Thursday, October 20, 2011

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Oct. 20)

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
Just a few trails remain closed in both the Eastern High Peaks and the Dix Mountain Wildernesses due to significant 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. Hikers should be able to navigate by map and compass. Plan accordingly and be prepared to turn back when conditions warrant. Several groups of lost hikers required search and rescue operation last weekend. DEC has updated it’s closed trail map [pdf]. Full coverage of the aftermath of Hurricane Irene is available here.

** SNOW AND ICE ON SUMMITS, HIGHER ELEVATIONS
A covering of snow and ice is present on summits and other higher elevations. Stablicers or other similar equipment should be packed and used when conditions warrant.

** WATERS RUNNING WELL ABOVE NORMAL
The level of the rivers and streams across the region have risen to well above normal for this time of year. Low water crossings, even on smaller streams, may not be accessible. 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.

** WET AND MUDDY TRAILS
Trails continue to have mud and/or puddles in many locations. Hikers are advised to wear appropriate footwear and to stay on the trail – hike through muddy areas and puddles to avoid widening the trails or creating “herd paths” around those areas. The rains have also raised the water levels of many streams. Low water crossings may not be accessible.

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.

NUISANCE BLACK BEARS
DEC has received complaints of nuisance bears getting into garbage and destroying bird feeds. Homeowners should take down all bird feeders and take steps to secure garbage to prevent problems with bears. New regulation prohibits feeding bears, people that leave out bird food, garbage, pet food and other substances that bears may feed upon can be ticketed after a warning. The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness, and recommended throughout the Adirondacks, between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters.

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].

MOTORIST ALERT: WHITETAIL DEER
The peak period for deer-vehicle collisions is October through December, with the highest incidences occurring in November. This corresponds with the peak of the annual deer breeding cycle when deer are more active and less cautious in their movements. Approximately 65,000 deer-vehicle collisions occur throughout NYS each year and two-thirds of the annual collisions occur during this three month period. Most of the collisions occur between 6:30 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Motorists are advised that the best way to avoid a collision with a deer is to reduce speed and be alert for their presence on or near the highway.

MOTORIST ALERT: MOOSE
There are upwards of 800 Moose in the Adirondack region, up from 500 in 2007. Motorists should be alert for moose on the roadways at this time of year especially at dawn and dusk, which are times of poor visibility when Moose are most active. Much larger than deer, moose-car collisions can be very dangerous. Last year ten accidents involving moose were reported. DEC is working to identify areas where moose are present and post warning signs.

** FINAL WEEKEND FOR STATE CAMPGROUNDS
Now that Columbus Day has passed the only DEC campground open in the Adirondacks is the Fish Creek Campground and Cranberry Lake all the others are closed until next season. The Fish Creek and Cranberry Lake campgrounds will close this Sunday October 23rd. A list of phone numbers for all campgrounds and their associated Regional Offices can be found online.

HUNTING SEASONS NOW OPEN
Hunting seasons have begun. 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.

** 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.

** 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
DEC has closed the Eagle Cave between October 15 and April 30 to protect hibernating bats. 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.

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 well above normal. 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.

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. DEC has updated it’s closed trail map [pdf].

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. Tom Martin, regional forester for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, has told the Adirondack Explorer‘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.

Closed Adirondack Mountain Reserve Trails: 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.

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-Marcy Trail: The bridge is out in Marcy Swamp on the Elk Lake-Marcy Trail. Also there is light blowdown between Marcy Swamp and Panther Gorge Lean-to.

East River Trail: The bridge over the Hudson River on the East River Trail to Mt Adams and Allen Mountain remains out, use the flagged low water crossing.

East River/ Hanging Spear Falls Trail: The East River Trail/Hanging Spear Falls Trail is clear of blowdown and open from end to end. A 1/3 mile reroute near the campsite, just north of the state land boundary line is complete.

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.

Feldspar Lean-to and Lake Arnold Trail: There is heavy blowdown on the trail between Feldspar Lean-to and Lake Arnold.

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: The Roaring Brook Bridge near Duck Hole is out. 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 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 Hunter Pass Trail has a small slide approximately 1 mile below the junction with the Round Pond to Dix Mountain Trail.

Giant Mountain Wilderness: The Roaring Brook Falls Trailhead is open though some DOT equipment remains on site. Beaver activity has flooded the North Trail to Giant Mountain from 9N just 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, has been repaved by Town of Wilmington Highway crews. 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.

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.

** Eagle Cave in Jessup River Wild Forest: DEC has closed the Eagle Cave between October 15 and April 30 to protect hibernating bats.

