Park Minute: Mother Nature Helped Heal 9-11

Lindsay-Parsons Preserve of the Finger Lakes Land Trust in West Danby NY south of Ithaca

The Lindsay Parsons Preserve of the Finger Lakes Land Trust in West Danby, NY south of Ithaca is a healing and inspiring landscape.

Today, as we remember that terrible day fifteen years ago, I have produced another Park Minute about the solace and healing that many sought in nature in parks upstate from New York City in the days and weeks following the horror in Manhattan.

Flash Flooding Waterfalls, Silent Movies, and Beautiful Gorges

Polished rock layers revealed by Glen Creek in Watkins Glen State Park

The rocky banks of Glen Creek have been polished by countless flash floods over the millennia in "Glen Alpha," the first section of the gorge in Watkins Glen State Park past the Main Entrance. Photo by Nigel Peterson Benson Kent.

In this episode (#53) of Walk in the Park TV, we see more photos and footage (thanks to “Acorn Place“) of the August 9 flash flood on Ithaca’s waterfalls, including the swimming area at the Lower Falls at Robert H. Treman State Park and Taughannock Falls at Taughannock Falls State Park. We also take a look at the 3rd annual “Movie Under the Stars” at Taughannock Falls State Park; seeing clips from the silent film, “The Lottery Man,” made at the Wharton Studios in what is now Stewart Park in Ithaca nearly a century ago; presented by the Ithaca Motion Picture Project. Finally, we see three short “Park Minute” videos I made about Watkins Glen State Park, accompanied by beautiful photographs by Nigel Peterson Benson Kent.

You can watch this show this week (8/29/13-9/3/13) on Ithaca, NY’s public access TV channel 13 (or 97.3) during the schedule listed on our TV Show page.

Or you see it now right here!

Park Minute: Water Created Watkins Glen

Ice Age glaciers, stream erosion, sea sediments created Watkins Glen in Watkins Glen State Park in New York's Finger Lakes region.

Glen Creek snakes through its polished rock flood zone in the Glen Alpha section of Watkins Glen.

In this episode (#6) of Park Minute, I show the three ways that water has created and shaped the landscape of the gorge in Watkins Glen State Park in New York’s Finger Lakes region.



Kaaterskill Falls in New York's Catskill Mountains

Kaaterskill Falls, one of the tallest waterfalls in New York State, in the northeast Catskill Mountains

In this week’s episode (#48) of Walk in the Park TV, we visit the northeastern Catskill Mountains overlooking the Hudson River. It is the site of Washington Irving’s story of Rip Van Winkle, the former site of several 19th century luxury mountain resorts, and the birthplace of the Hudson River School of painting. We travel across the Hudson to Olana, the home of Frederic Church, one of the Hudson River School’s most famous and most successful artists. From Olana, we have a sweeping view of the “Catskill Mural Front.”

We finish the show with a look at a few of the wildflowers blooming now around our gorges.

Watch the show online below or see it this weekend on Ithaca, NY’s public access cable channel 13 on both Saturday and Sunday at 10:30 a.m., and then finally next Tuesday, June 4, at 8:00 p.m. (In general, video quality on the TV is better than online.)

Toothwort to Toadflax

Cut-leaved toothwort, South Hill Recreationway, Ithaca, NY

Cut-leaved toothwort is an early "spring ephemeral" wildflower, growing here near the South Hill Recreationway.

In this 47th episode of Walk in the Park TV, we explore trails and wildflowers in parks in the Town of Ithaca, NY, as well as attend the tenth annual tree planting for the Richard B. Fischer Conservation Award, this time honoring the Cornell Plantations Natural Areas Program. We look at the new glacier exhibit at the Museum of the Earth and we go out on Cayuga Lake on the first tour of the season for Ithaca Boat Tours from Steamboat Landing at the Ithaca Farmers Market. Finally, we explore Lake Treman and the rim of Owl Gorge at Buttermilk Falls State Park. Walk in the Park is a weekly public access television series on Ithaca’s cable channel 13. Check the schedule for show times.

Or, watch it right here!

Introduced Plants, Worms, and Deer

On February 25, 2013, Bernd Blossey, Associate Professor in the Department of Natural Resources at Cornell University, gave a talk at the Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology entitled, “How Introduced Plants, Worms, and Deer are Reshaping our Neighborhoods.”

