Greening the Apple

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

All That Summer Brings

As you settle into the rhythm of summertime, we hope that you’re taking time to enjoy the wonderful outdoor activities that the New York City area has to offer! 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 – June 26, 2015 

River to River
Manhattan
Various locations on Governors Island
Friday, June 26, 2015
Noon 5 p.m.

Come to the final weekend of the annual, free 11-day River to River festival! There will be performances and exhibits involving dance, music, visual art, and new media projects. From this festival, you will learn about the history of Lower Manhattan’s architecture, socialize with fellow artists and art-lovers, and experience in a new way the area’s various waterfronts, parks, and historic landmarks.

Nature & Science in Dialogue
Queens
Queens Botanical Garden
Friday, June 26, 2015
8 a.m. 6 p.m.

Are you interested in the intersection of nature and science via art? If so, come to the exhibit of artist Emily Barnett! This exciting show puts science and nature into dialogue by featuring recent collages and installations about quantum corrals, snake skeletons, nests and constellations.

Parent & I Chalk Art
Staten Island
Midland Beach Splash Plaza
Friday, June 26, 2015
9:3010:30 a.m.

Engage your child in creative, hands-on learning while enjoying the outdoors! At this event, children and adults will collaborate to create outdoor chalk art masterpieces.

Tai Chi for Adults
Bronx
Poe Park Visitor Center
Friday, June 26, 2015
11:30 a.m. 12:30 p.m.

Exercising is a great way to enjoy the environment while taking care of one’s health. Come to this event to learn Tai Chi, the exercise regimen which includes movement and breathing techniques for health, balance and well-being. Great for senior citizens!

 Saturday – June 27, 2015 

Family Art Project: Lavender Blooms 
Bronx
Wave Hill
Saturday, June 27, 2015
10 a.m. – 1 p.m.

The calming and fragrant lavender flower makes for great arts and crafts projects and keepsakes. Join this event to make pillows, sachets, Hacky Sacks, and more out of this great flower.

Yoga on the Beach 
Queens
Rockaway Beach and Boardwalk
Saturday, June 27, 2015
8 9 a.m.

Refine your flexibility, strength, and endurance while enjoying the beach! Yoga instructor Helen Kilgallen from Elaine’s Dance School will teach this beginner Hatha Yoga class. Bring a mat, large towel, or blanket.

Insect Walk 
Manhattan
Highbridge Park
Saturday, June 27, 2015
9:3011 a.m.

The concrete jungle provides us many opportunities to observe wildlife. Expert naturalist Mike Feller, who has over 25 years of experience in NYC Parks, will lead a tour focusing on Highbridge Park’s insects (and the birds they attract).

Solar Observation 
Bronx
Poe Park Visitor Center
Saturday, June 27, 2015
11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Are you interested in learning about the environment beyond what the eye can see? Join the Amateur Astronomers Association members as they help visitors engage in solar observations during the day! Telescopes specially filtered to view the sun will be provided.

 Sunday – June 28, 2015

Saltwater Fishing
Manhattan
West Harlem Piers Park
Sunday June 28, 2015
11 a.m. 3 p.m.

Catch-and-release fishing is a great way to interact with the environment without depleting it. Experienced Rangers will teach the ethics of fishing and the ecology of our waterways. All equipment will be provided on a first-come, first-served basis. Children 8 years and older are welcome. Participation in a safety review led by a trained Ranger is required.

Historic New York: Native Americans
Queens
Fort Totten Park

Sunday, June 28, 2015
1 – 2 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 neighborhood of Bayside, originally inhabited by the Matinecock (meaning “hilly country”) Indians, a tribe of the Algonquin nation. The focus will be on the historic sites within the park and Native American culture.

It’s My Park 
Brooklyn
Brower Park
Sunday, June 28, 2015
11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

Don’t just interact with nature—volunteer to improve its health! “It’s My Park” presents a series of volunteer activities that you can participate in to care for your parks. In this event, volunteers are needed to mulch, weed, and plant a butterfly garden and tree beds. Please bring your own work gloves, and email info@friendsofbrowerpark.org to register for the project.

Frida Kahlo: “Art, Garden, Life”
Bronx
The New York Botanical Garden
Sunday, June 28, 2015
10 a.m. – 6 p.m.

This must-see exhibit explores the ways in which nature—especially plant imagery—influences the work of renowned artist Frida Kahlo. Visitors can engage in hands-on art activities for kids, access rare photos, footage, and expert audio commentary, and create their own Frida Selfie.

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.

