Greening the Apple

Youth in the Environment

By Dan D’Agostino

Small programs at EPA Region 2 can often have a meaningful impact for the local community. Each year, the Youth in the Environment Program (YEP) takes around 20 high-school and college aged young people from economically underprivileged communities around New York City and presents them with the opportunity to work in the environmental field for the summer. The participants get firsthand experience working at New York City Department of Environmental Protection (NYCDEP) facilities, performing critical lab work, field sampling, working in warehouses and running the billing system. The Youth in the Environment program fosters an understanding of the value of public service and the significance of protecting our local environmental resources.

EPA Region 2, the National Partnership for Environmental Technology Education (PETE) of the New England Interstate Water Pollution Control Commission (NEIWPCC), the Woodycrest Center for Human Development and NYCDEP partnered together to deliver this program to the community. Nationally, the Youth in the Environment Program here in Region 2 is the longest running youth program that PETE implements. The program represents a nexus between federal and local government and local communities. It is a great example of EPA Region 2 bringing people together with the goal of a healthier environment and increased economic opportunity for young New Yorkers.

Doug Pabst and Dan D’Agostino from EPA Region 2’s Clean Water Division present an award to a Youth in the Environment program graduate.

Doug Pabst and Dan D’Agostino from EPA Region 2’s Clean Water Division present an award to a Youth in the Environment program graduate.

On August 18, 2016, this year’s program was capped off by the annual “Recognition Day” ceremony, where youth participants, community leaders, program organizers and program partners convened to celebrate the achievements of the young people involved. Deputy Bronx Borough President Aurelia Green addressed the participants and highlighted how fortunate they were to have the opportunity to work in the environmental field, stressing the potential to make a positive impact on the community. The Clean Water Division’s Doug Pabst delivered a keynote address in which he explained how many of us take New York City’s water infrastructure for granted- the only time we think about it is the rare occasion that is isn’t working 100% correctly. He praised the youth participants for all the hard work they did and for being a part of something so important to the daily lives of New Yorkers.

Perhaps the most compelling words were those of the youth participants themselves. All of them spoke of the program as a challenge; one that could be interpersonal, scientific or even physical in nature; but one that they all overcame with determination and hard work.

About the Author: Dan is with the Clean Water Division’s State Revolving Fund Program Section. He holds a MEng. in Environmental Engineering from Manhattan College. Dan has been with EPA Region 2 for six years and has worked on a variety of subject areas including sustainable infrastructure, climate change and trash free waters.

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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If You Like Apple Pie… Save The Bees!

By Sion Lee

I love honey. I put it on my pancakes, waffles, oatmeal, yogurt, salad dressings and marinades. Honey is nature’s sweet liquid gold. As a guilty lover of sweet, processed foods, I am routinely amazed at how delicious and natural honey is. All bees scare me, but I sincerely respect the honeybee for producing such delicious bee vomit. (Surprise! Honey is, in a sense, bee vomit.)

Interestingly enough, honey bees are not just for honey. In fact, the most important role of the honeybee is its role as a pollinator. Animals or insects that transfer pollen from plant to plant are pollinators. Some plants are self-pollinating, which means they can fertilize themselves. Others, however, are cross-pollinating plants, which need a pollinator (or the wind) to transfer the pollen to another flower in order to fertilize. Once a plant is fertilized, it can grow seeds or fruit. This is how many of the world’s crops are grown. Almonds, apples, cherries, citrus, avocados, broccoli and pumpkins are common examples of foods that need pollinators.

Source: Whole Foods Market

Source: Whole Foods Market

Without honeybees, one third of the world’s food supply would disappear. In 2013, Whole Foods released a hypothetical before-and-after picture of a world with and without bees. As stated on their site, their produce team “pulled from shelves 237 of 453 products- 52 percent of the normal product mix in the department.” It’s really a disheartening thought. My favorite substance in the world, guacamole, would not exist. Apple pies wouldn’t be an apple pie. Almond butter would be unheard of. There would be nothing good left in the world.

