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INfocus: 8 Sustainable Alternatives to Sidewalk and Road Salts

Conventional deicers can wreak havoc on ecosystems.

With all this snow it’s important to consider water quality when salting driveways and walkways. Most communities send out big trucks that dump loads of salts on roads. Many homeowners will also add salts to sidewalks to keep people safer from slip hazards. Conventional deicers like salts often wash into nearby streams and can create aquatic dead zones that suffocate plant and aquatic life.

Many municipalities are coming up with new methods to melt snow and ice or prevent it from sticking to walkways and roads. Here in Wayne County, sand has proven to be an excellent alternative. There are many options found in the home that contain even more eco-friendly ingredients, including brines, coffee grounds, and even sugar beet juice.

Here are a few:

Alfalfa Meal

Alfalfa meal is mostly used as a fertilizer, but it’s also effective for melting ice. Alfalfa meal has a grainy texture that also offers more traction as you walk. Although a deicer, use this alternative in moderation. Excessive nitrogen can leach into waterways and could lead to algal blooms.

Sugar Beet Juice
Sugar beet juice is a popular ice melt option that lowers the freezing point of ice and helps deicers stick to the ground better. Beet Juice is safe for pets and not corrosive to vehicles. On its own, sugar beet juice isn’t as effective as other deicers, but it does reduce the amount of conventional deicers you would need to clear up walkways. This alternative is gaining traction in Canada. ( read article from Modern Farmer)

Coffee Grounds
Don’t toss those Keurig pods of coffee grounds. These grounds can help with melting ice, plus they add traction to the walkways.

 

Brines
That extra pickle juice in the jar? If you’re not going to drink it, maybe you can use it to clear your frosty sidewalks. In another effort to turn waste into something useful, people have creatively used brines like pickle or cheese brine instead of road salts.

Baking Soda
This alternative works in a similar way to salt. It lowers the freezing point of water when it permeates it, working well in environments that have cold weather, but not extremely cold weather.

Epsom Salt
This is a great option for ice melt because it’s as effective as table salt and rock salt, but it’s much safer to use around plant life. Mix the Epsom salt with some sugar for the best results.

Another consideration is the placement of snow. When piles melt there is a potential for flooding. If your home is on a grade or hill, shovel snow so that it doesn’t roll toward your home when it melts. Always keep drainage areas around your home clear of snow and ice build-up. Make certain to locate snow piles in areas that gradually penetrates into the ground when piles melt. Never shovel snow into a street drain.

Parts of this post were taken from an article written by Paige Bennett from EcoWatch To read the full article visit https://www.ecowatch.com/sustainable-alternatives-winter-salts-2656111075.html

Let us know if you like these posts, feedback is appreciated, email maxine@waynenyswcd.org

2022 Forever Green Tree Sale

The 2022 Annual Forever Green Tree & Shrub is Underway!

The District offers varieties of low-cost bare root seedlings and transplants, conifers, deciduous trees, bushes and shrubs, fruit plants, conservation packs, habitat boxes, and other products.  All plants are grown by private commercial nurseries, these plants provide an economical source of conservation landscaping materials, windbreaks, and quantities for reforesting. Start here

Earth-Friendly Gift Wrapping Ideas

Gift Wrapping Ideas

Here are some Gift Wrapping Ideas.
Try the Japanese tradition of furoshiki fabric wraps.

To make it easy, use fabric squares made from machine washable 100% organic cotton that can be reused in a wide variety of ways. Make your own art! Your gift recipients can either re-gift or hang it in their home or office as wall art, use it as a face mask or grocery bag, style it as a scarf, and more. Here is a furoshiki guide to wrapping

Newspaper is another great material that is frequently recommended for wrapping.

Newspapers are printed that morning in the same city and are recyclable, making them more affordable and sustainable than typical wrapping paper. Get creative and buy newspapers from other countries, many bookstores carry these or shop antique stores for print media with memorable dates.

Wrap your presents as usual, but add the twine or ribbon. Grap that gathering bag and collect items like fresh pine cones, beautiful white birch bark, twigs, moss, and greens make your gift extra special. Look in the cupboard for bay leaves and cinnamon sticks. Use floral wire to attach kumquats, holly sprigs.

Buy a Grown and Certifed Christmas Tree this season

Tree Farmers are proud members of the New York State Grown & Certified program, which highlights New York’s agricultural producers and growers who adhere to the best practices in safe food handling and environmental stewardship.

The program is currently available to produce growers who are certified for Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) and are participating in Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) plans.

Did you know that there are over 47 Christmas tree farms across New York State that are now NYS Grown & Certified!

Shop local, find a New York-grown Christmas tree vendor nearest to you https://on.ny.gov/3DGoRzV

To learn more about the Grown and Certifed program contact Ian@waynenyswcd.org

Let’s Talk Lake Ontario Webinar Series – Green Stuff in the Water: No Day at the Beach

Let’s Talk Lake Ontario Webinar Series – Green Stuff in the Water: No Day at the Beach

Join the Lake Ontario Partnership for a one-hour webinar talking about Cladophora! Wednesday, November 17th Noon – 1:00 P.M.

