urban escapes

Sustainable New York City Weekend Events

Have you completed all of your holiday shopping? There are plenty of green activities both indoor and out this coming weekend to keep you busy!

Christmas Bird Count – Spend the pre-holiday weekend out in nature, all while doing your part to support the bird population. The Christmas Bird Count is a nationwide bird census that helps conservation researchers track the long-term health of bird populations. Saturday, December 15, 12 & 3 p.m., and Sunday December 16, 3 p.m.

Columbus Avenue Holiday Market: The Columbus Avenue Holiday Market will again be held out of the historic, beautiful, and well known Church of St. Paul the Apostle located right on Columbus Avenue between 59th and 60th Streets. The holiday market event will be situated in St. Paul’s 9,000 sq ft Hall with its high ceilings and exquisite grand doors just a few steps down from the sidewalk level. Check out the 60 plus vendors that will be featuring their unique handcrafted and vintage wares out of the spacious 9000 square foot auditorium. You’re sure to find amazing holiday gifts such as art, jewelry, toys, chocolates, body care, handbags, clothing, stationary, scarves and hats, pottery, and more! Saturday, December 15, 12 –6 p.m.

Conference House Woodlands Storm Cleanup: Join Natural Areas Volunteers in storm cleanup of the woodlands at Conference House Park. Your help is needed to restore the forest and clear out the storm debris. Please follow this link to pledge a day of service. Note that registration is necessary. Saturday, December 15, 9 a.m.–1 p.m.

Degenerate Craft Fair: Sustainable, crafty and handmade gifts with an artistic flair. Saturday, December 15, 12-9 p.m. and Sunday, December 16, 11 a.m.–6 p.m.

Ice Skate at Van Cortlandt Park: The caption says it all! Saturday, December 15, 12 –10 p.m., and Sunday, December 16, 12 –8 p.m.

Manhattan Adirondacks Tour: Olmsted and Vaux designed the North Woods to replicate the forests of the Adirondack Mountains, with their crystal streams, tumbling cascades, rustic bridges, and picturesque pools right in New York City’s backyard. For directions, please call 212-860-1370. Tour meets at: The Charles A. Dana Discovery Center, inside the Park at 110th Street between Fifth and Lenox Avenues. Saturday, December 15, 12:30 –1:30 p.m.

New York Transit Museum Holiday Train Show: Head to Grand Central Terminal to check out the 11th Annual Holiday Train Show. Weekdays, 8 a.m. –8p.m. Saturdays and Sundays, 10 a.m. –6 p.m.

The Wild Garden: Discovering Central Park Woodlands Exhibit– Use this hands-on exhibit to illuminate the history, ecology, and management of the woodlands and learn why these landscapes are so essential to the purpose of Central Park. The exhibit includes a digital interactive app highlighting historic photos and revealing hidden features. Exhibit introductions are available by appointment for groups of 10 or more; call 212-860-1370 for more information. Saturday, December 15, 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

What the Dickens: Second Annual A Christmas Carol Marathon: Housing Works Bookstore hosts the second marathon reading of the holiday classic by Charles Dickens and featuring a roster of local authors. Begins Sunday, December 18, 1 p.m.

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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Green HALLOWEEN: NYC Weekend Activities

Plan now for the last weekend in October with some spooky activities that will help reduce your carbon footprint and get you in Halloween mode.

Bats at the Belvedere: Learn about the bats native to Central Park in this interactive lecture. Friday, October 26, 5-6:30 p.m.

Canine Costume Carnival: Why should humans get to have all the fun? Bring your furry friend to Rockaway Freeway/ Beach 84 (in Rockaway Freeway), Queens for a costume contest in celebration of Halloween. Prizes will be awarded for the most creative costumes in large and small dog categories. Don’t have a dog? You can still go watch! Saturday, October 27, 11 a.m. –1 p.m.

Central Park Pumpkin Festival: Join NYC Parks for Pumpkin Festival, New York City’s annual celebration of the fall harvest season in leafy Central Park! Saturday, October 27, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Central Park band shell.

