Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Tamarack: Our Only Native Deciduous Conifer

tamarackTamarack is a tree with a number of aliases – hackmatack, eastern larch, or if you’re from Northern Maine and feeling contrary, juniper. Whatever you call it, this scraggly tree, easy to overlook for most of the year, lights up the November forest. Weeks after leaf season has passed us by, the tamarack turns brilliant yellow and then orange, blazing like a torch amid the evergreens and fading, broad-leaf browns.

It’s an oddball tree, the only deciduous conifer native to our region, and I’ve often wondered how it manages to make a living. Deciduous trees are big spenders, investing in foliage that they use quickly and discard. This approach may seem wasteful, but in certain scenarios it’s a good strategy. Big leaves enable a tree to collect and bank a lot of carbon dioxide all summer; the tree then drops the leaves and takes the winter off. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Photo: Supermoon

super-moonThis past Sunday saw the emergence of the biggest super moon in 68 years, bathing the world in ghostly silver light. Hopefully you captured some worthy images this past weekend; it’ll be another eighteen years before the moon comes this close again.


Monday, November 14, 2016

The Devil’s Kitchen: Warren County’s Nightmare for Drivers

devilskitchenThe colorful name Devil’s Kitchen has been used in numerous book titles, restaurant names, and for hiking destinations in at least seven states. Close to home in upstate New York, we have a Catskill version, described here as “quite possibly the most hellacious [bicycle] climb in New York State.” The same area, with cliffs, numerous waterfalls, and slippery slopes, has seen many hiker deaths as well.

But there’s another Devil’s Kitchen farther north, located about midway on Route 9 between Chestertown and Warrensburg. Despite lacking the cliffs and stunning landscapes featured at other identically named places, deaths have occurred at the Adirondack site—which today exists in name only. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 14, 2016

It’s A Shell Game For Turtles

turtleYears ago, I stopped when I saw a turtle attempting to cross a high-traffic road. When I picked it up, I noticed its intricately sculpted shell. The top, or carapace, was covered with layers of bony scales, called scutes, which formed small pyramids circled by concentric growth rings. Finely spaced ridges radiated from each apex. The unusual shell and orange skin helped me identify it as a wood turtle, a species being considered for federal listing as endangered because populations have declined in most northeastern states. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Photo: The Pileated Woodpecker

pileated woodpeckerThe pileated woodpecker is one of the more striking characters of New York’s woodlands. Ubiquitous across the state, its bright red crest and propensity for vocalization make it hard to miss.


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Using Common Sense With Adirondack Black Bears

Black Bear NYS Museum Camera TrapThere I was, cruising the VIC’s Sucker Brook Trail in search of spring wildflowers (translation: staring at the ground as I walked along), when to my left I heard a rustle of vegetation. “Ruffed grouse,” I thought, and turned my head, anticipating the explosion of wings as the bird made a hasty retreat towards the treetops. What I saw, however, was no ruffed grouse. It was black, it was furry, and it was galloping away from me a high speed.

My next thought was “someone’s black lab is loose.” Then it dawned on me: this was no lab, it was a bear. A small bear, probably a yearling, but a bear nonetheless. What I saw was the typical view I have of bears in the Adirondacks: the south end of the animal as it’s headed north. If I’m lucky, I’ll see the face before the animal turns tail. And this is how bears are – they fear people. Many people fear bears as well, but unlike the bear, people really have little reason to be afraid of these normally placid animals. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Avoid Caves and Mines to Protect Bat Populations

220px-Little_Brown_Bat_with_White_Nose_Syndrome_(Greeley_Mine,_cropped)The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has urged outdoor adventurers to suspend exploration of cave and mine sites that may serve as homes for bat hibernations.

Human disturbances are harmful to the State’s bat population since the arrival of the disease known as white-nose syndrome, which has killed more than 90 percent of bats at most hibernation sites in New York. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

Master Gardener Training to Begin in Warren County

MG'sApplications for the January 2017 Master Gardener Training Program are now being accepted at Cornell Cooperative Extension in Warren County.

After enrolling in the course, participants are given a binder of information that supplements weekly presentations by Cornell University faculty, Cooperative Extension staff, and local experts on a wide range of garden topics.

The topics include basic botany; entomology; soil health; home lawn care; vegetable, fruit and flower gardening; composting; organic gardening, and other practical and interesting subject matter. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 7, 2016

Canada Geese: Migrant or Resident?

geeseA large V of Canada geese flying noisily over my head – and traveling north, rather than south – got me wondering about the ins and outs of fall migration. Shouldn’t these big birds be flying to warmer climes this time of year? Why do they travel in that V-formation, anyway?

