Greening the Apple

Excavation Experts: Are Moles or Voles Ruining your Lawn? (Part 1)

By Marcia Anderson

It’s Summertime! Time to get outside and enjoy the great outdoors.

Imagine you are strolling across your lawn on a beautiful day assessing your maintenance routines, when you notice something amiss. It appears as if someone – something! – has created a maze of tunnels under your once-beautiful turf. Voles and moles are the most common culprits. But which is which and how do you tell the difference?

Moles are not the only animal pests responsible for tunneling lawn and garden areas. In reality, it’s really voles causing much of the damage chalked up to moles. Other than names that rhyme, voles and moles are entirely different pests with little in common. Once you understand their differences, it becomes rather easy to tell them apart and to develop a control strategy. The biggest differences between moles and voles is their diet and the damage they cause.

Voles are also known as the meadow or field mouse. Photo by Jack Kelly Clark (www.ipm.ucdavis.edu)

Voles are also known as the meadow or field mouse. Photo by Jack Kelly Clark (www.ipm.ucdavis.edu)

Voles

Voles are rodents, as are mice, rats, gophers and squirrels. They look much like mice, only with shorter tails. Voles, of which there are 23 species, usually do not invade homes and should not be confused with the common house mouse. Voles are plant-eaters, feeding on the stems and blades of grass, and the roots, seeds and bulbs of flowering and garden crops. If that is not enough, in winter when other foods are scarce, they’ll even chew the bark off trees and shrubs.

When voles make tunnels while searching for roots to eat, they do not create raised ridges. Voles create golf-ball-sized entry holes into their tunnels along walls and in mulched beds. Their above ground grassy runways connect to multiple, clustered burrow openings. Their surface tunnels are most noticeable in early spring, just after the snow melts.

Moles

Moles are built for tunneling with paddle-like paws. Photo: Stanislaw Szyalo (a-z-animals.com)

Moles are built for tunneling with paddle-like paws. Photo: Stanislaw Szyalo
(a-z-animals.com)

Unlike voles, moles are not rodents, and they don’t eat plants. Their primary diet is earthworms with a few insects – beetle larvae and adults, ants, wasps, and flies tossed in as appetizers. According to Ohio State University, a five-ounce mole will consume 45-50 pounds of worms and insects each year.

Landscape demolition from moles comes in the form of tunnels, runways and raised burrows in your lawn, ground cover, and shrub areas while on their never-ending search for food. Moles, are built for tunneling, with paddle-like paws that make quick work of moving even the most dense clay soils. Moles can dig surface tunnels at a rate of 18 feet/hour.  The word “mole” is from the Middle English molle which is derived from mold-warpe, meaning “earth-thrower.”

Moles prefer well-drained, loose, sandy soil, and they avoid heavy clay, gravelly soils, and very dry or very wet soils. Because moles prefer moist soil, human environs such as manicured suburban lawns, parks and golf courses often provide beneficial habitat due to higher quality soils and adequate moisture.

Moles are constantly tunneling in search of meals, pushing up mini mountain ranges all over lawns, and creating volcanoes of soil in random spots. Moles produce two types of elaborate tunnels. The tunnels just beneath the surface, are feeding tunnels and appear as raised ridges running across your lawn. The second type of runway runs deeper and enables the moles to unite the feeding tunnels in a network. As the weather cools, moles will retreat into their deeper tunnels, often up to five feet beneath the surface. It is the soil excavated from the deep tunnels that resemble little volcanoes.

Management

Pest identification is a fundamental step in an Integrated Pest Management (IPM) plan. IPM is a smart, sensible and sustainable approach to controlling pests. IPM is smart because it addresses the root causes of pest problems. It is sensible because it provides a healthier environment, and it is a sustainable approach that provides effective, long-term pest control. Specific knowledge about your pest will give you key clues for their management.

Preventing pest problems through foresight, is the first rule of IPM. Taking preventive steps to preclude a pest problem is preferable to waiting for pests to arrive, then having to eradicate them. To deter these landscape pests, be prepared to alter their environment.

Stay tuned for Part 2 of Excavation Experts to learn how to prevent and control moles and voles. In the meantime visit the University of Nebraska website for more information on moles and voles.

About the Author: About the Author: Marcia is with EPA’s Center of Expertise for School IPM in Dallas, Texas. She holds a PhD in Environmental Management from Montclair State University along with degrees in Biology, Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture, and Instruction and Curriculum. Marcia was formerly with the EPA Region 2 Pesticides Program and has been a professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, Geology, and Oceanography at several universities.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Welcome to the Weekend!