Children’s Fall Festival at the Queens County Farm: Celebrate autumn with Halloween fun for all ages. Visit the Haunted House ($4), play traditional games like trinkets-in-the-haystack and sack races, or take a pony ride. Costumes encouraged! Sunday, October 28, 11 a.m.–4 p.m. 73-50 Little Neck Pkwy Floral Park, NY 11004, Queens

Family Art Project: The Masked Parade of the Hairy Insects: Use materials of all shapes and sizes to create funny, fuzzy insect masks. Add a handmade musical insect instrument as demonstrated by visiting artist and musician Lisa Karrar. Then with Lisa’s lead, take your ladybug, worker ant or daddy long-legs for a stroll, as we assemble for a fall parade. Sunday, Oct 28 – 10 a.m. –1 p.m.

Newtown Creek Bike Tour — Cruising the Queens Side: Did you know the largest land-based oil spill in US history happened in Greenpoint? Did you know that the creek was a dumping ground for sulphuric acid in the late 1800′s? Know what pollutes our neighborhood creek today? Ever thought environmental standards were a waste of governmental resources? Curious what Superfund status means for a modern working creek? Come and tour industrial North Brooklyn and learn about “black mayonnaise” and the other nastiness that lurks beneath the surface of Newtown Creek and discuss the future of this rapidly developing neighborhood. Sunday, October 28, 2 p.m. –5 p.m.

Textile Recycling Greenmarkets: Check out the link provided for a location near you. Saturday and Sunday options are available at many of the locations.

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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New Frog in New York City | In Search of the Richmond Ribbiter

In the wilds of New York City (photo: Seth Ausubel, EPA)

By Seth Ausubel

The air was chill and the skies leaden as our party slipped quietly through the thick woodland underbrush.  We soon reached a densely overgrown pond.  The still dark waters roiled as dozens of unseen creatures fled the pond’s edge at our approach.

An eerie calm beset the pond as we began a silent vigil.  Soon the chorus of alien clucks that had guided us toward our destination resumed.  Then, a ripple…a vague form in the murky waters… a pair of eyes.  There it was — the Richmond Ribbiter!

O.K., so the part I left out is that the pond is a mere twenty-five feet from the edge of a busy road, next to a gun club and stone mason yard in Staten Island, a.k.a. Richmond County, one of New York City’s five boroughs.  What is truly remarkable is that our quarry was a newly discovered species of leopard frog.

I was there that March morning of 2012 with my friends and fellow naturalists, Dave Eib, Mike Shanley and Seth Wollney, all native Staten Islanders.

You’re probably incredulous that a new species of frog has been discovered in New York City.  It is an extremely rare occasion when any new vertebrate species is discovered in a major population center.  But, in fact, while the existence of these frogs has been known, it was only recently shown that they are genetically distinct from the other leopard frog species in the region – the Northern Leopard Frog (Rana pipiens), and the Southern Leopard Frog (Rana utricularia).  The new frog has not yet been described in scientific literature, nor has it even been named.  So for now I’m dubbing it…well, you know already.

While the Richmond Ribbiter looks very much like the other leopard frogs, its calls are quite distinct – a single “cluck” unlike the “chuckle” of the Southern Leopard Frog, and even less like the “snore” of the Northern Leopard Frog.  Seth Wollney has posted video and audio on his blog.  The calls of the other species can be found by following the links above.

Way back in 1936, Carl Kauffeld, the renowned herpetologist and Curator of the Staten Island Zoo, wrote that he thought there may be a third species of leopard frog in New York City.  But he never investigated further and the frog remained shrouded in obscurity.  Wollney, whose local knowledge is unparalleled, says he and others noticed the presence of an oddly singing frog a few years ago.  But it was the studies of Jeremy A. Feinberg, a doctoral candidate in ecology and evolution at Rutgers University that identified the frog as a new species.

The range of the Richmond Ribbiter is still being investigated, but it is likely that only a small fraction of its former range still supports the frogs.  This shows the importance of habitat conservation, even in urban areas.