Unfortunately, the population count of honeybees is rapidly declining. One problem that has been drastically influencing the decline of honeybees is Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD). Colony Collapse Disorder is the phenomenon that occurs when the majority of worker bees in a colony disappear and leave behind a queen, plenty of food and a few nurse bees to care for the remaining immature bees and the queen. In 2006, beekeepers began to report unusually high losses of 30-90 percent of their hives. While the cause of CCD has not yet been determined, many experts are pointing their fingers to habitat loss, pesticide use, and invasive species that are pests for honeybees. Of course, CCD is not the only reason why the honeybee population is dwindling; habitat loss and pesticide use are both very straightforward and valid reasons as to why these pollinators are perishing.

So how can we save the honeybees? First, learn. You can find more information about protecting pollinators here. Second, support your local beekeeper. Not all heroes wear capes- instead, some wear netted veil hats and thick rubber gloves. Your local beekeeper is nurturing and protecting these precious pollinators that are so vital to agriculture. Many local beekeepers will probably be selling bee products- honey, royal jelly, propolis, beeswax, and/or beauty products made from these components. (Personally, my local beekeeper does it all. She sells honey, honey sticks, lotions, lip balms, shampoos, soaps, and beauty creams.) Support your local beekeeper by supporting their business or support them just by lending them a hand. Beekeeping is hard work and is a job that gets nowhere near the amount of recognition it deserves.

You can also take small, individual actions to make a difference.  Bee careful with where and when you are applying pesticides (that is if pesticides are needed). Do not apply pesticides where bees are likely to be flying and try to apply them during the early evening when the bees are inactive so the pesticides can dry overnight. In addition, you can plant flowers that are pollinator-friendly. Milkweed, geraniums, lilies, roses, sunflowers and violets are all beautiful flowers that attract pollinators. If you do not have a large space in your home, even just having a potted pollinator-friendly plant outside can make a difference.

Now, let’s save the bees!

About the Author: Sion (pronounced see-on) is an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan. She is an intern in the EPA Region 2 Public Affairs Division. She is a native of Queens. Sion’s favorite hobbies include eating, listening to Stevie Wonder, and breaking stereotypes.

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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A City of Chickens

By Sion Lee

One of my good friend’s family houses four chickens in their backyard. Everyone’s reaction to this is of sheer surprise and intrigue. How could someone living in New York City have chickens running around in their backyard? Why would one do such a thing? Believe it or not, there actually are many upsides to having backyard chickens.

IMG_4481

Hanging out with the backyard hens.

In New York City, it is legal to have hens in backyards- just no roosters, because of possible noise complaints from neighbors. A chicken will cost somewhere between $1-$30, depending on the breed and size of the chickens (and also depending on if you want a chick or a full-grown chicken). A coop can cost absolutely nothing if you decide to make one or up to $3000 if you’re looking for something a little more high-end. It is important to understand that hens only produce eggs for a certain fraction of their lives, so if you are in it only for the eggs, you might want to reconsider.

To be clear: the hens’ eggs probably will not be economically profitable. A hen will usually lay one egg per day. It may not be plausible to sell the eggs simply because the average urban hen owner won’t have that many to sell in the first place. However, backyard chickens have a clear benefit when it comes to eggs: they are locally produced, which means the carbon footprint is greatly reduced. Think about it. Your typical, store-bought carton of eggs are transported from the farm to the store by a truck for miles and miles. Also, the plastic/Styrofoam container the eggs are in are materials that cannot be easily recycled. Manufacturing the containers result in carbon dioxide emissions, as they are made in large factories. Backyard chickens, however, only require you to transport from your backyard to your kitchen. How easy is that?

Another benefit is that chickens eat just about everything. Cauliflower stems? Carrot skins? Cooked pasta? They will eat it all. In addition, your hens will eat those pesky insects that are ruining your vegetable garden and act as a natural pest control. An added upside is that they consume mosquitos- so if you are like me and are considered to be a scrumptious delicacy by these blood suckers, this might be good news. Chickens do need to eat some chicken feed, but they can be inexpensive if you are feeding them a balanced diet of food scraps. (In fact, my friend only spends around fifteen dollars a month on chicken feed.) Everything the chickens don’t eat, then, can be composted. What comes out of the chicken can be composted, too. Poultry waste, when handled properly, is a valuable source of nutrients for garden soil. There is information on ways you can use chicken manure to fertilize your garden here.

There are many benefits to having backyard chickens, including garden fertilization.

There are many benefits to having backyard chickens, including garden fertilization.

