Wednesday, February 1, 2006

Tupper Lake’s Adirondack Dark Skies

Associated Press reporter Michael Virtanen is now offering a nice piece on the Adirondack Public Observatory:

The not-for-profit Adirondack Public Observatory in its first year has raised about $40,000 toward a $500,000 goal, according to board members. They have chosen a site in Tupper Lake, about 110 miles north of Albany. The parcel, at 1,600 feet in elevation, overlooks the town beach and campground at Little Wolf Pond.

“We are in what’s called a dark puddle here,” Staves said, noting the contrast in nighttime satellite images of the Earth. “We can actually see the Milky Way, which is something you can’t actually see most places now.”

The observatory had been offered a spot near the new Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks being built on the other side of the village. The reason it wasn’t? “there was too much light pollution from nearby Sunmount hospital, said Jan Wojcik, observatory board member.”

Great planning folks… the lights from a hospital reduce the overall impact of having both facilities within walking distance. Imagine the draw for something like that – now imagine how many visitors to the new museum will leave the museum, climb into their car, and drive to the observatory – we’ll guess not too many.

Apparently some planners in Tupper Lake neeeds a lesson on light pollution.

MSNBC has a nice image (on a screwy web page) of light pollution in New York.

By the way, the Natural History Museum construction is well under way.


Tuesday, January 3, 2006

New Adirondack Snowmobile Trail Conditions Website

From the Adirondacks Speculator Region Chamber of Commerce comes a new website that offers snowmobile trail conditions laid out in tables that identify each route (with trail numbers, segments between intersections, and municipal locations), the date the trail was last groomed, the date conditions were assessed and the conditions (great, good, fair, poor, closed).

The page includes trails in Lake Pleasant, Speculator, Arietta, Piseco, Wells, and Morehouse. The page also links to Trail Etiquette, a Trail Map cover 650 miles of area trails, GPS points, a Webcam and Photo Gallery, and a discussion board covering the area plus Indian Lake, the Moose River Plains, and other areas of the park.

Here at the Almanack, we have always believed that appropriately placed snowmobile trails (kept out of wilderness and wild forest areas) are an important component to the Adirondack economy. Riders should accept and defend the seven wilderness “leave no trace” principles.

Links to area snowmobile clubs – enjoy.


Monday, January 2, 2006

In New York The State of The State is The State of The Adirondacks

We normally keep our post here at the Adirondack Almanack to regional concerns. But it’s time for Governor Pataki’s State of the State Address – and while the Pataki Administration has been piling it high and deep, a more sober assessment, relevant for those of us inside the Blue Line, comes from the People’s State of the State. A rally is planned in Albany for tomorrow to urge New York lawmakers to do something about poverty in New York including its “skyrocketing heating bills, lack of access to affordable quality health care, and high housing costs.”

Some highlights from their press release:

Food lines at food pantries and soup kitchens remain at historically high levels and expect the situation to worsen following federal budget cuts and changes in the federal TANF program.

If we look back in time 25 years, a few of our local churches were beginning closet pantries. Today we have 43 food pantries and 22 soup kitchens in Albany and southern Rensselaer County alone, serving more than 2 million meals each year. Programs do not have the resources to do what they are being asked to do,” noted Lynda Schuyler, Director of the Food Pantries of the Capital District.

Anti-hunger advocates are seeking an increase in state funding for the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program from $22.8 million to $30 million. State funding is down $2 million from four years ago. Groups are also concerned about Congress’ elimination of all funding for the Community Food Nutrition Program, the main federal funding for anti-hunger organizations.

Unfortunately, there is probably no one monitoring the poverty situation in the Adirondacks (one of the poorest regions in the state) and no visible advocates for working poor families. There’s more here.