Looking for more ways to appreciate the summer around NYC? Our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ summer series brings you a variety of green, fun, and free/affordable activities to do this weekend. We hope you will join some of them, and that you’ll let us know about other events not on our list. As you embark on your adventures, tweet us (@EPAregion2) with our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ hashtag #WTWEPA!

Friday – July 24, 2015

Land_Slide Art Gallery
Brooklyn
6 – 9 p.m.

Land __ Slide features Caroline Voagen Nelson’s and Rebecca Sherman’s dynamic representations of moving environments in a sustainable, eco-conscious era. Both artists used sustainable products and materials (including sustainable inks and wood) and no harmful chemicals during the process and production of the artworks in this exhibit.

Observing with the Amateur Astronomers Association of New York
Manhattan
7 – 10 p.m.

See Jupiter, Venus and the Moon through members’ telescopes which will be set up on the plaza just north of the fountain at Lincoln Center.

Billopp Shores: The Ebb and Flow of Man and Nature
Staten Island
10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

This retrospective exhibition offers a glimpse of man and nature’s impact on the development of the waterfront in Conference House Park.

Saturday – July 25, 2015

Being Green at Home
Hillsborough Township, NJ
9 a.m. – Noon

Have you ever wondered what you could be doing at home to be more sustainable? Join Duke Farms staff member, Clifford Berek, and discuss three main areas where small changes make a big impact. During this program, we will discuss the four “R”s, your options when it comes to power and your impact on your local water resources.

Yoga on the Green with New York Sports Club
Queens
9:30 10:30 a.m.

Summer’s here so join us for some yoga on the Center Green in Glendale. Classes are free. If the weather is questionable or rainy the class will be moved inside NYSC. You don’t need to be a member of NYSC to participate.

Coffee & Tea | Bed-Stuy Community Forum
Brooklyn
11 a.m. – 1 p.m.

This environmental, arts, and educational initiative calls on citizens to co-produce creative and open ways to share skills and showcase recent cultural and environmental initiatives happening locally in order to amplify the diverse voices and encourage future civic engagement.

NYC Poetry Festival
Governors Island
Saturday – Sunday
11 a.m.

The Poetry Society of New York will once again invite New Yorkers to come together for this two day festival to celebrate NYC’s vibrant poetry community. The event will include over 60 poetry organizations and 250 poets on its three stages; a Vendor’s Village where local booksellers, artists and craft makers will sell their wares; a beer garden sponsored by Brooklyn Brewery; healthy and delicious food options; poetic installation art throughout, the Ring of Daisies open mic; and last but not least, the Children’s Poetry Festival, complete with writing games and its own fourth, all-kids stage.

Sunday – July 26, 2015

6th Annual Butterfly Day
Lyndhurst, NJ
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

The highly-anticipated butterfly festival is back!  Join us for a fun-filled day of butterfly walks and FREE kids activities. Kids activities include a scavenger hunt, face painting, a butterfly costume contest (12 and under), and butterfly crafts. Onsite experts to help identify the various butterflies and provide gardening tips.

Family Art Project: Butterfly Habitat Hats
Bronx 
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

See them and sketch them, flying and sipping the nectar of their favorite shrub or flowering bush. Then learn about local butterfly species and make a butterfly habitat hat.

Wave Hill Garden Highlights Walk
Bronx
2 – 3 p.m.

Join us for an hour-long tour of seasonal garden highlights.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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This Summer Prevent Pests by Reducing Moisture Outside of Your Home

By Marcia Anderson

Clogged gutters provide the standing water that mosquitoes need for egg laying and larval growth

Clogged gutters provide the standing water that mosquitoes need for egg laying and larval growth

Like most suburban dwellers, I spent the past few weekends trimming vegetation, mowing the lawn and making sure gutters and other areas around the house were clean of debris and standing water. I soon realized that the mosquito, black fly, and other insect populations were blooming along with the flowers. But where were all of these pests coming from?

Bugs and rodents go wherever there is water. If you have a water leak in or under your house, and the wood stays wet, it will attract pests such as: wood lice, carpenter ants, and termites. Pests that eat wood are particularly interested in moist wood because it is easier for them to chew. They also rely on the moisture in the wood as a source of water. Termites and carpenter ants are known for burrowing through wood and forming nests inside the wood structures. Once holes are made because pests have found wet, weakened spots, rodents may enter the home through those gaps. Have your home’s crawlspaces checked for pests when plumbing problems are detected.

Insects and other small pests need to draw life-sustaining moisture from their surroundings, so they avoid dry places and are attracted to moist areas. If the soil around your house is dry, it’ll be less attractive to insects, spiders, centipedes and other pests.

