News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.
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ZAGATA: Audubon Now Says: Young Forest Desireable

Column by Mike Zagata, April 13, 2018

Audubon Now Says:

Young Forest Desireable

 

Mike Zagata

You’ve just read the Spring 2018 issue of “Living Bird” magazine published by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and were startled, and excited, to read: “Overall, specialists say a healthy forested landscape should include roughly 10 percent of young woodlands.” (Right now, that number for our forestland hovers around
2 percent.)
That’s a dramatic shift from just a few years ago when Audubon was adamantly protecting mature forests at the expense of young forests. In other words a few years back, it wasn’t OK to cut a few trees, even clear-cut five or 10 acres, but it is now.
Why the shift in policy – you already know the answer having read the previous articles in this series. Now the questions become what to do about it and how?
You own 50 or so acres and you’d like to harvest it to generate some cash, and you also want to benefit those wildlife species, including many songbirds, American Woodcock, ruffed grouse and deer, which rely on young forest (grasslands and brush) for their habitat.

Basswood Pond in Burlington Flats is one of Otsego County’s state forests.

To whom do you turn for help? You’re now aware of the risk associated with trying to manage the timber sale yourself: risk of not getting what you should for your trees; risk of not knowing which trees to cut and which ones to leave; and the risk of not knowing how to manage the logger so that he or she does what you want done.

There are some places to turn to for advice.
Your regional office for the DEC (ours is located in Stamford) has a regional forester on staff who can walk you through the process and maybe even put you in touch with the consulting foresters who service this area.
The National Resource Conservation Service (part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture) has an office on Route 33 just south of Cooperstown and can assist you.
Cornell’s Cooperative Extension Program offers forest-related workshops and has a Master Forest Owner Program (MFO), providing forest landowners with a free visit by a MFO who listens to what you want to accomplish and then explains how to go about doing it.
Another good source of information is the state Forest Owners Association. (www.NYFOA.org). They have 10 chapters located around the state that host “Woods Walks” to help explain how to manage a forest and many of their members participate in the MFO Program and volunteer as MFOs.

What do you do if you forest has been logged repeatedly using the high-grading approach where they took “the best” and now you’re left with “the rest”?
There traditionally has not been a strong market for low-grade wood (“the rest”) in New York. Landowners who wanted to re-invigorate their forest or manage it for wildlife via techniques that allow light to reach the

forest floor again have had to bear the burden of the cost.
However, with Governor Cuomo’s stated goal of having 50 percent of our electricity come from “renewable” (like trees) by 2030, the future market for low-grade wood or “biomass” seems much brighter.
If my memory serves me right, Oneonta had an opportunity to capitalize on that trend, but it, along with so many other options, was rejected. Colgate University, on the other hand, chose to take advantage of the opportunity and heats with biomass.

Mike Zagata, DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and a former environmental executive with Fortune 500 companies, resides in West Davenport.

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DEC REJECTS CONSTITUTION

DEC REJECTS

CONSTITUTION

Pipe arrived in New York State over the winter in anticipation of Constitution Pipeline construction beginning this year.  (Constitution Pipeline photo)
Pipe arrived in New York State over the winter in anticipation of Constitution Pipeline construction beginning this year. (Constitution Pipeline photo)

No Water-Quality Permit For Pipeline

dec-logoThe state Department of Environmental Conservation today announced it has denied the water-quality permit required for the Constitution Pipeline, blocking the 124-mile-long project for the time being.

“Although DEC has granted certificates for other projects, the application by Constitution for these certificates fails to meet New York State’s water quality standards,” DEC said in a statement.   At issue is the Clean Water Act Section 401 Water Quality Certification.

The state was required to reject the certification by the end of April, or jurisdiction would have moved to FERC, the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission.

Here is the rest of the DEC statement:

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DEC Lowers Fine Against City In Sewage Spill At Mill Race

DEC Lowers Fine Against City

In Sewage Spill At Mill Race

oneonta city sealONEONTA – Because of cooperation from City Hall, the state Department of Environmental Conservation is reducing a fine from $17,500 to $3,500 related to a sewage spill next to the Mill Race, according to Common Council’s agenda for its upcoming Tuesday meeting.

