Our Environment. Our Home. OUR CHALLENGE.

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Otsego County Conservation Association has the following programs/volunteer activities coming up. For further information or to register, contact OCCA Program Director, Jeff O’Handley at (607) 282-4087 or visit occainfo.org. All programs are free and open to the public.

Otsquago Creek: Geology in Action

August 11, 1:00 – 3:00pm – Robert Woodruff Learning Center at Owen D. Young Central School, State Route 80, Van Hornesville
Witness the results of thousands of years of geologic processes in action on this walk at the Robert Woodruff Learning Center at Owen D. Young Central School in Van Hornesville. Rain falls and seeps into rocks, dissolving them. The water finds its way to the surface and forms the Otsquago Creek. As it flows it shapes the land, leaving tufa deposits and carving waterfalls, terraces and caves. The result is a spectacular landscape that is still changing today. This walk is led by Dr. Les Hasbargen, who teaches geology and geomorphology at SUNY Oneonta. Van Hornesville is one of his favorite places to bring students on field trips.

Call for Volunteers

OCCA has been diligently working to help control the spread of invasive species in Otsego County for over 15 years.  We can’t do any of this work without dedicated volunteers like you!  Consider helping us at one of our upcoming invasive species management programs. TO SIGN UP FOR ANY VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES, please use the form on our website: https://occainfo.org/signup/

Chop and Cheese, Japanese Knotweed Removal at Mohican Farm

August 14, 6:00 – 8:00pm – Mohican Farm, 7207 State Highway 80, Cooperstown

Chop down Japanese knotweed—one of our most aggressive terrestrial invasive plants—then enjoy light refreshments of cheese and crackers overlooking Otsego Lake. Dress to get dirty. Some tools (loppers, hand pruners) will be provided, but you may bring your own. Meet at OCCA’s office at Mohican Farm, 7207 State Highway 80, Cooperstown.

Paddle and Pull, Silver Lake

August 17, 9:00 am -noon – 162 Silver Lake Road, New Berlin

Please help us as we continue removing water chestnut and European frog-bit, two highly-invasive aquatic plants, from Silver Lake in New Berlin. Bring water, sunscreen, and dress to get wet and dirty. At the request of property owners, you must use OCCA canoes. Please register for this event by using the sign-up form on our website.

Household Hazardous Waste Day Volunteer Opportunity

September 21 – The Meadows Office Building, Cooperstown, NY

OCCA is coordinating volunteers to assist at Otsego County’s Household Hazardous Waste Day collection. Volunteers are needed to help primarily with latex paint recycling, but may be asked to direct traffic; assist with unloading cars; sorting recyclable paints from other materials; opening and stirring paint; flattening cardboard; collecting other materials. The event runs from 8am-1pm.  Please consider signing up for early (7:30-11am) or late (10:30-1:00pm) shifts.  Call Jeff O’Handley at 607-282-4087 to sign up, or use the form at our website (see above).

Call for Volunteers

OCCA has been diligently working to help control the spread of invasive species in Otsego County for over 15 years.  We can’t do any of this work without dedicated volunteers like you!  Consider helping us at one of our upcoming invasive species management programs. TO SIGN UP FOR ANY VOLUNTEER OPPORTUNITIES, please use the form on our website: https://occainfo.org/signup/

Paddle and Pull, Goodyear Lake

August 3, 9:00 am-noon – Portlandville Fishing Access Site, State Route 28, Portlandville

Help control and prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species! Water chestnut, a highly-invasive aquatic plant, continues to be a problem in Goodyear Lake. Volunteers will paddle in and around the Stump Lot portion of Goodyear Lake, search for water chestnut, and remove plants when they are found. Dress to get wet and dirty, and bring sunscreen and water. You may bring your own canoe or kayak, or reserve space in an OCCA canoe by using the sign-up form on our website. Meet at the New York State Fishing Access Site on New York State Route 28 in Portlandville, just south of the County Route 35A bridge.

Paddle and Pull, Silver Lake

August 17, 9:00 am -noon – 162 Silver Lake Road, New Berlin

Please help us as we continue removing water chestnut and European frog-bit, two highly-invasive aquatic plants, from Silver Lake in New Berlin. Bring water, sunscreen, and dress to get wet and dirty. At the request of property owners, you must use OCCA canoes. Please register for this event by using the sign-up form on our website.