Buckets provide great habitats for mosquito breeding

Buckets provide great habitats for mosquito breeding

Downspouts and gutters are the first places to look for breeding pests. Termites thrive in the moisture often found around your home’s downspouts. Direct water away from your home by turning the downspouts away from the house and use downspout extensions (splash blocks) to disperse rainwater and prevent soil erosion around the foundation. Also watch for leaks and clogs in your gutters that may eventually lead to water damage. Make sure all other drains, including the air conditioner drain lines, flow away from the home and that the pipes extend at least two feet from the foundation.

I found a few standing water sources on my property.

  • The drainage holes on the bottom of a planter were clogged with leaves and collecting rain water.
  • My grandson’s plastic pail and other play equipment had been forgotten outside and had filled with rainwater and mosquito larvae.
  • One of my sprinkler system’s underground lines was leaking, creating a puddle in the yard.
  • Water was collecting in a cavity in one of our trees.

Everyone should take steps to eliminate places where water collects outdoors, such as: tires, garbage cans, tree holes, buckets, wash tubs, even table umbrella stands, etc. This will not only eliminate mosquito breeding habitats, but also water sources for cockroaches and termites. Empty out any water you find to eliminate this problem.

I also had to remove some mulch that was piled too close to the house and trimmed the plants that were growing too close to the siding.  Mulch traps moisture and should be raked away from windowsills, siding and any other wood. Keep a two-foot pest-free strip around the building by trimming branches, and making sure mulch doesn’t touch the foundation.

Tree cavities provide an unexpected breeding spot for mosquitoes

Tree cavities provide an unexpected breeding spot for mosquitoes

Plants growing against the house will also keep siding damp so trim back bushes and trees. Make sure that the soil is sloped away from the house at least six inches every 10 feet. This will reduce soil dampness near your foundation and keep your basement drier.

Lastly, monitor irrigation systems. Ensure sprinklers are adjusted to spray away from the foundation walls and the house.

Be PestWise! Regular maintenance and sanitation are key components of a smart, sensible and sustainable pest management program. Recognizing the value of pest prevention is an important first step. Preventing the accumulation of moisture outside of your home protects you from pests, saves water, and helps the environment. Visit EPA’s website for more information on controlling pests in and around your home.

About the Author: About the Author: Marcia is with EPA’s Center of Expertise for School IPM in Dallas, Texas. She holds a PhD in Environmental Management from Montclair State University along with degrees in Biology, Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture, and Instruction and Curriculum. Marcia was formerly with the EPA Region 2 Pesticides Program and has been a professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, Geology, and Oceanography at several universities.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Celebrate Summer

Every weekend should be a celebration when it’s the summer! Our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ summer series guarantees you’ll have a fun, affordable, and green summer.

If you do attend some of these events please be sure to use our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ hashtag, #WTWEPA, on twitter so we can share the fun!

Friday – July 17, 2015

Zumba on the Green with NYSC
Queens
8000 Cooper Avenue
Friday, July 17, 2015
5:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m.

Join New York Sports Club in Glendale on Friday evening for an hour of Zumba fun! The class will be on the Center Green and if weather is questionable, don’t worry – the class will be moved inside! This is a treat – you don’t even have to be a NYSC member to take the class.

High Line Park Art Performance
Manhattan
On the High Line at West 34th Street
Friday, July 17, 2015
7 – 8 p.m.

This unique event brings you into the world of local artist Francisca Benitez. Watch as she ‘probes the visible and invisible boundaries that populate our urban space’ at the High Line Park this Friday! Using sign language, her performance will engage park visitors in a series of vignettes that weave throughout the park. This free event open for all ages is one you won’t want to miss!

Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret
Manhattan
2 West 64th Street
Ceremonial Hall- 4th Floor
Friday, July 17, 2015
6:30 – 9 p.m.

If you’re in the area and want to learn more about ensuring a sustainable future, check out Kip Andersen and Keegan Kuhn’s Documentary Cowspiracy: The Sustainability Secret. The film screening will be followed by an engaging discussion featuring inspiring environmentalists from our area!  

Saturday – July 18, 2015

City of Water Day
New York and New Jersey
Saturday, July 18, 2015
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

This free, day-long event will be held on Governors Island, NY and Maxwell Place Park in Hoboken, NJ. It will draw thousands from the metropolitan region to celebrate the water that surrounds us! Join the Metropolitan Waterfront Alliance and its 800 + partners as they’ve organized hundreds of waterfront activities for this major celebration.

Community Paddle
Manhattan
Concrete Plant Park, Bronx
Saturday, July 18, 2015
24 p.m.