The DEC reduced the fine because city crews discovered the leak, notified the state of the problem and repaired it, the agenda states.

When it meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Common Council will be asked to raise the appropriation to repair the problem from $135,000 to $300,000.

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Wild Turkeys Peaked In ’01, But Still Plentiful

Wild Turkeys Peaked In ’01, But Still Plentiful

By LIBBY CUDMORE • AllOTSEGO.life

Edition of Thursday-Friday, Nov. 27-28, 2014

In 1962, 30 turkeys were reintroduced to Milford, and they’re still plentiful along Route 28. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.life)
In 1962, 30 turkeys were reintroduced to Milford, and they’re still plentiful along Route 28. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.life)

It’s Thanksgiving, and that means turkey – but not just on your plate.

Take a drive anywhere in Otsego County and chances are you’ll see a few wild turkeys waddling across harvested field pecking leftover corn. “They’re a popular bird,” said Michael Schiavone, a wildlife biologist with the state Department of Environmental Conservation. “People really enjoy seeing them.”

They’re also a popular treat on the dinner table, with 100,000 hunters statewide purchasing permits and licenses. “They’re still hunting turkeys around here, that’s for sure,” said Cheryl Shackleton, Oneonta town clerk.

“It’s more flavorful than a domestic turkey like you’d buy at the store,” said Schiavone. “Store-bought turkey is pretty bland. That’s why we have to do so much to it.”

But it wasn’t always so easy to spot – or hunt – a tasty turkey Upstate, although they may have pre-dated human settlers. Still, for nearly 100 years, they were extinct from Binghamton to Lake Placid.

“It started with the European settlers clearing land and destroying the turkeys’ habitat,” Schiavone said. “There were no hunting regulations or season and settlers brought over domestic poultry diseases, so  by 1850, there were no wild turkeys left.”

And it stayed that way until 1940, when a small flock of turkeys was discovered in the mountains of northern Pennsylvania. “The terrain wasn’t easy to clear for timber, so they sought refuge there,” said the biologist.

In 1948, the Conservation Department, DEC’s predecessor, began netting and relocating the birds to different areas in New York. And in 1961, the first turkey, brought in from Schoharie County, was released in Worcester. The following year, 30 more were released in Milford. They thrived. By 2001, the statewide population peaked at 300,000 birds.

Turkeys favor “mixed terrain,” seeking lightly forested areas to dig their nests and old fields to find insects, acorns and grain to eat. “That’s where you’ll find the best turkey densities,” Schiavone said.

And though they seem plentiful, the population statewide is actually on a decline. Cold, wet springs have upset the breeding and nesting cycle and predators, including skunks, raccoons and foxes, have arisen to eat eggs and birds. “Everybody likes the taste of turkey,” he said.

But it’s no cause for worry, he said. “They’re still abundant – it’s just natural population contraction.”

He estimates that between 160,000 and 180,000 turkeys roam New York State today. And while it is legal to hunt turkeys in the spring and fall, the DEC is working on amending hunting regulations for hens in the fall, in light of the below-average spring nest production. “We want to modify the hunting schedule to keep the population in line,” he said.

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Dreams Park Owner’s Tree Falls Across Susquehanna

Dreams Park Owner’s Tree

Falls Across Susquehanna

A tree has fallen from Lou Presutti's property on the left bank of the Susquehanna, blocking traffic on the river since Wednesday.
A tree has fallen from Lou Presutti’s property on the right side in this photo of the Susquehanna near its source at Otsego Lake, blocking traffic on the river since Wednesday.

COOPERSTOWN – Neighbor Chip Northrop, 17 River St., has alerted the DEC that a tree on the property of Dreams Park owner Lou Presutti has fallen across the Susquehanna River near its source, blocking the waterway.

In his letter, Northrup says Presutti, who bought the 10 Main St. mansion last summer, is refusing to have the tree removed. The neighbor is asking the DEC to direct Presutti to do so.

The tree is over the water supply intake pipe to the Village of Cooperstown, shown in the lower right corner, according to the letter.

There are two boats that moor down river that are blocked from their moorings. There is one launch and a dozen kayaks and rowing shells that are blocked in the river, the letter said.

“The tree is clearly a navigational hazard at Lake Otsego,” Northrup wrote.

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21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103