Almanack Contributor Mary Thill

Mary Thill

Mary Thill is a freelance journalist based in Saranac Lake. She recently began working as a writer and editor at The Nature Conservancy's Adirondack Chapter.

Monday, December 15, 2014

New Report Considers Future Of Lake Trout

Spawning-Lake-troutSince the retreat of the glaciers, lake trout (Salvelinus namaycush) have been the top native predator in Adirondack waters. These northern fish require true cold (less than 55°F) and move downward when surface waters warm in late spring and summer. Consequently, they are isolated to the largest and deepest Adirondack lakes – most of them deeper than 30 feet – where they stay in the dark chilly depths all summer and early fall. The species name namaycush is believed to be an Algonquin term for “dweller of the deep.”

This need for very cold, clean, high-oxygen water can bring to light otherwise invisible changes beneath the surface. Water quality in the » Continue Reading.

Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Hudson River Rafting: Pat Cunningham’s Rocky Ride

On March 30, 2012, Hamilton County Court gave Patrick Cunningham a second chance. It came with conditions and a warning.

Judge S. Peter Feldstein told the defendant: “My goal in this matter, as I said at the beginning, was to affect how you do business. Now, I understand, Mr. Cunningham, through your attorney, that you do not feel that you’ve committed any crimes and you’re perfectly within your rights and you’re innocent before this court, but I want to be sure you understand that if you engaged in the behavior alleged in the indictment, I have no doubt that you committed crimes.”

Sunday, October 21, 2012

A Scene from Kateri Tekakwitha’s Fonda Shrine

As I was leaving St. Peter’s Chapel Friday, a white van with New Jersey plates pulled up. Nine young, smiling nuns filed out. They were dressed in the white and blue-striped saris of the Missionaries of Charity, Mother Teresa’s order. They opened an off-kilter screen door and entered the dusky chapel. I followed, conspicuously tall, pale and bareheaded at the end of the line. The sisters walked to the front of the church, knelt before a cross and sang “O What Could My Jesus Do More.” I listened for a minute then left them alone.

I had come to the » Continue Reading.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

One Man’s Experience with Hudson River Rafting Company

Tomorrow there will be a hearing in Hamilton County Supreme Court (convening in Fulton County, in Johnstown) as the New York State Attorney General’s Office seeks a formal court order requiring Hudson River Rafting Company to cease operations until a list of safety concerns can be addressed.

As one of the company’s guides remains jailed on a charge of criminally negligent homicide in the death of a customer who drowned last month, Hudson River Rafting Company and its owner Patrick Cunningham also face a Hamilton County District Attorney motion to reinstate two 2010 charges of reckless endangerment. The DA argues that Cunningham violated the terms » Continue Reading.

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

A Night of Art, Skiing and Music in Saranac Lake

Dewey Mountain is the subject and beneficiary of a show opening Friday at the Adirondack Artists Guild, in Saranac Lake. The exhibit is inspired by the 2,050-foot mountain southwest of the village. I’m eager to see what the artists come up with.

The north side of Dewey hosts a cross-country-ski and snowshoe center by winter. The rest of the year it’s an in-town place to walk, hike and mountain bike. The Saranac River flows around the mountain as it enters the village. Like Pisgah » Continue Reading.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Adirondacks Waited Decades for Mercury Limits

It was immensely satisfying to watch EPA administrator Lisa P. Jackson announce today that power-plant mercury emissions will be reduced 90 percent.

We in the Adirondacks have waited more than two decades for this. You would think limiting a toxin such as mercury, which harms the nervous systems of children exposed in the womb, would not be subject to protracted debate. But coal- and oil-fired power plants resisted the regulation shamelessly for decades.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Autumn is Warming at the Fastest Rate

WPTZ meteorologist Tom Messner reported a record high (65°F) in Montpelier Monday. The low (46°) in Saranac Lake yesterday was higher than the average high for November 14 (43°), according to Weather Underground. Last week, on November 9, Saranac Lake broke a record when the temperature reached 67°.

As much as the odd warm fall day seems to take us by surprise, temperature fluctuations are a normal part of the transition to winter. But it is strange to see fresh sprouts in the garden, which is ordinarily frozen by now.

Autumn is warming more rapidly than » Continue Reading.