Of course, there are always risks to every action. Poultry- like any other animal- runs the danger of infecting human consumers. Avian flu, salmonella, and E. coli are all commonly-heard diseases that chickens are prone to. For that reason, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) has a guideline for keeping backyard poultry. It is vital that you are sanitary and wary when it comes to handling these otherwise fun pets.

It is totally understandable when New York City dwellers say that there simply is not enough time and space to raise backyard hens. Personally, my family does not even have a yard to house these outside pets. Heck, my landlord does not even allow indoor pets, either. That’s okay, though. The next best thing to do would be to buy local. Buying local, like backyard hens, reduce the carbon footprint that is associated with regular store-bought eggs. It’s National Farmers Market Week, so find your local farmer’s market here and find those fresh eggs.

About the Author: Sion (pronounced see-on) is an undergraduate student at the University of Michigan. She is an intern in the EPA Region 2 Public Affairs Division. She is a native of Queens. Sion’s favorite hobbies include eating, listening to Stevie Wonder, and breaking stereotypes.

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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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- August 5th, 2016

Libertad Urban Farm Community Workday
Bronx
10:00 AM- 1:00 PM
Join Bronx Green-Up at the BLK Projek’s event to help this urban farm build more raised beds to grow more for the summer season.

Saturday- August 6th, 2016

Summer Streets
Manhattan
7:00 AM- 1:00 PM
Summer Streets is an annual celebration of New York City’s most valuable public space—our streets. On three consecutive Saturdays in August, nearly seven miles of NYC’s streets are opened for people to play, run, walk and bike. Summer Streets extends from the Brooklyn Bridge to Central Park, along Park Avenue and connecting streets, and features sports, fitness, and art events and programs. All activities at Summer Streets are free of charge, and designed for people of all ages and ability levels to share the streets respectfully.

Green Team
Brooklyn
10:00 AM- 12:00 PM
The Green Team provides essential horticultural care to the park, including planting, mulching, and removing invasive plants. The Green Team is a wonderful opportunity to learn about gardening, enjoy nature, and make the park look its best. No experience necessary.

Helping Hummingbirds
Staten Island
11:00 AM- 12:00 PM
Learn about these beautiful birds of the Greenbelt and how you can help them this summer. Hike in search of hummingbirds, and make a nectar feeder to take home. This program is appropriate for children 6 and older. It is free for members and $3 for nonmembers. Registration is required. To register, please email naturecenter@sigreenbelt.org or call (718) 351-3450.

Hot Compost Hands-On Workshop
Queens
2:00 PM- 4:00 PM
Take your composting to the next level at this hands-on workshop! Learn to make and manage a “thermophilic” batch of compost—a pile that will heat up to kill weed seeds and pathogens—ready to use in as little as three months! Participants work together with NYC Compost Project staff to build a pile at our compost demo site. Come ready to get dirty! $5 per person.

Sunday- August 7th, 2016

Central Park Conservancy Family Performance Festival Leaf Arrow
Manhattan
12:00 PM- 1:30 PM
Each summer, Central Park Conservancy hosts a series of eco-education and multicultural performances for the whole family to enjoy. Formerly known as A Clearing in the Forest, this year’s Family Performance Festival is chock-a-block full of fun and learning through music, storytelling, park adventures, puppetry, and more! Through contemporary and historical storytelling, songs, and traditional dance, learn about the special relationship the Native American people have with the Earth. Celebrate your appreciation of the natural environment with an interactive show featuring coyote tales, creation stories, and historic folklore. This unique performance will remind even the youngest audience members that we must respect and care for our parks!

What’s In Bloom in the Heather Garden August Tour
Manhattan
1:00 PM- 2:00 PM
Take a walking tour of the Heather Garden in Fort Tryon Park with horticulturist Madeline Byrne and learn about the dozens of plants currently in bloom. Learn about the garden’s history and how the Heather Garden compares with the plants found at the New York Botanical Garden, where Madeline Byrne has over 15 years of experience. These tours are wheelchair accessible but persons with mobility issues may find them challenging because of the park’s many steep paths.

Living with Urban Coyotes
Queens
1:00 PM- 2:30 PM
Join the Urban Park Rangers in learning about coyotes, an oft-misunderstood member of our local habitat.

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 29, 2016

Street Fair
Manhattan
10:00 AM – 6:00 PM
Free fun for the whole family, including arts, crafts, antiques, plants, entertainment, games and more.