Cornell ecologist Bernd Blossey sets a trail cam to record deer behavior in the recent PBS Nature episode "The Private Life of Deer." (Click on photo to see the program.)

Blossey is considered a world authority on the biological control of invasive species. His presentation radically changed many people’s ideas about things happening in our woods.

Some examples:

  • Though earthworms, which are not native, may benefit gardens and plowed agricultural soil, they are devastating to the leaf litter and humus of the forest floor, compacting the soil and causing serious soil erosion, leading to the loss of many native plants, amphibians, and invertebrates.
  • Garlic mustard, one of the best-known invasive plants in our eastern forests, and which many people spend hours weeding from parks, preserves, and the woods around their homes, will not infest an area not already invaded by earthworms. (Blossey offers a $5000 reward for anyone who can find an exception to this!) Furthermore, Blossey says the research indicates that pulling up garlic mustard is a waste of time, as it eventually poisons the soil against itself; that pulling the plant actually delays this process and prolongs the presence of the plant; and that the presence of garlic mustard appears not to limit the success of native wildflowers such as trillium.
  • Deer overpopulation, however, does have an enormous impact on the health, biodiversity, and the very future of our forests. Blossey said that research on Cornell lands indicates that sterilization of females to reduce deer numbers is a huge waste of money (at $700 to $1000 per animal), as it is completely ineffective in reducing the overabundance of deer in “open populations.”

Prof. Blossey spoke of much more, including comparing the effects on amphibian populations from invasive plants and native plants in aquatic ecosystems.

When I went to the lecture, I had not planned to record it, but I changed my mind while there. I recorded it with the video function of my shirt pocket camera, finishing off with my iPhone when I ran out of card storage. The video quality is poor, especially the iPhone section, but the audio is acceptable. You can see Dr. Blossey’s slides in more than half of the presentation.  Perhaps think of it as a podcast with some visuals.

I decided to post Prof. Blossey’s talk because I feel much information in it is so new to most of us and challenges a number of the assumptions that many of us have about managing invasive species, one of the biggest environmental issues of our time.

Watch/listen right here:

Spring Wildflowers!

The woodland floor is beginning to burst with beautiful little flowers that are in a race with the trees overhead to get as much sunlight for growth as possible before the forest leaf canopy closes in above.

Rue anemone wildflower, Buttermilk Falls State Park, Ithaca, NY

Rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides), in the buttercup family, emerges on a dry woodland ridge in Buttermilk Falls State Park, Ithaca, NY.

Watch this one-minute Walk in the Park video about our early spring wildflowers!

(Note: the link to referred to in the video is temporarily unavailable, in the process of transfer to a new website.)

Journey to Big Bend

In this episode of Walk in the Park TV (#46), Tony travels to Texas, first to visit Big Bend National Park along the Rio Grande in the Chihuahuan Desert and the Chisos Mountains of southwest Texas. See this episode on Ithaca, NY’s public access channel 13 (see the schedule below) or watch it right here on this page, below.

Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park, Texas

Chisos Mountains in Big Bend National Park, Texas

He also visits Historic Fort Stockton which was manned by African American “Buffalo Soldiers” following the Civil War, during the war against the Comanches, Apaches, and other Indian nations in the campaign to conquer the Southwest and secure the southernmost wagon train route to California.

Historic Fort Stockton, Texas

Historic Fort Stockton, Texas

Then Tony camps in the Texas Hill Country west of San Antonio, spending several days at the birdwatching hot spot South Llano River State Park in Junction, TX. There he sees many birds new to him, including the painted bunting, and has an encounter with a rattlesnake! See all the Walk in the Park TV episodes and more online here.

Painted Bunting in South Llano River State Park, Junction, Texas. Birding, bird watching.

Painted Bunting in South Llano River State Park, Junction, Texas

Watch the  half hour show right here….

Or catch it on Ithaca, NY’s public access cable TV channel 13 this Saturday and Sunday (April 27 & 28) at 10:30 a.m., and next Tuesday (April 30) at 8:00 p.m. The video quality on your TV will be better than in this online version.


Blue Ridge Parkway, Part 2

See it on TV* or online here!

The Blue Ridge Parkway approaches Grandfather Mountain in North Carolina.

Grandfather Mountain looms above the Blue Ridge Parkway in North Carolina.

