NYS Hemlock Initiative: MyHemlock

Hemlock woolly adelgid (HWA) is an invasive insect threatening New York’s native hemlock trees. Surveying for HWA can help limit both its damage and spread by contributing to research and informing management decisions.

MyHemlock is a great way for people to get involved in conservation, especially NY landowners. Volunteers choose one site on their property or in a local conservation area, and survey a group of hemlocks there twice a year (Nov/Dec and May/June). Surveying the same site over time helps researchers learn about:

  • overall tree health
  • HWA presence/absence
  • severity of HWA infestations

on both a local and regional scale.

Want to get involved? Check out the MyHemlock website to learn more!

Breeding Bird Atlas

Looking for a way to keep volunteering while staying safe and socially-distanced? Put your bird knowledge to good use by contributing data to the Breeding Bird Atlas!

This is an opportunity for beginner and advanced birders alike – their website has tons of resources to get you started, addressing topics like conducting surveys, how to find breeding birds, being an ethical birder, and more! Running from 2020-2024, this is New York’s third breeding bird atlas, making us one of the first states in the US to conduct a third atlas.

Their project goals include:

  • updating statewide distribution information on breeding birds
  • obtaining a metric of abundance for breeding birds
  • investigating the habitat relationships of breeding birds
  • engaging the public

Be an early bird – head to their website to get involved now!

Photo by Maggie Lin

Surveying Native Pollinators

Happy National Pollinator Week!

The Empire State Pollinator Survey is a scientific study to determine the conservation status of a wide array of native insect pollinators in nonagricultural habitats in New York. They want to answer the question: which species are rare, which are common, and have any declined?

Volunteers learn survey methods to observe native bees, flies, beetles, and butterfly and moth species, and send their observational data to NY Natural Heritage Program. Volunteer data will help the NYNHP collect distributional information for important at-risk pollinator species that are native to the Northeastern US, and that are often studied less than honeybees.

There are a variety of ways that volunteers can participate in the Survey based on their interest, availability, and ability or comfort level with the various survey methods, including photographing pollinators, netting them, and collecting them with water traps. No prior experience identifying or surveying for pollinators is necessary, as long as participants are willing to learn the survey methods and follow instructions for data submission.

Sign up here to volunteer or stay informed about the project!

Photo by: Maggie Lin

Assessing Deer Impacts to Our Forests w/ AVID Plots!

How are deer shaping your forests?

AVID is a project to Assess Vegetation for Impacts from Deer. Plants are monitored each year to evaluate the impact of deer browsing. AVID is a method for volunteers, foresters, landowners and others to measure the effect of deer browse on New York forests. Volunteers are encouraged to use AVID to document this aspect of New York forest health. Participants will learn about forest and woodland ecology, how to identify spring wildflowers and trees, and develop an eye for recognizing signs of deer impacts.

Individuals can use AVID by printing field data sheets and entering the data online here at this web site, or through a smart phone app available for either Apple or Android phones at Apple Store or Google Play Store. Field data collected by individuals and organizations across New York State, and submitted to this central database, will be used to track tree, shrub and wildflower response to deer browsing over time. Knowledge of how deer impacts change through time will help guide deer management decisions at local and state levels. Participants will document changes in forest plants on their own land, or land in their communities, and also will learn:

  • To identify important spring wildflower and tree species
  • To recognize evidence of deer impacts based on the presence or absence of key wildflower, shrub, and tree indicator species

If this is something that sounds interesting to you, please visit aviddeer.com