Eagles and the Hudson

By Kate Munz, Member Relations Coordinator

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Photo Credit: NYTimes on 5th Annual Eaglefest

In honor of Teatown’s EagleFest, we wanted to highlight the star of the yearly event, the bald eagle.

In the Hudson Valley we are very lucky to share space each season with this majestic, and nationally famous neighbor. While can see bald eagles yearly now, this was not always the case.

Before the 1900s, bald eagle populations in New York were plentiful, as many as 80 nesting sites according to the State Department of Environmental Conservation. But by 1976, only one pair of eaglets remained. Environmental groups citied pesticides, specifically DDT, for the reduced numbers. During that year, the state began its Bald Eagle Restoration Project as an attempt to bring back the population.

Today, approximately 500 bald eagles winter in New York. The eagles migrate to this region, usually arriving in December, as waters freeze in Canada and Nova Scotia. Eagle concentrations peak in January and February; heading back to their nests by mid-March.

We’ve seen the return of our eagles due to clean air and water, ample food supply, and largely undisturbed stands of trees – as these are important elements that support breeding pairs of eagles. It is therefore essential that we maintain this important habitat. Together we can work towards open space preservation and watershed protection.

Learn more about what you can do by visiting this page: http://www.birdday.org/birdday/themes/2012-twenty-years-of-imbd/20-ways-to-conserve-birds

 

Things We LOVE about living in Westchester County

butterflygardenFebruary is the month of love!

We thought it would be fun to highlight just a few of the reasons why we love living and working in Westchester County.

 

1) We have access to over 18,000 acres of public, county-owned parkland where we can hike, picnic, bird watch, and explore with the family. There are also some hidden gems like Cranberry Lake Preserve and Marshlands Conservancy.

2) There is water all around us! We are bordered on the west side by the Hudson River and on the southeast side by the Long Island Sound. These shoreline landscapes provide important habitat for our region’s native species, like the Atlantic Sturgeon.

3) Great family outing opportunities are found all over the county and during all seasons. Join in on the fun with Bicycle Sundays, where you’ll find people of all ages and activity levels bicycling, skating, and pushing strollers up and down Bronx River Parkway. In north-county, at Teatown’s Eaglefest kids, young and old, come out to catch a glimpse of the wintering bald eagles; and scattering throughout the whole county are the nature centers, which offer free, family-friendly environmental education programming.

4) Our elected officials are working hard to address and mitigate against the impending structural and fiscal challenges due to climate change. Our County and Municipal Officials have made themselves accessible by attending local events, holding meetings, and offering insight into current events.

5) A dedicated community of advocates and organizations pushing to keep our environment at the highest quality. Our residents are passionate about where they live and for generations they have protected our Westchester.


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Westchester Signs Climate Smart Community Pledge

Westchester Board of Legislatures to Sign Climate Smart Community Pledge

By Kate Munz, Member Relations Coordinator

thOn December 14th, 2015 a resolution to adopt a Climate Smart Community Pledge in Westchester County passed the legislature with a nearly unanimous, 16 – 1 vote.

The Climate Smart Community Pledge outlines goals for the County to become more energy efficient, climate change resilient, and waste-conscious. This resolution was spearheaded by the legislature’s Environment & Energy (E&E) Committee. The E & E committee “reviews all public policies that affect Westchester County’s energy needs, rate of consumption and cost to taxpayers, and seeking ways to improve how we go about reducing Westchester’s energy needs through public education, proposing legislation or working with the County administration on energy initiatives.

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A Wrap-Up of 2016 County Budget

Blue Mountain ReservationOn December 18th, 2015 the County Executive signed the 2016 County Budget, setting the course for spending this year. Hotly contested, the County Executive’s original proposal for the 2016 budget included deep slashes to many public services, with conservation being one of the biggest targets.

The original proposed plan laid out cuts to 14 positons between the Department of Conservation and Department of Planning, including all of the county park curators and five members of the planning staff; and it reduced support for environmental organizations such as the Greenburgh Nature Center. Additionally, the plan would jeopardize groups offering legal services for Westchester’s poorest residents and county-supported art programs by drastically cutting funding.

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91 Years of Citizen Science

Bronx-Westchester Christmas Bird Count

By Kate Munz, FCWC Member Relations Coordinator, and with special help from Michael Bochnik, Hudson River Audubon Society President

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Did you know that the Audubon Christmas Bird Count is one of the oldest examples of citizen science? Beginning in 1900, Dr. Frank Chapman, founder of Bird-Lore – which later became Audubon magazine – suggested an alternative to the holiday “side hunt,” a competitive bird-hunting event, and sparked the tradition for the annual Christmas Bird Count.

Each year, the Audubon Christmas Bird Count mobilizes over 72,000 volunteer bird counters in more than 2,400 locations across the Western Hemisphere. The Audubon Christmas Bird Count utilizes the power of volunteers to track the health of bird populations at a scale that scientists could never accomplish alone.

To date over 200 peer-reviewed articles have resulted from analysis done with Christmas Bird Count data.

Bird-related citizen science efforts have been critical to understanding how birds are responding to a changing climate. This documentation enabled Audubon scientists to discover 314 species of North American birds that are threatened by global warming as reported in Audubon’s groundbreaking Birds and Climate Change Study. The tradition of counting birds combined with modern technology and mapping is enabling researchers to make discoveries that were not possible in earlier decades.

