News of Otsego County


ZAGATA: Lessons On Oil Embargo Forgotten


Oil Embargo’s

Lesson Forgotten

In 1973, the Organization for the Oil Exporting Countries (OPEC) from the Middle East imposed an oil embargo on the United States.

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

It had a crippling impact on our economy and on our way of life because we didn’t produce enough energy in this country to meet the demand. People waited in line for hours to buy a few gallons of gasoline and tempers flared. The same impact was felt on heating oil and the petroleum feed stocks used to manufacture nearly everything we used to maintain our lifestyle.

It was not a fun time, and our politicians vowed to never let us be put in that position again. There was a positive side to that crisis in that this event triggered a series of legislative initiatives aimed at increasing fuel efficiency, including getting more miles per gallon of fuel with our automobiles.

Fast forward to today and observe what is happening with the coronavirus.

Over 90 percent of the medicines/prescription drugs we use and need are made offshore – mainly in China and India.

We are again not self-reliant, and are at the mercy of foreign countries, one of which has vowed to overtake us and become the number one world economy.

Is that a good thing? No, it isn’t. How did it happen – again? It happened because our politicians let, possibly even encouraged, it to happen.

We knowingly entered into trade agreements favoring those countries and decimating our middle class as their jobs were sent offshore. Our President is working to reverse that trend, but not everyone is happy about that.

Some in the media actually called him a racist when he imposed, early on, a travel ban with China and other nations known to have the virus. That may have been the single most important step that could have been taken to reduce the impact of the coronavirus on our country.

However, once the current battle with the virus is won, we must not allow ourselves to again be at the mercy of foreign governments when it comes to healthcare and the medicines we need to combat the threats to our health.

Are we willing to take the necessary steps to assure that happens? Likely not, unless you demand it of those who represent you in the state and federal legislatures.

Guess what folks! We’re already priming the pump to let it happen again.

This time it will be with renewable energy and the batteries it takes to store that energy. Wind and solar energy are only produced when the wind blows and the sun shines, and that’s less than 50 percent of the time in Upstate New York. That means we must be able to capture the energy when it’s available and then store it so it can be available to use when the wind isn’t blowing and the sun isn’t shining.

We do that with lithium-ion batteries. Lithium is a rare-earth metal and where do you think it comes from. You guessed it – it comes from foreign countries like China, Russia and the Congo.

Do we really want to base our energy security on materials over which we have little control?

We did that once back in 1973 and it didn’t work out to our advantage. It’s time to remind our politicians of that and ask them to take the steps now that allow us to convert, over time, to renewable energy sources AND be able to store them for later use based on a technology that we control.

Doing otherwise is foolhardy and will, in the long run, prove to be a costly mistake.

DUNCAN: To Preserve Our Earth, Live By Nature’s Rules

To Preserve Our Earth,

Live By Nature’s Rules

To the Editor:

So the fracking industry comes into town and uses a lot of clean water that then becomes unusable, tears up and down the roads with trucks, and drills for the gas. Then pipes it out of the county and sells it to? … and this will benefit the poor people, how?

Poor people don’t always own the land. Mike Zagata’s description of fracking left out a number of critical elements. One of which is the use of water.

Living around here it may be hard to believe that water is a finite element. It is more precious than gold. It is past time to start finding solutions to using less water and using it more intelligently.

That is another problem with fracking. It is not just the process, it’s the mindset. Take, take, take. If we do not start thinking in terms of the cycles of nature and remain focused on the illusion that we can just keep taking from nature to transform elements into our own fantasies and uses, we are going to end up starving on a dry wasteland.

At the beginning of industrialization, industrialists’ goals were to drive people out of the rural areas, away from farming into cities, in order to have workers for their factories. Then the corporations pushed for big farms in order to create monopolies so they could increase profits.

They totally ignored the cycles of nature. This took away the sense of independence and self-sufficiency from many people. The variety of foods that we used to consume was greatly reduced. This is part of the cause of our problems with poverty and poor foods that are lacking the nutritional elements and varieties of foods that keep us healthy and intelligent.

