Spotted Lanternfly & Tree-of-heaven: NY needs your help! Training Workshop

Spotted lanternfly (SLF) is an invasive pest from Asia that feeds on a variety of plants including grapes, hops, and maple trees, posing a severe threat to NYS forests and agriculture (more info). SLF’s preferred host plant, Tree-of-heaven (TOH), is already found in much of the state. SLF was first found in PA in 2014, and several populations have since been found in NYAgencies and conservation partners across the state are working to protect our state resources from these invasives, and we are requesting help from volunteers to complement these efforts.

Tuesday, February 23, 2021
Register for the webinar below

Volunteers needed: SLF management actions are more effective and regions can better prepare for the impacts of this insect when new infestations are found early.

New York State is seeking volunteers like you to look for SLF and TOH in your area. You can supplement NYS efforts to prevent negative impacts from invasive species by knowing what to look for and how to report observations to New York’s official invasive species database, iMapInvasives.

NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets and the Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation have identified 1km grid squares across the state where volunteer survey efforts would be most helpful. These may be close to known infestations, along major pathways, and/or near important commodities that could be harmed by SLF. Use the interactive map below to sign up for a grid square and survey one or two areas within that are publicly and safely accessible.

On-Farm Housing Grants Available

PathStone Corporation is currently accepting applications for their 2021 On-Farm Housing Grant

This program is a matching grant of up to $2000 to repair and upgrade existing farm labor housing. Examples of eligible repairs include, but are not limited to: bathrooms, plumbing, laundry facilities, recreation rooms, upgrading kitchens and appliances, heating, windows, ceilings, doors, and other major structural components.

Farm Owners must agree to provide $1 for every $1 provided by PathStone Corporation. This grant is available in Monroe, Wayne, Ontario, Seneca, Orleans, Wyoming, Livingston and Genesee counties. If interested, or if you have questions, please contact Susan Lerch at 585-261-1779 for an application.

Applications will be due March 1, 2021 and the work will need to be completed by May 21, 2021. Please help us spread the word as we want to assist as many farms as possible!

The program is limited to farmers and growers who own existing farm labor housing that is in need of repairs and upgrades that will have a direct impact on the safety and health of farmworkers.

Typical Examples
• Bathrooms and plumbing systems
• Kitchens and replacement of appliances
• Heating and insulation
• Interior walls, floors, and ceilings doors, windows, and other major structural components

Click here to download a brochure /2021-Farm-Housing-Grant/

Cornell Small Farm Online Courses – Soil Health and more

The Cornell Small Farms Program offers a suite of more than 20 online courses, primarily taught by Cornell Cooperative Extension educators, to help farmers improve their technical and business skills.

  • Interactive 5 to 8-week courses connect you to the information and people you need to start a successful farm business or diversify your farm
  • Led by experienced educators and farmers
  • Most courses can be taken by people anywhere in the world (read the course description to check whether it is targeted to farming in the Northeastern U.S.)

There is a fee for the courses, however, the Cornell Small Farms Program offers partial scholarships, with funding from the New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, for military veterans to take our online courses. The courses, normally $250, will be offered to veterans for $125.

The course offerings and schedules can be viewed here. If you are eligible for a partial scholarship and would like to enroll, contact them here.

Registration is limited and will be offered first-come, first-served. Participants will be asked to complete a targeted survey at the end of the course as well as 6 months from completion, to determine the effect on their operation.

For more information click here.

Project Feeder Watch

The 2021 season of Project Feeder Watch has begun. Turn your love of feeding birds into scientific discoveries. FeederWatch is a survey of birds that visit backyards, nature centers, community areas, and other locales in North America. You don’t even need a feeder! Visit to learn more and register.

You can also visit them on Facebook at

NY Ag and Markets BMPs for Honey Bees

Honey bees play a vital role in New York State’s agriculture economy. Each year, thousands of bee colonies are used throughout the state to pollinate more than $300 million worth of agricultural crops such as apples, grapes, and pumpkins. New York is home to more than 60,000 of the bee colonies used each year, while additional colonies are shipped in from other regions of the country or even foreign countries to make up the remainder. The Department inspects bee colonies and monitors their movement to ensure that the state is protected from potential problems in its honey bee population. (NY AG and Markets)
For more information and best management practices visit:

Create a whimsical garden or conifer wind block – Order Now!

