Saturday, August 11, 2012

Red Spruce: Queen of the Adirondacks

There is a well-known story included in the wonderful Adirondack Reader (a collection everyone on the planet should own, in my humble opinion), which happens to be one of my favorite Adirondack tales.  It is a narrative account of the journey of a young teacher and his student on the Raquette River in 1843 when its course was still largely unknown to the white man.  Teacher and student made it as far as they could on a raft until they were stopped by debris clogging the river near approaching rapids.  There on the banks they were come upon by the soon-to-be-famous guide Mitchell Sabattis.   Sabattis and party agreed to guide the young travelers, saving them from their predicament.

The two men needed a proper craft to continue their voyage, so Sabattis and his companions built them a canoe.  They selected a tall conifer with a straight trunk and a diameter of a foot-and-a-half and felled it.  From that trunk they easily spudded off a sheet of bark roughly five by fifteen feet in dimension.  With careful cuts of the outer layer of the bark they folded the whole into a canoe shape, then sowed it in place using the roots of the very same tree as thread.  To seal the threads and make the craft watertight they chewed the sap of this tree and made gum which they pushed into the holes. Thus it was that one tree – a conifer of marvelous qualities – supplied the hull of a canoe that carried four men and their gear down the rapids of the Raquette River. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

DEC State Land Management Survey Underway

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is conducting a survey to assess how the State’s management of State Forests affects public use of those forests.

DEC seeks input from groups and individuals who use State Forests for recreation and/or whose daily lives are affected by State Land management. The 10-question survey, which has been widely circulated by the pro-motorized access New York State Conservation Council, will be used to interpret current uses of State Forests, and to possibly influence future State Forest management practices. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 9, 2012

Adirondacks Most Remote Spot: Not That Remote

It’s been said by photographer Gary Randorf, Clarence Petty, and others, that ninety-five percent of the entire Adirondack Forest Preserve, Wilderness included, is within about five miles of  one of the more than 5,000 miles of roads  in the Adirondack Park.

That statistic has been newly confirmed by two wildlife ecologists who say they have identified the most remote  spot in New York State, located in the High Peaks Wilderness – just 5.3 miles from the nearest road, and a less than a half-mile from the popular Northville-Placid Trail.

Rebecca and Ryan Means of Florida have been on a mission to identify, travel to, and document the most remote locations in all 50 states and recently came to the Adirondacks – with daughter Skyla in tow and Adirondack Explorer writer/photographer Josh Wilson along to report – to find ours. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 6, 2012

New State Lands: Wilderness or Wild Forest?

The state’s newly signed contract to buy sixty-nine thousand acres of former Finch Paper lands won’t end the controversy over the future of these forests, lakes, and rivers. The next battle will be over their classification: Wilderness or Wild Forest?

Governor Andrew Cuomo revealed Sunday that the state will acquire the land over the next five years, adding it to the Forest Preserve and paying the Adirondack Nature Conservancy a total of $49.8 million.

The governor’s announcement in Lake Placid put to rest any doubts about the state’s intentions. Some political leaders in the Adirondack Park had been lobbying the state to protect the land with conservation easements rather than add it to the Forest Preserve. This option would have allowed logging to continue and hunting clubs to remain as leaseholders. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 5, 2012

New York State Acquires 69,000 Acres From Conservancy

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo has announced that New York State  has acquired 69,000 acres of the former Finch Pruyn and other Nature Conservancy lands throughout the Adirondacks. A statement by the Governor’s office called the  acquisition “the largest single addition to the Adirondack State Forest Preserve in more than a century.” 

Cuomo pointed to additional recreational opportunities, and the increased revenue from tourism as the reasons behind the purchase.  Some of the lands have been closed to the public for more than 150 years.  

The following details are from the governor’s press release: » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 4, 2012

Lost Brook Dispatches: Life in the Wild

I noticed that guide and outdoor writer Joe Hackett had a column last week in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise asking whether there is any true wilderness in the Adirondacks. This is a question – entailing in turn the question of what we mean by wilderness – which I took up in several Dispatches some months ago.  I’ll not return to those arguments now except to restate that yes, I think there is unquestionably true wilderness in the park.  I know because I have lived there.

I am just settling into the experience of being on Lost Brook Tract with Amy for much of July, just feeling ready to write about it.  It has taken me some days: this was a deeply moving time in my life.  If there has been one over-arching theme in my reflections it has been that our stay there did not in any way feel like a vacation – indeed we did not intend it as a vacation.  We intended to just live there.  And so we did.  It could have been three weeks or three years for all I felt.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 2, 2012

Douglas Johnson: Japanese Knotweed Combatant

A long time summer resident to Seventh Lake, Inlet, Douglas C. Johnson has strong ties to the Adirondacks.  An outdoor enthusiast and certified pesticide applicator, Johnson has a passion to eradicate invasive species that led him to spearhead the Regional Inlet Invasive Plant Program (RIIPP).  In 2008, the program was launched with the mission to eradicate all Adirondack Park lands of invasive knotweed plants.  These invaders out-compete natives for growing space, decrease biodiversity, impede recreation, and could lower property value.

“This effort is crucial to preserve our beautiful landscape from a rampant and dangerous invasive species,” stated Johnson.  “RIIPP works closely with the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program and Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District.” » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Lake Champlain: ‘Good News, And Not So Good News’

The Lake Champlain Basin Program, created by the Lake Champlain Special Designation Act of 1990 to coordinate the implementation of the Lake Champlain management plan, has released its 2012 Lake Champlain “State of the Lake Report”. The report, which is issued every 3-4 years, concludes that the water should be treated before drinking or bathing, most of the lake is safe to swim in most of the time, and some fish may be eaten, if “consumed responsibly” according to fish consumption health advisories.

