News in brief
‘Life Under A Log’ leads to real-life learning
HONESDALE, PA — Rachael Bayly, left, Samantha Howey and Gage Simons met a ringneck snake, a harmless, diminutive woodland inhabitant, during a new outdoor education program that took place at the Stourbridge Primary Center in Honesdale, PA recently. Second-grade classes participated in the exploratory woodland ecology program on the school grounds.
Following preparatory classroom activities, students ventured outside with customized pictorial field guides, clipboards and pens, magnifying glasses and an animal and plant checklist. They were introduced to basic concepts in ecology, including the importance of decomposition in forests, and explored the community of salamanders, invertebrate creatures and fungi that inhabit rotting logs and the undersides of rocks.
Tree and wildflower identification, past agricultural use of the woodlands and 350-million-year-old sandstone outcroppings were also topics for discussion. Tick-avoidance strategies were taught and put into practice. The program is an extension of the science and writing curriculum at Stourbridge and is supported by Reining Forest Products and the Honesdale Parent Teachers Association.
Earlier this year, students were introduced to wildlife tracking (see www.riverreporteronline.com/feature/16/2011/04/19/earth-awareness). They are also involved in a new gardening project at the school featuring raised beds. The programs are developed and conducted by John Jose of Otter Creek Environmental Education Services, Beach Lake, PA (www.ottercreekenved.com).
NY AG files lawsuit against DRBC
ALBANY, NY — New York State Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman filed a lawsuit on Tuesday, May 31 against the Delaware River Basin Commission (DRBC) for its failure to undertake full environmental review of its proposed regulations for natural gas drilling in the Delaware River Basin.
Schneiderman had warned last month that he would take legal action, if necessary, to compel such a study, based on the requirement of the National Environmental Policy Act that federal agencies conduct a full review of actions that may cause significant environmental impact. Last week, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, the lead federal agency on the DRBC, indicated that it would decline to do so.
“Before any decisions on drilling are made, it is our responsibility to follow the facts and understand the public health and safety effects posed by potential natural gas development,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “The federal government has an obligation to undertake the necessary studies, and as I made clear last month, this office will compel it to do so.”
Pond Eddy repair work complete
POND EDDY, NY — Emergency repairs on the Pond Eddy Bridge, which started on April 18 and were expected to be complete in mid-June, have already been completed. The repairs allow the weight limit on the bridge to be raised to seven tons.
Plans are in the works to put up a replacement bridge, with work expected to begin in 2013.
Apparent suicide at county jail
MONTICELLO, NY — The Sullivan County Sheriff’s Office is investigating an apparent suicide that occurred Sunday, May 29 at the county jail in Monticello. Kerry Castello, 45, was being held as a fugitive from justice on a warrant from the state of Massachusetts charging six counts of armed robbery. Castello was arrested by state police and U.S. Marshals on May 19 at a relative’s residence in the town of Liberty. He waived an extradition hearing and was awaiting return to Massachusetts.
A deputy discovered Castello hanging in his cell by a bed sheet at about 1:30 p.m. on Sunday, May 30. He was transported to Catskill Regional Medical Center in Harris, where he was pronounced dead. An autopsy confirmed the cause of death as asphyxia. Sheriff’s detectives and the New York State Commission of Corrections are continuing the investigation.