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May/Aug 2008
Explore, enjoy and protect the planet
Susquehanna Group

We Are Transitioning to Electronic Newsletters

The executive committee of the Susquehanna group has decided that starting in September, we will mail paper newsletters only to members requesting them. We will mail one more end of the year "Year in Review" newsletter this year to all members. We encourage our members who have computer access to go to our web site, to access the newsletters, they will be placed there in both html and pdf format. If you would like to continue to have a newsletter mailed after the May-August one, please contact Jack Davis at 570-553-2081 or .


Activities 1
Support Local Farmers to Eat Healthier 2
EarthFest 2008 3
Gas Drilling 3
Delaware County Composting Facility 3
Sustainability Southern Tier 4
Sierra Club Websites 4
Officers 4
Membership Application 4


Everyone interested is welcome at all Sierra Club activities, whether or not a member (except for Executive Committee meetings).

General Meetings: These are held at 7:30 pm on the third Tuesday of each month, except July and August. They are held at Central United Methodist Church, 17 Nanticoke Ave., Endicott, NY (it is on Route 26 - from Route 17, follow 26 n. to Endicott, w. on E. Main, n. on Nanticoke). The public is welcome and refreshments are served following the meeting. Call Jack Davis, 570-553-2081, or Scott Lauffer, 341-3746 or for further information.

Tuesday, May 20
Recent Weather Trends for Our Region

Barbara Watson, Meteorologist-in-Charge of the National Weather Service, Binghamton Forecast Office presents a discussion on recent weather disasters and climate change. She will provide a summary of the most recent research and forecasts on climate change and show historical weather trends for our region. Recent floods, milder winters, severe storms … what conclusions can be drawn from these based on what is known of long-term regional weather patterns?  What does the future hold?

Tuesday, June 17
Water Sentinels

The Sierra Club's Water Sentinels program trains volunteers to collect water samples and monitor data with the goal of getting these waterways cleaned up. Rich Hurley will be proposing a Water Sentinel project for our group. Information about Rich:
Chair of the Finger Lakes Sierra Club Group  
Enviromental Education Chair for Sierra Club Atlantic Chapter
Sierra Club Water Sentinel
Science teacher in NYS over 20 years
1999 awarded teacher of the year by New York sate Conservation Districts
 His goal is to bring environmental change via education.

Sierra Events: These are held several times per year (see Activities note above). "In order to participate on one of the Sierra Club's outings, you will need to sign a liability waiver. If you would like to read a copy of the waiver prior to the outing, please see or call 415-977-5630. In the interests of facilitating the logistics of some outings, it is customary that participants make carpooling arrangements. The Sierra Club does not have insurance for carpooling arrangements and assumes no liability for them. Carpooling, ride sharing or anything similar is strictly a private arrangement among the participants. Participants assume the risks associated with this travel."

July 15; 7 pm
Straw Bale House Outing

We plan to tour, this summer, a straw bale house designed and owned by Laura Intscher, architect with Secret Base designs. Straw Bale houses make use of straw, which can be considered a natural waste product and is a very good insulator. Laura will give us a tour of the house and a presentation on the aspects of straw bale design and construction. We have to limit the group to no more than 12 people and parking space at the house is limited , so please contact me to reserve a spot and receive information on when and where to meet to carpool.
Scott Lauffer, 648-6240,

Sat. Aug. 2, 8:00 am
Belleayre Mountain Explore

Meet behind Denny’s on Upper Front Street. Our intent is to explore the area around Crossroads Venture’s proposed Belleayre Resort at Catskill Park. The huge development is proposed to be located on Belleayre Mountain, with buildings and roads continuing up the steep slopes to over 3000' in elevation. The location is within the Catskill Park, in the NYC Watershed and borders constitutionally protected forest preserve lands and taxpayer owned Belleayre Ski Center. Details of this outing are not yet finalized. Be prepared to hike several miles and do some climbing, and bring a lunch, water and snack. Carpool fee is $15.00. Contact Kathy Cronin 648-6240, or
Following are included as of possible interest, but your Sierra Club neither sponsors nor takes responsibility for these outside events:
TO REGISTER, call 625-2221. Children welcome but must be accompanied by an adult. $4.00/members, $5.00/non-members, $1.00 for children. Waterman membership forms will be available at the Glen and at
DIRECTIONS TO THE IBM GLEN: Drive north on Robinson Hill Rd. from Country Club Rd. in Endwell for 1.2 miles. Look for a white entrance gate on the right hand side of the road. The parking lot is a short distance beyond the gate.
Nature booklets can be purchased for $1.00 each at the nature walks and concerts. Please do not bring dogs to concerts or hikes. Please wear sturdy shoes. The hikes are hilly so you might want to bring a hiking stick.