Nature Sanctuary
Manhattan
2:00 PM
During these limited hours, visitors can explore the normally closed sanctuary at their own pace along the rustic trail. See how the conservancy has restored this native woodland garden for birds and other wildlife. The wood-chipped trail is uneven; please wear appropriate shoes.

This ecosystem is a protected area and home to many flora and fauna. No groups, dogs, bikes, or strollers. Free and self-guided. Space is limited.

Summer Garden
Manhattan
7/24 – 7/31/16
Summer Sunday evenings are always a little bit lovelier when MoMA’s free summer garden concert series rolls around. Each year, the museum hosts live jazz and classical music performances for those lucky enough to score a free seat. And you can’t find a better environment than MoMA’s serene Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Sculpture Garden. The month’s shows include performers from the Juilliard School and Jazz at Lincoln Center. Seating opens at 7pm; concerts start at 8pm. For more details, visit moma.org.

Saturday – July 30, 2016

Hester Street Fair
Manhattan
11:00AM – 6:00PM
This fair will feature a diverse roster of 60 curated vendors and curiously creative entrepreneurs delivering design, art, fashion and food. The fair will also host a series of hands-on workshops, collaborative activities and special events.

Sunday – July 31, 2016

Hudson River Nature Walk
Manhattan
9:00AM
Learn about the park’s wildlife by joining experienced naturalists on guided nature walks along the more park’s esplanade. Enjoy a meandering waterfront walk while viewing and learning about the park’s flora and fauna, including some of the 85 different species of birds identified within Park boundaries. Peek into some of our many gardens to discover butterflies, dragonflies and other interesting insects. Get to know the native plants that thrive in unexpected places in and around the river’s edge. Each nature walk is unique and offers a one-of-a-kind treasure hunt-like experience. Please wear comfortable shoes and dress appropriately for the weather. Loud noises and barking tend to startle wildlife and reduce viewing opportunities – please be considerate and leave your dog at home.

Harlem Week
Manhattan
Starts 7/31/16
What began in 1974 as a one-day tribute to Harlem has evolved over four decades into a month long celebration of the community’s rich economic, political and cultural history. Things kick off on July 31 with “A Great Day In Harlem” and reach a fever pitch during the bursting-at-the-seams weekend of events held under the banner of “Summer in the City” (August 20) and “Harlem Day” (August 21), including an auto show, children’s festival, small-business expo, fashion show, educational fair, outdoor film screening, a dancing in the street party and the inaugural Harlem/Havana Music & Cultural Festival.

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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Weekend Activities- July 22nd 2016- July 24th 2016

Friday- July 22nd, 2016

Hike and Draw
Bronx
6:30 PM- 7:30 PM
Relax and de-stress on four summer evenings with our new program partner The Art Students League. Focusing in on nature and transferring it to paper can be a calming and meditative process. Bring a bottle of water and a light-weight portable chair to the nature center. From there we will venture out with artists Pedro Ramirez and Amy Digi to beautiful sights worth feasting your eyes on. This event repeats every week on Friday between 7/22/16 and 8/12/16.

Saturday- July 23rd, 2016

Living With White-Tailed Deer
Staten Island
11:00 AM-12:30 PM
Come learn about the local white-tailed deer with the Urban Park Rangers!

Fishing and Crabbing
Brooklyn
12:00 PM- 2:00 PM
Catch-and-release fishing is a great way to get outdoors and discover nature just a few blocks from home. Our experienced Rangers teach the ethics of fishing and the ecology of our waterways on every fishing program.

Summer on the Hudson: Summer Gaze
Manhattan
2:00 PM- 4:00 PM
Summer on the Hudson welcomes all to join the Amateur Astronomers Association to gaze at the sun through a safe scope and see the central star of our solar system.

Sunday- July 24th, 2016

Northern Manhattan Parks Hike
Manhattan
11:00 AM- 12:30 PM
Meander through parks in northern Manhattan on this one-way hike from Morningside Park to Jackie Robinson Park.

It’s My Park at McCarren Park
Brooklyn
9:00 AM- 12:00 PM
This It’s My Park season, volunteer with Good.Clean.Fun. to help care for McCarren Park. When you go exercise in the park, borrow a pair of reusable work gloves from Good.Clean.Fun to pick up some of the trash you may encounter along the way.

