Thursday, May 3, 2012

Conservation Partnership Program Grants Awarded Locally

Conservation Partnership Program grants totaling $1.4 million were awarded to 53 nonprofit land trusts across the state according to a statement by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Land Trust Alliance. The grants, funded through New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), will be matched by a total of $1.2 million in private and local funding.

The purpose of the grants is to increase the pace, improve the quality and ensure the permanence of voluntary conservation of private lands, which is expected to result in environmental and economic benefits for communities throughout New York. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 3, 2012

Free Invasive Species Training Offered

Those interested in joining statewide efforts to track invasive species can attend an iMapInvasives online mapping tool training session. Anyone can help keep the New York map up-to-date and accurate by reporting invasive species locations.

Volunteers, citizen scientists and educational groups will find the simple reporting interface easy to use for local projects, and conservation professionals can use the advanced interface to manage detailed information about infestations, surveys and treatments in a standardized format.  Training is required to enter data, and then users can enter observations of invasive plants, aquatic invasive species, forest pests and agricultural pests. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: North Country Club, Keeseville

The “Cocktails” sign on the side of the North Country Club Restaurant sign was a harbinger of the retro-style tavern we were about to enter in Keeseville. The windows on the interior walls as we entered the vestibule foreshadowed a repurposed building. Slate floors, a combination of wood panel and brick walls, and a green formica topped bar counter, all in good condition, confirmed our first speculation. Our first impression was one of familiarity, comfort and welcome.

Behind the bar, signs promoting the Bikini Martini and Catalina Margarita (no Rob Roys and Whisky Sours here) spoke of more contemporary times. The bartender, Shannon, young, energetic, smiling and soon joking, did too. The large, rectangular bar offered seats at least 15 patrons in sturdy captain’s chairs. Complimentary hors d’oeuvres were put out in a corner with chips, dips, crackers and cheese spread. Quick Draw and a few televisions offered entertainment, but we found the bartenders, first Shannon, then Josh, to be enough entertainment for us.

Owned by Michael and Tonia Finnegan for the past four years, the North Country Club Restaurant has been in business for at least the past 40 years. One of the waitresses, Gladys, came to Keeseville in the 1950s, and was able to fill us in on some history. The building was originally a train station, located elsewhere, but moved to make room for the highway. Once moved, it was reappointed as a restaurant and has been serving local families and tourists ever since. Gladys apparently came with the building. The North Country Club is renowned for its gourmet style pizza, and claims to serve the best pizza from Montreal to Miami. Entirely homemade, it is reputed to have been Fed-Exed to Utah and Florida. Supposedly they deliver anywhere.

Serving a variety of bottled beers, Land Shark and Budweiser are currently offered at a mere $2.00 a bottle. Several beers are available on tap, both domestic and micro, including, Yuengling, Bud, Coors, and Long Trail Blackberry Wheat. The liquor selection is typical, with several flavored vodkas and a few premium distillations. Several varieties of wine are served as well.

The North Country Club is open seven days a week all year, from 3 to 8 p.m. Monday and Tuesday and Noon to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Closing time is extended one hour every day when summer hours begin Memorial Day weekend. They close only for Christmas and Thanksgiving. Happy Hour is featured daily with $1.00 draft beer, $2.00 domestic bottles and $.50 off well drinks. Cocktail specials like the Bikini Martini are available for $5.00 and change weekly, depending on bartender creativity. Maybe someday they will feature one of Happy Hour in the High Peaks signature drinks. Bring your favorite recipe and Shannon and Josh will set you up. Cell phone service is available, and access to wifi is on request. They occasionally offer live music on a small scale.

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, May 2, 2012

Dan Crane: Blisters Suck

Hikers’ sweaty feet are one of my favorite things.  Especially, when their hiking boots do not fit correctly or are not properly broken in.  Their soft, damp skin rubs against the sides of unyielding boots, giving birth to my nascent self.   Layers of skin separate, and the space between these layers fills with liquid.   This is when I take control.

I am a blister.  And I want nothing more than to ruin your outdoor experience.

Let’s face it, blisters suck.  There is just no getting around this fact.  Anyone who has ever suffered through a long hike with one or more on their heel or toe knows this all too well.  Once they begin to form there is almost nothing that can be done to reverse the process, short of several weeks of rest and an absolute absence of rubbing.  These conditions are nearly impossible to be had in the middle of the Adirondack backcountry, days from the nearest trailhead.
» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Shannon Houlihan: Using All That Maple Syrup

Adirondack Maple SyrupSince I have taken up the business of growing, canning, and preparing all kinds of food from scratch, I have found that life becomes hectic at certain times of the year. Summertime is just mayhem, with berries and summer fruits demanding attention, as well as the garden crops coming in.