It is an outdated concept that businesses and corporations are our salvation. That is not to say that some of it is not good. But we need to find a better balance between industrialization and the agrarian life style.

Instead of thinking about more money to solve problems, think about what is essential in sustaining life and build on that. More money is not an answer. Creativity and ingenuity are needed.

We have some incredible resources in this area; if we learn to preserve them and enrich them, we will do away with poverty. If we look around here for solutions and not out there, we will have a better long-term gain.

The earth is a living organism that can supply humanity forever, but if we keep ignoring the rules of nature, we will be destroyed along with all the other species we have already destroyed.

Hartwick Forrest

ZAGATA: Save Eagles From Environmentalism


Save Eagles From


In 1969, our country moved from demonstrating against the Vietnam War to marching for environmental protection.

That year, Congress passed the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA), which required federal agencies to do an Environmental Assessment (EA) and/or an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) prior to granting a permit allowing a “project” to go forward.

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

If it was determined the project wouldn’t cause any “significant” environmental impact, a Negative Declaration (Neg Dec) could be issued.

If it was determined, via a science-based review, that there would be significant impact, the applicant was required to do things to mitigate or offset that impact.

If the impact couldn’t be addressed, the project was either dropped or revised in a manner that would allow the agency or agencies to grant the permit(s).

In 1975, New York State passed its own version of NEPA known as SEQR (State Environmental Quality Review [Act]. It too was a science-based law that directed the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) to conduct the science-based environmental review prior to a project moving forward.

President Obama and our Governor have bastardized those processes by fast-tracking projects that fit their energy “agenda” and by using those laws to stop projects that don’t – even if doing so jeopardizes our energy security.

President Obama granted a 30-year exemption from the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act and the Migratory Bird Treaty Act to allow wind power companies to push his renewable energy agenda.

Those companies can now each kill up to 4,200 eagles over a 30-year period and that’s after we spent millions to help the bald eagle population recover so it could be removed from being listed as an Endangered Species.

It seems that with the Left, the end justifies the means. If an inconvenient law gets in the way, ignore it. Does that also apply to you and me?

Then Audubon President and CEO David Yarnold reacted to President Obama’s ruling with the following statement:

“Instead of balancing the need for conservation and renewable energy, (the Department of the Interior) wrote the wind industry a blank check. To essentially give power companies a 30-year hunting license to kill eagles and other birds is unconscionable.

“I think we’re opening a Pandora’s Box that will kill millions of birds (also protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act) over the next 30 years, maybe tens of millions. I don’t understand why we’re making this devastating and senseless compromise.”

Something has happened within Audubon since then as Audubon, initially founded as a bird-protection organization, is supporting the wind-power project near Windsor, Broome County – much to the dismay of our local Audubon Chapter. Will we ever learn the political motivation behind that decision?

Why is it that Audubon, now a much broader environmental protection group, is willing to condone wind and solar power while knowing full well the environmental impact associated with mining the metals used in lithium ion batteries in countries lacking our mining protection laws?

Just as New York mirrored the federal government’s NEPA legislation with its SEQR law, our Governor is now following in President Obama’s footsteps. He is using the SEQR process to fast-track renewable energy projects that are consistent with his “renewables” agenda and to stop projects, especially those associated with fossil fuels, that aren’t.

Is he putting New York’s energy security at risk by doing that?

In 1974, the U.S. relied upon OPEC for its energy and OPEC brought us to our knees by cutting off the supply. Do we really want to repeat that situation by relying on China, Russia and the Congo for the materials used to make the lithium ion batteries needed to store the energy from wind and solar power?

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again – before we drink the Kool Aid, we need to know what’s in it!

ZAGATA: Capitalism Works; ‘Squad’ Proves It



Capitalism Works;

‘Squad’ Proves It

Since the day they were sworn into office, the “Squad of Four” Congresswomen with a far-left agenda have been critical of the President and of this country.  They have been incessant in demeaning the President, calling him a racist, xenophobic, homophobic and every other “phobic” one can dream up.