Tony completes his journey on the Blue Ridge Parkway in this episode (#45) of Walk in the Park TV. We enter North Carolina, stopping at Cumberland Knob, Grandfather Mountain, Linville Falls, Mount Mitchell (the highest summit in the East!), Craggy Gardens, and many other sites along the way. Then we return to Virginia, visiting Mabry Mill and Rocky Knob before heading home. Hear the melodious song of the winter wren, see wild rhododendrons in bloom, and find out about the exotic insect pests attacking our eastern hemlocks and the fraser firs of the Black Mountains. Tony shares his observations about driving the Parkway and camping along the way in this national park that is nearly 500 miles long.

*  This is showing today (Saturday, April 5, 2013) and tomorrow at 10:30 a.m. on Ithaca, NY’s public access cable TV channel 13; also on Tuesday, April 9, at 8:00 p.m. The show will repeat on this schedule, beginning Thursday, April 18, at 9:00 p.m. Blue Ridge Parkway, Part 1  will show again on channel 13 beginning Thursday, April 11, at 9:00 p.m. and will continue through the following weekend until Tuesday, April 16. See the full schedule of Ithaca public access shows.

“Walk in the Park”
A richly illustrated look at things happening at parks within and beyond the Finger Lakes region. 30 minutes. Produced by Tony Ingraham of the Town of Ithaca.
Thursdays at 9pm, Saturdays and Sundays at 10:30am, Tuesdays at 8pm on channel 13.

Fillmore Glen State Park

“Ithaca is Gorges” they say in this town at the south end of Cayuga Lake. But there are lots of other beautiful gorges in New York’s Finger Lakes region, including Fillmore Glen by the little village of Moravia in Cayuga County south of Owasco Lake, the next Finger Lake to the east of Cayuga Lake. This lush and scenic gorge is preserved in Fillmore Glen State Park, due to the efforts of Dr. Charles Atwood, a local physician and amateur botanist, who advocated for its protection and establishment of the park in the 1920s. The new episode of “Walk in the Park,” our public access TV show in the Ithaca area, features Fillmore Glen with photographs and video taken recently.

Fillmore Glen State Park waterfall Gorge Trail Moravia, NY Cayuga County

A small waterfall about a mile up the Gorge Trail in Fillmore Glen

Fillmore Glen is named for Millard Fillmore, 13th president of the United States, who was born in 1800 in a cabin a few miles east of the park. He was the first “log cabin president” and the first president born in the nineteenth century. He was also the first president who rose from modest means to the middle class. Find out more about Millard Fillmore in our Walk in the Park video episode, “Fillmore Glen State Park.”

Official White House painting of President Millard Fillmore

Official White House painting of President Millard Fillmore, by G.P.A. Healy 1857

The climax of Fillmore Glen, and also the part most easily viewed, is the Cowsheds, a waterfall, rock amphitheater, and overhanging rock formation just a short walk from the picnic pavilion and swimming area in the mouth of the gorge.

Waterfall Cowsheds Fillmore Glen State Park gorge Moravia, NY, Cayuga County, Finger Lakes

The Cowsheds is the scenic star of Fillmore Glen.

In the photograph above, large slabs of limestone have fallen from the overhanging roof-like ledge up to the left. Freezing, thawing, wetting, drying, and high water have weathered and eroded out the Cowsheds.

For a full photo essay see our earlier posting, Fillmore Glen in Fall.

Our show on PEGASYS, “Fillmore Glen State Park,” also includes scenery from Cayuga Lake, Lick Brook Glen, Buttermilk Falls State Park, and culminates with photographs and video of fall foliage in Fall Creek Gorge, Ithaca Falls, and Cascadilla Glen in Ithaca and next to Cornell University. Watch our show on Ithaca’s cable access channel 13 at the schedule below or right here online.

View over Ithaca Falls and the city of Ithaca

Looking over Ithaca Falls and the city

Watch the show right here without leaving this page:

This episode, “Fillmore Glen State Park,” will premier on Ithaca’s channel 13 this evening at 9:00 p.m. It will be shown again according to the following schedule.

Walk in the Park, the TV show, airs weekly on Ithaca, NY’s public access cable TV channel 13:

Thursday,  9:00 p.m.

Saturday, 10:30 a.m.

Sunday,    10:30 a.m.

Tuesday,    8:00 p.m.

It also is shown at other times as the station manager chooses.