My Very Own Brown Bin

By Sophia Kelley

#BrownBin in Brooklyn

#BrownBin in Brooklyn

I was elated to see a flyer in my mailbox from the NYC Department of Sanitation this week. Why? Because it said that my building would be one of the 35,000 new households to be part of the city’s expanded organics collection pilot program. In other words, we’re getting our very own brown bin! Perfect timing because our CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) just started summer distributions and the amount of food scraps produced in our kitchen has already increased.

All the buildings in my neighborhood received the bins for food and yard waste and each individual apartment was given a small container for collecting kitchen scraps. The brown bins go to the curb once a week with our regular recycling pick up. Until now, we had to collect our food waste and take it to a community garden or farmer’s market for composting, but now it’s easier than ever to recycle our organic waste.

This is great news because food makes up the largest percentage of waste going to landfills each year and uneaten food rotting in landfills accounts for almost 25 percent of U.S. methane emissions, a potent greenhouse gas. So think about climate change the next time you toss your leftover lunch into the trash.

Instructions for the NYC Organics Collection Program

Instructions for the NYC Organics Collection Program

Instead of landfills, our organic waste is going to be turned into compost to help keep the soil in New York City’s parks healthy. Some of the scraps are also going to be collected and taken to the Newtown Creek sewage treatment plant. The waste will be put to use in an anaerobic digestion process that will capture the methane and convert it to biogas which can then be used to generate electricity… all from your old pizza crusts!

If your neighborhood has not been included yet in the organics recycling program, don’t worry – the city’s goal is to provide all New Yorkers access to organics recycling by 2018. Until then, do your best to prevent food waste and take your kitchen scraps to the nearest compost collection project.

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.

Happy Summer Everyone!

Are you ready for this weekend?! Sunday, June 21st marks the first official day of summer AND its Father’s Day! Check out these amazing events for a weekend filled with fun times, good vibes, and lots of laughs. Start the summer right by spending it outdoors with family and friends. If you do attend these events use our ‘Welcome to the Weekend’ hashtag #WTWEPA on twitter so we can see how your weekend is going!

Friday – June 19, 2015

Albee Square Farmer’s Market
Brooklyn
Fulton Street & Bond Street
Friday, June 19, 2015
11 a.m.4 p.m.

Whether you’re hanging out for the day, on your lunch hour, or just picking up dinner for your friends, the Albee Square Farmer’s Market will be hosting fresh food vendors until 4 p.m.
*This event will be held every Friday until August 28th or otherwise noted on the website, which can be found by clicking the link above.

Community Celebration
Bronx
Bathgate Community Garden
Friday, June 19, 2015
2:305 p.m.

Don’t miss out on the fun, free, and creative activities going on at the Bathgate Community Garden this Friday! Community members will be sharing gardening tips and P.S. 236 will be unveiling their very own community mural.

Lunch Talk at the Grand Central Terminal
Manhattan
Grand Central Terminal
Friday, June 19, 2015
12:30 p.m.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of New York’s Landmarks Law, the New York City Transit Museum will host a lunch talk at the Grand Central Terminal annex. This talk will include highlights of the City’s most famous and even its least known historic transportation structures.

Saturday – June 20, 2015

Planting Workshop at Riverpark Farm
Midtown East
Riverpark Farm at Alexandria Center
450 East 29th Street
Saturday, June 20, 2015
9:30 a.m. 12:30 p.m.

Calling all urban gardeners! The Riverpark Farm at the Alexandria Center will be offering a planting workshop. Whether you’re looking to learn new skills or simply want to get involved with urban farming, check out this hands-on experience!
*If interested please email farmer@riverparkfarm.com to reserve your spot! 

North Bergen Township Summer Green Health Fair
North Bergen, NJ
64th Street Field
Saturday, June 20, 2015
Noon4 p.m.

North Bergen Township will be having its second annual green health fair! This family-friendly event will include live music, green vendors, compost bins, health screenings and so much more.

“On the Waterfront” Bus Tour
Hoboken, NJ
Meeting @ The Hoboken Historical Museum
1301 Hudson Street
Saturday, June 20, 2015
2 – 4 p.m.

Join the Hudson County History Advocates as they celebrate Hudson County’s 175th anniversary! Other groups participating in this event are the Hoboken Historical Museum and the Hudson County Division of Cultural & Heritage Affairs/Tourism Development. Tickets are $10.

Sunday – June 21, 2015
*First day of Summer!
*Father’s Day!

Solstice in Times Square: Athleta Mind Over Madness Yoga
Times Square
Between W. 42nd and W. 47th Streets
Sunday June 21, 2015
2 4 p.m.

