Editor’s Note: Bill Harman has led SUNY Oneonta’s Biological Field Station on Otsego Lake since its founding.
Historically, as in all our inland lakes after the original European settlement, rowboats, canoes, and sailboats capable of carrying a few passengers dominated Otsego Lake.
Early on it provided a corridor between the waters of the Mohawk drainage and the Southern Atlantic states via the Susquehanna River and was of national importance. It was used for a diversity of commercial and military activities over that length of time.
The first dirt road was built up the east side of the lake by William Cooper in 1787. By 1818, sections of road had begun to be built along the west side of the lake between Cooperstown and Springfield, but there was no direct route until about 1917.
Those early roads did not provide access to hotels and residences along the lake since they were constructed along the ridgetops to avoid the necessity of building bridges over the many streams running to the lake.
During that period, the lake itself served for commercial as well as recreational transportation. The first steamboat was launched in 1858. The last commercial steam vessel plied the lake in 1933.
During the height of those activities in 1894, 10 steam-powered vessels were active on the lake. At least two, the “Natty Bumppo” and the “Cyclone,” could carry more than 300 passengers.
‘Extension Master Gardener programs educate people, engaging them in learning to use unbiased, research-based horticulture and gardening practices through a network of trained volunteers directed and supported by land-grant university faculty and staff.”
Underneath the quiet of pandemic strictures and social-distancing, the world hasn’t completely come to a stop. Just as, soon, crocuses (not, croci, we’re told) will begin poking through the snow, so will the Otsego County Master Gardeners’ exciting plan start to become a reality.
“The Grow With Cornell Cooperative Extension” fund drive has reached 70 percent of its $200,000 goal, Extension Director Don Smyers announced this week, and thus, with spring, an innovative redo of the organization’s parking lot at 123 Lake St., Cooperstown, (just before you get to The Farmers’ Museum), will get underway.
The Master Gardeners’ organization – its members instruct would-be gardeners in how-to and best practices, and its Memorial Day plant sale is an annual hit – is a low-key, but beloved entity, as underscored by how $140,000 was raised since October, in time of pandemic.
“Growth” Co-Chair Pati Grady of Cooperstown – the other co-chair is Jason Stone, who runs a Toddsville topiary business – is predicting the construction, overseen by McManus Construction of Fly Creek, will get underway this spring.
How can a warming climate lead to a “frozen Texas”?
Media coverage of freezing conditions, power outages and millions of desperate Texans summarizes the life-threatening conditions brought on by freezing temperatures and snow that are foreign to that part of the country.
It may seem contrary to “climate change,” but in fact that’s exactly what is causing this and other extreme weather; but how can that be? A warming atmosphere should bring warmer weather, not polar conditions!
The explanation is actually pretty straightforward from the perspective of meteorologists and those who study conditions responsible for climate to change, and it’s all related to the “jet stream.”
The science gets complicated, but can be expressed in a simple four-step explanation that summarizes scientific publications of the past decade. None of this involves seasonal summer/winter changes.
Here’s the explanation:
STEP 1 – Atmospheric circulation is generated as the earth rotates during normal daily changes that bring day and night.
STEP 2 – This circulation causes regions of the atmosphere to constantly shift in a meandering pattern (the jet stream), which accounts for daily weather changes.
STEP 3 – During climate warming (as has been measured and reported for decades) layers of the atmosphere expand, which pushes meanders further south and slows their movement.
STEP 4 – This in turn brings polar weather into non-polar regions, like Texas and other southern states where polar conditions linger.
Likewise, exaggerated meandering of the jet stream causes drought conditions and heat waves during summer months when air masses from equatorial regions move northward.
As with all complicated issues, an overly simplified summary does not explain why all changes occur. Hopefully, this letter condenses a complex scientific issue for non-science readers.
Oneonta Sculptors ‘Terrible Beauty’ Opens At Munson-Williams-Proctor
By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
As 2010 arrived, Richard Friedberg was feeling “dispirited, unhappy that we did not have a great chance of solving our environmental problems, our climate problems.”
“I needed a change,” said Friedberg, who has a studio in a Harpersfield barn, halfway from Oneonta to Stamford.
Then, on April 20, change arrived: BP’s Deepwater Horizon oil platform exploded; 11 workers died, 17 more were injured. After two days of billowing flames, the rig sank into the Gulf of Mexico, and oil – 60,000 barrels a day at the peak – began to pour through a ruptured riser.
What resulted was the largest oil spill in history.
The artist had found his muse.
Friedberg had watched “the incredible fire.” He was “compelled by the awesomeness of the catastrophe.”
In the Atrium of Utica’s Munson-Williams-Proctor Art Institute the other day, where his show, “Terrible Beauty,” will run from Saturday, Feb. 27, through May 30, he searched for the right word to describe the disaster.
When Dori and Charlie Koop grew up in Rockland County, it was rural. But as years went by and New York City’s suburbs expanded, it wasn’t anymore.
The Koops began looking for greener pastures.
