Friday, August 21, 2009

Tours, Tours, and More Tours! (8/13/09 - 8/19/09)

One of our favorite things to do as Eastern Lake Ontario Dune and Salmon River Stewards is educate the public about these fabulous natural resources. Sometimes we educate informally (one-on-one), and other times we plan formal education programs for various groups upon request or as part of our media projects. To learn more about steward media projects visit This week we had a great time with formal education about various topics from beachgrass vs. turf grass to the height of the Salmon River Falls. Does this sound exciting to you? Well, keep reading....

"Team Erosion's" Educational Program
Eastern Lake Ontario Dune Steward Greg Chapman and myself, Salmon River Steward Jim Katz were at Black Pond Wildlife Management Area (WMA) educating tour attendees about topics such as common causes of streambank erosion, the importance of native and natural vegetation to prevent erosive forces, how to minimize negative impacts when recreating along the Salmon River, beachgrass as a tool for preventing lake shore erosion and comparing and contrasting beachgrass and turf grass.

River Steward Jim Katz gives a demonstration on the importance of natural vegetation in preventing streambank erosion. Photo by Mary Penney, Steward Coordinator, NY Sea Grant.

Invasive species purple loosestrife. Photo by Chief Steward Greg Chapman.

Although attendance was low, those who did turn out had a lot of great questions! The tour became a much larger conversation about many of the issues affecting the Eastern Lake Ontario shore from the invasive species purple loosestrife to lake level issues.

Dune Building Plants Program

Eastern Lake Ontario Dune Steward Paul Dawson led a nature walk at Black Pond WMA that focused on plants that build dunes and their role in dune succession. He also showed participants how to identify many of the trees that are found along Eastern Lake Ontario Dunes and Wetlands Area. Paul had a great time educating people about the area. He had a great turn out of people that were eager to learn, and hope that they were happy with the tour he prepared for them!

Dune Steward Paul Dawson points out leaf patterns during his educational program. Photo by Mary Penney, Steward Coordinator, NY Sea Grant.

Fort Drum tours the Eastern Lake Ontario dunes and Salmon River corridor!
Most of our time this week (and part of the following week) was spent educating groups of children from Fort Drum, that ranged in age from 6 - 12. Each of the four groups toured Black Pond WMA with Eastern Lake Ontario Dune Stewards Liz Wolff and Greg Chapman. Then they spent 45 minutes in a school bus and rode to the Salmon River Fish Hatchery for lunch followed by a brief lesson in the history of Salmon River fishery. Their tour was completed by an educational meander along the Falls Trail at the Salmon River Falls Unique Area with Salmon River Steward Emily Freeman.

Dune Steward Greg Chapman talks about how the sand dunes buffer the inland wetlands from Lake Ontario's storm energy. Photo by Mary Penney, Steward Coordinator for NY Sea Grant.

A helicopter gets everyone's attention! Photo by Mary Penney, Steward Coordinator for NY Sea Grant.

Dune Steward Liz Wolff talks about some of the interesting critters found in the woodland habitat protected by the sheltering and buffering dunes. Photo by Mary Penney, Steward Coordinator for NY Sea Grant.

The kids (and chaperons alike) loved the tour! They were very attentive and asked FANTASTIC questions. At Black Pond WMA the children were absolutely distraught to see that people had thrown garbage in a place (wetland)that according to the kids "so many plants and animals call home". They soon learned that at Black Pond WMA and other similar areas people are supposed to carry out whatever they carry in. The children had no problem understanding this concept. The children even went a step further and said not to throw all items away, but to recycle them.

Top: The children learn about the types of salmon and trout in Lake Ontario. Bottom: River Steward Emily Freeman describes how the Salmon River Falls were formed. Photos by Mary Penney, Steward Coordinator for NY Sea Grant.

It was great to see young kids being brought up with a positive attitude toward the environment. The kids also had tons of well thought out questions. One little boy asked during the wetland discussion, "isn't this where mosquitoes lay their eggs?" The boy was right, ponds are perfect breeding grounds for insects like mosquitoes.

Although there was a threat of rain on the last day, all of the days were a success! All groups were great, well behaved, and asked a ton of surprisingly good questions. It was great to see so many kids excited to be outdoors. Although this was the first time we had hosted youngsters from Fort Drum, we certainly hope to see them again!

Let's Clean the Beach!
Although Dune and River Steward Coordinator for NY Sea Grant Mary Penney had received numerous e-mails and phones calls from people expressing their interest in a second annual system-wide beach cleanup, there was lack of participation at the actual event. Eastern Lake Ontario Dune Stewards Liz Wolff and Stacy Furgal were stationed at Black Pond WMA with Mary for the day while Eastern Lake Ontario Dune Stewards Greg Chapman and Paul Dawson were at Southwick Beach State Park/Lakeview WMA. The crew of five were able to remove over nine large bags of litter from the eastern shoreline in just two hours. The most common items were unidentifiable pieces of plastic, cigarette butts, and recyclable and returnable cans/bottles (those are worth money!). Many beach-goers were intrigued by our work and would even stop to ask us questions like "why was there so much trash" and "why there aren't trash receptacles"? Much of the trash washes up and on the shoreline from Lake Ontario, but much is also left behind by beach-goers. Although NY Sate Parks does have trash receptacles at their facilities, WMAs, Nature Preserves and Natural Areas are not managed as state parks, which is why beach-goers are reminded to abide by the carry-in, carry-out regulation. Overall, the day was still a GREAT success!

All in a day's work! The crew from Black Pond WMA stands proudly over their collection of trash. Pictured left to right: Mary Penney, Stacy Furgal, and Liz Wolff. Photo by Chief Steward Greg Chapman.

With all of these great and successful educational opportunities to keep us busy, you can bet our work week flew by! If your group has a need for a tour or program in the resource area, please contact the New York Sea Grant Oswego office at 315.312.3042. We hope to see you soon, on the beach or along the river!

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.