One of them has engaged in tirades which range from being anti-Semitic to stating that on “911” “someone did something”.  Yes, someone did do something.  A group of Muslim terrorists blew up both units of the World Trade Center and killed several thousand innocent Americans.  When asked if she is a terrorist, she responds by saying that innocent Muslims are having their rights denied.  That’s not answering the question.

New York’s member of the “Squad” (is that short for “hit” squad?) talks about how the non-wealthy are miss-treated in this country in spite of the fact she rose from being a bartender to a Congresswoman.  If that’s being miss-treated or deprived of opportunity, then I’m all for it.

Let’s take a look at what she wants – free college education, free health care and, as frosting to her cake, she came up with the “Green New Deal” – a program so expensive not even her fellow Democrats backed a House resolution supporting it.  It garnered zero votes.  If bankrupting our country isn’t enough, she wants to increase taxes on those people who create jobs, and change from capitalism to socialism – just as unemployment numbers for blacks and Hispanics are at an all-time low.

She wants to abolish ICE and supports open borders while ranting on about how the illegal immigrants are being deprived of their Constitutional rights.  Is she aware the Constitution applies to US Citizens – and thus illegal immigrants do not fall under the aegis of its protection?  And then one has to ask what has she done as a voting member of the House to correct the flaws in our immigration laws and to fund the construction of better temporary housing while those immigrants are being processed.  Is she aware that President Obama deported more illegal immigrants than president Trump has to date?

You see, it’s not about the issues or playing fair.  It’s about the fact the President won the election and Hillary lost.  The left will do anything to change the results of that election before the 2020 election. Do you recall when, during the Presidential debates, Hillary asked candidate Trump if he would abide by the election results if he lost?  When the shoe was on the other foot, she clearly hasn’t accepted the election results.

Let’s take a look at exactly what the president said in his tweet.  He said: “So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run. Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came? Then come back and show us how it is done.”  Read it closely.  Do you find any reference to race, religion, ethnicity, sexual preference, etc.?  Did he say to go back to a specific country?  No.  Loosely translated, he said if you don’t like the greatest country in the world, please go back to the place (city, town, village, country, whatever) where things are worse than the America he is referencing to and make them better.  If you can show us how to do that, we’re willing to learn from you.

Instead of taking that challenge, which is what they were elected to do, they decided to play the role of victims.  Remember, these are the same four women that have been attacking the President and this country for two years, and now they’re “victims” of a single tweet.  Give me a break!  You asked for it and you got it.  Grow up and do the job you were elected to do – represent your constituents, not your ideology.  Our Congresswoman denied the people of down-state 25,000 jobs by harassing Amazon until it decided to go elsewhere.  Is that why New Yorkers put her in office?

As I’ve said in other articles, please stop and think about what’s really happening.  Is Sorus pulling their strings so he can foster his socialistic agenda?  Listen closely to what is being said and see if it rings a note of sincerity and spontaneity.  For example, yesterday I heard Senator Schumer use the word “trope”, as in racist trope.  Then a few minutes later I heard it being used on the major networks.  Today the word of the day was “racist”. Remember when the buzzwords were “Constitutional Crisis”.  Do the networks and the Democrats have a daily conference call and decide their plan of attack each day.  Remember your kindergarten teacher’s approach to teaching you what she wanted you to learn.  She said it over and over until it sunk in, i.e. you believed it.  Nothing has changed.

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


Where’s $93 Trillion Coming From To Pay Bill For A Green New Deal?


Where’s $93 Trillion

Coming From To

Pay Bill For A Green

New Deal?

I was struck by a news clip showing Elizabeth Warren speaking to a crowd and telling them we need to remove the control over our lives from government and put it back into the hands of the people. This
is the same woman who is supporting Bernie in his call for socialism.
Socialism is a system based on government control over the “people.” After all, some entity has to decide who gets to keep their wealth and who doesn’t. Guess who would get to keep it.
This call for returning control to  the “people,” that’s you and me,
comes at a time when liberals are calling for government-controlled healthcare for all at a cost of $32 trillion over 10 years, while taking healthcare choices away from the 150 million plus Americans who presently have health care and “The Green New Deal” (GND) with an undetermined cost (somewhere in excess of $93 trillion, $600,000 per household) without including the adverse impact to our economy.

