Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Local College Enrollments On The Rise

Enrollment at the region’s educational institutions is growing. The number of new students at Paul Smith’s College gained for the second consecutive year toward a 30 year high set in 1981. SUNY ESF’s Ranger School in Wanakena saw a 50 percent enrollment increase, and Clarkson University welcomed the largest number of first-year students in the institution’s history this August, breaking a 1984 record. Plattsburgh State saw a rise this semester, especially among foreign students. Clinton County Community College enrollment went up almost 5 percent, 14 percent higher than 2008-09. SUNY Adirondack (formerly Adirondack Community College) saw a slight decrease in enrollment. Enrollment was expected to have risen slightly at North Country Community College.

At Paul Smith’s College a new $8 million 93-bed residence hall designed to LEED standards is accommodating the growth. Enrollment at the Ranger School was given a boost by a new AAS-degree program in Environmental and Natural Resources Conservation, according to longtime professor and Almanack contributor Jamie Savage.

At Clarkson some of the rise is attributed to increased enrollment in pre-physical therapy and engineering programs, including environmental engineering which has seen growth of more than 100 percent.

Photo: Students walk by Bertrand H. Snell Hall at Clarkson University (Courtesy Clarkson University).

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Oktober Pet Fest in Long Lake

This Saturday, October 8, two fall festivals have combined forces for what is shaping up to be a fun family event. The Long Lake Harvest Fest and The Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts Pet Fest will be held at the ball field in Long Lake from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m..

“We have been working with the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts to make this an event for everyone,” says Long Lake Event Coordinator Denise Gagnier. “It is the third year for the Pet Fest and we wanted to work with our neighbors at The Center to provide an active event for the Columbus weekend.”

According to Gagnier, the Long Lake Oktober Pet Fest will host a variety of unique activities geared toward pet owners. There will be a pet agility course with everything from seesaw to hurdles. Owners can register their pets for a maze and the pet show. Prizes will be awarded for Best Pet Trick, Most Unique Pet, Look Like Your Pet and Best Stuffed Pet.

The stuffed pet can be anything from toy to taxidermy. Don’t worry there is plenty to do in addition to the pet activities. One unusual event will be the “Punkin’ Chunkin’. In years past the Harvest Fest held a pumpkin drop but this year “pumpkins will be flying.”

“We have made the event, in many ways, like a carnival,” says Alexandra Verner Roalsvig, Director of Parks, Recreation and Tourism for Long Lake. “There are various activities that will require a $1 ticket. Other events are free. The Punkin Chunkin is new this year. We are asking that people design their own catapult and we provide the pumpkins. That activity is free and we are hoping to see some real originally being shown while participants see who can launch their pumpkin the farthest.”

There are rules for the Punkin’ Chunkin‘ Each participant will receive three pumpkins with a misfire being treated as a foul. Each pumpkin will weigh approximately 8-10 lbs. so plan accordingly. No cannons, ignitables or explosives, if that is where your mind is running. Eye protection and hard hat is provided.

Roalsvig is hoping the combined festivals will appeal to visitors and local residents. By keeping the ticket price for various activities at the one-dollar mark, people can pick and choose where to spend their money.

“The Kids’ Zone is going to have Magician Bob Shelley, pumpkin painting, bounce house and T-shirt painting. Each activity will require a ticket but it will be well worth the price,” says Roalsvig.

“The craft fair will be held under the tent and that is free. This year we invited the Long Lake Artisans to be part of the craft fair,” says Roalsvig. “We have wonderful handmade crafts like fishing flies, table runners, Christmas decorations, rustic furniture, fabric arts and a variety of candles. We insist that the products are homemade crafts. Boat builder Bunny Austin just refurbished a guideboat and will have it on display. It has an historic reference so people are encouraged to stop and talk to him about the guideboat and its story.”

Traditional German fare as well as maple cotton candy, Kettle Corn, gourmet desserts and a Saranac Root Beer tasting can be enjoyed while listening to the acoustic music of Adam Reynolds and John Hill.

Parking for the Long Lake Oktober Pet Fest can be found at the St. Henry’s Parking Long and the Long Lake Central School Parking Lot off Route 30. Call 518-624-3077 for additional information.

Photo: Chandler Seaman with his Prized Pumpkin at Harvest Fest in Long Lake. (Photo provided).

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 4, 2011

Absolutely Adirondack Apple Season

Pairing a crisp autumn day with the first crunch of a freshly-picked apple is my idea of perfection. During my teen years good times with friends might include a drive up from Van Nostrand’s Orchard in Mayfield (now Lake View Orchards, 518.661.5017), munching on crisp and sweet Macs while taking in the foliage.