Moose River Plains: All roads designated for public motor vehicle use are open and in good shape. 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

Milfoil Infestation in South Bay: Variable-leaf watermilfoil, an aquatic invasive plant, has been found in the South Bay of Lake Champlain. Watermilfoil crowds out beneficial native aquatic plants and can impair recreational uses including boating, fishing and swimming. Boaters, anglers and other recreational enthusiasts should take precautions to avoid transporting this and other invasive species to other waters or other parts of Lake Champlain. More information on the infestation and the responsibility of recreationists to limit its spread can be found here.

Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: The bridge on the trail to Lapland Pond from Pike Brook Trailhead has been repaired.

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: Some stream crossings do not have bridges and may be difficult to cross in high water conditions.

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

Hudson River Recreation Area: A few roads in the Hudson River Recreation area are open but have significant washouts and should only be accessed by 4-wheel drive and other high clearance vehicles, these include: River Road; Buttermilk Road north of the Town line; and Gay Pond Road before Campsite #13. The following roads or sections of roads remain closed to motor vehicles due to damage caused by Hurrican Irene, they are passable on foot: Buttermilk Road Extension north of the Gay Pond Road; Gay Pond Road past Campsite #13; and the access road to Darlings Ford Waterway Access Site.

** Pharaoh Lake Wilderness Volunteers Needed: DEC is seeking volunteers to work on trails and trail infrastructure in the Pharoah Lake Wilderness. 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: The bridge over Pharaoh Brook on the Mill Brook-Pharaoh Lake Trail has been replaced. A replacement bridge over Mill Brook on the Mill Brook-Pharaoh Lake Trail is under construction. The stringers are set on the sills but they are not secured and there is no decking on them. The old bridge remains partially attached on the downstream side of the new bridge and can be used with caution to cross.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.

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 – Eagle Cave: DEC has closed the Eagle Cave until April 30 to protect hibernating bats.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: The Spur Trail between West Stony Creek Road and Baldwin Springs has extensive 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. 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. 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

** Lewis Preserve WMA: The Brandy Brook has jumped its bank creating a braided stream channel across the main foot trail adjacent to the existing foot bridge. Users should use caution while attempting to cross this new stream channel as it is very deep and swift moving.

** Kings Bay WMA: A section of the access road to the parking area off Point Au Fer Road has washed out. The damaged road is still passable but very narrow. The washed out section is marked with an orange barrel at each end.

** Ausable Marsh WMA: Lake Champlain is at near spring time lake levels resulting in an abundance of water behind the dikes. Users will find the pools are much deeper than they typically are this time of the year and they may not be able to wade to places they normally can. Also, portions of the dike are extremely wet or partially underwater.

** Chazy Lake Boat Launch: The Chazy Lake Boat Launch is essentially unusable due to the water level draw down by the Town of Dannemora. The concrete ramp ends several yards from the water’s edge.

Lake Champlain Islands: 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: There is blowdown on the Deer Loop Trail between Route 30 and the bridge. 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.

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. Forestdale Road has been closed by the Town of Black Brook. In Terry Mountain State Forest both the Red Road and the Tower Road have been repaired and are open to public motor vehicle use.

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, October 20, 2011

Adirondack Arts: The Hills Are Alive…

There’s nothing quite like music in the mountains. This weekend the ever-ecclectic BluSeed Studios in Saranac Lake offers up two bands with very different pedigrees that each swing to their own beat. First, on Saturday, October 22nd, local septet Crackin’ Foxy serves up three-part harmonies over a ukulele background for a vaudeville show dating back to the 20s and 40s. And on Sunday things take a jazzy turn with gifted pianist Larry Ham leading the Larry Ham trio.

Ham has been performing since the late 1980s, having started his musical journey with the Lionel Hampton Orchestra and the Illinois Jacquet Big Band. Throughout his 3 decade career, Ham has played with jazz legends such as Junior Cook and Dakota Staton, and most frequently, as the leader of the trio. He was quite literally Jazz Ambassador for the State Department, bringing jazz to undeveloped countries in the early 2000s, after which he toured the US, Russia, Greece and Italy as pianist and director of the U.S. Tapdance Festival.

Ham has performed his music around the world, touring frequently, and has made appearances on NPR and the Today Show, and even performed at the White House for President Ronald Reagan. And on Sunday, October 23, 2011, Larry Ham returns to BluSeed Studios in Saranac Lake, with Bill Moring on bass and Graham Hawthorne on drums, for a special concert to benefit Keene Valley Flood Relief. As he has done at several venues this past year, Ham is donating 50% of the proceeds.

An accomplished composer, in 2007, Ham released his first jazz CD with his trio, Carousel, featuring seven original compositions in addition to five standards. His first solo effort, Just Me, Just You, followed in 2008. Despite a clever swing approach, jazz purists will still enjoy Ham’s easy style and his obvious reverence for traditional jazz lines.

You can look forward to hearing the distinctive renditions of the Larry Ham trio live at BluSeed Studios Sunday at 7pm for $15 admission. Tickets for the Saturday Crackin’ Foxy show (7:30pm) are $14.


