Posted by: owlgorge | May 27, 2010

Sunset meditation at Seneca Lake

Please join me in this short sunset meditation on the shore of Seneca Lake.

I taped this in 2008 on my way back from Watkins Glen State Park, where I was working on a new video.

Once you click on the start arrow, notice on the lower right that you have two choices of resolution, 360p or 480p. And to the right of that, you can click to make it full screen, which I recommend.

Enjoy, Tony

Posted by: owlgorge | May 5, 2010

New Video for A Walk through Watkins Glen

Hi, friends

I have updated my short video promoting my award-winning book, A Walk through Watkins Glen–Water’s Sculpture in Stone. I have used, almost entirely, photos directly from the book. I made my first book delivery for the season to shops at the park and in the village of Watkins Glen on April 30, and we are hoping for a successful season. Check out the new video below. Once running, it has the option on the bar below it to up the resolution. You can also go full-screen.

Also, please see my informaton below about the Nature Photography Workshop, and about the serious threat to Watkins Glen State Park’s beautiful forests.

Last year, A Walk through Watkins Glen won a first place prize in the media awards competition of the National Association for Interpretation, the premier professional association for park naturalists and educators. For more information about this book and our other book, Ithaca–the City, Gorges, and Colleges, see (Owl Gorge Productions).

There is still room in the Nature Photography Workshop at the state park that I will be assisting with on May 22. Click here for information.


The white blobs are hemlock woolly adelgid insects feeding on hemlock needles. Photo by Mark Whitmore.

 On a very disturbing note, it has been determined that the eastern hemlock forest that is so much of the beauty and ecology of this magical gorge is seriously infested with the hemlock woolly adelgid insect pest that has killed hemlock forests in much of the eastern U.S. We are hoping that New York State Parks will take agressive action to halt this infestation while longer-term biological controls are researched and hopefully developed. At present, this beautiful forest is in grave danger. See my posting about this subject on the Friends of Robert H. Treman State Park website.

Let’s continue to love, care for, and defend this beautiful, troubled world,

Tony Ingraham


Posted by: owlgorge | April 19, 2010

May 22 Photography Workshop at Watkins Glen

Last fall, I met landscape/nature photographer Dave Fitzimmons, “Sigma Pro Photographer,” while he was on a trip photographing gorges and waterfalls around the Finger Lakes. He asked me to assist him at a photography workshop to be held at Watkins Glen State Park this May. Dave holds workshops like these all around the country at remarkable locations like Watkins Glen. Check out his poster announcing this workshop here.


If you are interested, contact him, or pass it along to someone who you think might be.


Posted by: owlgorge | March 10, 2010

Will this photo become obsolete?

This photograph is taken from the NYS Parks webpage for Buttermilk Falls State Park. To be kept current, it will have to be replaced by one showing no swimmers. Find out about what New Yorkers are doing in response to drastic, unprecedented cuts and closings in New York State Parks at the website for the Friends of Robert H. Treman State Park.

Posted by: owlgorge | March 10, 2010

Syracuse Channel 3 News clip about Buttermilk Falls

I was interviewed today at Buttermilk Falls State Park by Syracuse TV Channel 3. See the clip (2 minutes). Be patient–you’ll probably have to sit through a short advertisement.

March 9, 2010 Syracuse Channel 3 news segment about Buttermilk Falls

Posted by: owlgorge | March 9, 2010

Buttermilk article made the Ithaca Journal

You can see the piece below in the Ithaca Journal.

Posted by: owlgorge | March 8, 2010

New York State Turns Sour at Buttermilk Falls

I couldn’t get back to sleep one morning recently, so I got up and wrote this piece which I sent to the Ithaca Journal as a guest viewpoint. Hopefully, they will print it.

New York State Turns Sour at Buttermilk Falls


Will this beautiful swimming spot be closed this year?

New York has one of the finest state park systems in the country, with more than 200 parks and historic sites, enjoyed by more than 55 million visitors a year. Unfortunately, with the current deep recession, New York State is severely short of revenue and is forced to make harsh cuts in the budgets of state agencies and in aid to municipalities, including cutting support for state parks.

