Thursday, June 18, 2009

Restoring Sites and Making Connection (6/11/09 - 6/17/09)

Eastern Lake Ontario Dune Stewards
Lightly clouded skies and delightfully warm weather marked another invigorating work week for us. Black Pond Wildlife Management Area (WMA) saw a makeover this week as we went about installing hundreds of feet of new snow fencing, to replace haggard or missing sections that were knocked down over the winter or burned. Eastern Lake Ontario Dune Steward Liz Wolff, who was overseeing the operation, focused the installation efforts on those areas where ‘dune blowouts’ appear to be occurring or are likely to occur. A dune blowout is a dune area where vegetation has disappeared. Wind forces sand out, often into the inland wetlands, causing a u-shaped depression. This is undesirable for many reasons including:
  • Displaced sand can move into wetland areas (filling them in).
  • The sand comprising the dunes is a finite resource once lost, it is lost from the dunes.

  • The Eastern Lake Ontario Dunes act as a buffer for the inland wetlands, agricultural lands, forests, etc. protecting inland areas from the storm energy of Lake Ontario.
Sandy Pond Beach Natural Area also saw some improvements as Eastern Lake Ontario Dune Steward Greg Chapman put up three signs. The signs explain the sheltering effects of the dunes, thanks the Friends of Sandy Pond Beach for their involvement in protecting the natural resource, and indicate that boaters and people are to avoid being in the bird sanctuary. All three signs were installed south of the North Sandy Pond channel.

Signs installed along the dune walkover at sandy Pond Beach Natural Area
Photo by Chief Steward Greg Chapman

Eastern Lake Ontario Dune Steward Paul Dawson reports a few campfires at Lakeview WMA, which seems to be a reoccurring violation in that area. Paul has been spending most of his time this week developing his media project, which include a newspaper article, public education program, and impact summary sheet. Be sure to check back to learn more about all of our media projects!

Deer Creek WMA saw a moderate amount of usage this week, with even more usage expected in the coming season. Flagging tape has been attached onto all of the string fencing to clearly mark the trail for users. Quite a bit of trash has been found in the parking lot almost daily, which is a bit discouraging. As the Eastern Lake Ontario Dune Steward for this site (Stacy Furgal), it is my hope that if anyone sees this happening they will use their own stewardship abilities and speak up about the importance of carry in, carry out policies.

Salmon River Stewards
The Salmon River Reservoir was a busy place on Saturday, with 25+ boat trailers combined between the new boat launch on Redfield Road and Jackson Road boat launch sites. There were not too many folks on foot, but people were certainly out enjoying the water! Salmon River Steward Emily Freeman ran into a small group of boy scouts who told her they were happy to be able to practice their canoe skills and that they felt lucky to live near an area that was so rich in natural beauty.

The Salmon River Falls Unique Area saw a steady flow of users throughout the weekend. Although the plunge pool at the base of the falls may call would be swimmers, Salmon River Stewards want to remind future visitors that falling rocks from the gorge walls and debris in the water make the area restricted. Swimmers are encouraged to find refuge from the heat of summer at permitted swimming areas of Lake Ontario, ponds, Salmon River Reservoir, and swimming pools. The short drive to permitted swimming areas certainly outweighs the danger of the falling rocks and currents of the plunge pool at the Salmon River Falls Unique Area!

Great Lakes Sea Grant Network Conference
Eastern Lake Ontario Dune and Salmon River Stewards
also had the great opportunity to discover the larger goals of the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network as we attended the Great Lakes Sea Grant Network Conference held in Alexandria Bay, NY. We were able to meet many in the extended Sea Grant family from throughout the Great Lakes region and learn about some of their projects and goals.

The weather was perfect for a boat tour of the St. Lawrence River that launched from Alexandria Bay. During the boat tour we took in the beautiful scenery while learning about some of the ecological issues that have been of interest there and elsewhere in recent years, including Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia and the introduction of zebra mussels and other invasive species into the St. Lawrence River and the Great Lakes. Dr. John Farrell, SUNY College of Enviornemental Science and Forestry and Thousand Islands Biological Station, and Jennifer Caddick, Save The River, provided valuable information about these topics and more as they jumped in on the microphone becoming tour-boat guides. It was a real treat, and appreciated!

(Top two pictures) Scenics during the boat tour on Alexandria Bay, 1000 Islands region of the St. Lawrence River
(bottom picture) NYSG's Dave White charts the course for the boat tour for the dune and river stewards.
Photos by Paul C. Focazio, NYSG

We attented the award ceremony/dinner where we learned about some of the accomplishements of the Great Lakes Network and some of those that are retiring (including NYSG's former Associate Director, Dale Baker). The last day of the conference we sat in on the session about new technologies. It was interesting to hear what and how various states are using technology. The Great Lakes Network showed interest in hearing about the traffic this blog generates.

The conference was an incredible occasion that we are grateful to have had a chance to enjoy. Thanks to everyone at New York Sea Grant and the rest of the Great Lakes Network for making it possible!

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