Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Wild Center to Host ‘Adirondack Day’


UPDATE Due to the weather, the Adirondack Day has been rescheduled for March 23.

Eleven years after the Adirondack Curriculum Project (ACP) began, hundreds of teachers and students have been helped to better understand the unique landscape of their home, the Adirondacks. Many will share their knowledge with each other during Adirondack Day on March 10th at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake.

Over 100 students and teachers from four schools will share their projects through a play, art exhibition, poetry reading, story-telling, meet-the-author book reading and interactive displays. Schools attending include – Tupper Lake, Potsdam, Indian Lake, and Newcomb. Adirondack Day has been funded by The Glenn and Carol Pearsall Adirondack Foundation, which is dedicated to improving the quality of life for year-round residents of the Adirondack Park.

Often times in the Adirondacks, because of time and distance, small schools don’t have the opportunity to interact. Adirondack Day provides the opportunity for these students to meet and ‘teach’ each other.

Sandy Bureau, science teacher at Indian Lake Central School and one of the day’s organizers says, “Research shows that having to ‘teach’ others is one of the best ways to learn. We hope to provide that opportunity and to help students feel the value of their voices and learning about this special place we live in”.

The ACP’s mission is to foster better public understanding, appreciation and stewardship of the Adirondack region’s natural and cultural resources, by providing educational resources and training opportunities for teachers in the region. The ACP hosts workshops for teachers showing them how to develop an ‘Adirondack Challenge’ – a student-centered, project-based, lesson plan aligned with NYS Learning Standards. Teachers leave the workshops with a project ready to use in their own classrooms. They later submit their completed projects to the ACP, where other teachers can access and utilize those resources. Adirondack Day is the first opportunity for students who participated in those projects to share their experiences.

Additional information about the Adirondack Curriculum Project can be found online.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Adirondack Fish: Rainbow Smelt

The first reported introduction of Rainbow Smelt (Osmerus mordax) to Lake George was in 1918. Approximately 2.5 million smelt were released to enhance the lake trout fishery. Five Million more smelt were released in 1921. Smelt have historically been stocked into bodies of water throughout the Adirondacks as prey for larger game species such as lake trout and land locked salmon. Within Lake George, smelt are replacing ciscoe as the primary prey species. Many organizations around the lake have taken an interest in the smelt population.

In 1988 The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation banned the collection or possession of smelt within the Lake George Watershed, in response to concern over the stability of the population. This ban remains in effect today. In 2002 the Lake George Fishing Alliance collected 1 Million eggs from Indian Lake and stocked them into Smith Brook and Jenkins Brook on Lake George. In 2009 the Lake George Waterkeeper, in cooperation with the Lake George Fishing Alliance and the direction of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, initiated a scientific survey of the smelt population and factors that may be inhibiting the spawning migration. This study was continued in 2010 and will be conducted again this spring.

Rainbow smelt are a small, dark torpedo shaped fish, that have fang-like teeth and have an adipose fin. Smelt reach sexual maturity between 2 and 3 years of age. They can live up to 9 years and can grow as long as 9 inches.

Smelt will begin their annual spawning migration within the next 4 to 6 weeks. Hundreds to Thousands of fish will be seen swimming within streams tributary to Lake George and other bodies of water within the Adirondacks, once the water temperature reaches 42 degrees. The spawning migration will generally last two weeks depending on the weather. During this time, smelt will return to their birth streams to spawn. Spawning takes place at night, however fish can still be seen within the streams during the day. The eggs will hatch in early to mid May depending on the water temperature. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae smelt will drift out to the lake.

Many factors could be affecting the annual spawning migration of the smelt, these include; structural impedance, siltation, foraging pressure, habitat alteration, lack of riparian cover, and excessive nutrients.

For more information on the Rainbow Smelt, visit:
http://fundforlakegeorge.org/assets/pdf_files/Fact%20Sheet%206%20Smelt.pdf

For more information on the status of the Rainbow Smelt in Lake George, visit:
http://fundforlakegeorge.org/assets/pdf_files/2010%20Smelt%20Report%20small%20file.pdf

To watch an interesting video from the 2010 smelt survey, visit:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vanMjnXcqqA

This year the Lake George Waterkeeper and the Lake George Fishing Alliance are asking for volunteers to help monitor the annual spawning migration of the Rainbow Smelt in Lake George streams. If you are interested in assisting, please contact Corrina at: ofearthspirit@yahoo.com or Chris Navitsky at: cnavitsky@lakegeorgewaterkeeper.org

Photo’s: Smelt within streams tributary to Lake George, NY. Courtesy: Blueline Photography, Jeremy Parnapy.

