With fall almost here, now is the perfect time to enjoy the brilliant goldenrods and discover the array of interesting insects that visit them. There are many different kinds of goldenrod, but most are late-bloomers that don’t come into full bloom until late summer and fall.
Goldenrod continues blooming until the frost, which in New York ranges from late September to October, depending on location. As one of the few groups of wildflowers in peak flower at this time, many insects depend on these plants for food, feasting on the nectar and pollen.
There are more than two dozen species of goldenrod native to New York State. They are a member of the Aster family (Asteraceae) and most are in the Genus Solidago, but a few are in the Genus Euthamia and Oligoneuron. All but one species are deep golden yellow (silverrod, Solidago bicolor is white), with hundreds of tiny flowers making up the “inflorescence” or flower head.
If you are interested in learning more about insects, this is one of the easiest ways to get an up-close look at all different kinds.
You can find goldenrods in a variety of habitats from roadsides, fields, alongside open trails and bike paths, in the dunes of the ocean and Great Lakes shores, and on rocky summits. In almost every State Park you can find goldenrods, and perhaps you will discover you have some in your backyard, neighborhood garden or vacant lots.
State Park’s pollinator habitat initiative has also helped create areas for goldenrods, asters, milkweeds and native grasses by reducing mowing along some roadsides and fields
Many insects are attracted to the goldenrod flowers. Take a close look and be patient. You may find a variety of bees from bumble bees, carpenter bees, tiny mason bees and sweat bees. On a cool morning, the insects are often a bit sluggish which means they are less likely to fly away while you get in close. In fact, in morning or evenings, look for bumblebees sleeping upside-down under the goldenrod flower branches!
Beetles are another common visitor, like the ladybugs, lightening
and flower beetles. Perhaps you will find an inch-worm or another kind of caterpillar.
On sunny days, goldenrod patches are a good place to watch for butterflies like painted lady, monarch and viceroy across the state. On the coast, large numbers of monarch butterflies follow the path of the seaside goldenrod that grows in abundance on the dunes and upper edges of the beach. Without this vast food supply, many of those monarchs would not survive their long journey of up to 3,000 miles.
In addition to protecting the habitats where goldenrod thrives in the wild, this hardy perennial can also be a beautiful and important part of a pollinator garden or habitat, where birds and small mammals also benefit from the seeds. If you want to add some to your garden or landscape, some plant nurseries carry them, but check the New York Flora Atlas to make sure that the species is native to New York state and not listed as rare or invasive in New York.
Learning to appreciate goldenrods is a great way to support a whole suite of native flora and fauna.
When Alexander Hamilton was married at Schuyler family mansion in Albany, the residence was a pinnacle of style in Colonial America.
Home to one of the region’s richest families, the Georgian-styled mansion was decorated with luxurious wallpaper, rich fabrics, and even an ornamental papier maché ceiling that had been custom made and imported from England around 1760.
This ornate ceiling graced the mansion’s Best Parlor, where Hamilton married Elizabeth Schuyler in December 1780, as the Revolutionary War raged into its fifth year.
To get his decorative ceiling, Philip Schuyler had simply selected designs from a catalog, provided room dimensions with his order and a complete ceiling was shipped ready to install. Schuyler could have chosen from birds, flowers, shells, moldings, festoons, musical instruments — images that represented his interests and image.
This was not made with the papier maché that people might recall making in school — no newspaper and white glue. This was cotton rag pulp and papier maché that was mixed with water into a oatmeal-like slurry, and then pressed into a variety of hand-carved wooden molds to dry and set.
The resulting super-light and slightly flexible ornaments were inexpensive to ship and easy to install. After a little glue and few tacks to set the ornaments in place, a ceiling was ready for painting. Once done, it gave a stylish look similar to more expensive plaster ornamentation.
During the years, the parlor ceiling at Schuyler Mansion State Historic Site was removed and lost for reasons unknown. But Historic Site Manager Heidi Hill wanted it back after part of efforts to restore mansion for its 100th anniversary as a State Historic Site.
The challenge to the Peebles Island-based Bureau of Historic Site and Park Services, part of the NY State Parks Division for Historic Preservation, was how to recreate something that has not been commercially produced in 150 years.
Making new hand-carved molds was out of the question; it would take too much time and cost too much money.
However, the team at State Parks had an amazing resource — an existing, rare and wonderful example of a mid-18th century papier maché ceiling at the Philipse Manor Hall State Historic Site in Yonkers, Westchester County. This mansion has the only complete surviving example of this type of ceiling in the United States.
