IN THIS EDITION
UPCOMING VOLUNTEER DAYS
To sign up for any of the following volunteer days, please click on the button below to fill out the sign up form.
We will be removing phragmites from Pleasant Valley, but need a solid freeze to be able to walk on the ice. For those who are interested in being notified closer to the date, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Nest box building dates are to build boxes for installation at preserves and for general fundraising.
Thursday, February 23rd - Bluebird and Mason Bee Nest Box Building at Bachar Preserve in Skaneateles 10:00 AM until done
Friday, March 17th - Bluebird and Mason Bee Box Nest Building at Bachar Preserve in Skaneateles 10:00 AM until done
Thursday, March 23rd - Bluebird and Mason Bee Nest Box Building at Woodchuck Hill in Manlius 10:00 AM until done
Thursday, April 6th - Bluebird and Mason Bee Nest Box Building at Pleasant Valley Preserve in Marcellus 10:00 AM until done
Friday, April 14th - Three Falls Woods Trail Clearing 10:00 AM until done. We will be continuing to widen the trail.
Saturday, April 22nd - Walk for Nature at Green Lakes State Park in Fayetteville. We need volunteers to help us run the walk, check people in, take donations, sell merchandise, hand out water bottles, and talk about the CNY Land Trust. The walk begins at 1:00 PM, but we will need volunteers there to help us set up by 11:00 AM.
The Central New York Land Trust Turns 50
by Kendra Pearson
The Central New York Land Trust is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, and we have some commemorative events planned, including Walk for Nature, which re-creates the first walkathon that raised funds to save Baltimore Woods in 1972.
Since our incorporation in 1973, we have added an additional 50 conservation sites - one for each year we have served CNY. It has been an impressive ride for an organization that got its start as a small grassroots group wanting to save one parcel of land. Our community of members, volunteers and supporters has grown over the years, and you all share purposeful goals and visions stretching far beyond this lifetime. It is because of those visions, we have more than 3,400 acres of protected spaces in CNY. This milestone has given many of us cause to reflect on our accomplishments and a renewed energy to establish goals for the next 50 years, and we know that our work is just beginning.
According to Global Forest Watch, in the last twenty years, the United States has lost 16% of our tree cover due to deforestation, and we now face the rapid decline of hemlock and ash trees due to the invasive pests hemlock woolly adelgid and emerald ash borer. These types of challenges are particularly burdensome for our stewardship department and volunteers as they are faced with more monitoring, maintenance and the need for collaboration with outside agencies in an attempt to mitigate the effects of losing these beloved and important trees. Just this past year, we were inundated with several downed ash trees encroaching on private property, which required removal by us or by professional tree removal services, which are costly, but necessary expenses. We have also been working with several agencies to combat hemlock woolly adelgid on our preserves, which are facing irreparable damage if these pests are not controlled. The effects on the security of our drinking water due to the knock on effect of lost hemlock trees in our watersheds would be devastating, and so we must act now.
In New York State, we have seen a rapid decline in populations of native pollinators, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and mammals. We are working diligently to return post agricultural fields to wildflower and successional growth meadows and young forests. We continue to protect fragile wetlands, which are the last remaining habitats for many of the creatures currently on the threatened and endangered species list. We are replanting lost trees and creating young forests to replace our lost mature species.
Our land conservation efforts have extended to safeguarding drinking water as we combat the effects of human encroachment in our watersheds, riparian zones and eskers. This past year we undertook a monumental riparian zone repair project within one of our 92-acre preserves in the Skaneateles Lake watershed, which is directly upstream from the intake for the water supply for the City of Syracuse. Rehabilitation of the esker will take several years to complete, but we have proudly finished the first phase of the repair and are looking forward to the second phase this year. Before we acquired this land, it underwent significant damage due to deforestation and disruption of its fragile ecosystem. We knew from the beginning that this would be an uphill battle, but we were acutely aware of the importance of this portion of the Robert J. Vitkus Conservation Area.
This 50th year and beyond, we will be facing these challenges, and many more as we deal with the effects of climate change, human development, and the introduction of more invasive plants and pests through globalization. As partners in these challenges, we are looking to you this year to help us raise awareness about The Central New York Land Trust. Please sign up for our Walk for Nature and show the community that we are a force for change. Spread the word about what we are doing. Share our website and social media links with your friends, family and colleagues, and encourage them to sign up for our newsletter. If the past fifty years were highlighted by the number of acres we saved, we would like the next fifty to be signified by the number of people we educate and inspire to join this movement.
Dear Friends and Members,
The Central New York Land Trust celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. We want to honor that incredible milestone by advancing our Stewardship Department philosophy of connecting communities and building bridges with programs that unite people with nature, and projects that re-establish displaced wildlife and damaged habitats.
