Posts filed under ‘Environmental Protection Fund’

View from Hemlock Lake

At normal water levels both Hemlock and Canadice have limited shoreline. Left alone, the forest grows right to the water’s edge. However, after a long dry summer, the lake level drops, creating a generous shore with some startling views.

Continue Reading October 1, 2012 at 9:02 am Leave a comment

Bergen Swamp — Finger Lakes Time Travel

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Aliens pop up their heads to view the wooded trail

A hike in Bergen Swamp is like taking a trip back 400 million years! This delicate environment of alkaline and acid soils, favors a diversity of plants uncommon in the area.

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Bergen Swamp contains 2,000 acres of primeval marshland located in the town of Bergen New York, and was the first site to be designated a Natural National Landmark, but has been protected by the Bergen Swamp Preservation Society since 1935.

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May Apples

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Orchard at the trail head

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It's not easy being green in the middle of an acid bog.

There is a huge variety of species that call the swamp home. On my hike I saw, Dog Tooth Violets, May Apples, Trillium, Marsh Marigold, Cinnamon Ferns, Swamp Cabbage, Beech Trees, and other friendly forest dwellers

I was happy to miss the Rattlesnakes, Queen Snakes, Black Rat Snakes, Ribbon Snakes, and Green Snakes … do you see a theme here?

It is important to remember that it is always wet here, so wear boots. I was in Wellingtons and I still went over the tops in a couple of sink holes right on the path.

Finger Lakes Summer

See the red flags? Those are your trail markers

Stay on trails. This is a dense forest and it is easy to get lost. Remember that list of snakes I mentioned above. Plus there is the danger of sinking into the bog, as the swampy soil reminded me of the stuff that swallows up bad guys in the movies.

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This is where you do not want to hike — sink holes


April 28, 2012 at 2:27 pm Leave a comment

Cracker Box Palace — “we’ve been expecting you”

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Kids have an opportunity to get up close and meet farm animals

Many of you may know “Cracker Box Palace” as a song from a George Harrison album. “We welcome you to Cracker Box Palace, we’ve been expecting you..” That song  is a memory from my childhood. If you want to make some more great memories for your kids, bring them to the Finger Lakes version of Cracker Box Palace. It’s a perfect family destination with many kid-friendly activities throughout the year.

Cracker Box Palace is a not for profit, no-kill rescue and rehabilitation shelter for over 180 farm animals. Animals of every kind come to recover from illness, neglect or abuse. Once given necessary adjustment time and veterinary care, animals are available for adoption.

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View of the farm and a variety of very happy animals

In early 2011, Cracker Box Palace achieved ownership of  a beautiful piece of property — Alasa Farms. This farm was formerly a historic Shaker community in the early 1800’s. Some years later, it served as a migrant camp. Today it is home to horses, geese, ducks, chickens, rabbits, goats, sheep, several breeds of pigs, llamas and (see the video) donkeys.

The farm is funded totally through memberships, sponsorships, donations, and grants. If animals cannot be placed in suitable adoptive homes they will stay on the farm. They also offer a sponsorship program for people who love animals but do not have facilities to care for them. Cracker Box Palace also offers a variety of Youth Programs for scouts, special needs groups, and school community service projects.

The farm has apple orchards as well. The month-long, Apple Pic-n-Picnic starts around the 2nd week of September with U-Pick apples from dwarf trees. Alasa Farms also participates in the annual Apple Tasting Tour.

Finger LakesView of Alasa Farms in proximity to Sodus Bay

Alasa Farms is located just southwest of Sodus Bay. The property and surrounding land is very beautiful and contains many waterways that flow to the bay.  With the assistance of the Genesee Land Trust, Alasa Farms has ensured that their 627 acres of forests, wetlands, working crop lands and orchards, will remain open land. By spring of 2012 there will be trails through the woods and around the farm marked for horseback riding and hiking.

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There are several waterfalls on the property

Additionally, The Nature Conservancy has acquired another 500 +acres between the Farm and Sodus Bay, including 800’ of frontage on the bay. It will remain undisturbed and eventually be transferred to New York state for inclusion in a wildlife management area.

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Location of Cracker Box Palace/Alasa Farms

HOURS:  10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturdays
Contact us to inquire about tours, call 315.483.2493.

Cracker Box Palace on Facebook.

Location:  6450 Shaker Road, Alton, NY, 14413

February 10, 2012 at 11:30 pm Leave a comment

Letchworth State Park: Grand Canyon of the East

Letchworth State Park, renowned as the “Grand Canyon of the East,” is one of the most scenically magnificent areas in the Finger lakes Region. The park comprises 14,350 acres, along 17 miles of the Genesee River, 35 miles South of Rochester, New York and 55 miles East of Buffalo, New York.

