Our Environment. Our Home. OUR CHALLENGE.

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June 1, 2020:  Vol. 14, No. 6

Water Chestnut Pull on Goodyear Lake: Facebook Live

Sunday, June 7, around 10:30am. Join the OCCA team for a short trip on the Goodyear Lake “Stump Lot” in search of the invasive plant, water chestnut. In this short, live video we’ll show you what water chestnut looks like, where you might expect to find it, and how to safely remove it from the water. 

Spotlight on Invasives: Aquatics Invasives to Watch For 

Wednesday, June 10, 12-1pm 

With summer approaching and more people getting outside, we must remember to protect our waterbodies by watching out for invasive species and taking care to prevent their spread. Invasive Species Intern, Sierra Stickney will focus on a few aquatic invasive species (AIS) such as water chestnut, European frog-bit, and starry stonewort. Learn what to look for when you’re out on the water and how you can help the spread of AIS. Register for this free Zoom program here.  You will receive a confirmation email with the details of how to join the call. 

Volunteers Needed! 

European frog-bit is a highly invasive aquatic plant that can disrupt our local ecosystems. Last year, a small population was discovered on Clarke Pond in Springfield. We’re seeking some hardy volunteers who don’t mind getting wet, muddy, and possibly a few leech bites to search for and remove this plant before it can spread to Otsego Lake or other water bodies. Training provided. Contact Jeff O’Handley at programdirector@occainfo.org for details or to volunteer. 

Butternut Creek Paddle Postponed 

Due to the ongoing pandemic, our canoe paddle on the Butternut Creek with Butternut Valley Alliance is postponed. We have tentatively rescheduled the paddle for September 27—we may have some good fall color to look forward to! Watch our website and future editions of the EcoBulletin for details on how to participate. 

Aquatic Invasive Species Demonstration Cancelled 

This program, offered in partnership with Otsego Land Trust, CRISP Watershed Stewards Program, Otsego Lake Association and the Otsego Sailing Club has been cancelled. We’re hoping that it will be able to take place next year. 

Good News: Otsego ReUse Center Open 

The Otsego ReUse Center has reopened! Located at 23 Duane Street, Oneonta, the ReUse Center provides individuals served by The Arc Otsego with important vocational skills and offers customers donated building materials (and much more) at low costs, and has saved thousands of good quality items from the landfill. Also, the ReUse Center is once again accepting clean, white polystyrene foam for Styrofoam for recycling. You may bring clean, white rigid Styrofoam (coolers, rigid packing material), white foam cups and takeout food containers (please make sure they are clean and dry), and foam egg cartons. The ReUse Center is open seven days a week, 9am-5pm. For details on how to donate items or about polystyrene recycling, call (607) 353-7831. 

OCCA Online Garage Sale Ongoing 

If you’re in the midst of spring cleaning and you find yourself with good condition items that you no longer need, why not get them into the hands of someone who could use them? Donate them to the OCCA online garage sale and help support our efforts to protect Otsego County’s environment! Items should have a minimum value of $10. Please send photos and a description and dimension of the item(s) to occagaragesale@gmail.com. If you’re looking to buy, visit http://occainfo.org/2018-garage-sale-items/ to see what we currently have! 

We want to hear from you!

We will be hosting a OCCA family Coffee Talk, Wednesday, June 10th at 9:30 am for folks to join us for a discussion what we are doing, what types of programming you would like to see in the future and how we can help you! Register Here for the link to join in!

COVID19 Policy 

The staff and board of directors of Otsego County Conservation Association offer our heartfelt condolences to the members of our Otsego County family who have lost loved ones to or suffered from COVID-19. Though our region has been fortunate to see a small number of cases relative to other parts of the world, we take this disease seriously. The safety and health of our staff and all of our program participants is our top priority. Therefore, as we move forward with in-person programs in the coming weeks, we will adhere to current guidelines put forth by New York State. As of this publication, these are: 

  • Program size will be limited to 10 people, staff included; 
  • All participants must wear a mask during the program; 
  • Participants must follow social distancing guidelines at all times; should a program be expected to require close contact among participants, this will be made clear in the program description 
  • Participants must pre-register in order to attend; 
  • All participants must provide OCCA with contact information (name, phone number, email) in order to participate.  
  • For programs that take place on the water, you must bring your own watercraft (canoe, kayak, paddleboard) and personal flotation device. OCCA will not be providing canoes at this time. 