Chop and Cheese, Japanese Knotweed Removal at Mohican Farm

August 14, 6:00 – 8:00pm – Mohican Farm, 7207 State Highway 80, Cooperstown

Chop down Japanese knotweed—one of our most aggressive terrestrial invasive plants—then enjoy light refreshments of cheese and crackers overlooking Otsego Lake. Dress to get dirty. Some tools (loppers, hand pruners) will be provided, but you may bring your own. Meet at OCCA’s office at Mohican Farm, 7207 State Highway 80, Cooperstown.

Household Hazardous Waste Day Volunteer Opportunity

September 21 – The Meadows Office Building, Cooperstown, NY

OCCA is coordinating volunteers to assist at Otsego County’s Household Hazardous Waste Day collection. Volunteers are needed to help primarily with latex paint recycling, but may be asked to direct traffic; assist with unloading cars; sorting recyclable paints from other materials; opening and stirring paint; flattening cardboard; collecting other materials. The event runs from 8am-1pm.  Please consider signing up for early (7:30-11am) or late (10:30-1:00pm) shifts.  Call Jeff O’Handley at 607-282-4087 to sign up, or use the form at our website (see above).

Aquatic Invasive Species Boat Washing Demo

August 7, 6:00-8:00pm – Brookwood Point, 6000 State Route 80, Cooperstown

This free program, offered in collaboration with Otsego Land Trust, Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP), Otsego Area Rowers, Canoe & Kayak Rentals and Sales, Otsego Lake Association, Otsego Sailing Club, Canadarago Lake Improvement Association and OCCA provides information on how to identify various aquatic invasive species that threaten our waterways, along with hands-on demonstrations of steps everyone should take to prevent the spread of these species. For further information or to RSVP for this free event, contact Marcie Foster, Otsego Land Trust, (607) 547-2366 est.103, or email marcie@otsegolandtrust.org.

Otsquago Creek: Geology in Action

August 11, 1:00 – 3:00pm – Robert Woodruff Learning Center at Owen D. Young Central School, State Route 80, Van Hornesville
Witness the results of thousands of years of geologic processes in action on this walk at the Robert Woodruff Learning Center at Owen D. Young Central School in Van Hornesville. Rain falls and seeps into rocks, dissolving them. The water finds its way to the surface and forms the Otsquago Creek. As it flows it shapes the land, leaving tufa deposits and carving waterfalls, terraces and caves. The result is a spectacular landscape that is still changing today. This walk is led by Dr. Les Hasbargen, who teaches geology and geomorphology at SUNY Oneonta. Van Hornesville is one of his favorite places to bring students on field trips.

Household Hazardous Waste Day

September 20 and 21 – Unadilla Town Barn and The Meadows Office Building, Cooperstown, NY

Otsego County Solid Waste is again sponsoring the Otsego County Household Hazardous Waste Day.  This widely attended event allows local residents the opportunity to bring household hazardous waste, enamel paints, pesticides, antifreeze, batteries and much more, FREE of CHARGE for disposal. To see a full list of items that will be accepted at this year’s HHWD, see Otsego County’s website at https://www.otsegocounty.com/Ledger%20Event%20Poster%202019.pdf

More Recycling Options

Got Sneakers – OCCA is partnering with the Oneonta YMCA to expand their athletic shoes recycling program.  Two new sites at the Clark Sports Center and the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market are being added to the original site at the Oneonta YMCA (Ford Avenue) to collect new, used, and unwearable athletic shoes. Your old running shoes, trainers, rubber cleats, and kids’ sneakers can be taken to any of these three locations for recycling with the GotSneakers.com program.  All shoes are sent to their Miami facility for sorting, with the useable ones being sent to people in need and unusable ones being repurposed into athletic surfaces.   Clean out your closets today and bring you old shoes to any of these three locations!

Terracycle – The Cooperstown Farmers’ Market and the Oneonta YMCA are your collection points for Terracycle items.  For a list of items that are accepted at each location, please contact or visit that location before dropping off your items.

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.

Upper Susquehanna Watershed Forum

Tuesday, October 1 at 9:00am, SUNY Binghamton Center for Excellence

SAVE THE DATE!  The Upper Susquehanna Watershed Forum moves to SUNY Binghamton this year with a day full of presentations related to how to tackle the next phase of restoring and conserving our portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  The day will include field trips, overviews of the NEW Phase III Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan, and panel sessions on communications, innovative practices, partnerships, research and funding.  We are now accepting applications to present in oral or poster form.  Please contact Leslie Orzetti for more information. Details coming soon on registration and the day’s agenda.

