Nature and Environment

Because at 160,000 years, the party is just getting started.

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9/1/2015

 

More and more as the years go by, clean community food initiatives – co-ops, CSAs, farmers markets and the like – are recognized as critical moral responses to the daunting environmental, economic and health crises of our era. Community farm and food initiatives have emerged as a necessary, noble, and common-sense civic opportunities in our 21st Century with all its technical gyrations, climate shifts, contaminated environments, and social dislocations. Plain and simple, they are intelligent and necessary responses to reality.

This reality has just been validated and underscored by a new study from the University of Iowa (UI). According to the study, people are buying their food from community sources at record numbers because they enjoy knowing who grows their food, and because those markets are embedded in social networks characterized by trust, and governed by common understandings about the state of the world, the economy and the environment. Sociologists have long recognized that markets are embedded in various types of exchanges that are beyond basic economics, and that also involve social, cultural and political dimensions. Nowadays, as the study documents, most people involved local food systems such as farmers markets, CSAs and co-ops see themselves as civically engaged citizens who are deeply connected to their communities.

While community food initiatives are partly motivated by cost and quality, they are also motivated by trust, authentic community connection, and proactive stances for personal and environmental health. “It’s not just about the economical exchange,” said Ion Vasi, associate professor at UI and a corresponding author of the study. “It’s a relational and ideological exchange as well.”

Clean, community food systems that are organic, biodynamic, agroecological or otherwise resilient, represent positive opportunities for people to take action to preserve their local economy against globalization and big-box stores. They build community food security. Community minded citizens are motivated to buy and to eat sustainably grown locally grown foods because it makes them part of something greater than themselves—a community of human beings who choose to establish healthy lifestyles and a clean, sustainable environment.

It’s out of recognition for this emerging impulse that earlier this year I was motivated to write Awakening Community Intelligence. Supporting clean local food initiatives is – at this point of the 21st century – the quintessence of community intelligence. Co-author Sara Rynes, a professor of Management and Organizations, noted that the study showed that local food sources – whether farmers markets, food coops, CSA farms, or otherwise – were more likely to be located in cities and counties with higher education levels, higher income levels, and more institutions of higher education.

The results of the UI study were shared at the American Sociology Association’s annual meeting in Chicago on August 22. According to the study: “A growing number of communities have attempted to gain control of their own economies by encouraging civic engagement that supports investing in locally owned businesses instead of outside companies.”

For increasing numbers of people in our era it’s recognized as strategic common sense: supporting clean, local community-based farms and food is a critical civic duty.


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9/1/2015

 

Can animals predict weather changes or pending catastrophic events?  Research has been done over the years and the actual answer is as elusive today as in the past when that was the common way of predicting weather. Today there are satellites that read temperatures, cloud formations, wind patterns and a host of other information then beam the results back to computers that calculate all factors and give us pretty accurate forecasts. A few weeks ago we had a helicopter fly over our area with a large upside cone hanging below it by a cable. I found out they were checking the depths of the subterranean fault lines that are in our area to help accurately predict earthquakes. About a week later we had a 4.2 quake which we did not feel, but our dogs did as they were pacing around nervously looking for a corner to get into. Or the recent Indian Ocean tsunami that killed over 230,000 people but almost no animals perished except those caged. But the question still goes mostly unanswered whether animals, birds, insects and types of flora can predict weather.

Animal vs Scientific methods:

Where we live we are surrounded by various animals, different species of birds, bats, insects and mammals. I have made it a habit to observe them in my day to day activity including our four dogs which are also good predictors. I believe they can tell what the weather may hold or that is in store for us. For example our deer and elk have been feeding more heavily than normal and are all fat and sleek with their new coats. Much more than what we have observed in past years. I consider this an indicator that this could indicate a hard winter could be in store for us. The weather forecasters have been saying essentially the same thing only they relate it to an El Nino somewhere in the Pacific ocean. I know these folks spend years in college and have all types of sophisticated equipment to help in making their calculations and predictions but I tend to give equal credibility to the deer and elk.

Early Migration:

We provide a bat house in the peak of our roof for bats to roost in. The same bat family has migrated each year for many years. This small family of bats is devastating on our mosquito population. We have two springs that run all year long on our property and they facilitate mosquito breeding where the water pools up. I do not believe I have ever had more than two mosquito bites a year since the bats came to live with us. This year we noted that both the bats and hummingbirds have migrated far earlier than in past years.

