Will a Broome County trout stream be used for hydraulic fracturing?

We'll find out tomorrow whether the Delaware River Basin Commission will allow water from the Oquaga Creek, a trout stream that drains into the West Branch of the Delaware River, to be used in hydraulic fracturing projects in Delaware and Broome counties.

The DRBC will meet at 1:30pm in West Trenton, New Jersey for a public hearing where it will vote on a slew of applications for various uses of water within the Delaware River Basin.

One of those applications, XTO Energy, Inc., D-2010-022-1, caught the attention of the environmental community last week for its request to withdraw water to use for "natural gas exploration and production activities in Broome and Delaware Counties in the State of New York."  Read more

Casino dreams: They never die

Governor Andrew Cuomo burying Sullivan County casino dreams. Illustration by Gary Mayer.

After an ambitious plan to put a casino in town of Thompson in Sullivan County crashed and burned earlier this year (see image above), a new casino dream is rising in its place, according to YNN and the Daily Freeman.

This time, the Indian tribe involved is the Connecticut-based Mohegan Tribal Gaming Authority, and the destination is the former Concord Hotel in, yes, the town of Thompson, according to YNN:  Read more

Study: Fracking linked to flaming faucets

Still from the movie "Gasland."

A team of scientists at Duke University published a paper yesterday which should make Gasland director Josh Fox very happy: It provides peer-reviewed, prestigiously-published scientific evidence that hydraulic fracturing may contaminate drinking water with methane, making it flammable.

The most compelling image in Fosh's documentary is of a flaming facuet, but until now, there has been no scientific study suggesting that fracking might have something to do with it. 

The Duke study, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences yesterday, contains the first evidence that fracking and flaming faucets might be connected, its authors wrote in a whitepaper released along with the study yesterday.  Read more

Ulster County deputy sheriff arrested on charges of narcotic possession

This just in from the Ulster County Sheriff's Department:

Ulster County Sheriff Paul J. Van Blarcum reports the arrest of Sean W. Ryan, age 41, of West Hurley, N.Y. for the charges of Official Misconduct and Criminal Possession of a Controlled Substance in the 7th Degree. Both crimes are Class A misdemeanors.  Read more

Buses crashing everywhere

The Freeman reports that a bus destined for a local home for disabled residents was hit by a pickup truck on Route 145 in East Durham this morning, injuring both drivers and two passengers:

Police said the driver of the truck was airlifted to Albany Medical Center. His 13-year-old son, a passenger, was taken by ambulance to  Albany.

The bus driver was also injured and taken to Albany Medical Center. An aide on the bus was taken to Columbia Memorial Hospital, police said.

Is there something in the air? Just two days ago, in an unrelated incident, an Ulster-Greene ARC bus with seven disabled people and two staff members on board crashed in Kingston, causing minor injuries.

And two weeks ago, a school bus in Ulster mysteriously caught fire with three students aboard.

Tree ID: Now on your iPhone

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Can't tell a beech from a birch? There's an app for that. Last month, scientists from Columbia University, the University of Maryland, and the Smithsonian released Leafsnap, a free iPhone and iPad app that promises a simple way to identify Northeastern U.S. tree species from their leaves.

Unlike other field guides -- even digital ones -- Leafsnap doesn't rely on users picking from a list of characteristics to puzzle out which species they're looking at. Instead, it relies on visual recognition technology -- a kind of software that's also used to identify faces, and has been advancing rapidly in recent years -- to match a photo of a leaf taken in the field with species in Leafsnap's database.  Read more

Local cable company rejects federal broadband grant for having "too many conditions"

Broadband cable. Photo by Michael Coghlan, via Flickr.

Some excellent reporting by blogger and community activist Sam Pratt has prompted a story in the Daily Mail about Mid-Hudson Cablevision, which, both Pratt and the Mail report, is turning down $3.5 million in federal broadband grants it was awarded last year.

(We've been a little slow on the uptake on these stories, which ran in the last week of April. Hat tip to WGXC for turning us on to Pratt's reporting.)   Read more

Mother's Day flowers

Laurie McIntosh, a musician, storyteller, and mom of two, spent Mother's Day on a mountainside in Andes, where, she emailed us, she found enough flowers to please any mama:

A Trout Lily and a sea of Spring Beauties, is what I found on Mt. Pisgah (aka Bobcat) today. No macro lens here, so this is about the best I could do on my solo Mother's Day hike up the mountain.

Have any photos from your Mothers Day? Send them to us at [email protected] or post them to our Flickr group.

A hike up Mount Tremper in 1925

Photo from the family collection of Doc Searls, of his aunt Ethel Searls in the shadow of the Tremper Mountain Fire Tower. Reproduced by permission.

While poking around on Flickr, we recently discovered a wonderful little cache of photos from a bygone era, documenting a hike on Mount Tremper taken by a group of girls in 1925.

Pictured above is Ethel Searls, age 20, carving something into a slab with a hammer and chisel. In another shot from the photo set, Ethel's sister -- twelve-year-old Grace Searls, seated in front with the barrette -- seems to have picked more sensible hiking shoes than one of her unnamed companions. (Climbing Mount Tremper in high heels: Truly an astounding feat.)  Read more