Friday, September 2, 2011

Hobofest: Fun Despite Its Name

If you are hobophobic or festival-averse Hobofest may not sound like the way to spend your Labor Day Sunday. But it’s actually pretty much free of hobos and absolutely free of the fakery that accompanies a lot of events cursed with the suffix fest.

What Hobofest does have is a lot of really good musicians playing for free in a low-key setting on the lawn between 7444 gallery and the train depot, in Saranac Lake. Bands include Brooklyn-based Frankenpine, among » Continue Reading.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Bill McKibben, Christoper Shaw Arrested in Climate Protest

Writers Bill McKibben and Christopher Shaw were arrested Saturday in front of the White House as they took part in a demonstration trying to persuade the Obama administration to deny construction of a 1,700-mile pipeline that would carry Canadian tar-sands oil to American refineries.

McKibben, Shaw and approximately 65 others were being held in a DC jail over the weekend pending a court appearance Monday. Both McKibben and Shaw are former Adirondack residents who maintain strong ties to the region. » Continue Reading.

Friday, July 1, 2011

DEC Claims ADK Supports Frack Plan

In a letter today complaining to The New York Times about its coverage of a new Department of Environmental Conservation study on fracking, commissioner Joe Martens lists the Adirondack Mountain Club as one of three environmental groups who support its move toward partially ending the freeze on the controversial gas-drilling technique.

Except that’s not the case. In fact, the Mountain Club (ADK) supports only the DEC’s decision not to allow high-volume hydraulic fracturing on state-owned forests, parks and wildlife reserves. “This is great news and a major victory for » Continue Reading.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Yellow-Yellow: Still Keeping Campers Sharp

Yellow-Yellow, a shy black bear with a yellow tag on each ear, became famous in 2009 as the one bear in North America who could open a food canister specifically designed to baffle her kind. She’s still at large, still popping the occasional can, but a truce seems to have settled over the Adirondack High Peaks.

The 18-to-20-year-old bear came out of hibernation this spring and continues to roam near South Meadow, Klondike Notch and thereabouts, reports Ben Tabor, a Department of » Continue Reading.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Long Lake Graduates a Class of One

This is the Long Lake Central School class of 2011, Stephen Pitcher. According to a school newsletter Stephen is an honors student who plans to attend Onondaga Community College to study electrical engineering. He was a member of the student council, played varsity basketball for the Long Lake/Indian Lake Orange, and helped build an electric race car, which his school team drove to second place at Watkins Glen. The school will not hold a graduation ceremony this year, at the Pitcher family’s request.People in this Hamilton County town of » Continue Reading.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Keene Property Values Slide with Land

For more than a month, millions of tons of earth and millions of dollars in property value have been inching down a Keene Valley mountainside. As 82 acres of trees and homes continue to break loose, a state geologist says other Adirondack slopes could fail.

The slow-moving landslide on the side of Little Porter Mountain is unnerving residents in the town of Keene, which includes the hamlets of Keene and Keene Valley. The year-round population of 1,000 is nearly doubled in summer by wealthy seasonal residents, » Continue Reading.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Mary Thill: Hudson River Rafting Travails

Hudson River Rafting Company owner Pat Cunningham pleaded not guilty in Hamilton County Court Thursday to two counts of reckless endangerment. He is scheduled to go to trial in August. Adirondack Life just posted details of the case in “Risky Business,” a story Mary reported for its May/June issue. The Almanack asked Mary Thill to bring our readers up to speed on the latest developments – ed.

The charges are connected to two trips on the Upper Hudson River last summer. But for more than a decade, guides » Continue Reading.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Remembering Ketch: Educator and Conservationist

Dr. Edwin H. Ketchledge died peacefully yesterday. He was 85.

“Ketch,” to all who knew him, was a botanist, teacher and founder of the Summit Steward program, a 20-year collaborative effort to educate hikers and protect vulnerable alpine plants that cling to the Adirondacks’ highest summits.

He was veteran of the 10th Mountain Division’s Italy campaign. Surviving that experience inspired Ketch to live a meaningful life. He dedicated himself to Adirondack conservation, botany and teaching.

Dr. Ketchledge was a distinguished teaching professor of environmental and forest biology at » Continue Reading.

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