It turns out the answers aren’t simple. Canada geese (Branta canadensis) live throughout the continental United States and across their namesake country. These loud honkers are easily identified by their size – up to 20 pounds, with a wingspan up to five feet – and their characteristic white chinstrap markings across black heads and necks. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Black Bear Encounters: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear

black bear dec

The black bear is one of the most fascinating wildlife species in the Adirondacks. Residents and visitors are constantly introducing human food and garbage into the home of the black bear. Wild, non-habituated bears forage for foods such as berries, nuts, insects, and grasses.

These bears will not normally show an interest in our food unless they are first introduced to it through our careless behavior. If they cannot easily get to our food they will look elsewhere. When we store food and garbage poorly, bears are attracted to this easily accessible food rather than the natural foods they must work to acquire. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

2016 Adirondack Peregrine Falcon Monitoring Summary

peregrine falconDEC staff and volunteers monitored 26 peregrine falcon nesting sites located throughout the Adirondack Mountains and along Lake Champlain during the 2016 breeding season.

Of the 26 monitored eyrie (nesting) sites, 17 were confirmed to be occupied by territorial pairs – all of these were confirmed to be active eyries. At two of the 26 sites, Cascade Lakes and Eagle Mountain, only a single territorial bird was ever seen. Of the 17 confirmed active eyries, 14 were successful, producing 27 chicks for a total of 1.59 young/breeding pair and 1.93 young/successful pair. This represents an average level of production for this region, however 2016 was much more successful than the 2015 breeding season. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 31, 2016

Dr. Bradford VanDiver: Adirondack Renaissance Man

bvdiver1976Bradford B. VanDiver, president of the ADK Laurentian Chapter four decades ago, had a deep impact on my life, which is not surprising because he was a lifetime teacher. But the truth is, I never met him — at least not in person. His passion for many pursuits was first revealed to me through the pages of one of several books he authored. What I discovered was a native New Yorker and eventual North Country transplant who was truly a Renaissance Man.

At a young age, innate curiosity across many fields of science drove my quest to know more about animals, plants, rocks, and “bugs” that were routinely encountered on all sorts of outdoor expeditions. When VanDiver’s book, Rocks and Routes of the North Country, New York (1976) was released in 1976, I immediately obtained an autographed copy, which still resides on my desk to this very day. He presented a wealth of knowledge supported by scientific terms, but written for the layman as a practical guide to discovery. The book accompanied me on hundreds of hours of exploration across the Adirondacks, and in part led me to write my own first book.

But VanDiver was much more than a professional rock hound — professional as in a Ph.D. in geology from the University of Washington. He also taught at universities in Colorado, Idaho, Oregon, Washington, and for a year in Munich, Germany, during a sabbatical from Potsdam State, where he spent 24 years as professor of geology. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, October 23, 2016

Changes for Fisher, Marten, and Bobcat Seasons

DEC LogoFurbearer trapping will begin soon in many parts of New York State, following changes to fisher and marten trapping seasons, as well as changes to some general trapping regulations and expanded hunting for bobcat.

While coyote hunting season began October 1 in much the state, hunting seasons for other furbearers such as bobcat, raccoon, and fox begins October 25. Trappers should be aware of changes to trapping regulations for fisher beginning this fall, including: » Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 20, 2016

Conservation Council Seeks Committee Applicants for 2017

nyscc-logoThe New York State Conservation Council (NYSCC) is seeking Committee applicants for 2017. NYSCC is the oldest conservation organization in New York State, comprised of volunteers who are concerned with sound management of the state’s and the nation’s land, water, fish and wildlife.

Members are involved in a variety of Council issues dealing with hunting, trapping and angling, and ranging from educating youth and adults, to legislation, and including projects such as cleaning up waterways and roadsides and habitat improvement for sportsmen and women. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 18, 2016

International Paper Endows Paul Smith’s College Professor

Brett McLeodA Paul Smith’s College professor has been named as the institution’s first International Paper Endowed Professor in Forestry Economics. Dr. Brett McLeod, professor of Natural Resource Management and Policy and 2003 graduate of Paul Smith’s, was honored with the distinction last week during a ceremony at the college.

The $500,000 endowment from International Paper will allow McLeod to continue his work in natural resource economics for the remainder of his career at Paul Smith’s College and could also help attract world-class professors to fill the position when he retires. » Continue Reading.


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