So, yes, there are wilds in New York City, and a unique frog.  Who knows what discoveries remain?

About the author: Seth Ausubel is Acting Chief of EPA Region 2’s Watershed Management Branch, and an avid birder and naturalist

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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Your Sustainable NYC Weekend is Here

This weekend is brimming with crisp autumn fun! Grab your sweater, windbreaker, or parka and hit the city streets!

Castle and its Kingdom Tour – Take a walk around the lands dominated by Central Park’s Belvedere Castle. Visit the tiny 55-acre realm on an eclectic tour of history and nature. Saturday, October 20, 10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m.

Community Paddle and Bike Loan – Join the Bronx River Alliance for a free paddle or free bike ride along the greenway. Free, no registration required. Saturday, October 20, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Electronic Waste Recycling Day in Cobble Hill – The Lower East Side Ecology Center is holding an e-waste recycling event at P.S. 29 in Cobble Hill to help you responsibly recycle all of your unwanted or broken gadgets. Spread the word to your friends and neighbors! Sunday, October 21, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Halloween Costume Swap – Find a fun new-to-you costume or donate your clean, gently used costumes to the swap. The swap is free, so give and take as you’d like! Saturday, October 20, 11:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.

MillionTreesNYC Tree Giveaway Event – Head over to Woodlawn Cemetery this Sunday for their tree giveaway. Rain or shine! Sunday, October 21, 9:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.

Red Hook Harvest Festival – Celebrate the harvest of Brooklyn’s largest community farm! Featuring foods from local restaurants, pumpkin carving, farm animals, games, farm tours, music, local fruits and veggies at the Red Hook Farmers Market, and much more! Saturday, October 20, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

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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Sustainable Holiday Weekend Activities

There’s no excuse to stay put this weekend. The Federal Government is off for Columbus Day on October 8, so you will note that we’ve included some events for Monday as well. If we’ve left something fun out, let us know in the comments section.

Boo at the Zoo: Enjoy family and kids’ activities, including magic shows, scary stories, costume parades, a hay maze, pumpkin painting and more. Saturdays and Sundays at the Bronx Zoo for the month of October.

Brooklyn Flea: The Flea features hundreds of top vendors of antique and repurposed furniture, vintage clothing, collectibles and antiques, as well as a tightly curated selection of jewelry, art, and crafts by local artisans and designers, plus delicious fresh food. Saturday, October 6, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. in Fort Greene (176 Lafayette Ave. btw. Clermont and Vanderbilt Ave). Sunday, October 7, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. in Williamsburg (East River Waterfront (btw. North 6 and 7 St).

Columbus Day Parade: Monday, October 8, 11:30 a.m-3 p.m.

Hester Street Fair: Located at the corner of Hester and Essex Street, the fair celebrates the culture and rich history of the Lower East Side neighborhood. Open every Saturday from 10 a.m.to 6 p.m.

NYC Greenmarkets: Check out this full listing of daily Greenmarkets for a location near you!

The Spooktacular Pumpkin Party at The New York Botanical Garden: Dance with master puppeteer Ralph Lee’s costumed creatures and meet the largest bat in the world, the Gigantic Flying Fox of Malaysia, in the Haunted Pumpkin Garden. Spooky storytelling and live performances by Fisher Price’s Little People Live! are also in the mix at this Halloween bash. Ages 5 and up. Saturday, Sunday and Monday (see schedule for times).

Volunteer with Added Value at Red Hook Community Farm: Fall is an incredible time to come out to the farm and work side by side with your neighbors, youth leaders and urban farm corps members. Sow seeds, harvest produce, build our youth garden and enjoy the local and regional produce at the Red Hook Farmers’ Market. Saturday, October 6, 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

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.

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’s a whole bunch of stuff going on across all five boroughs this weekend, so grab that Metrocard and get to it!

