Monday, October 3, 2011

Charles Murdock: Crown Point Native, Noted Engineer

By most accounts, the Lincoln Tunnel is the world’s busiest vehicular tunnel (the type used by cars and trucks). It actually consists of three tunnels, or tubes, and accommodates about 43 million vehicles per year, or about 120,000 per day. It was opened in 1937, ten years after the Holland Tunnel (about three miles south) began handling traffic. And a North Country man was instrumental to the success of both tunnel systems.

Charles Watson Murdock, a native of Crown Point, New York, worked closely with some of the best engineers in American history, playing a key role in solving a problem unique to tunnels for vehicles with gasoline-powered engines. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 3, 2011

Dave Gibson: River Management by Backhoe

“It is unfortunate that dredging has proceeded without any guidance from river experts who could provide natural stream dimensions based on a rapid assessment of natural bankfull, pool depth and riffle spacing. Measurements that could be done in a few hours and eliminate years of lost habitat,” stated Carol Treadwell, Executive Director of the Ausable River Association (ARA).

Natural stream dimensions? Bankfull? Pool depth? Riffle spacing? What is this, a how-to manual? A certain amount of assembly required? Or a level of river awareness and fluency that any floodplain community had better strive for?

It is understandable why the small streams and rivers in this heavily damaged region of the Adirondacks (twice this year) may be viewed as marauding aliens and enemies which require a serious “talking to” by backhoe. The human and community impacts of the flood are enormous and gut wrenching.

Yet, post World War Two we keep building in floodplains, whether we know we are or not. A favored textbook reads: “The average annual flood damage nationwide… has continued to increase… The use of flood-prone land continues to rise faster than the application of measures to reduce flood damages. This continues to be one of the foremost challenges to land planners – finding ways to control the use of flood-prone areas, and ways of requiring those who seek the advantages of use of floodable areas to assume a fair proportion of the financial risk involved in such use” (Water in Environmental Planning, by Thomas Dunne and Luna Leopold, 1978).

Carol’s quote was submitted for a news release issued this week by a coalition of concerned organizations and individuals who live in these communities, along with a letter to Governor Cuomo seeking an end to floodplain management by bulldozer, and a meeting to assess how best to respond to the altered nature of these waterways in ways that are mindful of people, property, stream health, aesthetics and tourism on which so many of these towns and Essex County depend.

Carol denotes an apparent lack of “river experts” and related oversight of the heavy earth moving equipment moving about our region’s streams during the Governor’s month-long emergency authorization. The Ausable River Association has spent years studying the Ausable. Similarly, the Boquet River Association on the Boquet. NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and Adirondack Park Agency know something about the behavior and morphology of rivers and floodplains. NYS DOT has environmental experts who know how to manage highway rights of way without taking a proverbial two by four to the environment. So, where are they? It was good to read that the Essex County Board of Supervisors is calling on these experts to help them assess and, if necessary, adjust the in-stream work as may be necessary. Governor Cuomo should have had his environmental experts in the field overseeing any stream work a month ago.

Yet, our state agency experts and field managers at DEC, APA, DOT still seem unable to respond in a coordinated, effective fashion, despite the fact that the Emergency Authorization issued by NYS DEC on that fateful Sunday, August 29 states: “This Authorization hereby allows emergency work to occur in navigable waters, streams and wetlands regulated under Environmental Conservation Law Article 15 and Article 24. The work hereby allowed must be immediately necessary to address an imminent threat to life, health, property, the general welfare and natural resources. All work carried out under this Authorization must be conducted in a minimally invasive manner, consistent with the goals of the restoration work. Non‐critical work is not allowed by this Authorization. All work must be undertaken in compliance with the conditions below.”

The emergency authorization and all conditions for working in the rivers is found at the DEC website. Based on what Dan Plumley of Adirondack Wild has observed, many of these conditions are being violated every day, but this assumes that the equipment operators understand the conditions, and that DEC is on-site to explain them, which it appears not to be.

There is probably a strong difference of opinion whether the work to date has been “minimally invasive” and necessary to address imminent threat. At the same time, the workers in the streams and their supervisors are doing all they can with the information and resources at hand. Which gets me back to Carol Treadwell’s quote: “natural stream dimensions based on a rapid assessment of natural bankfull, pool depth and riffle spacing. Measurements that could be done in a few hours and eliminate years of lost habitat.”

What is she talking about? I return to and quote from Dunne and Leopold’s Water in Environmental Planning (1978). Rivers construct their own floodplains, laterally migrate, and deposit lots of sediment in the process. Over a very long process of movement the river occupies each and every position on the flat valley floor, with the river moving laterally by erosion on one bank and deposition on the other. That is the meander that rivers want to achieve as their way of expending energy most efficiently. In fact, really straight stretches of river (absent human channelization) are rare “and seldom does one see a straight reach of length exceeding 10 channel widths.”

Yet, the river does not construct a channel large enough to accommodate flood stages. The bankfull stage referred to by Carol “corresponds to the river discharge at which channel maintenance is most effective, that is the discharge at which moving sediment, forming or removing bars, forming or changing bends and meanders, and generally doing work that results in the average morphologic characteristics of (river) channels.”

The authors Dunne and Leopold continue: “It is human encroachment on the floodplains of rivers that accounts for the majority of flood damage. Because it is a natural attribute of rivers to produce flows that cannot be contained within the channel, the floodplain is indeed a part of the river during such events. It is therefore important that planners know something about these characteristic features, and thus possibly counteract to some degree the emphasis placed on flood-control protection works. More logical is flood damage prevention by the restriction of floodplain use.”

In short straight sections in between meanders, stream pools and riffles alternate in consistent ways due to the creation of gravel bars on the convex side of a meander. “The distance between successive bars averages five to seven channel widths.” The alteration of steep (over the riffles) and less steep water (over the pools) is characteristic of rivers, as is the fact that meanders are steeper than the average straight section. I think this is the “pool-riffle spacing” Carol is speaking of. She may be suggesting that in-stream work should seek to maintain this kind of pool-riffle spacing, and ensure that stream slopes are not severely altered.

The worst thing to do, according to Dunne and Leopold, is to severely shorten a river channel with consequent change in channel gradient. “An imposed change of river slope can cause an instability quite irreversible in any short period of time, and is the most difficult change to which a stream must adjust.” It appears this is exactly what heavy equipment operators did to Johns Brook, and may be doing to other stream sections.

The authors’ conclusions may be ones which Governor Cuomo, DOT, DEC, APA, and Essex County should pay particular attention to: “Among the potential costs or disadvantages accruing from channel modification are: 1. Channel instability or effects of channel readjustment to the imposed conditions; 2. Downstream effects especially increased bank erosion, bed degradation or aggradation; 3. Esthetic degradation, especially the change in stream biota and the visual alteration of riparian vegetation, and of stream banks and channel pattern or form.”

Photos: Johns Brook, Keene, before and after channel dredging and grading by state-funded heavy equipment, photos by Naj Wikoff.


Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hunting in the Adirondacks

What follows is a guest essay contributed by the Adirondack Forest Preserve Education Partnership, a coalition of Adirondack organizations building on the Leave No Trace philosophy:

There is a rich history and tradition of hunting in the Adirondack Park. With over two and a half million acres of public land it is not hard to find access to the wildlife habitat of choice. Keep in mind these five points and you will have a safe experience.



* Assume every gun is loaded

* Control the muzzle. Point your gun in a safe direction

* Keep your finger off the trigger until you are ready to shoot

* Be sure of your target and beyond

* Wear Hunter Orange

The effectiveness of fluorescent orange safety clothing speaks for itself. Look at the results: Over the past ten years, 15 New York State big game hunters have been mistaken for deer or bear and killed, and every one of these victims was from that small minority of hunters who did not wear hunter orange. But not even one person who was wearing hunter orange was mistaken for game and killed.

Hunting is safe and getting safer. The hunting injury rate (injuries per 100,000 hunters) has been cut more than 67% over the past 35 years, even while the number of hunters grew and hunting land decreased. The safest year ever was 2003, with only 32 injuries. People who hunt are careful. There are nearly 700,000 hunters in New York. Only one in 14,000 causes an accident, so 99.99 percent of hunters don’t cause firearms injuries.

Be physically fit for a safer and more enjoyable hunting season. Every hunting season is marred by a rash of heart attacks. In fact, heart attacks take a higher toll than careless hunting practices. Hunting is more fun and a lot safer when you’re not tired and out of breath. Physical fitness will enable you to cover more ground when hunting, get your game out of the woods easier, and avoid clumsiness and dangerous lapses of concentration and caution that accompany exhaustion. Fitness makes you a better shot, too.

This guest essay was contributed by the Adirondack Forest Preserve Education Partnership, a coalition of Adirondack organizations building on the Leave No Trace philosophy. Their goal is to provide public education about the Forest Preserve and Conservation Easements with an emphasis on how to safely enjoy, share, and protect these unique lands. To learn more about AFPEP visit www.adirondackoutdoors.org.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

25th Annual Quilts Unlimited Exhibition

The 25th Annual Quilts Unlimited Exhibition will open at View, the former Old Forge Arts Center, on Saturday, October 8 and run until November 30. Quilts from across the country will be hung gallery style in the new arts center for this competitive exhibition which features both traditional and eclectic quilts and wall hangings.

The opening day Saturday, October 8 will feature a Quilting Lecture and Luncheon “My Quilting Journey” led by Molly Waddell at 10am. Lecture pre-registration is required and is $15/$10 members which includes exhibition admission. The opening reception will follow with quilt and quilted garment appraisals; demonstrations; an awards ceremony at 2pm; a fat quarter drawing where you can enter a 18″x22″ piece of fabric ‘fat quarter’ for a chance to win them all; and a reception at 3pm.