Bees, Squirrels, and Geese:

I have also noted that the bees have been working from the first light of dawn to almost full dark and it appears to me that they are collecting pollen with more of an urgency this year. Squirrels and our little fur bearing critters have also demonstrated an urgency to gather their pine cones and seed pods this year. These could be indicators of an early winter or a hard winter. I have heard geese flying overhead much earlier this year than past years. So I tend to believe the people who dedicate their lives to predicting future weather but also the natural signs that I carefully observe each year. Both seem to agree with each other this year and both are worthy of serious consideration.

If the predictions and indications are correct it is an early warning that for our area this may be in for a more severe winter than usual. To ignore those predictions and signs would be foolish in my opinion. They may not occur but I’m not willing to risk the indicators or predictions. We usually average 264 inches of snow a winter but have had over 300 inches on a several occasions. We need to be prepared and not caught off guard. There is much to do before the snow flies and little time to do it in. I would rather be prepared for an epic winter and have it turn out to be normal or mild than the reverse. When there are several feet of snow on the ground that is hardly the time to attempt to catch up and get things done.

Which to believe?

When the two different aspects differ in predictions I tend to put my trust in the natural indicators. That is not intended to demean the scientific community but I have relied on natural predictors for so long that it is hard not to continue to trust them. While there may not be any scientific basis for natural indicators I tend to put my trust those natural predictors especially when they all tend to agree. Animals have better utilization of their senses than we humans and they use those senses to help them determine what the weather may do. They seem to use those senses and ability to react in certain ways which if closely observed reveal certain potential coming events to us humans. When the animals and other critters get it wrong they most likely die. If forecasters using scientific methods make a mistake they just move on and still have their job. There is no demonstrable scientific evidence to conclude natural predictors can tell us what the weather will be, either short term or long term. However to me common sense tells me to pay close attention to those natural predictors and to closely observe the subtle changes. I just read recently that scientists have now determined achy joints are not weather related. Sorry guys but you have that one wrong based on my personal experience. I don’t know about other States or parts of the world but for our area I plan to be prepared.

For more on Bruce and Carol McElmurray and their lifestyle go to:www.brucecarolcabin.blogspot.com


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9/1/2015

 

Are you environmentally conscientious? Interested in social justice? Marginally bothered by the food industry, landfills, or consumer culture? Interested in free, quality eats? Looking for creative ways to cook up some fun?

If yes, then look no further than your local trash receptacles. According Feegan.org, “Dumpster diving is legal in the United States except where prohibited by local regulation. According to a 1988 Supreme Court Ruling (California vs. Greenwood), when a person throws something out, that item is now the public domain.”

Unless a dumpster is located against a building or enclosed by a fence with “No Trespassing” signs, they are veritable treasure troves ripe for plundering. Even if your budget isn’t as tight as mine, some facts might bolster the case to supplement your needs with “trash”:

“In the USA, 30-40% of food supply is wasted, equaling more than 20 pounds of food per person per month.”

“Consumers in industrialized countries waste almost as much food as the entire net food production of sub-Saharan Africa (222 million vs. 230 million tons).

“In the USA, organic waste is the second highest component of landfills, which are the largest source of methane emissions.” (www.worldfooddayusa.org/food_waste_the_facts).

These draw-dropping statistics that read apocalyptically to some, are not a resignation to cynicism or apathy. An easy way to proactively take control of our consumption lies right behind most chain stores.

I am a regular diver, and have found innumerable delicacies ranging for barely ripe avocadoes, to yogurt, to bags of peanuts. Others have taken diving to whole different level. In February, Wired magazine ran an article featuring Matt Malone, a scavenger of college campuses and retailers including Circuit City and Best Buy. “If he were to dedicate himself to the activity as a full-time job, he says, finding various discarded treasures, refurbishing and selling them off, he’s confident he could pull in at least $250,000 a year…He lists a few recent ‘recoveries’: vacuums, power tools, furniture, carpeting, industrial machines, assorted electronics.” 

Not only is dumpster diving a great way to supplement your diet, your hobbies, your bank account, or recreate Christmas morning any day of the week, it’s also a cheap form of excitement and adventure.

How does one embark on this righteous venture?

If you bike, you are limited to what you can carry. Depending on your needs and location, a back-pack to fill with produce, or the entire flatbed of a pick-up truck will do.

I prefer to dive during the evening, after most stores have closed. This insures that the dumpsters are freshly stocked with the days’ refuse, and avoids any unwanted attention. While dumpster diving is generally legal- local laws may vary, and some store owners don’t take kindly to scavengers. I’ve seen employees walk by and smile while I’ve waded waist deep in the trash, and I’ve also heard horror stories of managers cursing and yelling at less fortunate divers.

