Catskills Boating with ReservoirLAB!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The view from the ReservoirLAB launch Chandler’s Cove on the Neversink Reservoir in the Catskill Mountains.

HarborLAB warmly invites NYC public schools and community organizations to paddle with us for FREE on our Neversink Reservoir kayak and canoe fleet to learn about the natural and engineering wonders that make our city’s water wealth possible!

Here are our initial program dates:

June 10 and 11
July 8 and 9
August 5 and 6
Sept 10 and 11
Sept 17 and 18
Oct 8 and 10
 A
We’ll add dates as volunteer staffing and public demand both grow.
 A

To participate please email edu@harborlab.org with the subject line “Neversink Reservoir.” To volunteer for this program, please email volunteer@harborlab.org with the subject line “Neversink Reservoir.”

All adult participants must have free access permits from the NYCDEP. Apply here:  http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/recreation/access.shtml

No permit is required of children under the age of 16 if accompanied by a valid permit holder over the age of 18, as will always be the case with our programs. Anyone 16 years old or older must apply for a permit.

Bus transportation grants are available from the Watershed Agricultural Council for groups incorporating forestry education into their visits to the Neversink Reservoir. ReservoirLAB will take participants on forest walks and using NYCDEP materials we’ll teach how forests protect and clean our drinking water. Classroom visits by NYCDEP professional educators also cover this topic. Apply for grants here:  http://www.nycwatershed.org/forestry/education-training/urbanrural-school-based-education-initiative/bus-tours/ 

We’re grateful to HarborLAB Camping Co-Manager Ray Tan for exploring alternative affordable busing options.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

HarborLAB educator Kamala Redd and camping co-manager Ray Tan exult in the knowledge that ReservoirLAB will soon launch!

 

The ReservoirLAB program is provided by HarborLAB volunteers and was made possible by a Catskill Watershed Corporation grant and its kind donation of boat racks; the NYC Department of Environmental Protection, which taught our volunteers to be “watershed docents” and provides reservoir access (NYCDEP also provided funds to the CWC for the grant); and ExxonMobil’s community outreach program for the Greenpoint Remediation Project, which financed a dozen volunteers’ Red Cross certification in CPR, AED, and First Aid (all for juveniles and adults) and basic water rescue for all of our programs from the Newtown Creek to the Neversink Reservoir. HarborLAB Facilities Manager Patricia Erickson is kindly allowing HarborLAB to use her mobile home as a camping base (for volunteers serving multiple days) and equipment storage site near the Neversink River and reservoir. Frost Valley YMCA has stored our five canoes and ten tandem kayaks, and our paddles and live vests, while we completed training and permits.

Below is a gallery of photos from a recent site coordination meeting of HarborLAB volunteers with NYCDEP and CWC officials at the Neversink Reservoir. Note nearby campgrounds, posters about invasive species and other environmental matters, a hiking path, Chandler’s Cove, and the boat racks donated to us by the CWC.

May 9: Riverkeeper Sweep Season Opener!

The HarborLAB GreenLaunch on the Newtown Creek.

The HarborLAB GreenLaunch on the Newtown Creek.

Thinking ahead to spring yet? Well, here’s a glimpse of our May 9 season opener!

We’ll hit the water for the first time next season as part of the great Riverkeeper Sweep!

Here’s our Facebook event link:  https://www.facebook.com/events/1637103389849867/

Community groups throughout the estuary will clean our waterways.  Plastic debris is carried into the Newtown Creek from streets by combined sewer overflows (http://www.riverkeeper.org/campaigns/stop-polluters/sewage-contamination/cso/) and wind.

We’ll gather at 9AM, paddle the length of the creek (especially the Queens side) by canoe, and then return by 4PM. High water will be shortly after 2PM. We’ll share a celebratory meal afterwards! Perhaps at The Creek and The Cave (https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Creek-and-The-Cave/113823948652531)? Where else? 🙂

If you can’t participate in HarborLAB’s sweep, sign up with a partnering organization near you:

http://www.riverkeeper.org/news-events/events/rvk-events/riverkeeper-sweep-2015/

“Lady Ganga” and Her Voyage to Save Lives.

Those who HarborLAB seeks to serve above all are the youth of New York City. Our core mission is to instill in them a love of socially responsible science. No young person should lose his or her mother, or one day her own life, to a preventable killer like cervical cancer. Sadly, millions of women worldwide die from this disease each decade, and many millions more are left in pain and unable to have children. Men suffer from similar cancers.

The cause is the human papillomavirus, which infects most sexually active adults in the U.S. at some point in their lives, and is preventable with a safe vaccine. This shot, which can be given along with other routine vaccinations, is most effective when administered before the patient becomes sexually active. Some express worry that taking this measure cautiously early — with preteens and early teens — will encourage promiscuous behavior, but only doctors and parents need know the purpose of this one vaccine among several. This is a life-saving, moral application of science and it’s available to all families in New York City. Click here to learn more. Tragically the HPV vaccine not as available globally.

