Friday, November 19, 2010

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories

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

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Thursday, November 18, 2010

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Nov. 18)

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

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

The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional Forest Ranger incident reports which form a stern reminder that wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Be aware of the latest weather conditions and carry adequate gear and supplies.

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

Fire Danger: LOW

Central Adirondacks Lower Elevation Weather
Friday: Partly sunny, high near 27. Winds 7 to 10 mph.
Friday Night: Chance of snow showers. Cloudy, low around 20. Wind 8 and 15 mph.
Saturday: Chance of snow showers. Cloudy, high near 27. Wind gusts to 36 mph.
Saturday Night: Mostly cloudy, with a low around 7.
Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 30.

The National Weather Service 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]

Snow and Ice, Colder Weather
Night-time and morning temperatures below freezing can be expected, especially at higher elevations. Snows may be found in higher elevations and summits are a mix of snow and ice. Carry instep crampons or stabilicers and wear when them when conditions warrant.

Wet & Muddy Conditions
Lower and mid-elevation trails are wet and muddy. Be prepared by wearing waterproof footwear and gaiters, and remember to walk through – not around – mud and water on trails.

Expect Blowdown
Recent rains and heavy winds have caused blowdown throughout the Adirondacks. Trees, limbs, and branches may be found over and in trails, especially lesser used side trails.

Some Rivers Running Above Normal
USGS streamgages are reporting well above normal flow on the Beaver, Indian, AuSable, and Bouquet rivers. Paddlers and others should use care and consult the latest streamgages data.

Motorists 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.

Hunting Seasons
Fall hunting seasons for small game, waterfowl and big game are underway. 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 with the legal right to hunt on Forest Preserve lands. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. Hikers may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution.

Furbearer Trapping Seasons
Starting this multiple furbearer hunting and trapping seasons are now open including bobcat, weasel, mink, muskrat, fisher, martin, opossum, raccoon, fox, and skunk. This would be a good time to keep pets leased and on the trails. A reminder that body gripping traps set on land can no longer use bait or lure after December 11, 2010.

Ice Fishing Tip-Ups Can Now Be Used
Tip-ups may be operated on waters of New York State starting November 15, 2010 and continuing through April 30, 2010. General ice fishing regulations can be found in the in the 2010-11 Fishing Regulations Guide.

GENERAL ADIRONDACK CONDITIONS

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.

DEC Campgrounds Are Now Closed
All DEC campgrounds in the Adirondacks are closed until next season.

Motorized Equipment in Wilderness, Primitive and Canoe Areas
The use of motorized equipment in lands classified as wilderness, primitive or canoe is prohibited. Public use of small personal electronic or mechanical devices such as cameras, radios or GPS receivers are not affected by this regulation.

Storage of Personal Belongings on State Land
Placing structures or personal property on state land without authorization from DEC is prohibited. Exceptions include: properly placed and labeled geocaches; legally placed and tagged traps, tree stands and blinds. The full regulation regarding the use of motorized equipment on state lands may be found online; the regulation regarding the structures and storage of personal property is also online.

Firewood Ban
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 begun ticketing violators of this firewood ban. More details and frequently asked questions at the DEC website.

Bear-Resistant Canisters
The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear resistant canisters; the use of bear-resistant canisters is encouraged throughout the Adirondacks.

Personal Flotation Devices Required
Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

Changes to Game Harvest Reporting
A new regulation effective November 17 extends the game harvest reporting deadline from 48 hours to 7 days. Successful hunters of deer, bear, and turkey are required to report their harvest through DEC’s online reporting system (http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8316.html) or by calling 1-866-GAME-RPT (1-866-426-3778). The change will allow hunters who hunt in remote areas more time to report their harvest, a crucial step in the management process that provides data on when and where an animal was taken and estimates for the number of animals harvested each year throughout the State.

Newly Opened Roads
A number of roads closed this spring, when budget cutbacks restricted DEC’s ability to repair, maintain and patrol them, have reopened in time for big game hunting season. All roads typically open in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest are now open. Lily Pond Road in Horicon, Gay Pond Road in Warrensburg, and Dacy Clearing Road (on the east side of Lake George) have reopened. Jabe Pond Road in Hague, Buttermilk Road Extension in Warrensburg, Scofield Flats Road, Pikes Beach Access Road and the Bear Slides Access Road in Luzerne all remain temporarily closed.