 Volunteer opportunities with Otsego County Conservation Association

Otsego County Conservation Association is seeking volunteers for the following dates and activities:

On Saturday, August 3, OCCA is recruiting volunteers to help with water chestnut removal in Goodyear Lake. Volunteers will use canoes or kayaks to paddle in the upper portion of the lake, known as the Stump Lot, and will hand-pull any water chestnuts found. Water chestnut (Trapa natans) is an invasive aquatic plant that disrupts native ecosystems, interferes with boating, fishing and swimming, and can cause injury if stepped on. This event runs from 9am to noon. Volunteers can bring their own canoe/kayak, or reserve space in an OCCA canoe.

It’s back to the water on Saturday, August 17, as OCCA works to control water chestnut and European frog-bit (Hydrocharus morsus-ranae) at Silver Lake in New Berlin. Frog-bit, newly-discovered at the lake in 2018, is a free-floating aquatic plant that can impact local ecosystems. Only OCCA canoes are being permitted on the lake for this event, and pre-registration is required. The event runs from 9am-noon.

Finally, on Saturday, September 21, OCCA is seeking volunteers to assist with Otsego County’s 22nd annual Household Hazardous Waste Day collection. Volunteers will be primarily engaged with sorting, opening, stirring and pouring paint as part of the county’s latex paint recycling program. Volunteers may also be asked to direct traffic, help unload cars, break up cardboard boxes, and assist with non-hazardous special collections. Volunteers are asked to sign up for either an early (7:30-11am) or late (10:30am-1pm) shift. This event takes place at the Meadows Office Complex in Cooperstown.

For more information about these events, visit occainfo.org or contact OCCA Program Director, Jeff O’Handley at (607) 282-4087. To register, use the form available at occainfo.org/signup/.

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, visitwww.occainfo.org.

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Otsego County residents can now drop off used athletic shoes for recycling at two new locations in the Cooperstown area through a partnership between Otsego County Conservation Association and the Oneonta YMCA. These new drop off sites are in addition to the original location at the YMCA in Oneonta.

“Recycling athletic shoes is an easy way to help keep these hard to break-down items out of our landfills,” said OCCA Executive Director, Leslie Orzetti. “We are happy to be able to partner with the Oneonta YMCA on this effort.”

The new collection sites at the Clark Sports Center and the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market in Cooperstown join the original collection site at the YMCA in Oneonta. Each facility has a specially marked bin for shoes. Types of shoes that can be dropped off for recycling include any type of sneaker, as well as rubber soccer and baseball cleats. Shoes can be any condition: new, gently used, or unwearable, but pairs must be complete.

Once collected, the shoes are shipped to Got Sneakers in Miami, Florida. Good condition shoes are distributed to less fortunate people in South and Central America, the Caribbean, west Africa and Europe. Shoes deemed ‘unwearable’ are recycled into various products, including athletic surfaces such as tracks and playgrounds.

Got Sneakers pays for shipping and provides a reimbursement to the Oneonta YMCA for each pair of shoes received.

“In addition to helping keep things out of our waste stream, this is also a fundraiser for the YMCA, and we’re excited to be able to help another non-profit organization,” said Orzetti.

For more information on Got Sneakers, visit https://gotsneakers.com/.

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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POSTPONED: NEW DATE IS SUNDAY, AUGUST 11 at 1:00 PM.

Otsego County Conservation Association is sponsoring the walk, “Otsquago Creek: Geology in Action” on Saturday, July 20 from 10am to noon Sunday, August 11 from 1-3pm. The walk will take place on the nature trail at the Robert D. Woodruff Outdoor Learning Center at Owen D. Young Central School in Van Hornesville and will be led by Dr. Les Hasbargen. Dr. Hasbargen teaches geology and geomorphology at SUNY Oneonta. Suitable for all ages, participants will learn some basic geology and will get to explore terraces, waterfalls and limestone caves formed over the years.

The program is free, but pre-registration is appreciated. Visit occainfo.org for more information. Participants should meet at the parking area to the Robert D. Woodruff Outdoor Learning Center, 2316 State Highway 80, Van Hornesville.

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.