Stand up paddleboard athlete, kayak guide, and mother Michele Frazier Baldwin dedicated the last months of her life to a record-setting 700-mile voyage down the Ganges River to raise awareness and funds so that girls raised in poverty can be vaccinated. She asked that donations be made to the Global Initiative Against HPV and Cervical Cancer. A film is being made from raw footage of that meaningful adventure, with all profits going to the cause she championed. You can help by contributing to the Kickstarter campaign for the film, “Lady Ganga,” by Frederic Lumiere.

We honor Michele Frazier Baldwin’s life, paddling accomplishment, and great cause. We also respect, and advocate for, the moral application of medical science to save the lives of young people just as we respect, and advocate for, environmental science to save the lives of humans and other species with whom we share the Earth.

 

 

 

“Expedition to White Island”

photo 4 (2)

HarborLAB partnered with the Interdisciplinary Laboratory for Art, Nature, and Dance (iLAND) on Sunday to document, and elicit a creative response to, the restoration of marsh grasses, dune grasses, and other native life to White Island in Marine Park Preserve. Videographer Charles Dennis led the wonderful ‘iLANDing Expedition to White Island” as both guide and artist.

For HarborLAB this was an invaluable opportunity to build relationships with artists who care about ecology and might share their skills with the communities we serve. It was also a scouting mission to a new area of the harbor for us, Gerritsen Inlet, where we now plan to bring partner groups for beach cleanups and birding. We saw a great egrets, skillfully diving terns, reed-perching red winged blackbirds, an oyster catcher, a mated pair of Canada geese, herring gulls, great black backed gulls, black crested night herons, double crested cormorants, and an osprey atop, and circling, its nest platform.

Osprey platform. Rachel Carson's book "Silent Spring"  alerted the world about how the osprey and other species were vanishing because DDT insecticide spraying interfered with birds making strong egg shells. Now ecologists are helping helping ospreys to restore their numbers by building nesting platforms near food sources and away from harm. More here:  http://www.nhptv.org/wild/silentspring.asp  (Photo by Gil Lopez)

Osprey platform. Rachel Carson’s book “Silent Spring” alerted the world about how the osprey and other species were vanishing because DDT insecticide spraying interfered with birds making strong egg shells. Now ecologists are helping helping ospreys to restore their numbers by building nesting platforms near food sources and away from harm. More here: http://www.nhptv.org/wild/silentspring.asp (Photo by Gil Lopez)

The intertidal zones held marshes of spartina, but we could see clumps of the grass being undercut by erosion from below. Dense stands of invasive phragmites formed a feather-topped fence just a few paces upland from the water. At the foot of the reeds were glinting and colorful assortments of sea glass, complete antique bottles and glassware, and porcelain shards. Of course there were seashells of every kind and scattered bones, bleaching in the sun. White Island itself had various plantings dotting its sands like new hair plugs. As Charles Dennis described the mammoth operation to restore the island’s ecosystem, one could picture an amphibious assault by ecologists like a green D-Day.

The inlet itself was alive with horseshoe crabs, eels, other fish, sea weeds, and jellyfish. There was a mysterious pulsing buzz underwater that was almost certainly mechanical, not organic.

HarborLAB is grateful to iLAND, NYC Department of Parks and Recreation, and volunteers Gil Lopez (a green roofing instructor and certified permaculture landscape designer), Mairo Notton, and especially Patricia Erickson for making it possible to enjoy this outing, which was coordinated on the HarborLAB end by Erik Baard.

June 7 Saturday Science Stumper!

Horseshoe Ctab Blood

SATURDAY SCIENCE STUMPER from HaborLAB!

What is this profoundly ancient, living and life-saving substance from the sea, bottled by science? Hint: It’s at your nearby hospital and coming ashore right now…

10351831_695210203872715_7939294975126330775_n
ANSWER TO LAST WEEK’S SATURDAY SCIENCE STUMPER:

While the New York Wheel will be a wonder to paddle beneath, Baltimore paddlers might be more grateful for their solar-powered wheel, which removes tons of garbage from the water daily! More here:http://gizmodo.com/baltimores-solar-wheel-pulls-in-25-tons-of-harbor-garba-1578474782

NYCDEP Water Resources Art & Poetry Contest

Courtesy of NYCDEP.