Corrina Parnapy is a Lake George native and a naturalist who writes regularly about the environment and Adirondack natural history for the Adirondack Almanack.


Monday, March 7, 2011

Adirondack Labor: New York’s Anti-Loafing Law

It’s interesting (sometimes) to listen to the multitude of political pundits, politicians, and talking heads as they inform us what our “founding fathers” intended, and the rules, ethics, and morals this country was founded on. In reality, they are often telling us what they WANT the founding fathers to have believed. History tells us they are often far off the mark, but the lack of accuracy doesn’t deter them from saying it publicly anyway.

The often muddled view of history offered by some commentators is troubling, and is usually, of course, self-serving. But the modern media has proven one thing: if you say something often enough, whether it’s accurate or not, people (and maybe even the speaker) will begin to believe it.

When it’s intentional, that’s just plain wrong. History is important. It can offer valuable perspective on possible solutions to some of our problems, and can play an important role in how we view the present and future. It can also tell us more about who we are, something that was brought to mind recently as I listened to a radio discussion about the current jobless rate.

The focus was on the nation’s high unemployment, which reminded me of how I annoyed my teachers long ago when that very same topic was discussed. Back then, we all learned how lucky we were not to live in other countries, an argument that was backed with plenty of scary facts.

For one thing, other countries allowed no choice when attacking certain problems. We were told that some countries didn’t even ALLOW unemployment. Idle men were conscripted into the military and/or put to work for the good of the nation. All male teenagers were required to begin military training. Those countries were said to be anti-freedom, but we had choices. That kind of thing couldn’t happen here.

And that was my cue to interrupt. I’ve always read a lot, and as a teenager, I was ready to challenge my teachers (and pretty much any authority). So, I thought I had a really good set of questions about those terrible practices, something I had learned on my own.

My teacher, a fervent military man who still seemed to be fighting World War II, was not amused when I said I knew of just such a place. I said that they made unemployment illegal and forced men to take jobs chosen for them by local authorities (unless the man chose one of his own). Each man was required to work a minimum of 36 hours per week.

Even worse, I added, the government passed another law ordering all teenagers 16 or older to attend military drills or perform military duties. Doing so earned them a certificate, and here’s the kicker: without that certificate, young men were not allowed “to attend public or private school or obtain employment.”

Right away the other students began guessing. Russia? Germany under Hitler? Cuba? (Cuba did outlaw unemployment at that time.) Who would order its citizens in such fashion? My classmates knew it had to be someplace evil. After all, we were in the midst of the Cold War.

At that point, I knew I was in trouble. The instructor was staring at me with cold, beady eyes, waiting for me … no, daring me … to say it. So I said it. It wasn’t intended as a criticism. I was just happy to know the truth, excited that I had learned something unusual on my own, and couldn’t wait to share the surprise (that is, until his stare began).

“New York State and the Anti-Loafing Law,” and that’s about all I was allowed to say. The teacher immediately launched into an explanation. It was true, he said, but it was nothing like the situations in other countries. We did those things, but it was different.

And he was right, maybe. But what bothered me was how he seemed to take it personally, how insulted he was. It seemed to suggest that this was HIS country. It was, but it was my country, too, so I fought back. As I soon learned, you might have the truth, but might makes right.

The Anti-Loafing Law was passed in New York State in 1918, less than a year after the US entered WW I. Maryland and New Jersey led the way, and we were next. I found it fascinating that in a democracy, the law could require all men between the ages of 18 and 50 to be “habitually and regularly engaged in some lawful, useful, and recognized business, profession, occupation, trade, or employment until the termination of the war.”

If a man didn’t have a job, a local authority was assigned to choose one for him. And no one could turn down a job because of the level of pay. Every man must work. It was the law.

“Useful” work had its implications as well. Already, by orders of the US General Provost, Enoch Crowder, men between the ages of 21 and 30 were “not permitted to be elevator conductors, club porters, waiters, pool room attendants, life guards at summer resorts, valets, butlers, footmen, chefs, janitors, or ushers in amusement places. Men of that age were needed for war.

New York’s government, indicating there would be few exceptions to the new law, fed the media a wonderful sound bite taken directly from the text: “Loitering in the streets, saloons, depots, poolrooms, hotels, stores, and other places is considered prima facie evidence of violation of the act, punishable by a fine of $100 or imprisonment for three months, or both.”

