Saturday, May 30, 2015

Report on Rail-Trail Visit May 30, 2015

Snapping turtle at Normanskill

Normanskill placid water

Railroad bridge over Normanskill fixing for Rail-Trail
Michael Czarnecki and Sue Spencer were in town for their presentation of ALL ONE SONG at Pine Hollow Arboretum. I decided it was time to check out the progress on the Normanskill Rail-Trail having had the belief that the lower trail from the Delaware Ave Bridge to the Hudson River had been finished. I set as the target of our hike the old railroad bridge across the Normanskill. Last time I had been to the bridge it was not passable with a broken deck filled with large gaps. An idiot teen-ager could make it across but not me. I thought I could access the trail from the dead end of Rockefeller Road in Elsmere but that way was blocked off and maybe in need of some bridge reconstruction itself. We went by way of the 9W Bridge where there is a steep pathway down (one of many “fisherman access” points along the Normanskill. ) It was just a short walk along the wide leveled trail. It looked like the idea was to make a trail wide enough for emergency vehicles to drive on. Pass the Thruway Bridge we met a snapping turtle who was trapped behind a black plastic run-off barrier. We were able to help “snapper” along and the turtle went on to the river.

The railroad bridge was pretty far along in construction but not finished. The decking seemed finished but the steps or ramp that brought the bridge to trail level had not been finished. Not quite there yet. We did see hikers come down the trail from the other side. So sad, whenever will the twain meet?

The walk back was just a short one. Saw turtle and muskrat swimming in the Normanskill. Michael and Sue did a bit of rock-hopping on the near shore. The river was running brown from resent rain but still Summer level shallow. By this Autumn that bridge has to be done, right?

                                                                 --Alan Casline

Sunday, May 10, 2015


Herring Sustainability in Hudson Watershed

Pushed from the Federal level with concern over recent Atlantic Coast-wide decline, New York State has to show biological data for sustainable levels or close all commercial and recreational fishing for herring (alewife and blueback herring) in the Hudson River. What was suppose to be a three year study has been extended to run through 2016. Frustrating, because study is not action — recently read about native tiger populations in Siberia — same rationale– we do not have data which we should have before we act. Good thing is there are limits set for herring harvest again this year. On the main stem of river 10 per angler from Waterford, NY to George Washington Bridge and for tributaries like the Normanskill and also The Mohawk River it is 10 per angler with no use of nets. American shad in same waters prohibited in tributaries and main stem. A different species, hickory shad have a limit of 5 fish which can be caught from August 1 — Nov. 30th. The simplified ecological sketch has the striped bass eating the shad who are eating the herring. Recovery for the Hudson River could be best served by a fishing ban for all three species for at least three years . In the meanwhile, I have not seen any data on current herring populations released.

Little Brown Bat Population News

A summer 2014 set of observations from New York State biologist Carl Herzog had some positive news concerning the massive die-off of the little brown bat species. Once New York State’s most numerous species, it now seems, according to Herzog the steep decline in little brown bats “appears to have abated”. It appears a complete die-off is not going to happen. Herzog also said “I can’t honestly say that there is a measurable recovery or anything that looks like a recovery.” White-nose syndrome has killed 90% of New York State’s population. The population going from 1.5 million to about 150,000 little brown bats.

Worried About the Wrong Bees

It is the 4,000 or more other bee species living in North America, species other than the domesticated (Apis mellifera) commercial pollinator and honey producer, that we need to be concerned about surviving. In 1622 a ship arrived in Jamestown that carried the honey bee to North America..The European honeybee is promiscuous and can reside almost any where. These bees quickly spread through-out Americas. Natives called them “English flies.” According to Charles C. Mann in the book 1493 (2011) so critical to European success were the honeybees that natives came to view them as harbinger of invasion. “The first sight of a bee in a new territory, the French-American writer Jean de Crevecoeur noted in 1782, “Spreads sadness and consternation in all minds”. These bees are now spread through-out the world. There is no doubting their importance as pollinators to current food production but they are in no danger of extinction. Many native bee species are in danger, for example four of our bumble bee species declined 96% in the last 20 years and three species are believed to already be extinct. I admit I didn’t think about wild bees until the problems with commercial bees was publicized.