign up, either call Jeff O’Handley at (607) 282-4087 or use the form on OCCA’s web page: (http://occainfo.org/program-and-event-sign-up-form/).

Invasive species are organisms that are not native to an area and cause or are likely to cause harm to the environment, the economy, or human health. Invasive species cost the United States more than $120 billion in damage and control costs each year.

The mission of Invasive Species Awareness Week is to promote knowledge and understanding of invasive species and the harm they can cause by engaging citizens in a wide range of activities across the state, and empowering them to take action to help stop the spread.

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.