Molly Waddell is the Juror of Awards for this year’s exhibition, and a National Quilting Association Certified Judge. She has won numerous awards for her quilts on a local and national level. Some of her work has been published in The Quilting Quarterly, The 2007 Quilt Art Calendar and Quilters Newsletter. Molly was the co-chair for the 2002 and 2004 biennial quilt shows sponsored by the Quilters Consortium of New York State, Inc. Her goals as a quilt judge are to recognize the creativity and expertise of each quilt maker, to objectively and fairly evaluate quilts and wearable arts and to give constructive comments to quilters so that they may improve their workmanship and artistry, and to encourage them to stretch their creativity. She is a member of The National Quilting Association, The American Quilters Society, Thread Bears Quilt Guild and Mohawk Valley Quilt Club.

Exhibition admission is $8/$4 members & groups of 6+, children under 12 are free. To learn more about the exhibition, visit www.ViewArts.org or call View at 315-369-6411.

Photo: “Remembering Pinewood” by Linda O’Connor.


Saturday, October 1, 2011

A New Children’s Book by Gordie Little

Gordie Little of Clinton County spent 30+ years on local radio, more than 10 years as a Press Republican columnist, and 15 years doing weekly shows of regional interest on local cable television – now he has a new children’s book published by Bloated Toe Publishing.

Publisher and Almanack contributor Larry Gooley says Little Champy Goes to School is about two things: the story of the family of Lake Champlain’s most famous cryptid and a remembrance of two the bridges that have spanned Lake Champlain at Crown Point. Illustrations of both bridges appear in color on the covers and in black-and-white within the book’s pages.

Little Champy Goes to School is about how Little Champy learns to undulate, critically important for sea serpents and lake monsters. Supported by his mother Mama Champy, his father Big Champy, and his grandfather Old Champy, Little Champy attends school far beneath the Lake Champlain Bridge in preparation for the big test of the surface swim. His teacher is Aunt Champanella, who works hard to teach her students what they’ll need to know, especially about undulating.

The book is available at Bloated Toe Publishing online store.


Friday, September 30, 2011

This Week’s Adirondack Web Highlights

On Friday afternoons Adirondack Almanack compiles for our readers a collection of the week’s top weblinks. You can find all our weekly web round-ups here.

Subscribe! More than 7,000 people get Adirondack Almanack each day via RSS, E-Mail, or Twitter or Facebook updates. It’s a convenient way to get the latest news and information about the Adirondacks.


Friday, September 30, 2011

Adirondack Events This Weekend (Sept 30)

Visit the Almanack on Fridays for links to what’s happening this weekend around the Adirondacks.

The Almanack also provides weekly backcountry conditions and hunting and fishing reports for those headed into the woods or onto the waters this weekend.

Region-wide Events This Weekend

Lake Placid Region Events This Weekend

Old Forge Area Events This Weekend


Friday, September 30, 2011

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories

Each Friday morning Adirondack Almanack compiles for our readers the previous week’s top stories. You can find all our weekly news round-ups here.

Subscribe! More than 7,000 people get Adirondack Almanack each day via RSS, E-Mail, or Twitter or Facebook updates. It’s a convenient way to get the latest news and information about the Adirondacks.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Adirondack Fish and Game Report (Sept 29)

Adirondack Almanack provides this weekly Hunting and Fishing Report each Thursday afternoon, year round. The Almanack also provides weekly backcountry recreation conditions reports for those headed into the woods or onto the waters.

Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Report Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1), WSLP (93.3) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

** indicates new or revised items.

** WATERS RUNNING ABOVE NORMAL
The level of the region’s rivers and streams remain above normal, except for those rivers on the western slopes of the Adirondacks such as the Beaver, Black, Independence, and Oswagatchie which are at normal levels for this time of year. Rivers east of and including West Canada Creek are running high. Boaters and paddlers should be aware that high waters may contain logs, limbs and other debris and conceal navigation hazards that normally are easily seen and avoided. Consult the latest streamgage data if you our venturing onto the region’s waters.

EXPECT COOLER WEATHER – SHORTER DAYS
Cooler temperatures have arrived in the mountains. Night-time and morning temperatures in the 30s or colder may be experienced, especially in higher elevations. Be prepared before entering the woods. Pack extra non-cotton clothes, including a hat, in addition to your usual equipment. Take off and put on layers of clothing to regulate body heat. Remember the sun sets earlier this time of year. Plan trips accordingly and carry a flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries.

** BACKCOUNTRY ROAD CLOSURES
Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: Dacy Clearing Road and the Dacy Clearing Parking Area are now open to motor vehicle traffic. The Haskell-West River Road along the West Canada Creek from Route 8 into the Black River Wild Forest is closed with no current timetable for reopening (though it is likely to reopen next year). In the Moose River Plains the Rock Dam Road is open for motor vehicle use. The public should use caution as the road is also being used by log trucks to haul forest products from League Club property. The Otter Brook – Indian Lake Road is open to Squaw Lake which is the permanent termination point for motor vehicle usage in accordance with the approved Moose River Plains Complex Unit Management Plan. A temporary barrier has been placed just past the Squaw Lake Trailhead, a gate will be installed in the future. DEC Region 5 has updated the Moose River Plains Wild Forest map.

** PHARAOH LAKE WILDERNESS VOLUNTEERS NEEDED
DEC is seeking volunteers to work on trails and trail infrastructure in the Pharoah Lake Wilderness. On October 1, DEC seeks volunteers to assist with moving the 220 foot long bog bridging on the Mill Brook Trail. Work includes emptying rocks from the cribbing, repositioning the bog bridging, refilling the cribbing with rocks and staking down the bridging. Volunteers can also work with DEC staff and Student Conservation Crews at other times and in various areas of the Pharoah Lake Wilderness at a number of tasks including: Carrying 5 foot and 6 foot long 2″ x 10″ lumber about 1 mile to a bridge site, Peeling logs for building material, Building bridges, Brushing out and clearing blowdown. For more information or to volunteer, please contact DEC Senior Forester Tate Connor at 518-623-1278 or e-mail r5info@gw.dec.state.ny.us

** KNOW THE LATEST WEATHER
Check the weather before entering the woods or heading onto the waters and be aware of weather conditions at all times. The National Weather Service (NWS) at Burlington and Albany cover the Adirondack region.

** Fire Danger: LOW

SECONDARY ROAD CLOSURES
Although State Route 73 and Route 9N have reopened, several secondary roads, particularly in Essex County, remain closed as well. Essex County is maintaining an updated list of road closures.

EXPECT BLOWDOWN
Tropical Storm Irene contributed considerable blowdown. Trees may be toppled on and over backcountry roads, trails and campsites.

SOME CAMPGROUNDS NOW CLOSED
Fall camping is available through Columbus Day Weekend at 20 Adirondack DEC Campgrounds. A list of phone numbers for all campgrounds and their associated Regional Offices can be found online.

** NEW SPORTSMEN LICENSE YEAR BEGINS
The 2011-12 sportsmen license year begins October 1. Find out how to purchase a sporting license on the DEC website. Information about the 2011 Sporting Seasons is also available online.

FIREWOOD BAN IN EFFECT
Due to the possibility of spreading invasive species that could devastate northern New York forests (such as Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Wooly Adeljid and Asian Longhorn Beetle), DEC prohibits moving untreated firewood more than 50 miles from its source. Forest Rangers have been ticketing violators of the firewood ban. More details and frequently asked questions at the DEC website.

ADIRONDACK FISHING REPORTS

Current Seasons
Open seasons include Trout (for two more weeks in most areas), Pike, Pickerel, Tiger Muskie, Walleye, Yellow Perch, Crappie, Sunfish, Muskellenge and Black Bass (largemouth and smallmouth bass). For catch and size limits view the freshwater fishing regulations online.

** Brook Trout Waters Surveyed on Finch Lands
The recent land acquisition on Finch, Pruyn Lands in Hamilton County will help improve access to Barker Pond and Cranberry Pond in the Town of Indian Lake to the north of Lake Durant. The DEC’s Bureau of Fisheries staff hiked into both ponds in early July to evaluate the current brook trout population. The results indicated that both waters remain relatively unchanged from previous surveys conducted in the mid-1980s at Baker Pond and late 1990s in Cranberry Pond. Brook trout were abundant and in good health and brown bullhead were also present, but seemed less abundant than in the past. The stocking policies for Barker Pond and Cranberry Pond will remain unchanged, and road access will likely extend to within one-half mile of these ponds.

New Downtown Plattsburgh Boat Launch
The new Downtown Plattsburgh Boat Launch Site on was opened Thursday, September 15th. The opening ceremony was held in conjunction with the start of the Lake Champlain FLW Bass Fishing Tournament. The boat launch is located at 5 Dock Street on the shore of Lake Champlain just south of the mouth of the Saranac River. The $627,000 boat launch facility includes three launching and retrieval lanes. DEC designed the boat launch and oversaw its construction; the City of Plattsburgh is responsible for management and maintenance.

New Warren County Invasive Species Transport Law
The Warren County Board of Supervisors voted almost unanimously to pass an invasive species transport law following a public hearing. The law makes the introduction and transport of aquatic invasive species into Warren County waterbodies illegal. It is the first county law of its kind to pass in New York State. The law imposes a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 15 days in jail for violators. Some marina owners opposed the law; Chestertown Supervisor and Executive Director of the Local Government Review Board Fred Monroe was the only no vote.

Ausable and Boquet River Changes
Due to the recent Tropical Storm Irene anglers should be advised that there was significant debris washed into both the Ausable and Boquet Rivers. Anglers should be aware of new hazards underwater. Also some changes in the river course and topography may be present. New pools may formed where there was previously riffles and riffles may be found where there was previously pools.

West Lake Boat Launch
The West Lake Boat Launch in Fulton County is presently not suitable for launching of trailered boats. Storm runoff resulting from Irene deposited a large quantity of gravel in the area of the ramp. Car top boats can still be launched.