Bring your family out on the water this weekend! This free canoe trip for beginners and families will surely be a fun time. If you decide you want to join last minute, no worries – this event is free and requires no reservations.

Electronics Recycling Collection
Manhattan
119 West 23rd Street
Saturday, July 18, 2015
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Have you ever wondered if there was a better place for all your old iPhones and MP3 players? Consider this the haven for your old electronics. Responsibly recycle all your unwanted or broken electronics but please, no appliances like microwaves or refrigerators. For more details and information click here. 

Sunday – July 19, 2015

The Rubin Block Party
Manhattan
150 West 17th Street
Between 6th and 7th Avenues
Sunday, July 19, 2015
1:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m.

This event is double the fun! When you attend the block party you also get FREE admission to the museum all day. Inspired by their exhibition, “Becoming Another: The Power of Masks,” the Rubin Museum invites you to ‘transform yourself this summer’. So, why not? Give it a try this weekend and enjoy tours, art making, outdoor family yoga, and a costume contest with your friends and family! You might even catch a performance by the Tibetan Language School of NY and NJ!

*This event will happen rain or shine!

Stop ‘N’ Swap
Manhattan
Soha Square Market, Harlem
Sunday, July 19, 2015
Noon – 3 p.m.

Calling all of Harlem! Come out to the Soha Square Market with any reusable, clean, and portable items that you no longer need. If you see something new-to-you, you can take it home for free! Please – no furniture or large items!

*You don’t have to bring something to take something

Laughter in the Park
Brooklyn
Brooklyn Bridge Park
Enter Old Fulton Street, bear left to Pier 1
Sunday, July 19, 2015
2 – 4 p.m.

Don’t rely on your Twitter or Instagram newsfeeds for your weekend dosage of laughter, just swing by the park for some comedic relief! Keep the weekend spirit alive on Sunday by sitting in on New York’s only free, outdoor comedy show at the Brooklyn Bridge Park.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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The Manhattan Skyline: Why are there no tall skyscrapers between Midtown and Downtown?

By Marcia Anderson

Skyline of midtown Manhattan from the East

Skyline of midtown Manhattan from the East

Skyscrapers seem to dominate Manhattan, but look a little closer and you will see very clearly that they are actually clustered in two distinct areas. Downtown is home to the new Freedom Tower, the Financial District, EPA and Federal Plaza. Midtown includes the Empire State Building, Chrysler Building, Park Avenue and Times Square.

The surface bedrock over much of New York City provides solid anchorage to support the high buildings. Although there are two areas of this strong bedrock at or close to the surface, there is a valley in between where the building heights are lower. In the region south of 30th Street the strong bedrock begins to fall away, and at Washington Square it descends deeply into the earth. The whole region between midtown and Wall Street, including Greenwich Village, SoHo, and Chinatown, would be underwater were it not filled with fathoms of debris left over from the Ice Ages. In this middle area where the bedrock is buried deeply beneath sediments, it is far more difficult to build tall buildings with structural integrity, since such buildings have to be anchored on solid bedrock, not on sediments and glacial till.

Manhattan Schist in the Rat Rock area of Central Park. Courtesy of mountainproject.com

Manhattan Schist in the Rat Rock area of Central Park. Courtesy of mountainproject.com

The Rocks that Form Manhattan.

According to the American Museum of Natural History, the island of Manhattan is built on three layers of rock known as Manhattan Schist, Inwood Marble and Fordham Gneiss. The layers were once flat, laying like a sandwich. The Inwood Marble was metamorphosed from limestone by heat and intense pressure, and formed the 150 to 500 foot thick marble beds beneath the Harlem River, East River and the Harlem lowland. It is visible above ground forming a ridge from Dyckman Street on the Upper West Side northward to Marble Hill. The billion-year-old Fordham Gneiss lies above the surface in the Bronx, and forms the Riverdale and Grand Concourse ridges.

The Manhattan Schist runs from the Henry Hudson Bridge on the north end to the Battery on its southern tip. However, it dips abruptly several hundred feet below ground at Washington Square, and gradually ascends beginning at Chambers Street (New York City nature). The three rock layers are now interfolded and shape the topography of Manhattan. Where Manhattan schist is found close to the surface, you can build high, and so Downtown and Midtown host Manhattan’s tallest skyscrapers.

What Caused the Great Dip in the Manhattan Schist?