Another disturbing trend for our area is the effective elimination of the DEC ability to monitor our environment and deal with corporate polluters and exploiters. From Inside Albany this week we learned that nearly 800 staff positions have disappeared from the agency since the mid-1990s:

[Environmental Committee Chair Thomas DiNapoli, a Nassau county Democrat] invited DEC commissioner Denise Sheehan to answer questions about how the agency was coping with its severely reduced staff. However, she faxed her testimony, saying she was unable to appear. Sheehan gave no reason and didn’t send an assistant commissioner to read her testimony.

DiNapoli asked Assembly staffer Rick Morse to read Sheehan’s statement. It ran down a list of nearly a dozen examples of Governor Pataki’s “leadership” on the environment. They included the governor’s greenhouse gas initiative to cap carbon dioxide emissions. Also on the list were Pataki’s open space acquisitions. He counts 932,00 acres of land toward his goal of preserving a million acres. The statement did not mention the department’s decline in staff.

Not only were the numbers down, [Environmental Advocates] Tim Sweeney said. Governor Pataki’s general hiring freeze combined with early retirement incentives had stripped the agency of valuable knowledge. Valuable expertise and institutional memory had been lost in the retirements. The trend is likely to get worse. A comptroller’s report estimated that 38% of the department’s staff will be retirement-eligible by 2007. About a thousand more could go by then.

Worse indeed. More large scale developments like those at North Creek and Tupper, enormous development pressures on Warren and Essex counties, proposed wind farms in the park, roads being turned over to ATVs, snowmobile trails expanding every year, more visitors every year, all while year round residents deal with a serious lack of affordable housing, generations of local poverty, closing public schools, low-wage tourism jobs – the one state agency that should be taking a lead role on life in the Adirondack Park is asleep at the wheel.

2006 – here we come.


Friday, December 23, 2005

Need Something Worth Saying?

We’re on record regarding the inadequacy of our region’s media, but today just seems weird. First we have Rick Brockway, the Oneonta Star’s Outdoors Columnist, who gave us a strangely rambling an incoherent rant on, well, we guess it’s something along the lines of build more roads into the Adirondacks to protect them.

Here’s a gem of nonsense:

The Adirondack back-country was put out of reach for the majority of the people. The APA closed the wilderness lakes and ponds to aircraft. Float planes were prohibited from landing, thus making the only access into those areas by foot. I still backpack into that great land, but so many others can’t.

Today, the old growth forests are rotting away and falling down, and most of the lakes are dead or dying from acid rain.

There is no push to reclaim these areas, primarily because so few people use the land and water. Their faint voices are never heard.

Out of reach of most people? Maybe this outdoor columnist hasn’t been paying attention. Otherwise he might recall one recent controversy in the region – the overwhelming numbers of large hiking and camping parties, some arriving by Canadian buses, that led to restrictions on group size in the back-country. Forget about his amazing assertion that “the old growth forests are rotting away and falling down” – ah… yeah… where is that exactly?

Then there is a classic from none other than George Farwell, chairman and education program director of the Iroquois Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club in Utica. It seems that he is concerned, forget about the whole lot of more important issues on the Adirondack table, that people using the backcountry are relying on rescue services far too frequently. Hey we might even agree, but for this:

These “incidents” (not really accidents, as “accident” infers circumstances beyond one’s control), have become more commonplace.

Ahhh… they have? By what standard Mr. Farewell? A simple search of local newspapers reveals that Adirondack history is loaded with search and rescue operations, when the Adirondacks was a more remote place it was a lot easier to get lost or hurt. There were a lot more people in the region in the 19th and 20th centuries. Today there are a lot more search and rescue organizations, it’s highly doubtful there are more people getting into trouble in the woods. They’re just more widely reported.

When a coasting (sledding) accident happened in Keeseville one Thursday night in 1902 “Wilfred Graves, aged twenty-three years was almost instantly killed, and his sister Miss Rachel Graves, and Miss Edith Bulley were crushed so that it is feared they cannot recover. Among the others hurt were: Harry Miles, broken leg; John King, arm broken; George La Duke, arm dislocated.” It was no wonder the newspaper carried the headline “Frightful Coasting Accident.” Getting the seriously injured to a hospital in a timely manner in 1902 was all but impossible – not so today from even the most remote areas.

