ECO-BULLETIN FROM OTSEGO COUNTY CONSERVATION ASSOCIATION
May 2, 2014: Vol. 7, No. 6
Eco-bulletin headlines this issue:
OCCA SEEKS VOLUNTEERS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECTS
DINING TO DONATE EVENT IS NEXT MONDAY
SIXTH BIKE TO WORK DAY SET FOR MAY 21
SURVEY KICKS OFF FARM PLAN REVISION PROCESS
BOAT STEWARD, ANGLER INSPECTION TRAINING AVAILABLE
OCCA TO EXHIBIT AT ROTARY’S SPRING FLING
SALE WILL BENEFIT SCHOOL TO BE BUILT OUT OF REPURPOSED TRASH
SAVE THE DATE: OTSEGO LAKES FESTIVAL
OTHER UPCOMING EVENTS
OCCA SEEKS VOLUNTEERS FOR ENVIRONMENTAL PROJECTS:Otsego County Conservation Association is seeking volunteer help for several environmental projects in the coming weeks. First up is a trail maintenance day at Basswood Pond State Forest in Burlington onMay 3 at 10 a.m.
Jeff O’Handley, OCCA’s program director, said the maintenance is needed to help restore trails after a difficult winter.
“We’ll be clearing some overgrowth, moving downed logs, replacing trail markers, and repairing a section of damaged boardwalk on one of the trails. Nothing too strenuous,” explained O’Handley.
Volunteers must pre-register, O’Handley said. “Not only do we need to know how many hands we’ll have for the day, the Department of Environmental Conservation requires that all volunteers have a form on file in advance. You can get a form by calling our office, or by downloading an individual volunteer application from DEC’s website.”
OCCA has been the steward for Basswood Pond State Forest since 2012, under a DEC program that seeks to help preserve, maintain and enhance the lands under its care through public participation. OCCA’s stewardship agreement was recently renewed for five more years.
“This is our first time out this year,” O’Handley said. “We expect to schedule a few days later in the summer as well, depending on how much additional work is needed.”
In addition to the project in Basswood Pond State Forest, OCCA is looking for volunteers to help with a clean-up of State Highway 80 in Springfield on Saturday, May 17. Volunteers will meet at OCCA’s office at Mohican Farm, on the corner of State Highway 80 and Allen Lake Road at 9 a.m.
“A fair amount of trash has been uncovered by the melting snow,” O’Handley said. “Garbage is ugly, and also a potential environmental hazard that can end up in Otsego Lake.”
The Adopt-A-Highway program is administered by the New York State Department of Transportation.
“DOT provides bags, rubber gloves, and safety vests and helmets,” O’Handley said. “OCCA will provide refreshments and water. All told, it should take us about three hours to cover our stretch of road.” Round trip, volunteers will cover four miles, O’Handley said. “One of the nice things about the highway clean-up is you can see the difference right away. It’s very rewarding,” he added.
To register, call OCCA at (607) 282-4087, or e-mail O’Handley email@example.com.
DINING TO DONATE EVENT IS NEXT MONDAY: Join the Otsego County Conservation Association from 11 a.m. to 12 a.m. on Monday, May 5 at Applebee’s® in Oneonta and Dine to Donate. This is a fund-raising benefit and 10% of your check (excluding tax and tip) will be donated to OCCA in support of its mission to promote the appreciation and sustainable use of Otsego County’s natural resources through education, advocacy, resource management, research, and planning. To qualify, you need a Dining to Donate voucher for each of your family and friends. These will be available at the annual OCCA “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” Garage Sale onSaturday, April 26 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and on Sunday, April 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Cooperstown Farmers’ Market building, Pioneer Alley in Cooperstown. Vouchers are available as well at OCCA’s main office, 7193 State Highway 80, Cooperstown (Mohican Farm, corner of Allen Lake Road, 547-4488) or the satellite office at 101 Main Street in Pioneer Alley next to the farmers’ market (547-4020). Dining to Donate vouchers may also be obtained at Otsego Bicycles, 74 Water Street, Oneonta (see owner Ed Lorenz, 432-1731). Mark your calendar for OCCA’s Dining to Donate event on May 5 at Applebee’s®. “Eatin’ Here is Good for the Neighborhood” and you’ll be benefiting OCCA, www.occainfo.org.
