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Save Ontario Shores says it will continue opposition to Lighthouse Wind

Posted 7 March 2018 at 7:55 am

Press Release, Save Ontario Shores

Save Ontario Shores is firmly committed to continuing its opposition to Lighthouse Wind, an industrial wind project proposed by the Virginia corporation, Apex Clean Energy.

Stipulations for the Article 10 Lighthouse Wind electrical generation project were filed on March 5, 2018. This is the last step before the company can file the application for this project that has proposed up to 70, 600-foot industrial turbines to be placed along 12 miles of the Lake Ontario shoreline. This corporation has been unmoved by the three-year steadily growing chorus of opposition to the project.

Residents in the beautiful rural lakeside towns of Somerset and Yates, located in the project area, were surveyed in 2015 and voiced overwhelming opposition to the project. This did not dissuade the developer, Apex. Since then the two Town Boards passed well-reasoned laws to protect the towns’ environment, residents and economy.

Several diverse national, statewide and regional environmental and birding groups, along with SOS and organizations representing tourism, economic development, and hunting and fishing interests, have formed the POWER Coalition (Protecting {Lake} Ontario’s Waterfront, Environment & Resources) to jointly raise concerns.

County legislatures in Erie, Niagara, and Orleans counties have all voiced their opposition to Lighthouse Wind. The project location includes a major migratory flyway for songbirds and raptors, a lakeside tourist region, and proximity to a US Air Base and thousands of residences and small businesses.

Apex’s reluctance to engage with citizens regarding their concerns has left the company isolated from local leaders. But New York State’s Department of Public Service has indicated that developers need to go through local laws and not around them.

The SOS signs have been up for years and support many in the local community who say: We’ll Keep Fighting! and APEX Go Home!

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Apex files 290-page document in response to concerns about turbine project in Yates, Somerset

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 6 March 2018 at 10:01 am

Yates town supervisor calls filing ‘slipshod’

File photo by Tom Rivers: The 400-foot-high wind turbines in Sheldon, Wyoming County, are pictured in October 2015. Apex is proposing turbines that would be 600 feet high in Yates and Somerset.

ALBANY – Apex Clean Energy on Monday filed a long-anticipated stipulations document, which in 290 pages details the company studies and responses to concerns about environmental, visual, property values and other impacts. (Click here to be directed to the document.)

There is now a 21-day comment period for residents and other interested parties to submit comments about the stipulations and project.

Apex is proposing to build a 201 megawatt wind-powered electric generating facility in Somerset and Yates. The facility would also include a point of interconnection substation near the Kintigh Substation in Somerset, which would deliver electricity to the New York State electric grid.

Apex would build about 70 wind turbines, access roads, electrical collection lines, collection substation, wind measurement towers, temporary construction staging and storage areas, and an operations and maintenance facility.

The 290-page document details the proposed stipulations agreed to between Apex and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, NYS Department of Public Service, the NYS Department of Health, and NYS Department of Agriculture and Markets.

Other parties that may join these stipulations include the Town of Somerset, the Town of Yates, Save Ontario Shores, Genesee Valley Audubon Society, and Rochester Birding Association.

The project has been bitterly opposed by the towns of Yates and Somerset, and the citizens group, Save Ontario Shores. Yates and Somerset have both updated their wind energy laws, increasing setbacks for turbines by property lines, and banning them within 3 miles of Lake Ontario.

James Simon, Yates Town Supervisor, issued this statement about Apex’s stipulations filing:

Jim Simon

“After nearly 2 years of confidential stipulations negotiations, Apex Clean Energy has failed to gain agreement from either of the targeted towns on the scope and methodology of the proposed studies in any of the relevant exhibits of their Lighthouse Wind project proposal.   This is very telling. They have failed to make their case to the towns, and yet they have the audacity to serve the towns and the general public official notice of proposed stipulations purportedly agreed to by several state agencies.