Bronx-Westchester Christmas Bird Count

The Bronx County Bird Club brought the tradition of the Audubon Christmas Bird Count to our region in 1924, fostering a full history of bird data. Over the last century rare species such as Rufos Hummingbird and Tufted Duck have been spotted on this annual counts.

Results from each count are published with National Audubon Society and on the Bronx-Westchester Christmas Bird Count website. On the Bronx-Westchester website you can find an excel spreadsheet titled “All the Birds,” a complete record from 1924 to present), a summary of birds seen over the past 91 years, and directions for how you can participate.

Counts are conducted between December 14th and January 5th each season. Each area or count circle is a 15-mile diameter circle. Participants break up into small groups and cover pre-assigned areas and identify and count all the birds they see or hear. The numbers are compiled later, usually at a “Countdown” dinner or meeting. Our local counts occur on different dates.


Join a Christmas Bird Count!

December 27th, 2015

Team up with a regional leader on this group outing. There are group leaders for: Rye, Scarsdale (including Bronxville, Tuckahoe, Larchmont, New Rochelle, Mt. Vernon), Yonkers, Hudson Valley (includes Hastings, Ardsley, Dobbs Ferry), East Bronx and West Bronx.

It is FREE to participate!

Algonquin Pipeline: IN THE NEWS

AIM

Spectra Energy’s Algonquin Incremental Market (AIM) pipeline expansion project involves new high-pressure 42″ diameter gas pipeline sections slated to run from Stony Point in Rockland County, NY under Hudson River into Westchester and Putnam Counties in NY through Connecticut, Rhode Island, and Massachusetts.

The new pipeline expansion is routed next to homes, schools, houses of worship,through sensitive parkland, eco-systems and watersheds; and is planned to go through Westchester County Park, Blue Mountain Reservation – and construction has started.

Algonquin Pipeline Expansion opponents gain media traction


 

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View: Don’t give parkland

Journal News, Opinion
Written by FCWC Co-President, Carole Griffiths

“Enlarging this pipeline and the expansion of the easements will have negative impacts on the park. There will be permanent destruction of trees and habitat for animals. New edges will be opened a few hundred feet into the forest on either side of the expansion, which will allow invasive species to further infiltrate the park.”


e1463a_8d6976b362d54183887ec0dd5cc256c7Opponents Block Construction

Journal News, Algonquin pipeline opponents arrested after blocking construction

“We all know that we have to do everything we can to keep all the fossil fuels in the ground and switch to renewable energy, wind and solar,” Rubin said. “We’re concerned about our children’s future.”


e1463a_9b5e6d968314492b9f3337a02de848fdTrees Protest Pipeline Expansion

Blog Post, Waking Up on Turtle Island

“A grove of trees in Westchester County’s Blue Mountain Reservation in the Town of Cortlandt is staging a protest in an effort to save their fellow trees from being cut down along the 1½ mile Spectra Energy AIM pipeline route through the reservation.”


e1463a_1d0cd1f6d91a409fbeafc6fc87468a8aVideo: High Pressure in NY

The Guardian, High pressure: the pipeline that could destroy New York state

“In December 2014, Governor Andrew Cuomo outlawed fracking in New York, citing the method as unsafe for both the health of his citizens and their surrounding environment. However, the ban did not take into account the transportation of fracked natural gas liquids through the state.”


e1463a_b54a51e80b9740d4b97650542571bfd8Video: 9 Protesters Arrested

Democracy Now!, at 5 minutes, 9 Arrested Protesting AIM Pipeline in Westchester County

“Following the defeat of the Keystone XL oil pipeline, environmentalists continue to oppose other oil and gas pipelines across the country.”


635755746381551281-347Letter from Bobby Kennedy

Riverkeeper, December 1st, 2015

“I write to bring your attention to significant issues regarding the Algonquin Pipeline expansion in New York and to seek your immediate attention and intervention in the application process…”


src-adapt-960-high-pipeline_thumb-1449518882014NYers fear gas pipeline

Al Jazeera America, NYers fear gas pipeline near nuclear reactor could spell disaster
“Whistleblowers and experts allege safety violations, inadequate oversight surrounding new project near Indian Point”

 

Getting the Facts on the AIM and Biodiversity

The Algonquin Pipeline and the Effects of ROW: A Summary of the Hudsonia, Ltd. Assessment

By Kate Munz, Member Relations Coordinator

Hudsonia Ltd., a non-advocacy not-for-profit institute for research, educates and assists decision makers in the environmental sciences by providing objective, accurate, up-to-date, site specific information – and Hudsonia has conducted studies of the proposed Algonquin Pipeline expansion.

Early this year, Hudsonia Ltd.’s Executive Director, Dr. Erik Kiviat, prepared a “Preliminary Biodiversity Assessment of the Algonquin Gas Pipeline at Reynolds Hill and Blue Mountain Reservation, City of Peekskill and Town of Cortlandt, Westchester County, New York.” The scope of the assessment was to examine the possible risks to biodiversity as related to the proposed gas pipeline expansion, which is of the utmost concern as the trajectory goes through Blue Mountain Reservation, a county-owned park.

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