Until Available 24/7, Renewable Energy Not Ready For Prime Time

Until Available 24/7,

Renewable Energy

Not Ready For Prime Time

The Otsego County Chamber board and president deserve a heartfelt “thank you” for having the vision and courage to host the “Energy Summit” Thursday, Jan. 31, at The Otesaga.
Speakers from New York and Pennsylvania talked about fossil fuels and renewables, including biomass, ethanol, electric cars, wind, solar and geo-thermal. At the end of the day, it was clear that, although promising for the future, renewables are not currently capable of replacing or offsetting our demand for energy provided by fossil fuels.

That does not mean we should abandon our pursuit of alternative sources of energy that emit less carbon and are cost-competitive with fossil fuels. Natural gas, our cleanest-burning fossil fuel, is currently abundant and inexpensive relative to renewables and thus offers us a bridge to the time when one or more renewables is capable of replacing it by being available, reliable and cost-competitive.

Energywise, We Can Have It All: Natural Gas Now, Renewables Later

Energywise, We Can Have

It All: Natural Gas Now,

Renewables Later

Adrian Kuzminski, Fly Creek, Sustainable Otsego moderator, listens to Zagata. The two alternate a column in this newspaper every other week. In the background is Oneonta Town Board member Trish Riddell-Kent.

The Otsego County Chamber board and president deserve a heartfelt “thank you” for having the vision and courage to host the “Energy Summit.”
Speakers from New York and Pennsylvania talked about fossil fuels and renewables including biomass, ethanol, electric cars, wind, solar and geo-thermal. At the end of the day, it was clear that, although promising for the future, renewables are not currently capable of replacing or offsetting our demand for energy provided by fossil fuels.
That does not mean we should abandon our pursuit of alternative sources of energy that emit less carbon and are cost-competitive with fossil fuels.

ZAGATA: How Sequoias Were Saved Offers Lesson On Forest Fires

Column by Mike Zagata for December 7, 2018

How Sequoias
Were Saved Offers
Lesson On Forest Fires

Editor’s Note: Among his many credentials, Mike Zagata is currently director of organization development at the New York State Forest Owners Association.

Mike Zagata

The fires burning in California are indeed tragic, but their severity could have been averted.
If politicians and environmentalists had bothered to research the ecology of the brushlands and forests in California, they would have discovered that they are fire dominated – in other words, they rely on being burned on a regular basis to be rejuvenated.
The Giant Sequoias are the classic example.
For decades preservationists put out naturally ignited fires in the Sequoia-dominated forest. Over time, scientists observed a decline in the number of young Sequoia trees as they were being replaced by true firs (Abies) and Douglas fir.
Why was this happening?

ZAGATA: Science Can Be Political Tool, And Even Worse, Up For Sale

Column by Mike Zagata for October 26, 2018.

Science Can Be Political Tool,
And Even Worse, Up For Sale

Mike Zagata

I read with interest and admiration the article in last week’s paper about the different kinds of “truth.”
Objective truth is the “truth” that
is supported by fact. Subjective “truth” is what circumstances point toward or what we want, based on the information we have at our disposal,
to believe.
The Senate confirmation hearings for judge, now justice, Kavanaugh were used in the article to illustrate the differences.
I found myself agreeing with the points being made until the author alleged that
it was the Republicans
who failed in the search for
THE truth by not having the FBI conduct a thorough investigation.
The truth is that we have no idea whether or not their investigation was “thorough.” What we do know is that the Democrats
sat on the information alleging
sexual abuse until AFTER the
Senate hearings.
Had they wanted the FBI to do a thorough investigation in search of the “truth”, the information about alleged sexual abuse would have been provided to the FBI
BEFORE, not AFTER, the
hearings. Had that been done, the FBI’s findings would have been a part of those hearings and thus fully vetted.
Based on that information, one can conclude the real agenda was not a search for the “truth”, but an attempt to delay the judge’s confirmation until after the mid-term elections.