About 500 million years ago, the African continent, was on a collision course with the ancient North American continent. 450 million years ago, New York City was situated where the continental plates collided and was trapped roughly in the center of the newly formed super-continent, Pangaea. The impact of the colliding continental plates pushed up the land located in-between the two plates, like an accordion, forcing mountains upwards, forming the soaring Tectonic Mountain Range. The collision folded the bedrock into dips and folds which account for the deep valley filled with sediment and till (New York City geology). Today, all that remains of these mountains are their stumps which are the bedrock of modern-day NYC. Being buried and compressed under such a vast mountain range has made the Manhattan Schist an exceptionally hard rock. However, the dips that were folded down formed valleys that were later filled with accumulated loose sediments and rocks during the Ice Ages.

But the story of New York City does not end there. The area that NYC sat on was weak, unstable, and prone to earthquakes, and later volcanoes. The volcanoes triggered a mass extinction of plants and animals, by depositing huge amounts of hot magma and poisoning surrounding waters and air with sulfur and other toxic compounds. About 200 million years ago, a dark, volcanic rock, called basalt, was formed by these volcanic eruptions, and created the Palisades. At this same time, the super-continent broke apart, and NYC wound up on the coast again. Much of the later success of NYC is owed to its location on the coast and its deep water harbor.

The minerals in the Manhattan Schist can also prove this story of the bedrock of NYC’s long history. The shiny flakes of mica and crystals of garnet only form at very deep depths, under extensive pressure for millions of years.  Look for them, in the outcrops scattered throughout Central Park.

About the Author: About the Author: Marcia is with EPA’s Center of Expertise for School IPM in Dallas, Texas. She holds a PhD in Environmental Management from Montclair State University along with degrees in Biology, Environmental Design, Landscape Architecture, and Instruction and Curriculum. Marcia was formerly with the EPA Region 2 Pesticides Program and has been a professor of Earth and Environmental Studies, Geology, and Oceanography at several universities.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Summer Weekends for Unwinding

As you recover from the Fourth of July festivities, we hope you are settling back into your routine and that you will take the time this weekend to unwind and enjoy the simple and rich pleasures of the environment and eco-friendly activities. Our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ summer series brings you a variety of green, fun, and free/affordable activities to do this weekend. We hope you will join some of them, and that you’ll let us know about other events not on our list. As you embark on your adventures, tweet us (@EPAregion2) with our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ hashtag #WTWEPA.

Friday – July 10, 2015

Exhibition: Living Landmarks
Manhattan
Central Park
Friday, July 10, 2015
9 a.m. 5 p.m.

Want to appreciate the outdoors through a variety of media? The Living Landmarks exhibit is celebrating the 50th anniversary of NYC’s landmarks law, displaying historical and contemporary photography, renderings, maps, artifacts, and memorabilia of the city’s nine individually landmarked public parks. Open weekdays until August 28.

Mommy, Music, and Me
Queens
Crocheron Park
Friday, July 10, 2015
10:30 11:30 a.m.

Expose your children to the great outdoors, movement, and music! This event will involve outdoor music and movement activities for children up to age 7. Please bring a low chair or blanket.

Summer Sports Experience
Bronx
Williamsbridge Oval
Friday, July 10, 2015
10 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

Summer Sports Experience is a free program focused on helping kids develop sports skills. At this particular event, there will be track and field, street hockey, basketball, soccer, flag football and kickball. Best for children ages 6 through 13. To register, email Sarah Bishow-Semevolos at Sarah.Bishow@parks.nyc.gov.

Saturday – July 11, 2015

Canarsie Beach Cleanup
BrooklynCanarsie Beach
Saturday, July 11, 2015
9 a.m.Noon

What’s a better way to spend your summer Saturday than to volunteer to help save the environment? Clean up Canarsie Beach with NYC H2O, Deputy Brooklyn Borough President Diana Reyna, City Councilman Alan Maisel and the National Park Service. You will also see the area’s shell fish and learn about the pier’s history. Optional bus transportation available from Union Square. Please register for the event here.

Bicycling Basics
Bronx
Van Cortlandt Park
Saturday, July 11, 2015
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Learn bicycling basics, such as starting and stopping, shifting gears, adjusting your seat and helmet, and choosing a bike. This free three-hour class is great for adults and mature teens who are beginners. To register, click on the event link in the title of this entry.

Coffee Bark
Brooklyn
Prospect Park
Saturday, July 11, 2015
7 9 a.m.

Calling all dog-lovers: bring your dogs to the park for free treats. There will be other dog lovers there, and you can learn great tips and tricks for having your dog off-leash.