What is Cladophra

Cladophora are those green mats of algae in the water that you may have seen on beaches and along shorelines in Lake Ontario. While Cladophora is necessary for a healthy ecosystem, when nutrient levels in the water are too high—i.e., from lawn fertilizers, agricultural and urban runoff, and septic and sewage treatment systems—we see too much Cladophora growth. This can present aesthetic and odor issues that impair recreational uses of the lake, as well, decaying Cladophora harbors bacteria that can pose health threats to humans, fish, and wildlife.

Link to join: https://meetny.webex.com/meetny/onstage/g.php?MTID=e2314291261b79dedf2f9a22a20369aa6

Event number: 161 404 9404

Event password: welcome1

Guest speakers
David Depew, Research Scientist, Environment and Climate Change Canada,  Mary Anne Evans, Research Ecologist, United States Geological Survey, Greg Ford, Great Lakes Water Monitoring Manager, Niagara Coastal Community Collaborative

Agenda
12:00 – 12:05 Welcome
Moderator: Emma Tahirali, MECP

12:05 – 12:15 State of Lake Ontario overview
Luca Cargnelli, ECCC; Kristina Heinemann, US EPA
12:15 – 12:25 Introduction to Cladophora in Lake Ontario – What is it and why it’s a problem
David Depew, ECCC
12:25 – 12:30 Nutrient management
Luca Cargnelli, ECCC; Kristina Heinemann, US EPA

12:30 – 12:40 Cladophora monitoring work
Mary Anne Evans, USGS
12:40 – 12:50 Community/citizen science profile: The Visual Assessment Survey Tool
Greg Ford, Niagara Coastal Community Collaborative
12:50 – 12:55 Audience Q&A
Moderator: Emma Tahirali, MECP
12:55 – 1:00 News you can use
Dr. Joan Kennedy, DEC; Emma Tahirali, MECP

Webinar Registration

 

INFocus Groundwater Recharge on a Cold Raining Day in Wayne County

Water Cycle

These cold and rainy fall days may feel a little uncomfortable, but with the rain, the land is actually getting a “recharge.”  The land is coming out of a drought year. We need the aquifers refilled to maintain drinking water and long term watershed supply. When it rains, water does not stop moving when it hits the ground. Some water flows along the land into streams, bays, and lakes. Some water is used up by trees and plants and other water particles evaporate and return to the atmosphere which increases humidity and storm potential. Local forecasts keep changing for snow and precipitation projections but based on the water systematic increases, water increases the potential recycling within the local system.  It also provides opportunities to balance carbon and other important air quality effects from the local community and ecosystem.

Recharge and water supply from the fall perspective set up the local community to withstand the frost freeze changes during winter months.  Many storms like the last week, while consistent and bountiful, the 5 inches of average rain in the last week has helped elevate water tables, recharge many local wells and increase Lake Ontario’s water level during times of draw down to help balance shoreline levels. All surface water has a purpose and excess water seeps into the ground.

The water that seeps into the ground clings to particles of soil and plant roots just below the land surface that provide plants enough to grow. It also provides winter resiliency for the plants during hardening for healthy stock next year. The water not used by plants moves deeper into the ground and downward through empty spaces or cracks in the soil, sand, or rocks until it reaches a layer of rock through which water cannot easily move. This creates a reserve.   The top of the water in the soil, sand, or rocks is called the water table, and the water that fills the empty spaces and cracks is called the groundwater zone. Water seeping down from the land surface adds to the groundwater and is called recharge water. Maintaining good aquifer levels will support water storage for water treatment systems and irrigation for agricultural production, and the garden plants and trees.

 

InFocus Conservation No-Till

The progressive planting process readies the soil for new tree planting. before an apple orchard

This week’s InFocus features Conservation No-Till and the District’s No-Till Drill Rental program. 

Pictured is a farm that uses a progressive planting process that readies the soil for new tree planting. The row of radish is planted where future trees will be planted and will reduce compaction, allow future tree roots to reach further in the soil for water, and reduce nitrates in the soil, reducing the odds of excess nutrients from running to nearby waterways.

One big field of a cover crops, radish will reduce compaction and improve drainage

The Sorghum-Sudangrass seen in the image suppresses weeds, provides cover and protection again erosion, and is an excellent source of organic matter when planning for future orchards.

Local crop farmer plants a mix of oats, radish, and peas to improve soil health. The radish will reduce compaction and improve drainage while the oats provide weed suppression and uptake of excess nutrients. Peas are a great source of nitrogen and organic matter. All three provide protection against erosion throughout the winter season.

