Archive for the ‘Volunteer’ Category

Click here to read: David Wright (a founder of Victor Hiking Trails)  stays close to great outdoors

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CatskillLeanToOutdoor equipment retailer REI has announced a $10,000 grant to the Catskills Lean-to Repair, Rehabilitation, and Reconstruction Program operated by the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference.

This grant will allow the Trail Conference to expand its program of improving, repairing, and rebuilding 29 lean-tos and their privies along the 200 miles of Trail Conference-maintained trails in the Catskill Park. The Trail Conference currently maintains 29 of the 32 lean-tos in the Catskill Park. Solidly built lean-tos and privies provide backpackers and day hikers with safe on-trail shelter while minimizing distress to the surrounding environment by focusing locations for overnight stays.

The priority projects in the next year are the German Hollow Lean-to, the Devil’s Acre Lean-to, and a new lean-to to be built between Mount Temper and Plateau Mountain. A number of privies will also be completed as part of this program.  The Trail Conference works with the New York Dept. of Environmental Conservation to prioritize all lean-to and privy projects.

The Trail Conference Catskills Lean-to Repair, Rehabilitation and Reconstruction Program has been a key initiative of the Trail Conference since 2011. The program began in 1999 with the repair of several lean-tos and the reconstructions and replacement of the John Robb Lean-to on Hunter Mountain. We have completed rehabilitation projects at the Mink Hollow Lean-to, the Echo Lake Lean-to, and the Diamond Notch Lean-to.

Last year at the Mink Hollow Lean-to, the Trail Conference, the Catskill 3500 Club, supporters of the Chris Nowack Memorial Fund, and the local Forest Ranger, Christine Nelson, hiked up more than 700 pounds of cedar shingles, lumber, and other materials to the then put on the new shingles, put down the new floor boards, re-stained the sides of the lean-to, and stained the new lean-to floor.

Lean-to projects draw large numbers of volunteers, as the work is a unique trail volunteer experience. In 2012, volunteers visited lean-tos for work more than 200 times and spent approximately 1,000 hours working on the general maintenance of lean-tos in the Catskill Park.

To learn more about the Trail Conference lean-to program in the Catskills, please visit: nynjtc.org/catskill-leantos.

The Trail Conference is a nonprofit organization that has been at the forefront of conservation efforts for the past 92 years with a mission to make nature more accessible to the public.  More than 1,500 Trail Conference volunteers donate 70,000 hours of work each year, building and maintaining 2,000 miles of trails across the region

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Click here to find out you can help build over nine miles of the Long Path in the Catskills on Romer Mountain this summer.

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By WILLIAM J. KEMBLE, Daily Freeman, Link to original post

Supporters of the Comeau property trails have begun looking at the next generation of users to be certain treks through the woods remain safe.

Trails Task Force member James Hanson noted during a Town Board meeting last week that the work is never-ending because walking areas are impacted by use and by plant growth when unused. “If they’re not used they deteriorate,” he said.

Hanson said work during the past two years has been set back by tropical storms Irene and Lee in 2011 and Superstorm Sandy last year. “Our plans for (2011) were sort of short-circuited,” he said. “The western loop was what we were focusing on and the main part of the project that we wanted to do was put in bog ridges … so people could walk through the swamp without walking in the swamp and being up to their ankles in mud.”

Committee members expect to work on a section of the David Corbett Loop to resolve tripping hazards. “The motto the Trails Task Force has gone by all along is ‘resource protection and user experience” where we want people to have a pleasant time but we want to protect the resource,” Hanson said.

“This year what is planned is to refurbish the trail between the bog bridges and the board walk … at the western end,” he said. “Those are trails which are heavily rooted. The way you have to do that is so that maintenance works is you have to put down some sort of stone up to the level of the roots … and then cover it with wood chips.”

Officials spent years developing a plan for use of the 76-acre property, which has created an approval system for all projects planned for the trails.

People wishing to volunteer for work on the trails should call Hanson at (845) 679-8934.

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Join an Ontario Pathways trail crew one day or many – all work is appreciated. Sign up with the crew chief to get emailed the work locations or check the web site. Most work crews begin at 9AM.
One Saturday per month (trail projects):  rmiddlebrook@rochester.rr.com
Wednesdays (weekly maintenance): dougdan@rochester.rr.com
Thursdays (heavier maintenance): twilbur@rochester.rr.com

Trail work tasks include such things as adding top soil, installing signs, trimming brush, installing drainage, clearing trees, pouring concrete, and resurfacing the trail surface. All tools are supplied – you supply the labor.