Travel over the ice in the days of fewer bridges meant for more accidents. Albert Rand with his wife and three children were crossing Lake George on the ice in February 1860 when their horse and sleigh “suddenly went through a crack in the ice” just a short distance from the shore. They cried out in vain for help as Rand struggled to drag himself onto good ice and then saved his wife and one of his children – the other two were drowned.

J. M. Riford, a merchant from Moriah in Essex County loaded his wife and their two children into their sleigh and set out to visit his father across Lake Champlain in Warren, Vermont on January 11, 1884.The family had a good team of horses and was expected to make the trip over in one day – they never arrived and were never heard from again. “Their friends fear that they are at the bottom of Lake Champlain or frozen to death
under the snow in the Green Mountains,” the New York Times reported.

These are just a couple of stories that indicate the kind of dangers people faced in the region, that they simply don’t face anymore. A little bit of research would easily dispel the myth that somehow the Adirondack region is a more dangerous place today. A short visit to the remaining (and recently reborn) stands of Old Growth would put an end to the notion that our forests are “rotting away.” We’re not saying the Adirondacks are not dangerous, they are, always have been. A little research, that’s all we ask from our local media, a little research, a little investigation.

The bottom line these days seems to be, if your beat is supposed to be the Adirondacks, if you can’t find a ship run-aground, and you can’t be bothered with the real issues like backhandedly opening the region to ATVs, or running your town like an old boys club, then just make something up – rotting ancient forest, silly people in the woods, whatever you like.


Tuesday, December 20, 2005

The War On Christmas

The War on Christmas has been funny, and sad, and it doesn’t even include the biggest threat to the Christmas Tradition as reported by the Washington Post:

This year has been one of the hottest on record, scientists in the United States and Britain reported yesterday, a finding that puts eight of the past 10 years at the top of the charts in terms of high temperatures.

Scientists said… that the world is experiencing serious climate change, driven in part by human activity. Researchers recently found by drilling ice cores that there is a higher concentration of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere than in any time in the last 650,000 years, which reflects that humans are burning an increased amount of fossil fuels to power automobiles and utilities.

It’s seems clear here at the Adirondack Almanack that the War of Christmas is a distraction from sinister attacks on American Civil Rights, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.

An outrageous attack on civil liberties has occurred in Albany, where student activists are being watched by the our new secret police.

So let’s get this straight:

Secret Police
Secret Prisons
Torture

And now, another $453 Billion for the a war that “may never end,” not to mention the true cost of the war locally.

Say Merry Christmas! Or Else! You athiest commie hippie homo immigrant welfare mothers on drugs!


Thursday, December 15, 2005

Northernmost Full Moon Will Light The Adirondack Night

Bruce McClure reminds us that tonight begins the northernmost full Moon until December 27, 2023.

Traditionally, in our northern hemisphere, the full Moon closest to the December (Southern) solstice goes by the moniker of Long Night Moon. Depending on the year, the Long Night Moon can fall on the day of the solstice, or up to two weeks before or after. (This year’s December solstice, incidentally, falls on December 21, at 1:35 p.m. EST.) Like the Sun in summer, Long Night Moons rise far north of due east and set far north of due west, and oftentimes stay out for more hours than the Sun does on the longest day of the year.

Maybe dark skies are gone forever afterall.

Also: This week in Sky and Telescope


Sunday, December 11, 2005

Adirondack Wilderness vs. Adirondack History?

The Glens Falls Post Star today is telling us all about Earl Allen, who (according to the photo cutline) “owns more than 200 acres in the Adirondack Park and has fought with the state to keep every bit of it.” Apparently in newspeak when you’re asked to sell your two and one half acre piece of land in the middle of the wilderness area to the state for the enjoyment of all New Yorkers, you are fighting the state to keep your more than 200 acres of land.