The District’s No-Till Drill is a pull-style with a working width of 10’ and requires approximately a 70 hp tractor to run it. It has the main seedbox with a 25-bushel capacity and a native seedbox with a 10-bushel capacity. The machine is ideal for many conservation projects, cover crops, pasture renovations, and food plots.

Rent the Seeder / Tiller Drill $15/ Acre + $50 Set Up Fee

For more information Contact: Ian Priestley ian@waynenyswcd.org  (315) 946-7200

Work Party: Alasa Farms — Genesee Land Trust – October 30th – Registration required

On October 30th the Genesee Land Trust will host a “work party” at Alasa Farms to help with trail improvements. ( Registration required)

According to the Genesee Land Trust’s website, “Work Parties are family-friendly weekend events where volunteers work alongside Genesee Land Trust staff on the trail and habitat improvement projects. If you’ve got some time on the weekends and an interest in giving back to the local conservation lands we invite you to join in on the work party fun.”

To attend you must sign up  (click here to sign up)    Once you register an e-mail reminder will be sent the week of the event with directions and parking details. Contact Kevin Farrell at kfarrell@geneseelandtrust.org with questions.

Alasa Farms, located in North Rose, has had over 350 acres of woodlands, two creeks that feed Sodus Bay, marsh along the Bay, and rolling orchards on fields of fertile soil. The woods, fields, and wetlands provide resting areas for migrating songbirds on their journeys north to Canada and after their long flights from as far away as South America.

Conservation Event:

When: October 30th
Time: 10:00 A.M. – 1:00 P.M.
Where: Cracker Box Palace
6420 Shaker Rd
North Rose, NY, 14516 (map)

 

 

Keep Leaves Away from Storm Drains

storm_drainsNow is the time of year to be conscious of the yard and garden clean-up. Make sure you keep leaves and grass out of storm drains.  Fallen leaves and grass clippings can plug storm drains and can cause flooding to our roadways.  If yard waste such as leaves, grass clippings, and small twigs are disposed of in a storm drain, they will make their way to a natural body of water where they threaten aquatic life and degrade water quality.

Don’t feel obligated to rake up every last leaf in your yard this fall. Let some leaves stay on the ground — they have many benefits to wildlife and the garden. A composting-leavesleaf layer sometimes called duff, several inches deep is natural on forest floors. This leaf layer is its own mini-ecosystem! Many wildlife species live in or rely on the leaf layer to find food like earthworms and other beneficial microbes.

From a gardening perspective, fallen leaves offer a double benefit. Leaves will form a natural mulch that helps suppress weeds and at the same time fertilize the soil as they break down. Why spend money on mulch and fertilizer when you can make your own? Here is a great video on how to create leaf mold, it takes a few years, but it is considered garden gold. Farmer’s Almanac  page.

If leaves must be racked, don’t throw them in the trash. Compost them or drop them off at a municipal recycling center so they can be turned into compost that you and other members of your community can use in the spring. Some communities even offer curb-side pick up of leaves specifically for municipal composting operations.

  1. Leaves make good insulation for overwintering tender perennials. The best time to mulch perennials is after the ground has frozen, so put aside shredded leaves in bags to use later in the fall.
  2. Mow leaves and clippings into the lawn, lawns actually benefit from thin layers of leaves. Leaf litter improves the soil, lessening the need for fertilizer in the spring.
  3. Leaf humus can lighten heavy clay soils, so leave a layer in the garden.
  4. Leaves increase the moisture retention of dry, sandy soils.

The Wayne County Master Gardeners can offer more information, visit http://ccewayne.org/gardening-home-grounds

Happy Raking!

 

Blind Sodus Bay and Port Bay REDI Project Updates Available

Port Bay, Wayne County NY

In response to the extended pattern of flooding along the shores of Lake Ontario and the St. Lawrence River, the Resiliency & Economic Development Initiative (REDI) was created to increase the resilience of shoreline communities and bolster economic development in the region. Wayne County in partnership with the New York State REDI program has committed to working together on addressing resiliency shoreline issues and has been in the process of choosing priority projects across the County since June 2019. The Wayne County Project Profiles provides a full overview of the projects chosen for Wayne County.

Wayne County Soil & Water Conservation District (WCSWCD) is working in collaboration with Wayne County as a general contractor to address shoreline resiliency needs for the Port Bay Barrier Bar System and the Blind Sodus Bay Bluff and Barrier Bar System.

The District is pleased to announce project information and updates are now available.  Updates include project history, story maps, engineering design reports, project profiles, SEQR reports, and more.

Follow these links to the project reports:

REDI Project Updates

      • Project Overview
      • BLIND SODUS BAY, Bluff and Barrier Bar System – WCSWCD collaborating with Wayne County as a general contractor
      • PORT BAY, Barrier Bar System – WCSWCD collaborating with Wayne County as a general contractor

At the bottom of the two project pages, there is a way for the public to make comments. The District hopes a 90% project report will be released by the end of the year.