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 15th, 2016

Dewitt Clinton Community Workday
Bronx
10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
The weather is heating up and gardeners are beginning to reap the summer bounty. Learn about how to maintain your garden through the summer months by joining Bronx Green-Up at one of our upcoming Community Workdays.

Arts, Culture & Fun- Make Your Mark! Wildlife of New York Art Workshop
Bronx
6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
Join NYC Parks Arts, Culture & Fun and Abbeville Press Publishers for a FREE art workshop! Illustrator Giada Crispiels will be presenting a unique coloring project celebrating her new book, Wildlife of New York, which captures the diverse beauty of the city’s treasured neighborhoods and landmarks, alongside the animals that call this city home.

Saturday- July 16th, 2016

City of Water Day
Manhattan, Hoboken (NJ)
10:00 AM – 4:00 PM
Get out on our waterfront—and on the water—on July 16! The Waterfront Alliance’s City of Water Day is a free, family-oriented celebration of the world-class potential of the New York and New Jersey waterfront. Now in its ninth year, this event has grown into the region’s biggest harbor festival. Held on Governors Island, New York; Maxwell Place Park, Hoboken, New Jersey; and dozens of In Your Neighborhood locations around New York Harbor, the event draws thousands of people to the water for a day of fun. Highlights of the day include free boat tours on all kinds of vessels, from tall ships to tugboats; free rowing, kayaking, paddle-boarding, and the highly anticipated Con Edison Cardboard Kayak Race; and the Waterfront Activity Fair and Disney Children Activities offer something for the whole family.

Workshops at the Battery: Cooking without Electricity
Manhattan
10:00 AM – 12:00 PM
Use bike blenders, hand choppers, and good old elbow grease to make delicious snacks without using electricity or a flame. Show off your cooking skills, or learn some new ones! All materials and ingredients will be provided, please make staff aware of any dietary restrictions or allergies before the workshop begins.

GreenThumb Workshop: Build a Birdhouse
Brooklyn
11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Interested in building a birdhouse? Come and learn how to build a birdhouse to invite our feathery friends to the garden.

Family Performance Festival: Earth Capades
Manhattan
12:00 PM – 1:30 PM
“Saving the planet can be fun!” Enjoy juggling, music, magic, and storytelling while learning about serious environmental problems along with practical and achievable solutions. Interact with the circus performance and laugh along with your family. Be inspired to help preserve, protect, and respect the natural resources of planet Earth, including Central Park!

Sunday- July 17th, 2016

Birding: Ridgewood Reservoir
Brooklyn
10:00 AM – 11:30 Am
Explore the Ridgewood Reservoir for interesting bird species with the Urban Park Rangers.

Cooking Demo: Edible Flowers
Bronx
1:00 PM – 2:00 PM
A surprising number of beautiful flowers are edible, adding color and zing to salads and subtle floral aromas to desserts. Sample some delicious, flowery recipes with Chef Stephen Rosenberg of Great Performances, then take a stroll with a Wave Hill Horticultural Interpreter to view gourmet blossoms in the garden.
This event is free with admission to the grounds.

FrogWatch USA: Training
Staten Island
2:00 PM – 3:00 PM
Discover how you can help frogs & toads on Staten Island by identifying and monitoring their unique vocal calls. FrogWatch USA is a nationwide program that monitors and tracks amphibian populations by collecting data with help from volunteers like you!
Suitable for ages 8 and older. Registration required.

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 8th, 2016

Birdwatching and Canoeing on the Creek
Brooklyn
4:00 PM – 7:00 PM
The North Brooklyn Boat Club is hosting a birdwatching event on Newtown Creek. All levels of canoers are welcome. Keep your eyes peeled for black-crowned night heron, blue heron, cormorants and swans. Binoculars will be provided. Space is limited, but this is a weekly event that takes place every Friday.

Queens Botanical Garden Farmers Market
Queens
8:30 AM – 4:00 PM
Join us every Friday from June 17-November 18 for fresh produce.

Family Camping
Staten Island
7:00 PM7:00 AM
The Urban Park Rangers celebrate the tradition of camping and we look forward to welcoming your family to Willowbrook Park. Registration opens from June 22 to June 29. This event is free.

Saturday – July 9th, 2016

Electronics Recycling Collection
Queens
10:00AM – 4:00 PM
Responsibly recycle unwanted or broken electronics (no appliances such as microwaves or refrigerators) with the Lower East Side Ecology Center.