Thursday, October 20, 2011

Summer’s Last Gasp: All Those Tomatoes

Each year for close to three decades, I’ve canned tomatoes. Even while living in a fifth floor walk-up in Manhattan (without air conditioning), I’d hop the subway down to the Union Square farmers’ market and load up with about 40 pounds of tomatoes and huge bunches of basil. My subway ride back to my apartment was pleasantly aromatic during those hot August days – more than can be said for my trip out to market.

I’d ‘put up’ many jars of cooked tomatoes, sauce, and puree, and this process always signaled the easing into summer’s end. The benefit of this heat-filled project has always been the bright red-orange glass jars sitting on the pantry shelves, especially during a bleak day in February, when it feels as if the summer sun ran away for good. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Glenmore Bar and Grill, Big Moose

As we traveled the six miles down Big Moose Road to the Glenmore Bar and Grill, we noticed it was populated with summer camps right down to Big Moose Lake. Perplexed by the distinct absence of people on this beautiful summer day in July, we pulled in to the mostly deserted parking lot. Given that it was early afternoon, possibly everyone was out pursuing summer pleasures on the lake or in town at Eagle Bay.

A two-story shingled structure flanked by ancient pines at the water’s edge, dormers peek out from above. With a spacious deck overlooking the lake, the Glenmore exudes history. We passed through the entrance doors to the main floor which houses the restaurant and bar, immediately encountering historic memorabilia and postings at the main entrance. Gleaming pine booths lined a sunny dining area, partially separated from the dining room and bar. Ivy wandered, taking over the room, repeated in stenciled embellishment over the windows. Sunlight streamed through picture windows, competing with rustic hues and textures for control of the lighting. At once dark and light, the hardwood floor, low pine plank ceiling, rough-sawn slab walls painted in tones of sage and brown, and simple pine booths were softly illuminated by daylight. A couple of well-worn plaid sofas faced the stone fireplace, the focal point of the center of the restaurant. A game room and pool table are available for use, but the Glenmore seems to be a venue for long stories and general banter.

The bar, with its panoramic view of the lake, seats 15 to 20 people. A handful of guests intently watched a soccer game as we introduced ourselves, and our purpose, to the bartender. Beer selection is primarily domestic, mostly from the Anheuser Busch and Matt’s brewing families. Canned beers (14 of them) include Utica Club and Genesee. Very retro. As Pam sat at the bar trying to decide what to order from the standard selection of liquors, she noticed that every one of the bar pours on the liquor bottles was not only the same color (green), but were all pointing in the same “wrong” direction. We have been to a lot of bars and have never seen either phenomenon. Not willing to let it go on observation, she mentioned to the bartender that he might have difficulties if he hired a left-handed bartender. Promising that would never happen, he smiled graciously and changed the subject, but seemed pleased that his efforts were noticed. We did take the time to inquire if the Glenmore had any specialty drinks unique to the establishment. Robert shared the ingredient list of the Flaming Glenmore, consisting of coffee, Yukon Jack, Amaretto and whipped cream.

It took some time for him to loosen up, but owner/bartender Robert Muller eventually warmed to our inquisition. He told us of a writers’ group that, for the past 36 years, meets at the Glenmore. Robert is of the opinion that some may no longer write, but continue to enjoy each other’s company, spending a weekend there every year under the auspices of the Tamarack Writers Group. (For the record, he did not use the word “auspices”.)

Kim inquired about hauntings, particularly in the death of Grace Brown in 1906. Grace and her companion, Chester Gillette, had checked in to the Glenmore the night before her demise, which she met at the hands of Gillette while rowing out on the lake. Several locations around Big Moose Lake claim to be haunted by her presence, and the television series Unsolved Mysteries aired an episode based on ghostly encounters in Big Moose in 1996. Robert also mentioned the apparition of a “creepy, tall, old dude” who occasionally makes his presence known.

The Glenmore Hotel Bar & Grill has been in business for 100 years and owned by the current owners, the Muller family, since the 1970s. When a fire of suspicious origin destroyed the original hotel in 1950, the Glenmore Hotel relocated across the street to its present location, originally home to the Big Moose Supply Company. A bar, restaurant and hotel located yards from Big Moose Lake, you can feel the history as you gaze upon the lake from the bar.

In summer months, the Glenmore is open Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. and noon to 1 a.m. on weekends. Closed Monday through Thursday in the fall and spring, they are open Friday through Sunday. Surprisingly, to us at least, Robert, who likes winter best, claims that winter is the best season to visit. Winter hours at the Glenmore begin with opening for the Snodeo, occurring this year December 9-11, and end with St. Patrick’s Day. The no-nonsense menu includes pizzas, salads, burgers, sandwiches and bar munchies in the $7 to $10 range.