GreenThumb Workshop: Building Your Garden’s Presence
Bronx
Neighborhood Advisory Committee Community Garden
Saturday, July 11, 2015
10 a.m. – Noon

You may love to engage with the environment by gardening, but have you thought more broadly about your garden’s presence? Come to this workshop to learn about how to collect a garden’s oral, written, and visual history. Bring a piece of your garden’s history with you – it can be an elder or founding garden member, photo, or story.

Yoga for Gardeners
Brooklyn
Tranquility Garden
Saturday, July 11, 2015
11 a.m. – Noon

While caring for their plants’ health, avid gardeners might sometimes neglect their own. Come to this yoga class especially designed to help gardeners of all ages and abilities avoid strains and injuries. Bring a yoga mat or large towel if you have one. There will also be some mats available at the event. To register, email mobrien@bbg.org or call 718-623-7385.

Sunday – July 12, 2015

Trail of the Month: Blue Trail (Northwest)
Staten Island
Blood Root Valley
Sunday July 12, 2015
11 a.m. 2 p.m.

Join the Greenbelt Conservancy for a challenging hike on the Trail of the Month, Blue Trail. Departing from the Greenbelt Nature Center, the hike will explore the Bloodroot Valley and provide an opportunity to learn about the history of Seaview Hospital (Staten Island Greenbelt Conservancy). Best for advanced hikers. Be sure to dress for the weather and trail conditions.

Little Red Lighthouse Tour
Manhattan
Fort Washington Park
Sunday, July 12, 2015
1 – 4 p.m.

Urban Park Rangers are experts in studying human and natural history in New York City. In this historic walking tour, Rangers will explore the Jeffrey’s Hook lighthouse, also known as “the Little Red Lighthouse.” Attend this landmark’s open house on a first come, first served basis.

Family Art Project: Friendly Vegetables and Microbes
Bronx
Wave Hill
Sunday, July 12, 2015
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

Join visiting artist and sculptor S.E. Nash to learn about the edible plants growing at Wave Hill. Participants will be able to look closely at the inner structures of fermented and fresh vegetables through a microscope. Then visitors are welcome to engage in a fun art project, creating mixed-media collages out of cardboard pieces, recycled materials and burlap.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Raise a Glass in Celebration of Lakes Awareness Month

By John Martin

Fishing on Lake Gleneida in Putnam County, New York. Lake Gleneida is a source of drinking water for New York City. (Photo courtesy of New York City Department of Environmental Protection.)

Fishing on Lake Gleneida in Putnam County, New York. Lake Gleneida is a source of drinking water for New York City. (Photo courtesy of New York City Department of Environmental Protection.)

Have you ever swallowed lake water? If you’ve spent any time in New York City, the answer to that question is most likely yes.

The city gets a lot of attention for its rivers and many miles of ocean beaches, but not many people notice the hundreds of lakes that dot the five boroughs and their surroundings. This really is surprising, considering the important role our lakes play as areas of recreation and as a source of drinking water. Yes, you heard that correctly – New York City gets a good part of its drinking water from lakes.

Many lakes in New York’s Putnam County are part of the New York City watershed system. In addition to being used by locals for boating and fishing, water from Lake Gleneida, Lake Gilead and Kirk Lake is used to supply some of the city’s 19 upstate reservoirs. Water from these city-owned reservoirs – which usually requires no filtering due to its high quality – is piped into the five boroughs every day, supplying the millions of people who live and work here with clean, healthy drinking water around the clock.

July is Lakes Awareness Month, making this a perfect time to reflect on all the wonderful recreational opportunities our lakes provide, and the critical role they play in keeping New York City running. As we enjoy and use these treasured resources, it’s important to keep in mind that the water we may be boating or fishing in over the weekend could be the same water that ends up in your water bottle or coffee cup when you’re back home during the week.

For some pointers on how you can help protect our lakes, check out EPA’s clean lakes webpage: http://water.epa.gov/type/lakes/

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.

Red, White & Blue? Make your holiday weekend Green!

Enjoy your 4th of July Weekend fireworks along with these family-friendly outdoor activities. Our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ summer series brings you a variety of green, fun, and free/affordable activities to do this holiday weekend. We hope you will join some of them, and that you’ll let us know about other events not on our list. As you embark on your adventures, tweet us (@EPAregion2) with our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ hashtag #WTWEPA! 

Friday – July 3, 2015

Learn How to Forage in the Heart of the Urban Jungle – Central Park Edition!
Manhattan – Central Park
11:30 a.m. 3:30 p.m.

Learn how to forage in Central Park! In the Ramble, you can find large stands of field garlic with mild-flavored onion-like bulbs, plus the tender young leaves, which you use like chives. Wet lawn areas could feature spicy hairy bittercress and intensely flavored winter cress, while sunny, grassy spots with poor soil may produce shepherd’s purse, the most mild-flavored of the mustard greens.