Autumn Moon Festival – This annual event celebrates the Chinese Festival of the Autumn Moon, when the full moon is at its fullest and brightest. This year’s event will also recognize other Asian harvest festivals such as Japan’s Fukushima Autumn, Thailand’s Loy Krathong Festival and Vietnam’s Tet Trung Thu. Admission: $10 for adults, $6 for seniors & students. Children five and under are admitted free. Saturday, September 29, 4:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Electronic Waste Recycling Day at Coop City – The Lower East Side Ecology Center is holding an electronic waste recycling event in Coop City this Saturday to help all New Yorkers recycle all their unwanted or broken gadgets. Help spread the word! Saturday, September 29, 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.

Fall 2012 Overlook Concerts: Blues – Come enjoy an afternoon in Riverside Park and enjoy talent from the Columbia University Music Performance Department, the Manhattan School of Music Community Partnerships Program, and French Cookin’ Blues Band. Sunday, September 30, 2:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.

Introduction to Birdwatching – Always wanted to learn more about bird watching, but aren’t sure about how to get started? Now’s your chance! The Prospect Park Alliance is hosting a free tour that will teach you about the 250 species of birds that call Prospect Park home. Saturday, September 29, 12:00 p.m. – 1:30 p.m.

Maker Faire – Enjoy technology and doing things your own way? If so, Maker Faire is for you! This two-day, family-friendly festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness, is an all-out celebration of the Maker movement. Saturday, September 29 and Sunday, September 30

National Drug Take-Back Day – Before you hit the town on Saturday, make sure your unwanted, unused prescription drugs are properly disposed of. You’ll be helping keep your family and your environment safe. Saturday, September 29, 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m.

National Estuary Day – Come enjoy the Hudson River and learn how you can give back to this invaluable ecosystem! Take part in catch and release fishing and kid-friendly experiments that will help you learn about the Hudson Estuary and the animals that call it home. Saturday, September 29, 11:00 a.m.

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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Eco-Friendly Things to Do in NYC This Weekend

Now that the storms have passed, welcome the fall season by getting outdoors this weekend!

Breukelen Country Fair: Wyckoff Farmhouse Museum offers an afternoon of farm activities for the family. Learn about heritage seeds, solar energy and heirloom vegetables at New York City’s oldest house. Saturday, September 22, 1-5 p.m.

Dance Safari: Explore Riverside Park and search out five site specific modern dance pieces on a guided Dance Safari walk. Saturday and Sunday, September 22-23, 5:30-6:30 p.m.

Free Nature Walk on Staten Island: Walk through woodland ecosystems with experienced naturalists. Saturday, September 22, 11 a.m.-1 p.m.

Plant Propagation Workshop: Led by New York Restoration Project staff, this workshop will cover the basics of plant propagation including taking cuttings, sowing seeds, plant divisions and more. Supplies are provided and the event is free. Sunday, September 23, 1-3:30 p.m.

Poetry and Sculpture: Storm King Art Center and the Poets House present an outdoor reading on Governors Island amid large steel sculptures. Saturday, September 22, 2 p.m.

Queens County Fair: A traditional county fair with blue ribbon competitions in livestock, home crafts and more. Sustainable activities include planting tips, recycling ideas and composting information. Saturday and Sunday, September 22-23, 11 a.m.-6 p.m.

Scarecrow Making: Art in the Park gets ready for fall with friendly scarecrow making in Madison Square Park. Saturday, September 22, 10:30 a.m.-1 p.m.

Sneak Peak at Fresh Kills Park: Get an overview of what NYC’s biggest new park will have to offer. Head out to Staten Island for a full day of activities from kayaking to kite flying and witness the transformation of the 2,200-acre Fresh Kills Landfill. Sunday, September 23, 11 a.m.-4 p.m.

92 Y Street Fest: Bring the family to this kid-friendly celebration of culture and health and wellness on the Upper East Side. Sunday, September 23, noon-5 p.m.

