Plan Your Environmentally-Focused Self-Directed Projects
Environmental Clean-up Resources
The Boon Family’s annual effort to remove trash from the bottom of Fourth Lake inspired MTC and may inspire you as well! Read their story and more!
Lake Bottom Surprises
In the summer, Mike Schreppel, from the Fulton Chain Of Lakes Association (FCLA), scuba dives looking for invasive species and trash in our precious Fulton Chain of Lakes. This underwater footage is from Fourth Lake near Inlet, NY. In the past, people would place various items on the ice, place rocks around the items and let them sink to the bottom of the lake once the ice thawed. Mike refers to them as "junk circles". This bass is not only curious about Mike, but also about the unwanted items discarded in its home!
Freshwater sponges grow in clean streams, lakes, and rivers. Because they are sensitive to water conditions, their presence indicates high water quality and low levels of pollutants. Thank you Mike Schreppel from the FCLA for this amazing underwater footage. Happy to see that our water quality in the Fulton Chain is good. The freshwater sponge can do without the can!
Underwater photos of discarded items at the bottom of the Fulton Chain. Photos taken by Mike Schreppel, from the FCLA.
Secchi Disk Tips
Take measurements between 10am and 3pm on a bright, calm day since the angle of the sun and waves can affect readings.
Never wear sunglasses while making the reading because this can affect visibility of the Secchi disk.
Take measurements on the shady side of your boat.
Measuring Lake Water Clarity
A Secchi disk is an 8-inch disk with alternating black and white quadrants. The disc is lowered into the lake until it can no longer be seen by the observer. This depth of disappearance, called the Secchi depth, is a measure of the transparency of the water.
Transparency can be affected by the color of the water, suspended sediments and algae. Transparency diminishes as color, suspended sediments, or algal abundance increases. Water is often stained yellow or brown by decaying plant matter. Algae are small, green aquatic plants whose abundance is related to the amount of plant nutrients, such as phosphorus and nitrogen. Therefore, transparency can be affected by the amount of plant nutrients streaming into the lake from sources such as septic tanks, sewage treatment plants, and lawn and agricultural fertilizer. Suspended sediments are often due to resuspension from lake bottoms, construction sites, agricultural fields, and storm runoff.
Visit an AWI Steward
Adirondack Watershed Institute's mission is to protect clean water, conserve habitat and support the health and well-being of the people in the Adirondacks. Learn how to prevent the introduction of new aquatic invasive species into Adirondack waters and prevent the spread of established invasive aquatic species between Adirondack waters. See resources below.
Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) Lake Stewards Video Series; Certification and Training Programs
Thousands of birds are injured or killed each year due to fishing line entanglement. Heroic staff from the Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation detangle a bird caught in fishing line (top left). The Department of Environmental Conservation warns that loons are at risk for lead poisoning due to ingestion of lead fishing weights (bottom photo).
Lead fishing weights removed from the stomach of loons.
BearWise ensures that people, regardless of location, learn to live responsibly with bears to avoid negative encounters and allow humans to co-exist with black bears.
PROTECT OUR POLLINATORS
Protect our Butterflies and other Pollinators
As essential pollinators, monarch butterflies do an incredible job of helping native plants reproduce - they’re the life force behind many of our North American habitats! In 2020, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced that they would be listing monarch butterflies as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act. Milkweed is the only plant larvae and caterpillars eat. Protect our milkweed and let the larvae and caterpillars thrive. Plant a pollinator garden to save our monarch butterflies.
Plant native flowers to support all of our pollinators. Participate in the ADK Pollinator Project!
Upcycle your trash and give back to Mother Earth by creating easy-to-make seed bombs. Blend together used scraps of construction paper, water, and wildflower seeds in a food processor (adult-supervision please), then form into tiny muffins. Let dry and then toss in the ground. As the seed bombs receive sun and rain, the paper will eventually compost and the seeds will germinate. For more ideas on upcycling your trash visit www.weareteachers.com/earth-day-crafts-classroom-activities/.
No Mow May
Mowing your lawn less creates habitat and can increase the abundance and diversity of various pollinators. One way to reduce mowing is by participating in No Mow May. The goal of No Mow May is to allow grass to grow, unmown, for the month of May, creating habitat and forage for early-season pollinators.
ALGAL BLOOMS and INVASIVE SPECIES
Scuba diver swimming through a dense mat of Eurasian Milfoil demonstrating the reason why it can affect water activities in our local lakes and ponds.
Stop aquatic hitchhikers. Clean, Drain and Dry your watercraft.
Left: Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs), rapid accumulation of algae in lakes that can be harmful to both wildlife and humans. Common colors are green, blue-green, yellow, brown, or red.
Middle: Eurasian Milfoil, is an invasive aquatic plant that destroys ecosystems. Due to the dense mats that it forms, it often makes activities such as boating and swimming difficult or impossible. Furthermore, clusters of these plants serve as breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
Right: Zebra Mussels are an invasive, fingernail-sized mollusk with dark, zig-zagged stripes on each shell. Zebra mussels negatively impact ecosystems in many ways. They filter out algae that native species need for food and they attach to--and incapacitate--native mussels.
Left: Hemlock Woolly Adelgid is a tiny insect that feeds on hemlock trees. It can kill a tree in as quickly as four years once infestation has occurred (Courtesy of Adirondack Council).
Middle: Spotted Lantern Flies are in invasive pest from Asia that feed on a variety of plants such as maple and walnut trees, and thus pose a significant threat to New York's agricultural health.
Right: Phragmites, also called common reed grass, is an aggressive wild grass that overtakes wetlands and roadsides, growing as tall as 15 ft. These grasses impact views, damage infrastructure, and reduce property values (Courtesy of Adirondack Council)
The gypsy moth, now called the spongy moth, appeared in great numbers last year (2021) in the Eastern Adirondacks. The numbers were so great that the sound of them eating and defecating was audible in some places, providing one of nature’s creepier soundtracks. The caterpillars surge every 10 to 15 years, but healthy trees can generally survive a couple of years of defoliation.
Invasive Species | Adirondack Watershed Institute (adkwatershed.org)
Read about the new law (2021) requiring motorized boats to be inspected for invasive plants and other harmful organisms prior to launch in Adirondack waters.
If you discover Eurasian Watermilfoil in an ADK lake, do not attempt to remove it yourself. Leave it alone! Eurasian Watermilfoil reproduces through vegetative propagation, so each tiny bit that floats off can form a new plant. Instead, report it to the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
Invasive Eurasian Watermilfoil
Usually 12-21 leaflet pairs per leaf
Delicate, feather-like leaves
Leaflets are mostly similar in length
Leaves are arranged in whorls (circles) of 3-5 around each stem
Leaves are limp when out of water
Stem is thick or thicker than a pencil and is long and spaghetti-like
Native Northern Watermilfoil
Usually 7-10 leaflet pairs per stem
Rigid feather-like leaves form a Christmas tree shape
Lower leaflets are usually quite long
Leaves are arranges in whorls (circles) of 4-6 around each stem
Leaves are usually rigid when out of water
Stem is usually whitish, or whitish-green in color
Take photos and report infestations of invasive plants or animals to email@example.com or to the iMapInvasives database: http://www.nyimapinvasives.org/.
"A Guide to Rain Gardens" - https://www.elevators.com/utilizing-rainwater-and-gravity-a-guide-to-rain-gardens/
Check out the New York Botanical Garden’s tips for starting your own water garden at https://libguides.nybg.org/watergarden.
Find plants that are native to your area at the New York Flora Atlas: www.newyork.plantatlas.usf.edu.