You’ll want to wear long pants, sturdy shoes, and sleeves and gloves if you’re on the squeamish side. Considering the FDA regulations leave wide margins for E. Coli, and we come into contact with fecal matter every time we use an escalator or handle cash, slightly bruised produce doesn’t seem too risky to me. Bring a flashlight or headlamp if you’re diving after dark. Crates might come in handy if you’re on four wheels, though usually there are plenty of cardboard boxes in the trash. The adrenalin is heightened by climbing, rummaging and lifting, making diving a fairly physical activity.

Once the hunt is over, it’s wise to wash your hands, and certainly sanitize any edibles. A sink full of hot water, with a healthy glug of apple cider vinegar does the trick at my house. Change the water as soon as it gets murky, and use common sense when dealing with meat or dairy products- administer a sniff test and check expiration dates. Some folks hold out until winter for meat foraging. Universities are great locations- when the dorms close for the summer, it can feel like an El Dorado of used or simply discarded clothes, furniture, school supplies and electronics. This last week, my housemates and I brought home four boxes of produce, including sprouts, melons, berries, greens, bananas and beets, and close to three boxes of cookies and crackers. A couple weeks ago we rejoiced over a cooler full of greek yogurt, every imaginable brand of chips, and two cupboards worth of canned goods.

Whatever the reasons behind dumpster diving, the activity is receiving broader attention, and rightfully so. Whether you’re broke and looking for cheap and more interesting eats, an environmentalist, a spendthrift, or a profiteer, the dumpsters have something to offer.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page. 



8/21/2015

 

A healthy environment: We can’t live without it. While the mainstream media appears to focus on either the mindless pollution tactics of Big Business or the everyday steps the consumer can take, the vital middleman is often forgotten: the skilled trades who build, install and repair. If you’re a skilled trade craftsman, here are examples of four skilled trades and the ways each can implement ecology-friendly services into their business.

Keep in mind, while the initial changes may appear cost-prohibitive, your investment will pay off in the long run because you’ll be able to use your “green living” services in your advertising campaigns. Today’s consumers are environmentally savvy, and will appreciate the company that takes the extra steps to make our world a little bit cleaner.

Electricians

An electrical company well trained in the latest energy saving practices will always be in high demand. If you specialize in new construction, be in on the beginning consultations with the builder so the construction can include plans for heat pumps, solar panels and other electricity saving devices. If you specialize in remodeling consider offering energy audits as well as Energy Star rated appliances, programmable thermostats and LED lighting to complete your conservation services.

Plumbers

Often out of mind until the toilet plugs up, plumbers rule the waterworks in both new and old buildings.  Find a green plumber if you’re considering solar water, a tankless hot water heater or a water recirculation pump. Much like the electrician, a savvy plumber will offer a water saving audit as part of his services.

High efficiency showerheads, faucets and toilets are also part of the plumber’s domain. You can also specialize in landscape watering systems that minimize water waste and installation of off-the-grid products such as macerating toilets.

Construction Companies

If you’re the owner of a construction company, become savvy in green building. Recycled materials such as foundation blocks, wood fiber beams and insulation can be implemented into the shell of a building — many consumers are open to using materials from deconstruction of old homes.

Green construction companies can opt for used equipment instead of new, and look for low-emission equipment when buying new. Construction sites have a lot of waste — make sure your employees have the training and specified bins to separate recyclable scrap such as metal and paper to reduce your overall waste and impact on the environment.

Automotive Repair Shops

Car repair is traditionally filled with environmental waste, and the green auto shop owner can become the most sought after business in town. Antifreeze and oil can be recycled — you can invest in a bioremediation sink to break down grease instead of using high volatile organic compounds (VOC) such as solvents. Switch to biodegradable cleaners for the shop area, office and the mechanics’ personal use.

By capturing grease in pans instead of using absorbents it can be recycled instead of discarded — keeping the floor and parking lot free of oil and grease will prevent the pollutants from reaching the ground water when it rains.

Aside from the internal operative steps, becoming certified in the maintenance of green vehicles will allow an automotive repair shop bragging rights for green advertising, which will pay for the costs of implementing any special equipment needed to become environmentally friendly.

All Skilled Trade Companies

Whatever skilled trade business you own, there are basic steps which can help you cut energy waste. Mush paperwork can be transferred to computer — vital paperwork such as receipts should be recycled both when purchased and when shredded.