“I am shocked at the shoddiness of Apex’s 290-page Stipulations document. For instance, Apex claims to have an agreement with several state agencies regarding what they refer to on page 87 as “Appendix A” (Stipulation 31-1001.31 Exhibit 31: Local Laws and Ordinances, paragraph C).  And yet, there is no Appendix A for Exhibit 31 – it does not exist anywhere in the document.  Perhaps Apex is telling the Town of Yates that they are planning to seek a determination from the Siting Board that our updated local wind law is ‘unreasonably burdensome?’ One can only wonder.

“Getting back to this slipshod document, according to the Table of Contents, there are no appendices or attachments whatsoever. And yet, a cursory scan of the document reveals a number of appendices and attachments not listed in the Table of Contents such as Attachment 20(A) on page 90 (or is it page 46?), Attachment 22A on page 93 (or is it page 59?), Appendix A (p.263), Appendix B (p. 274), Appendix 1 (p. 192),  Appendix 2 (p. 193), etc..

“This is sloppiness, ambivalence, hubris, or all of the above. And they want to build 600-foot industrial wind turbines in Yates and Somerset? Go figure.

“With regard to supposed agreements on the proposed stipulations between Apex and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Department of Public Service, the Department of Health, and the Department of Agriculture and Markets, I am hoping that these state agencies are not being bamboozled into stipulations agreements before the 21-day Public Comment period is over. After all, they haven’t yet had a chance to consider some of the local expertise that will surely come to light from the citizens with standing in this case.

“Lastly, two weeks ago the Town of Yates sent Apex Clean Energy’s CEO Mark Goodwin a confirmed-receipt letter stating, a) that we have updated our local wind laws, b) that we have passed a unanimous resolution against the Lighthouse Wind project, and, c) that we continue to have monolithic opposition from both towns, both school districts and both counties against a payment-in-lieu of taxes agreement.  The last point would mean that even if the state forced this project on Yates and Somerset, Apex would have to pay full property taxes making the project economically unviable. Mr. Goodwin’s response? Crickets. No wait, check that. His response is a 290-page monstrosity called ‘Stipulations.’

“Game on.”

Dan Engert, Somerset Town Supervisor, released this statement on Monday about the Apex filing:

Dan Engert

“The Town of Somerset is disappointed to report that Lighthouse Wind LLC, a subsidiary of Apex Clean Energy, has taken the next step in its plan to convert our entire Town into a sprawling industrial wind energy plant of massive proportions.

“Today, by publishing draft stipulations with state agencies, Apex has clearly signaled its resolve to limit the review of their project’s environmental, economic, and public health impacts. Apex has also reaffirmed its intent to trample Home Rule by having the state government ‘waive’ our local zoning laws.

“Somerset is confident that all parties will think carefully before signing any agreement that could improperly limit the review of environmental and economic impacts. A growing body of evidence shows the devastating impact industrial wind can have on people and the environment – especially in lake-shore communities like Somerset. It would be a shame if the so called ‘stipulations’ published today are used to prevent a hard look at the major bird migration route passing over Somerset, the visual impacts of 70 new 60-story towers, or the dangers to public health posed by noisy turbines.

“The only positive to take away from today’s publication of draft agreements is that the secretive stipulation process, which has kept the public in the dark for almost 2 years, is now over. The truth is that Somerset has already suffered enough economic harm at the hands of Apex. Public opposition remains strong, but unfortunately this ill-conceived project has impacted some neighbors and families who have been torn apart by the divisive and secretive tactics of a big industrial wind company. Today, as Apex continues its quest to overturn our local zoning laws, the time for healing has not yet begun.

“Governor Cuomo, I call upon you to stop the sacrifice of upstate property at the altar of industrial wind development.”

Taylor Quarles, Lighthouse Wind Development Manager, issued this statement:

Taylor Quarles

“Stipulations is a process that involves discussion and consultation with those who have registered for party status regarding the methodology and scope of studies, the results of which will be presented in the final application. Stipulations is an entirely optional process; neither Lighthouse Wind nor other parties are required to participate in the dialogue, but instead do so because they see a benefit in working to ensure the final application is thorough and complete.