Ontario Pathways Trail is included in this Footprint Press guidebook.

Take Your Bike - Finger Lakes

Take Your Bike – Finger Lakes

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The second annual I Love My Park Day is almost here! This Saturday, nearly 80 New York State Parks and Historic Sites will participate in this statewide event promoting stewardship of our treasured state park lands.

You only have a few days left to register for this exciting event! Parks from Long Island to the Thousand Islands to Buffalo are participating. Thousands of volunteers have already signed up, and we’re on track to double last year’s numbers.  Find an I Love My Park Day event near you!

Don’t miss your chance to give back to the parks that you love.Visit the I Love My Park Day website to find an event near you and register today!

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BY JOHN ENGER Gazette Reporter, link to original post

Watershed expert Eric Holmlund likens the health of the Adirondacks to that of a human body.
“Are you going to buy the gym membership?” he asked, “Or are you going to wait for the heart attack ?”
The simile, he said, works particularly well when applied to the various invasive species working their way through Adirondack lakes. Holmlund runs the Watershed Stewardship Program at Paul Smith’s College, one of a number of programs sending fresh-faced college students out into the Adirondacks to do good.
Stewards act as educational ambassadors in the park. Hikers in the High Peaks often meet summit stewards, there to protect the fragile alpine ecosystem by educating hikers about preventing erosion and damaging the delicate alpine plants. The Summit Steward Program is run by a partnership of the Adirondack Mountain Club, the Nature Conservancy and the state Department of Environmental Conservation, and relies on both volunteers and paid stewards.
Holmlund’s stewards spend their summers at lakes in the Adirondack Park and beyond, talking to boaters about the importance of washing their boats and trailers to prevent the spread of invasive plants like hydrilla and milfoil.
The idea, he said, is to spend a little money on inexpensive summer stewards — the proverbial gym membership — to avoid invasive species takeover — the coronary.
“Once an invasive species spreads it’s 20 times more expensive to treat,” he said, a fact with which he has some experience.
Recently hydrilla, a non-native water plant Holmlund described as looking like a bunch of green pipe cleaners and capable of heating a lake’s core temperature and suffocating deep-water fi sh, was discovered in Cayuga Lake, one of New York’s Finger Lakes.
Most of Paul Smith’s stewardship program is funded, through the state’s Invasive Species Council, with money from the federal Environmental Protection Agency. When hydrilla was found in the Finger Lakes, $180,000 — more than half the watershed program’s budget for 2013 — was diverted for treatment.
“I support the decision” to divert the money, Holmlund said, but losing half his program’s funding puts the protection effort at risk. It’s kind of like dropping your gym membership to pay for medical bills — necessary, maybe, but harmful in the long term.
Stewardship programs are based the idea of working toward long-term goals. And the Summit Steward Program is tracking its successes over time by comparing photographs.
“We just received a grant from the National Science Resource Center for a photo point project,” said Wes Lampman, North Country operations manager for ADK.
Back in the 1950s conservationist Edwin Ketchledge took hundreds of pictures of Adirondack scenery, including the High Peaks.
Around the same time, hiking saw a surge of popularity in the park, causing an increase in erosion on the trails.
Over the years the problem worsened, leading to the near eradication of rare alpine vegetation in the Adirondacks.
In 1990, when Adirondack Mountain Club leaders formed the Summit Stewardship Program, many of the tops of the High Peaks were nearly bald.
The grant will pay a botany steward to hike up a selection of peaks with a camera, taking pictures from the exact spots Ketchledge stood 60 years ago. Comparing the shots, the ADK will be able to see how the peaks have changed.
The NSRC issued their grant to gather information about possible effects of climate change on alpine vegetation, but Lampman said they’ll also show the summit steward’s handiwork.
ADK places eager college students at various trail heads over the summer. These stewards remind hikers to avoid trampling vegetation by staying on the path and suggest they carry a small rock up the mountain with them, and deposit it at the top to be used in erosion control efforts.
A single year of trail adherence and rock lugging wouldn’t do much, but over the past two decades, it’s all added up to a lot.
“Believe it or not there’s not a natural abundance of rock at the peaks,” he said. “We use the stones hikers carry to reinforce eroding soil so plants can grow.”
Lampman said on the peaks of Marcy and Algonquin, the state’s two highest mountains, a positive change will be easily visible in the spot photography survey.
Bringing back some of the alpine plants was a very slow process, but relatively inexpensive. Like ADK’s several trail upkeep programs, the summit project was managed with the summer wages of a few college kids and the generosity and care of thousands of hikers. MONITORING LAKES
Holmlund, with his diminished budget, hopes to use a comparable arrangement.
Last year his program sent roughly 25 stewards to 24 lakes in the Adirondack area. This year they’ve only been able to hire 13, planning to send them out to just seven lakes.
He had to prioritize in a big way, only covering the most active, most infested bodies of water, such as Saratoga Lake, Lake Placid, Upper St. Regis and a few others.
Second Pond and Lake Flower, two popular boating destinations in the Saranac Lake area that have both seen milfoil and curly leaf pond weed, are the hardest to ignore, he said.
“They’re close to so many beautiful lakes and people tend to pond hop,” a sure way to spread invasives from one lake to another, he said. “With no stewards there, the door is just open for them to spread.”
As well as telling boaters to hose off their boats, stewards check boats for bits of plant and animal life that could be transferred. About 3 percent of the boats checked last year were harboring invasive species.
“It might not sound like much, but they checked 25,000 boats last year,” he said. “That’s almost 1,000 boats capable of spreading invasive species to new lakes.”
In the absence of stewards, Holmlund is hoping people will just wash their boats on their own.
“We need to get awareness out there,” he said. “I hope the work we’ve done so far has done that.”
Relying on the help of ordinary citizens is nothing new for Adirondack groups. The Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, which coordinates many stewardship programs, has been using volunteers for years.
APIPP Project Coordinator Brendan Quirion forms groups of willing locals over the summer to tear out non-native plants such as giant hogweed, which has a toxic sap that can burn skin.
His organization employs two full-time stewards, a four-man, quick-response plant removal team from Tennessee, and is looking to expand this spring thanks to a newly bolstered state Environmental Protection Fund.
“We’re not sure how that will trickle down to us,” he said, “but we’re hoping to improve some of our programming.”
Even so, they find much of the offending foliage through a citizen’s hot line.
Last year, they also offered a training session for interested landowners, utilizing essentially free labor to clean the park.
It’s this sort of planning Holmlund will have to use to continue building long-term Adirondack health.

