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News of Otsego County

Environment

This Week — April 29, 2021
OCCA To Adjust With Virtual Earth Festival

OCCA To Adjust With

Virtual Earth Festival

By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Earth Festival will again be affected by the coronavirus pandemic, but this year the Otsego County Conservation Assocation is better prepared to replace its annual events with a virtual presentation from Thursday, April 22 to Saturday, April 24.

“In March (2020), I think we were all thinking, ‘let’s not cancel, yet,’ it will all blow over,” OCCA Program Director Jeff O’Handley said. “It seems crazy to think about looking back. We had no idea what to expect.”

To salvage an Earth Festival last year, OCCA kept some events going with social distancing, stressed its normal recycling efforts via dropoffs and refocused on the fly, O’Handley said. This year’s event has been much more focused to allow the group to use the virtual tools that have sprung up during the coronavirus pandemic. “You can’t do things like you used to do them,” he said. “It has been a puzzle to figure things out and you just hope you are providing people with some strong programming.”

Otsego Looks Outdoors
With Another Tourism Season In Doubt

Otsego Looks Outdoors

By GREG KLEIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Lori Paparteys and her dog, Bailey, pose during their Otsego Octet Ultra Challenge. Paparteys and Bailey completed the trail challenge in one day.

With tourism dealt another pandemic-related blow last week, Otsego County’s leaders are increasingly turning to outdoor adventures to lure visitors.

“We’re actually in the process right now of trying to launch a massive campaign to tout our outdoor adventure,” said Cassandra Harrington, executive director of Destination Marketing Corporation, which promotes tourism in Otsego and Schoharie counties.

Harrington said the tourism news has been mostly dismal in the week since Cooperstown Dreams Park announced it would require all teams playing at the park’s summer tournaments to be vaccinated for the coronavirus pandemic. The uncertainty of getting vaccinations for children and a hard refund deadline has left dozens of teams in a catch-22, leading to hundreds of reported cancellations.

23 fifth grade students from Milford Central School also completed the Otsego Octet Challenge from Otsego Outdoors.

The National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum’s winter announcement that it was moving its postponed 2020 Induction Weekend to a virtual event, had already crushed pre-pandemic hopes for a record sized crowd for Derek Jeter’s induction.

However, the reopening of the baseball parks, Dreams Park in Hartwick Seminary and Cooperstown All-Star Village in West Oneonta, was a big pillar of the county’s hopes for a renewed summer of tourism. All-Star Village has not announced similar vaccination requirements for its teams, but the Dreams Park changes make its June opening unlikely, Harrington said.

“Now that the bottom fell out with Dreams Park, our accommodations are dealing with a flood of cancellations,” she said. “So, we really need those outdoor visitors more than ever.”

‘Mysterious Tubes’ Explained
GOALS: SAVE LOCAL FARMLAND, CHESAPEAKE

‘Mysterious Tubes’ Explained

BVA’s Graham Stroh and daughter Asher, 8, examine a “riparian buffer” off Route 23 east of the Village of Morris. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

People entering Morris on Route 23 from Oneonta kept asking Bob Thomas, town historian and a Butternut Valley Alliance board member, “What are those tubes across from the cemetery?”

With his nudging, couple of weeks ago an enticingly titled Zoom presentation, “Mysterious Tubes Along Butternut Creek,” provided the answer to 27 participants, some landowners who may sign up to host mysterious tubes of their own, according to BVA Executive Director Graham Stroh.

The program’s been going on for a decade, according to Lydia Brinkley, Upper Susquehanna Coalition buffer coordinator, “riparian buffers,” that is.

If you’ve only noticed the mysterious tubes lately, it’s because there are more of them, part of the USC’s federally and state-funded efforts to clean up Otsego County’s streams, and thus contribute a bit to the restoration of the Chesapeake Bay, 250 miles south of Garrattsville.