We apologize for any inconvenience these rules may cause; please understand this is in the interests of protecting all of us. Please note these guidelines will change as the situation here changes. We will post these guidelines at occainfo.org and update them regularly. Thank you for respecting each other, and for being part of the OCCA family.  

In Case You Missed It !!

While we haven’t been able to meet or provide programs the way we prefer to, face-to-face, OCCA has been busy! For web-based programs on Invasive Species, Heat Smart Otsego, and the SEQR process, visit our YouTube page. We’ll be adding more content, as well. Subscribe to get notifications of new postings. 

Recycle Right! 

With more people at home due to the pandemic, more residential waste is being generated, putting strain on some waste and recycling collection programs. Please consider holding off on any large spring cleaning projects, or focus on small home organizing projects with cleanouts in stages. And when visiting the transfer stations, please protect transfer station employees, your fellow recyclers and yourself by wearing a mask and following social distancing guidelines.  

Did You Know? 

June 7-13 is New York State’s 7th Annual Invasive Species Awareness Week (ISAW). The purpose of ISAW is to promote knowledge and awareness of invasive species and the harm they can cause by engaging in a wide range of activities across the state. OCCA will be going live on Facebook on Sunday, June 7 at 1pm, will host a live meeting on Aquatic Invasives to Watch for on June 10 and will be posting a variety of information on our Facebook page throughout the week. Also be sure to visit New York Invasive Species Awareness Week’s website (https://nyisaw.org/) for other programs.

Wednesday, May 20, 1-2pm 
 

The COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to fundamentally change how our communities are planned for the future. Communities will have to learn to adapt current planning practices such as holding public meetings, amending zoning codes, and developing comprehensive plans to post-pandemic standards. Join OCCA Environmental Planner, Danny Lapin, AICP to learn how planning can be used as a tool to help communities adapt to a post-COVID-19 world. 

Sign up Here



May 1, 2020:  Vol. 14, No. 5

Heat Smart Otsego Events 

Learn about clean heating and cooling technologies for your home or business through this series of free, 45-minute webinars. Join from your home computer, tablet or smart phone! 
• “Whole Home Retrofit” presented by Snug Planet. Tuesday, May 5, noon. Sign Up Here
• “Geothermal Heat Pump Installation” presented by Dailey Electric. Thursday, May 7, noon. Sign Up Here
• “Whole Home Retrofit,” presented by Halco. Tuesday, May 12, noon. Sign Up Here
• “Heat Pump Installation,” presented by NP Environmental. Thursday, May 14, noon. Sign Up Here

For more information or to sign up, visit heatsmartotsego.org or call (607) 435-1364 or email campaigndirector@heatsmart.org 

OCCA Online Garage Sale Ongoing 
If you’re in the midst of spring cleaning and you find yourself with good condition items that you no longer need, why not get them into the hands of someone who could use them? Donate them to the OCCA online garage sale and help support our efforts to protect Otsego County’s environment! Items should have a minimum value of $10. Please send photos and a description and dimension of the item(s) to occagaragesale@gmail.com. If you’re looking to buy, visit http://occainfo.org/2018-garage-sale-items/ to see what we currently have! 

Invasive Species Spotlight: Hunting the Emerald Ash Borer 

Wednesday, May 13, 12-1pm 

The emerald ash borer is eating its way through New York’s forests and also threatens  ash trees of our streets, parks, lawns and gardens. In this month’s Invasive Species Spotlight, OCCA Program Director, Jeff O’Handley will show you how to identify ash trees on your property, find signs of emerald ash borer infestation, and discuss what to do if you find it. Register for this free Zoom event here.  

OCCA Webinar: The Power of Planning, During and after the Pandemic 
Wednesday, May 20, 1-2pm 

The COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to fundamentally change how our communities are planned for in the future. Communities will have to learn to adapt current planning practices such as holding public meetings, amending zoning codes, and developing comprehensive plans to post-pandemic standards. Join OCCA Environmental Planner, Danny Lapin, AICP to learn how planning can be used as a tool to help communities adapt to a post-COVID-19 world. Sign Up Here!



 
In Case You Missed It !!