Switch to LED lighting in the offices — set up recycling bins and encourage employees to use them.

Consider used furniture instead of buying new, and switch your cleaning supplies to biodegradable cleaners throughout your business.

Photo Credit:  Life of Pix

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



8/20/2015

We've all heard it before - it's important to recycle whenever possible.  You care about this big blue planet we call home so you carefully and dutifully sort your papers and plastics, your glass and your metals.  You faithfully lug that recycling bin out to the curb each week (for those that have curbside recycling) and you pat yourself on the back that you've just done your part for a cleaner, healthier environment.  And make no mistake, you HAVE!  But remember the three R's are REDUCING, Reusing, and only then Recycling.  Reducing comes first, and that means you bring less into your home to start with - I call it PREcycling.  Let's take a look at a few examples.

Reality Check For Excessive Product Packaging

Your new recipe calls for a bell pepper so you're doing your grocery shopping for ingredients.  And then you see it...  a 2-pack of the most beautiful peppers you've ever seen in your life - One red and one yellow, perfectly matched in size & screaming vibrant colors.  Oh man how the sight of it entices you...  But what's THIS??  You notice that those beautiful peppers are sitting on a styrofoam plate and entombed in several layers of plastic.

Time for a reality check - step back & think for a moment. Do you really need two peppers anyway?  That bin of bulk bell peppers is right next to this bright 2-pack display - make the choice to pick up that single bell pepper being sold without any wrapping at all and you can really pat yourself on the back for your environmental savvy!  You can usually find whatever produce you desire sold in bulk bins, from peppers to beans, apples to pears.  Chose to shop from those bulk bins and leave that excessive packaging behind.  See how easy that was?

It's Easy To Learn To Make It Yourself

Or how about this?  Many years ago I was doing all I could to recycle yet I was dismayed to discover that my favorite yogurt was sold in the type of plastic that was not accepted by my city's recycling program.  Oh man how it tugged at my heart to be so diligent with my recycling efforts yet be forced to simply throw those yogurt tubs into the trash each week.  But what's a girl to do?  I love to enjoy my daily yogurt at breakfast.   Then I got to wondering if I couldn't make my own Homemade Yogurt in those same convenient single-serve sizes by making it in 1/2-pint glass canning jars.  As it turns out, YES! (and it's easier than you think)  Now I'm still enjoying healthy yogurt for breakfast but those glass jars holding my yogurt are washed and reused again & again.  There you go - Precycling!

Think Outside The Box When PreCycling

So next time you're in the grocery store considering a purchase, think about PREcycling.  Do you really need a plastic (or paper) bag to hold that tiny purchase or can you just as easily carry it out yourself?  Can you chose the bulk bins for your produce instead of all the shrink-wrapped perfection you're seeing lining the shelves?  Would it be just as easy to make that item yourself instead of buying it premade with all the associated bold-advertising packaging?  Choose PREcycling first, it's easy and you can be confident that you've just made our world just a little bit cleaner.

Tammy Taylor is owner of the Taylor-Made Homestead blog.  Tammy lives and works on a Northeast Texas ranch and writes about home cooking, gardening, food preservation, MIY, DIY and living as gently as possible on this big blue planet we call home.  You can visit her blog here or follow her on Facebook here.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



8/17/2015

 

We know you want to do your best to help the environment but the news about climate change can sometimes feel so overwhelming that it’s easier to make a vague promise to yourself about doing better, later just to get on with your day.

Luckily, doing your part to help the environment doesn’t have to be a big deal. Some of our most eco-unfriendly activities are just bad habits that we can change by replacing them with healthier options. Breaking bad habits is easiest when you concentrate on just one issue at a time, so chose one from the list below to get started on your new, greener lifestyle:

Stop Wasting Water

If you’re one of those people who love a long, hot shower, you’re wasting gallons of water every day (not to mention the energy it takes to heat that water to spa-like comfort levels). Remind yourself to use less by setting an alarm on your phone to let you know when your five to eight minutes in the shower are up. Pair this training with a new, low-flow showerhead, and you won’t have to feel guilty about getting clean.

Stop Wasting Electricity

Electricity is such a major part of our modern lives that we barely even think about it, and that means we end up wasting a lot of it. To train yourself to turn off the lights when you leave the room, try putting some bright yellow electric tape on all your light switches.

Seeing that bit of color in the corner of your eye will draw your attention to the switch and be a reminder to turn it off. Once your new habit is established (give it about two months), you can remove the tape. Switch to low-wattage LED bulbs for bonus points.