Do you practice yoga? Come down to Times Square on Sunday for this summer solstice yoga event hosted by Athleta! Did you know that Sunday is also the International Day of Yoga? To register for one of these free classes please click the link above!
*You can attend a class in person or find the class online, which will be broadcast live at TimesSquareNYC.org

Summer Solstice Celebration
Queens
Socrates Sculpture Park
Sunday, June 21, 2015
5 p.m. Dusk

Come together at the Socrates Sculpture Park to celebrate the longest day of the year! With free art workshops, face painting, and even a special performance by the Queens Symphony Orchestra how could you go wrong?

Invasive Removal in Highbridge Forest
Manhattan
Highbridge Park
Sunday, June 21, 2015
1 – 3:30 p.m.

Looking to lend a helping hand this weekend? Help the Highbridge Forest crew as they remove invasive vegetation in the Highbridge Forest! This volunteer event is open to volunteers and families of all skill levels. To register click the link above!

Live Music at the Mobilization for Change Garden
Manhattan
Sunday, June 21, 2015
2 p.m. – 8 p.m.

The Garden will be hosting various live musicians playing a wide variety of musical styles. There might even be an open mic opportunity if scheduling allows!

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.

Ready or Not for Hurricane Season?

By Elias Rodriguez

NYC weather awareness campaign

NYC weather awareness campaign

How does one deal with generator exhaust, household hazardous waste, sewage overflows or the ubiquitous mold that lingers inside your home after severe weather? June 1 through November 30 is hurricane season and New York City is making strides in preparing for the storm surges and flooding that appear to be more frequent as evidenced by Hurricane Sandy in 2012.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting a 70 percent likelihood of six to 11 named storms this year. Advance preparation is a wise decision as more data shows that wacky weather is likely become more frequent or intense with changes in climate.

Among the devastating toll on life and property, flooding and winds during Sandy impacted more than 200 wastewater treatment plants and over 80 drinking water facilities in New Jersey and New York, causing damage and power failures that resulted in the release of over 10 billion gallons of raw sewage into local waters and the shutdown of drinking water plants in dozens of communities.

People should take an active role in applying lessons that have been learned from past storms.  Any time of the year is a good occasion to resupply that emergency kit, update your emergency contacts and take other simple steps to prepare. Ready.gov or Listo.gov are great places to load up on tips and resources. Emergency management takes preparation and can be customized based on your own family’s needs.

For New Yorkers, the local government strongly encourages you to “Know Your Zone” and pinpoint your geographic area within the city’s hurricane evacuation zones. Based on their easy to search maps, you can see the risks you could potentially face from a hurricane and what to do for your health and safety.

About the Author: Elias serves as EPA Region 2’s bilingual public information officer. Prior to joining EPA, the proud Nuyorican worked at Time Inc. conducting research for TIME, LIFE, FORTUNE and PEOPLE magazines. He is a graduate of Hunter College, Baruch College and the Theological Institute of the Assembly of Christian Churches in NYC.

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!

We’re kicking off our “Welcome to the Weekend” summer series, where we feature a sampling of upcoming eco-friendly events in the New York City area. Feel free to let us know about other “green” events in the comment section!

Friday – June 12, 2015

 Resiliency and Elements Art Exhibit
Staten Island
Friday, June 12, 2015
10 a.m.4 p.m.

Discover ways New York City is improving its resiliency against storms. The Lenape Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition featuring works by Staten Island artists and natural infrastructure projects. #GreenArt

Nature Exploration
Brooklyn
Friday, June 12, 2015
Noon 4 p.m.

Learn about nature! In this family-friendly event, search for birds and design a home for one of the park’s many living things. Join the Prospect Park Alliance for nature education programs at the Prospect Park Audubon Center, the first Audubon Center in the nation. #NatureEducation #FamilyFriendly

H “50 Cent” Jackson Garden

H.E.A.L.T.H. for Youths Gardening in NYRP/Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson Garden
Queens
Friday, June 12, 2015
4 – 6 p.m.

Giving back to his childhood community, rap-sensation 50 Cent joined forces with NYRP to breathe new life into this much needed green space.  Families can enjoy the children’s learning garden and patio area in this creatively designed, multi-functional gathering space. #Gardening #FamilyFriendly

Saturday, June 13, 2015

Bird Walks at Van Cortlandt Park
Bronx
Saturday, June 13, 2015
8 – 9:30 a.m.

