Monday, August 10, 2009

Summer...Is that you...? (7/30/09 - 8/05/09)

The first week of August brought with it some more summery days, as well as those with severe thunderstorms. We stewards are keeping our fingers crossed for the rest of August to bring us warm days with plenty of sun.

Eastern Lake Ontario Dune Stewards

Black Pond Wildlife Management Area (WMA)
On the more summery days this week, Dune Steward Liz Wolff reports many visitors at Black Pond WMA. Liz counted several hundred visitors this past Saturday. The parking area at Black Pond WMA is reasonably sized, but still fills to capacity on a regular basis. Rather than park in marked "No Parking" zones, visitors are encouraged to explore the other WMAs and State Parks in the area. While Black Pond WMA is one of the area with many recreational opportunities, its main function is a wildlife management area, and overuse can be damaging to the animals, birds, and insects that made it their home first!

For those looking for beaches with similar recreational opportunities, Liz recommends Wescott Beach State Park, Southwick Beach State Park, and Lakeview Wildlife Management Area.

Visitors enjoying Black Pond. Photo by Dune Steward Liz Wolff

Deer Creek WMA
Dune Steward Stacy Furgal met with the land manager of Deer Creek WMA this week. Stacy now has multiple new signs, posts, and snowfence to install. She will also be kept busy pulling Phragmites, or common reed, (an unwanted invasive species). All of these efforts will help keep Deer Creek WMA looking beautiful and also encourage proper use of the cobble beach and back dunes. Like Black Pond WMA, Deer Creek WMA is a free beach that is open to the public. We encourage people to visit there when places like Black Pond WMA are busy and the parking lot is full to capacity.

Sailboat on Eastern Lake Ontario. Photo by Dune Steward Liz Wolff

Lakeview WMA
Dune Steward Liz Wolff a variety of wildlife at Lakeview WMA this past week. Liz reports watching a pair of green herons stalk their prey. Green herons are unique because they are one of the only birds that use bait to catch fish. The bird will drop insects, twigs, or feathers onto water's surface. As a fish rises to investigate, the heron darts its bill into the water and grabs the unsuspecting fish. Liz also saw semipalmated sandpipers foraging for insects along the sandy shores of Lakeview WMA.

Left: Crayfish at Lakeview WMA
Right: Sandpiper at Lakeview WMA
Both photos by Dune Steward Liz Wolff

Saturday seemed to be the nicest of the week, and Dune Steward Paul Dawson reported that visitor usage at Lakeview was especially high with beach users and paddlers. Consequently, there was an especially high amount of garbage left over on Sunday from the busy Saturday. Dune stewards spent a considerable amount of time picking up garbage that was washed up or left behind, and ask that visitors lend a hand and take out what they carry in. Most of the areas along the eastern shore that are open for public use are managed for wildlife use. Litter that is left behind can pose a threat to the wildlife that is in the area, and makes the areas less inviting for future recreational use.

Paddlers at Lakeview WMA. Photo by Dune Steward Paul Dawson

Sandy Pond Beach Natural Area
Dune Steward Greg Chapman replaced some missing string fence posts at Sandy Pond Beach Natural Area. He is happy to report that there simply isn’t much to report, as the locals and visitors of this particular location take it upon themselves to really care about the beach and its appearance. Many beach goers stopped to pick up some trash and wanted to help him with snowfence repairs. He hopes that soon all the Natural Areas and WMA’s will be just as self-sufficient as SPB seems to be!

Sandy Pond Beach Natural Area. Photo by Chief Steward Greg Chapman.

Salmon River Stewards
Chateaugay State Forest

Left: Chateaugay State Forest after the rain.
Right: One of the many cascades in Chateaugay State Forest.
Both photos by Salmon River Steward Emily Freeman

Chief Steward Greg Chapman and myself, River Steward Emily Freeman went to beautiful Chateaugay State Forest in Orwell, NY to scout the trail for obstructions and wash-outs which were marked with a GPS for a Youth Conservation Corp. They will be doing trail maintenance in the State Forest next week. River Steward Jim Katz assisted the youth conservation group on Monday and reported a significant amount of progress after just one day of work!

While it was a work assignment, Greg and I were reminded of just how pristine and peaceful Chateaugay State Forest is. There are trails that run along a beautiful flowing creek, complete with cascades and all types of river creatures like fish, frogs and crayfish. It seemed like we saw a different wildflower on each trail. The trails of Chateaugay State Forest are not open to ATV’s, but are available for hiking and mountain biking. Once the trails are cleared, I can’t wait to get my bike out and take the trails for a test run.

Left: Spring Peeper. Photo by Chief Steward Greg Chapman.
Right: Mushrooms growing on the forest floor. Photo by Salmon River Steward Emily Freeman.

Salmon River
We had another whitewater release last weekend! The beautiful Saturday weather brought the paddlers out in droves. Many people from the Pulaski area were enticed by whitewater rafting companies that were offering trips down the river all day. It was as easy as showing up, paying, and jumping into a raft to have a blast! Everyone we talked to was thrilled with the conditions and the weather. We heard time and time again how grateful the paddlers are for the water releases. Although the weather on Sunday was not as pleasant, some brave paddlers came out in the torrential rain. They said the rain just makes the rapids more fun! The weather cleared up Sunday evening. After duty I was able to try out some kayaks and play around in the rapids for a bit. People were enjoying the river throughout the week by fishing, swimming, and getting some sun.

Left: Purple Loosestrife by Public Fishing Parking Access Site Altmar North.
Right: Kids enjoying the Salmon River
Both photos by Salmon River Steward Emily Freeman

Salmon River Falls

Salmon River Falls. Photo by Salmon River Steward Emily Freeman.

Wildflowers on the Riverbed Trail. Photo by Salmon River Steward Emily Freeman.

The falls continue to get a steady stream of visitors. River Stewards Jim Katz and Emily Freeman, I, are always surprised to hear the stories of those who live no more than 10 or 20 miles away and didn't know the falls existed! Because the trail is ADA (Americans with Disability Act) compliant, it is a beautiful natural resource that almost anyone can enjoy. It is also a very popular spot for motorcyclists to take a leisure ride to. We encourage those who haven’t gotten out there this summer to take a day and see just how beautiful it really is!

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