Tuesday, September 29, 2009

My latest column

Check out the fall colors in my latest column in the Kings County Record.

Before you go to far with these directions though I have noticed that I made a bit of an error on the drive from Berwick to Snider Mountain. You should go left at the first intersection and then left again onto the Steen Road at the second intersection, not right as I state in the column :(

This will link you to a map showing the area in question.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Geese galore

I was out mowing my lawn, for what I hope is the last time this season, when all of a sudden I could hear this raucous nearby. I checked on my son and he was still playing away with his Tonka trucks in the sandbox. Then I heard it again, this time over my head. I look up to see about 30 geese flying above me. The make a circle over the field behind the house, where the wheat had just been cut off. They like what they see and make a flapping landing. That is when I notice that the field is full of geese. What is more, in the distance there is an hot air balloon drifting quietly along. A great scene for our pastoral little Village. I run back into the house as my wife hollers to let me know supper is on. I take Seth in but can't resist the urge to take the camera out and snap some pictures. It is impressive how loud geese can be. The noise of their beating wings as they slow up to make their landing reveals just how powerful an animal they truly are. I watch for some time and by the time I return to the dining room my plate of dinner is cold.
It was a great scene and one that not everyone gets an opportunity to witness or appreciate. I hope these pics and short video illustrate well enough for you.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Mercer Brook Habitat

I know I have said this before but do I ever love my job. Yesterday we were doing aquatic habitat surveys on a small stream, Mercer Brook, that flows off of Dickie Mountain. This is a relatively large hill that rises up from the northern banks of the Kennebecasis River just west of Norton.

For some time I had been wanting to explore this area as the "Mountain" seemed as though it might possess some interesting topography. We headed out in the fog, hoping the rain would hold off for the day. As we drove up the Dickie Mountain Road the visibility was very poor. As the saying goes "The fog was as thick as pea soup." We reached the location where we thought Mercer Brook started and easily found a drainage to confirm our guess.
Doing these habitat surveys can be challenging as you have to stick to the stream bottom. Sometimes this can lead you through some pretty tough bogs, thickets, or what not. Mercer Brook started out to be not so pleasant as it was muddy and lined with alders, hawthorne bush, and young birch. Shortly though it started dropping rapidly and the trees and the stream substrate changed dramatically. I first noticed a big yellow birch that I could not reach around, and then bedrock dominated the stream bottom. To match this change the fog had lifted and the sun was warming the small, deep, valley.

We measured out 100m reach after 100m reach. We noted the substrate, stream width and depth, riparian vegetation, bank conditions, temperature, dissolved oxygen, and flow patterns. These things were required observations, but we noted the big maples with their changing leaves, the huge aging birch, the ironwood, and the odd spruce and plentiful fir. It is a great thing when you can do your job and enjoy these God given gifts at the same time. On that small stream, in that big forest stand I felt small but so alive.
As we head back to the truck I can't wait until the next day when I get to go back and finish the assessment. The short times I sepnd in the field more than make up for the seemingly long hours I spend doing paperwork at my desk.

Monday, September 21, 2009

A Great Effort to Reduce Foolish Acts

Through work recently I aided in organizing a shoreline clean-up. The Kennebecasis Watershed Restoration Committee (KWRC), along with TD Friends of The Environment, and a multitude of volunteers cleaned up the river banks of various streams in the Kennebecasis Watershed. This is not the first time I have been involved in this exercise and it always astounds me how much garbage we can pull out of the river. The amount is not the only surprise, the various items are just as surprising.

We pulled out tires this year again. There is no need for anyone to throw their tires into a dumpster let alone the river. Thanks to New Brunswick's Tire Stewardship Porgram we simply have to return the tire to the local tire shop. The guys at Adair's Tire in Sussex Corner have always been friendly when we take scrap tires to them.

Another item we often pull out of the rivers are drink cans, bottles, and boxes. This again is ludicrous. We pay a dime for every drink container we purchase (milk products being the exception) and we stand to get back a nickel if we return it. This again is part of New Brunswick's effort to reduce litter (you have to check out this website), yet people still throw it out. When the KWRC returned the cleaner and unbroken containers collected from the rivers we received $6.90 from Norrad's Recycling. This is money that others simply threw away.