“Riparian buffers are essentially wooded areas along creeks and rivers, for purposes of reducing erosion and stabilizing stream banks,” said Stroh, formerly an urban planner in Washington D.C. who moved back three years ago to manage the family’s property. (He was raised in New York City; his dad, Leslie, in Morris.)

The Butternut Valley, and with the collaboration of the Middlefield-based Soil & Water Conservation District, all of Otsego County’s streams, are part of a “huge, huge region,” said Stroh, where efforts are underway to clean up the tributaries to the Susquehanna River, which eventually runs into the challenged Chesapeake, where pollutants have been destroying the rich fishery for decades.

No Kidding, Watch Out For Bears

EDITORIAL

No Kidding, Watch Out For Bears

No kidding. This black bear took down a fence in a Pierstown yard over the weekend.

After Vince and Lynne Krogh Casale’s sighting (and videographing) of a black bear on Bedbug Hill Road Tuesday, March 23, a reader sent along this photo of a black bear (see photo) rampaging in a yard in the Pierstown area, on the other side of the hill, both in Town of Otsego on the west side.

More bears in Otsego County is a new reality, Josh Choquette, the DEC’s new bear expert, based in its Stamford office, reported in last week’s edition.

Development in the Catskills is pushing bears north and, also, new growth in Otsego County’s abandoned farms is providing newly arriving bears with plenty to eat.

THE OTHER FENIMORE COOPER

THE OTHER FENIMORE COOPER

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Susan Fenimore Cooper’s “Rural Hours” (1850) was known to Henry David Thoreau and praised by Charles Darwin.

After reading “Rural Hours,” Charles Darwin, of all people, mentioned Susan Fenimore Cooper in a letter to Asa Gray, perhaps the most important American botanist of the 19th Century.

Struck by her understanding of the “battle” between Old and New World weeds, he asked, “Who is she?”

Nowadays, we know the “weeds” she was writing about were “invasive species,” a burning environ-mental issue in Glimmerglass’ environs even today, 125 years after James Fenimore Cooper’s daughter’s death, as we worry about the zebra mussel, the water chestnut and, heavens, the European frog bit.

If Charles Darwin knew her, “How do I know about Henry David Thoreau and not about this woman?” Professor Johnson asked herself when she first happened on “Rural Hours.” It was in the 1990s. She was a graduate student immersed in the Transcendentalists while seeking her masters and doctorate at Claremont Graduate University in California.

With a planned focus on Shakespeare or the British Modernists, “I was taken by surprise when I got scooped up in environmental writing, about the human relationship to the natural world,” she said.

LAPIN: Voting Lets Citizens Hire Best Leadership

LETTER from DANNY LAPIN

Voting Lets Citizens

Hire Best Leadership

Editor’s Note: Danny Lapin, D-Oneonta, is retiring from the county board to focus on chairing the city Planning Commission, and to share his reflections on development and environmentalism through his blog, (accessible by Googling “danny lapin blog”.) This is an excerpt to his introduction to the blog.

DANNY LAPIN

One of my best friends in graduate school lovingly coined the topic of local government the “most important thing nobody cares about.” This was, of course, after hearing me prattle on about tax rates, land-use regulations, and urban planning in general for hours on end over the course of our two-year program in bucolic Upstate New York.

The decisions made by our local government affect us a lot more than we might think. Most apparent is in the layout of our road network and built environment. Those decisions were likely guided by a zoning code overseen by a local Planning Commission.

Decisions on how parks are designed, when basketball courts are opened or closed, and whether a new dog park should be built in town are controlled by local governments. Decisions on when to plow our roads, inspect the safety of our buildings, and how best to respond to emergencies are largely undertaken by… you guessed it… local governments.

Too often, I hear that town/village/city meetings are “boring” or that “nothing” gets done. People question whether they should take time away from their families, jobs, or other commitments to attend meetings.

I created this blog to break down key issues facing the city ranging from Downtown Revitalization to housing, taxes, sustainability, and beyond. I did this because I want us all to effectively evaluate each candidate based on the merits of their vision. Ultimately, who each reader chooses to support is up to them, however – it is my hope that this blog will play a small role in helping people understand the key issues facing our community.