Does that conclusion represent the objective or subjective “truth”? Each of us enters the search for the real “truth”

with built-in bias. That makes it very difficult to accept
information that differs from the results we want, i.e.
don’t confuse me with the facts.
It becomes tempting to omit certain information when offering our version of the truth to others. For example, the author omitted the fact that the ranking Democrat on the Senate Judiciary Committee sat on the allegation of sexual abuse for six weeks prior to the hearings. Without that information, it is much easier to “sell” the truth that the FBI didn’t do a thorough investigation.

Finding the truth is not easy. I was invited to lunch recently by a person who wanted to talk about climate change. The person was very sincere and had done considerable research on the topic. In fact, it was that research that led to confusion, because one source stated that the recent deviations in our climate were outside the norm and another source said they weren’t.
How does the average lay person or non-scientist determine which one is the “truth”?
Unfortunately, science has become a political tool and, worse yet, can be for sale. If a scientist gets a government funded grant to do research on climate change, should that scientist’s findings have to agree with the government’s position? The answer is “no”, but grants have been withdrawn when
they didn’t.
That’s not true “science” where we test the null hypothesis and let the chips fall where they might. If we deliberately omit data points because they aren’t consistent with what
we want them to be, that isn’t
good science.
The downsides of doing so are a loss of public confidence and the expenditure of scarce capital to cure a problem that may not exist. If we cry “wolf” when there is no wolf, will the public be willing to support what needs to be done when a real “wolf” exists?

It’s election season, and we’re all being bombarded by various versions of the truth by candidates for office. I do not personally know all of the candidates, so I can only reach the subjective truth about how I feel they will perform if elected.
I do, however, personally know two of the candidates – state Sen. Jim Seward and Congressman John Faso. I worked with them while serving as your DEC commissioner and knew John as a neighbor.
I have watched them make the tough decisions based upon the objective truth when they could have ducked them. Those decisions were intended to provide real, measurable benefit to their constituents. That’s the objective truth based on fact.

Mike Zagata, DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and an environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

ZAGATA: ‘Big Brother’ May Be As Close As Your Next New Automobile

Column by Mike Zagata, May 25, 2018

‘Big Brother’

May Be As Close
As Your Next New Automobile

Mike Zagata

If you haven’t read George Orwell’s book “1984”, now would be a good time to read it. In the book, Winston Smith wrestles with oppression in Oceania, a place where the Party (Big Brother) scrutinizes human actions with ever-watchful eyes.
Winston chooses to defy a ban on individuality by daring to express his thoughts in a diary and pursues a relationship with Julia – both are punishable by death.
I remember reading it and thinking, “This could never happen in America.”

I was wrong. It is happening each and every day, and it’s not just “Big Brother” that is keeping track of everything we do and attempting to establish new mores about what is socially right and wrong.
The “Left”, joined by a liberal media, is also changing the rules and holding those who don’t agree with them accountable. I recall when, in the 1960s, Berkley was a bastion of free speech. Today the liberal campus is torn by riots in protest of a conservative speaker. What happened?
Whether or not you like our current President, I’m hoping you’re shocked by the behavior of the FBI with regards to its pursuit of justice. We don’t spy on our own citizens without just cause – we just don’t do that. Or do we?
And if we do, does a majority of the American public support it? I hope the answer is a resounding “No”, because, if it isn’t, any one of us could become tomorrow’s “target”.

Technology, as suggested by Orwell, has made it ever easier to keep track of everything we do. Our cell phones are used to track our habits and patterns and the information collected without our being aware of it is sold to those seeking to exploit us.
I received an unsolicited report via e-mail from my new vehicle telling me that during the course of the past month I had come to an abrupt stop 16 times. It went on to report that my driving habits were better (whose definition?) than 85 percent of other monitored drivers. If that is true, I hope I don’t meet one of them on the highway!
You may not be aware of it, but a new partnership among Cornell, Syracuse and DEC will allow them to monitor, without your being aware of it, how you are stewarding your land. If you are not managing it for “sustainability” (not sure whose definition is being used) you could be subjected to some form of punishment; for example, not be allowed to sell your timber into the marketplace.