COVID-19 forced the cancellation of Earth Festival as an in-person event, but we carried on with a series of online webinars. If you couldn’t make it when the events ran live, don’t worry! All Earth Festival events – and more – are available at our YouTube page. We’ll be adding more content, as well. Subscribe to get notifications of new postings. Click on the title to watch the replay!

Reducing Energy Webinar. Representatives from Heat Smart Otsego and Delaware River Solar present a variety of ways to save energy in your home.

Coffee Talk: Reducing Solid Waste. OCCA Executive Director, Amy Wyant hosts this chat with local officials and business representatives sharing tips on how to reduce our output of solid waste and how to keep recycling during a pandemic.

Reducing Food Waste and Grocery Bills. This dinner hour program will include tips on how to reduce food waste through proper planning and storage, and through creative use of leftovers and odd parts.  It ask includes a kitchen demo from The Fingerless Kitchen!

Earth Day: The Bigger Picture. In partnership with the Choose Clean Water Coalition, we’ll cover a variety of topics related to our place in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. In addition, we’ll highlight digital Earth Day events happening all over the globe for you to participate in!

Recycle Right! 

With more people at home due to the pandemic, more residential waste is being generated, putting strain on some waste and recycling collection programs. Please consider holding off on any large spring cleaning projects, or focus on small home organizing projects with cleanouts in stages. And when visiting the transfer stations, please protect transfer station employees, your fellow recyclers and yourself by wearing a mask and following social distancing guidelines.  

Did You Know? 

June 7-13 is New York State’s 7th Annual Invasive Species Awareness Week (ISAW). The purpose of ISAW is to promote knowledge and awareness of invasive species and the harm they can cause by engaging in a wide range of activities across the state. OCCA is planning several activities for this week. We’re hoping the situation with COVID-19 will allow us to meet face-to-face; in the event we can’t, we will provide web-based options. Watch our website (occainfo.org) for details, and visit New York Invasive Species Awareness Week’s website (https://nyisaw.org/) for other programs. 



Save the Date — Note, all programs are at the mercy of COVID-19 and are subject to change 
“Paddle and Pull – Goodyear Lake” – June 7, 9am 
“Aquatic Invasive Species Spread Prevention Demonstration” – June 7, 1pm 
“Invasive Species Spotlight—Aquatics” – June 10, noon (webinar) 
“Paddle and Pull – Silver Lake” – June 13, 10am 
“Butternut Creek Fun Paddle” – June 14, 10am-noonish. Free, registration required 

(COOPERSTOWN) – Gilbertsville-Mount Upton Elementary and Morris Middle/High Schools were the top recyclers of film plastic in this year’s Otsego County Plastic Film Recycling Challenge. Students from eight schools participated in this year’s challenge, which was sponsored by the Otsego County Solid Waste Department and Otsego County Conservation Association.

“Even though the state has had a plastic bag recycling law since 2009, we find that many people are still unaware of it,” said Otsego County Recycling Coordinator, Shane Digan. “The challenge is a good way to raise awareness of this, and to keep film plastics out of the main recycling stream.”

Students in Gilbertsville-Mount Upton Elementary School collected a total of 786.8 pounds of bags and film plastic, equal to 3.9 pounds per student. At Morris, students in the middle/high school gathered 246.8 pounds, or 1.6 pounds per student.

“The kids did a great job taking this message home to their parents and community,” said Jeff O’Handley, OCCA’s program director. “We hope they will continue recycling now that the competition is over.”

Schools were recruited in October and early November, Digan said. The challenge officially begain on November 15, 2019, which is America Recycles Day. The challenge was scheduled to run until mid-April, but was cut short due to COVID-19.

In addition to Morris and Gilbertsville-Mount Upton, participating schools included Greater Plains Elementary School in Oneonta, Worcester and Richfield Springs.

“We had some really great participation,” Digan said. “All eight schools collectively recycled more than 3300 pounds of film plastics that would either go to the landfill or clog up machinery at recycling centers.”

Schools used innovative techniques to maximize collections. Students at Worcester Central School created a monster that was placed at the main entrance to remind everyone to bring in their plastic. Other schools used competitions between classes, as well as peer-to-peer teaching to increase participation.