The hotel has 11 rooms accommodating up to 24 people. Rooms are simple, unique and comfortable with few amenities. Two full and one half bath are shared by all the guests. They have no WiFi, no cell service either, but a phone booth outside actually appeared to still be in service. History, a remote setting, simple charm, and circumspect hospitality await guests and visitors to the Glenmore Bar and Grill.

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, October 19, 2011

Dan Crane: Leaving Bushwhacking Breadcrumbs

Solitude and isolation are two reasons for journeying into the backcountry of the Adirondacks. Getting away from the hustle and bustle of modern life to spend some time in nature has a soothing and regenerative power unmatched by the likes of books, movies or video games. Unfortunately, the remoteness can prove a challenge if for some reason a backcountry enthusiast must be located in a timely fashion.

Although rare, situations may arise that require locating an individual in the backcountry. An emergency at home, failure to return on a given date or some other reason may require initiating a search with little information to go on. Such a search may be difficult to perform within the confines of a trail system; it may require a Herculean effort in a bushwhacking situation. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Phil Brown: Wild Wolves in the Northeast

Reuben Cary shot the last wolf in the Adirondacks in 1899 … or so he thought. Afterward, he posed next to the carcass for a photo. The stuffed wolf is now on exhibit in the Adirondack Museum.

Cary’s claim to fame is no longer valid. A new study by two scientists from the New York State Museum found that at least three wild wolves have been shot in the Northeast in recent decades, including one in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: A Mystical Forest in Burke

Located in the foothills of the Adirondacks, The Ekurb Players are pulling together the last minute details for their annual Mystical Forest at Sellers Park in Burke, N.Y.

Formed in 2007, The Ekrub Players (Ekrub is Burke spelled backwards) is a not-for-profit Children’s performance group focusing on creative ways to bring families together and get children outside. The Mystical Forest event is one of the first programs the group started when it opened its doors in 2007.

Co-Founder and President Gina Strachan says, “A lot of our inspiration comes from Richard Louv’s book, Last Child in the Woods. My husband and I moved from Vermont and found out that there weren’t a lot of child-related activities in the area. We are developing other children’s programs so check out the website. My family had participated in a variety of productions in other places as well in Vermont.”

The Mystical Forest will take place at Sellers Park in Burke. Over 500 carved pumpkins will light the trails as costumed “Spirit Guides” lead groups of up to 20 people through the woods. A tour leaves every 10 minutes and every tour lasts about an hour.

“This is not a gory, horror trail,” assures Strachan. “This is a story trail. People will be led through the forest for an hour tour to various skits led by costumed volunteers. We even received the rights from J K Rowling to do a Harry Potter skit based on The Tale of the Three Brothers. Snow White, Rapunzel and Red Riding Hood are a few of the other familiar characters families can look forward to seeing.”

According to Strachan a special addition is the group The Tales from Remikreh, sword -fighting re-enactors, that have performed in Alexandria Bay for the past 16 years. She recommends that people dress for a walk in the woods and appropriately for the weather. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for students and seniors and children under 5 are free.

There will be food available for purchase such as hamburgers and hotdogs, drinks as well as a sweet treat vendor. The tour schedule is as follows: Friday, October 21 from 6;30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., Saturday, October 22 from 6:30 -.m. – 9:30 p.m. and Sunday, October 23 from noon to 3:30 p.m. No reservations are required. If you bring a canned good to benefit the local food pantry you can save $1 on admission. There is plenty of parking available.

Sellers Park is located on Route 11 in Burke. Strachan recommends you “just follow the ghost signs along Route 11 and you won’t miss it.”

Photo: The Ekrub Players’ Mystical Forest Ghost (Courtesy Diane Chase)

Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates), the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Local Program Hopes to Reduce Energy Use, Create Jobs

With the budgets of villages, towns and municipalities being slashed across the country, two (and more in future) communities in the Adirondack Park are participating in a pilot program that will identify ways they can reduce their energy consumption and carbon footprint, create or retain jobs and save money. The Community Energy Efficiency Management (CEEM) project will include the Towns of Moriah and Schroon Lake, and project managers are talking with other municipalities about participating in the two-year program.

During the program the communities will inventory energy use of municipally-owned structures, transportation and residential buildings, make a plan to identify and prioritize energy saving opportunities, explore financing options, implement energy saving projects, and track energy savings. They will share their experiences with other
communities throughout the process.

Rural communities, including the 103 towns and villages within the boundary of the Adirondack Park, suffer from a host of economic development problems. ADKCAP (the Adirondack Climate and Energy Action Plan) developed a model to support such communities with comprehensive CEEM services to address economic needs through the “low-hanging fruit” afforded by energy efficiency incentives and programs. The CEEM
project is funded through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development and co-implemented by The Wild Center in Tupper Lake and the Community Power Network of NYS, based in Olmstedville, in Essex County.