SIXTH BIKE TO WORK DAY SET FOR MAY 21: The Sixth Annual Bike to Work Day for Otsego County will be held on Wednesday, May 21with check-in sites at more than 20 locations countywide. For the second year, organizers of the event – Otsego Regional Cycling Advocates, a committee of OCCA – have joined forces with the National Bike Challenge, presented by the League of American Bicyclists. This year, the National Bike Challenge goal is to have 50,000 riders nationwide pedaling 30 million miles from May 1 until September 30. Every time challenge participants get on their bikes, their miles count toward that goal. Whether for fitness, fun, or transportation, or whether riding as an individual or in a team, Otsego County bicyclists are invited to join and log miles onnationalbikechallenge.org and should look for “Otsego Regional Cycling Advocates Bike Challenge” to sign up as part of the local effort. Miles pedaled on a stationary bike or trainer do not count. The aim of Bike to Work Day is to encourage people to choose an alternative “green” mode of transportation – biking, walking or even skateboarding – to get to work or school, to run errands, or just for fun on May 21 in particular and as a lifestyle choice in general. Those wishing to learn more about Bike to Work Day or to register as a check-in location should contact Martha Clarvoe at the OCCA satellite office in Cooperstown, (607) 547-4020, or via e-mail,firstname.lastname@example.org.
SURVEY KICKS OFF FARM PLAN REVISION PROCESS: Updating of the Otsego County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Plan will begin in 2014 and farmer involvement via a survey distributed in April to Otsego County farmers is critical. The original plan, adopted in January 1999, was designed to protect, preserve, and enhance farming in the county, and to ensure that Otsego County remains home to productive agriculture in the future.
“Direct involvement of the farming community is very important. It has to be a bottom-up process, and farmers have to have a real voice,” said Scott Fickbohm, manager for the Otsego County Soil and Water Conservation District, adding, “We’d like to invite farmers, local food industry and those representing agricultural organizations to participate in the process. We appreciate how busy farmers are and that they have already filled out a few other surveys lately, but the county-wide survey that was just sent out will provide the local perspective by reflecting local issues.”
Fickbohm, who serves as project lead, pointed out that from 1997-2007, the county lost 31,000 acres of farmland and 44 percent of its cow population between 1997 and 2010.
“If agriculture in Otsego County is to be among the driving forces of our local economy and remain an important feature in our landscape, then additional efforts have to be made,” said Rebecca Morgan, director of the Center for Agricultural Development and Entrepreneurship and the lead on economic development. Morgan added, “We think this is timely and believe that the update will fit in nicely with other economic development activities taking place in the county and throughout the state right now.”
The current strategy outlines seven goals: 1) improve awareness and recognition of the importance of the economic and environmental roles of agriculture ; 2) improve profitability and the economic viability of farms and encourage new farming and agriculturally-related enterprises; 3) ensure that farming can continue as an industry and strengthen the role of agriculture in Otsego County’s economic development; 4) implement long term, cost effective farmland protection measures; 5) ensure and improve sustainability of the agricultural infrastructure that supports farming; 6) enhance farm-transfer programs so that needs of retiring and new farm operators are; and 7) sustain the rural landscape and the natural resources that support both farm and non-farm uses.
“Many of the goals in the current plan are still very worthwhile, but after a while most strategies are due for an update,” said Chris Harmon, local beef farmer, member of the county’s Farmland and Protection Board, and Town of Milford supervisor, adding, “The revised plan will probably include many of the current long-term goals, but it has to be updated with short-term actions that take advantage of today’s economic and agricultural trends and opportunities.”
The grant funding for this initiative is being administered on behalf of the Otsego County Agricultural and Farmland Protection Board by the County Planning Department and in partnership with local agricultural agencies. Currently, local agencies and officials concerned with farming in the county are meeting to discuss the update process.
Upcoming actions for updating the plan include: review of 2012 USDA agricultural census data; interviews with county farmers and agri-business operators; map revisions; local inter-municipal reviews; farmer forums; and engagement of local municipalities as well as the development and updating of strategies to address the key issues facing agriculture in the county today.