However, this ceiling was too significant and too fragile to risk being damaged by the pressure and stress of taking contact from a traditional mold. This is where laser-based, 3D imaging technology came to the rescue.
In a pioneering project, State Parks partnered with Ithaca College’s Physics and Astronomy Department and the Friends of Schuyler Mansion to have the Philipse Manor Hall ceiling 3D scanned by portable laser units that fire pulses of light up to one million times a second. Light is then reflected back to a receiver, which measures how long the light took to return, using the data to create high-resolution scans that captured details down to 100 microns or 4/1,000th of an inch.
Headed by Professor Michael “Bodhi’ Rogers, the Ithaca College team 3D scanned nearly the entire interior and exterior of the historic Philipse Manor Hall, said Charles Casimiro, an historic site assistant there.
“This effort for Schuyler Mansion was a very exciting project to work on … we were using this technology to do something that had never been done before,” said Rogers, who recently became the new chairman of the Physics Department at the University of Colorado at Denver.
It took three visits to Philipse Manor Hall between 2015 and 2017 to get all the scans, he said. With the newest scanner, students could use a hand-held device, wave it around the room and watch the image on the computer as it filled in, “kind of like painting with your hand,” said Rogers.
The scanning of Grant’s Cottage, where Civil War General Ulysses S. Grant spent the final six weeks of his life writing his memoirs, is now being used to help protect the 1870s structure from fire, said Ben Kemp, site manager for the Friends of Grant Cottage. He said the data is being used to help design a modern fire detection and suppression system.
Rogers said this kind of scanning technology also will help in the rebuilding of fire-damaged Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris, which was scanned in 2015.
When the laser scans at Philipse Manor Hall were completed, State Parks had computer images that revealed every paint brush stroke, age crack and tiny detail on the manor’s 250-year-old ceiling, which features images of lute players, bagpipers and singers, as well as busts of Sir Isaac Newton and poet Alexander Pope .
To reproduce this ceiling in Schuyler Mansion, the original idea was to use the scans for a 3D printer to create each unique ornament in plastic. The Bureau of Historic Sites would then use traditional molding and casting methods to make new molds, which would then be used to produce the papier maché ornaments.
But Rogers’ team then figured out how to use the 3D imagery to create computer commands for the State Parks printer to instead make the concave molds used to receive the papier maché . A total of 55 unique molds were needed to recreate the Philipse Manor ceiling.
These molds were printed in Peebles Island’s Architectural Conservation lab at the Bureau of Historic Sites & Park Services. A printer works using a spool of bioplastic filament, which is heated into a liquid and then fed through a printer head that created the molds layer by layer.
Many molds were too large to fit the printer bed, and so were digitally rendered into smaller pieces and then physically welded together later with a high-temperature 3D pen.
With molds ready, we started making papier maché. Traditional cotton rag papier pulp was pressed into the molds and the water squeezed out with large sponges.
More than 300 pieces were cast to make the ceiling, using over 500 pounds of paper pulp. The edges of each casting were hand trimmed. Each piece of ornament was then primed and boxed up for installation.
More than 98 percent of the ceiling was installed by three State Parks staffers in under a week. Hot glue was used to adhere the ornament to the ceiling. The ornament edges were then caulked where necessary and the entire ceiling painted. Once finished, the ornamental ceiling now looks like it has always been there.
Now installed at Philip Schuyler Mansion, this is only the second complete papier maché ceiling in the Unite States.
Over the next few weeks the Parlor also received a crystal chandelier, an imported English loomed carpet and new custom-made drapes. The result is amazing. For the first time in over a century—the grandeur of the Best Parlor is restored to the time of the Hamilton wedding, from the floor to the ceiling.
Post by Erin E. Moroney, architectural conservator, Bureau of Historic Site & Park Services.
The cold, dark depths of Seneca Lake are revealing a rare glimpse of the state’s early maritime history to a high-tech research vessel as it finds long-lost shipwrecks in the deepest of the Finger Lakes.
Armed with a multibeam sonar array, researchers from Middlebury College and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum are producing accurate three-dimensional images of the bottom that also pinpoint wrecks from Seneca’s heyday of commercial canal shipping nearly two centuries ago.
Called bathymetric mapping, the team’s work is providing valuable insights into an era when canals drove the state’s economy. The mission is being supported through a $15,000 grant from NYS Parks Historic Preservation Office and also by the NYS Canal Corp.