“Throughout stipulations, all discussions and negotiations between parties should remain confidential. However, after making the agreed-upon changes and finalizing stipulations, the results are submitted for public comment before any party can sign. A party’s signature on a stipulation signifies their satisfaction with the extent and methods of the proposed study plan. Lighthouse Wind has remained committed to receiving public input throughout the Article 10 process, and looks forward to reviewing comments received on these stipulations prior to seeking any signatures from parties.

“We encourage readers to judge the stipulations for themselves. They will find an extensive and detailed document which is the result of extensive input we have received from over 20 involved stakeholder parties, including Somerset and Yates, all the pertinent state agencies, several local environmental groups, Save Ontario Shores, and several individuals. We remain committed to the over 100 signed landowners who are excited for the benefits the Lighthouse Wind project could offer their communities, in part evidenced by the over 20 successfully operating wind projects across New York State.

“The scope of studies proposed in this document will make Lighthouse Wind one of the most exhaustively reviewed wind projects to date. Public health and Safety (Exhibit 15) is covered on pages 24-28. Noise and Vibration (Exhibit 19) is covered on pages 31-42. Terrestrial Ecology and Wetlands (Exhibit 22) is covered on pages 49-59. Visual Impacts (exhibit 24) is covered on pages 62-78. Site Restoration and Decommissioning (exhibit 29) is covered on pages 85-86.

“All told, the stipulations document is over 200 pages long and exhaustively details the scope for each of the 41 exhibits required in our future Article 10 application.  We have been diligent and committed throughout the stipulations discussions because we see it as a critical step in the ongoing process of receiving input from stakeholders and the public.  As such, we are eager to review any and all input submitted over the comment period.”

Within 21 days after filing of the proposed stipulations, any person, agency or municipality may submit comments on the proposed stipulations by serving such comments on the applicant’s designated representative: Taylor Quarles, 8687 Main Street, Barker, NY 14012, or by emailing info@lighthousewind.com and by filing a copy with the Secretary to the Siting Board (Hon. Kathleen H. Burgess at secretary@dps.ny.gov).

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New Lyndonville banners promote school pride

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 27 February 2018 at 4:57 pm

Provided photos

LYNDONVILLE – New banners celebrating Lyndonville Tiger pride were installed on Main Street today.

The 20 banners were paid for by the Lyndonville Sports Boosters.

“Our teams bring our community together in such a positive way,” said Amy Lewis, one of the Boosters. “After months of hard work, we are happy to share that today 20 canvas flags were mounted along Main Street to display our Tiger pride and appreciation.”

The village Department of Public Works installed the new banners, which are expected to stay up just before Memorial Day, when American flags are mounted on the utility poles.

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Environmental groups form coalition to oppose Lighthouse Wind project

Posted 26 February 2018 at 6:16 pm

Photo by Tom Rivers: A wind turbine is pictured on the Tug Hill Plateau in northern New York.

Press Release, Save Ontario Shores

A diverse group of organizations has joined forces to stop Apex Clean Energy’s Lighthouse Wind project, which has been proposed for the towns of Somerset and Yates.

The mission of the POWER Coalition (Protecting {Lake} Ontario’s Waterfront, Environment, and Resources) is to highlight the broad opposition to the current proposal by Apex to site up to 70, approximately 600-foot-tall industrial wind turbines along the Lake Ontario shoreline.

“We are in favor of renewable energy, but the Lighthouse Wind project does not meet our standards,” said Shawn Graff, vice president, Great Lakes Region, American Bird Conservancy.  “The American Bird Conservancy believes that the proximity to the lakeshore makes this project toxic for migrating birds, bats and raptors and this alone should be enough to stop the project. There are several environmental organizations who agree.”