One weekend, “we were out for a country drive,” said Dori. “We pulled up in front of this house and I said, that’s it.” The couple has lived in the clapboard house, on a country road a few miles east of New Berlin, since 1990.
They may have no children, but they’re not alone. Far from it.
At the time Dori was interviewed, one of the Koops’ temporary boarders was Lucky, clipped by a car Tuesday, Feb. 16, on Interstate 88 near Oneonta, and brought to the Koops’ by Sheriff’s Sgt. Mike Stalter, who – like Charlie Koop – is also a falconer.
Dori then ticked off a list all the other four-footed and feathered friends on the premises: “an owl out back,” another red-tail hawk, pigeons in a coop, 10 cats and dogs (all rescues), seven miniature horses, a Harris hawk Charlie uses for hunting, and a bird cage of doves.
Vitamins, minerals, and other supplements – there are numbers of people who say you should take vitamins.
Vitamin C for tissue repair, A for healthy skin, B for stress, E for women over 40, and a very popular one today – Vitamin D for overall health.
But the cost of the vitamins keeps getting higher and higher. A men’s multivitamin today will cost well over $50!
I was looking at the label on the jar and it said that a number of the ingredients are foods, from foods? Why not just eat the right foods? Well, they say foods are
not as nutritional us as they used to be.
I remember reading about one genetically modified grain that was created so it would grow faster. One of the reasons that it grows faster was that the roots are shorter. Well , the shorter roots do not go deep enough to absorb enough minerals, which in turn affects the brain function because of the lack of the minerals.
You can see why a lot of people think that you should eat organic, non-GMO foods. So I wonder why isn’t the food as good as it used to be?
A lot has to do with the soil. It’s been depleted and in many places contaminated.
There’s a graveyard for cars around here. Tons of cars lined up near a river. Every time I drive by I think how stupid to be so close to the river. The acid rain comes down on all the cars and carries all the pollutants into the river and into the farmland.
Man just ignores the cycles of nature, giving little respect to the natural process. They think science can do a better job. There is no balance between nature and science. You really don’t want to wait for nature to build the soil back up.
The way she takes care of things! Think about this: the COVID virus. It is keeping people inside, thereby reducing their impact on nature. Example: air pollution. The virus is killing lots of people, which reduces the population and also the stress on the environment.
Nature has her way of balance if we don’t play fair. Building up the quality of soil in Otsego County should be a pretty high priority on the list. Quality of soil equals quality of food equals quality of people.
I wonder what is being done to protect and enrich our local soil for, as they say, future generations?
The year was 1889, the day was Dec. 25. In many rural parts of the nation, the festive “Christmas Side Hunt” was underway, where – according to one description – “armed participants wandered the countryside shooting at every bird and small animal they saw.”Concerned about the toll on the bird population, a year later American ornithologist Frank Chapman of New York City attempted to undo this now-infamous tradition by replacing it with the Christmas Bird Count.
Since 1970, the Delaware Otsego Audubon Society (DOAS) has participated in the new tradition. This year, as usual, there were three counts: Dec. 19 in Oneonta, Dec. 26 in the Mohawk Valley and, finally, Jan. 2 in Delaware County.
Because of COVID-19, the DOAS discouraged new participants during this year’s Christmas Bird Count. “We’re dealing with a high-risk population,”
DOAS co-President Susan O’Handley, Hartwick, said of the bird-counters. “Many of our birders are elderly, which has guided many of our decisions.”
Still, there are a number of records set within the Oneonta circle. For instance:
Blue jays, with 546 upsetting the previous high of 500 in 1970.
Carolina wrens and dark-eyed juncos, with more juncos spotted than any other species.
Winter wrens, which tied their highest recorded 2019 count.
Fox sparrows and red crossbills, spotted for the first time in a number of years.
This year in the Oneonta count, 4,500 birds were spotted, compared to the average 4,600 birds. And 52 species were spotted, compared to the 41.8 average.
That could have been because it was a nice day, compared to a stormy one the year before, said Sandy Bright, Oneonta, DOAS count coordinator.
The second DOAS co-president, Andy Mason, didn’t notice the day was that different from the year before, and suggested weather and food availability in Canada may have encouraged more birds to fly into this area.
The third and final DOAS co-president, Becky Gretton of Springfield, had another take.
“Normally we go out with our birding buddies,” she said. “However, this year, due to the coronavirus, we were divided up more.”
That resulted in 11 teams of 16 individuals each, instead of the usual larger nine teams. The teams didn’t have to move as quickly from one location
to another, giving them more time to record birds at each stop.
This allowed the teams to be more relaxed and more thorough, said Gretton, allowing care to ensure the same bird wasn’t counted more than once.
Each count occurs within a 7.5-mile radius, DOAS Treasurer Charles Scheim of Oneonta wrote in “Christmas Bird Counts”, published in a 2012 edition of The Belted Kingfisher, the DOAS publication.
“One might think that the experience of birding each of our assigned areas would be very similar. They are, after all, separated by a mere 25 miles, as the crow flies,” he wrote. “But geographical features can make a world of difference in attracting different species.