“Green is truly the road to the future,” said Cathy Moses, Town Supervisor of the Town of Schroon Lake. “Although some of the initial green changes are costly, there are several grants available if sought. The end result is saving the future for our children – it doesn’t get much better than that!”

“The Town of Moriah Town Board decided to participate in this project for possible savings of both energy and money for our constituents,” added Tom Scozzafava, Moriah’s Town Supervisor. “As we have progressed we have found that with very little up front expenditure, we can save not only energy but also dollars that will more than pay
for the changes.”

Project advisors will support project progress, provide training, celebrate and publicize successes, and help build capacity needed to realize energy saving opportunities while guiding how to take advantage of state and federal energy and carbon reduction funds. They will also help communities invite businesses, nonprofits, schools, and residents to learn more about available energy efficiency programs.

“After my mother passed away I decided to replace the 1950s furnace in her old house,” said Cathy Robarts of Moriah, who attended a CEEM outreach meeting this summer. “I paid for a new high-efficiency boiler, which cost about $1000, and got my investment back in three years including $200 of repairs on fuel lines and related needs. The majority of the savings came in the form of oil costs.” This kind of experience will be captured and shared through the project.

“We know from energy audits and conversations with town and village elected officials that energy costs are often one of the most costly items in a budget year after year,” said Stephanie Ratcliffe, Executive Director of The Wild Center. “This project is designed to assist the towns and villages to take advantage of grants and other incentive opportunities to improve energy efficiency and save money over time. We know the motivation is there, we are just trying to help bridge the gap with technical information, grant writing assistance and tracking.”

“The collaboration within and between communities is very important. By identifying and prioritizing energy saving opportunities, we can creatively develop opportunities for our economic development problems. Rural Development is committed to building a foundation for stronger rural communities, ones that are equipped with tools to succeed. Programs such as CEEM are an example of how the Obama Administration is committed to creating a more prosperous rural America,” said USDA NY Rural Development State Director Jill Harvey.

Despite the need for improvements, there are currently only 20 fully certified energy auditing businesses serving the 6 million acre Park – according to NYSERDA’s website – to help the businesses, municipalities, and residents who want to reduce energy expenditures on their buildings by an average 30 percent and invest savings in other economic opportunities. In addition, there is currently a 2-year backlog of low-income homeowners in the region requesting weatherization assistance. Small municipalities such as those throughout this region often operate with part-time staff and less capacity than urbanized areas and therefore can have difficulty taking advantage of incentives that exist.

Managers reason that each community’s investment in the project will pay for itself quickly through energy savings.

It is anticipated that the project will help to create or retain the equivalent of three to five stable, well-paying “green” clean energy jobs. Every job created in the Adirondacks means a family can stay where many generations have been before them. Jobs such as local energy auditors and insulation installers cannot be outsourced. The project will also help to create demand for more such skilled and trained workers.
The Wild Center has modeled – through its “green” facilities, educational programming, and conferences – how science museums can help to disseminate environmental solutions.

For example, buildings use an estimated 30% of energy in the United States, thus increasing green building design and retrofits has huge potential for economic
savings and job development. The Wild Center is Silver LEED certified for its green buildings and educates visitors through a tour of its green design on site and on-line through its website.

The Community Power Network of New York State, Inc. addresses the energy needs of families and communities throughout New York. CPN has worked extensively to improve energy efficiency and affordability for low-income households. Improving the ability of North Country communities to access New York’s energy programs and opportunities is also a focus for this private consulting corporation.

“We believe that the Community Energy Efficiency Management pilot provides an important new program model for rural areas like ours,” said Sue Montgomery Corey, President of CPN. She noted that every rural community is different and finding strategies to make state and federal resource programs meet the needs of individual
communities is a critical part of implementing them successfully in rural areas.

ADKCAP is a partnership of The Wild Center and 30 other institutions in the region. ADKCAP works through existing organizations around the region to implement a proactive strategy to enable the Adirondacks, approximately 20% of the land area of New York State, to improve energy and cost savings within the region. To heat and power itself the region currently uses more than 46 million gallons of fuel oil and LPG, and 925 million kWh of electricity annually, draining $263 million a year from struggling economies of the region. Investing in local efficiency helps to keep that money in the region. The Adirondacks are nevertheless a model of conservation for the nation and are positioned to lead in establishing a “green” economy.

For more information visit www.adkcap.org and click on CEEM or contact Kara Page, kpage@wildcenter.org or Jennifer Monroe, jlmonroe@capital.net.


Tuesday, October 18, 2011

DEC Adopts Five-Year Deer Management Plan

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced that it has adopted a five-year deer management plan. The final plan, which has been revised based on public comment on a previously released draft version, is now available online.