Sat. May 17, 9 am
Come see some of the unique wildflowers that grow in the IBM Glen

Sun. May 25, 3 pm

Three Penny Glen will play a concert of mostly American traditional music including Golden Slippers, Redwing, and Camptown Races. .

Sat. June 14, 6:00-8:30 am

Join us as we explore the many trails of the Glen in hopes of seeing some late day butterflies and hearing the evening songs of the birds that live in the Glen.

Sat. July 5, 9 am

PROFESSOR, BIOLOGICAL SCIENCES, SUNY BINGHAMTON: Midsummer is a time when tree shade is deep, birds are busy feeding young, and  utterflies are most active.

Executive Committee Meetings are (usually) held on the Tuesday before each General Meeting at 7:30 pm (0610, 0909).

Support Local Farmers to Eat Healthier;Also Reduce Carbon Emissions this Summer.
Over the past few years, events such as the contamination of bagged spinach, Taco Bell food and Topp's Brand Ground Beef Patties have highlighted a food production and distribution system that is heavily industrialized and increasingly controlled by fewer and fewer growers, packers and distributors. This system results in food that is lower in nutrition and more susceptible to widespread contamination, requires more fossil fuels to produce, harvest and distribute, and allows for fewer opportunities for local, small farms to offer a diversity of products.
The greatest impact that the industrialization of agriculture has had is an increase in each product’s “food miles.” Food miles refers to the distance a food product travels between the site of harvest to the site of consumption. Food produced and distributed locally travels 56 miles, while food produced and distributed through standard means (most of the products purchased at a grocery store) travels nearly 1,500. This system relies on fossil fuels and relies heavily on pesticides and large-scale farming methods that pollute local air, water and soil, and also result in soil erosion. Mono-cropping, or planting a single variety of a crop, also makes the harvest susceptible to widespread disease and loss of genetic diversity in seed reserves.
When you buy directly from the farmer, more of the money you spend goes directly to the farmer. When you buy from a grocery store, however, your money is generally divided between the store, the manufacturer, the processor, the distributor, and then finally the farmer. For example a briefing note to the TVU/Sustain AgriFood Network reported that only 3.5 cents of every dollar spent in the conventional food system goes to the farmer. An EPA report indicates, however, that farmers markets result in farmers keeping 80 to 90 cents of each dollar spent by the consumer. This allows small farmers to increase their income and stay in business, which benefits the local community.
With the harvest season already underway, now is the perfect time of year to begin exploring local farmers markets. You can find farmers markets in your area at or Another option is to consider becoming a member of a CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) for next year—CSAs accept members far in advance of the harvest season.
Remember that making even small changes does have a tremendous impact. So, if you pledge to make even one meal a week from local products, or to spend at least $20 a week on local products, this will have a great impact on your health, the planet, local farmers and the local community. If you would really like to challenge your diet lifestyle, considering taking the first steps to a 100-mile diet at
To learn more about the issues discussed above, I recommend the following titles:
In Defense of Food: An Eater’s Manifesto—Michael Pollan
The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals—Michael Pollan
The Essential Agrarian Reader: The Future of Culture, Community, and the Land—ed. Norman Wirzba
Fatal Harvest: The Tragedy of Industrial Agriculture—ed. Andrew Kimbrell

-- Erin Riddle

Source: Adapted from the “Buy Local” section of the website for Sustainable Table.

EarthFest 2008
This was held at Roberson Museum and Science Center, Binghamton, NY
Susquehanna Group / Sierra Club, one of over 70 exhibiters and venders to set up at this event garnered its share of attention from the estimated crowd of 2,000 plus.
Literature on Zero Waste, energy and environmental issues, sample Newsletters local and state were available for the taking.
Sierra Club T-shirts, Caps and Calendars, displayed for sale. Some are still available; if interested, contact Julian Shephard.
"True Cost of Food" a documentary on DVD format also for purchase (see Erin Riddle) or for free viewing go to Enthusiastic conversation with Fest goers generated a list of 34 people interested in learning more about our group and group activities. We welcome their interest and look forward to see them at our meetings!
River Trails Bike Cruise high-lighted the Fest this year to promote "a bike friendly city".
If you missed this event you can join in the 7 mile start to finish "Binghamton Historic Bridge Pedal" on July 13 '08.
--Fiske Hanson