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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Exploring the Hudson Aboard the Evening Star

<i>The Evening Star offers cruises along the Hudson River from historic Peeskill, New York </i>

By Schenine Mitchell

Louis P. Zicari, Jr., has been a long-standing contributor to the Brownfields Program at EPA Region 2.  He currently serves as Project Manager on an EPA Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training grant awarded to the Research Foundation of SUNY Buffalo.  He is Associate Director of the Center for Integrated Waste Management at SUNY Buffalo and has successfully managed several other brownfield grants in the region.  We can now say we know him on another level.  This EPA Project Manager is also known as Captain Louis P. Zicari (“Captain Lou”), working part-time on a vessel called the Evening Star. The Evening Star is an old Coast Guard vessel built in 1966 that has been converted to touring boat on the Hudson River.  This is the second year that the tour boat has been in operation.

Captain Lou Zicari and EPA’s Vince Pitruzzello cruising the Hudson (pictured from right to left)

Captain Lou is a USCG licensed Merchant Mariner, 50 ton Master. He has spent significant time on the Great Lakes, Finger Lakes and St. Lawrence River on vessels of all sizes.   Captain Lou has long standing interests in the environment, urban history, sport fishing – and enjoys combining his knowledge of those areas while at the helm of the Evening Star.  Thanks to Captain Lou’s knowledge and experience, the river tours serve as a great way to learn about some of the ecology and history of the Hudson River.  Recently, Vince Pitruzzello, the Program Support Branch Chief for the Emergency and Remedial Response Division at EPA Region 2, took part in a tour on the Evening Star.

The Evening Star offers river tours several times each week, Wednesday through Sunday, from Charles Point Marina or Riverfront Green Park.  Metro North has partnered with the Evening Star to provide discounted cruise tickets for those who travel by train. It’s a great way to escape the city, take an evening cruise, and then check out a local restaurant for dinner!  More information on times, locations, and prices can be found online at www.trinitycruises.com or call (914) 589-7773.

About the author: Schenine Mitchell is an Environmental Protection Specialist in the Brownfields Program of the Superfund Program Support Branch. She has a BS in International Environmental Studies from Rutgers University (Cook College), a graduate degree in Environmental Management from Montclair State University, and is a PhD student in Environmental Management at Montclair – specializing in Environmental Justice and Brownfields Redevelopment. She serves as Regional Brownfields Job Training Coordinator and currently Co-Chair of the Region 2 EJ Work Group.

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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Upcoming Weekend Activities – Last List of the Summer!

Labor Day Weekend is here! Make sure to enjoy the unofficial end of summer with one of these exciting outdoor activities. Come winter, you’re going to want these warm memories!

Bilingual English/Spanish Tree Care Workshop: Million Trees NYC offers its tree care class and planting session en español. Monday, September 3, 6 – 8:30 p.m.

Bryant Park Ping Pong: Paddles and balls provided free of charge to all skill levels. If you’re good enough, you may even draw a crowd to watch your ping pong skills! Saturday, September 1, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.

Free Kayaking:  Enjoy a 15-minute trial paddle on the South Beach Boardwalk in Staten Island! You’ll be provided with sit-on-top kayaks, life jackets and paddling tips on land and water. Saturday, September 1, noon – 4 p.m.

Garden Walking Tour in Fort Tryon Park: Take a tour of the “Park for All Seasons.” Learn about the park’s history, future and secrets from a member of For Tryon’s expert horticulture staff. Sunday, September 2, 1 p.m. – 2 p.m.

Locavore Challenge: Sign up and challenge yourself to a month of eating locally. Who knew New York could taste so good? Starts Saturday, September 1.

NYC Parks Summer Movie Series: Happy Feet 2: Pack a picnic, grab a blanket, and gather up your family for an outdoor showing of “Happy Feet 2” at St. Mary’s Park. Saturday, September 1, 8 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Sculpture Workshop: A classic family-friendly workshop in the Socrates Sculpture Garden. Saturday, September 1, noon – 3 p.m.

Summer on the Hudson: Lunchtime Listen: If you’re around West Harlem Piers Park tomorrow, stop by with your lunch and enjoy the country-western-swing-accordion-folk group Tres Amigos. Friday, August 31, noon – 1 p.m.

Unicycle Fest: Head out to Governor’s Island this weekend to watch and learn how to ride one wheel. September 1-2, noon – 5 p.m.

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.