It’s no surprise that the Post Star panders to the right wing anti-Adirondack Park types. There used to be a William “Bill” Doolittle (the Will Doolittle of the Post Star or his father? Not that Will Doolittle) who was a one-time publisher of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and former President of the Saranac Lake Chamber of Commerce. He moved from New Jersey and then outwardly positioned his paper to support the radical right “natives vs the state” mentality – he even suggested the hands across the mountains emblem for the developer front-group League for Adirondack Citizens’ Rights (now long defunct) and suggested to them that they make connections between their fight to eliminate environmental protection of the Adirondacks to the Patriot cause in the American Revolution.

Three items in the Post Star article bothered us here at the Almanack:

“One Johnsburg town official, who requested his name be withheld for fear of retribution, likened state land to cancer.” Apparently, in Johnsburg you can get elected by lying to your constituents, or at least keeping them from the truth of your views.

” ‘I wouldn’t give the state nothing,’ [Allen] said sharply during an interview earlier this month, his 80-year-old hand balling into a fist on his dining room table. ” Now we can guess that Mr. Allen doesn’t really mean that he “wouldn’t give the state nothing,” what he really means is that if it’s his private preserve, surrounded by state forest, he’s not going to give it up. We assume he doesn’t mean that he wouldn’t serve his country in time of war, or send his children or grandchildren to do the same. We assume that even though the state no doubt gives plenty to him and his town (which has just received nearly a million dollars in tax dollars for development), he certainly can not be drawing Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid, sending his kids to public schools, or driving on state or county roads – can he? When he is ready to leave this world he’s not going to ride in a partially state funded Johnsburg ambulance – is he?

Now for the funny part. Here’s a couple of gems:

It seems Mr. Allen is “still bitter about the burning” of Fox Lair, a resort for the rich that was turned into a rich boys summer camp until it was burned to the ground when the state purchased the land in the 1970s. Mr. Allen – It’s our land! We own it! You don’t want to sell yours and we wanted to clear the rich kids camp off ours! Maybe you should apply your property rights to someone besides yourself.

“You can drive anywhere in the state, anywhere in the park and not have any recollection of what was there 100 years ago in some places,” J.R. Risley, the Town Supervisor of Inlet, said. Ohhh… Mr. Risley we support your newfound devotion to historic preservation! That’s why environmentalist want to see wilderness instead of New Jersey-style development!

The problem is that you want to return to a time when the developers (Railroads, Tanning, Mining, and Lumber firms) took advantage of their friends in the State Legislature to clear-cut, cause devastating fires, and horrific depletion of topsoil, dams that flooded farmland and villages alike. The problem is, Mr. Allen and Mr. Risley – you don’t know your history!

So – here we are to give you some details:

Army archaeologists discovering history at Fort Drum:

Army archaeologists already have identified a major Iroquois village in the middle of the post with dozens of lesser sites scattered around the installation. Rush said nearly 200 significant sites have been located on post. Among them: Near the boat-building site, Rush and her colleagues have marked out a 5,000-year-old Indian village.

100 years indeed.


Friday, December 2, 2005

Adirondack Mountain Lions, Panthers, Pumas, and Cougars Oh My!

There is perhaps no wildlife question in the Adirondack Region that raises so many anti-government / anti-DEC hackles as the question of whether or not there are mountain lions (a.ka. cougars, pumas, panthers, catamounts) in them thar woods. People actually get angry… figuring that them city folk in the DEC just don’t know what they’re talking about, they don’t believe the locals, or they are hiding the fact that the big cats are around. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 1, 2005

A Lake Champlain Invasive Turns Out To Be A Native

The Burlington Free Press (Vermont) is reporting that the dreaded Sea Lamprey is a species native to Lake Champlain, at the eastern edge of the Adirondacks:

A team of Michigan State University researchers has established that Lake Champlain lamprey are a genetically distinct population old enough to be defined as native. The eel-like fish probably swam up the St. Lawrence and Richelieu rivers from the Atlantic Ocean and became landlocked in Lake Champlain as long ago as 11,500 years, the researchers concluded.

