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The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has added a link to a translation service developed by Microsoft Inc., entitled Bing Translator, as a convenience to visitors to the DEC website who speak languages other than English.

Additional information can be found at DEC's Language Assistance Page.

From the August 2011 Conservationist

Briefly and Review

By Jenna Kerwin and Eileen Stegemann

Become a Junior Instructor

Two sportsman's ed instructors in orange vests flank a junior instructor

DEC recently launched a new junior sportsman education instructor program that enables youth (aged 14 to 17) to assist teaching sportsmen education classes. A junior instructor must be an ethical and responsible hunter, as well as a graduate of the program they wish to teach, which includes bowhunting, waterfowl hunting, trapping, and hunter education. Junior instructors will teach under the supervision of certified hunter education instructors and will assist, but not actually lead the class. To find out how to sign up, send an e-mail to hunter@dec.ny.gov

Backcountry Patrols

A DEC forester talking with hikers on a trail
(Photo: David Winchell)

This summer, DEC is partnering with the Student Conservation Association to hire young men and women as backcountry stewards and also reestablishing the assistant forest ranger program. The backcountry stewards and assistant forest rangers work with DEC forest rangers and foresters in a variety of settings, including along the eastern shores of Lake Ontario, the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, state forests and conservation easements lands. Having backcountry stewards and assistant forest rangers in the field helps ensure the safety and well-being of recreationists. There will be stewards and assistant rangers on patrol through Columbus Day weekend. Get more information.

License Age Lowered

Governor Cuomo recently signed legislation that will lower the age requirement to hunt big game with a junior bowhunting license from 14 to 12 years of age. Now, 12- or 13-year-olds with a junior archery license can hunt deer or bear when accompanied by a parent, guardian or adult over 21 years of age with a big-game license and three or more years of hunting experience. This new bill would help promote hunting by allowing more young people to become involved in outdoor recreation. See more information on hunting licenses.

Air Quality

The Air Quality Index (AQI) indicates how clean or polluted the air is and what associated health risks may be of concern. It is meant to inform New Yorkers of daily air quality. DEC and the Department of Health (DOH) issue Air Quality Health Advisories when levels or concentrations of air pollution are expected to exceed an AQI of 100. (The higher the AQI value is, the greater the health concern.) People should consider limiting strenuous outdoor activity when AQI levels are high, and DEC and DOH recommend many energy-saving and pollution-reducing steps to help reduce air pollution. Such steps include using mass transit instead of driving, turning off electric appliances when not in use, using fans to circulate air, and purchasing energy-efficient lighting and appliances. For more information about AQI, and to read current air quality reports, Visit DEC's AQI page.

Lifetime License Transfer

A new law effective January 15, 2011 allows for the one-time transfer of lifetime hunting, fishing and trapping licenses. The new law allows a lifetime sporting license to be transferred to a qualifying relative if the lifetime license holder passes away within one year of license purchase, or passes away while on active U.S. military duty during time of war. Requests for license transfers must be made by the personal representative of the decedent's estate. Find more information on the license transfer, or call DEC's license sales unit at (518) 402-8843.

Green Tips

Explore New York

New York has thousands of miles of exquisite trails to explore, so enjoy a beautiful day by visiting a trail near you. You can jog, bicycle, rollerblade, or simply go for a nice long walk. Rather than using a treadmill that requires electricity, consider getting some exercise the old-fashioned way! Visit Parks and Trails New York to find a trail near you.

Hang 'em Out to Dry

While we are blessed with nice weather, consider drying some of your clothes outdoors. Air drying your clothes reduces energy use, and can save you a few bucks at the same time. If you hang your clothes up in the morning before you leave for school, work, or play, they'll be dry when you return home. Visit DEC's green living page for more tips.

Correction: We made a mistake in the June On Patrol regarding the wintertime life jacket requirement. It should read: "From November 1 to May 1, life jackets must be worn by all persons on all vessels under 21 feet while they are underway."


Book cover showing a weed-like plant growing through brick paving infront of a chainlink fence

by Frank Knight
Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast: A Field Guide
by Peter Del Tredici
Foreword by Steward T. A. Pickett
392 pages; softcover $29.95
Cornell University Press/Comstock Publishing Associates
www.cornellpress.cornell.edu; 607-277-2211

I am a Northeast plants snob; or I was until I began using Tredici's Wild Urban Plants of the Northeast last summer. I grew up in a small upstate NY city and I live in another now, but my Scouting-fueled childhood rambles took me beyond the city limits to learn and enjoy, and later to photograph, wild native plants in near-pristine habitats.

But, urban ecologist Steward T.A. Pickett's foreword reminds us that more than 80 percent of Americans live in or near cities and suburbs. Pickett offers that many city/suburban residents often disregard the wild plants of unmanaged grounds. He states, "This book provides a refreshingly unprejudiced look at urban wild flora and ultimately invites us all to look for better ways to appreciate wild plants and to use them in our efforts to improve the ecology and the human life of the city."

Remarkably, as you turn pages in this colorful book, you will rediscover what were, until now, nameless plants you overlook on many outings. We champion the underdog surviving great adversity, and many botanical examples are here: Boston ivy under a dry shady highway overpass and a carpetweed getting all its moisture beneath an air conditioner drip.

The other remarkable message you get is the great diversity of urban plants: 222 plants including 32 trees. Peter Del Tredici's introduction provides enough detail for a middle, high school or college level exploration of wild urban plants, but as a photographer I know it's a great boon to parents and grandparents sharing nature near home with youngsters. Paired facing pages of text and photos showing leaves, flowers, fruit and plants in their habitat, make it easy for page-turners to find their plant at hand.

The left-hand page provides names, life form, place of origin, vegetative characteristics, flowers and fruit, germination and regeneration, habitat preferences, ecological functions and cultural significance. Two examples stress the guide's interest and educational value: herbaceous coltsfoot's ecological functions are as disturbance-adapted colonizers of bare ground and erosion control on slopes. In its native Alps, it colonizes the bare rocky soil exposed as glaciers retreat.

Deciduous European Norway maple's distinctive milky sap is illustrated. Its ecological functions include tolerance of roadway salt and compacted soil, heat reduction in paved areas, and erosion control on slopes. It was introduced to America by famed botanist John Bartram of Philadelphia in 1756, and became popular in the 1800s, resurging in the 1950s and 60s to replace disease-decimated American elm. It is losing favor again due to its invasive species status.

A useful Appendix includes key characteristics of the most important dozen of the 39 included plant families, a glossary, and bibliography. Carry and use Wild Urban Plants on your next visit to a city park or past a vacant lot, and like me, be an elitist no more.

Frank Knight, a continuing Conservationist contributor, retired from DEC's Bureau of Environmental Education in 2000.