Hey teachers, students, and homeschoolers, March 1 is the deadline for the NYC Department of Environmental Protection’s 2014 Water Resources Art and Poetry Contest! Students (second through twelfth grade) can enter individual and group creations on the following themes:

  • Water—A Precious Resource: To highlight the importance of the quality of our tap and harbor water.
  • The New York City Water Supply System: To understand the history of the NYC drinking water system.
  • The New York City Wastewater Treatment System: To examine how the City treats nearly 1.3 billion gallons of wastewater every day.
  • Water Stewardship: What Can I do to Help Conserve Water? To bring attention to the value of water and ways to conserve it, and the NYC Green Infrastructure Plan as a cost-effective way to manage stormwater and ensure a clean NYC harbor.

The contest link again is: http://www.nyc.gov/html/dep/html/environmental_education/artpoetry.shtml

Please contact educationoffice@dep.nyc.gov with questions and inquiries. Tell them HarborLAB sent you!  🙂

 

 

 

2014 Calendar Filling Up!

January isn’t quite over and already HarborLAB’s 2014 season is filling up! We’re having trouble with our Google Calendar, so please keep on top of opportunities to volunteer and paddle through our Facebook events page:

https://www.facebook.com/HarborLAB/events

Students and environmental volunteers have priority seating on our public trips, but we arrange special events too. Please let us know how and when we might help your service organization extend its mission onto the water, or let’s brainstorm together! 

On many days HarborLAB will organize “Partner Paddles,” which are special events for schools, universities, researchers and artists, environmentalists, and other service groups. For example, in 2013 we had special events for the Hunter’s Point Community Middle School, CUNY Baruch College, CUNY LaGuardia Community College, Hour Children, Billion Oyster Project, NYC DEP and its upstate watershed exhibitors, and others serving the common good. To avoid confusion, these events won’t be posted on our public calendars and event lists, but we’ll post photo galleries and trip reports afterward.

HarborLAB must also devote considerable attention to improving its waterfront space and launch, and conducting environmental science research there. Energetic volunteer recruitment and fundraising for boats and materials will increase our ability to produce simultaneous programs. Exciting times ahead!

Here are a few events to get you dreaming of summer!

 

East River Ice Floes and “Ice Bridges”

HarborLAB launch on the Newtown Creek from the Pulaski Bridge. Photo by Steve Scofield of the Transportation Queens Activist Committee (http://transalt.org/getinvolved/neighborhood/queens).
HarborLAB launch (beige building to the right) on the Newtown Creek from the Pulaski Bridge. The East River and its branches, like the creek, are saltier and so don’t freeze as easily, but perhaps the creek’s water treatment plant’s outflows and street runoffs are freezing? Photo by Steve Scofield of the Transportation Alternatives Queens Activist Committee (http://transalt.org/getinvolved/neighborhood/queens).

1867 etching of a flow of humanity across the frozen East River. One of eight times the strait froze over during that century. Image via Gothamist (click for link).

Ice floes on the East River are a rare sight in recent years, but the Brooklyn Bridge is a daily reminder of how extreme even relatively recent planetary climate fluctuations have been. Let’s explore how that is so, and take a fun detour into the molecular structure of water.

When scientists worry about climate change and global warming, they’re not ignoring the fact that Earth has experienced wildly different atmospheric compositions and temperatures over its 3.8 billion years as a living world. What we’re destabilizing, they worry, are the conditions that for 12,000 years have fostered the neolithic agricultural revolution and civilization itself.

Some worry that the more energy retained by the atmospheric system (global warming) through higher CO2 concentrations, the more chaotic it might become in mid-latitude coastal areas (our temperate zone) as we become a pass-through for storms that transport energy between the tropics and arctic. But just as a cold snap in one region or continent doesn’t refute the mounting evidence of global warming, it can be argued that we can’t say with certainty that storms like Hurricane Sandy are the result of warming.

That said, there are records, written and archeological, of worldwide changes that lasted years or even centuries. Might we enter another “Little Ice Age” like that of roughly 1300-1870? To get an idea of how severe winters of that period could be, several times the East River froze over. Brave souls walked over “ice bridges” from Brooklyn to Manhattan, but ferries vital to commerce were locked in place. After this happened again in the winter of 1866-67, businesses in our growing metropolis had enough and lobbied hard for a long-contemplated “Great East River Bridge” to keep commerce flowing in all weather. As it happens, the Brooklyn Bridge was completed in 1883, eight years after the East River last froze over solid. In a sense, the Brooklyn Bridge touches down on the shores of two boroughs and on the shores of two climatic ages. And we might have a Brooklyn Bridge because the Sun lacked spots!

A few things can cause the planet to cool. Some ascribe the deepest points of the Little Ice Age to the Maunder Minimum, a period sunspots and solar flares were extremely rare. Our sun is in a lull right now, but a 2012 NASA study found that recent solar inactivity hasn’t impacted our planet’s “energy budget” much.  A 2013 study by researchers with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (part of the National Science Foundation) and partners concluded that a Maunder Minimum redux wouldn’t save us from global warming.