“On our first day on Seneca Lake, we found several shipwrecks,” said Cohn, pointing at a color-coded computer display that showed the crisp outline of one such vessel on the bottom. After a sighting, researchers sent down an unmanned, remote-operated vessel (ROV) to video, identify and document the scene.
being found are intact ships, many with cargo, that have not been seen for more
than 150 years,” he said.
sonar works by sending sound waves in a fan shape into the water beneath a
ship’s hull. The amount of time it takes sound waves to bounce off the bottom
and return to a shipboard receiver is used to determine depth, with that data
then used to produce detailed, color-coded maps.
These findings add to the eight shipwrecks located during a preliminary survey by the team in summer of 2018. So far, that brings the total number of confirmed shipwrecks to 14, with more potential finds still being analyzed, said Cohn.
The David Folger mapping project also will update lake navigation maps that date to the 1870s, when depth measurements were taken from ships by crews who dropped a lead weight from a metal chain into the lake until it hit bottom.
The newly-discovered Seneca Lake wrecks are canal boats that date from the mid-1820s to the 1850s, after the opening of the Erie Canal and construction the 20-mile Cayuga-Seneca Canal in helped make the lake part of the “superhighway” of the era.
The Erie (1825), Chemung (1833) and Crooked Lake (1833) canals helped make the lake commercially accessible from north, south and west, with hundreds of canal boats each year plying the 38-mile lake carrying cargoes of corn, coal, lumber, whiskey and other goods. But winds and storms on Seneca Lake posed a threat to such lake traffic, sometimes sending canal vessels to the bottom.
Seneca Lake is up to 625 feet deep, and water temperature at such depths is in the mid- to low-30s, said Cohn, making it the perfect low-oxygen environment for preserving wooden shipwrecks. In the ocean, salt water and aquatic organisms quickly corrode such wrecks
“The shipwrecks in Seneca Lake are in many way time capsules of the 19th century,” said Mark Peckham, a former maritime history expert with State Parks and now a trustee with the Hudson River Maritime Museum in Kingston. “I dove on some wrecks in the 1990s and was struck by their state of preservation. Some still had glass in their cabin windows and household items remaining inside.”
“These discoveries are especially significant as we are in the midst of the 200th anniversary of the construction of the NYS canal system. 2025 will mark the anniversary of the opening of the Erie Canal,” said Peckham. “More than anything else, the canals of the 1820s spurred economic development, settled broad swaths of the state, made New York State first in population and made the port of New York one of the greatest shipping ports in the world.
The David Folger reached the lake from its home port on Lake Champlain by taking the Champlain, Erie and Cayuga-Seneca canals in the New York State Canal System.
multibeam sonar array aboard the David
Folger also allows researchers to understand the composition of the ground
beneath the bottom of Seneca Lake, said Manley. Those sub-bottom images look
almost like a slice through a layer cake.
Some images might offer clues into a long-running lake mystery _ the source of mysterious booming noises that seemingly come from the water itself. The sounds have been known locally as Seneca Guns, Lake Drums or Lake Guns.
One modern theory is that such sounds might be caused by the sudden collapse and depressurization of caverns or tunnels underneath the lake, which has a history of salt mining being done around and beneath it.
Manley pointed to a lake bottom image that shows such potential collapses _ a nearly-circular depression that is some 40 feet deep, and another such depression nearby that is shaped like a horseshoe.
As Seneca Lake shipwrecks are located, they will be protected as public resources under the Federal Abandoned Shipwreck Act of 1987. All shipwrecks located under this survey’s permit issued by the New York State Museum will be reported to the Museum and integrated into the state’s archaeological inventory.
Peckham, “These sites are subject to environmental degradation, such as silt
deposit, erosion, organic deterioration, and the effects of mussel encrustation,
and human intrusions like anchoring, diver handling, theft of artifacts, and
construction of bulkheads, marinas, pipelines, and cable crossings. The latter
threats can be addressed through improved public education and interpretation,
law enforcement and by providing appropriate submerged heritage diving sites
that foster and support responsible recreation and tourism.”
In Lake Erie, recreational diving on such historic wrecks has proved to be a popular tourist attraction. That could make Sampson State Park’ s rebuilt $7.5 million marina the perfect jumping-off point for such trips.
But not all mysteries have been uncovered yet _ researchers aboard the David Folger spotted no trace of potential relatives of a mythical Seneca Lake sea monster that was supposedly deliberately run over by the captain of a steamboat in 1899, according to a Rochester newspaper account at the time… But stay tuned.