Lola Star’s Dreamland Roller Disco Party: Saturday Night Fever
Brooklyn – Prospect Park (Lefrak Center at Lakeside)
7:30 10 p.m.

Show off your disco moves at the Saturday Night Fever-themed roller disco party in the park!

Saturday – July 4, 2015

2015 Garden Street Farmers Market
Hoboken, NJ
9 a.m. 2 p.m.

The Hoboken Farmer’s Market serves three purposes. It helps small farmers in New Jersey sell their produce by giving them a venue they would otherwise not have. Local fresh fruits and vegetables are brought to the residents of Hoboken by the people that actually harvest them. And last but certainly not least the Hoboken Farmer’s Market has served as a gathering place for the community, where people exchange smiles, thoughts, and recipes.

Urban Farm Exploration Days 
Randall’s Island
11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Come discover Randall’s Island Urban Farm – all are welcome at these free events! An urban farm expert will be on site to answer questions. You can discover a wide variety of fruits and vegetables, meet the chickens, and learn about the rice paddies.

Pop-Up Audubon II: Fishing Fun 
Brooklyn – Prospect Park
Noon – 6 p.m.

Join the Prospect Park Alliance to explore aquatic and avian ecology in Prospect Park.

Sunday – July 5, 2015

Moderate Nature Exploration Hike
Staten Island – Wilde and Melvin Avenues in Schmul Park
11 a.m. 1 p.m.

Urban Park Ranger hiking guides will introduce you to the hidden gems of New York City and places often off-limits to the general public. On these hikes you can gain orienteering skills, explore our city’s rich history, or just take an hour to unplug from the world. Moderate hikes feature longer, faster paced hikes on rugged terrain. For all hiking programs wear comfortable shoes or boots, and pack water and a light snack.

Fun on the Farm
Brooklyn – Lefferts Historic House in Prospect Park
2 5 p.m.

Visitors of all ages can come help Prospect Park Alliance staff take care of the potato plot, herb gardens, and berry patches by pulling weeds and helping to water. Bring a hat and a bottle of water and we will provide the tools and gloves.

Summer on the Hudson: Amplified Sundays Presents Banda Magda
Manhattan – Pier I (in Riverside Park South)
7 – 9 p.m.

Banda Magda plays vibrantly danceable live music accompanied by a spectacular sunset over the Hudson River!

Alley Pond Park Adventure Course
Queens – Alley Pond Park
1 – 3:30 pm

The Alley Pond Park Adventure Course offers free outdoor adventure that fosters trust, communication, and team building. The program is two-hour adventure which includes both low and high elements. The Adventure Course is open for individuals, small groups of friends, and family.

Forest Crew
Manhattan – Highbridge Park
1 – 3:30 pm

The Highbridge Forest Crew works to remove invasive plants from the park and to care for recently planted native trees.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Field Trip to Camden, NJ

By Carsen Mata

Tour visits the Puchack Well Field site.

Tour visits the Puchack Well Field site.

My walk to the office on Monday morning was quite different compared to most days. My stride longer, my pace faster, today I was going on a field trip! This wasn’t just any old field trip by the way, this was a two-hour trek from New York City down to Camden, New Jersey. The field trip crew that I accompanied consisted of a few seasoned EPA Region 2 staff members, our Regional Administrator Judith Enck, and Congressman Norcross of District One. The day’s itinerary had us hopping from one event to the next, guaranteeing an eventful day. First up – the Puchack Well Field site in Pennsauken, NJ. Upon arrival we were greeted by John Gorin, the remedial project manager for the site. John is the go-to guy for all things Puchack, especially when it comes to the ins and outs of the cleanup process.

The coolest part of the morning was seeing the site in full operation mode. This was surely the perfect time for a visit. Cranes and sifters were at work, soil from one area was being transported to another, and misters above the site gates were spraying the perimeter of the work zone. When everyone arrived John ran us through a brief overview of the work being done and the potential action items to come. After a short announcement and photo-op for the press we headed over to the next event at the Ray and Joan Kroc Salvation Army Center in Camden.

EPA’s John Gorin explains the cleanup plans.

EPA’s John Gorin explains the cleanup plans.

It was here that we met the Director of Economic Development for Camden, Jim Harveson, who excitedly joined Judith and Congressman Norcross in announcing that the Camden Brownfields program was receiving nearly $1 million in EPA grants. This package of grants will go towards the cleanup efforts at sites in Camden like the Harrison Avenue landfill and the former warehouse, experimental lab, and toy assembly plant at East State Street.

