Tag Archives: Volunteers

I Love My Park Day – 2016

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I Love My Park Day (ILMPD) started in 2012 when 49 New York state parks and historic sites were helped by thousands of volunteers, including Governor Andrew Cuomo.  These volunteers worked on a variety of projects including cleaning up park lands and beaches, planting trees and gardens, restoring trails and wildlife habitat, removing invasive species, and working on various site-improvement projects.  In 2015 ILMPD grew to 6,500 volunteers who helped with 200 projects in 95 state parks and historic sites across the state.

In 2016, I Love My Park Day is Saturday May 7 with events planned at 110 parks and historic sites across the state.  Find a place to help here (or at nysparks.com/events).  From Hither Hills State Park in eastern Long Island, to Point au Roche State Park on Lake Champlain, Sonnenberg Gardens & Mansion State Historic Site in the Finger Lakes, Mine Kill State Park in the Catskills, Two Rivers State Park Recreation Area in the southern tier, Walkway Over The Hudson State Historic Park in the Hudson Valley, and more – there is something for everyone.  ILMPD also expanded this year to include DEC properties in the Adirondacks and Catskills as well as local and federal parks in New York. ILMPD is a great opportunity to get outside, enjoy the camaraderie of old and new friends, and give back to your favorite park.

I Love My Park Day is a joint program organized by Parks and Trails NY (PTNY) in partnership with State Parks, and local park Friends groups.

We hope to see you on May 7 for a day of fun and stewardship in New York’s backyard that is open to everyone – State Parks!

#ilovemyparkday

Valley Stream
Bring your friends to ILMPD! Taking a break at Valley Stream, photo by OPRHP

Happy Second Birthday Nature Times!

 

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In this second year of Nature Times we have gotten to know snapping turtles, carnivorous plants, black squirrels, and Sammi, Trailside Museums’ 36 year old bald eagle.  We’ve learned how trails are mapped, how a flock of sheep and goats have become one of State Parks’ 21st century mowing crews, and ways to explore State Parks on foot, in kayaks, on snowmobiles, and on frozen lakes. The stories have featured all kinds of work that State Parks staff and volunteers do throughout the year to help preserve and protect some of New York’s unique and exceptional places. These range from protecting sand dunes on Lake Ontario and old-growth forest at Allegany, to creating native grasslands at Ganondagan State Historic Site, and monitoring invasive species infestations and removing invasive species both on land and water.

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We mark this second birthday with 61 new followers and over 24,000 page hits!  And we thank the 32 staff, interns, and partner organizations who have shared their passion for State Parks through the blogs that they have written. We also want to recognize our partnership with the New York Natural Heritage Program who helped in initiating this feature and continues to provide support.

We look forward to continuing our celebration of State Parks in the months to come in Nature Times.  Hope to see you soon at one of our Parks or Historic Sites!

Endangered Species Parade

On Saturday, September 27th, 2014, Bear Mountain State Park celebrated biodiversity with an Endangered Species Parade.  Volunteers created their own homemade costumes, puppets, and signs representing New York’s native endangered wildlife.  Costumes included a Karner Blue Butterfly, Indiana Bat, and Canada Lynx, to name just a few.  After a ride on the merry-go-round, over 60 parade marchers engaged visitors throughout the park and raised awareness about endangered species.

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This event was inspired by the 100th anniversary of the extinction of the passenger pigeon this year.  Rather than dwelling on extinction, the parade was a fun way to celebrate the biodiversity still present here in New York.  Following the parade, families visiting Trailside Museums and Zoo played an interactive game in which they learned about specific endangered animals and conservation issues affecting their habitats.  There was also a special museum exhibit about the passenger pigeon and art on exhibit from local students.  This event was made possible by the generous efforts of many dedicated volunteers.

The featured photo is a parade volunteer dressed as a Canada lynx, by Karen Parashkevov. Post by Renee LaMonica.

Be A Good Egg!

Audubon New York, the state’s largest bird conservation organization has teamed up with New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation to launch the 2014 “Be a Good Egg” campaign: A community engagement initiative to protect threatened and endangered beach-nesting birds. The goal of the Be a Good Egg project is to help people learn more about birds like Least Terns, Piping Plovers, and American Oystercatchers that nest and rest on the beaches of New York and New Jersey every spring and summer.

Piping Plover Chick, photo by Patrick Comins
Piping Plover Chick, photo by Patrick Comins

Between April and August every year, thousands of birds nest on the bare sand of New York beaches and inlets, including 30% of the Atlantic Coast Piping Plover population and many other migratory shorebirds that rest and refuel on the New York and New Jersey coastlines on journeys as long as 9,000 miles.

These hardy little birds are threatened by predators, extreme weather conditions, and humans. When a person or dog walks through a nesting area, the adults run or fly off in fear. During the nesting season, this exposes the eggs or chicks to fatally high temperatures and drastically increases the risk of predation. The survival and recovery of these species is dependent upon being able to nest and raise their young in an undisturbed environment.

An Oystercatcher chick, photo by New York Audubon.
An Oystercatcher chick, photo by New York Audubon.

Audubon New York, State Parks, and other partners are reaching out to visitors at New York beaches and asking them to pledge to “be a good egg” and share the beach with our native birds. As part of this project, volunteers are helping us reach out to people at beaches where Audubon is working with the local community to protect hundreds of nesting and migrating birds. To date, nearly 2,000 beach-goers have signed the “Be a Good Egg” pledge. Volunteers are an important part of this campaign and more are needed to help outreach events and shorebird surveys. To take the pledge, and to get more information about Be A Good Egg, including dates of the outreach events, visit www.goodeggnjny.org

The featured image is a nesting Least Tern. Photo by New York Audubon.

Cleaning Up Phragmites

Evicting invasive species from our parks is a tough job. Clearing Phragmites from around the rim of Moreau Lake in Moreau Lake State Park, for example, takes a large team of environmental staff and Student Conservation Association Interns an entire day, as we found out in early April.

phrag1

Phragmites is a tall reed which grows all over the world and has culturally been used for food, weapons, weaving material, music instruments.¹ However, populations of Eurasian Phragmites were introduced to the U.S by boat during the 18th and 19th centuries. Lacking natural population controls, the invasive Phragmites has rapidly spread throughout the U.S.²

Phragmites spreads rapidly because, in addition to reproducing through seeds, it also clones itself through rhizomes, a type of root that can form new, genetically identical plants. In this way, Phragmites can rapidly form dense stands that overcome all other plants in an area.³

Cutting down Phragmites isn’t easy work. Structurally similar to bamboo, Phragmites needs to be cut down with a heavy machete or a metal-bladed weedwhacker. Plant can grow as high as fifteen feet and often shelter higher populations of ticks than stands of native plants.

Phrag Moreau Before and After

Because of the particularly pernicious nature of Phragmites, NYS Parks uses herbicide on large stands, in addition to manual and mechanical forms of control. However, even after the plant is dead, cutting Phragmites down is an important part of the restoration process because it allows native plants to recolonize the area, improving the health of wetland ecosystems and building a buffer against future Phragmites invasions.

Sources

  1. Driscoll, Leslie. 1999. Phragmites australis. University of Massachussetts Boston. Online, http://site.www.umb.edu/conne/leslie/lesliepage.htm.
  2. Saltonstall, Kristen. 2005. Plant Conservation Alliance Alien Plant Working Group—Phragmites australis. Online, http://www.nps.gov/plants/alien/fact.htm
  3. Phragmites australis (grass). Global Invasive Species Database. http://www.issg.org/database/welcome/

Post by Paris Harper, photos by Casey Holzworth