Still not clear enough? Charles Whitman, governor of New York, chimed in: “The purpose … is to force every able-bodied male person within the State to do his share toward remedying the conditions due to the present shortage of labor.” By signing the law after New Jersey passed theirs, Whitman had a handy reason: if we didn’t pass our own law, men from New Jersey would flood across the border into New York State to avoid being forced to either work or fight.

How would it sit with you today if you read this in your favorite online journal? “The State Industrial Commission will cooperate with the sheriffs, the state police, and other peace officers throughout the state to find the unemployed and to assign them to jobs, which they must fill. It will be no defense to anyone seeking to avoid work to show that he has sufficient income or means to live without work. The state has the right to the productive labor of all its citizens.”

Governor Whitman admitted “there may be some question as to the constitutionality” of the law, but enforcement began on June 1, 1918. Sheriffs across the state were required to act, and they did. Some, like Clinton County Sheriff John Fiske, made sure there were no scofflaws, scouring local establishments as the law instructed, looking for loiterers.

Those who were jailed in Clinton County had to pay a fine and serve their time, just like the law said, but they weren’t allowed to sit idle. Fiske put them to work full-time in the community, ensuring they would comply with both the letter and the intent of the law.

On the surface, those laws look absolutely un-American and undemocratic. The argument was, extreme times (WW I) call for extreme measures. Other states and countries (including Canada) passed similar laws. Maybe New Yorkers were lucky. In Virginia, compliance was extended from ages 16 to 60. And some people retire today at 55!

Learning all of that was interesting, but sharing it in school was less than wise, at least in that particular classroom. After that, my so-called “history teacher” saw me as nothing but anti-American, and he made life miserable for me. He caused me to dread that class every day.

I argued that protesting and speaking out were critical to America—it’s how the country was formed. But it didn’t matter to him, and after that, I didn’t care. I lost all respect for him. For the life of me, I couldn’t figure out why he wouldn’t just deal with the facts, and the truth. In my mind, that’s what every history teacher’s work should be based on.

I always hated those lame “George Washington cut down the cherry tree” stories. Making stuff up just means you have something to hide. Apparently they didn’t want us to know he owned slaves. As a teenager, I wanted the truth, and I could deal with it. It was far more interesting than some of the stuff they fed us.

Photo Top: NYS’s Compulsory Labor law.

Photo Middle: Clinton County Sheriff John Fiske.

Photo Bottom: NYS law ordering lawmen to search each community for able-bodied males.

Lawrence Gooley has authored nine books and many articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. He took over in 2010 and began expanding the company’s publishing services. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Monday, March 7, 2011

2010 Lake Stewards Report Released

The Lake George Association has released a report with findings from the 2010 Lake Steward program. The Association considers the Lake George Lake Steward Program “a critical part of protecting the water quality of Lake George and preventing the spread of invasive species between waterbodies by boaters throughout the Lake Champlain Basin and the Northeast.” Despite the fact that dozens of aquatic invasive species have already made inroads nearby, only four are currently found in Lake George. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 6, 2011

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Saturday, March 5, 2011

Tobogganing, Skiing, and Skating into Spring

After the successful return of the Empire State Games, many might be wondering what else there is to do in Lake Placid. Even though the Games are gone, there are still plenty of opportunities to participate in winter sports.

Rescheduled from February to March, the Adirondack International Toboggan Championships will take place at the Lake Placid Toboggan Chute on March 5th.

The competition starts at 3:30 pm with the Mayor’s Cup, where local politicians will race for bragging rights. The Mayor’s Cup was brought back to the Championships as it was a popular event in the 1960s and 1970s. After the Mayor’s Cup, the general public can race for prizes including hotel stays, Whiteface ski passes, and more. Registration will begin at 2 pm the day of the race, and entries are 10 dollars per person or 40 dollars per sled.

The Adirondack International Toboggan Championships are sponsored by Rock 105 and Saranac and Lake Placid Craft Brewing, and all proceeds benefit USA Luge. For more information, visit their website at www.adktobogganchampionship.com.

If you are in the mood for skiing into spring, Whiteface will be hosting Springfest activities throughout March. The first weekend of March, Mardi Gras activities will prevail; listen to the funk, R &B and soul group Jocamo and collect beads while enjoying the snow. The second weekend of March will feature St Patrick’s day festivities including Irish food and activities. Shamrock Sunday on March 13th will allow all visitors to ski and ride all day for just $35 for adults, $30 for teens and $25 for juniors. March 19th and 20th is Reggae weekend with live music, and March 26th and 27th will feature music from Y Not Blue for a Pirate Party. There’s always something to do on Whiteface in March!