Cave And Mine Closings
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. DEC has closed all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easements to protect the bat population including Norton Peak Cave in Chateuagay Woodlands Easement Lands and also Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain. Please respect cave and mine closures.

Waterfowl Consumption Advisory
With waterfowl hunting seasons open, hunters are reminded that wild ducks and geese may contain chemicals (PCBs and some pesticides) at levels that may be harmful to health. A Department of Health (DOH) advisory states that: “Mergansers are the most heavily contaminated waterfowl species and should not be eaten. Eat no more than two meals per month of other wild waterfowl; you should skin them and remove all fat before cooking and discard stuffing after cooking. Wood ducks and Canada geese are less contaminated than other wild waterfowl species, and diving ducks are more contaminated than dabbler ducks.” DOH’s complete advisories for sport fish and game can be found online.

Low Impact Campfires
Reduce the impact on natural areas by utilizing lightweight stoves, fire pans, mound fires or other low impact campfire techniques. Use only dead or small downed wood that can be broken by hand and keep fires small. Leave hatchets, axes and saws at home. Never leave a fire unattended, don’t burn garbage, and restore the appearance of your fire site; do not move fire rings. Campfires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness [LINK].

Practice ‘Leave No Trace’ Principles
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. For more information is available online.

ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS

** indicates new or revised items.

NORTHVILLE PLACID TRAIL

The Northville Placid Trail (NPT) is the Adirondack Park’s only designated long distance hiking trail. The 133 mile NPT was laid out by the Adirondack Mountain Club in 1922 and 1923, and is now maintained by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Up to date NPT trail condition information can be found online.

** 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 is flooded and may require wading through water and mud.

** West Canada Lakes to Wakely Dam: The bridge over Mud Creek, northeast of Mud Lake, has been washed out. Wading the creek is the only option. The water in Mud Creek will vary from ankle deep to knee deep.

** Lake Durant to Long Lake: About a half mile north of the Lake Durant trailhead at Route 28/30 the trail crosses several flooded boardwalks. Use extreme caution as the boardwalk is not visible and may shift. Expect to get your boots wet and use a stick or hiking pole to feel your way along to avoid falling off the boardwalk.

** Lake Durant to Long Lake: About 4 miles north of the Tirrell Pond the trail is flooded by beaver activity. The reroute to the east is now also flooded in spots.

** Duck Hole to Averyville Rd. and Lake Placid: Beaver activity has flooded the trail about 3 miles south of the Averyville trailhead and will require a sturdy bushwhack.

ADIRONDACK CANOE ROUTE / NORTHERN FOREST CANOE TRAIL

** High Waters: Water levels remain higher than normal. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters. Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

Personal Flotation Devices Required: Users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

Eighth Lake Takeout: Northern Forest Canoe Trail volunteers rehabilitated the takeout at the north end of Eighth Lake. The 740-mile Northern Forest Canoe Trail celebrates its tenth year this summer. Winding its way from Maine through New Hampshire, Quebec, Vermont, and into New York ending at Old Forge.

HIGH PEAKS

Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands: The Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands, including the Elk Lake-Marcy Trail into the High Peaks Wilderness and the Dix-Hunter Pass Trail into the Dix Mountain Wilderness, is closed to all public access through the big game hunting season.

The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season.

Lake Arnold Trail: A section of the Lake Arnold Trail just north of the Feldspar Lean-to may be impassable due to mud and water resulting from past beaver activity. Hikers may want to seek an alternate route during and after wet weather.

Bushnell Falls: The high water bridge at Bushnell Falls has been removed, the low water crossing may not be accessible during high water.

Newcomb Lake – Moose Pond: A bridge on the Newcomb Lake to Moose Pond Trail has been flooded by beaver activity. The bridge is intact, but surrounded by water.

Opalescent River Bridges Washed Out: The Opalescent River Bridge on the East River / Hanging Spears Falls trail has been washed out. The crossing will be impassable during high water.

Big Slide Ladder: The ladder up the final pitch of Big Slide has been removed.

Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail: Much of the blowdown on the Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail between the Calkins Brook lean-tos and Shattuck Clearing has been removed. The trail is open for hikers but remains impassable to horses and wagons. DEC crews continue to work to open the trail.

Mt. Adams Fire Tower: The cab of the Mt. Adams Fire Tower was heavily damaged by windstorms. The fire tower is closed to public access until DEC can make repairs to the structure.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS

Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement: Camping is limited to designated campsites, 8 campsites have been designated at this time.

Forest Ranger Greg George: Ranger George has retired after 33 years of service. If you had contacted Ranger George in the past for camping permits, backcountry conditions or for any other purpose, you should now contact Forest Ranger Bruce Lomnitzer at 518-648-5246. For matters regarding Tirrell Pond contact Forest Ranger Jay Scott at 315-354-4611.

Ferris Lake Wild Forest / West Lake Boat Launch (Fulton County): The boat launch was impacted by August rains and floods. DEC staff have made repairs to the roadway, parking lot and ramps, however, be aware that the waters off the boat launch are more shallow than before.

Shaker Mountain Wild Forest: The lean-to on the south shore of Chase Lake has been removed, and a new one is now been built on the lake’s north shore (See photos). A new trail spur leading off the old trail and approaching the new lean-to from the west has been marked. The site of the old lean-to is now a designated tent site.

Chimney Mountain / Eagle Cave: Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain will be closed to the public from Nov 1 till March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. It is being closed to recreational spelunking to avoid disturbance of hibernating bats. DEC is closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easments to protect the bat population.

Wilcox Lake Forest: Trails to Wilcox Lake and Tenant Falls beginning at the end of the Hope Falls Road, cross private property. While DEC does have a trail easement for the East Stony Creek Trail to Wilcox Lake, there is no formal agreement with the landowner for access to the Tenant Falls Trail. DEC is working on a resolution to this matter. In the meanwhile, hikers and day uses must respect the private driveway at the trailhead and not block it. Also respect the landowner’s privacy – stay on the trail, do not enter the private property.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: Flooding is affecting the Pine Orchard Trail and Murphy Lake Trail. Bridges at Mill Creek, approximately 3 miles from the trailhead on Dorr Road has no decking, only stringers, the bridges over Mill Brook, north of Pine Orchard, is not decked, and the Dayton Creek bridge is out on the trail from Brownell Camp (at the end of Hope Falls Road) to Wilcox Lake.

SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: Water levels remain higher than normal. Check the current USGS streamflow data for selected waters. Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

Lake George Wild Forest / Hudson River Recreation Area: Funding reductions have required that several gates and roads remain closed to motor vehicle traffic. These include Jabe Pond Road, Buttermilk Road Extension and Scofield Flats Road.

Lake George Wild Forest: Equestrians should be aware that there is significant blowdown on horse trails. While hikers may be able to get through the trails, it may be impossible or at least much harder for horses to get through. Lack of resources, resulting from the state’s budget shortfall, preclude DEC from clearing trails of blowdown at this time.

NORTHERN ADIRONDACKS

Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands (former Champion Lands): All All lands, including the trail to The Pinnacle, are closed to all public recreational access until December 31st. Access corridors have been designated to allow hunters to reach forest preserve lands through the conservation easement lands. Contact Senior Forest Rob Daley for information on access corridors at 518-897-1291.

St. Regis Canoe Area: The carry between Long Pond and Nellie Pond has been flooded by beavers about half way between the ponds. A short paddle will be required. DEC and Student Conservation Association crews will be working through mid-October to move 8 campsites, closed 23 campsites and created 21 new campsites [online map]. This week they are rebuilding a lean-to on Fish Pond. Please respect closure signs.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: Beaver activity has caused the flooding of the Stony Pond Road approximately one mile from the trailhead. Use caution if you choose to cross this area.

** Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: There have been important developments; see new information here. Paddlers may want to avoid paddling through private land until the matter is resolved. Although DEC has sided with paddlers in the dispute over the public’s right to canoe through private land on Shingle Shanty Brook and two adjacent waterways and has sent adjacent landowners a letter asking them to remove the cables, no-trespassing signs, and cameras put in place to deter the public from using the canoe route, the landowners have recently sued Phil Brown, editor of Adirondack Explorer, for trespass. DEC has warned them that failure to comply would require them to refer the matter to the state attorney general for legal action. “The Department has concluded that Mud Pond, Mud Pond Outlet and Shingle Shanty Brook are subject to a public right of navigation, and that members of the public are therefore legally entitled to travel on those waters,” the letter dated September 24th said.

NORTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

Chazy Highlands Wild Forest: The newly acquired Forest Preserve lands on the Standish and Chazy Lake Roads in the Lyon Mountain area, and on the Smith and Carter Roads in the Ellenburg Mountain area, are open for public use. State boundary lines are not yet marked, contact the DEC Region 5 Natural Resources office (518-891-1291) to obtain a property map. Be aware of your location at all times, do not trespass.

Norton Peak Cave / Chateuagay Woodlands Conservation Easement Lands: Norton Peak Cave will be closed to the public from Nov 1 till March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. It is being closed to recreational spelunking to avoid disturbance of hibernating bats. DEC is closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easments to protect the bat population.

——————–
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 new DEC Trails Supporter Patch is now 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, November 18, 2010

Adirondack Explorer Editor Sued in Paddling Rights Dispute

A few days ago, the Brandreth Park Association filed a lawsuit against me, alleging that I trespassed when I canoed through private land last year on my way to Lake Lila.

As part of the suit, the association is asking the New York State Supreme Court to declare that the waterways in question—Mud Pond, Mud Pond Outlet, and Shingle Shanty Brook—are not open to the public.

I did my two-day trip last May, starting at Little Tupper Lake and ending at Lake Lila, and wrote about it for the Adirondack Explorer. Click here to read that story.

I believe the common-law right of navigation allows the public to paddle the three waterways even though they flow through private land. The state Department of Environmental Conservation—as well as several legal experts I consulted—support my position. In September, DEC wrote to the association’s attorney, Dennis Phillips, and asserted that the waterways are open under the common law. The department also asked the association to remove cables and no-trespassing signs meant to keep the public out. Click here to read about DEC’s decision.

But the landowners are not backing down. They served me with the complaint in the lawsuit at the Explorer office on Tuesday.

The legal papers do not mention DEC’s decision. We have reported previously that the department and the association disagree over whether a waterway must have a history of commercial use to be subject to the right of navigation. The association contends that Shingle Shanty and the other two waterways have no such history, so they are not open to the public.

The department maintains that if a waterway has the capacity for trade or travel, and if it meets other necessary criteria (such as legal access), then it is open to the public. Furthermore, DEC says recreational use can demonstrate this capacity.

If the Mud Pond-to-Shingle Shanty route is open to the public, paddlers traveling from Little Tupper to Lake Lila will be able to avoid a 0.75-mile portage. That certainly would be a boon. But the larger question is whether the public has the right to paddle waterways that connect parcels of public land, public lakes, or other legal access points. After all, how many rivers in the Adirondacks and elsewhere in the state pass through private land at times? I’m guessing a lot.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Local Hosts: We’ll Run Empire State Winter Games

Officials from the Village of Lake Placid, the Town of North Elba, the Town of Wilmington, the New York State Olympic Development Authority (ORDA) and the Lake Placid CVB, and the Whiteface Regional Visitors Bureau have announced that they will host the 2011 Empire State Winter Games, which were canceled this week due to state budget cuts.

According to a statement from the New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation on November 16, the summer, senior, physically challenged and winter Empire State Games were canceled after being cut from the 2011 budget. The 31st annual Empire State Winter Games were scheduled to be held in February 2011 in Lake Placid. The website for the games has already been removed.

The cancellation led to discussions among community leaders about a solution that would allow the Games to resume as scheduled this winter according to an announcement issued today by the Lake Placid CVB. Representatives from the Towns of North Elba and Wilmington, the Village of Lake Placid, the Lake Placid CVB and the ORDA made a joint decision Wednesday evening to work cooperatively to ensure that the games would continue according to the announcement.

“We’ve made this decision on behalf of the greater Lake Placid region, just as Lake Placid decided in 1928 to pursue the 1932 Olympic Winter Games during the Great Depression, ” said Mayor Craig Randall. “This situation is actually an opportunity for Lake Placid, as it jump-started our existing plans to convene a leadership committee that will facilitate programs to support the communities’ sustainable future.”