Each member organization opposes this project based on one or more of the following concerns:

• That this project is being proposed in a major bird migratory corridor and will be devastating to large populations of birds and bats;

• Will visually degrade the waterfront, negatively impact tourism, and violate the Local Waterfront Revitalization Plans (LWRP) adopted by the towns of Somerset and Yates, and accepted by New York State;

• Disrupt hunting and fishing opportunities;

• Increase noise levels for local and seasonal residents;

• Possibly interfere with operations at the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station, potentially jeopardizing the future of the base in the next round of base closures.

It is the position of all POWER Coalition members that renewable energy is a legitimate and important goal for New York State to pursue.  But no energy project should ever be free of assessing and balancing all its impacts on other vital aspects of our environment, economy and quality of life.

The POWER Coalition acknowledges the importance of standards for the proper siting of these projects based on eliminating or significantly mitigating the negative aspects any project might present.  The POWER Coalition believes that the Apex proposal for Somerset and Yates fails to meet these standards and should be rejected by New York State.

POWER Coalition members include: American Bird Conservancy, Braddock Bay Bird Observatory, Burroughs Audubon Nature Club, Federation of Monroe County Environmentalists, Genesee Valley Audubon Society, Great Lakes Seaway Trail, Hawk Migration Association of North America, New York State Ornithological Association, Niagara USA Chamber, Orleans County Federation of Sportsmen’s Clubs, Rochester Birding Association, and Save Ontario Shores, Inc.

The POWER Coalition will continue to advocate for the withdrawal of this project through direct advocacy with government officials, by hosting forums, and disseminating information which will show the tremendous negative impact this industrial wind project will have on Niagara and Orleans counties’ lakeshore regions.

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Lyndonville looks to offer tax exemptions for renovations to historic Main Street

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 25 February 2018 at 8:06 am

Photo by Tom Rivers: Main Street in Lyndonville is shown on Saturday. The downtown has several vacancies. Village officials are hopeful that a tax exemption for renovations will entice businesses to Main Street.

LYNDONVILLE – In an effort to draw investment to Main Street, the Lyndonville Village Board plans to offer an exemption for upgrades to buildings in the downtown.

Property owners who invest in the historic commercial buildings would not see the assessments increase for five years, and would then see 20 percent increases over the next five years, until the sites are at full assessment.

John Belson, mayor of Lyndonville, said he is concerned about the many vacant or underutilized buildings in the downtown. Medina offers a similar exemption, and Belson said it has provided temporary relief for some building owners after they made significant investments in the downtown.

The Orleans County Legislature also is scheduled to vote on offering the exemption in Lyndonville at this Wednesday’s Legislature meeting at 4:30 p.m. Belson would like to see the school district and Town of Yates offer it as well. The Village Board will have its own public hearing on the issue at 6:05 p.m. on March 5 at the Village Hall.

Properties on Main Street, from Eagle Street to Riverside Drive, would be eligible for the exemption if it is approved.

“If we don’t do something we’re in trouble,” Belson said.

He doesn’t want to see buildings fall into more disrepair.

He noted the village and taxing entities aren’t losing any revenue based on the existing taxes from the sites. The taxing jurisdictions are, however, forgoing an increase in taxes for five years with the sites, but would then see a 20 percent increase annually from years 6 to 10 for the additional assessed value based on improvements.

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Lyndonville boy honored for helping mother after medical emergency

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 17 February 2018 at 2:19 pm

Photos by Tom Rivers

LYNDONVILLE – The Lyndonville Fire Department presented a certificate of appreciation this afternoon to Christopher Adkins Jr., 8, for his assistance on Jan. 29 when he mother was having a medical emergency at home.

Christopher was presented with the certificate and a gift card for $50 at Walmart. Fire Chief Ben Bane, left, hands Christopher with the award. He is joined by his parents, Misty and Chris Adkins, and Christopher’s younger brother, Austin. Other Lyndonville firefighters include Lee Kistner, second from right, and T.J. Heideman.

When his mother passed out from a medical emergency, Christopher quickly located his father in the basement of their home. Christopher brought his mother’s phone to his father and was ready to dial 911.

