ECO-BULLETIN Vol. 15, No. 17 -December 15, 2021

As we enter the season of giving, make sure you’re reducing your contribution to landfills by reducing your waste, being a mindful consumer, reusing or gifting what you can, and recycling items appropriately. 

Holiday Lights Recycling
Holiday lights aren’t just a headache to hang on a tree or around your windows, they’re a headache to dispose of, too. unfortunately, our municipal and curbside recycling programs aren’t equipped to collect and recycle broken light strings, but there are options available.
HolidayLEDS (Shop Bright LED Christmas Lights | Holiday LEDS) and Christmas Light Source (Christmas Light Source) both have mail-in recycling programs. You have to pay the costs of shipping (they recommend the slowest, cheapest way), but in exchange they will send you coupons for discounts on new lights purchased through them. Closer to home, the Central New York Veteran’s Outreach Center in Utica accepts Christmas lights for recycling year-round. Proceeds from recycling helps to provide services for veterans and their families, so this is a great way to support our veterans and help the environment! You can drop off your lights CNY Veteran’s Outreach Center, 726 Washington Street, Utica. Finally, Lowes in Oneonta is also collecting Christmas lights for recycling. This is usually a short-term collection that does not extend far past Christmas. Contact the store for confirmation before bringing lights.

This year, think of reducing your waste in the first place by gifting experiences, or low-to-no waste gifts for your loved ones. 

We are looking for your feedback! Please use the QR code above or follow this link to access the survey. Thank you!
OCCA Annual Report Survey

School Film Plastic Recycling Challenge 

After a COVID-induced hiatus, the Otsego County Schools Plastic Film Recycling Challenge is back and underway! Co-sponsored by OCCA, the Otsego County Department of Solid Waste, and Casella, schools are competing against each other to collect and recycle the most plastic film collected from their communities. The challenge opened in November and runs through April 15, so it’s not too late! For more details or to join, visit the Otsego County Department of Solid Waste, or call Recycling Coordinator, Shane Digan at (607) 547-4256. 

First Day Hikes: Is there a better way to start the New Year than with a hike in one of our many beautiful parks or preserves? The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation and the Department of Environmental Conservation are once again teaming up to promote First Day hikes throughout the state. Walks are designed to be family-friendly and are typically one to five miles long. To find a First Day Hike event, visit Locally, there are events planned for Gilbert Lake State Park at 9am, Texas Schoolhouse State Forest at 9am (for details, contact Forest Ranger, Erin Pettit at (315) 778-41107), and a self-guided option at Glimmerglass State Park, opening at 10am. Start the year off right!
OCCA’s first hike of 2022 is “A Winter Walk” scheduled for January 17, 2022 at Robert V. Riddell State Park, from 10-11:30am. We’ll follow the relatively easy and flat Tree Identification Trail (~1.5 miles) and enjoy fresh air and the winter landscape. Meet at the parking area on NY-28 just north of I-88 Exit 17. Suitable for all ages. Program is free but pre-registration is required. Visit for details.

(Photograph by Devin Merkley, Mohican Farm)

Hemlock Woolly Adelgid in Otsego County Earlier this year, an infestation of hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) was found in the Oneonta area, the first new detection for Otsego County in nearly a decade. HWA is active throughout the winter months and is a highly destructive insect, capable of wiping out large stands of ecologically important eastern hemlock trees in a fairly short time. Last week, another new HWA infestation was found in the vicinity of Cooperstown along Otsego Lake. While you are out on your winter activities, please take some time to stop and examine eastern hemlock trees that you encounter. HWA is a tiny, invasive insect that produces white, woolly masses that look like small cotton balls and are easily visible on hemlock twigs near the base of the needles. 

If you believe you have found HWA, please take pictures of the branches that clearly show the infestation, make detailed notes of where you found it, and report it in one of the following ways:

1. Use iMapInvasives (this requires a free account and is best done using their mobile app).
2. Use this form to send your report to the New York State Hemlock Initiative.
3. Call the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Forest Pest Information Line (1-866-640-0652) or email a clear photo showing the infestation along with specific location details to

Visit The New York State Hemlock Initiative for some great resources to help you identify hemlocks and hemlock woolly adelgid and keep an eye out here for ways you can get involved to help determine the full extent of Otsego County’s HWA problem.

Shop for Eco-friendly gifts this holiday season. 
40% of the proceeds go to OCCA!

Choose from all new, awesome experiences like The Art of Chocolate Making Cooking Class
Italian Pasta Making Class, or Meet a Shark Scientist and Conservationist.
Boon Supply is also stocked with gift options like re-usable snack bags, dryer balls,
home storage and shopping bags, and even beauty products for all of those on your list!

OCCA Giving Tuesday | Boon Supply

Otsego Outdoors
Fall Octet Challenge 

Through December 21, 2021

Fall is a great time to get out and explore Otsego County’s hiking trails, bike routes, waterways, villages, and towns. See our list of Fall Octet activities, which includes some favorites as well as some new to Otsego Outdoors! Complete 8 of the 20 featured activities, and you can earn the Fall edition of the Otsego Outdoors patch! Remember, wear blaze orange or other bright colors while hiking.

For information and a registration form, visit Fall Challenge – Otsego Outdoors

Community Resilience 
OCCA continues to serve part of the Clean Energy Communities and Climate Smart Communities team for the Mohawk Valley.  If you are interested in how to get your community involved in Clean Energy, Climate Resiliency and planning for the future then contact Amy today to see how to get started! or call at 607-547-4488 

Garage Sale (ongoing)
As part of OCCA’s mission to reduce our carbon footprint we will be holding our traditional “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle Garage Sale” digitally.  You will still have the benefit of donating items to OCCA, getting some GREAT deals, and knowing that you are keeping things out of the landfill.
If you are interested in any of the items we have listed OR if you have items to donate, please email us.
Garage Sale Items – OCCA – Otsego County Conservation Association (

How You Can Help Protect Our Local Environment

Donations provide the foundation for our work throughout Otsego County. By becoming a supporter of OCCA, you become a part of a unique countywide environmental organization whose mission is to protect local natural resources for the benefit of all. 


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© 2021  Otsego County Conservation Association
7207 State Highway 80, PO Box 931 • Cooperstown, NY  13326
(607) 547-4488