While the rain of the past weekend dampened my enthusiasm to go out apple picking, I was invited to be a judge at the Cambridge Valley Apple Pie Bake-Off at the Cambridge Hotel, said to be the home of pie à la mode. The cast of judges included the hotel’s own Chef Rich, Sara Kelly as representative of the Cambridge Chamber of Commerce, Sally King, a decades-long baker and former owner of the King Bakery in Cambridge, and Chloe, an 11 year-old pie aficionado. » Continue Reading.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Almanack Welcomes Local Food Writer Annette Nielsen

Please join us in welcoming our newest contributor to Adirondack Almanack, Annette Nielsen. Nielsen is a noted local food writer, editor, community organizer and activist on behalf of regional agriculture. She recently edited Northern Comfort and Northern Bounty, two seasonally-based cookbooks for Adirondack Life.

A native of Northville, (she now lives in Salem, Washington County with her husband and son), Nielsen will be writing about Adirondack foodie culture with an eye toward locally sourced foods from forest, orchard, and farm. Her first post will run shortly. Annette Nielsen can be reached on Twitter and Facebook.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Phil Brown: Is the Trap Dike a Hike or a Climb?

If you’re rock climbing, you use a rope and wear a helmet (though not everyone does). If you’re hiking, you don’t.

That seems simple enough, but the distinction between a rock climb and a hike isn’t so straightforward. Sadly, this was demonstrated when a hiker died in a fall in the Trap Dike last week. » Continue Reading.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Adirondack Entomology: Ugly Bugs

Most insects are known for their unappealing body shape and form and unattractive overall appearance. While there could be much debate and discussion regarding our region’s most strikingly ugly type of insect, the leaf-footed bugs near the top of this list regularly appear around homes and camps with the approach of the Columbus Day weekend.

The leaf-footed bugs (Leptoglossus spp.) form a collection of insects in the Hemiptera order, or category of insects better known to naturalists as the “True Bugs”. Members of the order Hemiptera are characterized in part by a mouth that is adapted for piercing and sucking. While a few types, like bedbugs, have evolved a mouth for piercing human skin and extracting blood, most individuals in this diverse group have a mouth that is designed to puncture the outer layers of plants and drain some of the nutrient-enriched fluid contained in the underlying tissues.

One of the most prominent type of leaf-footed bugs in the Adirondacks is the Conifer-seed bug which attacks the developing cones on certain evergreen trees in summer. By latching onto cones, the conifer-seed bug is able to extract the sap that supplies vital nourishment to these structures as they form on twigs. The conifer-seed bug is about an inch in length, has a rather robust brownish-gray body, and a small head with a prominent set of antennae. As with all leaf-footed bugs, the lower portion of their hind legs exhibits a uniquely flattened shape, which sets them apart from other closely related True Bugs.

Most similar looking members of Hemiptera, like the Squash Bugs, produce a foul smelling odor when they feel threatened or have been disturbed. Because of this, some people refer to them as stink bugs; however, the true stink bugs form a separate family within the Hemiptera order.

While this potent smell is effective in discouraging attack by those creatures with a keen sense of smell, such as mice, shrews and ermine, it often fails to prevent them from being eaten by most bug-eating birds. Since the sense of smell is not well developed in most forms of avian life, birds typically fail to be impacted by the repulsive odor emitted when a leaf-footed bug, or one of its close relatives, is forcefully grabbed.

People wanting to transport these insects from inside their home can usually trap them under a cup, or simply grab them loosely with their hands. Slightly agitating the cup, or grasping them too firmly, triggers this defensive response, as can be noted by placing your nose near the container, or bringing your hand close to your face just after the bug is released.

While the conifer-seed bug, along with other leaf-footed bugs, is active throughout the summer, its presence is most often noted during early to mid autumn, as the concentration of sap diminishes greatly in trees. As its food source dwindles, this bug begins to look for a place in which to pass the winter. In areas far from human dwellings, the conifer-seed bug is known to seek out a large tree with a deep hole or chamber in the center. Such a sheltered spot offers protection from the extreme cold as well as from exposure to the exceptionally dry air that can cause desiccation. An abandoned mouse or squirrel nest tucked in the recesses of a pile of brush is another spot likely to be selected to spend the winter.

A place that radiates warmth, like the south side of a house, is highly attractive to the conifer-seed bug. It is not uncommon as the leaves turn color to notice one, or several of these ugly bugs perched on a crack around a window, near a door, or close to a vent or chimney. While the body of this insect appears to be fairly chunky, the conifer-seed bug is able to squeeze through some small openings in order to access a more favorable environment.

While the conifer-seed bug, as well as all of the various types of leaf-footed bugs will not harm you, your pets, or your house plants, their presence can be unsettling to many people. Their slow, menacing-looking manner of movement, odd pattern of body markings, and overall ugly appearance makes them unwanted residents in your home for our long winter here in the Adirondacks.

Photo: Conifer seed-bug, courtesy Wikipedia.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Charles Murdock: Crown Point Native, Noted Engineer

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

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

Monday, October 3, 2011

Dave Gibson: River Management by Backhoe

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Hunting in the Adirondacks

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

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

* Assume every gun is loaded

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

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

* Be sure of your target and beyond

* Wear Hunter Orange

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

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

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

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

Saturday, October 1, 2011

25th Annual Quilts Unlimited Exhibition

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

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

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

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

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

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