The Canal Forest Restoration Program, A New Initiative at Rice Creek Field Station  (photo)  The objective of this program is to restore some of the native trees which are now barely existing in the wild because of over-exploitation in the lumber industry. White oak, swamp white oak, and white pine are highly desired for their woods. White oak wood being dense, resilient, durable, and impermeable to liquids, is traditionally used to make barrels, ships, boats, and a variety of other items ranging from flooring to fine furniture. Swamp white oak wood has similar features to that of white oak. White pine wood is light, has straight grain, uniform structure, it cuts easily in all directions and is used in framing homes and visually everything from matches to masts.   These trees also are important symbols in the native American culture, for example white pine is known as the “Tree of Peace”. Beside their seeds and acorns historically being used for food, these trees are also excellent ornamental trees. White pine has beautiful long shiny needles and is among one of our tallest trees reaching 130 feet. White oak is a long lived tree and has broad round crown with dense foliage and attractive rose-colored leaves in fall. Swamp white oak is similar to white oak but smaller in size, leaf lobes are shallow with lower surface of leaf being silvery white with star-shaped hairs. Its fall color is yellow mixed with orange.

Last winter (2019) I was contacted by Dr. George Pauk, a retired physician. George and his wife Jane were using a nursery in Newark for the Canal Forest Restoration Project. That nursery closed in summer of 2018 and George expressed his desire of partnership with our Field Station. At the time I was contacted by the National Grid asking for a permission to cut down some 60 ash trees along Rice Creek power line in anticipation of the inevitable damage expected due to the stem ash borer coming to our area. With that in mind, I immediately realized the potential of this project. George and Jane spent thousands of dollars of their own money since they started this work in 2016. With the financial support of the Pauks family, Rice Creek provides 2500 square feet enclosure to raise seedlings and samplings, of the three species named above, until they are ready for distribution. Our objective is to raise 1000 trees and double this number next year. This year we got seedlings of the three species of trees from the New York State Nursery in Saratoga including 3000 seedlings from seed of white oaks George and Jane has collected last year.

Once the trees reach a reasonable size we will take them to gathering places such as farmers markets and fairs. This will be a wonderful opportunity to give free trees and talk about the importance of restoring these trees and the value of conservation in general.

Click for more information and photos on this tree project.

Grants in Support of Research at Rice Creek Field Station were established in 1996 with RCA, awarding several small grants each year.  

Rice Creek Associates Reflections are talks about local ecology and environmental themes of interest to the community.  
View for upcoming scheduled programs.
Some past presentation speakers have shared their 
presentations online.

Ruth Sachidanandan Herb Garden at Rice Creek Field Station was the inspiration of RCA member Ruth Sachidanandan, who chaired the original herb garden committee. Other members of the original group included Norman Gillette, Muriel Harrison, and Joyce Rice. The garden was planned by the RCA committee and construction was begun in 1987 by members of the Oswego County Conservation Corps. Planting was completed during the summers of 1989 and 1990.  After Ruth Sachidanandan's untimely passing in 1990, Rice Creek Associates decided to honor her by naming the garden the Ruth Sachidanandan Herb Garden.  The Ruth Sachidanandan Herb Garden booklet  is available.  A dedicated group of volunteers have helped to maintain this garden for many years including Marilyn Pirkle, Joyce Rice, Suzanne Stout, and Evie Taylor.  Since 2014, Rice Creek grounds-worker, Alan Harris, works maintenance on the garden with the help of student workers and student volunteers. We welcome volunteers from the community, May to September; inquire by stopping by or emailing or call 315-312-6677.

Rice Creek Associates Newsletter  is distributed to the membership, seasonal, at least four times by year. It contains news of events at Rice Creek and articles of interest to the membership. Contributors include field station staff, RCA members, and others as appropriate. Your input is welcome, and can be addressed to Mike Holy.  Please consider receiving your newsletter by email.