“White-tailed deer are an important and valued natural resource for New Yorkers,” Commissioner Joe Martens said. “DEC’s new deer management plan provides strategic direction for our staff over the next five years and will help us focus our efforts where they can best meet the biological and social demands associated with deer. This plan emphasizes the importance of hunting for deer management, and we are particularly excited to create new opportunities for young deer hunters,” Martens said. “We are also cognizant of the significant ecological impacts associated with deer, and we are eager to more fully bring our knowledge of these impacts into the population management process.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Adirondack Wildlife: The Howling Coyote

It can be heard at almost anytime, but especially after sunset. On calm evenings from the late summer throughout autumn, the high-pitched yelping cry of the eastern coyote occasionally echoes across the landscape as this resourceful predator moves under the cover of darkness. While the coyote is known to make its tormented-sounding bark during any season, there are times when it is more vocal and fall is one of those periods.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, October 17, 2011

History’s Criminals: Ticonderoga’s Bernard Champagne

After impersonating Walter W. Baker, heir to the Baker chocolate fortune, and bilking his Richmond fiancée’s mother out of $15,000 in 1928 (equal to $190,000 in 2011), Ticonderoga’s Bernard Frederick Champagne was sentenced to ten years in a Virginia prison. He was paroled after serving more than six years, but the gates had hardly closed behind him when Champagne was at it again.

Shortly after his release, the US Department of Justice was tracking him across the North Country. As he had done for years in the past, Bernard managed to move quickly and stay a step ahead of his pursuers.

In retrospect, it probably wasn’t the best idea to leave prison after conviction on charges of impersonation and then return home to pass himself off as a federal officer, but that’s exactly what Champagne did. He also left Ticonderoga for several weeks with a vehicle that didn’t belong to him, prompting the town police force to join the feds in seeking his arrest.

Initially, their search efforts covered from the Albany area to southern Quebec. It was then expanded statewide, and finally extended across the Northeast. Two weeks later, Champagne was in Elizabethtown’s Essex County jail, facing local and federal charges.

What had he done? After arriving home from the prison in Virginia, Bernard needed transportation to execute his latest scam. At the automobile dealership of Charles Moore in Ticonderoga, he tried out a large Oldsmobile and expressed an interest in purchasing it. Moore accepted his promise to return with the car and pay for it when some expected funds arrived.

Champagne then visited stores, restaurants, and bars across the region, presenting himself as a representative from Washington. Presenting his official federal credentials, including a badge, Bernard saved them money by accepting a smaller direct payment of the liquor tax, which relieved them of paying the regular rate to county alcohol officials.

When local liquor authorities made their normal rounds, they viewed the receipts left by Champagne and knew immediately that something was amiss. By that time, he had scammed businesses across the region and then vanished.

An investigation failed to locate Bernard, but certain savings accounts were discovered. No one knew for certain where the money came from, but in banks located in Burlington and Saratoga, Champagne had $56,000 ($890,000 in 2011).

He was traced as far as Maryland, and then officially listed as “whereabouts unknown.” A week later, Champagne was arrested in Hyattsville, Maryland (still driving the Oldsmobile), and was brought north to face charges.

Five months later (in October), an Essex County jury found him not guilty of stealing the car. Their reasoning was simple: he had promised to return it, and with no firm timeframe in place, he hadn’t actually reneged on that promise.

As he had done earlier in the Richmond case, Bernard presented no defense on the federal charges. He pled guilty in Albany to three counts of impersonation and was sentenced to one year and one day in the US Penitentiary at Lewisburg, Pennsylvania.

In December 1936, Champagne walked out of prison once again a free man, and immediately proved himself an incorrigible lawbreaker. Without hesitation, he returned to criminal activity, and for the next several years left few traces of his whereabouts. (It was very difficult tracking his story today through newspaper archives and public records. Gaps were unavoidable. After all, seven decades ago, the FBI chased him for seven years before achieving any success.)

Having already served two prison sentences, Champagne had proven catchable, but the third time wouldn’t be easy for his pursuers. He worked multiple scams at the same time in a particular city, but when the heat was on, he slipped away to a new location. And there’s no denying that Bernard Champagne was one slippery customer.

His exploits out West provide a fine example. After several impersonations in San Francisco, he was indicted there by a federal grand jury in May 1942. But Champagne was already long gone, posing as a secret service agent in Salt Lake City, where he found at least six more victims. He was particularly adept at securing small cash amounts, which tended to attract less attention.

To make the process profitable, he worked several targets simultaneously. They were nearly always women, and many of them were widows. In Salt Lake City, impersonating a secret service agent netted him $5,000 from six targets. As if to intentionally taunt his pursuers, in two of those cases Bernard also claimed to be a special agent with the FBI.

This especially annoyed Bureau Director J. Edgar Hoover, who was very protective of the agency’s image. He turned up the heat on Bernard, but despite the intensified effort, their quarry from the North Country remained elusive.

