Hello reader(s)! This week was a big one for the environmental/conservation crew! Wednesday was Earth Day and today (Friday) is Arbor Day! That means we were able to get the public involved in not one, not two, but THREE Earth Week events!
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The first one was Saturday the 18th, we worked with a crew of SCA interns and staff members to finish off a trail connecting several properties along the Hudson in Hyde Park, home of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. We had a long, hot day of bench cutting (making a trail level so water flows off it and people don’t twist their ankles,) building a staircase, and moving large rocks to form stepping stones across a stream. Having beautiful paths like this accessible encourages people to get out in the woods but it takes a lot of work!
These are the unposed and posed photos from that workday… We were using tools called McLeods (rake-looking ones) and Mattocks (pick-looking ones, in the left picture I’m using the pick end to pry a rock out) and we worked up quite a sweat! As you can see from the picture on the right, the trail is now clear and much more level, so it will be easier to find, walk on, and for water to cross. Below is our group picture!
The next event was on Earth Day itself, when we worked with community volunteers to clean up a park that is being transferred to NY State Parks soon. We wanted it to be in top condition for them! My team worked mostly on drainage. Water erosion can be a huge problem for trails- it can make them muddy and unsafe, or carry the trail surface down the hill, or make huge ruts that are ugly and tripping problems. So we build drainage ditches designed to carry the water across where we want it to go.
I’m the one in the awesome blue vest in these pictures- too bad my boss cut off my head! Hope that isn’t representative of how she feels about me!
Speaking of ugly things (no, not my head, above the pictures I mentioned that water erosion can be ugly) we brought out a WHOLE LOT of trash from the woods. The below picture is one of our lovely volunteers sorting out all the recyclable things- casual reminder that reusable water bottles are much better for the environment AND more stylish than the one-use plastic ones!
Finally, the third event was today- the SCA interns at NYS DEC (Student Conservation Association interns at New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, we love our TWA- three word acronyms around here) hosted a “Trees for Tribs” event where we put bare-root baby trees and shrubs in pots for use in tributary areas. These trees will help streams and wetlands remain healthy and have improved water quality, but they need to grow a bit more first!
The above try to capture how many baby trees we planted! It was A LOT! Approximately 2,000 in fact! And they will all be in the ground helping maintain healthy tributary areas by this time next year!
The below tries to capture how much fun we had especially with these baby conifers- SO CUTE!! Sorry for blocking your face, Megan!
In honor of Earth Day and Arbor Day, I’d like to challenge all my readers to do something to help the environment. “But Dorothy,” I hear you say, “I go to school and work and volunteer and raise kids and dogs, you’re going to give me something ELSE to do? I don’t have time to go plant 2,000 trees!” Well that’s totally okay. You don’t need to do that, you don’t even need to plant one tree. My suggestion is this: take one of those plastic grocery bags you have hanging around and put it in the pocket of whatever jacket/pants/purse/backpack you take when you walk around. It doesn’t even have to be in the woods! It could be a walk to the train station! Take that plastic bag and when you see garbage on the ground, put it in that bag. You don’t even have to touch the garbage, you can turn the bag inside out and use it like a glove. Then dispose of it in a garbage can! If everyone grabbed three or four pieces of litter to celebrate Earth Week, neighborhoods, parks and forest preserves would be a lot cleaner, prettier, and more fun to visit. Not to mention healthier for plants and animals! Who’s with me?
Happy Earth Week everybody! Even if you don’t take my challenge, try to get some fresh air- out here spring has finally sprung, and it’s so great!