“My environmental science students do presentations in grades Pre-k through 8th grade classrooms, as well as posting updated weights on a poster in the lobby and Facebook posts.  We have had a ton of community turn out the last two years!” said Heather Grant from Morris.

Some schools even had their own mini competition. “We had a challenge that was supported by our PTO,” said Nancy Osborn of Greater Plains Elementary School. “The winning grade level would win either a pizza party or ice-cream party. Students were excited about which class was ‘winning.’”

Richfield Springs worked the recycling challenge into their school theme, “Our school theme is kindness,” said Lisa Trask. “We built off this theme and told kids how long it takes plastic to break down in the earth. When they brought plastic in they were given a kindness coin or purple ticket.”

Under state law, stores of a certain size are required to collect bags and film plastics and send it to a recycler. The material includes plastic grocery bags, dry cleaning and newspaper bags, package overwrap, wood pellet bags and more. A list of items that can be taken to stores can be found at http://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/50042.html.

Digan stated that it was important for people to be aware that these recycling programs are still going on. “With the pandemic, we’ve seen many stores shift temporarily back to single use plastic bags. We want people to know there’s still a way for them to recycle bags and film plastic.”

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April 2, 2020:  Vol. 14, No. 4

Due to the ongoing situation with COVID-19, we regret to say that Earth Festival as an in-person event has been cancelled. We’re very disappointed, as Earth Festival is an event we look forward to all year, but the health and safety our community is paramount. We eagerly anticipate seeing all of our friends at Earth Festival in 2021!

Just because we can’t hold a traditional Earth Festival doesn’t mean we can’t hold an Earth Festival. We are pleased to announce that this year’s Earth Festival will be a series of online events taking place over several days. Digital Earth Festival will include webinars, “coffee talks”, demonstrations, and a scavenger hunt, built around this year’s Earth Festival theme: Reduce. Below is the current schedule and we are adding new things all the time! All activities are free.

April 17, 7:30pm: Slogs Through Bogs: Beauty, Loss, and Preservation. Join local botanist (and OCCA Board Member) Dr. Donna Vogler for this exploration of the fascinating world of bogs. This is a program offered by Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society. Details and registration information will be available at www.doas.us.

April 18, 2pm: Reducing Energy Webinar. Representatives from Heat Smart Otsego and Delaware River Solar present a variety of ways to save energy in your home.

April 19, 10:30am: Coffee Talk: Reducing Solid Waste. OCCA Executive Director, Amy Wyant hosts this chat with local officials and business representatives sharing tips on how to reduce our output of solid waste and how to keep recycling during a pandemic.

April 20, 6pm: Reducing Food Waste and Grocery Bills. This dinner hour program will include tips on composting, vermicomposting (i.e., using worms to compost food waste), and how to reduce food waste through proper planning and storage, and through creative use of leftovers and odd parts.

April 21, Get Outside: Reduce Your Stress Scavenger Hunt. Enjoy the outdoors (safely) in this all-day digital scavenger hunt. Details still to come.

April 22, 10am: 
Earth Day: The Bigger Picture. In partnership with the Choose Clean Water Coalition and the Upper Susquehanna Coalition, we’ll cover a variety of topics related to our place in the Chesapeake Bay Watershed. In addition, we’ll highlight digital Earth Day events happening all over the globe for you to participate in!

Visit occainfo.org/earth-festival for details on how to register! All programs are free and open to all.

Heat Smart Otsego Lunchtime Webinars
Every Thursday through April 30
Noon to 1pm

Join Heat Smart Otsego Campaign Director Bennett Sandler from the comfort of your home for an introduction to clean heating and cooling options for your home or business. Learn how air source heat pumps, geothermal, pellet stoves and wood gasification boilers can replace your old fossil fuel heating system, save you money, and make your home more comfortable. Register in advance for the program here: https://zoom.us/meeting/register/upcrcuqtqjssj_5RCnsWLmKyqSGeEQ5XlA

Bennett will also have virtual office hours to answer your clean heating and cooling questions every Tuesday and Thursday from 1-2pm. Visit Heat Smart Otsego for details.

Invaders from…Earth??? Invasive Species Dos and Don’ts
April 8
11am-noon

OCCA Program Director Jeff O’Handley provides an overview of invasive species impacting the our lands and waters. The program will include tips on identifying some common species found in the area, some species of concern that may or may not already be here, and dos and don’ts for helping prevent their spread. This program will take place using Zoom conferencing software. Follow this link to register (it’s free!). 