Christopher was able to give firefighters and EMTs background on how his mother was feeling that day, which helped firefighters to better understand her condition. He also was nurturing to his mother, said Lee Kistner, the second assistant chief.

“He was very caring with his mother, telling her ‘I love you,’ and ‘You’ll be alright,’” Kistner said.

Christopher Adkins, Jr. chats with Lyndonville firefighter Lee Kistner during a visit to the fire hall this afternoon.

With the certificate, Lyndonville firefighters thanked Christopher for his assistance on the emergency call to his home on Jan. 29.

“Your ability to remain calm, level headed, and recount details of the day were essential to getting your mother the help that she needed,” the certificate states.

Christopher’s father said he is impressed by his son’s actions that day.

“A lot of kids his age I don’t even think they know their address,” Mr. Adkins said. “He came and got me and had the phone. He was very brave.”

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Yates official says local law opposing industrial wind turbines protects rural character of community

Posted 11 February 2018 at 7:10 pm

Press Release, Town of Yates

YATES – The Yates Town Board amended its Wind Energy Facilities Law on Feb. 8, part of its ongoing effort opposing plans by Lighthouse Wind to install as many as 71 industrial wind turbines along shoreline communities in Orleans and Niagara counties.

“Since the Lighthouse Wind project was introduced in 2014, the Town Board has worked to learn as much as possible about the impacts and benefits of these industrial-scale projects,” said Town Supervisor Jim Simon.  “The amendments reflect that continuing effort, and in particular, the recommendations of two agencies well-placed to balance impacts and benefits.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service recommends no wind turbines within three miles of the Lake Ontario shoreline for the Town of Yates in order to avoid possible severe impact on avian flyways and habitat, and the Vermont Public Service Board recommends turbine setback distances at residences such that, “…each turbine and any sound producing equipment located within the footprint of the turbine array shall be set back horizontally no less than ten times the turbine’s height as measured from the base to the tip of a blade in the upright vertical position.”

Additionally, the Town of Yates has performed an exhaustive, two-year setback study which has provided a statistical validation of the proposed setbacks.

“The Lighthouse Wind proposal for the Town of Yates is not appropriately sited,” Simon said.  “It does not protect and accommodate the concerns of the town, and is most definitely not consistent with all local laws and ordinances.”

The Town Board also unanimously approved a resolution on Feb. 8 reaffirming their formal opposition to the Lighthouse Wind project within the Town of Yates citing concerns about how the proposal would circumvent local control for siting large-scale industrial projects; how the project would create significant negative visual impacts from aesthetic points in the community and region; how the noise impacts in the current rural area would, based on World Health Organization standards and those recently adopted by the State of Vermont, negatively impact the health and the quality of life of residents.

In addition the Town Board said the proposed turbine project would introduce new hazards such as shadow flicker, ice shedding and blade throw; the project would present risks to the property values of adjoining property owners not part of the project; avian flyways and habitats and bat populations may be severely impacted as documented by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; the unacceptable possibility of encroachment on the Niagara Falls Air Reserve Station could jeopardize operational mission effectiveness and make the air base subject to closure in the next Base Realignment and Closure Commission (BRAC); and there are significant wetland and other surface and sub-surface hydrological resources that would be negatively impacted by the large-scale terrain modification required for the project.

“We are called to protect the health, safety and welfare of our citizens for current and future generations and to preserve the rural, agricultural and leisure-based character of our community,” Simon said.

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Yates approves revised wind ordinance with farther setbacks for turbines, ban by lakeshore

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 9 February 2018 at 4:44 pm

YATES – The Yates Town Board has approved revisions to the town’s wind energy facilities law that bans wind turbines from within 3 miles of the Lake Ontario shoreline and also requires bigger property setbacks of at least a half mile.

The proposed revisions also insist turbines be quieter than the current regulations.

The Town Board passed the law on Thursday evening in a 4-1 vote. Wes Bradley voted no, while Town Supervisor Jim Simon and board members Harold Suhr, Jim Whipple and John Riggi approved it.

