Tag Archives: great new york state fair

What land conservation means for us

We’re continuing our series about the Land and Water Conservation Fund, which turns 50 on September 3. Hear from one of our many important land conservation partners. 

Kim at eightmile.ct

Today, we hear from Kim Lutz , the director of The Nature Conservancy’s Connecticut River Program and also co-chairman of the Friends of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish & Wildlife Refuge.

After I became The Nature Conservancy’s Connecticut River Program director in 2003, my first meeting wasn’t in my Northampton, Massachusetts office with one of my Conservancy colleagues. It was about 25 miles up the Connecticut River—at the Turners Falls, Massachusetts office of Andrew French, the project leader of the Service’s Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge. I sometimes joke that I should have used a line from film history that day: “I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

The Conte Refuge was established in 1997 to conserve the abundance and diversity of native plants and animals and their habitats in the 7.2-million-acre Connecticut River watershed in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont. As the only national wildlife refuge dedicated to a river’s entire watershed, the Conte Refuge is unique. Its vision of melding values of conservation, recreation, education and economic opportunity in large and healthy working landscape is a crucial vision that resonates deeply with both the Conservancy and the Friends of Conte.

As I alluded to above, in my role as Conservancy Connecticut River Program director, we’ve had no more important partner in the watershed. It’s also hard to overstate the significance of the Land and Water Conservation Fund in helping the Conte Refuge achieve its ambitious vision. Since the refuge’s founding, more than 35,700 acres have been protected and brought under Conte’s management. Much of this was made possible with financial support from the Land and Water Conservation Fund. This is just one example of why the Conservancy is a strong supporter of LWCF.

Whalebone Cove

The Nature Conservancy and the Service just recently partnered to expand the Whalebone Cove Division of the Conte Refuge in Lyme, Connecticut. Learn more. Credit: David Gumbart/The Nature Conservancy

What does this sort of land protection achieve? It supports clean drinking water for millions of people; the Quabbin Reservoir—metropolitan Boston’s primary drinking water source—is fed by the Connecticut River watershed. It protects floodplains, which in turn absorb floodwaters and help keep human communities safe. It provides habitat for animals and plants, many of them rare and at-risk. And it helps secure beautiful forests, fields, marshes, mountains and more that give people places to fish, camp, hike, and simply take in the beauty of the natural world. These are just some of the reasons groups like the Friends of Conte and the local Friends’ groups that focus on a single unit of the refuge work so hard to support the Connecticut River watershed.

If you haven’t visited some of the incredible places in the Conte Refuge that were protected with support from LWCF, please do. Check out Conte’s Pondicherry Division in the shadow of New Hampshire’s stunning White Mountains. Catch a glimpse of a moose feeding in the wetlands of the Nulhegan Division in northern Vermont. Enjoy a stroll through grasslands and floodplains on the Massachusetts Fort River Division’s soon-to-be-completed (October 2014) trail that will be accessible for people with disabilities. See the gorgeous lower Connecticut River system at the Salmon River Division in Connecticut.

Regardless of which place—or places!—you pick, consider making the trip. After all, you’re helping protect these places for you, your family, your friends and all of us. Thank you.
Maybe I’ll see you out there.

Visit The Nature Conservancy at www.nature.org. Find out more about the Conservancy’s Connecticut River Program at www.nature.org/CTRiver.

BCI educator Dianne Odegard shows visitor a Mexican free-tailed bat. Credit: USFWS/Ann Froschauer

Spreading appreciation for bats

I'm Bethany Holbrook, and I work at our New York Field Office. You'll be hearing from me every week! Stay tuned for tales from the great state of New York. USFWS photo with Bethany holding a bog turtle

I’m Bethany Holbrook, and I work at our New York Field Office. You’ll be hearing from me every week! Stay tuned for tales from the great state of New York.

“How do I get bats out of my attic?”

“Why don’t we see bats in our bat box?” “How can I attract bats to my house?”

“WHERE DID ALL OF THE BATS GO?”

These are just a few of the common questions visitors at The Great New York State Fair asked biologists at our booth. More than 4,000 visitors stopped by to learn about one of the states’ most misunderstood mammals: bats.

New York Field Office biologists heard it all, from stories about bat rescues to chaotic bat release attempts—and even a few fond bat memories.

Visitors learn about bats in a hibernaculum. Credit: Bethany Holbrook

Visitors learn about bats in a hibernaculum. Credit: Bethany Holbrook

Reflecting on all of the stories I heard and the advice I gave, I realized that while bats are certainly important ecologically in New York, they are also important to thousands of New Yorkers who are bewildered by this mysterious species.