As a consequence, visitors to New York State Parks will experience severe reductions in services, shortened operating seasons, and delay of vital infrastructure repairs and improvements. Operations, maintenance, security, environmental education, recreation, and seasonal employee hiring will be trimmed back below levels necessary to operate the park system effectively and safely. Worst of all, 57 state parks and historic sites are slated to be closed outright. Never before since the system was created have our parks taken such a hit. An additional 34 parks and historic sites may be closed, and a total of 40 parks could see significant service reductions.

Even during the Great Depression of the 1930s, state parks experienced an unrivaled period of development and expansion, due to world-famous New Deal programs such as the Civilian Conservation Corps, the Works Progress Administration, and the Temporary Emergency Relief Administration. Many of the things we love and enjoy about our state parks date from that era, including our beautiful stone masonry trails, cabins, camping areas, picnic areas, beautiful stone and timber pavilions, and delightful natural swimming areas, including, in the Finger Lakes Region, gorge swimming areas at Stony Brook State Park, Fillmore Glen, Robert H. Treman State Park, and Buttermilk Falls State Park.

Several state parks in the Finger Lakes Region are to be closed, including Two Rivers in Tioga County, Newtown Battlefield (a Revolutionary War Site) in Chemung County, Bona Vista State Golf Course in Seneca County, Springbrook Greens State Park in Cayuga County, and Chimney Bluffs and Beechwood State Parks in Wayne County along the shore of Lake Ontario. In addition, the gorge swimming areas at Stony Brook State Park in Steuben County and at Buttermilk Falls State Park in Ithaca are to be closed, as well as the beach at Seneca Lake State Park in Geneva. Local residents will not be able to enjoy these parks, nor will tourists, who bring vital income to local businesses in small upstate communities.

Bad Economics

The New York State Council of Parks 2009 annual report stated,
“A recent study documented that New York’s State Park System generates $1.9 billion in economic activity every year – five times the agency’s total annual budget. Closing State Parks will hurt local tourism industries and create negative economic impacts much greater than the modest savings to the state budget.”

As well as having important economic value for their surrounding communities, all of our state parks are precious resources for our physical, mental, and spiritual health. Without access to these landscape gems in our midst, the quality of our lives will be diminished.

During the summer in the City of Ithaca, there are just two crowded municipal pools. Fortunately, the community is blessed with four state parks nearby, three of them with swimming areas. Especially charming and remarkable are the two natural gorge swimming areas, the one at Robert Treman State Park and the second at the base of Buttermilk Falls. Created during the Great Depression, these spots are irreplaceable. Current regulations preclude the creation of any more of these remarkable spots, now only permitting the establishment of conventional pools and beaches.

Buttermilk Falls has the added advantage of being on the municipal bus line, TCAT. The bus brings families with children and camp groups to the falls to escape the heat and to swim and dive safely at one of the most beautiful spots they will ever experience. That will end, of course, if the state closes swimming at Buttermilk Falls this year to save a little money on maintenance and lifeguards.

Shutting down gorge and waterfall swimming areas means the loss to New Yorkers of the experience of paradise right here in New York. Swimming at the base of a splashing waterfall is something you dream about doing in the tropics, in Hawaii. But you can find it right here in the Finger Lakes Region each summer. Visitors to the New York State Fair, upon seeing pictures of the swimming areas at Buttermilk Falls or Robert H. Treman State Parks, exclaim, “Where IS that place?!” How do I get there?!”

Saving Money or Risking Lives?

Natural pools in the gorge tempt swimmers.

Ithaca is famous for its gorges, with their waterfalls, pools, and lush, cool forests. But, unfortunately, Ithaca’s gorges are also famous for their fatalities. And one of the most common causes of death in Ithaca’s gorges is drowning. One of the highest priorities of rangers and park police in gorges in Ithaca is to keep people out of delightfully inviting, but deceivingly hazardous natural rock pools, including those in Buttermilk Glen. There is a long history of tragedies in such places, something usually not appreciated by those who risk their lives diving from cliffs into unknown hazards under water. Over the years, a number of young, promising lives have ended in a pool at the base of a cliff or waterfall.