We plan to continue the water connectivity work begun last year by identifying more problem areas and pinch points under bridges and in culverts on our preserves and in the community at large. We will repair and replace what we can, and address areas that require additional funding and outside expertise. If you missed our fall newsletter, I encourage you to read the article Building Bridges and Connecting Waterways to learn more about what we are doing to improve and repair water passages.
The second phase of our Skaneateles Lake riparian zone repair at Albanese begins this spring. We will succession plant native trees, shrubs, and plants in the hopes that they can quickly take root and assist in retaining the sandy substrate.
We will be installing the Universal Access Trail at Pleasant Valley Preserve, which opens up this treasure to people with mobility issues and vision impairments. The trail will lead through the new pollinator meadow to a new bird hide overlooking the wetland for auditory and visual bird observation.
We are expanding our pollinator meadow project, including invasive plant removal and continued seeding at High Hickory Wildlife Sanctuary and creation of a new wildflower meadow at Woodchuck Hill Field & Forest Preserve. We will be adding some plants that are a little more difficult to establish from seed, as well as native shrubs and trees.
The native bee nesting habitat will be installed at Pleasant Valley Preserve. This impressive five foot structure will be the centerpiece for the native pollinator interpretive kiosk and corresponding pollinator education program.
We are currently working with educators to create programs for middle and high school students in our effort to bring practical ecology into the classroom. The goals of this program are to bridge the gap between Onondaga County and Onondaga Nation Schools, creating a space where traditional expertise is combined with current conservation knowledge. My sincere hope is to foster cultural bonds and mutual respect in students while they gain a better understanding of, and create a multilayered approach to, some of the problems facing our environment.
We have some new property donations that are critical pieces of land whose preservation will greatly benefit the community. Stay tuned for updates on these parcels.
Many of you have expressed your excitement at our new volunteer workshop, which we have been setting up this winter. Our shop is complete with woodworking space and CNC router. A portion of the router was donated to us by Bob's CNC Routers and the corresponding software donated in its entirety from Vectric Software. We are still looking for additional equipment donations to complete the workshop, but once done we will be able to build benches, kiosks, nest boxes, and native pollinator habitats to name a few. Assembling the CNC router has been a big undertaking for Henry and myself, but well worth it. This router gives us the ability to carve interpretive material and memorial information on benches, placards, and pretty much everything else we build.
Lastly, we have some exciting events scheduled this year, the first of which is our Walk for Nature at Green Lakes Park on Earth Day. If you have not signed up yet, please make sure you do. We are commemorating our first walk in 1972, which raised enough money to allow us to save Baltimore Woods. Let's show the community what The CNY Land Trust family is all about by showing up in numbers. Walkers will get an event t-shirt and plenty of bragging rights - especially those of you who were at our first walk in 1972!
Thank you all for your efforts throughout our impressive 50 year journey. Welcome to all of our new members. You have found your community, and we are happy to have you.
See you on the trail,
Director of Stewardship
Letter from the Director of Stewardship
Walk for Nature
50th Anniversary Commemorative Walk
The Central New York Land Trust is having its 50th anniversary Walk For Nature at Green Lakes State Park this Earth Day, April 22, 2023, at 1:00 PM.
The Central New York Land Trust started as a local group of concerned citizens called "Save the County" with a mission to save Baltimore Woods in 1972. A walk was organized by citizens and students, which encompassed most of the schools in Onondaga County, as well as scout groups and clubs. This was one of the first walks in the nation to use sponsorship donors as a way to raise money. It was so successful that the entire purchase price for Baltimore Woods was raised by students, and we were able to save that important piece of land.
The first walk was such a success, and attendees and organizers were so motivated to continue protecting land, that they incorporated the following year. In the subsequent years, students walked to save several other sites, but unfortunately, the sponsorship walk model was difficult to sustain as so many other local and national organizations began using this method
by Simon Solomon
to raise money, and schools and organizations were flooded with requests for sponsorship walks. Eventually, we switched to a membership-based model for raising money. Though this model has been easier to manage from our perspective, it has caused us to lose our student base.
We want to connect once again with the youth of CNY, empower them to make a difference in the environment, and hopefully foster in them a lifelong appreciation for nature. We believe our fiftieth anniversary is the perfect occasion to do just that as we commemorate the walk that started it all.
If you know of a student or school that might like to raise money and get involved in our walk, please have them contact Paul Porter email@example.com, or visit our Walk for Nature page. If you want to purchase tickets, they are on sale now.