If you didn’t get a chance to attend the fair this year, you can read here the answers to our most common questions about bats. Hopefully you’ll increase your understanding of this amazing mammal (without the $10 fair admission fee).

    1. How do I get bats out of my attic? The first step is to identify where they are coming in from. Surround your house at dusk and identify the exiting bats. Next, build a bat exclusion (here are instructions, as well as help for getting a bat out of your house). This allows bats to get out, but not back in. Leave the exclusion in for at least seven days to ensure all bats have escaped before you remove the exclusion and seal the hole. You need to wait to conduct exclusions until baby bats, or pups, are able to fly (usually after summer). Otherwise, you risk trapping the pups inside, separating them from their mothers, and they will die of starvation.
    2. Why don’t we see bats in our bat box? Bats are finicky about their bat boxes. Complete this checklist to see if you installed your bat box properly, and remember that it can take bats 1-5 years to move into a bat box.
      – Box is placed at least 15-20 feet off the ground.
      – Box is placed in a location that receives at least 6-8 hours of sunlight every day.
      – Box is placed on the side of a building or a wooden/steel pole. Bat boxes hung in trees do not get as much use.
      – Box is not placed in close proximity to a light.
      – Box has been checked for wasp nests. Using a 3/4 chamber will help deter wasps from your bat box.
      – Box is at least 20 feet from any overhanging tree branches.
      Follow these instructions for the bat house and pole.
    3. How can I attract bats? There is no way to attract bats other than providing proper roosting conditions. Bats prefer areas within a quarter mile of water, or any area where insects are plentiful. Providing bats with a roosting site, like a bat box, is also helpful, but not guaranteed. See these tips for attracting bats to your bat house.
    4. Where did all of the bats go? You might live near an area that has been affected by white-nose syndrome, a fungal infection that has killed an estimated 5.7 million bats in North America since it was discovered in 2007. The fungus can be seen on the wings and muzzles of affected bats. We’re working with partners to learn more about the fungus, but it is believed that affected bats are disrupted during hibernation, causing them to quickly expend stored fat reserves.
    5. What are we doing to protect bats from white-nose syndrome? The Service works with other federal and state agencies to investigate the source, cause and spread of WNS in New York and beyond. Biologists monitor the spread of WNS by conducting winter cave surveys that document and track affected sites. Research is being done to better understand the fungus, and biologists are reaching out to the public to spread the word about WNS. As biologists gain a better understanding of this strange fungus, we can begin to better manage the impacts of the disease. You can help by making sure you abide by all cave closures and advisories and follow decontamination guidelines before and after you enter a cave or mine.
Rob Mies (Organization for Bat Conservation) and Ann Froschauer (USFWS) talk about bat houses on the BatsLIVE! Distance Learning Adventure. Credit: USFS/Sandy Frost

Here’s what a bat house looks like. Rob Mies (Organization for Bat Conservation) and Ann Froschauer (USFWS) talk about bat houses on the BatsLIVE! Distance Learning Adventure. Credit: USFS/Sandy Frost

Read other blog posts about bats.

Photo from the 2013 Great New York State Fair! Credit: USFWS

A Wordless Wednesday: Going batty at the New York fair!


I'm Bethany Holbrook, and I work at our New York Field Office. You'll be hearing from me every week! Stay tuned for tales from the great state of New York. USFWS photo with Bethany holding a bog turtle

I’m Bethany Holbrook, and I work at our New York Field Office. You’ll be hearing from me every week! Stay tuned for tales from the great state of New York.

OK, so I’ve got a few words to share. Cut me some slack for our first Wordless Wednesday!

The Great New York State Fair kicked off last Thursday, and we had a crowd of excited fairgoers lined up to learn about bats at our booth!

We talked to visitors about the benefits that bats provide to our environment — and explained how detrimental it can be to kill bats, especially in the midst of the deadly bat epidemic known as white-nose syndrome.

White-nose syndrome is a fungal disease that has devastated bat populations in New York and other states. Bats with the disease exhibit uncharacteristic behavior during cold winter months, including flying outside in the day and clustering near the entrances of hibernacula. More than 5.7 million North American bats have died.

Most fairgoers were interested to learn how they could save bats, especially once they learned how many insects a bat will eat in one night – up to 300!  While parents learned how to construct bat boxes for their properties, children were busy creating a flying bat craft or exploring the inside of a bat hibernaculum exhibit.

The Great New York State Fair will continue through September 2, so venture out to Syracuse to share your crazy bat stories and get a taste of New York from a variety of vendors.