Posts Tagged ‘Dutchess County’

by John Ferro, Poughkeepsie Journal, link to original post  WITH PHOTO

Dutchess County has a new champion.  Only this one is 20 feet thick, 114 feet tall and something of a rock star.

Say hello to the Dover Oak, so named because it sits along West Dover Road. (Never mind the fact that it grows in the Town of Pawling.)

Along the Appalachian Trail, this white oak is as close to an arboreal celebrity as you can get. It’s been photographed, written about in guide books and highlighted on the Internet. And now, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation, it’s a champion.

The tree was recently added to the DEC’s Big Tree Register. By using a special scoring system that measures circumference, height and canopy size, the Dover Oak scored 397 points, making it the biggest white oak in the state.

The national champion white oak, with a score of 458 points, is in Clay, Ind. The Dover Oak was nominated by DEC staffer Jim Close, who was walking the Appalachian Trail when he came across the tree. “It’s so huge, you can’t help but notice it,” he said.

And many do. Because the tree sits right along the trail — and within a few feet of a county highway — it gets a lot of eyes. “There are two famous large white oaks on the Appalachian Trail,” said Laurie Potteiger, spokeswoman for the Appalachian Trail Conservancy in Harpers Ferry, W.Va. “One is the Dover Oak and the other is the Keffer Oak in Virginia. Both of them are legendary. Both are virtually right on the trail. And interestingly, both are in, or adjacent to, open areas.”

The state has maintained its register since the 1970s, although records of tree surveys date back to 1943, said Gloria Van Duyne, a communications specialist with the DEC and the coordinator of the Big Tree Register.

“It’s a way to highlight big trees and get people to take care of them and spark an interest in trees in general,” Van Duyne said. “These days, we are hoping it actually sparks in interest in urban forests, which sometimes have big trees. In developed communities, or estates, you have large trees that have been saved from clearing for agriculture, and some of them are over 100 years old.”

Van Duyne and Close estimated the Dover Oak’s age at 150 years, but cautioned that a tree’s age cannot be calculated accurately without examining its core.

The register lists only native and naturalized species. It does not include hybrid species. “They are the largest native or naturalized trees that have been reported — and I have to stress, that have been reported,” Van Duyne said. “There could be a tree out there in a forest that is bigger that we don’t know about.”

Anyone can nominate a tree, although a tree’s dimensions must be confirmed by someone who is experienced at measuring trees.

The state register is part of a cooperative effort with American Forests, a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit that maintains the National Register of Big Trees. New York champion trees are considered for national champion status, as the Dover Oak was.

Trees that do not knock off a current champion can be considered as “national challengers” whose records are kept on file by American Forests in case a champion tree dies or is cut down.

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Written by Dugan Radwin, Penney/Poughkeepsie Journal

Covering 6,000 acres, the Great Swamp is one of the largest freshwater swamps in New York state. Aside from its ecological diversity, it filters out pollution to provide clean drinking water for people throughout the region.

Where can you go for a glimpse of the state’s largest red maple hardwood forest and diverse wildlife, including at least 90 species of birds? No, you don’t have to go to the Adirondacks, it’s all right here in the Great Swamp straddling Dutchess and Putnam counties.

Recently, we took part in a canoe trip of the swamp offered by the Friends of the Great Swamp (FrOGS), a community group devoted to protecting the swamp and abutting lands. For a dozen years, the group has hosted guided canoe trips in the swamp on a couple of weekends each spring. It provides canoes, paddles and life vests, offering an easy canoeing opportunity even for those with no experience.

Because of its simple nature, this paddle is great for families. The day of our trip, several families with children from all over the region took part and seemed to have a lot of fun.

FrOGS Treasurer Laurie Wallace prepared the group for the outing, explaining that we would paddle up the east branch of the Croton River. “The river twists and turns and meanders,” she said. “It doesn’t flow straight. It flows through some great floodplain forest, then out to marshy lake area, then across a small beaver dam, then to another marshy area with beautiful water lilies.”

Participants were given basic instructions in paddling before volunteers helped participants get situated in their canoes that were launched into the water.

Led by Environmental Educator Beth Herr, the trip covered only a few miles of the swamp, which stretches for about 20 miles through the towns of Southeast, Patterson, Pawling and Dover.

While it is possible to paddle most of that length, we were told that it becomes substantially more difficult in some places, for example, where beaver dams force paddlers to lift their canoes over blocked areas.

The paddle began with a narrow twisting section that took concentration to navigate, but soon gave way to a calm open area with sweeping views and plenty of room for canoeists to spread out and explore.

At one point, Herr gestured silently, bringing the group’s attention to a great blue heron standing motionless in the tall grass. Others spotted a turtle and graceful long-winged flies laying eggs on the water. Later we were awed by a stunning section of blooming pond lilies.

Breathing the cool moist air and enjoying the scenery out on the water, we entered a more tranquil world. The trip was a reminder how lucky we are in the mid-Hudson Valley to have such a wealth of places to reconnect with nature. Thanks to FrOGs, the Great Swamp is easily accessible to everyone each spring.

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BIking the Harlem Valley Rail Trail – photo montage

trail web site:  Harlem Valley Rail Trail

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Phase III of the Dutchess Rail-Trail, opened on May 26. The trail, which will eventually be 12 miles, follows the former Maybrook Rail corridor and a water transmission line runs beneath it. The third phase links the Towns of LaGrange, Wappinger, and East Fishkill and creates more than 8 miles of continuous trail.

Dutchess County Executive William Steinhaus, who received a PTNY Trail and Greenway Public Leadership Award in 2007, has been a champion of the project from day one.