Gas Drilling

The Susquehanna group of the Sierra Club’s main statement about gas drilling is that it is never good for the environment. Furthermore natural gas cannot be considered a form of clean energy and it releases green house gases, which contribute to climate change.  There are DEC regulations that intend to safeguard the environment and people, but they can only do so much and all interested parties should be watchful of any short cuts that can be a threat to the environment, health and safety.
Landowners and communities need to get expert assistance to protect their interests whle negotiating with the gas companies as to their paying reasonably as to their needs and desires. Some topics to consider:

  1. The lease should require that wells be tested before drilling starts, and after each fracking at the leasee's expense.
  2. For each well that is drilled, 800,000 gal of water are required.  That water can be reused, but the storage for it means the drill site is 3-4 acres.  It is likely that the fracking process will be repeated during well operation.
  3. When drilling occurs, the material that is brought to the surface must be disposed of.  Common practice is to bury on site, with a plastic liner.  Is this appropriate on the site of the drilling?
  4. If  local power is not available, a generator will be necessary for the duration of operation, so the noise pollution will not be temporary.
  5. Leases should require blankets to reduce the noise levels during drilling and operation.
  6. When the site is prepared, top soil should be segregated, to allow it to be used during restoration.  This must also be done for any pipeline installation.  Pipelines should be installed at a depth that will not restrict farming operations.

Delaware County Composting Facility

About ten years ago Delaware County committed to building a composting facility at their landfill. A group of us visited the site and were given a tour and educational talk by Susan McIntyre, the Solid Waste Director. The composting operation is integrated into their solid waste stream, except for construction debris, recycling and hazardous waste. Everything else goes through an elaborate process where organics are separated from inorganics. Biosolvents from ten area waste water treatment plants and waste from two food plants are also mixed in with the organics to produce a rich pathogen-free compost as the end product. The compost is mainly sold to landscapers, it does not pass state standards to be used for food crops.
It was expensive to build and operate at $22 million and $48/ton. But it would have been more expensive to open a separate landfill, the other option, as they were running out of space at the current landfill. By composting, they remove 70% of material from the waste stream. The hope is that the composting extends the life of their landfill by up to 50 years.
There are only ten composting facilities like this in North America, but Canadian Solid Waste programs are planning on constructing many more and are interested in Delaware County’s operation. They have been operating since 2006, and although they had some failures with the quality and marketability of the compost the first year, last year they were successful with all the ‘batches’. Susan says she still reminds herself that they are not really dealing with waste, as much as material. If we all thought this way, we could figure out how to have zero waste, all organics can be used again. We could also eliminate inorganics from the waste stream with extended producer responsibility where the producer would be responsible for taking back what they produce as well as the packaging.

Sustainability Southern Tier (with credits to Adam Flint) -

The Southern Tier Sustainability Planning Committee is building on years of work in the area of sustainability. Numerous research tasks include identifying relevant best practices on governance, volunteer and staffing models; identifying trainers and educators in relevant fields; outreach to make the center and its programming inclusive; sustainability networking; program development in priority sustainability fields; a regional sustainability asset inventory; fundraising; finding an appropriate space for the center; web and database development.
Get Involved! To subscribe to this group, send email to To post to this group, send email to

Sierra Club Websites
Each of these provides links to the other two:
Atlantic Chapter (NY State):
Susquehanna Group (NY Southern Tier - Binghamton - area):
Dave Ketchum, Newsletter Editor.

Group Officers (2008)

Group Chair: Scott Lauffer, 341-3746,
Vice Chair: Erin Riddle, 372-5503,
Secretary: Fiske D. Hanson, 772-1236,
Treasurer: Vivian Stevens, 748-9865
Chapter ExCom Rep: Jeff Bohner, 772-8304,
Conservation: Julian Shepherd, 722-9327,
Cool Cities Coordinator: Erin Riddle, 372-5503,
Education: Harry Barnes, 829-5307
Fundraising: Vivian Stevens, 748-9865
Membership: Jack Davis, 570-553-2081,
Media/Publicity: Gaynelle Gauvin, 729-8306,
Newsletter Editor: Dave Ketchum, 687-5026,
Outing: Kathy Cronin, 757-0736,
Population: Harry Barnes, 829-5307
Wetlands/Clean Water: Cindy Westerman, 748-9792,

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Contributions, gifts and dues to the Sierra Club are not tax deductible; they support our effective,citizen-based advocacy and lobbying efforts. Your dues include $7.50 for your subscription to Sierra Magazine and $1 for your Chapter newsletter.
 Printed by Susquehanna Printers, Owego, NY

This page last updated May 19, 2008