Invasive Species Awareness Week, July 7-13

Sponsored by New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of Agriculture and Markets, Invasive Species Awareness Week (ISAW) is a statewide event that encourages New Yorkers to help protect the state’s resources from the negative impacts of invasive species. OCCA has the following activities planned:

Paddle and Pull, Goodyear Lake

July 7, 1-4:00 pm – Portlandville Fishing Access Site, State Route 28, Portlandville

Take to the water and help control water chestnut in Goodyear Lake’s “Stump Lot.” Water chestnut (Trapa natans) is an aggressive aquatic plant that impacts fish, wildlife and recreation. Bring your own canoe or kayak, or reserve space in one of our canoes. Bring sunscreen, water and dress to get wet.

Spotting the Lanternfly: Early Detection Training for our Newest Invader

July 9, 6:00-8:00pm – Mohican Farm, 7207 State Highway 80, Cooperstown

Spotted Lanternfly is a newly-introduced invasive insect that could have considerable harmful effects on New York’s agriculture and forests. With populations confirmed in Pennsylvania and New Jersey, it is essential to stay on the lookout for this insect and its preferred host tree, the invasive tree-of-heaven. Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership Field Projects Manager Dan Snider will teach us about Spotted Lanternfly (Lycorma delicatula), the tree-of-heaven (Ailanthus altissima), and how you can help prevent the spread of this invasive pest into our region. We will discuss region of origin, identification, risks of spread, and the free mobile reporting app iMap Invasives. This program is useful to landowners, land managers, and anyone interested in helping prevent the spread of invasive species.

Chop and Cheese, Japanese Knotweed Removal at Mohican Farm

July 10 6:00 – 8:00pm – Mohican Farm, 7207 State Highway 80, 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.

Sweet Frog Fundraiser

July 12, 4:00 – 8:00pm – Sweet Frog Frozen Yogurt, Southside Mall, Oneonta

Help OCCA celebrate Invasive Species Awareness Week with a “sweet” fundraiser with Sweet Frog.  All you have to do is go to Sweet Frog at Southside Mall in Oneonta and mention “I’m here for OCCA” before you check out.  If you do, 20% of all sales between 4 – 8pm will be donated to OCCA.  Who doesn’t love a little “froyo” on a Friday night in the summer!!  Come help us out.  Thanks in advance for your support.

Invasive Species Teach-In

July 13 11:00am – 3:00pm – Large Pavilion, Wilber Park, Oneonta

Displays and exhibits will highlight some of the invasive plants and animals that threaten our lands and waters. See examples of common invasive plants, discover how to report new infestations, and learn what is being done to control them. Activities for children and adults include matching games, Invasive Species Bingo, and a short walk to look for invasives in the park. At the ID table, you may bring suspicious plants or weeds for identification—bring either a good cell phone photo or bring the plant sealed in a gallon Ziploc bag. Unknown insects may also be dropped off for later identification. Insects must be sealed in a bag and frozen overnight, i.e., they must be dead. This event is free and open to the public.

To sign up for our events, visit occainfo.org/signsup/. For more information on Invasive Species, visit the New York Invasive Species Information website (nyis.info). For a listing of events statewide, visit https://stoptheinvasionny.com/calendar-of-events/

Otsquago Creek: Geology in Action

July 20 10:00am – 12:00pm – Robert Woodruff Learning Center at Owen D. Young Central School, State Route 80, Van Hornesville
Witness the results of thousands of years of geologic processes in action on this walk at the Robert Woodruff Learning Center at Owen D. Young Central School in Van Hornesville. Rain falls and seeps into rocks, dissolving them. The water finds its way to the surface and forms the Otsquaga Creek. As it flows it shapes the land, leaving tufa deposits and carving waterfalls, terraces and caves. The result is a spectacular landscape that is still changing today. This walk is led by Dr. Les Hasbargen, who teaches geology and geomorphology at SUNY Oneonta. Van Hornesville is one of his favorite places to bring students on field trips.

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 athttps://heatsmartotsego.org.  If interested, please contact Bennett by email at campaigndirector@occainfo.org or by phone (607) 435-1364.

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) – 4 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) – 1 SPOT 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) – 7 REMAINING

DOAS Program:  Learn to Identify Dragonflies & Damselflies with Audubon

Friday, July 19 at 4:00 – 5:30pm, Franklin Mountain Sanctuary

Dr. Peter Fauth, biology professor and chairperson of the biology department at Hartwick College, will review methods to identify the adult odonates (damselflies and dragonflies). Participants will meet at the Sanctuary barn, where they will learn about the major families of odonates in this area, and then will learn how to catch, handle and identify species. Insect nets and snacks will be provided. Boots for wading into the wetland are recommended.