Beautify Red Hook Parks
Brooklyn
10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Help maintain parks and other community green spaces in Red Hook, Brooklyn. Tasks vary depending on the season, but may include weeding, mulching, planting, raking, garbage pickup, painting, and other tasks as needed. Exact locations are walkable from Red Hook Recreation Center.

Bird Walks
Bronx
8:00 AM – 9:30 AM
Bird Walks focus on wildlife happenings in the park and are led by NYC Audubon experts.

Compost Workday
Manhattan
1:00 PM – 3:30 PM
Location:
Get an inside look at NYRP’s compost operations at Sherman Creek. Be prepared to get dirty! Take home a small bag of compost, on us.

Sunday – July 10th, 2016

Bike New York: Learn to Ride-Adults
Queens
11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Learn to Ride—Adults is a free class for adults and mature teens who are ready to ride. Doesn’t matter if you’re 18 or 80, we’ll get you rolling in no time. With our safe, easy, effective method, Learn to Ride students learn how to balance, pedal, start, stop, and steer a bike, as well as adjust a helmet for proper fit. Most people learn to ride in one session, but even if they don’t, they’ll leave equipped with an easy, low-stress way to teach themselves—or, they can join us for another free class! Learn to Ride—Adults is a required class in our Earn A Bike program.

Arm of the Sea Presents: Hook, Line, And Sinker
Brooklyn
11:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Fishing the Hudson River harnesses the power of mask and puppet theater to peer beneath the surface and explore the Hudson’s dual identity as prolific natural ecosystem, and PCB-contaminated Superfund site. The visually-charged show features live music and a bevy of low-tech special effects that reveal the river’s complex inner life. Pitched to oldsters and youngsters alike, HOOK, LINE & SINKER celebrates the timeless art of fishing while offering the low-down on eating fish from the Hudson.

Garden – Volunteer Day
Manhattan
10:00 AM – 1:00 PM
Whether you have a green thumb or just a curiosity for what makes the garden grow, all are welcome to volunteer in Roger Morris Park, the grounds of the Morris-Jumel Mansion, once monthly under the supervision of Gardener Karen and the NYC Parks Department. All tools and instructions are provided, just bring a willingness to get a little dirty as we beautify our special garden. Close-toed shoes are required, and RSVP is appreciated to mailto:jardinera.karen@gmail.co%20m.

Family Performance Festival: Insect Comedy
Manhattan
12:00 PM -1:30 PM
See the world of bugs in a whole new way with Diane’s fun-filled stories. Learn the importance of soil creatures in the life cycle of plants while laughing along to a Japanese folktale. Finding a six-legged critter while playing in the Park will never be the same again. This family-friendly program is FREE. All ages welcome.

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.

Communities and Schools: Your Ash Trees are on the Menu

By Marcia Anderson

I was recently in a conference of Certified Tree Experts representing many northeast and north-central states to discuss the invasion and progressive devastation of our nation’s ash trees by the emerald ash borer.

Yes, we have another pest focused on annihilating our community forests. Think back. First, it was Dutch elm disease.  Later, chestnut blight, the gypsy moth, followed by the Asian longhorn beetle.  Now, the emerald ash borer (EAB) is here. While common in urban landscapes across much of the continental U.S., native ash trees (Fraxnus sp.) have little natural resistance to this most recent pest. In addition, EAB, which is native to Asia, has no natural enemies in the U.S.

EAB NYS DEC

Emerald ash borer adult.
Photo: David Cappaert. www.forestryimages.org

A major problem with an emerald ash borer infestation is that most people do not see it coming, and by the time the trees begin to show signs of decline, it is too late. The really bad news is that 95% of ash trees hit with EAB will be dead within five years.  The only way to save your favorite ash tree is to prepare and be proactive in your response.

Range. Ground zero for the EAB invasion was near Detroit, Michigan in 2002.  EAB has already swept through the Midwest and devastated almost every ash tree in its path. In Ohio, nearly all ash trees (over 20 million) suffered close to 100% mortality.  EAB is now present in 34 states and 2 Canadian provinces. In infested areas, 90-100% of ash trees will be dead within 4-5 years.