And in other invasive species news, peak-bagger Ted Keizer (a.k.a. Cave Dog) is busy making a ridiculous sport out of wilderness experience. No doubt, he energies in this regard will encourage thousands more to further erode the trails in the High Peaks as they run through at top speed – thanks [a-hem] Cave Dog.

Finally today, one last item – the elimination of a non-native species that actually had a positive impact in the park and on the environment. The bus line Greyhound is eliminating its routes north from Syracuse and closes its stops in the North Country. Another regional public transportation system goes down. And speaking of going down, check out the Post Star’s special on the 1969 crash of a Mohawk Airlines regional flight on Pilot Knob near Lake George. And, if you haven’t seen our piece on Adirondack regional airlines, it’s here; our piece on that suspected airplane murder-sucide is here.


Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Wal-Mart Inside The Adirondack Blue Line?

The great debate is on. Will Walmart be welcome if they come to Saranac Lake? The Adirondack Daily Enterprise is offering a chance to vote and the opposition has the advantage (so far). Adirondack Musing has put a couple of the key arguments up today. The Adirondack Live Journal also has a discussion going.

Balogh Blog has a nice rundown of the reasons why Wal-Mart sucks and CNY ecoBlog has recently put together some links to various reviews and pages related to the new movie. Screening locations are listed here.

As for Adirondack Almanack – you know where we stand on the big box.

The question is, just what is it in the water at Saranac Lake that brings out all this?


Sunday, November 13, 2005

At Gore and Tupper: Two New Adirondack Ski Resorts?

In North Creek the Gore Mountain – Little Gore Ski Bowl connection is moving forward and there are big plans afoot for the ski area in Tupper Lake as well.

Also in Sunday’s Adirondack news: The APA is cracking down on a rich guy in the Town of Webb who apparently doesn’t think he has to follow the same rules as the rest of us – and the search for the Adirondack League Club arsonist continues.


Thursday, November 10, 2005

In the Adirondacks Even Dead guys Can Win, So Long As They Are Republican

The mainstream media is apparently ignoring the big setbacks Republicans faced in the Adirondacks , New York, and elsewhere, and some are reporting instead on the area’s low voter turnout – then from Chester we get this report of a dead guy winning – “Robert Stetson, who was having lunch at the Deer Crossing restaurant, [said] “They must have voted straight Republican.” Ahh… yeah… they sure must have.

Does it make you wonder how smartly affairs are run in our region? Wonder no more, the Adirondack Council‘s 20th Annual State of the Park Report has been released – enjoy.


Sunday, November 6, 2005

Adirondack Natural History at Home and In Space

Two new developments in Adirondack Natural History. The Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks has announced they will open this July and an Adirondack Public Observatory is planned for Tupper Lake.


Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Adirondack Winter Begins With A Vengence

As predicted, we’re already headed for a tough winter [recent photos from Saranac Lake], and there is more to come.


Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Adirondack Elected Officals Get Miserable Grades

Environmental Advocates have released their annual voters guide and once again the representatives in the Adirondack region have some of the worst scores in the state. Our representatives Betty Little and Teresa Sayward definately need to go. Little is currently working to get all of the RV campgrounds in the Adirondacks put under the control of the Health Department after successfully spreading a large volume of mis-information regarding proposed APA rules for newly built campgrounds that would require them to undergo strict review of their often seriously underdesigned sewage systems. These campgrounds, which provide little by way of tourism dollars, are toxic wastelands waiting to be “discovered.” Full time residents of the park can only hope they are not the ones to discover them after its too late and their drinking water, swimming hole, or favorite fishing spot is contaminated.


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