Download a Reference Guide

Create a whimsical garden with woodland ferns, iris, white dogwood, conifers, and many other trees and shrubs offered at the District’s annual Forever Green Tree and Shrub Sale. By planting a row of conifer trees on the north and northwest sides of your property creates a wall against cold winter winds – saving you heating costs.

Locally grown bare-root stock is a great way to get started
at very reasonable prices. 

Blue Bird Boxes make great giftsWith over 60 varieties of trees, shrubs and flowering plants to choose you can choose from evergreen trees, deciduous trees and shrub, berry bushes, ground covers, woodland ferns, and other conservation packs and perennial flowers and erosion control seeds. There are also five different habitat boxes for birds and bats, tree tube kits, marking flags and fertilizer tablets to help establish and protect transplants, as well as barley straw rolls for pond management.

Products can be ordered by phone, through the mail, or through the online.

Start by visiting

A catalog with images and item descriptions can be found on the website along with a printable form that can be used to mail check payments.

Orders with payment, accepted through Friday,March 5th 2020. All major credit cards are accepted.


If you have questions about plant selection or would like someone to call you to place an order e-mail

Upcycle the Christmas Tree – here are some ideas

Make 2021 a Conservation New Year

Recycle the Christmas Tree

One of the other benefits of a real Christmas tree is the different ways you can recycle it at the end of the season. The most common use for your tree is to make mulch or compost out of it. Whether it’s with the woodchips or needles, mulch is a great way to keep your yard trees healthy and moist during the cold winter season. Pine needles are full of nutrients that enhance the PH of your soil if it is more alkaline and allows your soil to breathe without becoming dense and compacted.  Be sure to douse your pine needles with water and mix well in your compost pile. Other ways to upcycle:

Insulate the Garden

Try cutting off the branches of your tree and lay them on your garden bed, the boughs will protect your plants from winter freezes and spring thaws. By laying them on your garden, you’re giving your plants a steady temperature for the cold months. The limbs also work well as a garden edge.

Feed the Birds
Secure the tree outside in your yard in a stand, or with stakes and twine. and hang bird feeders to attract birds and watch your tree evolve into a bird sanctuary. Other critters will soon follow as they nest in the branches of the tree. That used tree will make an excellent home for the birds for the rest of the winter. Make sure it’s free of all ornaments and tinsel. Provide sustenance for your bird friends as well by decorating the tree with strands of popcorn, suet, or pinecone bird feeders.

Make a Home for Fish

If you have a backyard pond, use your tree to create fish habitat. Sink your old tree into the water to creates a welcoming habitat for fish. The branches give them a place to take cover. Just make sure the tree is completely free of tinsel or flocking material that might harm wildlife.

Every little thing YOU do really makes a difference, these small changes cumulatively over time can have a significant benefit to our environment, make 2021 a Conservation New Year.

Infographic: US Fish and Wildlife Service

Holiday Food Composting

Make 2021 a Conservation New Year

Holiday Food Composting

Composting is simply the process of organic material decomposition.

Every holiday dinner we seem to have an abundance of leftovers, often these food leftovers are thrown out or left to spoil. According to Cornell University, there are nearly 38 million tons of wasted food in the United States. Composting is simply the process of organic material decomposition. If we composted many of the things we throw away, such as kitchen scraps, grass clippings, leaves, and other landscape debris, we could divert 20 to 30 percent of the trash currently going into landfills.

By composting these materials, we can reduce the amount of waste we generate and produce organic matter and nutrients for our garden, landscape, and yards. Every garden benefits from the addition of compost because it supplies many of the nutrients plants need. Composting also improves the soil’s physical characteristics, increases soil capacity to hold water and nutrients, and increases soil aeration.