Champlain Lampry Control in Sept, Oct
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will be applying lampricide the delta complex at the mouths of the Little Ausable and Ausable rivers, and the Boquet River, Mount Hope Brook, and Putnam Creek in New York. The Poultney River, which borders both states, including its Hubbardton River tributary in Vermont, will also be treated. Treatments are scheduled to begin with the delta complex in New York on September 7th. Lake level and weather conditions may affect scheduling and could result in the last treatment extending into October. These treatments are part of the Cooperative’s long-term sea lamprey control program for Lake Champlain. While trout and salmon populations of the lake are the primary beneficiaries of these efforts, lake sturgeon, walleye, and many other species also profit from sea lamprey control. Temporary water use advisories will be in effect for each of the treatments to minimize human exposure to affected waters. Each state’s Department of Health recommends that the treated river and lake water not be used for drinking, swimming, fishing, irrigation, or livestock watering while the advisories are in effect. A toll-free number (888-596-0611) provides information on the treatment schedule for each of the treatments, progress reports, updates on treatments, and water use advisories.

Annual 2011 Coldwater Season Forecast
Stocking was late with high cold waters into early June. The prospects for catching holdover trout are low due to drought and high temperature episodes last summer. In particular, trout kills or stressed trout were reported in the main stem of the Ausable River near Ausable Forks, the Saranac River, the St. Regis River, and in the Batten Kill. Trout anglers should look to small streams and upland headwaters for wild brook or brown trout. Use drifting worms or salted minnows when streams are high and cold and focus on eddies or back waters where fish congregate to escape fast water. Brook trout pond fishing may still be viable as waters are still cold. Unlike the rivers, most area lakes and ponds provided good fishing last year with no reports of trout die offs.

Annual 2011 Warmwater Season Forecast
Adirondack waters include some of the most productive walleye fisheries in the state, including Tupper Lake, Union Falls Flow on the Saranac River, Saratoga Lake, Great Sacandaga Lake, and the Oswegatchie River. High quality pike waters include Tupper Lake, Schroon Lake, Lake George, the Saranac Lakes, Cranberry Lake, First through Fourth Lakes in the Fulton Chain, Long Lake, Upper Chateaugay and the St. Regis Chain of Lakes. A number of 20 lb+ pike have been caught on Great Sacandaga Lake in recent years. Look for tiger muskie in First through Fourth Lakes in the Fulton Chain, Horseshoe Lake and Hyde Lake. Pickerel hot spots include Lake George, Brant Lake, Saratoga Lake, Lake Champlain and the Black River. Look to Lake Champlain for Black Bass and Lake Champlain, Great Sacandaga Lake, and Brant Lake for crappie. Surface trolling for salmon and lake trout is a good bet on the larger lakes as the water warms up. A complete listing of 2011 warmwater fishing hotspots recommended by DEC biologists can be found online.

Hudson River Rogers Island Pool Boat Launch
The floating dock has not been installed Rogers Island Pool.

Lake Clear
The gate for the road to Lake Clear Girl Scout Camp is open, but due to the condition of the road until further notice it should only be used by pickup trucks, SUVs and other vehicles with high clearance. This road is used to access Meadow and St. Germain Ponds.

Kings Bay Wildlife Management Area
The gate to access Catfish Bay has been closed. Road improvement work and logging to improve habitat are underway.

Use Baitfish Wisely
Anglers using fish for bait are reminded to be careful with how these fish are used and disposed of. Careless use of baitfish is one of the primary means by which non-native species and fish diseases are spread from water to water. Unused baitfish should be discarded in an appropriate location on dry land. A “Green List” of commercially available baitfish species that are approved for use in New York State has now been established in regulation. A discussion of these regulations and how to identify approved baitfish species is available online. Personal collection and use of baitfish other than those on the “Green List” is permitted, but only on the water from which they were collected and they may not be transported overland by motorized vehicle. Anglers are reminded that new regulations for transportation of baitfish are currently under consideration, and these proposed regulations can be viewed online.

Preventing Invasive Species and Fish Diseases
Anglers are reminded to be sure to dry or disinfect their fishing and boating equipment, including waders and boots, before entering a new body of water. This is the only way to prevent the spread of potentially damaging invasive plant and animal species (didymo and zebra mussels) and fish diseases (Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) and whirling disease). Methods to clean and disinfect fishing gear can be found online.

Lake Champlain Anglers
Warmwater anglers on Lake Champlain are requested to report any catches of sauger to Emily Zollweg at the DEC Region 5 office in Warrensburg at (518) 623-1264. The status of sauger, a close relative of the walleye, has been unknown in the lake for a quite some time, until a single sauger was caught in a DEC survey last spring. Sauger can be distinguished from walleye by the three to four saddle-shaped dark brown blotches on their sides, the distinct black spots on the first dorsal (back) fin and the lack of a white tip on the lower lobe of the tail fin.

Health Advisories on Fish
The NYSDOH has issued the 2010-2011 advisories on eating sportfish and game. Some of fish and game contain chemicals at levels that may be harmful to human health. See the DEC webpage on Fish Health Advisories for more information and links to the Department of Health information.

ADIRONDACK HUNTING REPORTS

DEC 2011 Deer Hunting Forecasts Now Available
The DEC’s 2011 deer hunting season forecasts are now on their website. They include brief descriptions of the landscape and deer population trends within each Wildlife Management Unit.

** Some Small Game Seasons Open
A number of small game seasons are now open including: Grey, Black and Fox Squirrel, Crow, Snipe, Rail, Gallinule and Ruffed Grouse (Region 5 WMUs 5R, 5S & 5T opens October 1). Cottontail Rabbit, Pheasant, Woodcock, Coyote, and Varying Hare seasons open October 1 (Varying Hare in all Region 5 WMUs, except 5R, 5S & 5T where it opens December 12). Keep in mind that you will need a 2011-12 hunting license beginning October 1. DEC small game hunting info is online.

** Wild Turkey Season Opens
The fall Turkey season opens October 1 in all Region 5 WMUs. The season closes October 21 in all Region 5 WMUs except 5R, 5S & 5T where the season closes November 18. See the DEC’s Turkey Hunting webpage for more information on rules, regulations, safety and hunting tips.

** Upcoming Small Game Seasons
Bobcat season opens October 25 in all Region 5 WMUs, except 5R which does not have a season; and Fox, Raccoon, Skunk, Opossum and Weasel seasons open October 25. See the DEC Small Game webpage for more information on seasons and regulations.

** Canada Goose Hunting Seasons
Canada Goose hunting seasons in the Northeast Hunting Area closed Sunday (it will reopen between October 22 to December 5) and also closed in the Lake Champlain Hunting Area (it will reopen there between October 20 to December 3). DEC Canada Goose hunting info is online. Note that the boundary between the Northeastern and the Southeastern Waterfowl Hunting Zones now runs east along Route 29 to Route 22, north along Route 22 to Route 153, east along Route 153 to the New York – Vermont boundary.

** Bear Season Opens (WMUs 5A,5C,5F,5G,5H & 5J)
Early bear season opened September 17 and closes October 14; Bowhunting season opened September 27 and closes October 21; Muzzleloading season opens October 15 and closes October 21; Regular season opens October 22 and closes December 4. See the DEC’s Big Game webpage for more information on seasons and regulations.

** DEC Released 30,000 Raised Pheasants
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) released approximately 30,000 adult pheasants on lands open to public hunting. The pheasant hunting season begins on October 1 in northern and eastern portions of New York. The pheasants were released on state-owned wildlife management areas and cooperative hunting areas open to public hunting at the following local locations: Westport, near the junction of Lake Shore and Clark roads on state land; Brownville at the Perch River Wildlife Management Area; Greenfield in Daketown State Forest; Chazy at the Lake Alice Wildlife Management Area; and in Canton at Upper and Lower Lakes Wildlife Management Area.

** Northern Zone Deer Seasons
Bowhunting season opened September 27 and closes October 21; Muzzleloading season opens October 15 and closes October 21; Regular season opens October 22 and closes December 4; Late Muzzleloading season opens December 5 and closes December 11 in Region 5 WMUs 5A, 5G and 5J. The deadline for Deer Management Permit applications is October 1. See the DEC’s Big Game webpage for more information on seasons and regulations.

** Upcoming Waterfowl Seasons
In the Lake Champlain Waterfowl Hunting Zone Snow Goose season opens October 1 and closes December 29; Brant season opens October 12 and closes November 30; Duck seasons open October 12 and close October 16; then reopen October 29 and close December 22. In the Northeastern Waterfowl Hunting Zone Ducks season opens October 1 and closes October 10; then reopens October 22 and closes December 10; Snow Goose season opens October 1 and closes December 31, then reopens February 24 and closes April 15; Brant season opens October 1 and closes November 19. Note that the boundary between the Northeastern and the Southeastern Waterfowl Hunting Zones now runs east along Route 29 to Route 22, north along Route 22 to Route 153, east along Route 153 to the New York – Vermont boundary.

** Duck Season Outlook
Most duck populations in New York are doing well this year due to excellent habitat conditions across the continent for waterfowl nesting and brood-rearing. However, breeding populations of eastern mallards and wood ducks – the two most commonly harvested ducks in New York – were lower this spring than in 2009, and Atlantic Flyway biologists are concerned about a long-term decline in eastern mallards that became more apparent in recent years. Sixty-day duck seasons were approved by federal and state authorities for another year, but this situation will be closely monitored in the future. Bag limits for all duck species will be the same as in 2010-11 and can be seen at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/28888.html.