How does EAB kill trees?  EAB attacks ash trees of all sizes. EAB starts with large trees, but then goes down to smaller ones, devouring the insides of every ash tree in its path. EAB first attacks stressed trees, such as those with a portion of bark removed. The females lay 30+ eggs in the cracks of bark, beginning toward the top of the tree. The eggs hatch and the larvae bore in and feed on the phloem that conducts nutrients throughout the tree. Gradually, the infestation moves into the inner layers of the tree.  The larvae spend one or two years feeding inside the tree before emerging as adults in the spring.  If you see the adults exit holes at eye-level of a tree trunk, the infestation is heavy and has probably been there for several years. Symptoms that aid in early detection are yellowing or orange tinged leaves, loss of leaves in the canopy, sections of death in the canopy and eventually a weak, dying tree.

How does EAB spread to other areas? EAB is often found near highway rest stops. As a matter of fact, as I was driving through Pennsylvania to New Jersey in November, one landed on my car’s windshield at a rest stop. It was the first time I had seen one, and marveled at its small size and metallic green color. EAB’s are carried along railroad and other transportation thoroughfares, wherever ash trees or wood are transported. Adult EABs can hitchhike on truck beds, barges, and cars. Utility workers are often the first to find them in newly infested areas. Female beetles can disperse up to three miles from the source tree.

EAB_combo_thumb NYS DEC

Emerald ash borer adults.
Photo: www.nyis.info

EAB is coming to an ash tree near you. New Jersey, New York, and the New England states are now the latest targets of this pest.  According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, less than 5% of the state’s 900 million ash trees are currently infested. However, because black and green ash are keystone species in the regions’ wetland ecosystems, their loss could mean the loss of the entire ecosystem. In New York and New Jersey’s hardwood forests, one in every 10 trees is an ash. The entire state of New Jersey is under an EAB quarantine and under federal and state regulation to minimize the spread to non-infested areas. All ash wood must remain in municipal boundaries unless it is chipped or the bark removed.

Strategies to hamper the spread of EAB.  1) First and foremost quarantine all ash wood, including firewood.  2) Replace ash trees with a diameter of 12” or less.  If your community decides not to treat, figure that those ash trees will die, and become hazardous. Do you remove the trees now or later at a higher cost? 3) Remove infected trees – they are already hazardous. Dying trees dry out very fast and become unpredictable because they can crack and fall, even on calm, clear days. Removals should begin with the largest ones first. What to do with all of that ash wood? Chip or kiln dry the wood, which kills the bugs. Ash makes good pellets for wood burning stoves and can also be used in industry, furniture, and baseball bats.

Management options. An Integrated Pest Management (IPM) program for trees helps to create a healthier environment by reducing both pests and unnecessary pesticide use. IPM stresses the use of monitoring, maintenance, and sanitation. The use of pesticides, when needed, is also part of the IPM toolbox. Treating proactively for EAB falls into this “when-needed” category, in lieu of removing all of your ash trees.

If your trees are within 10-15 miles of known infestations, they are at risk. Success in treatment is ultimately determined by both the tree’s health and in initiating treatment before EAB has begun its demise. By the time people notice thinning in the canopy, EAB has already caused considerable damage to the vascular system of the tree. Even large ash trees can be protected from EAB by treating with systemic insecticides. Milwaukee saved most of its trees by treating because they decided that it was more economically beneficial than removal and replacement. Considerations in every town and situation are different.

There are three options for urban ash tree management:  Removal and replacement; treatment with insecticides until they can be removed; and treatment with insecticides for the duration of the infestation. New York State and the North Central IPM Center offer good publications that describe the insecticide options for protecting ash trees from EAB.  While some options are available to homeowners, others require professional application.

Dr. Jason Graboski of Rutgers University says that the states on the front lines, such as NJ, NY, MD and those in New England can benefit from the lessons learned by MI, OH, IN and PA. He shared with us information from the New Jersey EAB webpage that both informs residents and tracks EAB sitings across the state.  New York also has an EAB website with reference maps. In addition, there is a national Emerald Ash Borer Information Network with detailed information for the entire U.S.

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.

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Non-Native, Invasive Species for Dinner? Bring Out the Melted Butter!

By Marcia Anderson

Recently, I discovered some really tasty invasive species on the dinner menu in lower Manhattan. Many non-native species can be really good eating if they can be caught and properly prepared. There is an innovative movement for eating invasive species taking place and they are showing up more and more on restaurant menus.