In the fall there is pork and venison sausage making, and apples – we spend several weeks brewing hard cider every year. That’s followed by the fermented goods (sauerkraut, kimchi, and the like).

Then the holiday season comes, with its cookies, pies and feasting, followed shortly thereafter by citrus fruits which just scream “I need to be a marmalade!”. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

New Food Contributor Shannon Houlihan

Food Writer Shannon Houlihan Please join us in welcoming our newest contributor here at the Almanack, Shannon Houlihan. Shannon’s family was among the first settlers of a wide stretch of the Adirondacks from Warrensburg through Brant Lake and Bolton, and across Lake George to Hulett’s Landing. Shannon grew-up a city girl in Schenectady, but over the past 20 years she’s been exploring foods from all over the world. Her return to the Adirondacks 10 years ago sparked a new interest in raising and eating local foods from local gardens, forests, and waters.

Anyone who knows Shannon will tell you she’s an amazing kitchen raconteur and culinarian. I will tell you, (and I should know, Shannon and I have been together for 18 years) that she’s also an inventive cook without the pretense so common in today’s foodies. Her stock and trade is locally sourced foods using fresh ingredients, made from scratch. She makes the kind of food we all eat, but with an astoundingly fresh creativity, and an abiding interest in easily found local foods. Shannon is also a Warren County long-term care visiting nurse whose work brings her into contact with the food traditions of the old-timers she cares for – she’ll also be sharing some of those.


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Environment: Living Machines and Water Resources

What follows is a guest essay by Layne Darfler, a junior at Paul Smith’s College majoring in Environmental Studies. She is from Hudson Falls, NY. This is part of our series of essays by young people from Paul Smith’s College.

What if there were a way to become more sustainable and recycle more than the everyday paper, plastic, or cans? What if we could recycle nature? It seems almost impossible since the guy on TV just told us the Earth is dying, but in reality there is a lot we can still do to help our planet. How about recycling the rain? » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Adirondack Family Time:
World’s Biggest Disc Golf Weekend

Disc GolfIn its 23rd year, this year’s World’s Biggest Disc Golf Weekend will be hosted in 15 countries and over 140 locations throughout the United States. This Saturday, May 5, the only Adirondack location registered for this annual event is Keeseville’s Ausable Chasm Campground. 

Recreational Manager Chuck Fries says, “We are offering free admission and free disc rentals all Saturday from 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. We have a local league that will start earlier and later have a mixed doubles tournament. We hope people will come out and see what a fun sport this is.”

Fries confirms that the event is geared toward the novice in mind. From 2:00 p.m. – 4:00 p.m. league members and experienced players will be on site to show people how to play disc golf. Fries will even have league players and volunteers available to join novices on the course to demonstrate strategies. Though anyone can come, sign out a disc and play the Ausable Chasm course at any time throughout the day.

“This is a great family activity and lifelong sport,” says Fries. “It is low-impact. We can bring our young daughter and walk the courses while she enjoys nature. My wife and I used to mountain bike and have had to put that sport on hold for a bit. We can’t share that with our daughter quite yet. Disc golf is a great way to bring the whole family together and spend time outdoors. It is less frustration than regular golf to play right from the start.”

The late Ed Headrick is known as the father of the modern day Frisbee and of the game Disc Golf.  Headrick, of California, also invented the first disc golf basket and designed and installed the first course. While working at Wham-O, Headrick was credited with the first patent for modern day Frisbee. He helped develop the sport in the 70’s even establishing the first disk golf tournament in 1979.

Similar to traditional golf, disc golf has various weighted Frisbee-like discs that serve as driver, midrange and putter. According to Fries, anyone that has played mini-golf can tackle disc golf. Instead of a ball and club, it is a disc into a metal basket. He recommends for beginners to start with one disc and not worry about the various sized discs. For those a bit more adventurous, he suggests sticking around for the evening festivities that will consist of glow-in-the dark discs and lighted baskets.

“Beginners have a hard time throwing the driver. If they start with the mid-range or putter, it throws more like a traditional Frisbee,” says Fries. “One of the great features of the Ausable Chasm course is that it is heavily wooded and not so easy to lose a disc.”

The World’s Biggest Disc Golf Weekend is May 5 from 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m. Call 518-834-9990 for more information.  There are grills and tables available for those wishing to bring a picnic.

Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time Your Four-Season Guide to over 300 activities in Lake Placid and the High Peaks. Her second guidebook for the Champlain Valley will be in stores this summer 2012.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Spring Turkey Season Opens Today

The 2012 spring turkey season opens today (May 1) in all of upstate New York lying north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary. An analysis of the 2011 spring turkey take, including a county-by-county breakdown, can be found on the DEC website. Take figures for the 2011 fall turkey season and county-by-county breakdown can also be found online.