Taylor Quarles, project manager for the proposed Lighthouse Wind, said last month during an Orleans County Planning Board meeting that the Yates proposal represents “a wind energy ban.”

Apex Clean Energy wants to put as many as 70 turbines in Yates and Somerset that would be about 600 feet high as part of Lighthouse Wind.

Simon, the Yates town supervisor, said the bigger setbacks will protect “non-participating land owners” and help to preserve the rural nature and character of the town.

Simon said 3-mile buffer from the shoreline follows a recommendation from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, which sees the 3-mile section along the shoreline as an important flyway for birds.

The changes in the Yates ordinance also include:

  • Reducing the allowable noise decibels to “residential receivers” from 45 during the day (7 a.m. to 8 p.m.) to 42, and from 40 at nighttime to 39 decibels. Simon said that follows recommendations from the Vermont Public Service Board for lower decibels. Simon said the turbine noise and “infrasound” can disturb sleep, causing negative health effects for people. The infrasound is a lower frequency of noise that can disrupt a person’s equilibrium, Simon said.
  • The setbacks from non-participating property lines was a minimum of 3 times the turbine height for land with houses or buildings, and 4.5 times the turbine height for vacant land. The change now increases the minimum setback to a half-mile (2,640 feet) or 6 times the turbine height, whichever is greater.
  • The setback from roads and public right-of-ways was a minimum of 1,800 feet or 3 times the height of a turbine. Yates has increased that to a half-mile or 6 times the turbine height.
  • The setback from the boundary of the Village of Lyndonville was 1,800 feet or 4.5 times a turbine height. Yates increased that setback to a minimum of 1 mile.
  • The setback from the boundaries from other towns was 1,800 feet or 3 times a turbine’s height. Yates now requires a half-mile setback or 6 times a turbine’s height, whichever is greater.
  • The setback from residences was 1,800 feet or 4.5 times a turbine height. Yates increased that to a half-mile or 6 times a turbine’s height.
  • In addition, Yates now has setbacks of 1 mile from schools, churches, and cemeteries. The town law didn’t include setbacks for those sites.

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Girl Scouts in Lyndonville get thanks from soldiers who received 56 boxes of cookies

Posted 8 February 2018 at 6:31 pm

Provided photo and article from Girl Scouts of WNY

LYNDONVILLE – Girl Scout Troop 82040 is selling cookies with a special goal once again. Last year, the girls in the troop decided to send their donated cookie purchases directly to American military troops stationed in Camp Arifjan in Kuwait.

The girls were able to send 56 boxes of cookies. The girls in the troop range from Kindergarten Daisy Scouts through Cadette Girl Scouts in middle school.

Troop co-leader Amanda Nowicki’s husband, Army Sergeant First Class Greg Nowicki, previously served with Chief Warrant Officer 2 Timothy Slaght, who at the time was deployed to Kuwait.

Nowicki encouraged the girls to support local deployed soldiers. The girls decided to send the cookies for the camp to enjoy. When the package arrived, the boxes were put in the mess hall for everyone to share. CW2 Slaght requested a flag be flown over the post in honor of the girls and was later sent to the Girl Scouts with a certificate as a thank you.

The girls used the money they earned from cookie sales for flowers in a memorial garden in honor of Elaina Webb, an Albion girl who passed away from leukemia a age 2 ½ on Feb. 7, 2017.

Navarra’s Greenhouse matched the number of flowers the Girl Scout troop purchased to ensure the garden would be lush and beautiful. The girls are planning another visit to Navarra’s to replenish the garden again this year.

The troop also used their cookie sale funds to attend Darien Lake for a day of play and a Kid’s Bop concert. They also used it for a Painting with a Twist class, a candy dish painting class at Brushstrokes in Medina, a Disney on Ice event in Buffalo, and are considering also using the money for membership dues in the upcoming scouting year. Girls that sold enough cookies were also able to attend a week of Girl Scout summer camp free of charge.