In general, you should have about four times as many browns as greens. If your goal is simply to avoid sending organic matter to the landfill and the compost is an afterthought, then you don’t need to worry about it too much. If your bin gets wet and smelly, add more browns and cut back on the greens for a while, then give it a turn. If the contents of your bin aren’t breaking down, add some greens, turn it, and it should start turning into compost again. To turn the compost easily, give the bin a shake every one to three days. This blends in air and distributes moisture, creating the perfect environment for the materials to decompose.

Compost: fruits, vegetables, grains, bread, unbleached paper napkins, coffee filters, eggshells, meats, and newspapers can be composted. Don’t add meat, bones, dairy, whole eggs (shells are okay), grease, or other animal-based scraps. These can develop pathogens as they decompose in the compost bin, causing odors that attract rodents and other pests. Never add solid waste from pets.

Every little thing YOU do really makes a difference, these small changes cumulatively over time can have a significant benefit to our environment.

Photo Credit: The Spruce / Cori Sears

Counting Down To A Conservation New Year – Deicing Alternatives

Make 2021 a Conservation New Year

Road salt can harm the environment

Beet Juice Alternative Photo Credit: Morton Arboretum, Lisle IL

Highway ditches, marshes, streams, bays, and lakes lie alongside many of the roads and highways that zigzag across North America. Plants and animals inhabit these water bodies and can be exposed to many of the substances we put on those roads, including road salt.

Although rock salt may help keep roads safe it can also have serious, negative effects on aquatic ecosystems.

At high concentrations, salt can be fatal to some aquatic animals. Salt can also change the way the water mixes and lead to the formation of salty pockets near the bottom of lakes, creating biological dead zones. The USGS pinpointed road as toxic to aquatic life, and even low concentrations can produce harmful effects in freshwater ecosystems. High chloride levels in water can inhibit aquatic species’ growth and reproduction, impact food sources. In a recent study, researchers found that 37 percent of the drainage area of the contiguous United States has experienced an increase in salinity over the past 50 years, citing road salt as the dominant source in colder, humid regions of the northeastern United States.

Try these alternatives

Sand: – Although sand is not capable of actually reducing the freezing temperature of the water and cannot melt snow and ice, it is still a great alternative to traditional rock salt. The grainy nature of sand allows for excellent traction. Sand is completely natural and will not cause any damage to your property. In addition to this, sand does not form a brine with frozen snow and ice, so less material is needed over time. This is also significant savings.

Beet juice – After sugar is extracted from sugar beets, the resulting waste water is usually flushed down the drain. But more places around the world are mixing this beet juice with their de-icing cocktails for more effectiveness. Using beet juice mixed with salt reduces the amount needed. It’s also biodegradable and less corrosive. The concentration of carbohydrates in the liquid reduces its freezing point to well below -20 C. When mixed with salt, it makes it stick to the ice, which reduces bouncing and scattering of salt rocks when cars drive over it.

Calcium magnesium acetate (CMA) – CMA is formulated from dolomitic lime and acetic acid. It is effective to a temperature of ~0° F, but effectiveness decreases below 20° F. Like rock salt, it is generally available in granule or pellet form. There is some concern about its oxygen demand as it degrades in water, but a USGS study in Oregon found no negative water quality impacts from roads treated with CMA. Other acetate-based de-icers include Sodium Acetate and Potassium Acetate.

Ashes – For those with a wood-burning fireplace, ashes are a great option. They provide a lot of traction and absorb sunlight, so will melt ice quickly on a sunny day

Pet Safe –Pet-safe commercial deicers are designed to melt ice without harming pets. “Pet-safe” deicers are typically made with an ingredient called urea. Urea is less toxic than other deicing ingredients, but it can still cause issues if not processed specifically for pet safety. Remember to always check the label; the product should be salt- and chloride-free and labeled as child and pet-safe. If it’s not safe for kids, it’s not safe for your dog.

Every little thing YOU do really makes a difference, these small changes cumulatively over time can have a significant benefit to our environment.

Counting Down to a Conservation New Year – Earth-Friendly Gift Wrapping Ideas

Make 2021 a Conservation New Year

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

To make it easy, use fabric squares are made from machine washable 100% organic cotton which 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.

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