If skiing is not your style, the Lake Placid Oval is still open…for more information, visit the orda website at whiteface.com or independent website lakeplacidoval.com for ice conditions.


Saturday, March 5, 2011

Lake Champlain: An Illustrated History

The eastern edge of the Adirondack Park stretches into the middle of Lake Champlain, that great river-lake 120 miles long, four times the size of Lake George. Standing between the states of New York and Vermont, it’s the largest body of water in the Adirondacks, one that connects Whitehall and (via the Champlain Canal and Hudson River) New York City to Quebec’s Richelieu River and the St. Lawrence River. Two routes inland from the Atlantic Ocean that have had a historic impact on the entire North County, New York and Vermont. The book Lake Champlain: An Illustrated History celebrates what is unquestionably America’s most historic lake.

Four hundred years of Champlain history are conveyed in the coffee-table book’s more than 300 color photographs, drawings, maps and vintage images. Chapters on the towns along the lake, the Chaplain basin’s First Peoples, its critical military and transportation history, and the sports and recreation opportunities are eloquently contextualized by regional writers, including occasional Almanack contributor Chris Shaw who provides the book’s Prologue and Epilogue, and Russ Bellico who offers a chapter entitled “Highway to Empire”.

Published by Adirondack Life in Jay, Lake Champlain: An Illustrated History is a great book for those who love the lake, local and state history buffs, and nature lovers.

You can pick up a copy online.

You can hear an interview with the book’s editor Mike McCaskey on the Vermont Public Radio website.

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


Friday, March 4, 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.

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Friday, March 4, 2011

Camp Little Notch Lands Sold to Timber Company

The Open Space Institute (OSI) has sold a 1,921-acre parcel on the former Camp Little Notch property in Fort Ann to the New Hampshire-based Meadowsend Timberlands Limited, a family owned forestry company that the OSI says follows sustainable forestry practices. The announcement was made in a press release issued today. OSI purchased the lands in November 2010.

The sale represents the second step in a three-phase project that is hoped to ensure the long-term protection of the property, which sits in the southeastern corner of the Adirondack Park. Meadowsend is expected to begin sustainably harvesting softwood and pulp products on the property within the next few years.

“Meadowsend Timberlands is the proud new owner and steward of a truly special place within the Adirondack Park, the Little Notch forest,” said Jeremy Turner, the managing forester for Meadowsend. “Our stewardship of the Little Notch forest embraces a solid commitment of partnership between the old and new owners where forestry and camping,
two traditional land uses, will continue. The Little Notch forest forms a vital link to the extensive private land conserved under a working forest easement, ensuring long-term, sustainable management forestry practices. The project culmination is largely due to the great energy of the Open Space Institute and the Friends of Camp Little Notch.”

In November 2010, the Open Space Conservancy, OSI’s land acquisition affiliate, purchased the 2,346-acre Camp Little Notch, a former Girl Scout camp, from the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York. OSI has expressed its intent to sell the remaining 425 acres to the Friends of Camp Little Notch, a nonprofit group created by former Little Notch campers, counselors and supporters that plans to operate the camp facility as an outdoor education, recreation and retreat center.

Friends of Camp Little Notch’s mission is to provide opportunities for all people to practice living in harmony with nature, each other, and themselves, according to an OSI press release, has launched a fundraising campaign with an immediate goal of raising $250,000 by July 1 and a three-year goal of $2.25 million to finance the opening and operation of the center, including a new summer camp program.

Friends of Camp Little Notch anticipates opening the property for programming in 2012. The year-round center will provide retreat opportunities for a diverse population of individuals, families and groups, as well as partnerships with various community organizations. The group hopes to incorporate the rich history of the property into
its programming, creating educational opportunities for people to learn about a broad spectrum of environmental issues and sustainable living practices.


Friday, March 4, 2011

Lake George, Once Home to World’s Fastest Boat

In August, 1914, following the victory of Baby Speed Demon over Ankle Deep in the first Gold Cup race to be held on Lake George, the Lake George Mirror reported that “C.C. Smith Company has been commissioned to build a hydroplane for a prominent member of the summer colony who is located at the far end of the lake. This boat is very similar to the winner of the Gold Cup.” The Lake George Mirror itself offered the Mirror Cup for hydroplanes in the Lake George Regatta Association’s races later that summer. The winner was a young George Reis, who would bring the Gold Cup races back to Lake George in the 1930s.