View photos of the opening celebration.

source: Parks & Trail NY E-News

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By Sandy Tomcho, Times Herald-Record, link to original post

With warm weather approaching, it’s natural for our thoughts to turn to the great outdoors. Lucky for us, we’re surrounded by picturesque mountains, lakes and forests, courtesy of our own Hudson Valley landscape.

Go! asked several local oudoors experts to recommend some walking trails to get us up and outside, which resulted in two suggestions from each of the surrounding five counties. So you can either stay close to home or see what your neighboring counties have to offer. To help you decide, visit Hudson Valley Hikes at www.recordonline.com/hike

Pike County

Expert: Justin Timmers, Pocono Environmental Education Center’s weekend manager
Recommendation: Two Ponds Trail at PEEC
Why: For beginners and hikers who want to enjoy a leisurely walk in the woods. “The Two Ponds Trail is a wonderful little trail for families with young children. It’s a relatively easy 45-minute walk and full of good things to see.”
Information: At Route 209 between mile markers 8 and 9 in Dingmans Ferry, Pa., 12 miles south of Milford, Pa. Trails are open daily from dawn to dusk and there is no fee to use the trails. Dogs are welcome as long as they’re leashed. Call 570-828-2319 or visit www.peec.org.

Recommendation: Tumbling Waters at PEEC
Why: PEEC’s most popular trail is Tumbling Waters, for obvious reasons. Timmers recommends Tumbling Waters for “folks interested in taking a moderate hike for a couple of hours.” It’s a three-mile trail, boasting two waterfalls, with views of the Delaware Valley and the Kittatinny Mountains.
Information: See Two Ponds Trail information.

Orange County

Expert: Susan Hawvermale-Cayea, director of Orange County Tourism
Recommendation: Heritage Trail
Why: It’s “a great place to quiet fussy babies in a stroller, bike for several miles or just walk along enjoying the scenery,” Hawvermale-Cayea said. The trail allows access at various entry points, with many residential and commercial areas nearby for rest. The 1915 Arts & Crafts Erie Depot stands along the trail. “The nice thing about being on the Heritage Trail is that invariably I meet someone I know,” Hawvermale-Cayea said.

Information: Access to Heritage Trail is in Goshen, Chester and Monroe. The trail is free and open during daylight hours. Dogs are allowed, but must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet. Call 294-8886 or visit www.orangepathways.org.

Recommendation: Sterling Forest State Park
Why: For a “real getaway,” she likes the four-mile trail around Sterling Lake. “The scenery is beautiful, and the occasional glimpses of wildlife make it entertaining.”
Information: Sterling Forest State Park is at 115 Old Forge Road, Tuxedo. The trail is free and open during daylight hours. Dogs are allowed, but must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet. Call 351-5907 or visit www.palisadesparksconservancy.org.

Sullivan County

Expert: Lisa M. Lyons, outdoor author and owner of Morgan Outdoors
Recommendation: Russell Brook Waterfall.
Why: Lyons said a series of hidden waterfalls is “a great choice for your first outing.” Near the waterfall lay old stone structures. “Were they part of an old mill? What did they make here? It’s fun to sit and ponder these things — looking for clues that might tell you more,” Lyons said.
Information: Morton Hill Road to Russell Brook Road in Roscoe. There is no street sign, but one that says “Seasonal Limited Use Highway.” Take left and follow the single lane dirt road one-half mile down to park. Trailhead kiosk has map of all marked trails. Call 439-5507 and visit www.catskillhikes.com.

Expert: Allen Frishman, Fallsburg Rails to Trails Committee chairman
Recommendation: Fallsburg Rail Trail
Why: The rail trail consists of a converted O&W rail bed, and has several interesting viewing points, including mini parks and Sandburg Creek. “This is an excellent spot for a photo op from the top of the bridge,” Frishman said. You might find beaver, duck, geese and other local wildlife on the trail, as well.
Information: Access points are in Mountaindale (across the street from the Mountaindale Post Office on Post Hill Road) and Woodridge. Call 434-8811, ext. 301, or visit www.oandwrailtrail.org.

Ulster County

Expert: Lisa Berger, director of marketing for Ulster County Tourism
Recommendation: Vernooy Kill Falls
Why: It’s “a series of picturesque little waterfalls with pools, dropping about 30 feet in four stages,” Berger said. A tall stone wall along the walk is a remnant of the Vernooy Mill, which Berger said was a major meeting place for farmers bringing their grain for milling.
Information: In the Town of Rochester. From Upper Cherrytown Road, go 3.1 miles to a parking area on the right. It’s open dawn to dusk and dogs are allowed, but must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet.

Recommendation: Minnewaska State Park
Why: The park is on the Shawangunk Mountain Ridge, which rises more than 2,000 feet above sea level. The park itself boasts more than 35 miles of carriageways and 25 miles of footpaths. The easiest walk is a 1.5-mile loop around the lake.
Information: It’s open 9 a.m.-7 p.m. seven days a week and the fee is $6 per car. Dogs are allowed, but must be on a leash no longer than 6 feet. Call 255-0752 or visit http://nysparks.state.ny.us/parks/info.asp?parkID=78.

Dutchess County

Expert: Nancy Lutz, communications director for Dutchess County Tourism
Recommendation: Harlem Valley Rail Trail
Why: The trail consists of two paved sections totaling 15 miles throughout Dutchess County. It’s broken up into six sections consisting of 45.2 miles of paved, open terrain. The trail “provides ideal terrain for walkers, runners, bicyclists, cross-country skiers, wheelchair users, hikers and anyone who wants to enjoy the beautiful landscapes in the Harlem Valley area,” Lutz said.
Information: The trail is open from dawn to dusk and there is no usage fee. Access points are in Millerton and Amenia and dogs are OK as long as they’re leashed. No horses. Call 518-789-9591 or visit www.hvrt.org.

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