Continue Reading November 20, 2011 at 5:39 pm Leave a comment

Zurich Bog — Nature on Acid

Finger lakes Summer

Parade of fall colors in a peat bog

Upstate New York shows off its incredible natural diversity via Zurich Bog. The bog is protected as part of  the Bergen Swamp Preservation Society. It is located between Newark and Sodus New York, just east of Brantling Ski Slope.

In fall the surface of the bog turns brilliantly red as the normally green peat that acts as a carpet over the surface of the bog dramatically changes color and provides a startling contrast to the surrounding beech-filled woods.

Acid bogs are formed when a type of moss called sphagnum (or peat moss) grows over the surface of a pond. Sphagnum actually changes its environment to be less hospitable to other species. A well-established colony of sphagnum moss can lower the pH of its host lake to around 3.5.

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Carnivorous Pitcher Plants thrive in an acid bog

This, of course, makes the bog inhospitable to more neutral pH plants, and whole new species have evolved just to fit into the ecosystem that sphagnum creates. One particularly cool adaptation is carnivorous. Brilliantly colorful and exotic looking Pitcher Plants capture insects in order to obtain the nutrients that are missing in their acidic diet.

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Safe passage through the bog

Generally, the sphagnum grows inward from the edges of the pond, swelling as it takes in up to twenty times its dry weight in water and forming a raised mat. At some point, this mat stops being directly connected to the bottom, and if you’re walking out onto the bog, you’re literally being held up only by floating sphagnum.

Out on the bog it feels like you are walking on a water-bed. The signs at the entrance do not recommend you walk through the bog, off the planked trail, in order to protect the delicate bog and to keep you safe and dry.

Cold enough for ice cubes in the pitcher

The diversities of an acid bog and the surrounding hilly woods create a spring carpet of wildflowers. Zurich Bog  encourages wildflowers that are predominantly found in the Adirondacks. The Beech/Maple drumlins have a soil that encourages diverse woodland wildflowers April – June.

I have listed the names of some of the flowers and plants that grow in the bog and surrounding woods because they have such great names:

Spring Beauty, Lady Slipper, Cut-leaved Toothwort, Bloodroot, Christmas fern, Trillium, Trout Lilies,  May Apples, Jack in the Pulpit, Dutchman’s Breeches, Squirrel Corn, Marsh Marigolds, Hepatica, Cinnamon Fern, Royal Fern, Sensitive Fern.

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Beech trees surround the bog providing a stark color contrast

Trail map

November 12, 2011 at 6:00 am 1 comment

Bear Swamp State Forest

Bear Swamp State Forest is located on two state forests of 3,316 acres in Cayuga County. This area is known for the large wetland and creek that bisects the forest. I should have realized that the word “swamp” might be a warning, but I had driven the roads earlier in the summer and thought they would be perfect for a fall bike ride — after the biting bugs died.

Continue Reading November 7, 2011 at 1:01 am Leave a comment

Sitts Bluffs, Lake Ontario

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Looking east from top of Sitts Bluffs, towards Sterling Nature Center.

One amazing advantage of living in the Finger Lakes region is that the northern border of the region is Lake Ontario. One of the most amazing geological formations along Lake Ontario are the natural clay bluffs rising over 100’ above the lake’s edge.

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Trail along the bluff

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Knife edge

The bluffs are the eroding end of a “wave truncated drumlin field.” Erosion proceeds at up to 3’ per year, with mini-deltas formed at the base of each gully, leaving the skinny cliffs with grassy knolls atop jutting out until they succumb to next fall.

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Beach of Sterling Nature Center, McIntyre Bluff in the distance.

I was hiking the Sterling Nature Center. The Nature Center is well worth a day’s visit as its volunteers have laid out over 15 miles worth of trails through the varied terrain of 1400 acres. The Nature Center also boasts nearly two miles of Lake Ontario beach to explore and hosts a series of programs throughout the summer and fall at its lakeside year around headquarters facility. Walking the beach, I noticed McIntyre Bluff at the western edge of the Sterling Nature Center. From there you can catch a view of more cliffs westward, much larger and longer. Walk further west along the beach to find Sitt’s Bluffs.

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View along the top of the bluffs

There are easy-to-follow trails taking you up and along the cliff edge, providing spectacular views west towards Fairhaven, and Little Sodus Bay. Sitts Bluffs can also be accessed by heading east from Fairhaven State Park. Walking the wide beach is easy with spectacular driftwood and irresistibly beautiful rocks. Sterling Nature Center is on the same road as the Sterling Renaissance Fair. Continue past the fair to Jenzvolt Rd.

September 19, 2011 at 10:40 pm Leave a comment

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