Introduction to SEQR: Part 2
April 14th
2-3pm

Our Environmental Planner, Danny Lapin will be hosting the second free webinar in his Introduction to SEQR program.  This session will be focusing on notable court decisions related to SEQRA and how these shaped environmental review in New York. Click here to register.

Did you miss Part 1?  No worries: The video will be on our website soon!

Spending time outdoors

In this stressful time, it may be more important than ever to get outside and enjoy nature. We are fortunate here in the Otsego County region to have a wealth of accessible lands and waters, and we encourage you to take advantage of them as often as possible. However, it is important to do so responsibly. Before setting out, be sure to consult with your local, state, or federal guidelines and follow them carefully. Keep in mind that while state parks and forests are still open, their support facilities (restrooms, concessions, visitor centers) are not, so plan accordingly. Only travel with members of your household, and maintain a minium of six feet between you and anyone else. While you’re out, remember to leave nothing but footprints…..

 April 21: The Hidden Tower walk, 10am-noon, Clark Tower Property, Beaver Meadow Rd, Cooperstown–This program has been cancelled.

May 9: Early Morning Birds, 7am-9am, Mohican Farm, Springfield–This program has been postponed. Watch our website for a new date!

June 14: Butternut Creek Fun Paddle.

 Due to the ongoing situation with coronavirus and COVID-19, Otsego County Conservation Association will be taking the annual Earth Festival online, organizers said. The event, originally scheduled for April 18, will instead be a five-day event taking place online. In its fifteenth year, Earth Festival is an event showcasing environmentally-themed organizations and businesses. 

Amy Wyant, Executive Director of OCCA, said, “We wanted to find a way to help people celebrate the earth, learn about new earth-focused groups and products and connect with like-minded people. Since we can’t gather in person, we decided to make Earth Festival 2020 a 5-day Digital Environmentally focused summit.“ 

The new event will include informational webinars, digital “coffee talks” and demonstrations, and a scavenger hunt. Activities will be focused around Earth Festival’s 2020 theme, ‘Reduce’ and will include tips on reducing home energy use, solid waste, food bills — even stress. 

“In this time of social distancing, it’s important to find ways to connect with one another and with the passions we hold dear to our hearts,” Wyant said. “We hope this format for Earth Festival will help people do that.” 

Much as the traditional Earth Festival begins with a bird walk led by Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society, DOAS kicks off Digital Earth Festival with a web presentation by local botanist and OCCA board member, Dr. Donna Vogler. Slogs Through Bogs: Beauty, Loss, and Preservation features the beautiful and diverse life found in local bogs. This program will take place online on Friday, April 17 at 7:30 pm. Details on how to participate will be available on www.doas.us

Energy takes center stage on April 18 at as representatives from Heat Smart Otsego, Delaware River Solar and Community Energy Engagement present a variety of ways to save energy in your home.   

April 19 kicks off with a digital Coffee Talk featuring interviews with solid waste professionals and advocates who demonstrate a variety of interesting ways to reduce household solid waste.  

Reducing food bills and food waste will be the subject for April 20.  We will include presentations on gardening, vermicomposting and digital demonstrations on how to prepare simple homemade delights that will help reduce your food bill and waste. 

April 21 is Get Outside Day, an all-day digital scavenger hunt that will help reduce stress through outdoor activities. All activities on the list will allow participants to maintain social distancing but get back in touch with nature.  There will be multiple ways to participate, so don’t worry if you do not have a particular social media account.     

Finally, on April 22, Earth Day itself is “Earth Day: The Bigger Picture”, an all-day digital event of local, regional, country and world-wide informational sessions to keep people informed of global activities and issues. 

Does your environmentally focused group or business want to be part of one of our digital programs?  Contact OCCA Director, Amy Wyant at director@occainfo.org or by calling 607-547-4488 for more information. 

We hope you join us for one or more of these great events!  To pre-register for one or more of these events, please visit our website:   occainfo.org/earth-festival 

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, advocacy, resource management, research, planning and practice. For more information on OCCA, or to donate, visit www.occainfo.org

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As our lives continue to change rapidly in response to COVID-19, we wanted to update you on things here at the Otsego County Conservation Association.
 