Stop Eating Fast Food

Though convenient in a pinch, eating at fast food restaurants takes a big toll on the environment. When you spend money there, you’re creating a market for factory-farming systems that use unethical and unsustainable animal husbandry practices.

Even if you don’t eat meat, the carbon footprint of shipping all that processed food across the country is huge. Vow to do better by turning into the grocery store parking lot instead of the drive-thru whenever you get a craving. To give yourself incentive, make a reward jar that you add $5 to every time you pass on fast food. When the jar is full, treat yourself to a dinner out somewhere really nice.

Stop Drinking Bottled Water

It takes 2,000 times as much energy to produce a bottle of water than it does for the same amount of tap water, and the impact of all those plastic bottles is enormous. You can break your bottled water habit by buying just one great, reusable bottle and carrying it with you to refill when you’re thirsty. Get a filter if you don’t like the taste of your water, but rest assured that tap water is safe and is the more eco-friendly choice.

Stop Driving Everywhere

Your car’s emissions are a major contributor to global warming, so cutting back on driving can have a big impact on everything from reducing air pollution to using less fossil fuel. During the week, leave the car at home and use public transportation for your commute to work instead.

If that’s not possible, try declaring car-free weekends. Get your errands done on the way home from work during the week, and vow to walk or use your bike on Saturdays when you have the extra time to get places. Your body will thank you, too!

Helping the environment is all about taking small but important steps to live a greener lifestyle. If you focus on breaking just one bad habit at a time, you’re much more likely to achieve success than if you try to change everything at once. The important thing is to get started, so give one of these options a try.

Photo Credit:  Startup Stock Photos 


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.



8/14/2015

 Hunting In The Catskill Mountains

“I’m going hunting in the mountains.” It just sounds right, doesn’t it? For years people from the Hudson Valley left their homes, packed a bag and a gun, and headed for the hills of northern Ulster County to hunt. The mountains offered an opportunity for hunters to pursue their game unencumbered over thousands of wooded acres. Each hollow or clove felt as his own to discover, explore, and pursue deer wherever they might go; after all the Hudson Valley had few deer back then. Say what!

It’s difficult to imagine that areas like Westchester and Dutchess Counties had few deer at one time. A good portion of the valley had been cleared for agriculture (and homes) until the 1970s, after which many of the farms had been abandoned. Older photos from the 19th Century show the Rondout and Wallkill Valleys from Mohonk Mountain House as a landscape mostly resembling portions of Iowa. The only trees that existed were near homesteads or following a stream. The land had been cleared to provide growing space for a contiguous tiny canopy used to feed domestic animals. Grass provided growing space for sheep and cows leaving few leftovers for undomesticated life-forms; namely wildlife.

So, there were few deer if any in the Hudson Valley until the second half of the 20th century. If you wanted to see a wild animal, then you’d have to go where there were fewer farms and more trees. The mountainous portion of northern Ulster County fit the bill for such pursuits. Although there were still farms up in the hills, there was already less than there once was. Farm abandonment reached the mountains earlier than areas down in the valley did due to its scraggly and remote nature. Many farms were abandoned in the late 19th century after the Civil War. The Great Depression began another wave of farm abandonment too. Even before farming began, the tanning industry in the mid-19th Century left its mark in the woods, leaving behind fewer hemlock trees and narrow bark roads for leather-making. Sawmills which used to operate in almost every valley, continued to operate into the 20th century, but many too had already closed. They left behind old landings, some skid roads, and a much different forest.

There Are Deer Here Somewhere

A Widowed Landscape Regrown

So what does this widowed forest have to do with deer hunting; everything. It was this different forest that these industries left behind that aided hunters in their pursuit of deer. Let’s start with the tanning industry. Catskill Naturalist – John Burroughs – writes about tromping around in the mountains of Ulster County near Slide Mountain – the Catskill Mountains’ highest peak – in the late 19th century. He admits to picking blackberries that had grown in after the tanners had felled hemlock trees many years ago. The hemlock had been removed in many portions of these mountains, but what grew back in is what most interested deer and later, deer hunters.

I too have also tromped around quite a bit in the mountains of Ulster County. One oak tree that fell across the trail showed its age after it had been sawn. It dated back to the Civil War. It must have grown there sometime after the farmer quit; perhaps he traded in his farm clothes for a Union Jacket. Up the trail on this same hill-side were more remnants from his farm – an apple tree, more stone walls, and a mill dating back to the 1700s.