So why create a blog now? In 2016, the City of Oneonta received a $10 million grant through the state Downtown Revitalization Initiative. This grant is intended to transform our downtown through the implementation of several small-to-to medium-sized projects. In the five years that have transpired, façade improvements are starting to pop up Downtown, a new marketing campaign was launched, and dozens of units of new housing are likely to come online in our community.

As the planner/engineer and creator of “Strong Towns,” Chuck Mahron, says change is at its strongest when it comes incrementally from the bottom up. As citizens, we get to act as glorified job interviewers as we select who will be Oneonta’s next mayor. The first step to the interview process is for us to figure out what are some of the key issues facing our city. It’s time to step beyond the
dinner table where many of us has an idea of what Oneonta needs, enter the public square, and debate these issues in the open.

Hibernation Over, Bears On Prowl

THEY’RE BA-A-CK!

Hibernation Over, Bears On Prowl

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

DEC photo depicts black bear, a type found increasingly in Otsego County.

Vince Casale knew something was up when he saw an empty, broken bird feeder from the other side of the house in the middle of his driveway as he drove out, taking wife Lynne to a birthday dinner.

“I heard something rustling in the dry leaves outside the driveway,” he said. “It sounded big. I thought it had to be a deer.”

As they were leaving the Bed Bug Road neighborhood on Tuesday, March 23, heading toward Fly Creek, “we saw the bear exiting the road on the left side,” he said.

Lynne pulled out her camera, and captured the bear’s movements and it moved back off the left side of the road, then back across the road into a field on the right.

Get ready, Otsego County, we’re going to see a lot more of these sightings as black bears move north from the Catskills into the woods around here, said Josh Choquette, the wildlife technician in the state Department of Environmental Conservation’s Stamford Office who specializes in the bear population.

Fenimore Exhibit Brings Mary Nolan’s Art Indoors
TRIPTYCH ANCHORS PLEIN AIR SHOW

Fenimore Exhibit Brings
Mary Nolan’s Art Indoors

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Artist Mary Nolan at the Railroad Avenue studio she shares with May-Britt Joyce and Maria Tripp. The dominant painting is “River Bend, Low Tide.” (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

Some 25 years ago, when she was Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce executive director, Polly Renckens held a meeting of people with space to spare in their homes.

“We have tourists,” Polly told the gathering. “We need some place to put them. If you have space for a B&B, consider it.”

Mary Nolan, who had been doing art as long as she can remember, received a call from a friend whose mother had a farm in the countryside around Fly Creek. “Would you like to manage a B&B?”

Nolan, who had vacationed in Cooperstown and liked it here, said yes.

In B&Bs, there are busy times and less busy times, and in the less busy times Mary took her paints and easel behind the house and began to paint the nature she saw – plein air, out of doors.

“Around here, it’s beautiful,” she said in an interview after The Fenimore Art Museum announced that “Water As Muse: Paintings by Mary Nolan,” will be this summer’s local exhibition.

Nolan’s works will appear among that of such notables as photographer Ansel Adams and the featured show, “Keith Haring: Radiant Vision,” containing more than 100 works of the celebrated
pop artist.

BUTTERMAN: ‘‘Dazzling’ Green Energy Best Bet On The Future For New York’s Citizens
LETTER from DAN BUTTERMANN

‘Dazzling’ Green Energy Best Bet
On The Future For New York’s Citizens

To the Editor:

The next New York State budget is on its way to passage, and with the federal stimulus of $12.6 billion it will not be as bad as projected. But there are still many problems ahead. Our state had a budget deficit before the pandemic, and a declining population, which the census will likely confirm later this year.

We must look for new ways to bring people back to New York. Without more people, our state will continue to suffer, and the problems will continue to grow. What is one way to bring people back?

More jobs!

How do we get more jobs? By investing strategically in the industries of the future, and we can do that without hurting businesses already here.