** Goose Season Outlook
September Canada goose seasons have just ended, but hunters can look forward to another 45 days or more (depending on area) to pursue these popular game birds later this fall and winter. Resident geese remain abundant in many areas of the state, and migratory populations that pass through New York were estimated to be higher last spring. Hunters are reminded that Canada goose seasons are set for different geographic areas of the state than other waterfowl seasons; therefore maps should be closely reviewed. A special spring season for snow geese will continue for the fourth year in all of upstate New York. These birds have become so abundant that they are causing harm to wetland habitats throughout their range. Special spring seasons have been established in many eastern states and provinces to increase hunter harvest and help reduce this population. The daily limit for snow geese is 25 per day.

** Migratory Bird Hunting Requirements
Hunters 16 or older must have a 2011 federal duck stamp to hunt during any of the 2011-2012 seasons. Federal duck stamps cost $15 and are available at most post offices and some sporting goods stores. They are also available by calling toll-free 1-800-852-4897 or at www.duckstamp.com. Stamps must be signed across the face by the hunter before they become valid, but they do not have to be attached to the hunting license. All migratory game bird (waterfowl, woodcock, snipe, rails and gallinules) hunters, including junior hunters (age 12-15), must register with New York’s Migratory Bird Harvest Information Program (HIP) prior to hunting in any of the 2011-2012 seasons. Hunters must register every year and for each state in which they plan to hunt migratory game birds, and also must carry proof of compliance whenever going afield. To register in HIP, call toll-free 1-888-427-5447 (1-888-4 ASK HIP) or visit www.NY-HIP.com.

** Waterfowl Consumption Advisory
The New York State Department of Health (DOH) periodically evaluates data on chemicals in wild waterfowl to ensure that hunter harvested birds can be eaten without concerns about adverse effects on human health. The current advisory states that “Mergansers are the most heavily contaminated waterfowl species and should not be eaten. Eat no more than two meals per month of other wild waterfowl; you should skin them and remove all fat before cooking, and discard stuffing after cooking. Wood ducks and Canada geese are less contaminated than other wild waterfowl species and diving ducks are more contaminated than dabbler ducks. The latest DOH advice on consumption of waterfowl and other game can be found online.

Junior Bowhunting Age Requirement Lowered
Recent legislation lowered the minimum age for youth hunters to purchase a Junior Bowhunting license for big game hunting from 14 to 12 years of age. See the Junior Hunter Mentoring Program for detailed information on youth hunting requirements.

Bowhunter Sighting Log
Bowhunters are invited to participate in DEC’s Bowhunter Sighting Log by keeping a diary of your bowhunting activity and the number of animals you see. This data helps DEC track deer and other wildlife populations (in deer season forecasts for example). To participate, e-mail fwwildlf@gw.dec.state.ny.us (include “Bowhunter Sighting Log” in the subject line) and provide your name, address, hunter ID (back tag number), a list of the counties where you hunt, and whether or not you have participated in New York’s bowhunter log in any previous year.

Upcoming Trapping Seasons
Fisher season opens October 25 and closes December 10 in all Region 5 WMUs; Marten season opens October 25 and closes December 10 in all Region 5 WMUs, except 5R, 5S & 5T where there is no trapping season; Bobcat season opens October 25 in all Regkion 5 WMUs except 5R where there is no trapping season; The season closes December 10 in all Region 5 WMUs, except 5S & 5T where it closes February 15; Mink and Muskrat season opens October 25 and closes April 15 in all Region 5 WMUs except 5R, 5S & 5T where it opens November 10 and closes April 7; Coyote, Red Fox, Gray Fox, Raccoon, Skunk, Opossum and Weasel season opens October 25 and closes February 15 in all Region 5 WMUS. The use of bait or lure is prohibited with body gripping traps set on land between December 11 and February 15 in all Region 5 WMUs, except in WMUs 5R, 5S & 5T. Otter season opens November 1 and closes April 7 in all Region 5 WMUs except 5S & 5T where it opens November 10 and closes February 28. There is no trapping season in 5R. Beaver season opens November 1 and closes April 7 in all Region 5 WMUs except 5R, 5S & 5T where it opens November 10 but still closes April 7.

——————–
Warnings and announcements drawn from DEC, NWS, NOAA, USGS, and other sources. Detailed Adirondack Park hunting, fishing, and trapping information can be found at DEC’s webpages. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf].

The DEC Habitat/Access Stamp is available for $5 at all outlets where sporting licenses are sold, on-line and via telephone at 1-866-933-2257. Stamp proceeds support the DEC’s efforts to conserve habitat and increase public access for fish and wildlife related recreation. A Habitat/Access Stamp is not required to hunt, fish or trap, nor do you have to purchase a sporting license to buy a habitat stamp.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Sept 29)

This announcement is for general use – local conditions may vary and are subject to sometimes drastic changes.

Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Report Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1), WSLP (93.3) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.

The Adirondack Almanack also publishes a weekly Adirondack Hunting and Fishing Report.

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

** indicates new or revised items.

** EASTERN ADIRONDACKS TRAIL ADVISORY
The Eastern High Peaks Wilderness, Giant Mountain Wilderness, Dix Mountain Wilderness are all open for public recreation. Most trails in or accessed from the Adirondack Mountain Reserve are now open. A few trails remain closed in both the Eastern High Peaks and the Dix Mountain Wildernesses due to significant amount of blowdown, washed-out bridges and eroded and cobbled trails – see details below. Trails that are not closed still may have bridges washed out, eroded sections or flooded areas. Pay close attention as many trails have been rerouted to avoid heavily damaged sections and eroded drainages can be mistaken for trails. The ability to navigate with a map and compass is important. Plan accordingly and be prepared to turn back when conditions warrant. Hikers should be able to navigate by map and compass. Full coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Irene is available here.

** WATERS RUNNING ABOVE NORMAL
The level of the region’s rivers and streams remain above normal, except for those rivers on the western slopes of the Adirondacks such as the Beaver, Black, Independence, and Oswagatchie which are at normal levels for this time of year. Rivers east of and including West Canada Creek are running high. Boaters and paddlers should be aware that high waters may contain logs, limbs and other debris and conceal navigation hazards that normally are easily seen and avoided. Consult the latest streamgage data if you our venturing onto the region’s waters.

EXPECT COOLER WEATHER – SHORTER DAYS
Cooler temperatures have arrived in the mountains. Night-time and morning temperatures in the 30s or colder may be experienced, especially in higher elevations. Be prepared before entering the woods. Pack extra non-cotton clothes, including a hat, in addition to your usual equipment. Take off and put on layers of clothing to regulate body heat. Remember the sun sets earlier this time of year. Plan trips accordingly and carry a flashlight or headlamp with fresh batteries.

SECONDARY ROAD CLOSURES
Although State Route 73 and Route 9N have reopened, several secondary roads, particularly in Essex County, remain closed. Essex County is maintaining an updated list of road closures.

EXPECT BLOWDOWN
Although much of the blowdown has been cleared on the most heavily used trails, Tropical Storm Irene contributed considerable blowdown to the Eastern Adirondacks. Trees may be toppled on and over tails and campsites, especially in lesser used areas. Also expect blowdown in the Western High Peaks Wilderness and in the Sentinel and Seward Ranges. A hiker had to be rescued this summer from Mount Emmons in the Seward Range after losing his way while negotiating blowdown [LINK].

SOME CAMPGROUNDS NOW CLOSED
Fall camping is available through Columbus Day Weekend at 20 Adirondack DEC Campgrounds. A list of phone numbers for all campgrounds and their associated Regional Offices can be found online.

** KNOW THE LATEST WEATHER
Check the weather before entering the woods and be aware of weather conditions at all times — if weather worsens, head out of the woods. The National Weather Service (NWS) at Burlington and Albany cover the Adirondack region. NWS Burlington provides a weather forecast for elevations above 3000 feet and spot forecasts for the summits of a handful of the highest peaks in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. [LINK]

** Fire Danger: LOW

ACCIDENTS HAPPEN, BE PREPARED
Wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Hikers and campers should check up-to-date forecasts before entering the backcountry as conditions at higher elevations will likely be more severe. All users should bring flashlight, first aid kit, map and compass, extra food, plenty of water and clothing. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods and always inform others of your itinerary.

FIREWOOD BAN IN EFFECT
Due to the possibility of spreading invasive species that could devastate northern New York forests (such as Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Wooly Adeljid and Asian Longhorn Beetle), DEC prohibits moving untreated firewood more than 50 miles from its source. Forest Rangers have been ticketing violators of the firewood ban. More details and frequently asked questions at the DEC website.

PRACTICE ‘LEAVE NO TRACE’
All backcountry users should learn and practice the Leave No Trace philosophy: Plan ahead and be prepared, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of others. More information is available online.

SOME HUNTING SEASONS OPEN
Some hunting seasons are underway or will begin shortly. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking on trails. Recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. Hikers may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution. Adirondack Almanack issues weekly Adirondack Fish and Game Reports each Thursday evening for those practicing these traditional sports.

NEW YORK FOREST PHOTO CONTEST
In recognition of the importance of forests to the health and well being of society, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced a contest to celebrate New York’s forests. The contest is designed to increase awareness of and appreciation for all types of forests, urban and rural, large and small, public and privately owned, across the state. In the 19th century conservationists recognized the importance of nature as a refuge from the noise and bustle of city life. Modern technology has disconnected many people from the outdoors. Virtual pastimes now rival natural, outdoor activities. Taking and sharing pictures is one of the most popular activities in this country. Through this contest, New Yorkers are encouraged to reconnect with the natural world. Photos must be taken in New York State. Photos will be accepted through November 1, 2011. A maximum of three photos may be submitted by a photographer, each with a submission form found on the DEC website, via e-mail or on a CD via regular mail. You can read about the details here.