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Volunteers get things done. That’s surely the case with a group that calls itself Lean2Rescue. They saw a need (crumbling Adirondack Lean-tos) and took action.

According to their web site: “Lean2Rescue is a group of campers, hikers, hunters, skiers, paddlers, outdoor enthusiasts and simple suckers for punishment who rehabilitate lean-to shelters in the Adirondack Park. Since 2004, we’ve worked on over 50 lean-tos in St. Lawrence, Herkimer and Hamilton Counties in Upstate New York. While in the past we have focused primarily on the Western edge of the Adirondacks, we have since expanded to working in the High Peaks region and we would love to hear from individuals and organizations looking for support in improving conditions across the Adirondack Park”

The best way to get in touch with Lean2Rescue is to send an email to Lean2Rescue@twcny.rr.com. Contact them today and join a work crew. You too can make things happen.

source: thanks to Tom Wemette for telling me about this group.

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Saratoga P.L.A.N. (PLAN) volunteers are at it again. In spring 2012, they completed 6 miles of trails on the Hennig Preserve, a 604-acre nature preserve on Centerline Road in Providence. Led by PLAN’s Stewardship Director Andy Fyfe and volunteer trail guru Walt Hayes, the group designed, mapped and constructed six miles of winding trails that feature lengths along a natural esker, a pond and a Civil-War-era house foundation.

Hennig Preserve volunteers.

The volunteers did not stop there; they needed a new challenge: so with PLAN’s blessing, they approached Supervisor Ed Kinwoski (Saratoga County Trail Committee Chair) with the idea of connecting the Hennig Preserve trails to the adjacent Saratoga County forest lands. The County agreed with the idea as it would be years before they could designate staff to map out, let alone construct new trails on the 400-acre County parcel. PLAN volunteers moved swiftly to design and map a trail system on the County land. Within two months they had mapped out the trails and were given the go ahead from the County to cut and mark these trails. This work is currently underway, with over 2 miles of additional trails in the making as well as a connection to the Hennig Preserve.