Posted by Brian Nearing, NYS Parks deputy public information officer
My name is Abigail Pierson and I am a Forest Health Specialist for NYS Parks. The scope of my work covers almost all the state parks in the western half of New York state, making each week always something new and exciting.
My week begins with the usual desk work of contacting park managers and anything else to ensure a smooth work week. However, by 10 a.m. my coworker and I are hopping in the work van and traveling to a state park. Once we’ve arrived, my partner and I begin setting up our tents and going over our schedule for the week. When the work day comes to end, it’s time for arguably the most intricate task of the day, dinner.
Our meals are cooked on a two-burner camp stove, so chaos usually ensues when we are both starving and trying to prepare full course meals. Trying to make a full meal on one burner each serves as a microcosm of the balance of respect, teamwork, trust, and cooperation needed for the success of our team. We spend every morning, afternoon, and night together for five days of the week. This job requires a lot of trust. We are climbing tall trees for research purposes, so our safety depends on each other. It is amazing to have a job/life experience like this where your co-worker becomes such an integral part of your life.
It’s always interesting climbing out of our dew-covered tents each morning; seeing everything in nature slowly coming to life all around us. Our days move by very fast. I eat a quick breakfast, after which I grab my climbing gear and data collection tools and begin the hike into a hemlock stand.
We are monitoring for hemlock wooly adelgid (HWA) an invasive insect species native to Japan that can kill entire hemlock stands in 4 to 10 years. Our hikes to these hemlock stands can range from a half mile to three miles, and this is where the real fun begins. We put on our helmets and safety glasses and begin sending our rope up and over one of the branches in the middle canopy of the tree. Once we have our single rope set up and secured on the tree, one of us straps on our climbing harness and begins the ascent, which can be a hundred feet or more up into the air.
A beautiful thing about our climbing setup is we cause no damage to the tree. Our goal is to save these majestic giants, not injure them. Once I reach the top section of the rope, I attach myself directly to the tree using a flip line. A flip line is a short adjustable section of rope that goes around the trunk of the tree and attaches to both sides of my harness.
It’s a good thing I’m a tree hugger because I must hug the tree as I use flip lines to ascend to the top canopy of the tree. It is a very intense experience being on flip lines because it is up to myself and this tree to keep me safe. In many ways, we are trusting the trees with our lives just as much as the trees are trusting us with theirs.
Climbing to the very top canopy of a tree that usually towers over the rest of the forest canopy is an indescribable experience. It feels as if, for a moment, you are larger than the forest itself. After all that hard work of getting to the top canopy I always take a moment to take in the beauty of nature that is surrounding me.
Once I’ve taken in the view it is right back to work. I take a small sample of a branch from the top canopy and put it into a labeled Baggie. As I descend back down the tree, I take samples from the middle and lower canopies. These samples allow us to identify if the tree is healthy or its level of infestation by HWA, a tiny aphid-like insect that gradually kills hemlocks by feeding on the juices in their needles.
The information that we gather helps show how widespread HWA is in the state and which hemlocks might still have the potential to be saved.
If left unchecked, HWA could wipe out the majority of eastern hemlocks in New York, a species that is the third most common tree in the state. Hence the importance of slowing or even stopping its spread as quickly as possible. Widespread hemlock mortality would have a lasting impact on ecosystems, streams, flora and fauna, and even the look of the landscape.
Hemlock mortality in parks especially is a scary thing for me to imagine as patrons would no longer be able to enjoy the parks the same way that they can now. Some of our most well-known parks, including Letchworth, Allegany, Watkins Glen, and others like Stonybrook and Thacher, feature hemlocks along most major trails and vista points. Campgrounds and picnic areas of many parks enjoy cooling shade courtesy of hemlocks. If those hemlock stands were to die back the park would look barren, be unsafe due to erosion and dead limbs, and the internal ecosystems would be negatively impacted as well.
Click here for a map showing how HWA has spread in New York State.
What can you do to help? According to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, if you believe you have found HWA:
Take pictures of the infestation signs (include something for scale such as a coin or ruler).
Note the location (intersecting roads, landmarks or GPS coordinates).
Slow the spread of HWA in our forests by cleaning equipment or gear after it has been near an infestation, and by leaving infested material where it was found.
Overall, tree climbing is a phenomenal experience that allows us to experience the sheer beauty of the hemlock tree and surrounding forest, while also allowing us make the in-depth assessment needed to ensure that the natural beauty is preserved.
Helping to save the amazing environment we live in, educating the public on invasive species, and being up close and personal with nature every day is an amazing gift. This job allows me to fulfill all my strongest passions simultaneously and I could not be luckier to have this opportunity.