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Cohabitating with Carpenter Bees
by Brayden DeMaria and Bronwyn Porter,
Student Curators of the Native Bee Project
Carpenter bees, Xylocopa virginica, are thought of as pests, but they are actually very important creatures in our ecosystem. They are the only bees besides bumblebees and minute sweat bees that perform buzz pollination. Buzz pollination is when bees vibrate their flight muscles to get flowers to release their pollen.
Why is buzz pollination important? Because it's the only way plants like blueberries, tomatoes, eggplants, peppers, and potatoes can be pollinated. Carpenter bees are also important pollinators of native plants such as mountain mint, goldenrod, and coneflowers. Due to their large size, these bees are incredibly efficient when it comes to pollinating.
Drone Male Carpenter Bee
Carpenter bees are often seen in a negative light due to their potential to damage wood structures when building their nests. So what did they do before we came along? They used trees and rotting wood. We have done a lot to displace carpenter bees. We cut down their homes so we can build ours. We clear cut their habitats so we can grow cheap food. We pollute their world with insecticides, which are wiping out their populations. When we find them around, we exterminate them because they are doing what comes naturally - rearing their young. We native beekeepers have another solution. Why not live side by side with these beneficial insects by creating alternate habitats and making our homes less palatable to them?
Thankfully, there are good ways to deter carpenter bees from nesting in your structure without harming them! The easiest way is to paint the wood or use a coat of clear varnish because those substances are off-putting to the bees, and makes it harder for them to burrow. You can also mist the surfaces you want to protect with citrus essential oil, as they are sensitive to the smell.
At the same time that you protect the wood in your home, put up alternate nesting sites for the carpenter bees nearby. They are easy to make and inexpensive or free. All you need to do is find some suitable wood (soft, untreated wood is best). If you have some old pine logs, use those. Carpenter bees burrow a ½” hole, 6-8” deep, along the length of the grain of the wood, so a chunk of unsplit firewood will do. You can secure the wood to a tree or create a stack of logs on their side. If you have an electric drill and a ½” drill bit, you can create one or two of these holes to encourage them. Put a roof with an eave on the bee house to keep the rain out, and you are done. Carpenter bees like an eave over their nesting sites, which is one of the reasons they choose window frames and soffits.
Unlike mason bee houses that require yearly maintenance by native beekeepers, the carpenter bee queens do all of the work themselves. They prefer to return to their old nests each year. It is easier for them. Imagine building your house from scratch every year with your teeth? In existing nest sites, all they have to do is perform a little spring cleaning before starting the next generation of bees.
Carpenter bees are excellent native bees to have around. It is important to understand their behavior so that you don’t feel intimidated by them. Female carpenter bees are smaller than males. They spend over half of their lives in their nesting holes. Carpenter bees have a very interesting social structure. Unlike honeybees, they do not have one queen. Instead, groups of dominant older females construct the nest, gather pollen, and produce eggs while the young females guard the nest entrance and larger, male drones stay outside chasing away predators and other carpenter bees.
Female Carpenter Bee Guarding Her Nest
These male drones are all talk and no action. Male carpenter bees do not have stingers, and though their job is to patrol the perimeter of the nest, they cannot harm you. They may fly and even hover near your face to get you to leave, but that is all. They are actually pretty cute, so for us this behavior has the opposite effect.
Female carpenter bees do have stingers, but will only sting if they or their nest are attacked. We have spent countless hours watching the females at the entrances of their holes with no ill effects. They have gotten used to us and they go about their business unphased by our presence.
Sealing the nest entrance
Male drone keeping an eye on us as we observe the nests
Did you know that bees can recognize facial features? It’s true. Bee’s brains are the size of a poppy seed, but they are smart. Bees get to know the people they share their space with, and are especially accommodating to those who leave them sweet treats.
If you have a vegetable garden you may want to encourage rather than discourage these amazing insects. They do a much more efficient job of pollinating your prized pumpkins, helping you select the perfect squash, creating the crispiest cucumbers, and making the best blueberries.
The CNY Land Trust is collaborating with youth in Syracuse and the surrounding areas to cultivate habitats for pollinators of all kinds, but especially the native bees of Central New York. Our current focus is our new pollinator meadow at Pleasant Valley Preserve. We have planted over thirty native flowering plants in this meadow, including various types of goldenrod, coneflower, and mountain mint, which are all flowers pollinated by carpenter bees. Our next goal is to construct a bee house with plenty of nesting space for all kinds of vital bees native to this area. As spring approaches, we can’t wait to welcome back all the wonderful pollinators we couldn’t live without.
We love Instructables. Check out this link to a homemade carpenter bee house. Our only suggestion would be to only drill a couple of encouragement holes and let them do the rest. https://www.instructables.com/Make-your-own-little-Bee-Houses/.