County Planning Director Jason Kemper stated, “There was no way that the County would be able to undertake this project in the near future; these volunteers have accomplished an extraordinary amount of work and are acting as stewards of not only PLAN’s Hennig Preserve but our county forest lands”. Don Washburn from PLAN’s Stewardship Committee added, “The miles of trails are suitable for all ages, full of many scenic paths and overlooks. It is an opportunity to experience nature in all its beauty and get some wonderful exercise at the same time”. County Supervisor Ed Kinowski indicated that the “Partnerships like Saratoga PLAN’s are critical as the county expands its trail system for a variety of groups; equine, hiking, cross country skiing and snowmobiles (note the Hennig Preserve does not allow Equine or snowmobile use). PLAN assists town’s not only with grant applications but in management of those grants, trail and farmland protection initiatives. Our county is richer for the combined efforts of our Supervisors and Saratoga PLAN”. Maria Trabka, Executive Director of PLAN added, “Volunteers are the heart and soul of our programs. I often say PLAN has a small staff providing support to hundreds of volunteers so they can accomplish their conservation vision for Saratoga County. Volunteers make it possible for PLAN to protect farms and natural areas, plan and build trails, and provide education on topics that are important for the future of our communities.” Providence Town Supervisor John Collyer said, “The 604 acres donated to the preserve by Bob Henning, Barbara Henning and Penny Steffen is in itself a spectacular contribution to the Environment, current Town Residents and others to enjoy now and forever.  When the Town’s Comprehensive Plan was developed and adopted it was quite clear that the Town’s residents wanted the Rural Character of the Town preserved. This donated land has helped to accomplish that goal and yet provide recreation and enjoyment to many who love the great outdoors”.

The Hennig Preserve is open to the public from dusk until dawn year-round. Trail maps and directions are available at http://www.saratogaplan.org. The Preserve was donated by visionaries Bob Hennig, Barbara Hennig and Penny Steffen in 2011. The Dockstader Charitable Trust provided support to get the Preserve up and running, allowing PLAN to purchase signage, construct a parking area, clean up an old homestead and much more. The County trails are slated to be finished in spring 2013, when Saratoga PLAN and the county will upload the new trail maps to their websites.

Hennig Preserve & Saratoga County 2012 trail map

Saratoga P.L.A.N. is a not-for-profit land trust offering comprehensive land conservation services to landowners, developers, organizations, and government partners, while striving to achieve regional coordination and cooperation on land use, conservation and recreational trail planning. It has protected over 3,433 acres of farmland, natural habitats, and water resources in Saratoga County. For more information on land conservation, or directions and trail maps for public preserves, contact Saratoga P.L.A.N. at 518-587-5554 or at www.saratogaplan.org.

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River Friends volunteer and board member Don Hall removes one of several a discarded tires from the Chemung River in Elmira during an Oct. 17 River Friends tire cleanup.

Here’s an idea that should be implemented elsewhere across NY State:
There are thousands of used tires discarded in Chemung County each year, and some of those tires are illegally thrown in rivers, dumped in fields or tossed over road embankments.
Those tires will now be recycled through a new partnership that could save Chemung County up to $2,500 a year.
The Friends of the Chemung River Watershed (River Friends), Firestone Complete Auto Care in Elmira , Chemung County Soil & Water Conservation District, and the Chemung County Highway Association recently joined forces to remove and  recycle tires.
The Firestone dealership, at 49 S. Main St., has generously agreed to accept, at no charge, used car and small truck tires that the county obtains during its annual tire collection day. In addition, Firestone will accept all tires that River Friends removes from our rivers and streams during the organization’s many riverside cleanups.
“We always find tires thrown in the rivers when we do cleanups,” said Jim Pfiffer, executive director of the River Friends in Elmira. “This new program makes it easier and less expensive for us to dispose of those tires and to recycle them. That’s great for the environment.”
In the past, Chemung County had to pay $2,000 to $2,500 annually to dispose of the tires it received during its tire collection day. The money saved will be used to continue to improve our environment. The used tires are ground up and used to make playground surfaces and a base for new roads.
“This is a great program and partnership that saves the county money,” said Mark Watts, District Manager of the Chemung County Soil & Water Conservation Program. “It allows residents to discard tires in a responsible manner and keeps them from polluting our countryside.”
The 2013 tire collection day will be held on a Saturday in May and will be open to all Chemung County residents, but it is not open to businesses. The date and location of the event will not be publicized until residents register for the event to prevent people from illegally dropping off tires at the disposal site. The event is sponsored by Chemung County Soil & Water Conservation District and the Chemung County Highway Association.
For more information on the tire collection day and program, contact the Chemung County Soil & Water Conservation District at (607) 739-2009.

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