The charges at San Francisco were followed by several other federal indictments: in Salt Lake City, June and November 1942; Danville, Illinois, September 1942; New York City, January 1943; and Cleveland, April 1943. Complaints had also been filed against Bernard in Omaha, Nebraska; Kankakee, Illinois; Daytona Beach, Florida; and in Maine.

FBI agents described Champagne as “a prolific impersonator,” but the true extent of his success is unknown. Because so much of his fakery escaped detection, it’s unclear how many identities Bernard actually assumed. One agent said he had “at least 50 aliases,” and at one point, there were 34 names documented. It was the list of professions, however, that really impressed them.

Among his successful impersonations were: a graduate of Columbia University; a doctor employed by the US Public Health Service; a secret service agent; an FBI agent; a member of the US diplomatic corps; and the nephew of noted politician Hamilton Fish, a ruse that allowed him to pass $600 worth of bogus checks ($8,000 in 2011).

On a grander scale were his military personas: an army medical officer; aide to General Arnold, who was chief of the nation’s air forces; a member of military intelligence; a lieutenant colonel in the army (good for another $8,000 in 2011); a lieutenant commander in the US Navy; and a nephew of General Dwight D. Eisenhower, who was commanding the Allied forces in Europe.

At times he claimed to have lost three brothers in the Battle of the Coral Sea; that his brother-in-law was an admiral; and that his grandfather was a navy captain. Those lies, offered convincingly, gave him legitimacy in the eyes of an intended victim. It was an important factor leading up to the payoff scheme: ensuring that he could secure the release of relatives in Germany. By carefully selecting his marks (victims), Bernard achieved continued success.

An FBI memo from summer 1943 notes that Champagne’s proclivity for “victimizing women, especially widows” was featured in a radio broadcast by the legendary Walter Winchell. Hoover, passionate guardian of the FBI’s reputation, felt that publicly citing a longstanding, unsolved case made the Bureau look bad. It was his baby, and he felt the need to respond.

The same memo confirmed that increased attention was now focused on Bernard: “An identification order was issued on Champagne during the past week, and a very active fugitive investigation looking to his apprehension is in progress.”

Less than two months later, Hoover had his man. Bernard’s modus operandus was well known, and information detailing it was disseminated to scores of law enforcement agencies. Anything remotely resembling his style was looked at, and a case in Ohio proved his undoing.

In the small village of Dalton, Bernard had targeted a widow, Gladys Mohn, in a real estate scheme. Presenting himself as Allen Steven Klein, a navy surgeon, he convinced Mrs. Mohn to invest $4,312 ($55,000 in 2011) in some Florida property, land that he said the government was going to purchase for airport development. The return promised by Champagne on her investment was $22,000 ($277,000 in 2011).

A glitch developed when Mohn went to Florida with Champagne to look the site over. After several excuses “prevented” him from showing her the property, which of course didn’t exist, Bernard finally abandoned her and vanished.

Mohn’s subsequent complaint to authorities, with details on how her “partner” operated, suggested that Allen Steven Klein may well have been Bernard Frederick Champagne.

On April 10, a warrant was issued for his arrest, adding to the list of previous indictments, but also triggering an intensified FBI manhunt. And this time, Bernard’s luck finally ran out when several FBI agents from the Cleveland branch arrested him in Dalton. At his arraignment the next day in Canton, Ohio, Champagne did what he had always done in the past—pleaded guilty.

Hoover addressed the media, mentioning several of the personas Bernard had assumed, including that of FBI agent. The Director noted, “Champagne operated from coast to coast, leaving a trail of disillusioned women who gave him sums ranging up to $4000 [$50,000 in 2011].”

Though his documented crimes may have been the proverbial “tip of the iceberg,” an aura of mystery surrounded Champagne’s incarceration, much as it had his life of crime. After pleading guilty, he was held under $10,000 bond ($120,000 in 2011) at Cleveland for federal grand jury action. At that point, he seems to have vanished.

Perhaps the FBI avoided publicizing his story any further once he was captured. Champagne had defrauded hundreds of victims out of untold thousands of dollars—certainly the equivalent of millions of dollars today. To the embarrassment of lawmen, he had gotten away with most of it during the past seven years. Heavily redacted records limit our knowledge of his activities.

Despite the vast number of charges pending against Bernard in at least nine cities (for fraud and for impersonating federal officials), the Cleveland grand jury settled on a puzzling set of indictments: “Violation of the Mann Act, in transporting a waitress from Orrville [Ohio] to California via Winter Haven, Florida; violation of the Selective Service Act for not having his registration card with him; and posing as a lieutenant commander in the US Navy with intent to defraud.”

It appears that he served approximately 18 years in prison and was released in the early 1960s, returning to the North Country. Champagne passed away in 1977 at the age of 73.

