Wow! Did this year go by fast! Certainly for me! It seems like just yesterday I was writing the 2011 year end message!
I would like to take this opportunity to first let you know what OBI accomplished in 2012, and also give you some “sneak peeks” into what will be going on in 2013!
A successful Pt. Peninsula educational event for large landowners was held in July of 2012. This event was an extension of our overall Pt. Peninsula assessment, which has been a 2+ year project! Among the attendees were several large landowners as well as Lyme town board members. This event was an “outreach” event, and introduced OBI to the various attendees. Thanks to Jacquie Keating for doing a fine job of organizing! Also thanks to Gerry Smith for his continuing effort on this project. The complete project culminating in the above mentioned event should be beneficial in a number of ways to OBI (and the Pt. Peninsula area) over the “long run!”
We also completed the grant work on Downybrook, and are working on the replacement of several walkways on the property funded by donations from the Eldretts, as well as from our supporters! Thanks to Julie Covey for organizing and volunteers Lee Russell, Chris and Alta Watkins and Mark Wiggins for working on this project!
Also in 2012, the trails on the Eagle Ridge property were cleaned up, marked, and opened to the residents. It is reported that the residents are using the facility, which is EXACTLY what we wanted. A recreation area in the open space (for use by kids, adults and dogs) was also established in an agreement between OBI and Eagle ridge management! Again, Thanks to Julie Covey and her family for assisting in clearing the trail, along with Lee Russell and Mark Wiggins.
I would also like to convey a special “THANK YOU” to Julie Covey (and her family in some cases) for going above and beyond the call of duty to assist OBI in our efforts at both Eagle Ridge and Downybrook!! THANKS JULIE, WILLY, MARIA AND WES!!
Also thanks to Mark Wiggins for his valuable assistance to Lee Russell on several projects! Just a note: there is plenty to do, and we are always looking for VOLUNTEERS for work in the field, office, or however you might want to contribute! You can contact any of the board, or go to www.obilandtrust.org to contact us.
We have also continued our steady march toward accreditation by LTA, our parent organization. We have adopted a number of policies and record keeping functions that move us closer to that goal
Also in 2012 we added a new Board member - Kelly Reinhardt, who should bring our board marketing and community expertise! Expect to hear MUCH MORE from her - and US!
Enough of 2012! Let’s look ahead to 2013. As I mentioned above, you will be hearing more from us this year! A couple things in the works are a strategic evaluation and possibly a name change for OBI! As you can imagine, this will be a major undertaking! STAY TUNED!
Also, we will continue work on the accreditation process as noted above. We also have some plans to improve upon existing easements and in fee properties, as well as keep on looking for new opportunities to protect land in our Service area!
I want to say THANKS much to all of the “Friends of OBI” along with other contributors!
Also a Major THANK YOU to our “all volunteer” Board of Directors and our 2 consultants! All of these people contribute above and beyond the call of duty!
Land Protection and conservation is an expensive proposition, as I have said before, and we cannot do it without your support! I ask that Friends renew their “friendship” for 2013, maybe even at a new level, and if you are not a friend, please become one! There is a form included in the newsletter! We look forward to a GREAT 2013, and again, THANKS MUCH for all of your support!
Hello and to all of OBI friends and acquaintances!
As you will read elsewhere in this newsletter, OBI is in what I would describe as a transition period, as we move to another level of land conservation and expertise.
As I have mentioned before, land conservation is a worth while but often a costly proposition! We are helped by grants from various sources as well as contributions fromour FRIENDS of OBI program tha tbegan three years ago and helps keep our organization working to fulfill its mission to protect the scenic areas and wildlife habitats along the shoreline communities of Jefferson County.
BUT - We have much more to do and need your support more than ever. Many projects are on the docket, including management of our various properties and easements, working on new projects as well as OUTREACH, which includes this newsletter, ourwebsite (www.obilandtrust.org), our annual picnic, and our new FACEBOOK page.
If you are into FACEBOOK, be sure to visit our page, which is in embryonic stage right now, and “Like” us! We hope this will be a new means to communicate with you! We also have aspirations of becoming accreditedby the Land Trust Alliance, our parent organization, and are working toward that goal as well. All of this takes resources, as well as hard work from our “all volunteer” board, as well as friends who assist us in our field operations, not to mention contributions from our supporters!.
You will note that I addressed this note to “our friends and acquaintances!” If you have become a friend of OBI, we certainly thank you. If you are not yet a friend and still an acquaintance, we invite you to become a FRIEND! There is a form in this newsletter, and we would appreciate your support! Help us conserve the valuable land around us, home to you and me and all of the wildlife that depend on our efforts, like the Osprey, building their nests (now there are 4 nest within a couple of miles from where I am writing in Cape Vincent!) Also,this winter, there were Snowy Owls and Snow Geese in the area as well!
We are moving to a higher level, and we ask you to do so as well by becoming a FRIEND! Thanks and have a great Spring!
– Jim LaPlante
Ontario Bays Initiative, Inc. was among 53 non-profit land trusts in the state to receive a grant through the Conservation Partnership Program last month. OBI received a $6,500 grant from the Land Trust Alliance (LTA) that will allow the land trust to improve record-keeping, develop policies, and continue conservation efforts on Point Peninsula.