CAVE AND MINE CLOSURES
White nose syndrome, the fungal disease that’s wiping out bat populations across the northeast has spread to at least 32 cave and mine bat hibernation sites across the New York state according to a recent survey. Populations of some bat species are declining in these caves and mines by 90 percent. White nose was first discovered in upstate New York in the winter of 2006-2007 and is now confirmed in at least 11 states. An order closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easements to protect the bat population expired on March 31. DEC is reconsidering whether continuing the closing to protect the bat population is warranted. At this time it’s best to stay out of caves that may contain bats.

ADIRONDACK CONDITIONS BY REGION

NORTHVILLE PLACID TRAIL

Northville Placid Trail Information / Volunteers: The Northville-Placid Trail Chapter of the Adirondack Mountain Club maintains a website of resources and information about the trail. ADK is seeking volunteers to help with blowdown removal using crosscut saws, hand saws and axes. Anyone interested in future work events should contact Brendan Wiltse, Trails Committee Chair, NPTrail Chapter of ADK, at wiltseb@gmail.com or 518-429-0049.

** Blowdown Update: blowdown has now been removed from the NPTrail with the exception of West Canada Creek north to Sucker Brook Trail and from Tarbell Rd. trailhead north to Shattuck Clearing. Those areas still have some major blowdowns but are passable. The rest of the trail may have a few blowdowns but in general are clear with the exception of wet and muddy areas.

Ouluska Pass and Duck Hole Breech: The Ouluska Pass Brook bridge is damaged and unusable. Hikers will have to ford across the Brook. The Ouluska Pass lean-to experienced some foundation damage following the Duck Hole Dam breach. The other lean-tos along the Cold River escaped damage as did the suspension bridges over the Cold River and Moose Creek.

West Canada Creek: The bridge over West Canada Creek on the Northville-Placid Trail was washed away this spring. The 45 foot span bridge had replaced one that was lost in 2001. Crossing West Canada Creek now requires very careful crossing that may be intimidating to some hikers and may be impossible this weekend. Bridge replacement is expected to begin this fall and be completed in summer, 2012.

Upper Benson to Whitehouse: About 1.8 miles north of the Silver Lake lean-to and just south of the Canary Pond tent camping area, the trail will likely be flooded as it is during periods of high water and may require wading through water and mud.

Lake Durant to Long Lake: About 4 miles north of the Tirrell Pond lean-to, a bridge is out that crosses Chick-a-dee Creek in the middle of a former lumber camp clearing. The Creek is 4 to 5 feet deep and 6 feet across. It may be possible to cross on the remains of the bridge in low water situations. The alternative is a reroute to the east that also may be flooded in spots.

ADIRONDACK CANOE ROUTE / NORTHERN FOREST CANOE TRAIL

** Waters are running high. Boaters and paddlers should be aware that high waters may contain logs, limbs and other debris and conceal navigation hazards that normally are easily seen and avoided. Consult the latest streamgage data if you our venturing onto the region’s waters. Expect eroded trails and blowdown on carries.

HIGH PEAKS – LAKE PLACID REGION
Including, Wilmington, Keene, Western High Peaks

** All trails in the Eastern High Peaks are clear of blowdown unless otherwise stated below. A DEC Map (PDF, 497 kb) depicts closed, open and cleared trails as of 9/28).

** Marcy Dam Footbridge Reroute: The footbridge over Marcy Dam was washed away. A reroute has been created to low water crossing below the dam. The crossing involves hopping from rock to rock to cross Marcy Brook. Hikers concerned about “rock hopping” can use the Marcy Truck Trail from South Meadows Trailhead to access the Mt. Van Hovenburgh to Mt. Marcy and other trails beyond Marcy Dam. Also the crossing may not be passable during high water events. Tom Martin, regional forester for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, has told the Adirondack Exporer‘s Phil Brown that the state will either rebuild the bridge over Marcy Dam at the dam site itself, or nearby. The project is not expected to begin before winter.

** Adirondack Mountain Reserve Trails Closed: Trails in or accessed from the Adirondack Mountain Reserve that remain closed include the first (northernmost) two cross over trails between the East River Trail and the West River Trail. The other three cross over trails and bridges are open and must be used to travel between the East River and West River Trails. Also closed are the Carry Trail, the trials from Warden’s Camp to the Sawteeth Trail and to the Haystack Trail, and the Haystack Brook Trail.

** Adirondack Mountain Reserve Trails Recently Reopened: The West River Trail, the first (northernmost) two cross over trails between the East River Trail and the West River Trail are closed due to bridges being damaged. The other three cross over trails and bridges are open and must be used to travel between the East River and West River Trails. Also now open are the East River Trail, Cathedral Rock Trail, Bear Run Trail, Wedge Brook Trail, Lake Road to Gothics Trail, Lost Lookout Trail, Lower Ausable Lake to Pyramid Peak to Gothics Trail, Lower Ausable Lake to Sawteeth Trail, Sawteeth to Pyramid Peak Connector Trail. Due to the significant erosion caused by Ore Bed Brook the Ore Bed Brook Trail from John’s Brook Valley to the Range Trail (between Saddleback and Gothics) is open but may not be recognizable. Pay close attention to trail markers and watch for reroutes.

** Deer Brook Trail: The Deer Brook Trail from Route 73 remains closed.

** Johns Brook Valley: The Southside Trail from the Garden Trailhead to John’s Brook Outpost remains closed due to landslides. Due to the significant erosion caused by Ore Bed Brook the Ore Bed Brook Trail from John’s Brook Valley to the Range Trail (between Saddleback and Gothics) is open but may not be recognizable. Pay close attention to trail markers and watch for reroutes.

** Cold Brook Trail: The Cold Brook Pass Trail between Lake Colden and Indian Pass remains closed.

** Elk Lake – Panther Gorge Trail: The Elk Lake – Panther Gorge Trail remains closed.

** East River/ Hanging Spear Falls Trail: The East River Trail/Hanging Spear Falls Trail is clear of blowdown except for a large section (1/3 mile) of blowdown and heavy erosion near the campsite, just north of the state land boundary line. This section of trail remains closed, however, Hanging Spear Falls can be accessed from the Flowed Lands.

** Klondike Trail: The bridge near South Meadow Road on the Klondike Trail is out. The Mr. Van Trail and the Marcy Truck Trail will need to be used as a detour to reach South Meadow Road. The Mr. Van Trail is clear of blowdown between the lean-to and the Klondike Notch Trail, however there are a number of bridges out.

** Trails And Blowdown: The Mount VanHovenberg Trail contains blowdown. There is heavy blowdown on the trail between Feldspar Lean-to and Lake Arnold and also on the trail to Calamity Lean-tos. The southern trail to Rooster Comb may contain blowdown. The Snowy Mountain to Rooster Comb may contain blowdown. The trail over Lower Wolfjaw Mountain between the two trail junctions contains blowdown. The Indian Pass Trail contains blowdown between the Wall Face Bridge and the Henderson Bridg; the Wall Face Bridge is out and the Henderson Bridge is damaged. The Scott and Wallface Ponds Trail may contain blowdown. The Lake Colden to Algonquin Mountain Trail may contain blowdown. The Avalanche Pass Trail to Lake Colden may contain blowdown. The Lake Colden Eastside and Westside Trails may contain blowdown. The trail between Feldspar Lean-to and the Four Corners may contain blowdown. The Trail to Allen Mountain is passable but has some blowdown. The Rooster Comb Trail has two clusters of blowdown within the first mile, but it is passable.

Indian Pass: The Indian Pass Trail is clear of blowdown to the Wall Face Bridge, but the Wall Face Bridge is out and the Henderson Bridge is damaged. All bridges encountered on the Indian Pass Trail from Upper Works are gone, the trail has been rerouted to low water crossing in many locations.

Duck Hole: One side of the Duck Hole Dam has washed away and the pond has dewatered. The bridge over the dam had been previously removed due to its deteriorating condition. A low water crossing (ford) has been marked below the dam near the lean-to site. This crossing will not be possible during periods of high water. Note: This affects the Bradley Pond Trail and not the Northville Placid Trail.

Calkins Creek Horse Trail: The Calkins Creek Horse Trail has two bridges out, making it impassable for horse drawn wagons and difficult for horses.

** Dix Mountain Wilderness: The Dix Mountain Wilderness is open to public recreation however some trails remain closed. The main Adirondack Mountain Reserve Trailhead at the Ausable Club is open. All trails in the Dix Mountain Wilderness are open and clear of blowdown except the following: The Carry Trail from Adirondack Mountain Reserve to the Colvin Range Trail remains closed. The Colvin Range Trail from the summit Blake Peak south to Pinnacle and beyond. The the Indian Head, Fish Hawk Cliffs and Lake Road to Blake Peak Trails are open. The Hunter Pass Trail has a small slide approximately 1 mile below the junction with the Round Pond to Dix Mountain Trail. The Round Mountain Loop Trail has some minor erosion.

** Giant Mountain Wilderness: The Giant Mountain Wilderness is open to public recreation. The Roaring Brook Trail is clear of blowdown. The Ridge Trail is clear of blowdown and the bridge near the Giant Washbowl has been extended. The Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead is open though some DOT equipment remains on site. The North Trail to Giant Mountain from 9N is clear of blowdown up to the lean-to and drainages have been cleared of snags that were diverting water across the trail. Beaver activity has flooded the trail past the lean-to.

** Hurricane Mountain Wilderness: The Jay Mountain Road between Jay Mountain Wilderness and the Hurricane Mountain Wilderness is closed. The Hurricane Mountain Road is closed except for local traffic, therefore The Crows Trailhead and O’Toole Road Trailhead are closed at this time. Hurricane Mountain may be accessed from the Route 9N trailhead or the Hurricane Mountain Lane trailhead. The bottom third of the East Hurricane Mountain Trail from Hurricane Mountain Lane has some minor wash but is easily passable. The middle third of the trail has blowdown but hikers can scramble through most of it. Only two places required minor bushwack. The top of the trail had only minor debris on the trail.