“We’re pooling all of our collective talents, and are prepared to aggressively pursue funding to make this happen,” said James McKenna, President of the Lake Placid CVB. “We have already and will continue to communicate closely with the former Empire State Games staff to guarantee a rewarding experience for our New York State athletes.”

The event will be held on the weekend of February 25, 2011, and includes competitions in the disciplines of alpine and cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, ski jumping, ice skating and more.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

Personal Stuff Found On Adirondack Public Land

After writing about the illegally cut trees on Cat Mountain, which were neither dead nor down, I started thinking about other rule violations I have observed in the backcountry. One such rule violation I have frequently noticed is the storage of personal property on forest preserve in the Adirondacks.

The storage of personal property can usually be found in one of two different situations. It is either in small amounts scattered around lean-tos or in much more substantial quantities in wild and remote area where few will ever stumble upon these hidden caches. And although some of this property is probably abandoned, the majority appears to be in at least seasonal use. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 18, 2010

The Almanack Says Goodbye to Ellen Rathbone

Did you miss something yesterday? I know I did. Ellen Rathbone, our dedicated naturalist for more than a year and a half has left the Adirondacks, and so too the Adirondack Almanack.

Those who have been following Ellen’s writings know that she contributed (twice a week!) out of the love of nature education and as part of her job as an interpretive educator and naturalist at the Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) in Newcomb. Despite her ten years at the VIC, when the Adirondack Park Agency faced cutbacks this past year, education and Adirondack visitor services were the first to go. Ellen had hoped to find a position here in the region but alas, ended up Education Director at the Dahlem Conservancy just outside Jackson, Michigan.

The Dahlem Conservancy is an environmental education / nature center which also has a farm, at which they’ve just put in an acre of community gardens. She’ll be doing all sorts of public and school based nature, gardening, and environmental ethics programming. You can check them out at http://www.dahlemcenter.org/.

Ellen has been working as a naturalist or environmental educator almost steadily since she graduated from SUNY ESF in 1988 with a BS in forestry and biology. Her work has taken her from NY to NJ to VT but she had a special affection for what she called her “beloved Adirondacks.” Ellen incredible insight to our natural world and defense of the smaller (some would say creepier) creatures of our woods and waters will surely be missed here at the Almanack. (We’re currently in search of someone to fill her boots, no one could replace her.)

I thought in honor of Ellen’s departure I’d link to some of her work here at the Almanack. Of course you can always still follow her adventures in Michigan at her own blog.

Ellen’s Recent Several Part Series on Bats

Knowing Your Local Watershed

Flights of Fancy: Featuring Feathers

On Mice

Adirondack Crows, Ravens, and Jays

Adirondack Development: A Naturalist’s View

Ellen on Insects

You can find all of Ellen’s writings at the Almanack here.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

State Museum Enters Invasives Fight With ‘Biopesticides’

The New York State Museum has received a $1 million federal grant to conduct a new research project aimed at protecting endangered species of native freshwater mussels from the impacts of invasive zebra mussels.

With the grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), through its Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Museum scientists will use what they are calling an “environmentally safe invention – a biopesticide” to continue their research with a new emphasis on open water applications. The project will be led by Museum research scientists Daniel Molloy and Denise Mayer. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Local Students Get Revved Up for ATV Safety

During the last week of October, the seventh and eighth grade students of North Warren Central School participated in a 4-H ATV Safety program provided by staff from Cornell University Cooperative Extension. The main focus of the sessions was to educate youth
regarding safety practices, sound decision making, and taking responsibility when using an ATV. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission some 44,000 children under the age of 16 were seriously injured in ATV accidents in 2007 and 150 were killed. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Saranac Lake Photographer Mark Kurtz Celebrates Milestone

Saranac Lake photographer Mark Kurtz will be marking the 10th anniversary of opening his gallery on 36 Broadway in downtown Saranac Lake on Friday with a celebration (5:30 to 8 pm) and a weekend long open house next weekend, November 20th and 21st.