I wrote this because the changes that are occurring are subtle and thus often go un-noticed when taken one at a time. However, when taken in their totality, they are having an enormous impact on our lives.
Consider the camera on Chestnut Street just East of “Nick’s Diner” that monitors your speed. The day will come, as it has in many cities, when it will initiate the process of issuing you a speeding ticket and cameras don’t care if you’re a townie or from out of town.
Is it time to think about how good we had it in days past? Is there a way to return to them? There was a time when we had five police officers in Oneonta and the SUNY campus had a custodian with a broom for security.

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

ZAGATA: Christians Told: Help The Poor, But Resist Continental Pipeline

Column by Mike Zagata, April 27, 2018

Christians Told: Help The Poor,

But Resist Continental Pipeline

Mike Zagata

Each week while attending church, a member of the clergy reminds us of our responsibility to assist the poor. Doing so is important and something engrained in us by our parents.
It is especially important in this area because we are part of Appalachia, a region known for its poverty. Indeed, according to Catholic Charity’s definition of poverty, 30 percent, or three out of 10 of Otsego, Delaware and Schoharie counties’ residents live in poverty.
What is interesting about this is that, when the issue of exploring for natural gas in New York was being debated, Oneonta’s churches inserted a flyer opposing fracking for natural gas in their weekly bulletins. The direct result was the loss of the jobs that would have come to the area and thus help lift people out of poverty.
That includes jobs for the BOCES graduates trained as welders, heavy-equipment operators and surveyors.

At the time, there was valid concern that this misunderstood process might contaminate our water and air. Those concerns have not been realized in Pennsylvania and that economy has prospered – more people have jobs as a result.
However, it just seemed inconsistent with what I was hearing about helping the poor to oppose something that could have helped lift them out of poverty.
The real impact on the poor wasn’t fully understood at the time. However, it is now crystal clear.

Otsego Now director Tom Armao alerts Assistant USDA Secretary Anne Hazlett to NYSEG’s failure to provide sufficient natural gas or electricity to Otsego County. With him at the Rural Development Forum at Hartwick College Friday, April 20, was Brooks’ BBQ President Ryan Brooks.

New York State Electric and Gas (NYSEG), now owned by a company headquartered in Spain, was counting on the new source of natural gas and the Constitution Pipeline to enable it to provide Oneonta with the gas it needs.
That means not just gas needed for us to grow, but enough gas (and electricity in the form of three-phase power) to be able to supply the needs of the businesses, institutions and residences that are here now.
NYSEG brings gas to Oneonta via a pipeline from DeRuyter. That pipeline is in a state of disrepair after decades of neglect, and Iberdrola, NYSEG’s Spanish owner, isn’t interested in spending the money it would take to repair the pipeline to the degree that it could deliver enough gas to meet existing demand, no less improve it to the point that it could meet demand from projected growth.
They look at Oneonta as being stagnant and thus not a good place to invest capital. Some are questioning whether or not they are living up to their franchise agreement to provide an adequate gas supply.

You might not know this, but our some of our educational institutions and the hospital are on what is known as “curtailment” with regards to their natural gas supply. That means, if it gets too hot or too cold and the overall demand for natural gas increases beyond NYSEG’s ability to supply it, those institutions must replace their use of natural gas for heating with oil-fired generators.

That is more expensive and increases air pollution.
Things are so bad that Lutz Feed bought a new gas-fired dryer to reduce the moisture content of stored corn and NYSEG told them not to hook it up. Why? because there wasn’t enough natural gas. What does that tell us about the likelihood of Oneonta being able to attract new businesses and manufacturers that could provide jobs to those who need jobs and to the young people who might like to remain here?
The next time the basket is passed in church, put in a little extra to help the poor. You see, we helped keep them that way.

Mike Zagata, former DEC commissioner in the Pataki Administration and environmental executive for Fortune 500 companies, lives in West Davenport.

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. ( 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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