The press event was held outdoors with the recently constructed ball fields and playground of the Salvation Army Center serving as a beautiful backdrop. All of the event’s speakers were wonderful but Congressman Norcross, a Camden native, stepped up to the podium to address the media with a sentimental message. He reminisced about what this space once looked like and what the development of sites like these meant to the people that live there. It is clear that these grants represent much more than funding for various development projects. They symbolize the perseverance of a community that has been burdened by decades of industrial pollution. After many trying years, this area and its residents are on their way to environmental and economic success, something every community deserves.

Jim Harveson concluded the event by inviting everyone that attended back in two years. By then, he hopes the site will feature a waterfront park as well as a field of solar panels to power the center. For now, they’re taking it one site at a time, making every grant dollar count.

To finish off our day we visited a portion of the Welsbach & General Gas Mantle Superfund site in Gloucester City, just fifteen minutes south of Camden. Although a great deal of the cleanup work has already been completed, this particular area has soil and building surfaces that are still contaminated by radioactive waste. It is also situated on one of the busiest port facilities in the region, making it uniquely complex for all parties involved in the cleanup. We were joined by Rick Robinson, the remedial project manager of the site and Leo Holt – president of Holt Logistics, the owner and operator of the port, for a short bus tour around the property.

Judith Enck addresses the crowd.

Judith Enck addresses the crowd.

As soon as we witnessed cleanup and port activity occurring simultaneously, we understood the complexities of the site on a deeper level. Humongous containers filled with fruits and vegetables from all over the world were being transported by even bigger pieces of construction machinery. On the other side of the property EPA cleanup activities were being completed. I suddenly wondered, “all this activity AND an EPA cleanup? At the same time?” I’ve never felt so small in my life! Seeing the port in action and learning about the cleanup from such experienced staff solidified the fact that the EPA will stop at nothing to protect human health and the environment!

I think it’s safe to say this might be one of the best field trips I’ve ever been on.

About the Author: Carsen Mata is an intern for the EPA Region 2 Public Affairs Division.  She currently resides in Jersey City, NJ and is a graduate of Fairfield University in Fairfield, CT.  She is entering her last semester of graduate school at Fairfield University and will be receiving her Master of Public Administration in December 2015.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

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Conservation All Around Us: The Great Swamp

By Tina Wei

Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge

On June 9th, I assisted David Kluesner, EPA Region 2 community affairs team leader, at an event with the Great Swamp Watershed Association  where he gave a presentation to the community members of Morristown, NJ about the significant steps the EPA is taking to clean up the lower Passaic River.

At the meeting, we heard attendees express strong support for activities to conserve the environment and protect human health. To learn about the community’s relationship with the environment and to see an example of successful, impactful conservation efforts, we visited the nearby Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge.

This refuge, established by Congress in 1960 and located in Morris County, NJ, is one of the 560 refuges in the Department of Interior’s U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s National Wildlife Refuge System. We toured the wonderful Helen C. Fenske Visitor Center, featuring interactive environmental education activities, friendly rangers, and live bird-cams. The refuge’s 7,768 acres of habitat allow for wildlife viewing, photography, and hunting.

We learned that North America is divided into four key flyways for migrating birds. New York City is located in the highly trafficked Atlantic Flyway. This refuge, located only 26 miles away from Times Square, is of great importance, providing a crucial resting place for over 244 species of birds who can’t rest in NYC.

We also learned about this refuge’s unique history. Beginning in 1844, this area’s marshlands were drained and converted to agricultural fields. As these farms became unprofitable and disappeared, alternative uses for this land were proposed, including a 1959 proposal to turn this area into a major airport (what is now Newark Liberty International Airport). In response, community members raised more than one million dollars to buy almost 3,000 acres of the Great Swamp land, donating it to the Department of the Interior to be conserved and reverted back to swampland.

This history is interesting for thinking about key questions regarding conservation:

  • When, why, and how should we conserve the environment?
  • How can we understand our local histories in light of these questions?

Do you know about the local history of a National Wildlife Refuge? What do you think about conservation? Tell us in the comments section!

About the Author: Tina Wei is a summer intern in EPA’s Region 2 Public Affairs Division. She has loved this wonderful learning opportunity, and especially enjoys going on work-related fieldtrips. During the school year, she is an undergraduate student at Princeton University.

Editor's Note: The opinions expressed here are those of the author. They do not reflect EPA policy, endorsement, or action, and EPA does not verify the accuracy or science of the contents of the blog.

Please share this post. However, please don't change the title or the content. If you do make changes, don't attribute the edited title or content to EPA or the author.