All too often we point to the destructive nature these industries had on the Catskills forests. However, the forest these industries left behind was a much younger one, and in many cases, a more diverse one too. Oak, black cherry, hickory, and blueberry require disturbance and sunlight to grow and succeed. The tanning industry may have removed the hemlock, but it allowed a place for more oak and cherry. Sawmills may have cut down some trees, but younger growth provided more browse for deer and grouse to seek cover in. Farming may have cleared the entire forest in places, but it was short-lived. In its place grew a young forest full of seedlings, herbs, and shrubs; many of which produce fruit.

The younger forest provided ideal conditions for deer. There was so much food in the forest from this mere accident. What was one’s man’s loss was another’s treasure; or a salad bar in this case for deer. From the early 20th Century to the 1970s, hunting camps were being built throughout the mountains. These camps – perhaps unknowingly – followed the business failures of the 19th Century (and early 20th Century) in tanning, farming and sawmilling. In other words, shots fired up on the mountain at deer were reverberations made possible from another time; a blast from the past if you will. The numbers of deer existed because of the stumps these men left behind (and what grew in afterwards).

Mountain Hunting Is Challenging 

A Quiet Wilderness

Today, the reverberations have mostly been silenced. Most of those hunting camps have since been sold for residences. Fewer hunters come up to the mountains to pursue deer. Instead of going to the mountains to hunt, the sons and daughters of these same hunters remain in the valley, where there are more deer. The tables have turned. The forests of northern Ulster County are still forested; they’re just much older than they were 50 years ago. Mature forests may be great for hermit thrush and scarlet tanagers, but produce little food for species that make a living near the ground. It’s not to say only a young forest can fill the bill, but that diversity in ages does better.

Today, the high peaks of the Catskills have some of the least amount of deer per square mile than anywhere in the state. The few deer that do live there manage to browse away most of the palatable vegetation growing on the forest floor up to a height of five feet. Their browse-impact does seem to taper off as one approaches about 2500 feet in elevation probably due to winter mortality in such areas. In other words, it seems that the deer – under poor habitat conditions – are now leaving their marks more than the abandoned industries of the 19th century. There just isn’t enough disturbance and sunlight to grow vegetation and satisfy the deer herd’s appetite.

Hudson Valley Regrowth & Decline

On the other hand, the Hudson Valley has been experiencing farm abandonment since the latter portion of the 20th century. Overall, its forests are much younger and contain a patchwork of openings, fields, lawns, houses, landscaping, and shrub-lands that offer food and cover for deer and other wildlife that depend upon vertically-challenged plant-life. From a deer’s perspective, this growth mimics natural and synthetic disturbances in the woods that have occurred in the past. In fact, there seems to be an overabundance of deer in some areas where impacts from Lyme’s Disease, car collisions, agricultural damage, and landscaping damage are severe.

Overall it’s mostly about sunlight. Sure, hunting does have an impact on deer density. However, I believe that it’s about habitat that counts the most. Both the valley and the mountains may have different deer densities and hunters in hot pursuit. However, they share one thing in common: they both are being browsed heavily despite these differences. The lack of quality habitat will leave more starving deer venturing down from the mountain or nearby neighbor’s woodlot to browse your garden or flowers year after year.

In 2015, many of the forests of the Hudson Valley are well beyond farm abandonment and are maturing just as the mountain’s forests did a half-century or more ago. The deer herd of the Hudson Valley will also continue to decline while deer will become smaller (in weight) as food becomes scarce. Less deer will be able to keep up with less that grows reaching a plateau where only plants resistant to browse succeed; think thorny plants. In other words, it’s up to humans to keep one step ahead of the deer herd at all times by providing adequate habitat conditions alongside deer hunting.

Mountain Hunting Offers Solitude 

Still Going to the Mountains

Don’t get me wrong. I still like to go hunting in the mountains and “take the gun for a walk.” The mountains do offer the hunter something unique – remoteness. Although these mature forests have filtered out most of the sun’s energy and thinned its deer herd, mature bucks still persist. They might be few and far between, but the mythical mountain buck is still something to keep one up at night. Maybe instead of building a camp, perhaps just bring a good pack-in and something to build a fire with and think about all the people – animals and plant-life included – that have influenced our forests in the past.

For more information on the controversial issue of deer management, join the conversation in Margaretville, Delaware County on October 31st @ The Growing Deer Debate. Buy tickets online at CFA’s websiteCat Skill Forest.


All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.












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