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From the August 2008 Conservationist

Letters and Reviews


Hunting Pin Help

Empire State Conservationist pinThis pin is the size of a penny and has a doe and buck in the center, surrounded by "Conservationist" engraved on the top and "Empire State" on the bottom. On the reverse is the maker's name Bastian Bros. of Rochester. Could this have been a hunting pin [license] issued during the early years of the Conservationist (1917-1921)?

Chester Smith
Altamont, Albany County

Loyal readers, help us out! Does anyone out there have a copy of this pin, or possess any information about it? In what years was it used or sold? The August 2003 Conservationist article Sporting Licenses-From the Good Ol' Days 'til Now sheds some light on the history of "hunting buttons" and the cost of licenses throughout the years. But we need YOUR help to learn more about the pin pictured above.

Lastly: a quick reminder that 2008-2009 hunting licenses go on sale August 18, 2008. -Alex Hyatt, assistant editor

Hissy Fisher

Baby FisherThis photo of a fisher kit was taken at the Saratoga Historical Battlefield in Stillwater, where I walk the Wilson Trail every week. Its mother was at the top of the tree raiding a pileated woodpecker's nest-the noise is what got my attention. The kit alternately hissed and called to its mom, and it sounded more like a bear cub! Needless to say, I didn't wait around for "mom" to make an appearance.

Katrina Van Tassel
Malta, Saratoga County

You are very lucky to have had this opportunity! While fishers are common in New York and have been expanding their range, including areas like southern Saratoga County, most sightings are usually fleeting glimpses, not protracted like yours.

Fishers eat a variety of foods, including birds, small mammals, and plant material (for example, berries, apples, and beechnuts). They are good climbers and extremely fast; they have to be to catch prey such as red squirrels and to avoid serious injury while dispatching porcupines, another food staple. Thanks for sharing your photo! -Paul Jensen, DEC wildlife biologist

Escape Artist?

flower 1
flower 2
I am trying to identify a wildflower that appeared for the first time this May in my mother's garden in Westford (Otsego County). It is close to the ground, in the shade under the maple trees. We have looked in all our reference books and on the Internet with no success. Can you help?

Cathy Ezra
via e-mail

I did not recognize the flower, so I asked a botanist in the New York State Natural Heritage program. He tells me it is Lenten Rose, Helleborus orientalis, a garden perennial. You will be able to learn more about it on the Internet. I have no idea how it got into your woods. Maybe it is an escapee from a neighbor's garden? Good find! Best wishes for more natural history discoveries. -Frank Knight, DEC environmental educator

Kudos to Conservationist

Conservationist cover (Feb 08)I wanted to thank you for your recent articles on Bob Marshall (December 2007) and on the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) (February 2008). Mr. Marshall seemed like a fascinating character, and as we are among those who treasure the Adirondack Preserve, we are very appreciative of Marshall and his father's work on behalf of the Adirondacks.

I also appreciated the article on the CCC, because while my father was not in the CCC in New York State, I grew up hearing about it. It played a very significant role in many American families with sons who went away to work in the CCC, and I have hiked in Michigan forests planted by the Corps.

So thank you for these articles, and for the magazine. We retain a link even from suburban sprawl Ohio to the natural world in New York State through Conservationist.

Cindy Wineburgh
via e-mail

We always appreciate letters from our readers, especially when they are so complimentary! Take a look at the Champions of Conservation article on pages 19-22 of this issue for more about the men and women who have shaped our environmental legacy. -David Nelson, editor


A Kayaker's Guide to the Hudson River Valley: The Quieter Waters Rivers, Creeks, Lakes and Ponds

by Shari Aber
224 pages, $16.95 paperback
Black Dome Press

Review by Brian Drumm

Kayaker's Guide coverIf you spend time recreating on the water in the Hudson Valley between New York City and Albany, you would be wise to invest in Shari Aber's A Kayaker's Guide to the Hudson River Valley: The Quieter Waters Rivers, Creeks, Lakes and Ponds. First of all, don't let the terms "kayak" or "quieter" persuade you into thinking that this guide is intended for some other group of water sport enthusiasts. This guide is an essential reference for anybody who propels their boat with a paddle. Whether you are a canoeist or kayaker, an experienced paddler, or have recently started boating and are getting bored with the same old excursions, you will find yourself compelled to get your boat ready for a trip to one of the sixty locations highlighted in this guide.

The guide covers Green, Columbia, Ulster, Dutchess, Sullivan, Orange, Rockland, Putnam, Westchester, and Sussex (New Jersey) Counties with the bulk clustered in the Mid-Hudson Region. Aber has paddled all sixty locations, and she includes all the information you will need to plan a trip that fits your requirements and abilities. Every entry includes a general description of the route, the setting, the total mileage, and constraints that may affect your paddle such as tides and water levels. Also included is a difficulty rating with a description of specific hazards that you may expect to encounter at that location. Detailed driving directions, excellent maps, and descriptions of the launch site help you to get on the water even if you are not familiar with the area.

Many entries include a summary of the local history and ecology of the surrounding area, photos, and a recounting of Aber's experiences while on that particular jaunt. Being aware of what plants and animals you may see on your trip, being able to recognize the dilapidated remnants of a previous generation's infrastructure, and having a basic understanding of how the water body has functioned through all of this can turn an ordinary journey into an eye-opening experience.

I highly recommend this book and offer kudos to the author for hitting a home run by highlighting the excellent paddling opportunities in the Hudson River Valley.

Brian Drumm is a DEC wetlands biologist and works in New Paltz.