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From the June 2014 Conservationist

Two people with life jackets on rowing a canoe on a lake

Photo: Susan Shafer


By Jenna Kerwin and David Nelson

Life Vest Reminder

As the summer season gears up, we want to remind you about Personal Flotation Device (PFD) laws. Boaters and swimmers should practice good water safety and be aware of proper PFD use. For instance, PFDs are required for any youth under the age of 12 on boats 65 feet or less in length, and for people operating personal watercrafts. Boaters should also wear an appropriate life vest in areas with high boat traffic, in severe weather or water conditions, and when boating offshore. Also be sure that you have a U.S. Coast Guard-approved PFD. See NYS Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation's informational brochure on PFD laws in New York (PDF, 561 KB) for details on the types of flotation devices and who should wear them.

Fin Trade Banned

Several confiscated shark fins
DEC photo

Beginning July 1, the trading of shark fins will officially be banned in New York State. Governor Cuomo signed legislation protecting sharks last summer. "Finning" sharks (catching them, cutting off their fins, and then returning them to the water where oftentimes they die) is already illegal in the United States and in New York's coastal waters. New York also prohibits fishing for many kinds of sharks. The goal of banning trade in shark fins is to help ease the damage caused to shark populations, as well as ocean ecosystems. Visit DEC's website to read the full regulations (link leaves DEC website.)

Tree Cities

Urban trees
(Photo: Susan Shafer)

DEC recently recognized several New York communities with 2013 Tree City USA designations. Tree City USA is a program sponsored by The National Arbor Day Foundation, in cooperation with the USDA Forest Service and state forestry agencies. It provides initial direction and assistance, as well as national recognition for urban and community forestry programs in thousands of towns and cities across the country. Among the New York communities that received the Tree City USA recognition were Buffalo, Rochester, Syracuse, Albany, Poughkeepsie, New York City and the Town of Babylon. Visit DEC's website to see a complete list of the 2013 Tree Cities.

Giant Hogweed Hotline

Cutting giant hogweed
Cutting giant hogweed (Photo: James

Giant hogweed, an invasive plant that can cause painful burns, will be flowering in a few weeks. DEC's Giant Hogweed Hotline ( or 845-256-3111) gives observers an opportunity to report new sites, ask questions about the plant and how to control it, and connect with our statewide control project. Search for "giant hogweed" on DEC's website for details on how to identify the plant, DEC's control project, and more. If you notice giant hogweed, please send an email to the hotline with photos of the plant and its specific location. Remember not to touch the plant while taking photos.

Digital Angling Library

The interactive website (link leaves DEC website,) provides anglers with a comprehensive guide to Catskill trout fishing. The website covers information from a "hatch chart" of the insects the trout are eating; to the artificial flies that best imitate those insects; to when and where to fish. It also offers a rich history of angling on Esopus Creek, information on local trout species, fly-tying, and much more. The website is produced by the Jerry Bartlett Angling Collection housed in the Phoenicia Library, and is accessible on desktops, laptops and all portable devices.

Flower ID Mix-Up


Several astute readers pointed out that we erroneously labeled the flower in the article on the Albany Pine Bush (April issue, page 22). The Karner blue butterfly pictured therein is on butterfly weed, not lupine.