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January/February 2010
Explore, enjoy and protect the planet

This newsletter also available as a PDF file.

Electronic Newsletters
To be friendlier to the environment, we deliver our newsletters, in both html and pdf format, via our web site,  We also mail paper newsletters with our "Year in Review" articles and those listing the candidates for the Executive Committee elections to all members.  If you would like to have a hard copy of all newsletters sent to you through the postal mail, please contact Jack Davis at 570-553-2081 or

Year 2009 in Review

The Susquehanna Group was active on a number of fronts this year.  Our principal educational effort is our monthly meetings, which this year featured the following speakers to whom we owe abundant thanks for their presentations.

January: Burrell Montz of Binghamton University on details of the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) process.

February: Guy Caroselli of Tioga Opportunities, Inc. on energy efficiency and weatherization upgrades in Broome and Tioga Counties

March: Ron Gulla from western Pennsylvania and Barbara Arrindell from eastern Pennsylvania speaking on their experiences with recent gas-drilling operations in their state.

April: Kevin Mathers, Extension Agent at Cooperative Extension of Broome Co., on energy from wood as a renewable fuel.

May: Will Meredith on “Driving Smart to Save Fuel and the Planet.”

June: Helena Garan on her walking tour of Japanese temples and icons.

September: Julian Shepherd of Binghamton University on the meaning and importance of biodiversity.

October: Anne Clark of Binghamton University on “American Crows as Sentinels in an Urbanizing World.”

November: Jackie Feinberg of the Southern Utah Wilderness Alliance.

December: Richard Rehberg of Binghamton University giving an update on climate change

Each of our recent meetings have been supplemented by 10-minute updates on current issues for action, organized by Executive Committee member Rich Kellman.

Our principal activist focus has been on the plan to drill in the Marcellus Shale Formation for natural gas, using new technologies called hydrofracture and horizontal drilling.  As the drilling is projected to be very intensive, these technologies will likely have major impacts on the rural landscape.  Numerous accidents attributable to similar drilling operations in Pennsylvania in the last year indicate that the technologies can have significant adverse environmental impacts.  Thus we personally lobbied our local legislators (Lupardo, Crouch, and Libous) in Binghamton last March to indicate our concerns (effectively organized by Scott Lauffer).  We have also attended the State’s hearings on a new Environmental Impact Statement, and filed comments on the Statement (due Dec. 31, 2009).

We held four field trips:

(1) a March trip led by Jack Davis to Salt Springs State Park, just south of us in Pennsylvania.  The park has been innovatively upgraded and protected by the volunteer group of “Friends of Salt Springs”,

(2) a May visit to several natural gas drilling operations near Dimock, PA, led by    who came from Downsville, NY to take us there.

(3) a July outing to Jam Pond near German, NY, one of the finest glacial kettle-hole bogs in this part of the State.

(4) a November trip to the Binghamton-Johnson City Wastewater Treatment Plant, organized by Nancy McGee and guided by Director Cathy Aingworth.

Lynda Spickard Award
Our Lynda Spickard Award was given in January 2009 to Virginia Oggins for her long-time, dedicated and detailed service in the Broome County Environmental Management Council and Vestal Conservation Advisory Commission.

Changes in Leadership
Several changes in our leadership have taken place this year. After many years of extensive service, Scott Lauffer, Group Chair, and Dave Ketchum, Newsletter Editor, resigned from their posts and from the Executive Committee and were replaced by Rich Kellman and Lee Shepherd. Rich took over as Conservation Chair from Julian Shepherd, who became Group Chair, and Lee took over as Newsletter Editor. Kathy Cronin resigned as Outings Chair, and was replaced by Nancy McGee. For the coming year, Jeff Bohner and Deanna France have resigned from the Executive Committee, to be replaced by Nancy McGee and Peter McWain. Jeff will continue his good service as Chapter Representative.  Nancy teaches biology at Binghamton University. Peter is new to the area and is teaching environmental science and sustainable economics in a new program at BOCES in Johnson City.

We now have full Executive Committee, but would welcome help from the membership.

—Julian Shepherd

General Meetings/Speakers

Tues., Jan. 19, 7:30 p.m.
Central United Methodist Church, 17 Nanticoke Ave,  Endicott.

Potluck supper and speaker
Toby Anderson gives a virtual tour of Salt Springs State Park, Franklin Forks, PA, a hidden gem right in our midst. He will describe how a group of concerned citizens have taken over managing a State Park which, for whatever reason, was neglected by the State. They have renovated a historic farmhouse as a Park center, built a barn, constructed and board-walked trails, purchased adjacent buffer property and much more. Bring a dish to share: The Lynda Spickard Award will be given to Cynthia Westerman for her long-time service to environmental organizations (see below). Potluck starts at 6:30 p.m.
Tues., Feb. 16, 7:30 p.m.
Central United Methodist Church, 17 Nanticoke Ave., Endicott
BU Associate Professor of Biological Sciences Dick Andrus, Chair of the Binghamton Shade Tree Commission and Manager of Costa Rica's Tropical Forestry Initiative, speaks on planting trees here and in Central America -- where he directs a project that successfully replanted a rain forest with native trees.

General Meetings:
Everyone interested is welcome at all Sierra Club activities, whether or not a member (except for Executive Committee meetings). General meetings are held at 7:30 p.m. on the third Tuesday of  each month, except July and August. They are held at Central United Methodist Church, 17 Nanticoke Ave., Endicott, NY (on Route 26 — from Route 17, follow 26 north to Endicott, west on East Main, north of Nanticoke.) The public is welcome and refreshments are served following the meeting. Contact Julian Shepherd at for more information.

