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From the February 2014 Conservationist

A photo of mountains showing fall colors

Photo: DEC photo


By Jenna Kerwin and David Nelson

Two Million and Counting

The red, downward facing flower of the purple pitcher plant
purple pitcher plant (Photo: Mark W.

The New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) recently added the two-millionth plant specimen to its digital archive: the purple pitcher plant, a native, carnivorous species collected in Dutchess County where it is rare. The NYBG is a third of the way to its goal of digitizing all seven million of its dried plant specimens. The National Science Foundation hopes to make the majority of all biological collections in the U.S. available online by 2020. NYBG has also played a lead role in the Global Plants Initiative, a project working to digitize the world's known "type specimens" (specimens that serve as reference points for defining a particular species). To date, the Garden has digitized about 140,000 of 150,000 type specimens. Visit the NYBG website to see the Virtual Herbarium.

Power Up!

Owens Corning, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and the electricity and natural gas supplier company, Constellation, recently completed a 2.7-megawatt solar installation project at the Owens Corning plant in Feura Bush. The power system is the largest project to date under Governor Cuomo's NY-Sun initiative, and is composed of 9,000 ground-mounted photovoltaic panels on more than nine acres. The installation is designed to supply approximately six percent of the plant's annual electricity needs. The project was also awarded the Governor's Award for Pollution Prevention, part of the Environmental Excellence Awards Program, which recognizes individuals and programs for environmental innovation and leadership in their communities. Learn more about the awards.

Raising Pheasants

A day-old pheasant chick on a towel
pheasant chick (Photo: Jim Clayton)

The application period for DEC's Day-Old Pheasant Chick Program is open from now until March 15, 2014. The program provides pheasant hunting opportunities through a partnership with DEC, sportsmen and women, 4-H youth, and landowners who are interested in rearing and releasing pheasants. Chicks are available at no cost to participants who are able to provide daily care to monitor the health of the birds, a brooding facility, a covered outdoor rearing pen, and an adequate release site. Approved applicants receive chicks in April, May or June, and the pheasants may be released beginning when they are eight weeks old. All release sites must be open for public pheasant hunting opportunities and approved by DEC. In 2013, DEC distributed more than 41,000 day-old pheasant chicks to qualified 4-H and sportsmen applicants. Please see the Pheasant Propagation Program Overview for more information. Download a pheasant rearing guide or the program application.

Winter Weekends

DEC and partners are again hosting the annual "Winter Weekends" at Camp Santanoni in Newcomb. The Winter Weekend events fall on the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday in January; the President's Day holiday in February; and the weekend closest to St. Patrick's Day in March. Skiers and snowshoers are welcome to recreate on the 9.8-mile round trip cross-country trail and surrounding lands on any day during the winter; however, during the Winter Weekend events, the Gate Lodge and Main Lodge are also open to the public. (For those who don't have their own skis or snowshoes, the Adirondack Interpretive Center provides snowshoes free of charge.) The Artist's Studio at Camp Santanoni is also open as a warming hut! See more information about Winter Weekends.

Can You Dig It?

A native American arrowhead in the palm of a hand
Native American projectile point

Last fall, along the shores of DEC's Million Dollar Beach, Lake George, archaeologists with the New York State Museum discovered Native American artifacts dating as far back as 8,000 B.C. Archeologists were originally looking for French and Indian War relics, but instead discovered pieces like arrowheads and sharp-edged rocks; possibly used to skin animals or for chopping. You can see many of these artifacts on display this winter at the State Museum, Visit the New York State Museum website for hours and directions.