As of right now, we have closed the office to visitors and will be working from home until further notice.  We are in the process of forwarding our telephones but until that time, we are checking messages regularly and will get back to you as soon as we can.

Here is what is happening with our upcoming events:  

  • April 21st: The Hidden Tower Nature Walk offered in conjunction with Adirondack Mountain Club is cancelled. We fully expect to do another walk with ADK in the future and will let you know when that is.
  • May 9th: Early Morning Birds: After consulting with trip leader, Becky Gretton, we have decided to postpone this until late May or early June at the latest, depending on the overall situation. Watch our calendar and EcoBulletins for updates.
  • June 14th: Butternut Creek Fun Paddle: As of now, this program is still on schedule! Register early (it’s free), especially if you will need to reserve space in one of our canoes.
  • June 7-13: Invasive Species Awareness Week: There are several programs in the planning stages set for Invasive Species Awareness Week that have not yet made it to our calendar—as of now, these programs will take place as planned. Watch for updates on our website and in the Ecobulletin.

Earth Festival Update: 
As you know, Earth Festival is scheduled for April 18th. Sadly, with the current situation, we will be unable to have Earth Festival in our traditional way as an IN-PERSON group event. We are extremely disappointed to have to cancel the in-person event; however, the Earth Festival planning committee is putting on their thinking caps and is working hard to bring us together digitally, for earth-centered information and learning about local resources, vendors and services in our area.  If you have already signed up to be a vendor or exhibitor, we will be reaching out to you very soon. More to come on this event in the near future.
 
We have also been working on some great ONLINE information that is free to anyone and is full of great information:
 
Here are some of upcoming webinars and online events in the near future:

Heat Smart Otsego goes online!

Join us from the comfort of your home on Thursday, March 26 for a lunchtime Introduction to Clean Heating and Cooling for your home and business.  The presentation will be hosted by Bennett Sandler, Campaign Director for Heat Smart Otsego.  His presentation includes a description of each technology, real world savings data from local installations, a current list of incentives available to purchase these systems, and where to find local installers.  This program will repeat each Thursday between March 26th and April 30th from noon to 1:00 pm using Zoom video conferencing software.  The presentation is free, but registration is required.  Register at https://tinyurl.com/v7m45fa

Campaign Director Bennett Sandler will also be available to speak with you about clean heating and cooling for your home or business during new, online office hours.  Call in or login for one-on-one time with Bennett to talk about renewable energy systems, energy audits, efficiency upgrades, occupant comfort, and energy savings! Digital Office Hours will be every Tuesday and Thursday from 1:00 pm – 2:00 pm starting next Tuesday, March 24 and continuing until the end of April.  Contact Bennett at (607) 435-1364 or register for an online appointment at https://tinyurl.com/rw9hbak

Municipal Planning Webinars:

Join our Environmental Planner, AICP, Danny Lapin for an online “Intro to SEQR: Where to Start” program.

Come learn what municipal leaders need to know about the State Environmental Quality Review Act. This is an interactive learning experience, and you will be able to ask questions and participate in discussion.

Please pre-register in advance:
 April 1, 2020 02:00 PM (EST): Register Here 

April 14, 2020 02:00 PM (EST): Register Here 

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

Environmental Education Webinars:

Invasive Species Do’s and Don’ts:  Join our program manager, Jeff O’Handley for an educational webinar on identifying and removing common invasive species of our region.

Please pre-register in advance:
April 8, 2020 11:00 AM (EST) Register Here
After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the meeting.

More Online programming to come in our next Eco-Bulletin.  Keep an eye out for information on Earth Festival, our online Earth Day Celebration and much more.

As we are all trying to keep our social distance, remember it does not mean we have to distance ourselves from nature.  Stay Healthy! 

(COOPERSTOWN) – The Fifteenth Annual Earth Festival is fast approaching, and spaces are still available for vendors/exhibitors. Founded in 2006, Earth Festival is a gathering of Otsego County’s environmental community for a day-long celebration that features exhibits, workshops, and products with an environmental theme. The event takes place on Saturday, April 18, from 11am to 3pm at Milford Central School. Last year’s event featured more than 40 exhibitors and vendors.