One sniff at a time, an energetic Labrador retriever named Dia is changing the way we combat invasive species in New York State Parks.
Along with her handler Joshua Beese, this invasives-fighting team from the nonprofit New York-New Jersey Trail Conference is on the hunt for Scotch broom, a threat to the native ecosystems in Bear Mountain and Harriman state parks in the Lower Hudson Valley.
Dia uses her powerful sense of smell to help find small and sparsely distributed invasive species that might be missed by human searchers. Since November 2018, her incredible nose has been specially trained to sniff out the invasive plant Scotch broom.
scoparius)is one of the most destructive invasives on the Pacific
Coast, where it has had costly implications for agricultural industries. When
it began showing up in New York’s parks, land managers became concerned. Scotch
broom forms dense clusters that can displace native plant species and reduce
biodiversity that is essential for a healthy ecosystem.
The New York
State Parks Invasive Species Strike Team and the Trail Conference’s
Invasives Strike Force (ISF) Crew of AmeriCorps members, volunteers, and
interns have collaborated over the past several years in a bid to eradicate
Scotch broom in the region. The ISF Crew has been finding and removing Scotch
broom in state parks since 2014, when 37 separate populations were recorded at
Bear Mountain and Harriman.
While a few locations no longer have any plants, other locations are harder to manage. It becomes challenging to find the few remaining individuals among all the other vegetation, which means this destructive plant could still propagate. That’s where Dia comes in!
“Dia first comes
into the field with her nose up, smelling what’s in the air, working to detect
the Scotch broom scent,” explains handler Beese. “She’s using what are called
scent cones; she works her way into a cone and uses that cone to help her
narrow down the source.”
Once in a cone,
she will search until she gets to the source and put her nose to the ground to
sniff out smaller plants that may be tiny and low to the ground. She alerts
Beese that she’s found the species by standing or sitting. “The most important
thing is that she’s committed to an area where she’s detected the plant until I
come and reward her,” Beese says. “Then we can mark it and remove it.”
Dia’s reward: Her ball on a rope with a game
of tug and fetch. See Dia in action by following her on Instagram @diasavestheforest.
exceptional sense of smell, dogs have been commonly used for search and rescue,
as well as weapons and narcotics detection. These tracking and detection skills
are now being used to protect our wild spaces. In 2010, the journal Invasive
Plant Science and Management published a study that concluded trained dogs
could smell and detect twice the number of invasive plants that humans could
observe with their eyes.
groups have used dogs for short projects to detect of invasive species, the
Trail Conference’s Conservation Dog Program is the first permanent program of
its kind in the Northeast.
This is Dia’s
first season in the field; she has already been on more than 20 surveying
trips. In several instances, the Trail Conference’s Invasives Strike Force Crew
had been to a site and completely removed every plant they were able to find—and
then Dia found a few more.
Dia came to the Trail Conference from a farm in
Wisconsin that breeds dogs for hunting competitions. She was selected for the
program by Beese, an experienced search and rescue dog handler, who is assisted
by volunteer Arden Blumenthal. He has trained Dia with the mentorship of Aimee
Hurt from Working Dogs for Conservation in Montana, an organization that has been working with dogs on
conservation projects for more than 20 years.
In a metropolitan region highly prone to
invasive infestations, early detection when populations are small is a key
component of successful invasive species management. Not only does Dia make
search-and-destroy efforts more thorough within infestations, she is also able
to find stray plants outside the known boundaries where people had focused
their searches. Dia helps make sure the area is really cleared to reduce the
potential for reinfestation or further spread. With better search efficiency,
it should be possible to declare New York State parks Scotch broom-free in the
Up next for Dia is slender false
brome (Brachypodium sylvaticum), an
invasive grass that can outcompete existing vegetation, including threatened
and endangered species, and harm wildlife populations by altering food sources.
Slender false brome has recently been found in Letchworth State Park, and this location will serve as a
training ground for Dia.
***UPDATE: Dia and her team recently went to Letchworth State Park, where they did find the invasive slender false brome in areas where surveyors had missed it.
Conservation dogs can learn to detect up to
three new species each year, meaning Dia’s incredible talents will continue to
develop. “In three or four years,” Beese says, “we’ll be pushing forward the
science on what can be done with invasive species detection using dogs.”
Post by Linda Rohleder, Director of Land Stewardship, New York – New Jersey Trail Conference and Coordinator, Lower Hudson Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM)