With two more prisons set to close in our region this summer, in Franklin and Saratoga counties, people are asking new questions about America’s drug war and about the outlook for prison workers from Ogdenbsurg to Malone to Moriah and Saranac Lake. » Continue Reading.
Legal champion for nature, for our nature and for the wild, David Sive, eulogized in The New York Times recently, was a man who epitomized the truth that you protect only what you love, you love only what you understand and you understand only what you are taught. According to the writers of the Times obituary, David brought Thoreau’s Walden with him to World War II and he and the book survived the Battle of the Bulge.
That is a blessing, for David Sive went on to employ Thoreau’s transcendence, his own legal training, fierce guardianship of all he loved and consummate use of the English language in the courts of law to protect the Hudson Valley and its Highlands, the Catskills, the Adirondacks, our State Parks, and many other places.
Before David Sive, the idea of a citizen and their representative gaining standing to argue for the environment in a court of law was rare indeed. Thanks to him and other pioneers, it has long been practiced. One can always wish that more of our judges were better trained and more inclined in this direction, but that is another story. » Continue Reading.
Exploring the Adirondack backcountry requires tenacity, perseverance and great deal of fortitude, as climbing over blowdowns, crossing beaver dams and struggling through hobblebush is an arduous way to spend the day. These personal qualities are not the only necessities for enjoying the backcountry however, having the proper gear is equally important. Backpacks, shelters, sleeping bags and numerous other items are tools of the trade for any intrepid soul that leaves societal comforts behind to enjoy some time surrounded by trees, furry animals and all the other creepy-crawlies in the great outdoors.
Sometimes the need for the proper gear quickly becomes a compulsion for owning the latest and greatest equipment on the market. For these people, the satisfaction of owning adequate gear is not enough; instead, the desire for the lightest or flashiest item becomes overwhelming. Whenever a new “superior” piece of equipment comes to their attention, whether it is lighter-weight or just a better way of fulfilling some backcountry need, the desire to own it gnaws at them. They want it. They need it. They must have it.
» Continue Reading.
The Kelly Adirondack Center in Niskayuna, NY has announced an upcoming four-part lunch and learn series, “People in the Wilderness” with Hallie Bond. Bond was at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake from 1983 until 2012, first as Education Director and then as Curator.
On April 7, the topic will be “Adirondack Life”. Before the automobile and good roads, Adirondack life ran in traditional channels, tied to the seasons and the land. Cash was scarce, and people worked at many different jobs. How Adirondackers used the woods to support themselves is essential to understanding Adirondack life today. » Continue Reading.
In maple country, it seems like everyone has a favorite syrup grade. Mine is U.S. Grade A dark amber. But soon, I’ll have to figure out how my favorite grade of the past jibes with a new system that several Northeastern states plan to adopt in the next few years, and that other states – as well as Canada – are also considering.
It turns out that, at least in New York, Vermont, and Maine, my favorite amber will soon be called either Grade A Amber, Rich Taste or Grade A Dark, Robust Taste, depending on which end of the amber spectrum I prefer. Lighter syrups tend to have more delicate flavors, while darker ones are more intense – a relationship on which the old maple syrup labels, that described color only, relied.
So why doesn’t all syrup taste the same? Sugars in maple sap undergo a series of changes during collection and processing that influence both color and flavor. “The most important determinant of what flavor develops in syrup are the reactions that occur when heat is applied as we process sap into syrup in the evaporator,” explained Abby van den Berg, a researcher at the Proctor Maple Research Center at the University of Vermont. » Continue Reading.
On May 10, 1922, the Old Forge Hardware store built by Moses Cohen burned to the ground. Three days later the fire was still burning coal, unsold construction materials, and other debris and would continue to smolder for days to come. But Moses Cohen continued to serve his customers, securing an office in the neighboring Givens Block and receiving permission from the Village of Old Forge to install his stock in the Fire Hall (today’s Nathan’s Bakery). In 1923, his rebuilt store sold everything from “paints, bath tubs and up to the best in parlor suites.” Today, the year 1922 is engraved under the Cohen name on the façade of the present store.
A year after the fire, as the construction of the present store was almost complete, the Utica Daily Press interviewed Moses Cohen in an article titled “Moses Cohen’s Story of Struggle to Top”. I thought Moses Cohen’s recalling his beginnings in Old Forge a worthy chapter to the town’s early history and how one man overcame ethnic prejudice with sound business practices. » Continue Reading.
This Sunday Lake Luzerne’s Double H Ranch will be attempting to gesture in spring with its 7th annual Eggstravaganza on April 6.
A day at the Great Escape Lodge and Indoor Waterpark may not seem like true spring, but with 5 ft. of snow still covering my yard and the promise of a springtime theme, this may be the closest I get to swimming for awhile, without developing hypothermia. » Continue Reading.
As part of a collaborative effort to mitigate the impact of acid rain and restore brook trout to the Adirondacks, state helicopters delivered 34 tons of lime to an acidified pond in the Five Ponds Wilderness Area in the town of Webb, Herkimer County, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Regional Director Judy Drabicki has announced.
According to the announcement, on March 6 and 7, approximately 40 DEC staff and New York State Police helicopter crews conducted the liming operation, which included 46 helicopter flights to transport 1,500 pounds of lime from a staging area near the boat launch at Stillwater Reservoir to Hawk Pond. The lime was deposited on the ice at the pond and later spread across the frozen surface. The liming of acidic lakes or ponds is a management tool used to neutralize the water’s acidity and create water quality that is more favorable for fish and aquatic life. When the pond thaws this spring, the lime will enter the water and reduce its acidity level. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts in Blue Mountain Lake has announced a new campaign on Adirondack Gives, the crowdfunding site for Adirondack region nonprofits, to help fund the purchase of new tires for the organization’s van.
Traveling the 2,000 square miles of the Adirondacks takes a toll on the Center’s equipment. For the 2014 ADK Summer Playhouse season, the organization plans to travel five productions to 17 towns for a total of 31 performances. “The van is crucial piece of equipment, it helps fulfill our mission of bringing our programs to underserved communities in the Adirondacks,” Executive Director Alex Harris said in a statement announcing the fundraising drive.
The recent proposal to remove Endangered Species Act protections for the gray wolf (Canis lupus) is almost entirely about politics. The American alligator and the bald eagle, to use two examples, were not delisted by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service until they had repopulated their former ranges, while wolves have repopulated only a fraction of their former ranges, and are already under heavy hunting pressure by the state governments of Idaho, Montana and Wyoming.
How many Americans are aware of the fact that in 1915, the US Congress, acting, as usual, under pressure from special interests, in that case, the ranching and hunting lobbies, provided funds to the Interior Department, to eliminate wolves, mountain lions and other predators from the United States? The Interior Department set up their “Animal Damage Control Unit”, and spent millions of taxpayer dollars to shoot, trap and poison wolves over several decades, with the only survivors being in the Boundary Waters area of Northern Minnesota, one of the most inaccessible regions of the U.S., not to mention a paradise for kayakers, canoeists and fisherman. » Continue Reading.
If you’re just a regular Joe or Jane, you’ve probably at some point—say, while lying back in an office chair, or doing the dishes, perhaps mowing the grass—entertained a number of Walter Mitty-like fantasies. You know … stuff like, “What’s it like to be that guy or girl?” For men, that guy could be anything. What’s it like to be the smartest kid in school? The star center on a school basketball team? The ace pitcher on the baseball team? A great running back in football? Better yet, how about doing all that in college? Wow … BMOC, plenty of attention from the girls, the coolest among the guys. Might as well toss in a professional baseball contract … what sports-loving boy doesn’t dream of that?
If you’ve never been considered “chick bait,” daydreams might find you 6 foot 4 with a muscular build, and a face that others besides a mother could love. In place of your everyday job, reverie might find you a TV actor, or in movies. That would be cool—fraternizing and working with show-biz superstars. And hey, why not marry the world’s most famous model? She’ll need a great place to live … maybe the Hollywood Hills? And we’ll chum around with a top music superstar of the past century.
I’m going out on a limb, but here’s my guess: for the rest of our lives, most of us would relish having any one thing from that list. But all of them? » Continue Reading.
Advocates for New York’s clean water, clean air and open space are applauding a weekend agreement on the next New York State Budget which includes $162 million in appropriations for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). This is a $9 million increase over the current funding level.
The EPF, which once stood at $255 million, suffered deep cuts in recent years during the recession, falling as low as $134 million two years ago. Last year the EPF was increased to $153 million. “This year’s dedication of additional funding to the EPF is a welcome use of the state’s budget surplus, and marks a continuation of the state’s reinvestment in environmental programs,” a statement issued to the press by the Adirondack Council said. “EPF programs create jobs, lower costs to taxpayers and protect clean water and other valuable community resources.” » Continue Reading.