The summer of 1914 was Lake George’s first introduction to boats that plane above the water, rather than moving through it. The inventor of the planing hull was Chris Smith, the founder of Chris Craft and the designer of Baby Speed Demon, who, in response to someone’s remark that his boats were not long enough to displace enough water to travel at top speed, said, “Displacement? I don’t care about displacement. All I need is enough water to cool the engines, that’s all.”

From that date forward, all Gold Cup raceboats were constructed with planing hulls.

But before 1914, the fastest boat in the world was a Lake George steamboat, the Ellide; 80 ft long, and eight feet wide in the beam, she was built of mahogany and cost $30,000.

The Ellide was owned by E. Burgess Warren, a Green Island cottager and an investor in the Sagamore. In June, 1897, the Ellide made a trial run on the Hudson River, where she covered a measured mile in forty two and one half seconds. The trial was a preliminary one, and although she achieved a speed of thirty five miles per hour, she was capable of going even faster, and later reached speeds of 40 miles per hour. The engine, boiler, screw and hull of the Ellide were designed by Charles Mosher, one of the foremost designers of the day, and built in Nyack, New York by Samuel Ayres & Son. (Mosher built a number of fast yachts, among them the Arrow, which was 130 ft long.) Warren reportedly paid Mosher a bonus of $6,000 if he could make the Ellide exceed thirty miles per hour. Other reports claim that the Warren’s contract with Mosher specified that the Ellide would cost $15,000 plus $1,000 for every mile-per-hour speed that the boat was able to maintain. If the boat could travel at speeds of 40 miles per hour, the cost would have been $55,000, a remarkable sum for those days.

In July, 1897, the Lake George Mirror published a first-hand account of the Ellide‘s speed:

“If you have ever ridden on the tail of a comet, or fallen from a balloon, you may have thought you knew something about speed; but the effects produced by the above are slow and commonplace in comparison with the sensations experienced by a reporter last week in a trip on E. Burgess Warren’s fast launch Ellide, when she covered a mile in one minute and thirty -five seconds on her trial trip on the Hudson, or at the marvelous rate of thirty-eight miles an hour.

“On the dock looking down at the little flyer, one saw a highly polished hull that rode lightly on the water and the powerful engine ( Mosher’s masterpiece) was covered with a tarpaulin. It did not look formidable, so when the covering was removed, and the engineers and stokers began to get up steam the crowd of spectators , who gazed curiously down at the yacht from the string-piece, were greatly disappointed in the appearance of this highly polished mass of steel and shining brass. It resembled the average marine engine about as much as the finest Waltham watch movement does the old-time Waterbury.

“It took but a few minutes to generate sufficient steam to turn the engine over, and,at the command the mooring lines were cast off and Ellide slipped out into the stream, traveling at what was considered a very slow pace – about twenty-five miles an hour. She was traveling under natural draught, and carrying but sixty pounds of steam: she nevertheless skipped through the water at this remarkable pace without any apparent wave, and leaving a wake scarcely larger than that thrown by a good-sized naptha launch. Making a wide sweep, Captain Packard, who was at the wheel, sounded the signal to increase the speed.

“Designer Mosher, who crouched on the engine room floor, gave the word to his assistant and the throttle was pulled wide open. The second quarter was covered in twenty three seconds, making the time for the first half of the journey just forty eight seconds, a history unprecedented in the history of steam craft. When within one hundred yards of the finish line the sound of the rushing waters was drowned by the roar of hissing steam from the two safety valves, and the the midship section of the boat was hidden in a white cloud. The brass jacket of the reversing gear had become jammed, and an instant before had blown off. The accident was trifling, but the designer thought best to stop the engine to prevent more serious complications. The craft drifted over the last one hundred yards under the momentum she had gained.

During the Spanish-American War, rumors circulated that the Ellide would be sold to the U.S. government for use as a torpedo boat. Plans called for furnishing the vessel with a steel deck and with armor plates for her sides. When refitted, she would have carried a torpedo tube in her bow and a rapid fire gun.

As late as 1904, the Ellide still held world speed records, and Warren was still exhibiting her at local regattas. After Warren’s death, she was sold to a local garage owner for $1500, who operated her as a tour boat. At a much later date she was shipped to Florida where she was also used an excursion boat until she was finally lost on some rocks.

Photo: Ellide, Lake George Mirror files.

For more news from Lake George, read the Lake George Mirror or visit Lake George Mirror Magazine.


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