This effort is made possible with funding from the Department of Agriculture and Markets, a donation by The Scriven Foundation, and a local match provided by working group participants including OCCA. For more information or to request a survey, contact Scott Fickbohm, Otsego County SWCD, at (607) 547 8337, ext 4.
BOAT STEWARD, ANGLER INSPECTION TRAINING AVAILABLE:SUNY Oneonta has contracted with The Catskill Center for Conservation & Development to provide boat steward and angler inspection training for lake associations and other interested groups. To provide this training, Watershed Steward Program Coordinator Paul Lord is contractually obligated to enter into a “Memorandum of Understanding.” Funding for this training is provided by the Catskill Center for Conservation & Development. This incurs no direct expense to your organization. Participant organizations agree to:
- Make your watershed stewards available for one day’s training at a site mutually convenient to your watershed program and the WSPC.
- Inform the WSPC of planned watershed steward hours as you schedule them.
- Coordinate, before May 26, with the WSPC to ensure the water access data collection form meets the requirements of your participating watershed program and the WSPC.
- Collect waterbody access data required by the NYS Watershed Stewards Program’s coordinating group and submit it to the WSPC every three weeks while watershed stewards work at access sites.
- Allow WSPC access to the watershed stewards while they work at their waterbody access sites.
- Allow WSPC access to the leader of your participating watershed steward program to discuss observations and to facilitate WSP improvements.
For more information, contact WSPC Lord at email@example.com (607) 435-4989.
OCCA TO EXHIBIT AT ROTARY’S SPRING FLING: OCCA will be among the local community groups, vendors of food, drink, and arts and crafts, and area businesses to share the spotlight as Railroad Avenue is transformed on Saturday, May 17 for the Rotary Club of Cooperstown’s first-ever Spring Fling Street Fair. Merchants, artists, farmers, craftspeople and non-profit organizations are invited to participate in this community-building event. Live music and a silent auction will also be featured during this celebration of spring. For more information on craft, business and non-profit vending, contact Karen Katz at firstname.lastname@example.org or (607) 434-3418. Food vendors with trucks or trailers, or those wishing to learn more about the silent auction, should contact Melanie Boyer email@example.com or (607) 547-2555, ext. 250. Rotary International’s main objective is service – in the community, in the workplace, and around the globe. The Rotary Club of Cooperstown was founded in 1924. To learn more about the Spring Fling Street Fair, visit: http://occainfo.org/documents/SpringFlingInvite.pdf.
SALE WILL BENEFIT SCHOOL TO BE BUILT OUT OF REPURPOSED TRASH: A garage sale will be held at 26 Elm Street, Cooperstown onSaturday, May 10 to benefit the nonprofit organization Long Way Home. Working with a community in rural Guatemala, Long Way Home is constructing an education center using repurposed garbage – including tires and plastic waste – while implementing an environmental education curriculum and teaching people in the community about environmental stewardship. To learn more about Long Way Home, visit www.lwhome.org.
SAVE THE DATE: The seventh Otsego Lakes Festival will be held this year on Saturday, July 12 at Lakefront Park in Cooperstown fromnoon to 5 p.m. Organized under the aegis of the Otsego County Water Quality Coordinating Committee, the Lakes Festival offers residents and visitors alike a day full of fun and festivities celebrating our lakes – educational exhibits, children’s activities, hands-on workshops and lake tours will all focus on the importance of protecting our waterways and ensuring water quality throughout our region. OCCA Executive Director Darla M. Youngs serves as WQCC facilitator and on the Lakes Festival Planning Committee. To make a financial contribution toward the Lakes Festival, or to register as an exhibitor or vendor, please contact Youngs at firstname.lastname@example.org or (607) 547-4488.
OTHER UPCOMING OCCA EVENTS:
- May 24: Spring Wildflower Hike at Greenwoods Conservancy. Co-sponsored with Otsego Land Trust.
- June 7: County Line Hike in South Hill State Forest led by OCCA Program Director Jeff O’Handley.
For more information on OCCA-organized volunteer opportunities and hikes, visit http://www.occainfo.org/EnviroEventsCal.htm or e-mail email@example.com.
OCCA RELIES ON YOUR SUPPORT. Got a minute? Visit our website and look at everything OCCA is doing – and please consider an online donation whenever you can. Click on www.occainfo.org and look for the Network for Good logo at the top left of the home page to make a donation today.