“We can’t go wrong with Wright” was Ron’s proposal for an early spring backcountry ski destination. At seven miles, round trip, a ski tour to the summit of Wright Peak is one of the shorter trips in the High Peaks. But shorter isn’t easier and, as we soon found out, things can go wrong.
Our plan would require a combination of skills: we would start by cross-country skiing on the rolling terrain of Algonquin Trail, a narrow hiking trail starting at the Adirondak Loj parking lot. When the pitch became too great, we would put climbing skins on our skis for awhile, then replace our skis with crampons for the final push to the summit. For the descent, we would ski down the newly-fallen powder on the Wright Peak Ski Trail using alpine techniques.
As we approached the top, the towering trees of the lower elevations were replaced by the dwarfs of the Krumholtz zone, where the stunted and deformed trees looked like a bonsai garden.
At tree line, we met a couple of Canadian skiers who warned us of the treacherous winds and ice-covered rocks above. Rather than hike over the top of the mountain, Ron suggested that we follow the contour around the peak, traversing between the Lilliputian trees until we intersected the ski trail on the other side. » Continue Reading.
These projects include a top-to-bottom renovation and restoration of Saranac Lake’s iconic Hotel Saranac, a new 120-room Marriot Hotel and convention center in downtown Lake George, and the new 90-room Lake Flower Inn on the shores of Lake Flower in Saranac Lake.
As a package this marks one of the biggest investments in tourism facilities in the Adirondacks since the expansion of the Sagamore Resort in the 1980s or the expansion of the Crowne Plaza in Lake Placid in 2004.
Two of the projects are in line for significant state funding. The Hotel Saranac is approved for $5 million in grants and tax abatements and the Lake Flower Inn is scheduled for a $2 million state grant. » Continue Reading.
Out of all the months in the year March is the busiest time for the timber harvesting industry – what many call “the big push.” This is our last chance to produce as much product as possible before the end of winter.
This year winter seems to be lasting longer than usual, and that has given us a few more weeks of production until the spring thaw. The big push is everything you can imagine it would be. Chaotic, stressful, and tiring to say the least. It’s what we have planned for all season long. At its end is mud season, which brings a nice break from a daily routine and some much needed time off. Mud season usually lasts until the hardwood trees start to bud, somewhere around the middle of May. » Continue Reading.
The sun is shining later and later each day, and some of the snow is melting and dripping off of the roof in front of the big window. It’s officially been spring for almost a week now, but don’t bother telling Mother Nature that. The forecast of thirteen degrees below zero tonight isn’t as bad as the negative twenty-three we got a couple of nights ago, so I guess, in a way we are getting more spring-like temperatures. But again, temperatures in the negative teens aren’t that spring-like to me.
I’ve been back at the cabin full time, and having a few weeks off from living out here was definitely nice. After three winters having to haul in water and use an outhouse no matter what the temperature, the shine of living off grid has worn off. I still enjoy many, many aspects of it, but this winter has definitely been a mood killer for me. I was able to tap a few of the maple trees the other day and start collecting sap, but it’s been slow going with the cold returning. And the hike up the driveway isn’t any easier than it was in February. » Continue Reading.
At the height of her career in mid-1873, Kate Field was said to be “a more prominent journalist than Clemens [Mark Twain].” The Washington Post said she was “one of the foremost women of America,” and the Chicago Tribune called her the “most unique woman the present century has produced.” Yet in her tales of adventure in the Adirondacks, she called herself “a babe in the woods.”
She wrote, “To be a babe in the woods watched over by a human robin redbreast, is as near an approach to Eden before the fall as comes within the ken of woman.” » Continue Reading.
I’ve been writing about the central role our Eureka Wind River 4 tent played in our family’s life. One reason for its prominence in our stories is its longevity. That sucker was the most resilient tent I’ve ever owned. I mean we beat the hell out of it for more than twenty years and it never failed us. It survived every extreme of Adirondack weather you can imagine plus a couple of doozy storms out west. It survived five people (sometimes six), a dog and various gear crowded in, often sardined up against the walls. It survived inexperienced winter campers learning the hard way that you bivouac tents, not pitch them directly on snow. Even during that vicious final foray on Marble Mountain, it held together. But there was one night in July of 1993 that it survived only by the narrowest of luck. » Continue Reading.