** McKenzie Mountain Wilderness: Blowdown remains the McKenzie Mountain Trail above the intersection with the Jack Rabbit trail. The Connery Pond Roadway suffered some minor erosion, but it is passable. Connery Pond Truck Trail is in good shape with minor erosion and minor scattered blowdown. Hikers accessing Whiteface Landing should park at the newly developed and paved parking area along Route 86 immediately west of the bridge over the West Branch of the Ausable. A trail connects the parking area and Connery Pond Road.

** Wilmington Wild Forest / Flume Trail System: The Flume Parking Area adjacent to the Route 86 bridge over the West Branch of the Ausable River will be closed until October 7 while the Town of Wilmington repairs and upgrades the parking area. The River Trail at the Flume is still washed out and impassable due to debris deposited there by the Ausable River. The 0.2 mile trail reroute on the Wilmington Trail up Whiteface Mountain has been created to bypass a large washout. The bridge at the Wilmington Reservoir is shored up and safe for use.

SOUTHERN-CENTRAL ADIRONDACKS
West Canada Lakes, Fulton Chain, Long Lake, Speculator, Indian Lake

Black River Wild Forest: The Haskell-West River Road along the West Canada Creek from Route 8 into the Black River Wild Forest is closed with no current timetable for reopening (though it is likely to reopen next year).

Blue Mountain Wild Forest: Hikers report moderate blowdown between Lake Durant and Long Lake on the Northville-Placid Trail.

** Moose River Plains: The Rock Dam Road is open for motor vehicle use. The public should use caution as the road is also being used by log trucks to haul forest products from League Club property. The Otter Brook – Indian Lake Road is open to Squaw Lake which is the permanent termination point for motor vehicle usage in accordance with the approved Moose River Plains Complex Unit Management Plan. A temporary barrier has been placed just past the Squaw Lake Trailhead, a gate will be installed in the future. DEC Region 5 has updated the Moose River Plains Wild Forest map.

Sargent Ponds Wild Forest: The Outlet Bay Lean-to on Raquette Lake is damaged and in poor condition from a tree fallen on its roof.

Silver Lake Wilderness: There is heavy blowdown on the Northville Placid Trail between Benson and Silver Lake.

West Canada Lakes: Two through hikers on the Northvillle Placid Trail report plenty of blowdown north of Spruce Lake and also from Stephens Pond to Lake Durant.

West Canada Creek: The bridge over West Canada Creek on the Northville-Placid Trail was washed away this spring. The 45 foot span bridge had replaced one that was lost in 2001. Crossing West Canada Creek now requires very careful crossing that may be intimidating to some hikers. Bridge replacement is expected to begin this fall and be completed in summer, 2012.

Wolf Lake: The Wolf Lake Landing Road from McKeever on Route 28 east toward Woodhull Lake is passable only with high clearance vehicles.

EASTERN-SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS
The Hudson, Schroon, Lake George, Champlain, Sacandaga, Washington Co

New Warren County Invasive Species Transport Law: The Warren County Board of Supervisors voted almost unanimously to pass an invasive species transport law following a public hearing. The law makes the introduction and transport of aquatic invasive species into Warren County waterbodies illegal. It is the first county law of its kind to pass in New York State. The law imposes a fine of up to $5,000 and up to 15 days in jail for violators. Some marina owners opposed the law; Chestertown Supervisor and Executive Director of the Local Government Review Board Fred Monroe was the only no vote.

New Downtown Plattsburgh Boat Launch: The new Downtown Plattsburgh Boat Launch Site on was opened Thursday, September 15th. The opening ceremony was held in conjunction with the start of the Lake Champlain FLW Bass Fishing Tournament. The boat launch is located at 5 Dock Street on the shore of Lake Champlain just south of the mouth of the Saranac River. The $627,000 boat launch facility includes three launching and retrieval lanes. DEC designed the boat launch and oversaw its construction; the City of Plattsburgh is responsible for management and maintenance.

** Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: Dacy Clearing Road and the Dacy Clearing Parking Area are now open to motor vehicle traffic. A snowmobile bridge near Black Mountain has been washed out. There are a few blowdown trees on the trail between Dacy Clearing and Bumps Pond. There are a few blowdown trees on the trail to Sleeping Beauty Mountain. Most trailheads along the main roads in Washington County are accessible. The Shelving Rock Road/Inman Pond area has minor road washouts. Pike Brook Road is closed but Black Mountain Trailhead is still accessible from County Rt. 6; the trailhead parking lot is clear of trees.

** Hammond Pond Wild Forest: The Challis Pond Trail, off the Ensign Pond Road), has 5 large pine trees down in first portion of trail. The Lindsey Brook Trail remains closed due to flooding by beaver activity.

Hoffman Notch Wilderness: The Hoffman Notch Trail is clear of blowdown its complete length from the Loch Muller Trailhead to the Boreas Road Trailhead. Half of the Big Pond Trail is cleared of blowdown starting at the junction of the Hoffman Notch Trail and from the Big Pond Trailhead to the north end of Big Pond. The trail to Bailey Pond is clear of blowdown.

** Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: Water levels are higher than usual for this time of year (see High Waters Warning above).

Western Lake George Wild Forest: The Long Pond Trail, from the Padarnarum Spur, is cleared of blowdown but flooded under 1 to 3 feet of water in some locations. The Island Pond Trail, from the Long Pond Trail, is flooded under 1 to 2 feet of water in some locations. Gay Pond Road is impassible by motor vehicle beyond campsite 13. There are several large sections of road that have washed out. The road has been temporarily posted as closed east of campsite 13. Buttermilk Road, a town road, has several sections that have washed out and several sections with 1-2 feet of standing water. Four wheel drive and high clearance vehicle are required north of the Luzerne/Warrensburg town line. Buttermilk Road Extension, a DEC administered road north of the Gay Pond Road intersection, remains closed. Several sections of the road have washed out and are impassible by motor vehicle. Foot traffic is possible. The access road to Darlings Ford Waterway Access Site has washed out and is impassable by motor vehicle. The trail is passable by foot, but may not meet the needs of users with a mobility impairment. The Bear Slide Accessible Trail has washed out. The trail is passable by foot, but may not meet the needs of users with a mobility impairment. The access road and 2 designated tent sites are in good condition. River access and tent sites 1-5 along River Road are all open and in good condition.

** Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Volunteers Needed: DEC is seeking volunteers to work on trails and trail infrastructure in the Pharoah Lake Wilderness. On October 1, DEC seeks volunteers to assist with moving the 220 foot long bog bridging on the Mill Brook Trail. Work includes emptying rocks from the cribbing, repositioning the bog bridging, refilling the cribbing with rocks and staking down the bridging. Volunteers can also work with DEC staff and Student Conservation Crews at other times and in various areas of the Pharoah Lake Wilderness at a number of tasks including: Carrying 5 foot and 6 foot long 2″ x 10″ lumber about 1 mile to a bridge site, Peeling logs for building material, Building bridges, Brushing out and clearing blowdown. For more information or to volunteer, please contact DEC Senior Forester Tate Connor at 518-623-1278 or e-mail r5info@gw.dec.state.ny.us

** Pharaoh Lake Wilderness: Blowdown is minimal on the Spectacle Pond Trail and all bridges are intact. The Gull Pond Trail is clear of blowdown. The Pharaoh Mountain Trail from Crane Pond is clear of blowdown. The bridge over Mud Pond Outlet between Putnam Pond and Treadway Mountain Trail has been washed down stream. It is possible to cross the stream in spots without the bridge. The Treadway Mountain Trail is clear of blowdown. The Pharaoh Mountain Trail from Pharaoh Lake and from Crane Pond both have light blowdown. The trails along the northern and western sides of Pharaoh Lake (the two trails between the Lake and Glidden Marsh) have extensive blowdown in the sections along the lake. The Rock Pond Trail has moderate blowdown but is passable. The Crab Pond to Lilypad Pond Trail has moderate blowdown. The Springhill Pond Trail has extensive, large-sized blowdown along the entire length from parking area on West Hague Road to Pharaoh Lake. The Goose Pond Trail is in fair condition. The Bear Pond Trail has extensive blowdown but is passable. The Berrymill Pond Trail (from Putnam Pond) is fine with minimal blowdown. The Grizzle Ocean Trail is clear to southern end of Putnam Pond. The Clear Pond Trail is clear of blowdown. The Rock Pond to Lillypad Pond Trail has moderate blowdown. The Glidden Marsh Trail has mild blowdown but the downed trees are large. The Blue Hill Trail has larger sized blowdown (greater than 2 feet diameter)and some minor trail washout from streams jumping banks. The trail is very wet with flooding in some areas deeper than the top of hiking boots. All bridges are in fine condition. The Sucker Brook Horse Trail contains extensive blowdown and is need of brushing out. The Oxshoe Pond Trail is clear of blowdown. Mill Brook is flooded 100 yards up Beaver Brook Road; water is 2 feet over the road and old parking lot. The Mill Brook Bridge on the Pharaoh Road Trail is out and currently floating downstream from far abutment. The crossing on beaver debris at bridge site is 3 feet deep and the Mill Brook Bog Bridging has shifted more than 4 feet and is floating in spots. The bridge is out over Pharaoh Lake Brook halfway in to lake. Beaver dam upstream from bridge is breached and dewatering the pond behind it. DO NOT attempt to cross the stream as the water volume is too high. The Putnam Pond Campground Access Road is washed out. This road provides vehicle access trailheads for Berrymill Pond, Grizzle Ocean, and Rock Pond. The bridge at Pharaoh Lake Outlet is intact. All bridges on the Spectacle Pond Trail are intact and the trail is passable.

** Santanoni Historic Preserve: The trail around Newcomb Lake is clear of blowdown on its full length. The road to Great Camp Santanoni and Newcomb Lake is clear and open for hiking, biking and horseback riding.

