Friday, February 19, 2010

Winter Recreation (2/11/10 - 2/17/10)

This time of year, it may be difficult to think about anything other than ice fishing on local lakes and ponds. Not so for the crowds of people with summer on their minds who came to the Central New York (CNY) Boat Show, held February 10th-14th at the New York State Fairgrounds. In addition to the numerous boat and boat accessory retailers displaying their wares, attendees were also greeted by the New York Sea Grant Clean (NYSG) & Safe Boat. The 22-foot Grumman pontoon boat, built in New York State and made available by the Marathon Boat Group, was loaded with all the required and recommended safety gear, as well as a variety of items to help make boating more environmentally friendly. All items were clearly labeled, and stationed nearby were groups, such as the Coast Guard Auxiliary, who could further explain specifics related to each item. The NYSG Clean and Safe Boat campaign may be making the rounds at various 2010 summer events to help educate and encourage clean and safe boating.

The New York Sea Grant "Clean and Safe Boat" on display at the CNY Boat Show. Photo: Greg Chapman, Eastern Lake Ontario Dune and Salmon River Stewardship and Habitat Program

Transitioning from the warm thoughts at the NYS fairgrounds to the chilly temperatures outdoors, Steward Greg Chapman braved the cold for the 33rd annual Sandy Pond Sportsman's Association (SPSA) Ice Fishing Derby on February 13th & 14th. Nearly 270 anglers took part in the event, which was held behind Sandy Pond's barrier dunes, a familiar sight to summer beach goers from around the area. The event came to a close Sunday evening, when many of the participating anglers gathered at the SPSA clubhouse to witness the announcement of the winners. Steward Greg Chapman was also present with a display highlighting steward activities along the Eastern Lake Ontario Dunes and Wetlands Area as well as the nearby Salmon River corridor. Greg provided informational literature and answered questions about the natural resource areas and the mission of Eastern Lake Ontario Dune and Salmon River Stewards.

Garrett Peterson of Pulaski, New York displays his winning Northern Pike (31.5 inches long, weighing in at 8.40 lbs) at the Sandy Pond Sportsman's Association 33rd Annual Ice Fishing Derby. Photo: Greg Chapman, Eastern Lake Ontario Dune and Salmon River Stewardship and Habitat Program

Later in the day, anglers who caught the top three perch and pike in adult and kids categories were awarded prizes. Prizes were also given for the top walleye, and the smallest perch caught in the kids age group. The full list of winners is posted at the SPSA's website.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Mid-winter Bald Eagle Survey 1/08 - 1/13/2010

It's that time of year again! For the 32nd consecutive year, New York State participated in the national mid-winter bald eagle survey. Although the actual survey dates began in December, 2009 we were only available to participate during the last week. It was Steward Liz Wolff's first time participating on the survey, while Steward Greg Chapman was returning for a second year. Liz was pleasantly surprised at the number of bald eagles that she observed. With the estuary being completely frozen, most of our sightings were along the headwaters of the Salmon River and Salmon River Reservoir. A total of 6 bald eagles were observed during the survey route during the "target date" January 11th. It was an experience that we will always remember!

Each year is important, but 2010 was especially important for the survey! This is the final year for the 25-year (1986-2010) national and regional trend analysis. The lowest statewide count in the last seven years was in 2007. While the highest in the same time span was in 2008. More information on bald eagles and the statewide mid-winter bald eagle survey can be found at

Why does the state care about the wintering population of bald eagles? Historically bald eagles thrived in New York State. By 1960, the visiting winter population had dwindled to a few dozen and nesting pairs were reduced to a single pair. Drops in year-round and wintering bald eagle populations were likely a result of shootings, habitat loss, and chemical use, which was later banned in 1972.

A program with Alaska has helped increase the number of bald eagles in New York State.
Tips for viewing bald eagles (from
- Winter is the best time to view bald eagles.
- Dress appropriately (layers, boots, hat, gloves, binoculars, etc.)
- Scan tree lines for eagles perched in the tops trees.
- Look overhead for eagles that are soaring.
- Scan any ice or islands for feeding eagles.
- Eagles are most active during first and last light hours.
- Remain in, or near your vehicle.
- Avoid roosting areas.
- Do not make noise.
- Respect regulations, the environment and private property.

Please remember: Harassing, disturbing or injuring a bald eagle is a federal offense and carries a penalty of up to $20,000 and/or one year in jail.

A tree adjacent to the Route 3 (south) bridge on the Salmon River. Do you see anything in the tree?
Looking closer, it's a bald eagle! Photos: Mary Penney, Eastern Lake Ontario Dune and Salmon River Stewardship and Habitat Program.

Winter Wonderland!!!! January 2010

We are pleased to announce that after a couple of months of recharging Stewards Greg Chapman and Liz Wolff will be back along the Eastern Lake Ontario Dunes and Salmon River corridor! This will be the second year the Eastern Lake Ontario Dune and Salmon River Stewardship and Habitat Program has stewards in the natural resource areas during the winter months. Since this is only the second year of the winter portion of the program, Greg and Liz will be gathering more information on the various winter recreational opportunities and attending some of the events in the natural resource areas. We will be posting updates about our findings as we go. Some of the events that we hope to report on are the annual wintering bald eagle survey, snowshoeing, dogsledding, and of course our experiences in the Eastern Lake Ontario Dunes and Wetlands Area and Salmon River corridor during the winter months. If you haven't had the opportunity to visit these areas during the winter, we invite you to experience the Eastern Lake Ontario Dunes and Wetlands and Salmon River corridor through our blog; we hope you enjoy it!

Dunes at Black Pond Wildlife Management Area (WMA) (left) and Deer Creek Marsh WMA (right).

Beachgrass at Black Pond WMA. Photos: Greg Chapman, Eastern Lake Ontario Dune and Salmon River Stewardship and Habitat Program