• Photo Credit: Tina Walsh for Hudson River Park

    How Investments in Clean Water Can Restore Ecosystems

    In March, after a long year of social distancing and cold, cloudy weather, two dolphins were spotted swimming up the East River in New York City. This atypical pair provided a much-needed sign of hope and recovery for City dwellers. Even more surprisingly, tiny seahorses can now be found clinging to oyster cages and other submerged objects in the lower Hudson River. These little seahorses, known as the Lined Seahorse, are one of many aquatic species that now make up a diverse and thriving ecosystem in the Hudson River estuary. For decades, the Hudson River was severely polluted after PCBs, oil, heavy metals and solvents were all dumped into the river by factories producing cars and paper. At one point, local fishermen could tell what color General Motors was painting cars based on the color of the river that day! In 1972, Congress passed the Clean Water Act to restrict “point sources” such as factories and power plants from discharging contamination into US waterways. Over the nearly 50 years that have passed since then, NYC has invested more than $12 Billion to upgrade wastewater treatment to improve the health of the Hudson’s delicate, aquatic ecosystems. And, it has worked. A 2017 report by the NYC Department of Environmental Protection found that the Hudson River is the cleanest it has been in over a century as evidenced by the presence of the Lined Seahorse that would not be found in the Hudson River without these extraordinary cleanup efforts. Efforts such as these give us hope that if we take measures now our ecosystems can, indeed, be restored. We must also remember to stay vigilant in protecting our waters to ensure healthy ecosystems for future generations. Photo Credit: Tina Walsh for Hudson River Park


    Continue reading
  • https://dailyapple.blogspot.com/2015/08/apple-716-cicadas.html

    The Cicadas Are Coming!

    If you were around in 2004, you probably remember the loud songs of the cicada emanating from most of the trees on your property. You probably had a cicada or two clinging to your clothes or swatted a few away as they haphazardly flew around. If you have never met a cicada, there’s nothing to worry about, just another wonder of nature to behold. These lumbering creatures do not sting or bite or cause disease. They burst forth from underground with all the confidence and energy of teenagers and must accomplish in a very short time what it takes us decades to do. The periodical cicada spends most of its life underground, emerging after 13 or 17 years (depending on the species) to transform, reproduce and ultimately die over the space of just a few days. Huge populations of these insects have synced up to emerge within the same window of time to give them the best chance of successfully finding a mate and producing young before they are eaten by predators or expire naturally. These populations are called broods, and one of the largest—Brood X—is set to emerge in late May or early June this year. Once the soil reaches about 64 degrees Fahrenheit at a depth of 12-18 inches, the emergence of the cicadas will be triggered. Male cicadas will emerge first, followed by females a few days later. Females can be identified by their pointed abdomen and sheathed ovipositor, the organ they use to lay eggs. Once they leave the ground, the cicadas will shed their shells and develop wings, allowing them to fly around and locate fresh hardwood trees and shrubs. After they’ve found their spot, the cicadas will mate and lay eggs at the end of branches. Newly hatched cicadas will then chew through the branch tips, causing them to fall off, carrying the nymphs (young insects) back down into the soil where they burrow 6- 18 inches down and will spend the next 17 years. Brood X will next emerge in 2038. Scientists are interested in determining if climate change has impacted the cicada. Will warmer temperatures cause them to arrive sooner than expected? Will there be as many of them as in years past? You can help to answer these questions by engaging in a little citizen science. Phone apps like Cicada Safari and iNaturalist, can be used to share your observations. The data collected will help to populate a map which can guide scientists in answering the questions posed above. Photo credit: Pixabay


    Continue reading
  • Native Plant_Wild Columbine

    Five Native Plants to Consider Planting

    Did you know that for the first time ever April was designated National Native Plant Month by the United States Senate? Native plants play an indispensable role in supporting resilient ecosystems like stabilizing soil, filtering water, cleaning air and supporting wildlife. Once these plants become established, they require less watering and need no chemical fertilizers or pesticides to thrive. They also preserve the natural history of the flora and fauna of the American landscape. There are more than 17,000 native plant species across the US, which include trees, shrubs, vines, grasses and wildflowers. Here on the North Shore of Long Island, we have many beautiful native species. Pictured here are five native wildflower and shrub options you might consider planting that are lovely to look at and help with pollination and the sustainability of our ecosystem. When buying, look for straight species (non-cultivars) locally sourced. winterberry (Ilex verticillata)New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)cardinal flower (Lobelia cardinalis)swamp milkweed (Asclepias incarnata)


    Continue reading
  • Enhance Your Outdoor Adventures with These Six Nature Apps

    When it comes to spending time outside usually the best app is NO app. However, some apps can enhance your outdoor adventures. Here are some of our favorites, which are free. All Trails: This easy-to-use app helps you locate nearby trails for your next adventure. It also includes location, length of trail, information on whether a property is dog or kid friendly and photos! You can find many of our nature preserves on this app. Seek: Have you ever come across a flower or tree that you wish you could identify? Well, this app uses your camera to identify the plants and animals around you. This app is kid-friendly and is great for families who want to explore nature together! iMap: Invasives allows you to collect observations of invasive species and upload them to an online database that is then used by New York State DEC, NY Natural Heritage Program and other organizations to track invasives and identify ways to manage these species that are threatening our ecosystems. Audubon Birds: Learn how to identify the birds in your backyard or in our nature preserves. Here is a field guide to over 800 bird species in North America that fits right in your pocket! eBird: Want to help scientists and organizations document bird distribution? This citizen science-based app allows you to enter bird observations from anywhere in the world into a database managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. iNaturalist: This citizen science-based app helps you to identify the plants and animals around you and connects you with a community of over 750,000 scientists and naturalists who can help you learn about nature. Sharing your observations helps create quality data for scientists working to better understand and protect nature.


    Continue reading
  • Water Friendly Lawn Care Tips

    Nitrogen pollution impacts the health of our bays and drinking water source.  The #2 source of nitrogen pollution is fertilizers (#1 is septic systems.)  In an effort to protect the water that sustains us, we offer some healthy lawn care tips. 1)  Timing is important.  Fertilizer should not be applied before April and after mid-October. Nor should it be applied during the hottest summer months when grass is dormant and cannot efficiently absorb fertilizer. 2)  A little goes a long way.  If fertilizer is applied, its use should be minimized.  Especially on a well-established lawn, no more than one-third to one-half the amount recommended on the fertilizer bag should be used.  A low nitrogen fertilizer developed especially for Long Island’s fragile ecosystem should also be considered. 3)  Precision is key.  Equipment used to spread fertilizer should be calibrated for a single application rate of a maximum of 0.6 pounds of total nitrogen per 1,000 square feet at least once annually or each time fertilizer products are changed. Calibration directions are available on the Cornell Cooperative Extension of Suffolk County website.  4)  Grass clippings should be left on the lawn.  Mulching mowers finely chop grass into small pieces which get deposited into the lawn and decompose quickly. It is like adding a little bit of fertilizer after every mow, and allows the property owner to lessen, or eliminate, chemical fertilizer application. As a general rule, no more than a third of the grass blade should be removed during a single mowing. And it’s also good practice to keep the height at least three inches high, which encourages deeper, healthier roots. 5)  Consider a smaller lawn area.  One of the most effective ways Long Islanders can do their part to protect local water resources is to replace their lawn or a portion of it with less water-intensive landscaping like meadows or “xeriscaping.” Xeriscaping makes use of native plant species, requires little to no fertilizer and can help to absorb and filter rainwater. For more information, please visit the following resources:  NYS DEC Lawn Fertilizer webpage


    Continue reading