Green energy has dazzling potential. It is the industry with the fastest growing job basis in the country, and these jobs pay higher than average.

We need the energy too. New York has some of the highest utility rates in the country, and investment in green energy will lower energy costs, because the costs for renewable energy continue to go down.

Recognizing the value of green energy, the legislature passed the Climate Leadership & Community Protection Act in 2019. This bill outlined clear and achievable targets to increase renewable energy production, storage and energy infrastructure.

Plus, it recognized that many communities across New York have been left behind and disadvantaged economically, so it makes sure that large parts of the investment go to these communities.

Our region has been left behind by Albany for far too long. This bill may start to change that. Of course, the question comes up of how to pay for these upgrades. We cannot print money like the federal government, so the answer is the Climate & Community Investment Act.

This bill will set taxes and charges against those businesses that pollute the most. The revenue will be turned into direct reinvestment in our state.

I support this legislation because it answers the question of how to pay for a specific state program. It may not be a perfect bill, it should be debated, and that debate can certainly make it better.

The results of this bill will help our region, and for that we all have reason to support it.

DAN BUTTERMANN
Oneonta

Cooperstown Son, Dad Establish Adirondack Record

BRINGING HOME A 1ST

Cooperstown Son, Dad
Establish Adirondack Record

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Henry Horvath, 15, in a “tree tunnel” that marked most of the 142-mile trek.

The first three days on the 142-mile Northville-Placid Trail, “we had a nice crust,” said Henry Horvath, 15. “We made good time snowshoeing, and sometimes didn’t even need snowshoes.”

Day Four, “it warmed up. The crust was almost gone. We had two days of post-holing – stepping on snow and going down deep into snow. Even with snow shoes, we’d sink 6-7 inches.”

Until then, Horvath and his father, Tim, 50, had been hiking three miles an hour on roadway, two miles off-road – averaging 17.25 miles a day. That day, “it took five and a half hours to go eight and a half miles,” the son said, about half their best time.

But they soldiered on, the weather cooled, and on March 15, 2021, they completed the “unsupported” trek in 7 days, 9 hours, no minutes and no seconds, the first team to have recorded the accomplishment on FKT.com – for “fastest known times,” an international record-keeping site.

“Unsupported” means the Horvaths carried in lean provisions in 20-pound packs, including just two pairs of socks each – they slept in wet socks overnight, drying them with their body heat.

“They did something really amazing,” said Bethany Garretson, the Cherry Valley native, now a hiking enthusiast, an outdoor writer, a Paul Smiths College professor and a friend of the Horvaths.

For The Love Of Boating

For The Love Of Boating

Since 1975, Larger Boats On Otsego Lake,
But Owners Using More Smaller Craft, Too

Editor’s Note: Bill Harman has led SUNY Oneonta’s Biological Field Station on Otsego Lake since its founding.

The Otsego Lake Association’s Fourth of July Boat Parade gives boaters – ever more of them since the Biological Field Station began tracking them in 1975 – a chance to celebrate the Glimmerglass they love. In the background is Mount Wellington, the Sleeping Lion. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)
Bill Harman

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.

In Time Of Pandemic Hope Blooms
EDITORIAL

In Time Of Pandemic Hope Blooms

Master Gardeners: Our National Mission

‘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.”

This is the latest site plan for the Master Gardeners project at 123 Lake St., Cooperstown.

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.

FLEISHER: In Winter, Global Warming Pushes Arctic Air To South
LETTER from P. JAY FLEISHER

In Winter, Global Warming

Pushes Arctic Air To South

To the Editor:

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.

P. JAY FLEISHER
Glacial geologist
Town of Milford

Lucky Recuperates With Koops, Set Free

Lucky Recuperates With Koops, Set Free

Pitsfield Couple Wildlife’s Good Samaritans

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Dori Koop examines a recuperating Lucky at the wild animal rehab center she and husband Charlie operate in the Town of Pittsfield. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

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.

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