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

New Book on Adirondack CCC Camps

Marty Podskoch’s newest book Adirondack Civilian Conservation Corps Camps: Its History, Memories and Legacy of the CCC, is now available. The 352-page large-format book contains 185 interviews, over 50 charts and maps, and over 500 pictures and illustrations.

The Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) began on March 31, 1933 under President Roosevelt’s “New Deal” to relieve the poverty and unemployment of the Depression. Camps were set up in many New York towns, state parks, and forests. Workers built trails, roads, campsites and dams, stocked fish, built and maintained fire tower observer’s cabins and telephone lines, fought fires, and planted millions of trees. The CCC disbanded in 1942 due to the need for men in World War II.

“My book is not a comprehensive history of the Civilian Conservation Corps, but the history of the 26 Adirondack CCC camps and the stories of the young men who left their homes to earn $25 a month to help their families survive during the Great Depression,” Podskoch notes in the book’s preface. “The reader will see how these young men developed a sense of worth. Many had only an eighth grade education and were wandering the countryside and city streets in search of a job. Once in the CCC they felt important, learned how to take orders, developed a love of nature, and learned a trade, all of which gave them a sense of self-worth. They knew they were helping their country and their families.”

Podskoch is also the author of five other books: Fire Towers of the Catskills: Their History and Lore, two volumes of Adirondack Fire Towers: Their History and Lore covering the Southern and Northern districts, and two other books, Adirondack Stories: Historical Sketches and Adirondack Stories II: 101 More Historical Sketches from his weekly illustrated newspaper column.

You can by the book in local stores for $20.00. It can also be purchased by contacting the author at (860-267-2442) or at 43 O’Neill Lane, East Hampton, CT 06424. Include $3 for shipping.

If you have information or pictures of relatives or friends who worked at one of the CCC camps, contact Marty Podskoch at: 36 Waterhole Rd., Colchester, CT 06415 or 860-267-2442, or podskoch@comcast.net

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers.


Sunday, October 16, 2011

Black Bear Encounters: A Fed Bear is a Dead Bear

What follows is a guest essay from the Adirondack Forest Preserve Education Partnership (AFPEP).

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

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


Sunday, October 16, 2011

WAMC goes on the air in Lake Placid (UPDATE)

WAMC, the National Public Radio affiliate based in Albany, this week switched on a new broadcast translator in Lake Placid. On Tuesday, W204CJ (FM frequency 88.7) became the latest nodule in AMC’s spreading network of stations. The move into the resort community was first attempted in 2007 when WAMC’s President and CEO Alan Chartock tried to take over the FCC license for a frequency that was being renewed by NPR’s Canton, New York affiliate North Country Public Radio.

WAMC operates twenty-four broadcast and translator towers that send its programming to parts of over 40 counties in New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, and New Jersey. The broadcaster’s expansive vision occasionally runs up against its original mission. Earlier this year on the final day of the legislative session in Albany, with votes on New York’s same sex marriage and budget bills still up for grabs, WAMC devoted both hours of its premier news analysis program, the Roundtable, to promoting a music festival in western Massachusetts.

This week, WAMC’s new Lake Placid listeners tuned in to Dr. Chartock’s signature frenetic exhortations during one of the station’s periodic fundraising membership drives. While they say there’s no second chance to make a first impression, public radio devotees in the Olympic Village might yet find some advantage to the timing of their new suitor’s arrival. North Country Public Radio holds its fall pledge campaign this coming week.

UPDATE:The trail was cleared for WAMC to operate the Lake Placid translator as part of an agreement reached in December 2007 when NCPR was seeking to upgrade to a full power signal from the weaker translator signal. WAMC sought a license to operate the same full power signal, but settled for the weaker translator in the wake of negative publicity. A third party broadcaster, Northeast Gospel Radio, Inc. from Rensselaer County also sought the full power license.

(Disclosure: Mark Wilson is a member of NCPR and contributes cartoons to the NCPR.org)


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Fall Wildlife Tracking, Ecology with Susan Morse

Susan Morse of Keeping Track and the staff of the Wild Center will offer a full day tracking workshop on Saturday, October 22nd. The Adirondacks offer a unique opportunity for learning about wildlife through tracking. During the workshop, the following topics are addressed: detection and interpretation of tracks and sign of focal species such as marten, black bear, bobcat, fisher, mink, river otter, coyote, moose as well as birds; conservation biology as it relates to data collection; forest ecology and plant identification as they relate to mammal uses of habitat for food and shelter; ‘search imaging’ – Sue Morse’s technique for predictably looking in the right places and finding signs; and an introduction to science-based field studies. Includes course book of readings and resources authored by Susan Morse. » Continue Reading.


Page 381 of 595« First...102030...379380381382383...390400410...Last »