Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Oyster Gardening

I went on a New York City adventure last week… not to see a show, visit a gallery or buy new shoes… but to collect oysters! Cliff Schneider, Beczak’s Executive Director, and I took Metro-North, the 1 train, and the South Ferry to Governors Island to participate in the NY Oyster Gardening Project in collaboration with the NY/NJ Baykeeper.

Katie Mosher-Smith, the NY Oyster Program Coordinator, greeted us as we stepped off the ferry onto Governors Island. She explained how oysters are vital to the wellbeing of the Hudson River Estuary, and how Baykeeper is encouraging the restoration of this keystone species. She distributed our cages and gear. The oyster counting was left to us. Cliff and I reached into our bucket of 2-year-old oysters and counted groups of 50 until we reached our total number of 600 oysters. “It’s like carrying a five pound bag of pistachios,” said Cliff as he hefted the bivalves and the cage back on to the South Ferry.

Cliff and I made a lot of new friends on Manhattan’s streets and subways as we answered questions about what we were carrying. We finally made it back to Beczak and placed the oysters into the tidal tank to hold them overnight.

The oysters are now hanging off a piling in the Hudson River. Beczak’s education department will measure 50 of the oysters once a month for Baykeeper’s sample study, and submit the data to Katie. I’m excited to see how these oysters will flourish in our brackish water. Stop by and see how the oyster project is going!

Education Program Manager
Vicky Garufi

Monday, June 15, 2009

What’s that Noise?

Thursday, June 11, 2009

On sunny days my co-workers and I eat lunch at the picnic table outside Beczak Environmental Education Center. There’s a birdhouse on a post a few feet away, facing the Hudson River, and we often see tree swallows swooping in and out.

Today, above all the usual bird chatter, I heard an aria of high peeping. Looking around, I noticed a swallow circling from the birdhouse, over into the marsh, and then back to the little house. On one particular rotation, the bird stopped on the birdhouse vestibule and displayed a small feather between its beak. A nest contribution!

I got a stepping stool and flashlight and peered in the birdhouse. I couldn’t see the baby birds, but sure heard them calling to their parents. I can’t wait to watch them get bigger and take their first flying lessons.

Dorene Sukup

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Great River Day Flotilla

This past Saturday was the official kick-off of the Quadricentennial that marks the 400th anniversary of Henry Hudson sailing up our beautiful river. In celebration, a flotilla of historic ships gathered at 8:00 AM in New York Harbor by the Statue of Liberty to parade up the Hudson River. I was fortunate to be on the sloop Clearwater, representing Beczak Environmental Education Center, along with guests from the Metropolitan Water Alliance, the Society for the Education of American Sailors and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation.

We sailed past many celebrations along the river as well as out in the Hudson. For me, though, the best welcome was in Yonkers. We were met by an array of colorful kayaks from the Yonkers Paddle and Rowing Club. At the Yonkers Pier, a large and enthusiastic crowd cheered. A magnificent water spray by the John J. Harvey fireboat answered cannon salutes from shore. Next, we passed Beczak Environmental Education Center where families, staff, friends, and visitors lined the beach waving flags.

I was moved to see our beautiful waterfront environmental center and its lush marsh—a living, breathing oasis—between urban apartment buildings and a school bus parking lot. I thought of the thousands of children who enjoy this fantastic place and wondered how many new environmentalists are inspired and awakened at Beczak.

I stepped off the Clearwater in Tarrytown at 7:30 PM exhilarated by this once-in-my-lifetime celebration of the Hudson River.

Clifford Schneider
Executive Director

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

June Hudson Quadricentennial Countdown

This special monthly feature to The Tidal Zone blog recounts the highlights that led to Henry Hudson’s sail past the tidal marsh of what is now Yonkers’ Beczak Environmental Education Center on September 13, 1609.

The decision to break contract with the Dutch East India Company is done. In late May, freezing weather and dangerous icebergs off the coast of Norway pushed the Half Moon’s crew to near mutiny. Hudson used this opportunity to change the goal of the trip. Instead of the agreed upon route to China—sailing north around Russia—the Half Moon is now heading west to North America.

Through the month of June 1609, the Half Moon sails across the Atlantic. It’s unexplored territory for everyone on the boat. The force of the current, today known as the Gulf Stream, unnerves the sailors. Tension builds as more storms hit the little ship and the Half Moon’s foremast is swept overboard and her deck damaged. A temporary mast and foresail are erected during a calm.

The captain and his crew are all outlaws now. They’ve broken contract with their employers, came close to mutiny, and now they consider piracy. They spot another ship and attempt to catch her, chasing her most of the day, hoping to capture her for booty. But the other ship manages to outrun the clumsy Half Moon.

Lenore Person
Marketing and Communications Manager

Wind back the clock and follow the events that lead to the Half Moon’s sail up the Hudson River in 1609!

JANUARY Hudson Quadricentennial Countdown
FEBRUARY Hudson Quadricentennial Countdown
MARCH Hudson Quadricentennial Countdown
APRIL Hudson Quadricentennial Countdown
MAY Hudson Quadricentennial Countdown