Just as adding carbon dioxide, water vapor, and methane to the atmosphere can warm the planet, kicking up dust and soot can cool it. Volcanoes have caused global cooling, as perhaps have asteroids and comets (even beloved Halley’s Comet). Some people even advocate for “geoengineering” projects that would cool the planet, but implementation could bring their own disasters. Besides, Ocean acidification, which could collapse the planetary ecosystem, would proceed apace if we continue to burn fossil fuels, even if we dust up to cool down.

East River ice floes and Hunter's Point South. Photo by Mark Christie of Friends of Gantry and Neighborhood Parks (http://friendsofgantry.org/).

East River ice floes and Hunter’s Point South (and the ice-whitened mouth of the Newtown Creek). Photo by Mark Christie of Friends of Gantry and Neighborhood Parks (http://friendsofgantry.org/).

East River ice floes floating past Gantry Plaza State Park in Long Island City, Queens. Photo by Mark Christie of Friends of Gantry and Neighborhood Parks (http://friendsofgantry.org/).

East River ice floes. Photo by Steve Sanford (http://www.stevesanfordartist.com)

East River ice floes. Photo by Steve Sanford (http://www.stevesanfordartist.com)

Bald Eagles on Hudson River ice floes. Photo by David Burg of WildMetro (www.wildmetro.org).

Bald Eagles (those little black dots) on Hudson River ice floes. Photo by David Burg of WildMetro (www.wildmetro.org).

Snow covered Palisades with Hudson River ice floes. Photo by David Burg of WildMetro (www.wildmetro.org).

Snow covered Palisades with Hudson River ice floes. Photo by David Burg of WildMetro (www.wildmetro.org).

Finally, a fun thing to ponder: What if ice didn’t float?

How to Paddle a Tandem

HarborLAB uses the Malibu 2 XL by Ocean Kayak as the core of its fleet because these boats are stable, reasonably quick for day trips, and (like all sit-on-tops) easier to re-enter. Another huge advantage to this boat model is that it’s a tandem, which means we were able to use your donations wisely (one tandem is cheaper than two singles) and keep trips safer (fewer boats to manage, and the social pressure of shared boats reins in carelessness). But a tandem can be frustrating when poorly coordinated. Ocean Kayak posted this quick and handy video to avoid difficulties.

One small note: if you want to make a very sharp turn while maintaining momentum, it’s better to *not* turn by the method demonstrated at the end. Instead, keep in sync, but hold your paddles by a blade and middle-shaft, making very wide arcs that turn you while keeping the energy you’ve built up. Again, this method (learned from NY Kayak Co.) is meant only for sharp turns without slowing down. Ruddering or back paddling can be great tools for slowing while turning.

When you’ve progressed beyond sit-on-top kayaking, here’s a demonstration of the more advanced (and ultimately more recommended) sweep stroke:

Hackensack Bushwhack!

The launch is quite close to the Hackensack Meadowlands Conservation and Wildlife Area.

The launch is quite close to the Hackensack Meadowlands Conservation and Wildlife Area.

Join HarborLAB on the wild frontier of New Jersey!   😉

HarborLAB will paddle the beautiful and recovering river called Hackensack, from the Lenape word Achinigeu-hach, or Ackingsah-sack, “meaning flat confluence of streams.” More about the waterway from the indefatigable Hackensack Riverkeeper (http://www.hackensackriverkeeper.org/history.html).  Our thanks to Extended Stay America hotel for trailer parking and launch access.  The launch is near the Hackensack Meadowlands Conservation and Wildlife Area.

We would welcome the public the Hackensack Riverkeeper serves to join us, and its staff or members, and for others from outside the area to join the exploration. Total capacity of 20, with volunteers and students getting priority. We might be able to offer some rides, and our boat trailer might have capacity for private boats. Wesley Miller will coordinate the trailer loading.

Email tours@harborlab.org with the subject line “Hackensack Bushwhack” if you’d like to participate.
Please fill out and bring a waiver ahead of time if possible. Also join our Facebook event page.

1003766_623741241000183_997434392_n

Photo by Paul Baker.

This will be a casual paddle to explore, learn, and enjoy each other’s company. Paul Baker will lead this trip and sets its final schedule.  We aim for high water so the ramp is less muddy.

Tides for North Secaucus, Garretts Reach starting with August 24, 2013.

Day        High      Tide  Height   Sunrise    Moon  Time      % Moon
           /Low      Time    Feet    Sunset                    Visible

Sa  24      Low   6:14 AM    -0.5   6:16 AM     Set 10:14 AM      90
    24     High  12:28 PM     6.8   7:41 PM    Rise  9:31 PM
    24      Low   6:44 PM     0.1
1209000_623741171000190_1736579266_n

Photo by Paul Baker.