DEC is looking for turkey hunters to participate in their ruffed grouse drumming survey as hunters are ideally suited for monitoring ruffed grouse during the breeding season. Turkey hunters can record the number of grouse they hear drumming while afield to help DEC track the distribution and abundance of this game bird. To get a survey form, go online or call (518) 402-8886. To participate in DEC’s Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey or other wildlife surveys visit the “Citizen Science” page of the DEC website. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Phil Brown: More on Charging for Rescues

Stephen Mastaitis after rescue on Mount Marcy.A series of searches in the High Peaks last winter sparked a debate over whether careless hikers should be charged for the cost of rescuing them.

The Adirondack Almanack published several posts on the subject, including one by me in which I argued against charging hikers. Thinking the public would like to hear other opinions, I later assigned a reporter, Kelly de la Rocha, to look into the issue for Adirondack Explorer.

Tony Goodwin, editor of the Adirondack Mountain Club’s High Peaks guidebook, thinks fining hikers in cases of gross carelessness might be a deterrent. “As long as we accept the fact that we want to encourage people to use the backcountry, there are going to be accidents that have to be dealt with and there are going to be people who are unprepared, but perhaps the most grossly unprepared, unknowledgeable ones can suffer some consequences that perhaps [would] give pause for others,” he said. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 30, 2012

Spring Visitors: Ladybug Beetles

Among the many groups of insects that exist on our planet, the most abundant, diverse and ecologically successful are the beetles. And while many of these hard-shelled bugs are viewed as ugly and unwanted by humans, the ladybug beetle is considered to be one of the most attractive and environmentally friendly creatures in nature.

With a conspicuous dome-shaped, orange shell marked with black spots, the ladybug is difficult to mistake for any other invertebrate. Like all insects, there are numerous species of ladybugs that reside in our region, and the subtle differences in the color and pattern of its markings is the common means of distinguishing among the members of this insect group. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 30, 2012

North Country Poets: Benjamin Franklin Taylor

In 1996, the Academy of American Poets designated April as National Poetry Month. Each year, the goal is to bring attention to “the art of poetry, to living poets, [and] to our complex poetic heritage.” In support of that effort, the focus here is on Benjamin Franklin Taylor, historically one of the North Country’s greatest poets, writers, and lecturers.

Born in Lowville (Lewis County) in 1819, Taylor was a precocious child whose writing abilities were evident at a young age. He attended Lowville Academy (his father, Stephen William Taylor, also attended LA and later became principal), and then entered Madison University in Hamilton, New York (where his father was a mathematics professor and would later become college president). Madison was renamed Colgate University in 1890. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 30, 2012

Slush Pile: Whiteface Skiing and Climate Change

What follows is a guest essay by Kirsten L. Goranowski, a 2012 graduate of Paul Smith’s College with a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies. This is part of our series of essays by young people from Paul Smith’s College.

It was a rainy wait for the Face Lift chairlift at the base of Whiteface Mountain on March 9th. I overheard a woman complain to her husband about the unpleasant weather. There was mention of an alternative plan for the day. I myself contemplated an alternative, yet I had bought a season pass and still had to get my money’s worth. Winter of 2010-2011 was the first time I picked up the sport of snowboarding, and I’m now questioning whether any of it was a worthwhile investment. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Stoddard’s Natural Views Exhibit Opening May 4th

Long considered beautiful photographs of the Adirondack landscape, Seneca Ray Stoddard’s views also serve as documents of the plants that inhabited the region in the 19th century. Since he was rediscovered in the late 1970s, Stoddard’s work has been featured in numerous exhibits that explored the history of 19th century life in the Adirondacks. A survey of the 3,000 images in the Chapman Historical Museum archives, however, revealed hundreds of images that are purely natural landscapes. The subject matter is the Adirondack environment – not great hotels, steamers, camp scenes or other obvious evidence of human activity. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 29, 2012

Cabin Life: Living With Wildlife

There’s a soft, wet blanket of snow covering everything. It’s also eerily quiet. The last two mornings I’ve been woken by a yellow-bellied sapsucker banging on the metal roof of the wood shed. And the morning before that, Pico woke me up barking at the turkeys that were walking by. Today, the birds are silent. The rabbits that are all over out here are brown on top and white on the bottom.

It’s an interesting sight as they sprint down the road in view of my headlights, then dart off into the woods. All winter, I saw lots of rabbit tracks, but no actual animals. Now that there is no snow and they are that awkward combination of colors, I see them all the time. Their winter camouflage obviously works well. » Continue Reading.


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