Phosphorus levels and the potential threat of toxic algae blooms remain elevated. Mercury and PCB contamination in fish is declining, but new chemical threats are on the rise. Invasive species remain a serious problem, especially to game fish and native mussels, but biodiversity projects such as fish ladders, and wetland and riparian habitat restoration or enhancement has made progress in protecting sensitive ecosystems in some areas. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Spiny Water Flea Task Force: Rapid Response Not Feasible

The Lake Champlain Basin Aquatic Invasive Species Rapid Response Task Force has issued an Action Plan that argues that control and eradication of spiny water flea in the Champlain and Glens Falls Feeder Canal are not technically feasible “in a rapid timeframe.”

The Task Force recommends immediate action to prevent the spread of spiny water flea into Lake Champlain by slowing the movement of spiny water flea through the canal systems, and development of a long term solution to address the Champlain Canal as a vector for all aquatic invasive species moving in and out of the Lake Champlain Basin. The Rapid Response Task Force strongly recommended pursuing a hydrologic barrier on the Champlain Canal that will address the other aquatic invasive species that are threatening to invade Lake Champlain.  » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Champion of the Forest Preserve: David Newhouse

It’s been my honor and privilege to know some great Adirondack conservation leaders in the late 20th century. One I feel deserves a lot “more ink” is the late David L. Newhouse, a native of the Midwest and graduate of Purdue University, who arrived in New York State following World War II to become a leading metallurgical engineer with the General Electric Company in Schenectady.

His interest and leadership quickly expanded into the Adirondacks for, as Dave wrote rather formally and very modestly in a biographical paragraph: “My interest in the Adirondacks and Catskills had its roots in my developing recreational use of them, for hiking, climbing, camping, and canoeing in the Forest Preserve and other wildlands. I learned about pressures for competing and incompatible uses of these lands that threatened their character, and became very involved in conservation of their values and in education as a means of gaining popular and political support for wilderness and wild forest values.” » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Calls for Champlain Canal Closure; New Invasives Law

New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed the Invasive Species Prevention Act, legislation designed to help prevent the spread of destructive invasive plants and animals by making it illegal to sell and transport invasive species in the state, amid calls to close the Champlain Canal immediately to prevent the spread of the latest invasive threat .

The new law, said by advocates to have been a collaborative effort by state agencies and stakeholders, including conservation organizations, lake associations, agriculture and forestry organizations, scientists and academia, was unanimously passed in June by the New York State Legislature. The bill, sponsored by Assemblyman Robert Sweeney (D-Lindenhurst) and Senator Betty Little (R-Queensbury), creates a statewide regulatory system to prohibit or limit the sale and transport of known invasive plants and animals that impact natural areas and industries that depend on natural resources. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 26, 2012

Adirondack Maps: Mapping Drought Conditions

It’s been a bit surreal to read about this summer’s record-breaking drought from the lush, thunderstorm-drenched environs of Long Lake.  But while the central Adirondacks may have had plenty of rain this summer, other parts of the North Country have not.

I have been tracking drought conditions across the region with stream gage data from US Geological Survey that measures stream levels and transmits the information in real-time to the internet.   The USGS began stream gage construction in the late 19th century, and now maintains 7,500 gages across the country including dozens in the Adirondack region.   The data from these gages are used for many purposes including flood forecasting, water supply allocation, wastewater treatment, highway engineering and recreation (rafting anyone?). » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Local Events Promote Raquette River Awareness Week

This year the Raquette River Blueway Corridor’s Advisory Committee will be hosting several events throughout the corridor during Raquette River Awareness Week (Saturday, July 28th through Saturday, August 4th) to highlight the assets the Raquette River has to offer.

A variety of events held in communities all along the river will feature the grand opening celebration of a canoe access trail to the Raquette River near Moody Falls in Sevey Corners and will be punctuated with three screenings of “The Raquette River Experience”, a travel documentary on the Raquette River produced by the Raquette River Blueway Corridor’s partner, WPBS-DT, Watertown, NY. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Adirondack Philosophy: In Search of a Dwelling

My mind is full of questions and my heart follows, seeking in its own way.  Fortunately, the consolation of philosophy lies in the convergence of heart and mind deep within this process of inquiry born of struggle.  Coffee in hand to fortify me in the process and with a July mountain morning on the rise, my gaze wandered in the direction of a painting that my mother made many years ago.

Despite being obscured by the turned angle of his body and the quietly bent head, the subject of the painting would likely be known to anyone familiar enough to be in my home to see it.  The figure’s posture gives him away, more than the distinctive curve of the Lake Colden helipad, more than the maps jutting out of a pack lying at his feet and more than the wooden axe handle gripped and made small in his hand. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 23, 2012

Is More Forest Fire Dialogue and Preparation Needed?

The woods are dry out there. This week, forest fire fighters needed state police helicopters to douse a carelessly set, poorly extinguished fire up on Sawteeth Mountain. In such cases, the informal NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) policy is to fight and extinguish the fire as part of its legal responsibilities for care, custody and control of the Forest Preserve.

Ought there be a state policy of graduated measures to address forest fires in the Forest Preserve, particularly in remote areas? Greater dialogue and sharing of information on the subject of forest fire in the wilds of the Park, public or private, would be helpful. » Continue Reading.


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