Upper Susquehanna Watershed Forum

Tuesday, October 1 at 9:00am, SUNY Binghamton Center for Excellence

SAVE THE DATE!  The Upper Susquehanna Watershed Forum moves to SUNY Binghamton this year with a day full of presentations related to how to tackle the next phase of restoring and conserving our portion of the Chesapeake Bay watershed.  The day will include field trips, overviews of the NEW Phase III Chesapeake Bay Watershed Implementation Plan, and panel sessions on communications, innovative practices, partnerships and funding mechanisms.  Details coming soon on registration and the day’s agenda.

Otsego County Energy Taskforce

OCCA Executive Director, Leslie Orzetti, has been a member of the Otsego County Energy Taskforce Leadership Committee since its inception in late 2018.  We have been working diligently with the four other members of the leadership committee (Representatives Meg Kennedy and Michele Farwell, Town of Oneonta Supervisor Bob Wood, and City of Oneonta Engineer Greg Mattice) to put together a balanced taskforce to tackle the daunting task of creating a stakeholder-based energy plan for the county.  To date, the taskforce has members of the environmental, business, education, and municipal sectors who are divided into four working groups:  Buildings & Efficiency, Environment, Economic Development, and Supply & Distribution.  Currently, the workgroups are gathering data and doing background research on topics related to their workgroups.  The county has dedicated funding to hiring a consultant to help usher us through this process bearing in mind that the taskforce, and the stakeholders who are a part of this group, are the authors of the resulting energy plan.  The mission statement of the plan is:  The Otsego County Energy Workgroup and resulting Energy Plan will address the needs of the community to become energy secure and resilient while taking into consideration the long-term health of citizens, economic growth, and environmental sustainability of Otsego County.  Full taskforce meetings are open to the public, and unless otherwise noted, are on the first Wednesday of every other month.  The next full taskforce meeting will be September 4, at Oneonta Town Hall at 5pm.  If you have any questions regarding the Otsego County Energy Taskforce, please feel free to reach out to Leslie at 547-4488.

Otsego County Conservation Association is hosting a series of events focused on raising awareness of and controlling invasive species as part of New York State’s sixth annual Invasive Species Awareness week.

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

“OCCA has been involved in invasive species management and education for many years,” said Leslie Orzetti, OCCA’s executive director. “It’s important for people to have an understanding of the impact these species can have on our environment, and what they can do to help.”

Invasive Species Awareness Week runs from July 7-13. OCCA kicks off the week with a “Paddle and Pull” volunteer event at Goodyear Lake. Volunteers will search the upper portion of the lake, known as the Stump Lot, for water chestnut, an invasive aquatic plant. Any water chestnuts found will be removed by hand and composted.

On Tuesday, July 9, OCCA hosts “Spotting the Lanternfly: Early Detection for our Newest Invader.” Dan Snider, field projects manager for the Catskill Regional Invasive Species Partnership (CRISP), will provide an overview of the life history of the spotted lanternfly, an insect that has the capacity to cause serious environmental and economic damage, as well as how to help prevent the spread of this pest. The workshop should be of interest to landowners, land managers, and anyone interested in helping prevent the spread of invasive species. It will be held at Mohican Farm from 6 – 8pm.

Japanese knotweed is in the spotlight on Wednesday, July 10 at OCCA’s second “Chop and Cheese” event. Volunteers will help cut down a stand of Japanese knotweed, then enjoy snacks overlooking Otsego Lake. Volunteers can bring work gloves, hand pruners or loppers, and a preferred beverage. This event runs from 6 to 8pm.

OCCA wraps up Invasive Species Awareness Week on Saturday, July 13 with the “Invasive Species Teach-In” at Wilber Park, Oneonta from 11am-3pm. The event will include educational displays, activities and a walk. People can also bring samples of plants for identification. The event runs from 11am-3pm at the large pavilion.

All events are free and open to the public. For the “Paddle and Pull,” a limited number of spaces are available in an OCCA canoe, provided volunteers pre-register at occainfo.org/signup/. Additional information is available at occainfo.org or by calling Jeff O’Handley at (607) 547-4488.

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.

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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!