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.”
To the Editor:
Two reports and a conference warning that climate is warming due to human activity, i.e., greenhouse gases (GHG). This warming will “disrupt many areas of life,” affecting trade and precipitating conflicts.
Let’s assume for the moment that the data warrants the conclusion – man-made GHGs are the cause of global warming. How do we solve this problem? What works?
For smooth transitions to a less carbon-intensive future, the best path is the use of natural gas – the bridge fuel. Two decades of data from the U.S. Energy Information Agency (EIA) is testimony to its efficacy.
According to the EIA, the substitution of gas for coal in power plants has lowered CO2 in the USA to levels not seen since the late 1980s. This happened while population and GDP grew over the same period.
We all share a concern about our environment and what forms of energy to use in order to maintain our lifestyle and position in the global economy.
Fossil fuels are non-renewable and thus the day will come when they are gone. Energy companies know this and realize that, in order to remain viable, they must look for renewable alternatives.
However, there isn’t a magic switch we can turn on to allow us to go from a dependence on fossil fuels to relying solely on renewables. We need a bridge to get us to that point, and natural gas is that bridge.
FOREST WALK – 9 – 11 a.m. Trek through John W. Chase Memorial Forest with Forest Technician Joe Sweeney. Learn about sustainable forest management, pests, invasive species, multi-use land management. Free, open to public. Pre-registration preferred. Meet at intersection of Middlefield, Van Cleef and Pearsall Roads, Middlefield. 607-547-4488 or visit occainfo.org/calendar/county-forest-walk/
POETRY SLAM – 8 – 10:30 p.m. Open mic open to 10 students followed by featured slam poet Caroline Harvey, performance poet, punk folk theater artist, educator, social justice advocate and has been featured on HBOs Def Poetry. Free, open to public. Waterfront room, Hunt College Union, SUNY Oneonta. Visit oneonta.campuslabs.com/engage/event/2674906
Most of us enjoy watching and/or hunting deer. They seem harmless enough – that is, until one runs in front of your shiny new car. However, the 650,000 or so forest landowners in the state may have a different perspective.
Each year they pay taxes on forest property with an expectation to recreate there and possibly even harvest some timber to help pay the taxes.
When they visit their woodland and look closely at the understory beneath the forest canopy, they expect to find the seedlings – the next generation, called “regeneration” – of the mature trees that produce mast (acorns, nuts fruits) for wildlife and either sawlogs for lumber or pulp for paper.
What they expect to find isn’t what they
Deer are decimating the forest understory. Because we have made it socially unacceptable to cut trees for a long time, about all that is left in the forest is mature trees – the brush and other young forest species that deer browsed are gone.
What is left are the species that can grow in the shade of the adult trees and, unfortunately, deer have a preference for the species like oaks that produce mast and sawlogs for lumber and maple and ash that also produce wood products.
Thus, deer over-browse those species and leave less desirable, invasive species.
In other words, deer, like beaver, can alter their own habitat. On average, a deer eats about 8½ pounds of vegetation per day – that’s a lot of twigs being eaten by an estimated statewide population of one million deer.
This isn’t a hypothesis. It is a real, scientifically validated phenomenon. In fact, scientists are concerned that this over-browsing will have a “legacy effect” – there may not be a next generation of the forest as we know it today.
Those of you who live in Oneonta have seen the consequences – deer in the middle of Chestnut Street or Ravine Parkway on their way to eat your shrubs.
The problem is real. The question is what to do about it? Because we have removed the large predators, with the possible exception of the coyote and black bear, that once controlled the number of deer, we rely on hunting to keep their numbers in check. Hunting remains a popular pastime for many and is now becoming somewhat of a public service in the areas where deer populations are growing out of control. Hunters may find the use of technology like Hornady Ballistics Weather Meter extremely useful when it comes to taking out the animal first time.
The number of hunters continues to decrease and the hunting access to private property and local towns and villages is also declining.
Thus hunting, as we practice and regulate it now, may no longer be an effective management tool.
Do we need to re-examine how to more effectively harvest deer? That may be easier said than done. There are animal rights groups that oppose hunting altogether. There are sportsmen’s groups that are pro-hunting and may view any tinkering with the status quo as a threat.
Then there are conservation groups that have an interest in maintaining healthy forests that produce abundant wildlife of all species. The DEC’s Lands & Forests Division is tasked with doing what it takes to protect forest regeneration. Another Division, Fish & Wildlife, may favor keeping the deer population at a “huntable” level.
Like most natural-resource-related issues, this one is complex and efforts to address it are likely to spark controversy. Pennsylvania attempted to address the issue of over-browsing about a decade ago without success as the various interest groups couldn’t agree on a workable solution.
If we care about the next generation of New York’s forests, we can’t afford to let that happen. We must listen to what the science tells us and learn to work together for the common, long-term health of both the forest and the deer.
Hunters have lots of equipment options available to them. To make the process of selection easier, websites like Outdoor Empire have many helpful articles and reviews that provide comprehensive details on the best and latest gear with which to hunt more effectively.
Mike Zagata, a DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administrator and a former environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.
WALKING TOUR – 7 p.m. Wayne Wright, of the Greater Oneonta Historical Society, leads a tour of the former grounds of the Oneonta Central Fair (1873-1926). Cost, $3. Meet corner of Belmont Place & Hudson, Oneonta. Call 607-432-0960 or visit www.oneontahistory.org
AUTHORS SERIES – 1 p.m. Baseball authors Randy Roberts and Johnny Smith present and discuss their book “A Season in the Sun: The Rise of Mickey Mantle.” Followed by a book signing in the Atrium. Included with Museum admission. The Bullpen Theater, Baseball Hall of Fame, Cooperstown. Call 607-547-7200 or visit baseballhall.org/node/17195?date=0
COLOR RUN – Noon – 3 p.m. Kids enjoy a run through a half-mile course. Features games, prizes, more. Pre-register for free T-shirt and sunglasses. 6th Ward Playground, 22 W. Broadway, Oneonta. Call 607-432-0010 or visit www.facebook.com/YKidsColorRun/
SPRING CONCERT – 2 p.m. Catskill Valley Wind Ensemble performs the Light Cavalry Overture, Give Us This Day, City Trees, more. Free, open to the public. First United Methodist Church, 66 Chestnut St., Oneonta. Call 607-432-7085 or visit www.facebook.com/CatskillValleyWindEnsemble/
PICKLEBALL – Noon-2 p.m. Come learn the sport. Gymn floor, Clark Sports Center, 124 Cty. Hwy. 52, Cooperstown. Info, www.clarksportscenter.com
CONSERVATION MEETING – 12:30-3:30 p.m. Discussion of manure spreading strategies to reduce nutrient runoff. A must for farmers spreading or storing manure this winter. Otsego County Meadows Complex, 140 Ct. Hwy. 33W. RSVP by 1/12, (607)547-8337 ext. 4. or email email@example.com
AUDITIONS – 3-6:30 p.m. Catskill Choral Society opens auditions for new members and potential Dox Apprentices. Unitarian Universalist Church, 12 Ford Ave., Oneonta. Call 431-6060 to schedule and appointment.