Throughout the year, the troop tries to work on a Girl Scout badge every meeting. The girls contribute a Christmas tree for the annual Lyndonville Christmas Tree Festival and march in the annual Lyndonville Fourth of July parade. They also try to do community service on a regular basis, including working on the community garden at a Lyndonville church and will be participating for their first time this summer in the annual FLED Foundation Kickball Tournament that supports children with leukemia and their families.

Troop 82040’s goal for this year is to get 100 cookie box donations for the Army, as well as an overall troop goal of 5,000 cookie boxes. They typically set up a cookie booth outside of Miller’s Amish Store in Lyndonville on Rt. 104.

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Soil & Water honors Yates farm for conservation practices

Photos by Tom Rivers: Gary and Nancy Thering accept the Agricultural Environmental Management (AEM) award for Conservation Farmer of the Year from Katie Sommerfeldt, the district technician for the Orleans County Sol & Water Conservation District.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 8 February 2018 at 9:37 am

Thering Family Farm works to protect soil, environment

Gary Thering thanked the Soil & Water staff for helping the farm implement many conservation practices.

GAINES – A Yates family that has been farming together on Millers Road since 1976 was honored on Wednesday for their years of conservation practices.

Gary and Nancy Thering grow corn, mixed hay and apples. They also  have 85 cows, 25 heifers, 42 calves and Black Angus bulls. The Therings are known for their mini straw bales. They designed and built a twine baler that turns 800-pound round straw bales into mini bales.

The Orleans County Soil & Water Conservation District honored the farm on Wednesday as the 2017 “Conservation Farmer of the Year.”

The farm has worked to optimize soil health and reduce erosion by installing drainage tile, rotating crops, and reducing chemical usage as part of Integrated Pest Management. The Therings target use of pesticides.

They built a covered feedlot and also an Agrichemical Handling and Mixing facility which reduces runoff.

“We never could have done it by ourselves,” Gary Thering said during a luncheon Wednesday at Tillman’s Village Inn.

He thanked the Soil & Water staff for their expertise in helping the farm implement many of the soil-saving practices. The Therings have worked with Soil & Water since 1999 to participate in the Agricultural Environmental Management program.

“We’re very, very grateful,” Thering said. “It makes our farm better. It makes our community better.”

Soil & Water presented these photos of Thering Family Farm, where Gary and Nancy have been farming together since 1976 on Millers Road.

During the meeting 73rd annual meeting of Soil & Water on Wednesday, staff reviewed accomplishments from 2017, which included:

• Surveying and designing 56 miles of drainage tile for farmers

• Working with local highway departments to survey and design 22 culvert replacements and 8,175 feet of drainage ditches

• Implementing Best Management Practices for several farms, with projects including two grassed waterways, a silage leachate collection and treatment system, a covered feedlot, 3,340 feet of exclusion fencing to keep livestock out of local streams, 55 acres of conservation cover, and 1,959 acres of cover crops

• Purchasing a new tractor and boom mower that was shared with the 10 towns, county and Oak Orchard Small Watershed Protection District to mow and clean drainage ditches throughout the county, which helps keep water moving and reduces flooding. The “Slashbuster” was used to clear and open up 17,315 feet of stream blockages.

• Soil & Water also was awarded several grants. One from the NYS Ag Non Point Source Pollution program helped pay for a covered feedlot for a local farm.

• Soil & Water also used 10 separate grants from the NYS Grown & Certified program for five variable rate sprayers, four micro irrigation systems, and one Agrichemical Handling Facility.

• The district also received funding the through the North Atlantic Aquatic Conductivity Collaborative program to assess 160 culverts in the lower Oak Orchard Watershed for structural integrity and aquatic conductivity (fish passage).

• The district also distributed 8,000 tree and shrub seedlings and transplants to 120 landowners for conservation practices.

• Soil & Water also runs a fish program and distributed 2,800 yearling bass, bluegill and minnows to seven farm fishpond owners, and also distributed 27 grass carp to four pond owners to help control nuisance weeds.

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