Gain information about the history of birding and the Van Cortlandt Park. Join influential birders as they guide you through the various species of residents and migrants, and discuss a wide range of avian topics.#Birdwalk #Birdwatching #HistoryOfBirds

Woodlands Discovery Club for Families: North Woods
Manhattan
Saturday, June 13, 2015
10 a.m. – noon

Looking to get out of the house and explore a woodland without leaving the city? Come and join the Woodlands Discovery Club in Central Park for a two-hour session to learn and connect with nature through hands-on science activities using tools from your very own Discovery Kits. #DiscoverNorthWoods #FamilyFriendly

Basic Canoeing
Bronx
Saturday, June 13, 2015
Noon – 3 p.m.

Experience the open water in New York City! Our trained Urban Park Rangers will lead you on canoe adventures that range from the gentle waters of protected lakes to the challenging open waters of rivers and bays. Basic Canoe programs are great for all skill levels. #CanoeAdventure #Canoeing 

Gardening Workshop: Tropical Plants in a Strawberry Pot
Bronx
Saturday, June 13, 2015
1 – 2 p.m.

Transform a terracotta strawberry pot into a sculptural tower of luxuriant tropical plants, perfect for a shady garden terrace or deck. #Gardening

Powell Street Garden Workshop:
Introduction to Beekeeping & Honey Tasting

Brooklyn
Saturday, June 13, 2015
3 – 4 p.m.

Join us for a brief introduction to beekeeping and enjoy tasting local and international honey. #LocalHoney

 Sunday – June 14, 2015

Flax to Linen
Brooklyn
Sunday June 14, 2015
2 – 4 p.m.

Check on the flax crop planted in the spring and try out the tools used to process flax fibers into linen cloth. Touch different pieces of linen cloth to compare the weaves and try on some linen reproduction clothes for a fun photo-op in our farm wagon. #FlaxToLinen

Drums Along the Hudson
Manhattan
Sunday, June 14, 2015
11 a.m. – 6 p.m.

Enjoy Music and Dance in the annual Native American festival and multicultural celebration. Join NYC Parks and Lotus Music and Dance for this annual Native American festival and multicultural celebration, featuring drumming and dancing from around the world. #MulticulturalCelebrations

Central Park Sightseeing Walking Tour
Manhattan
Sunday, June 14, 2015
9 – 11 a.m.

Come stroll and fall in love with this iconic NYC landmark, exploring the many bridges, fountains and statues that grace the park. The guided two-hour excursions will interest visitors from various backgrounds – whether you’re an environmentalist or a movie-enthusiast. #Birdwatch #FamilyFriendly

Stop ‘N’ swap®
Brooklyn
Sunday, June 14, 2015
Noon – 3 p.m.

Swap or discover used items from this free Community Reuse event. Bring clean, reusable, portable items such as clothing, house wares, games, books, & toys that you no longer need, and take home something new-to-you, free! You don’t have to bring something to take something. #StopNSwap

Share your adventures with us!

EPA Region 2 Facebook | EPA Region 2 Twitter

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.

There are times when spring cleaning can be dangerous…

1.Close up of mouse droppings

1. Close up of mouse droppings

By Marcia Anderson

I live in a suburban area, surrounded by woods, lots of woods. So an occasional visit by an insect or rodent is inevitable.

Field mice drop in for the winter, especially when my family unintentionally invites them by leaving the garage or deck doors open. The mice also slip into the basement through the gap between the door and the floor we keep meaning to seal. Even though the gap is small, they still manage to squeeze through. Mice can squeeze through a hole the size of a dime, and rats can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter! Once inside the little critters seek food, water and a warm shelter.

During the winter months the little pests usually go unnoticed. However, every spring or summer when I clean sections of my basement, I find mouse droppings, patches of urine, nesting material and occasionally a dried corpse. The same scene also plays out as warm weather motivates us to clean out our backyard shed and open our little vacation cabin in the woods.

More than just a spring nuisance, cleaning up after rodents in and around your own home, cabin, shed or barn can put you at risk from the allergens and illnesses that go hand-in-hand with rodents. Rodent droppings can be prime allergy or asthma triggers in urban or rural settings. Even worse, Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome a severe and sometimes fatal disease caused by the hantavirus, is spread by rodents. The American Lung Association provides helpful information on rodent-borne illnesses, including hantavirus.

2.This gap between the brick wall and cement step provides the perfect entryway for a mouse.

2. This gap between the brick wall and cement step provides the perfect entryway for a mouse.

Rodents throughout most of North America carry forms of hantavirus, deer mice in the west, cotton rats in the southeast, and white-footed mice in the northeast. The Centers for Disease Control reports that Hantavirus Pulmonary Syndrome has occurred in 34 states. The disease is spread through either direct contact with rodent urine, droppings and saliva, or by breathing in dust that is contaminated with rodent urine or feces.