“Earth Festival is a great opportunity for organizations and businesses to get the word out about their work or products to hundreds of people in a single day,” said Jeff O’Handley, OCCA’s program director.

Confirmed exhibitors and vendors this year include Otsego County Conservation Association, Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society, CCE Master Gardeners, CRISP Watershed Steward Program and Otsego ReUse Center. Vendors include local businesses such as Granola Girl Beeswax Food Wraps, Hare & Feather Farm, and United Methodist Women of First UMC Oneonta.

In addition to the vendor and information fair, Earth Festival features activities such as a morning bird walk led by Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society, a community clothing swap, the EcoArt contest, and recycling of Styrofoam, glass and ceramics, paper shredding and more.

For information about the event, including how to apply to be a vendor or exhibitor, or how to sponsor the event, visit www.occainfo.org/earth-festival or call OCCA at (607) 547-4488.

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, advocacy, resource management, research, planning and practice. For more information on OCCA, or to donate, visit www.occainfo.org.

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ANNOUNCEMENTS

The ‘Bag Ban’ Is Here!

Effective March 1, most stores are no longer be able to provide single use plastic bags at the checkout counter. This law was enacted to help reduce waste and pollution associated with plastic bags. There are a lot of questions people have about this law, and it’s too complicated to be easily summarized here. Visit the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation at https://www.dec.ny.gov/chemical/50034.html for full information.

While paper bags are allowed and will be offered at many stores, note that paper bags pose their own problems. The manufacturing of paper bags requires a lot of water, energy, and polluting chemicals. Since they are heavier and take up more space than plastic bags, paper bags also cost more in terms of fuel and carbon emissions to ship to stores. The best bet? Pack your bags! Bring your own bags with you to the store. Any store! Otsego County Solid Waste Department currently has a limited supply of reusable cloth bags available, free of charge. Contact Recycling Coordinator Shane Digan at (607) 547-4225 for information on how to get one. OCCA will also have a limited supply of sturdy, attractive tote bags made from used pet food bags at Earth Festival in April, if you can wait a little longer, and most retailers have reusable bags available for low cost.

Finally, stores that were required to collect plastic bags and film plastic before the ban are still required to do so! Visit https://www.plasticfilmrecycling.org/ and search by ZIP code to find a drop off location near you!

Earth Festival—Call for Exhibitors/Vendors and Sponsorships

What do food co-ops, beeswax food wax makers, and solar energy companies have in common? They’ll all be exhibiting at Earth Festival! Planning is underway for the 15th annual event, a fun, family-friendly gathering of environmentally-oriented organizations, individuals and business. If you would like to showcase your products, services or information at this year’s Earth Festival, visit occainfo.org/Earth-Festival for more information or click the button below to apply. Earth Festival will be held on Saturday, April 18 from 11am to 3pm at Milford Central School, and will include favorite activities such as the pre-event bird walk, free paper shredding and recycling of other items; the EcoArt contest; and the clothing swap. Table space is limited, don’t delay!

Solar Energy Workshop

March 7, 8:30am-3pm, Herkimer College

Solar Energy and the Future of Farming in the Mohawk Valley brings together experienced renewable energy professionals in the fields of energy economics, land use planning, leasing law and dual use agricultural practices to give area residents the tools to make informed choices about solar energy development in their communities. This workshop will help farmers, land owners and municipal officials plan for the development of large (2-5MW) and utility scale solar installations in the Mohawk Valley. Attendees will learn about the best practices in working with solar developers, how farmers are creating new opportunities through hosting solar installations on their land, and will have the opportunity to ask questions about land leasing terms and conditions, alternative strategies and municipal impacts. Workshop is free and open to the public by prior registration. To register, please call (315) 866-7920 or visit http://bit.ly/SolarEnergyFutureMV . For more information, contact Garet D. Livermore at the above number, or by email: gdl56@cornell.edu. Workshop is sponsored by OCCA, Mohawk Valley Economic Development District, Herkimer College and Cornell Cooperative Extension—Herkimer County.

SAVE THE DATE

April 18: Earth Festival, 11am-3pm, Milford Central School, Milford
 
April 21: The Hidden Tower walk, 10am-noon, Clark Tower Property, Beaver Meadow Rd, Cooperstown
 
May 9: Early Morning Birds, 7am-9am, Mohican Farm, Springfield