Siamese Ponds Wilderness: The East Branch Sacandaga Trail from Old Farm Clearing to Cross Brook is clear of blowdown. The Peaked Mountain Trail is clear of blowdown from the Thirteenth Lake Trailhead to the beaver pond below Peaked Mountain Pond. There is blowdown on the trail from the beaver pond to the summit of Peaked Mountain. The Siamese Ponds Trail between Sacandaga Lean-to and the Siamese Ponds is passable but has moderate blowdown. Botheration Pond Loop from Old Farm Trailhead has a moderate amount blowdown that will slow travel. The East Branch Sacandaga Trail from Eleventh Mountain Trailhead to Siamese Ponds has significant blowdown but is passable. The bog bridging north of Diamond Brook Bridge, however, sustained damage.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: The Oregon Trail has minor blowdown between Baldwin Springs and North Bend, the North Bend Bridge is flooded but intact. The Spur Trail between West Stony Creek Road and Baldwin Springs has extensive blowdown. The Cotter Swamp Trail, Griffin Connector Trail and Crane Mountain Trails are passable with minor blowdown. The Hadley Mountain Trail has been cleared of blowdown. There is substantial blowdown on the Stony Creek Trail to Wilcox Lake beyond that to the east Stony Creek bridge; blowdown continues up the trail to Wilcox Lake. The lean-tos and both bridges are in good shape. Mud Pond Road has been cleared of trees to the Mud Pond Trail Head, due to washouts it is recommended that it be used by trucks only. West Stoney Creek Road is open to Baldwin Spring and the bridge at Baldwin Springs is intact. Harrisburg Road is open for motor vehicles to the Arrow Trail, however there are trees on powerlines. There are multiple trees down on the Pumpkin Hollow Road at the Wilcox Lake Trailhead preventing access to the Wilcox Lake Trail, the Murphy Lake Trail and the Pine Orchard Trail. The bridge over a small stream just north of Fish Ponds on the Bartman Trail is out. The bridge over Georgia Creek on the Cotter Brook Trail is under water due to beaver activity as is the Pine Orchard Trail .5 mile south of Pine Orchard. The Dayton Creek bridge is out on the trail from Brownell Camp (at the end of Hope Falls Road) to Wilcox Lake. During low water conditions crossing can be made by rock hopping. The Murphy Lake Trail is brushy and difficult to follow along the east shore of the lake from the lean-to to the outlet and is also flooded at the north end of Murphy Lake.

NORTHERN-NORTHWESTERN ADIRONDACKS
Santa Clara, Tupper and Saranac Lakes, St. Regis, Lake Lila

** Lake Champlain Islands:# All trails and campsites on Valcour Island are clear of blowdown and open for use. Water levels are higher than usual for this time of year. Poke-O-Moonshine day use area has significant damage from blowdown. The docks at the Peru Dock Boat Launch were damaged but are still usable, the pump station remains closed.

Lyon Mountain – Chazy Highlands Wild Forest: The re-route of the top section of the Lyon Mountain Trail is complete and the trail is clearly signed and marked. Hikers should use the new trail and avoid the old trail which is not maintained and is in poor condition due to erosion.

Poke-O-Moonshine: The hiking trails to the summit of Pok-o-Moonshine Mountain (the ranger trail from camp ground and Jeep Trail) are both open and usable. There is quite a lot of blowdown on the Ranger Trail but it is passable. The Jeep Trail has less blow down but the bridge approach, while usable, is muddy. The Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower is closed for the season.

** Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: The Barnes Pond Public Use Area assessment of the campsites has been completed. Campsites #1-3 on the Barnes Pond Road are available for use, however the privy on campsite #2 remains knocked over. DEC crews will right and reset the privy in the near future. Campsites #4-6 on the Barnes Pond Road are currently inaccessible due to a road washout. Access to these sites will not be reopened until road repairs can be made and the road beyond the washout is assessed for storm damage and cleared of blowdown. The three furthest campsites along the True Brook Road are inaccessible due to poor road conditions

** Saranac Lakes Wild Forest: The Deer Loop Trail is mostly clear of blowdown; the section between Route 30 and the bridge. The trail at Whiteface Landing is clear of blowdown and the register has been replaced.

Split Rock Mountain Wild Forest: Access to the Split Rock area can be difficult for people unfamiliar with area roads due to the numerous closings. Trails are open and usable with some blowdown.

Taylor Pond Wild Forest: Access to Catamount Mountain is not possible; a road is washed out 1 mile from trailhead. In Terry Mountain State Forest the Red Road has been closed to public motor vehicle use do to unsafe conditions due to erosion from the storm. Also the Tower Rd is unusable for recreation or motor vehicle access at this time due to ongoing construction by the Essex County.

** St. Regis Canoe Area: A section of the canoe carry about half way between Long Pond and Nellie Pond has been flooded by beavers. This will required a short paddle across the beaver pond. Significant work on campsites in the Canoe Area was conducted last year. A new webpage has been created to provide information including maps and recreational opportunities.

Norton Peak Cave / Chateuagay Woodlands Conservation Easement Lands: Norton Peak Cave has been reopened to the public following the expiration of the cave closing order on March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. DEC is considering whether to close all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easements to protect the bat population. It’s best to stay out of caves at this time.

——————–
Warnings and announcements drawn from DEC, NWS, NOAA, USGS, and other sources. Detailed Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation and trail conditions can be found at DEC’s webpages. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf].

The DEC Trails Supporter Patch is available for $5 at all outlets where sporting licenses are sold, on-line and via telephone at 1-866-933-2257. Patch proceeds will help maintain and enhance non-motorized trails throughout New York State.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

LGLC Sponsors ‘Observe the Moon Night’

TThe Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC) is sponsoring its second International Observe the Moon Night, October 8, 2011, hosted by Up Yonda Farm in Bolton Landing, from 6 – 8 pm. LGLC is currently the only event sponsor in the Adirondack Park.

International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN) 2011 is the second annual public outreach event dedicated to engaging the lunar science and education community, amateur astronomers, space enthusiasts, and the general public in annual lunar observation campaigns that share the excitement of lunar science and exploration.

Observe the Moon Night in Bolton will include lunar scientist Rosemary Millham, Ph.D. and provide an opportunity to observe the Moon through telescopes, simulate your own lunar impacts, and more.

Dr. Millham is currently the science coordinator for the secondary science education program and assistant professor at SUNY New Paltz, and works part-time for NASA GSFC in science writing and curriculum development.

Participants should meet at Up Yonda Farm Environmental Education Center, 5239 Lake Shore Drive (Rt. 9N), for an indoor lunar presentation and explanation of the project, from 6-7:00 pm. The group will then go outdoors to view the moon. Dr. Millham will lead the group in lunar observations and conduct activities from 7:30-8:00. Participants are then invited to return indoors for light refreshments.

Participants may wish to bring a camera and their own binoculars or a telescope, should wear sturdy shoes and dress for cool evening temperatures.

This is a free event and for all ages. Registration is not required but is appreciated. Please call 644-9673 or email shoffman@lglc.org to sign up.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

Adirondack Rutabaga Festival, Fun Run Set

After being postponed due to storm damage in the Keene region, the Fourth Annual Great Adirondack Rutabaga Festival, sponsored by Adirondack Harvest, The Adirondack Farmers Market Cooperative, The Fallen Arch and the Town of Keene, has been rescheduled. It will be held at Marcy Field in the town of Keene from 9:00 AM until 1:00 PM on Sunday October 9th, 2011.

The festivities begin with a Rutabaga 5K Run across flat terrain at 9:00 AM. Runner registration begins at 8:00 AM. or register online at Active.com or the Adirondack Harvest website below. $15 fee includes t-shirt and refreshments. Awards given for top finishers in many age groups. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 29, 2011

D&H Rail Fair Slated for North Creek Depot

The North Creek Depot Preservation Association will pay tribute to “The oldest continuously operated transportation company”, The Delaware & Hudson Railroad and it’s Adirondack Branch, on October 15 and 16, 2011.

North Creek is home to one of the last complete and original D&H Terminals, fully restored to it’s turn of the of the century condition. The event feature exhibits on the the D&H and it’s operations on the Adirondack Branch including one-of-a-kind rare pieces of railroad history. There will also be vendors showcasing D&H merchandise, a slide show featuring passenger and freight operations on the Adirondack Branch and much more.

The exhibits will be open Saturday October 15, from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, and Sunday, October 16, 11:00 pm to 6:00 pm. For more information, email director@northcreekdepotmuseum.com or call Justin Gonyo at (518) 251-5345.

Illustration courtesy North Creek Depot Museum.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Sporty’s, Minerva

A comprehensive review of Adirondack taverns would not be complete without a review of Sporty’s Iron Duke Saloon on Route 28N in Minerva. Just 35 minutes from Warrensburg, the scenic and winding trek on Routes 28 and 28N is the perfect ride by any means of transportation. On this clear September day, the trees just beginning to try on their fall wardrobe, we soon left the harried monotony of the week behind.

Utilitarian in form and structure, the log exterior and metal roof present a no-nonsense impression of practicality. The neatly kept grounds offer little in the way of ornamentation, though Sporty’s sense of humor and nostalgia are alluded to upon entering the huge gravel parking lot. A signpost stands near the road pointing the direction and distance to destinations dear to the hearts of bikers. Among them: Sturgis, Daytona, Bear Trap and McDermott’s.

Located on the former site of the Mountain View Hotel, Sporty’s has been owned and operated by Dave “Sporty” Beale for the past eight years. Sporty’s is notorious for its year-round fundraisers. The calendar of events leaves no month unturned, with several featuring multiple events. Events include lots of free holiday related foods, auctions, helicopter rides and annual car and bike shows. Sporty seems especially proud of his success raising Toys for Kids. Last year they delivered presents to 500 kids and hope to fulfill wishes for 700 kids this year.