There are things that you can do to both prevent rodent problems and to safely clean up if you find them indoors. Focus on prevention – remove the food sources, water, and entry points into your home or other shelter. This is the cornerstone of Integrated Pest Management (IPM), a smart, sensible and sustainable way to reduce pests, including mice and rats.

Keep pests out by sealing gaps or holes outside your home, garage or outbuilding. Look for holes in the roof near the roof among the rafters, gables, eaves, windows, attic vents and crawl space vents. Check for holes around the foundation and where electrical, plumbing, cable, and gas lines enter. When you find small holes, pack them with steel wool then apply a sealant to keep it in place.

To fix larger holes, use lath screen, lath metal, hardware cloth, metal sheeting or cement to repair. Install a door sweep to close off gaps under doors. As long as these entry points remain open, rodents will continue to get inside.

Other steps you should take on your property are aimed at eliminating outdoor nesting sites. Position compost bins and woodpiles at least 100 feet from buildings. Elevate garbage cans and, if possible, woodpiles at least one foot off the ground. Get rid of old tires, cars, and trucks that mice and rats could use as homes. Keep grass cut short and shrubbery trimmed away from buildings. Keep bird feeders away from the house and use squirrel guards to limit squirrels and other rodent access.

Remember a few key points to keep food away from any rodents that do make it indoors. Store your non-refrigerated food in thick plastic, glass or metal containers with tight lids. This includes pet food, grains and domestic animal feed. Uneaten animal feed should be returned to its storage container or disposed of each evening. Wash and dry dirty dishes and make sure there are lids on your trash cans.

If you have a building with signs of rodent activity inside, take care when cleaning to avoid potentially serious health consequences. Avoid actions that raise contaminated dust, such as sweeping or vacuuming rodent feces. Instead, follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for cleaning up after rodents that include wearing gloves when cleaning and properly disinfecting.

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.

What’s a CAG?

By Aria Isberto

Gowanus Canal

Gowanus Canal

As an intern, I had the opportunity to attend a Community Advisory Group (CAG) meeting for the Gowanus Canal Superfund Site. Following Earth Day last month, days after activist Christopher Swain’s famed swim in the heavily polluted waterway, a spotlight was focused on the development of its ongoing cleanup. Members of the CAG and the community met, as they often do, to receive updates and to address vital concerns.

In the broadest sense, what I learned is that a CAG is one of the bridges between the federal agencies working on a Superfund site and its surrounding community. With a regularly held public forum, EPA and the CAG get to work together in the decision-making progress of the cleanup.

A CAG is made up of passionate community members of different backgrounds, representative of the diversity and interests of those affected. I observed that the meeting followed an agenda, led by a facilitator, with minutes taken and posted. The >Gowanus Canal CAG members are also organized into four sections of responsibility: Archaeology, Outreach, Real Estate, and Water Quality & Technical (but each CAG could vary depending on the need of its Superfund site).

I also discovered that there are two CAGs in New York City, 11 in EPA Region 2 and 66 nationwide. It is one of the most effective ways to connect, exchange information and meet face-to-face with the agencies responsible for the Superfund site. At the meeting I attended, EPA was represented by >Christos Tsiamis, Project Manager of the Gowanus Canal cleanup and Natalie Loney, Community Involvement Coordinator at Region 2.

After initial introductions, I knew I was in a room full of people with the same goal in mind: all wanted to make sure the cleanup of the Gowanus Canal happened, that it happened soon, and that there would be as few negative repercussions on the surrounding areas as possible. The room was represented by some staff from elected officials offices, groups such as Friends of St. Thomas Park, Langan Engineering (among many others – too many to list here!), as well as local residents.

People asked questions, voiced concerns, and presented a resolution to EPA, and I listened to the knowledgeable community members talk about the work on the Superfund site. The more technical details were immediately questioned and explained thoroughly. At the end of the meeting, it really struck me how important these CAGs are. Making sure that information about the Superfund site is accessible to all is a responsibility just as vital as the cleanup itself – and so is being aware about the matters that affect our communities!

To learn more about the Gowanus Canal Superfund site CAG, click here: the next meeting is on May 26th. Visit the EPA website to read about Community Advisory Groups, and find out how to be a part of one.

About the Author: Aria Isberto is an intern at the EPA Region 2 Public Affairs Division. Born and raised in Manila, Philippines, she currently resides in Manhattan and is an undergraduate student at Baruch College. Her passions include music, writing and learning about protecting the environment.

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.