Years ago, the president of Ithaca High School’s graduating class perished while diving from a cliff in the City’s Sixmile Creek Preserve. Two summers ago, a Cornell student drowned in Fall Creek Gorge under the Suspension Bridge, after sliding down a slick rock into a natural pool. In the 1990s, a young man from Elmira who was about to enter college dove into one of the pools near Pinnacle Rock in Buttermilk Glen, upstream and away from the guarded swimming area at the main falls. A park ranger told me that the young man came back up under a ledge, under water, banging his head. He drowned right there in front of his friends. There are other such stories, including ones involving the deaths of small children.

When a ranger orders people out of the pools in Buttermilk Glen, he or she tells them to go to the guarded swimming area at the base of Buttermilk Falls. There they can swim safely, and legally. But gorge rangers will not be able to offer that alternative this year if the Buttermilk Falls swimming area is closed. There may be many more people tempted to swim in dangerous unguarded areas, increasing the likelihood of another tragedy.

The closing of the swimming area at Buttermilk Falls this year may save Albany a tiny amount of money. But will it cost some family the life of one of its children? Where would that fit into the budget calculations?

Pushing Back

It’s understandable that in such dire economic times that financial pain and sacrifice should be spread evenly. But at the other end of the state is the cause of this mess. As New Yorkers tighten their belts and put up with poorer services and decreased public safety, their anger must grow when they think about the fat cats on Wall Street who caused this economic meltdown. And the public’s anger increases when we learn that these corporate outlaws are raking in millions and even billions in bonuses in reward for their manipulation of the trillions of public dollars spent on bailing them out from their reckless behavior.
Perhaps the people of New York State should insist that state government tax Wall Street to make up for the mess they created, rather than squeezing a few dollars out of lovely spots such as Buttermilk Falls.

If you want to prevent the closing of our state parks and their swimming areas, you must push back at Albany. Contact your state senator and state assemblyperson, and the governor, and insist that they not close these precious places!

Tony Ingraham
Environmental Educator, retired
New York State Parks

Posted by: owlgorge | February 18, 2010

Acid Test


By the Natural Resources Denfense Council
Besides what is happening in the atmosphere, the other huge part of the fossil fuel burning crisis is what resulting CO2 emissions are doing to the oceans. Unfortunately, most people are not aware of the colossal dimensions of this which will destroy our ocean ecosystems, including plankton, shell fish, fisheries, and coral reefs, if we don’t curb CO2 emissions sharply beginning now. This excellent NRDC online video (a little over 20 minutes) has just come out. It has great potential for use in many kinds of educational settings. Notice that it is downloadable. Watching this video will require a high speed connection. Please check it out, and get it out!
“ACID TEST: This groundbreaking NRDC documentary explores the startling phenomenon of ocean acidification, which may soon challenge marine life on a scale not seen for tens of millions of years. Featuring Sigourney Weaver.”
Posted by: owlgorge | February 14, 2010

Fire Island in Winter

It’s not near Ithaca, but I want to share this short video I put together using footage I took on Christmas Day, 2009 on Fire Island, NY. Take a walk with me along the ocean for a few minutes while I call upon Walt Whitman to accompany us with his verse.

I am planning this to be part of a longer video called “Winter Water.”

(Notice in the lower right of the little screen a box with four opposing arrows that you can click on to make it full screen on your computer. Also, after the video begins, notice the appearance of  an arrow to the left of that box that gives a choice of displaying it at 360p or 480p resolution.  These things may make more demand on your computer.)

Posted by: owlgorge | January 2, 2010

New Year’s Day at Lake Treman

Snowy Lake Treman

hardly a lake anymore

Buttermilk Creek winds

through the tawny cattail blades

beavers hide snug in their lodge