In 2014, 350 chefs and culinary professionals attended the 6th Annual Chefs Collaborative Summit in Boulder, Colorado. They collaborated on how to incorporate invasive species into menus, among other topics.

Consumption is not a quick fix or silver bullet for the problem of invasive species, but along with integrating other management measures, we could all be part of the solution. There is growing evidence that systematic removal of invasive species can be effective and that native species can recover if populations of invasive species are reduced. Invasive species are one of the top drivers of biodiversity loss, and there are plenty of recorded extinctions because of them.

How about Asian carp fritters as an appetizer or lionfish tacos?

Asian carp Photo: WVDNR.gov

Asian carp
Photo: WVDNR.gov

Asian carp are a delicacy in China and are threatened in the Yangtze River. Asian carp include four different species – the silver, bighead, grass, and black carp. These fish were brought to the United States primarily by catfish farmers in the 1970s to control algal blooms in aquaculture ponds. They are voracious eaters in dozens of waterways including the Mississippi River and some tributaries. Because they compete with some native fish, they are throwing off the local ecosystem balance.

Lionfish (Pterois volitans) was on the menu in a restaurant on Manhattan’s Lower East Side and found in many other US restaurants. It tastes like snapper or flounder and is light, fluffy, mild, and easy on the palette. The fact that it is not fishy keeps it on the menu. Lionfish are voracious predators of small fish and

Lionfish in the Caribbean. Photo: NOAA.gov

Lionfish in the Caribbean. Photo: NOAA.gov

crustaceans, eating multiple small fish per hour. They are decimating Caribbean island coral reefs, mangrove swamps and sea grass meadows. Their long, venomous spines are deadly to many would-be predators. Lionfish tacos are just one variation found on some Mexican restaurant menus. The conservative organization REEF produced The Lionfish Cookbook.

Years ago, I had my first taste of wild boar (Sus scrofa), or Eurasian wild pig, in New York City. The tenderloins actually tasted better than pork from farm raised pigs. In the wild, boars are ravenous and will eat almost anything, often causing massive erosion. They are dangerous to hunt or even be in close proximity to, as they will bite livestock, pets and children. Ecologically disastrous, wild boar are estimated to cost the Texas economy alone about $52 million in agricultural damage each year, according to Texas A&M University. The University of Georgia chapter of the Society of Conservation Biology regularly sponsors an annual Invasive Species Hog Roast to heighten awareness of the problem.

Northern Snakehead. Photo: Maryland.gov

Northern Snakehead. Photo: Maryland.gov

The Northern snakehead (Channa argus) is considered a delicacy in Chinese and Thai cultures and they really taste like chicken. A native of Asia, the snakehead is scaly, sharp-toothed, and gill fish that has the head of a snake and the body of a fish, which will eat virtually anything in its path, even taking a

bite out of unsuspecting bathers. More people across the US have decided to bite them before they bite us. The northern snakehead is known to the residents of Maryland as a potential ecological threat. Local fish markets sell whole, frozen snakeheads to restaurants and the public. There has been interest expressed in adding the snakehead to the U.S. list of injurious wildlife.

The invasive giant tiger prawn (Penaeus monodon) is a delicious crustacean that can grow to be a foot or more long. Just think shrimp on steroids! Their pleasantly sweet taste is why mariculture farmers brought the prawns to the northern Gulf of Mexico from the coasts of Australia and southeast Asia. It is highly likely that the prawns may have started their Gulf invasion after escaping from an aquaculture operation or after hurricanes Katrina or Rita in 2005. Tiger prawn are voracious predators, have become a threat to local crab, shrimp and oyster markets and potentially could spread shellfish diseases to native species. The Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries has advised fisherman that, when caught, these prawns should not be thrown back into any open waters. Either sell them, as they can fetch a higher price than many other shrimp, or throw them in a pot of boiling water for dinner.

American lakes, rivers and offshore waters are filling with destructive fish and crustaceans from other parts of the world that are wreaking havoc on fragile ecosystems. The good news is that many of them are potentially good food sources. Successful and sustained removal will require creative strategies that mobilize a range of stakeholders from consumers to industry.

For more on eating invasive species, go to the University of Vermont Gund Institute’s Eat the Invaders Facebook forum. Read more on what you can do to help manage invasive species from the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

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.