Obviously proud of the accomplishments and popularity of his saloon, Sporty is a gracious, gregarious and friendly host, though one senses that he runs this place in a no-nonsense style in strict adherence to his rules. Not your everyday biker bar, Sporty’s self-described “tavern, museum and community center”, supports Little League and the fire department as well and proudly hosts the ladies of the local “Red Hat Society” luncheon every year. He even treats them to a ride!

Sporty’s interior is as extravagant as the exterior is spartan. Sporty’s “museum” displays scores of old license plates, bike parts, ancient tools, a gas pump, models, memorabilia, advertising novelties and hundreds of framed photographs. Vintage motorcycles are cordoned off along one wall (including an “Easy Rider” replica), with a tribute to Peter Fonda and the iconic film on the wall behind the bar. The tavern is large enough to accommodate the display of old bikes, a pool table and bar and table seating.

Our tour of the grounds in the back began with the accommodations. Several neat and simple cabins are available for $66.00 a night. Covered camping is free ($5.00 for a shower). The grassy expanse features covered outdoor seating, several dozen picnic tables, a pavilion, and a fireplace. With plenty to do besides drinking, outdoor activities include tetherball, horseshoes, volleyball, basketball and hiking trails. The steep hill a bit further back is used for bike and snowmobile climbs at various events. Attracting not only bikers, but skiers, hunters and snowmobilers, Sporty’s is like summer camp for adults, all year long. Just leave your coolers at home – all beverages must be purchased on the premises.

Sporty’s is open 365 days a year, from noon to 2 a.m. Though they don’t offer an official Happy Hour, their drink prices reflect happy hour prices all day long, with occasional specials. Guessing we won’t find Godiva martinis, beverage options are straightforward. No draft beer, but a fair selection of domestic, craft and imported beers, tiny bottles of Sutter wines, Twisted Tea, Smirnoff Ice, and soft drinks are available, as are a few flavored liquors. Known for his bloody marys and white Russians, Pam couldn’t resist trying Sporty’s bloody mary. Served in a large plastic cup and garnished with “hot pickle” slices instead of celery, Pam sounded very pleased with her drink, savoring the flavors and making yummy sounds as she sipped. When Sporty’s isn’t serving food for special events, burgers, wings, pizza and chicken patty sandwiches are served daily.

Whether visiting Sporty’s for a special event, out for a ride in your car, on your motorcycle or snowmobile, you’ll always feel welcome when you enter this remote tavern. Clean restrooms, tidy accommodations and good company on both sides of the bar can be found here year-round. Todd, another enthusiastic newcomer to Sporty’s, had come up just to watch the Buffalo Bills game, as the bars in North Creek didn’t have it on. We’re sure he’ll be back. Leave your cell phones and iPads in the car, but bring along some quarters if you think you might need to make a call. No WiFi, no cell service; but a nostalgic, fully functioning phone booth is available for use out front.

Add Sporty’s to our fave five.

Kim and Pam Ladd’s book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, is currently in the research stage. Together they visit pubs, bars and taverns with the goal of selecting the top 46 bars in the Adirondack Park. They regularly report their findings here at the Almanack and at their own blog, or follow them on Facebook, and ADK46barfly on Twitter.


Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Upcoming Adirondack Ski Season Preview

The first few snowflakes of the year have already dusted the highest peaks of the Adirondacks, and skiers and riders are looking forward to opening day. Here’s a preview of what’s in store for this winter at downhill ski centers in the Adirondack region.

At Gore Mountain, 130 new high-efficiency tower guns will provide a major improvement in the mountain’s snowmaking capabilities. The new guns will be installed on trails that constitute some of the mountain’s most popular intermediate terrain including Sunway, Wild Air, Sleighride and Quicksilver. The new guns will also be installed on Sagamore, the expert trail which forms the core of Gore’s Burnt Ridge terrain pod that opened in 2008. Emily Stanton, Gore’s marketing manager explained the significance of the new guns: “It’s huge. Not only will the new guns allow us to better utilize our pumping capacity to make more snow, they will allow us to devote snowmaking resources to other parts of the mountain more quickly. It’s the biggest upgrade to our snowmaking plant since we tapped the Hudson in 1996.”

There will be expanded glade terrain at Gore this winter as well, with two new black diamond glades at the Ski Bowl and an extension of the intermediate Chatterbox glade. The entire Ski Bowl terrain pod and the Chatterbox glade were themselves new last year. The new glades at the Ski Bowl will provide a by-pass to the headwall section of 46er, the expert trail that follows the line of the Hudson Chair. That headwall section of 46er was unskiable last year due to unfinished trail grading and a lack of snowmaking, and unfortunately it will likely remain unskiable this year. Stanton explained “with all the other work that’s been going on, we just weren’t able to get to 46er this year.”

Gore’s base lodge will see a complete renovation of the Tannery Pub, a new outdoor grille, and a new lower level patio. The grooming fleet has also been upgraded with the purchase of a new groomer at the end of last season.

And last, Stanton mentioned excitement over the Saratoga North Creek Railroad’s ski trains this winter. “The train isn’t just transportation, it’s an experience. They’ve really done a first class job. Ski packages for Friday, Saturday and Sunday, late December through late March, are already set up on the railroad’s website. It’s is a wonderful marketing opportunity for us, and a year-round asset for North Creek too.”

At Whiteface, General Manager Bruce McCulley and ORDA Public Relations Coordinator Jon Lundin gave an overview of what they’ve been working on during the summer months. In the lodge, the rental shop and retail store will be extensively re-modeled, as will the kitchen for the J. Lohr café. The rental shop will also be outfitted with new “rockered” Rossignol skis. Rockered skis are a recent ski design trend that allows for easier turn initiation, a plus for beginners.

A new winchcat groomer has been added to the fleet, terrain in the Sugar Valley Glades has been expanded, and four new high-efficiency automated fan guns have been added to the snowmaking plant. The fan guns are considered state-of-the-art in terms of their automation, consistency, and ability to make snow in marginal conditions over a large area.

Last year, Whiteface was plagued by a number of lift malfunctions, and the Little Whiteface double chair was taken off-line in late February for the remainder of the season. That lift has been extensively renovated this summer, including new towers from mid-station up. McCulley elaborated: “That lift had an awful lot of hours on it. Some of the towers were as old as 1958, others went back to the 70s. We’ve gone through the entire mechanism, overhauling or replacing just about every component. Functionally it’s the same lift, but the mechanism is essentially new.” The Little Whiteface double serves a key role as an alternate for when the gondola is on wind-hold, and as an option for skiers who wish to access upper mountain terrain without returning all the way to base to ride the gondola.

Whiteface had one of its most successful seasons ever last year, as measured by skier visits and revenue. “It was a perfect storm” said ORDA’s Lundin. “We had a favorable Canadian exchange rate, and all it did from Christmas until spring was snow.” Marketing efforts helped as well, with programs like the Whiteface Road Warriors and recognition as the East’s #1 ski resort (Ski Magazine, December 2010). Lundin is clearly excited for this winter: “We’re looking to ride the wave of last year’s snow and follow up with another blow-out year.”

Not every skier is looking for the big mountain experience – and price tag – offered by Gore and Whiteface. Mount Pisgah in Saranac Lake and McCauley Mountain in Old Forge are excellent small-to-medium sized alternatives. At Mount Pisgah, the ski area’s 1940s-era T-bar is being replaced with a new T-bar lift. The lift replacement is expected to be completed by November, along with new lighting for night skiing. Big Tupper is another alternative for skiers, and the area is expected to be run again this winter by community volunteers. Surprisingly, there is even free skiing to be found at small, municipally operated hills like the Indian Lake ski slope and Dynamite Hill in Chestertown. The importance of these small- and medium-sized “feeder” areas can not be underestimated: besides providing an opportunity for beginning skiers to learn the sport, these areas also provide a positive regional economic impact.

Hickory Ski Center, in the southern Adirondacks, was recently brought back to life after having been shuttered from 2005 to 2009. Since the area re-opened in January, 2010, the lodge has been renovated, new grooming equipment and an electronic ticketing system have been purchased, and the lifts have been refurbished. Hickory relies exclusively on surface lifts (2 Pomas and a T-bar) to serve its 1200’ of vertical, and the lift upgrades have virtually eliminated breakdowns.

Historically, Hickory never really had adequate grooming capability, but a state-of-the-art winchcat purchased last year now allows the ski area to provide groomed corduroy conditions on its mid- and lower mountain terrain, broadening the area’s appeal to beginners, intermediates and families. Hickory’s challenging upper mountain terrain and its natural snow conditions (no snowmaking) have long appealed to advanced skiers, but Hickory is looking to emphasize the area’s appeal to families. “We’ve had many families associated with the mountain for a long, long time and I think that’s one of our strong suits,” said Bill Van Pelt, a shareholder. “Our target market is absolutely families.”

Just outside the Blue Line, West Mountain and Willard Mountain have been busy with improvements and upgrades as well. West is adding several high-efficiency automated fan guns (West’s snowmaking operation is 100% fan guns), and is looking to leverage its electronic lift ticketing system (new last year) to provide skiers with more convenience and flexibility. Willard is also adding fan guns to their snowmaking plant. Like most ski areas, both Willard and West make investments in their snowmaking operations every year. Chic Wilson, Willard’s GM and owner, calls snowmaking “the most important part of our business,” a sentiment echoed by Mike Barbone, GM at West Mountain.

ORDA’s Lundin summed up what every skier is already feeling: “Get out. Ski. It’s gonna be a great year.”

Jeff Farbaniec is an avid telemark skier and a 46er who writes The Saratoga Skier & Hiker, a blog of his primarily Adirondack outdoor adventures.


Page 379 of 590« First...102030...377378379380381...390400410...Last »