“There is no expectation that a team will find all the birds in an area, or even count all that can be found: many quiet woodland species may go uncounted; large flocks of geese or buntings can only be estimated.”
Nonetheless, the counts are consistently performed at the same time of the year, year after year, to maintain some standard.
Despite the inability to host in-person events, Mason, O’Handley and Gretton encouraged anyone interested to join the DOAS and help contribute to science.
“The organization goes beyond birds,” Mason explained. Our focus is really on general conservation.
Added O’Handley, “We look to introduce and promote policy that benefits wildlife and their habitats, often that coincides with improved human health as well.” Among the issues – the elimination of lead ammo, carbon reductions, protecting and preserving natural resources and more.
“As issues come up, we move to address them in a way that’s beneficial to nature and hopefully to humans as well;” Gretton added. “We look to build our connection with nature and it is a shared source of interest for the members of the chapter.
Scheim concludes his DOAS piece in posing a poignant question, “Why should anyone forego the comforts of home, perhaps by a fire with a hot beverage, to spend a day enduring freezing temperatures, biting winds, or possibly worse, just to count birds?
“The answer is this: it’s all part of the tradition” – a new tradition of course that seeks to preserve nature instead of destroying it.
The chapter currently has approximately 250 members. If you or someone you know has an interest in joining or participating in any of the upcoming self-guided or virtual events, please visit doas.us
Jay Egg, CEO, Geo Egg, inset photo, speaks about heating Southside Mall with geothermal energy at a packed Oneonta Town Board meeting this evening in West Oneonta, as Town Board member Randal Mowers listens. “The writing is on the wall,” Egg said about future energy use. Municipalities and counties like Westchester are already declaring moratoriums on expanding natural-gas use while the state is green-lighting renewable energy. The Town of Oneonta is considering installing a geothermal heating system in Southside and other parts of the municipality, while the City of Oneoneta this week contracted with Geo Egg for a feasibility study on retrofitting a geothermal heating system in South Main Street. (Jennifer Hill/AllOTSEGO.com)
COOPERSTOWN – Failing to do so two months ago, the county Board of Representatives voted 12-2 to enact a state-sponsored “Climate Smart Community Pledge” during their meeting on Wednesday, March 6.
County Reps. Ed Frazier, R-Unadilla, and Kathy Clark, R-Otego, who had questioned it last time, when it was referred to the Solid Waste & Environmental Concerns Committee (SWECC) for further study, opposed it again.
But the board’s vice chair, Gary Koutnik, D-Oneonta, who had opposed the resolution in SWECC on Feb. 15, saying it wasn’t strong enough, today voted aye.
The pledge is part of a state effort to incentivize municipalities and counties to become clean-energy communities. When local governments vote to adopt the pledge, they agree to support 10 required elements; in return, they gain access to certain grants.
Frazier, who pulled the resolution from the consent agenda for a separate vote, said, “I don’t know what we’re trying to accomplish with it, and called it “an attempt to stifle any type of economic development.”
“We should not tie the hands” of entrepreneurs looking to develop businesses in the region, he said.
In response, county Rep. Danny Lapin, D-Oneonta, an OCCA circuit rider, said the Climate Smart Pledge “did not have the legal teeth to stifle economic development,” and that signing onto the pledge would free up grants to “help business protect themselves from the effects of climate change.”
Meg Kennedy, C-Mount Vision, used the Town of Hartwick as a Climate Smart community that had not turned away economic development. “Just last night, the town voted approve going forward with the … Hampton Inn,” she said.
“I encourage the county to work on energy efficiency upgrades and having energy efficient equipment,” Kennedy added, before saying she would vote in favor of the Climate Smart Pledge.
In explaining why he changed his voted, Koutnik said, “The language of the resolution was too watered down. But now I will support it because it opens us up to getting grants to address climate change.”
“Climate change is a clear and present danger,” he added.
WEST ONEONTA – In the first convening of the 38-member Otsego County Energy Taskforce Town Hall Wednesday evening, County Board Rep. Meg Kennedy, a founder of the group, announced its end goal: an ambitious plan “that will address the current and future energy needs of Otsego County” by October 2020.
Calling the plan’s timeline “ambitious,” Kennedy said the Taskforce aimed to complete a draft of the plan by June 2020, have a public commentary period the following month, for a minimum of 30 days, and go through a SEQRA review of the plan that August, all before the Otsego Board would vote on adopting the plan in October of that year.
ONEONTA – Saying the language “was softened,” County board Vice Chair Gary Koutnik, D-Oneonta, today voted against sending a “Climate Smart Community Pledge” resolution, as revised, to the full board for action March 6.
However, his colleagues on the Solid Waste & Environmental Concerns Committee nonetheless agreed to forward the adjusted resolution, 4-1, for the full board’s consideration.
“The language did reduce the sense of Climate Change being a crisis,” Koutnik said. “My vote was largely a symbolic one, so it would be in the public record for future generations to see.”