Bicycles might be the biggest surprise for those who worked the shoreline clean-up. We removed three bike frames from Trout Creek. A bicycle is not easy to destroy, especially the frame, so I do not understand why we keep finding bikes in the rivers. It is my guess that thieves make off with these bikes, take their joy ride and then ditch them in the river. Meanwhile a young boy is wondering what happened to his bike and his parents are still trying to pay for it.

Electronics, used diapers, plastic bags, fast food containers are all frequent finds as well. I know your car is your pride and joy people but if you can't get out of your car long enough to enjoy a meal then don't eat. If you do eat in your car then atleast keep the trash there until you get home. I recommend reusable grocery bags to those uncaring litter bugs that throw plastic bags around, now a days reusable bags are cool and hip so why not? The Kings County Region Solid Waste Commission works hard at reducing litter and illegal dumping. They often host Household Hazardous Waste Days and E-Waste days, where people can drop off such waste at no charge so there is no need for volunteers to pick out aerosol cans or computer and tv monitors either.

It was great though to see how many people turned out at the clean-up. 30 people showed up and signed in with others who took part without signing in. They braved the cold waters and a cool fall day to make a difference and to those people I tip my KWRC hat. A special nod goes to Rosemary Moorehead who at a youthful looking 70+ years old collected three garbage bags of waste on her own. Way to go Rosemary.

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Flying high

The Balloon Fiesta in Sussex last weekend was very well attended. This was probably due in large part to the incredible weather. Wow you talk about a great weekend. The balloons were up frequently and the fair grounds were a constant buzz. I figure many people have already written a great deal on the Atlantic International Balloon Fiesta so in my latest column I wrote about another aerial display of color. Check it out.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Enjoying a long weekend

We are heading into a long weekend here and the weather is looking great. If you don't know what to do you should look into these fun filled activities.

Hike the Bluff - this fun little hike is great this time of year. If you time it right you can watch the sun set over the Trout Creek Valley.

Bike around Fundy National Park - the steep hills are a challenge yes, but the views and vistas are a worthwhile reward. Not to mention just think of the nice speed you'll get coasting down into Alma.

Explore the sea caves in St. Martin's - Don't just go out and say "oh yeah that's cool" Stay an entire day and see them at high tide and low tide. Have a lobster lunch, throw rocks at the waves. Maybe even take a boat tour or scramble around a bit. Enjoy them.

Have a great dessert at Adair's Wilderness Lodge - the homemade cooking there is amazing and dessert taste so much better in a wilderness setting. For you single guys this might even be a great date. Drive and dine you might say. After dessert take an evening stroll and do some star gazing. (picture from www.adairswlodge.com/gallery.html)

So there is lots to do in and around Sussex this long weekend. If you're not here you should be. If you're not out enjoying it, you should be.

Have a great long weekend all.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Swimming into spring

This is my latest column in the Kings County Record. The weather has, since I wrote the column, cooled quite a bit but the 7 day forecast looks good. We might get lucky and be able to spend one or two more days swimming. Check out the column. and enjoy.

Tuesday, September 1, 2009


Every now and then a song comes along that hits me. It speaks to me and pulls at me. I am a big fan of country music and the messages many country songs send out. Recently I heard a song by Joe Nichols titled "Believers" and man it felt like a freight train running through me. Everyone needs someone to believe in them and through my life I have been very fortunate to have great parents, wonderful siblings, and now a caring wife and two innocent children of my own. All of whom have shown belief in me at one time or another when I needed it most.

As much as we need someone to believe in us, we also need something to believe in. I believe in my family, especially my kids. They have such a great future ahead of them and my belief in them will hopefully provide them with strength and courage to make tough decisions and perform tough tasks. It also inspires my work, my writing, and my life.

I also believe in protecting the environment and I have been fortunate enough to make a living out of this belief. I think more people need to start putting the environment over thier pocket book. If this doesn't happen then someday we won't have a world to believe in.

One other belief, and likely my most important one, is there pushing me as well. That is my belief in God. It keeps me moving forward in the right direction and gives me strength to face some of my flaws as well. I also believe God will allow me to make mistakes and help me learn from them and this allows me to live with more passion and more belief. Now I won't preach, because I am no preacher for sure, but I hope you all have something to believe in or someone who believes in you.

Give the song a listen...I think it says it all.