Jan./Feb Educational ‘Outings’ to be ‘Innings’

Sun., Jan. 31
Tour the Binghamton University Greenhouse

Got the winter blues?  How would you like to visit a blooming desert or a tropical forest?  You can!  Join us at the Binghamton University Greenhouse on Sunday, January 31, 2010.  We will meet for lunch at the China Wok Parkway Buffet in the Olum's Plaza on Vestal Parkway at 1:00pm.  Then we will all go to the greenhouse at 2:15pm. The Greenhouse Manager, Laurie Kasperek, plans to be there so bring your questions! Feel free to join us for the greenhouse tour or lunch or both.  The tour can take from an hour to two hours.  Bring your cameras, too!  Call Nancy McGee @ 722-5393 for more details.

Sat., Feb. 27
Guided Tour of the Roberson Museum and Science Center
On Saturday, Feb. 27, noon. Enjoy a behind-the-scenes guided tour by Curator Noel Anderson of the Loomis Collection at the Roberson Museum and Science Center, 30 Front St., Binghamton. Meet and pay at the museum entrance. See some of the finest examples of the 10,000 preserved local and exotic animals ever assembled by a naturalist. Call Nancy McGee at 722-5393 to register by February 15. Cost: Roberson members/children under 4 free; students/seniors $6; adults $8. Discounted group rates apply if at least 10 sign up — $5 students/seniors; $7 adults.

The Envelope Please!!

This year’s winner of the Lynda Spickard Environmental Award for environmental activism is —Cynthia Westerman. A former member of the Broome County Environmental Management Council, the Town of Vestal Conservation Advisory Commission, and Wetlands Chair of the Sierra Club, Cynthia has toiled long and hard to prevent natural gas drilling, to put the kibosh on the garbage incinerator, and to nix urban sprawl. Her efforts resulted in better land use planning and wetlands preservation.

Enviro-Ed for a Better Tomorrow

Hello Fellow Serrians, Peter McWain here, I am the new environmental education chair for the Susquehanna group. I will be writing a bimonthly column featuring youth-led environmental efforts and innovative environmental education programs. After 8 years in science education, it became apparent to me that our educational institutions can become static entities in a dynamic and unsustainable world. This paradox inspired me to pilot the New Visions Sustainable Community Academy, to train a modern workforce to lead us into a more conscious future. The Sustainable Community Academy is a project-based program that tracks advanced high school seniors into local green internships, covering a curriculum on environmental science, public policy and the application of GIS software. Students are immersed in career-based education, exploring how environmental science and society interact through individualized projects; while earning college credit. It is reassuring to see educational institutions like Broome-Tioga BOCES support forward thinking programs such as the Sustainable Community Academy, for it is the youth of today that will lead us into a more sustainable tomorrow.
—Peter McWain

Permaculture Lecture
by Dave Jacke
“Eden Arising: Ecological Design Principles, Processes, Practices & Ponderings”
Mon. Feb 1, 6:30 p.m., Cornell
Cooperative Extension Chenango, 99 N. Broad St, Norwich
This talk will introduce the fundamentals of permaculture as a vision and a design approach with examples that span the gamut from urban backyards and rooftops to suburban farms and homesteads to complete city watersheds. Dave Jacke began studying and practicing permaculture design in the late 1970s. He has designed homes, farms, communities, and gardens throughout the U.S and around the world, and has taught ecological design since 1984.
To register, call Stacie Edick at
334-5841x21 or email:
Cost: $7 at the door.

Two-Day Transition Course
Jan. 16-17.
The Binghamton Regional Sustainability Coalition (BRSC) invites anyone interested in the transition “from oil dependency to local resilience” to this workshop, designed to make our valley a more sustainable and prosperous place to live. $100 for individuals (plus $25 for payments after Jan. 8)
Register online at:
Questions? Call Adam Flint at 761-8337 or email

Let’s Be Careful
(Sing to the Tune of My Darling Clementine)
Let’s be careful, let’s be careful,
let’s be careful what we do.
O the cost could be forever,
let’s be careful what we do.
To our land of flowing waters,
to our land of fabled lakes,
comes an outfit known as drill con,
which has never made mistakes.
For the gas that lies below us
they intend to hydrofrac.
They will push we-don’t-know-what down and we’re stuck with what comes back.
O Marcellus, O Marcellus,
O our deep Marcellus Shale,
if they squeeze you into pieces,
will we live to weep and wail?
O clean water, O clean water,
O clean water pure and fine,
are you lost and gone forever,
O clean water pure and fine.
If their trucks chew up our roadways,
gas and poison taint our wells,
if the salt pollutes our farm land,
we’ll have energy from hell.
Can we trust them, can we trust them,
can we take their word alone?
Shall we leave it to their judgment,
or use judgment of our own?
Let’s be careful, let’s be careful,
let’s be careful what we do,
O the cost could be forever;
let’s be careful what we do.
  —by Peter Gamba, formerly of Binghamton, and recently featured on NPR News


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To Be on a List-Serve:
To be on a list-serve (low volume!) for announcements about meetings, outings and other events, send your full name and preferred e-mail address to Erin Riddle at

Group Officers for 2009

Group Chair: Julian Shepherd

Vice Chair: Erin Riddle

Secretary: Fiske D. Hanson

Treasurer: Vivian Stevens

Chapter Delegate: Jeff Bohner
772- 8304,

Conservation: Rich Kellman
Cool Cities Coordinator: Erin Riddle

Peter McWain
Fundraising: Vivian Stevens

Membership: Jack Davis

Media/Publicity: Fiske Hanson

Outings: Nancy McGee

Newsletter Editor: Lee Shepherd

Mailing Address:
Susquehanna Group of the Sierra Club
P.O. Box 572
Endicott, N.Y. 13760


This page last updated January 5, 2010