OBI was featured in the Watertown Daily Times on April 24, 2012 in an article about the LTA grants totaling $257,200 that were awarded to organizations in Northern New York.
"The OBI Board thanks the New York State Conservation Partnership Program for the award of this grant as it validates our mission and will allow us to further implement our growth and conservation plans as we move into the future," said Jim LaPlante, chairperson of OBI's Board of Directors. "We appreciate our friends and supporters and are secure in the knowledge that we are progressing in a positive way."
Grants from the LTA have been important to OBI's growth in recent years. A $5,000 grant last year funded an organizational assessment that helped identify OBI's strengths and set priorities.
The latest grant will be used to improve and enhance record-keeping, improve institutional memory, and develop and implement policies regarding LTA standards and practices. The grant will also help OBI to work to ensure that Point Peninsula's ecological assets are a priority. OBI has developed a conservation plan for an 8-square-mile area of state-owned land on the interior of the Point. The interior of the Point is vital to a variety of migrating and wintering birds, and it is also important to waterfowl and grassland birds.
OBI has recently completed a woodland trail for use of the Eagle Ridge Village housing development in the town of LeRay. The property is located along Route 342, west of Route 11.
The 15-acre parcel was donated to OBI by Eagle Ridge Partners in 2008 after the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that the wooded parcel was being used as a foraging area by endangered Indiana bats. Eagle Ridge Partners also provided OBI an endowment to maintain the bat conservation area in perpetuity.
The marked trail runs the length of the conservation area and can be accessed from the end of Kestrel Drive, or from the end of Northern Lane.
"The bat conservation area represents an unusual opportunity for land conservation," said OBI Land Steward Lee Russell. "Usually human activity is discouraged in an endangered species habitat. In this case, however, as long as humans don’t appreciably change the foraging habitat, humans and bats can successfully coexist."
He asked that residents be respectful of the property and be mindful that the area exists primarily for conserving bat foraging habitat. Hiking, birdwatching, leashed pets and passive recreational activities are permitted.
OBI will work once again this year with the town of Cape Vincent to post signs on roads near Wilson's Bay Marsh, where Blanding’s turtles will be venturing into roadways as they head to nesting sites.
This is the second year Cape Vincent town officials worked with OBI to help give the turtles a fighting chance by providing and posting the yellow diamond-shaped caution signs during the June nesting season.
The Blanding's turtle is officially listed as a threatened species in New York and in several other states. Many of the slow movers are killed each June near Wilson's Bay Marsh as they attempt to make the treacherous trip across two lanes of traffic in search of a spot to lay their eggs. But the signs are helping to reduce the number of turtles killed by cars.
OBI's Board of Directors includes several people who live along Lake Ontario shoreline communities, including several from Cape Vincent. The program was successful last year, thanks to the cooperation of the town of Cape Vincent and expertise of Glenn Johnson, chairman of the biology department at SUNY Potsdam. Professor Johnson has been working to reduce Blanding's turtle mortality in Jefferson and St. Lawrence counties since 1998.
OBI wishes to thank the town of Cape Vincent for supporting the program for another year!
The "Friends of OBI" Program was launched in 2010 as a way to recognize and encourage financial support of our non-profit and trust organization. The Ontario Bays Initiative, Inc. Board of Directors greatly appreciates all of those who have joined our honor roll of donors to support the work of OBI, which is an all-volunteer land trust. Thank you for making a commitment to the conservation efforts of OBI.
We rely upon contributions from the public and grants from foundations to continue our mission to preserve scenic vistas, wildlife habitats, farms and woodlands in and around the Lake Ontario shoreline communities of Jefferson County.
Contributors to the "Friends of OBI" Program are listed below. Join them by filling out the form on this page and mailing it in. An updated "Friends" list will also appear in our newsletter. Donors appear on the list for the calendar year. Please notify us of any omissions or errors and they will be corrected.
As always, donations of any amount are always appreciated.
$1500 Steward of the Land Patron of the Land
Helen & Mary Eldrett, Brownville, New York
Dr. Charles K. & Tanya M. Stone, Verona, Wisconsin
$500 Guardian of the Land
Nancy Young Duncan, Washington, D.C.
Ed & Tracy Valentine Watertown, New York
$250 Patron of the Land
Verna Docteur, Chaumont, New York
Robert D. Hill, Sleepy Hollow, New York
Urban & Sally Hirschey, Cape Vincent, New York
Jim & Rosanne LaPlante, Watertown, New York
Lee. Russell, Evans Mills, New York
Robert & Ruth Uhlig, Cape Vincent , New York
Keith Walker , Cape Vincent , New York
Joan Treadwell Woods, Henderson, New York
$100 Protector of the Land
Maureen A. Barros, Toronto, Ontario Canada
Lake Ontario Realty, Chaumont, New York
Mr. & Mrs. H. Pim Goodbody, Jr., Williamstown, Massachusetts
Deanne Scanlon, Chaumont, New York
Roxanne Pratt, Redwood, New York
Kevin & Mary Ellen Smith, Sackets Harbor, New York