Ten years ago this fall Kurtz opened his gallery after three years with the Adirondack Artists Guild. “That gave me the courage to try something on my own, Kurtz says, noting that he wasn’t sure what to expect from his new space, which also houses his commercial photography business. Since he first entered a darkroom in the eighth grade, Kurtz has been honing his craft, largely in black and white. His gallery boasts hundreds of hand-made prints. Kurtz was a founding member of the Adirondack Artist’s Guild, and is widely recognized as one of the Adirondack region’s preeminent photographers. He is a regular contributing photographer to Adirondack Life magazine and his work has been featured in Skiing magazine.

Kurtz will be showing some new things at his gallery for his tenth anniversary – color for one. Along with his black and white, and sepia work he has also expanded his offerings to include digital prints. “No, I have not gone completely digital” Kurtz said emphatically, “I will never give up the traditional process of shooting with film and working in the darkroom. But the quality of digital has progressed to a level that I can now offer my images as digital prints and at a lower price than the labor intensive silver print process.”

Hours for next weekend’s open house will be Saturday, 10 to 7, and Sunday 10 to 4.

Photo: Mark Kurtz, Self Portrait, Courtesy Mark Kurtz Photography.


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities:Lake George is taking the Special Olympic Plunge

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities

Swimming in the heat of the summer can be a chilly affair in the Adirondacks. For the next few months, people across New York State will be cooling off by taking an icy plunge in support of Special Olympic athletes.

“Last weekend our first Polar Plunge in Plattsburgh was met with great success.” says New York Special Olympics Associate Director Kaila Horton. “ Between 200-220 people plunged raising over $22,600 dollars in support of the athletes. The Polar Plunge is one of our big fundraisers of the year for Special Olympics.”

Horton says that the cost of training and participating in the Special Olympics each year runs about $400 per athlete. All the coaches are volunteers and work through local Special Olympic Training Clubs, which allows other athletes and students to get involved on a local level. Horton wants to make sure that everyone knows that if there isn’t a local training club, the headquarters will help start one and recruit volunteers and local athletes.

The format for taking a plunge for Special Olympics is easy. Each individual is asked to set a fundraising goal. The suggestion is the $400 cost to send one athlete to the Special Olympics. Sometimes teams are formed but it’s individuals that raise money to enable the athlete for the upcoming games.

The Polar Plunge on the schedule is this weekend in Lake George. For the fourth year Lake George is “Freezin’ for a Reason” November 20th at Shepard’s Cove. Registration starts at 9:00 a.m. with a noon start time to an icy dip into Lake George.

“This is the first time that I’ll be taking the plunge. We have a large team of about 25 people,” says Max’s Buddies Team Leader Lisa Jackoski. “We have a whole mish-mash of people ranging from the Lake George School Superintendent to my mother. There are even people I’ve never met that are on our team, friends of friends that said they would do it. I am astounded by how many people are willing to participate in this.”

Jackoski is not only team leader, but also mother to fifteen-year-old, Special Olympian Max Jackoski. She has a personal understanding of the importance participation has on these athletes. Max took part in the Track and Field event in Queensbury last year and now plans on branching out into either skiing or swimming.

Last year students and teachers from his school made Max a huge banner that read ‘LG [Lake George] Loves Max.’ When he arrived for his event the sign was hung on the fence for all to see.

“I think most people are unaware of how much the Special Olympics costs,” says Jackoski. “Surprisingly there are still people that don’t know the Special Olympics exist and that it is free for the athletes. I saw Max’s friendships blossom through being part of this program. I saw his self-confidence grow due to the Special Olympics.”

Max finished his event last year and asked if he won. “I was able to tell him yes,” says Jackoski. “The Special Olympics really embraces that philosophy that everyone is a winner. Before each event they say their motto, Let me win but if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

She is already looking for ways to grow her group for next year. The Max’s Buddies Team has surpassed this year’s fundraising goals with $2,000 so far raised.

For those not willing to risk the chilly Adirondack waters of Lake George, spectators are encouraged for the Lake George Polar Plunge.

The Special Olympics Polar Plunge logo was used with permission


content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane 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) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

APA Meeting:Moose River Plains, Big Tupper, Scaroon Manor, More

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting this Thursday, November 18 and Friday, November 19, 2010 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. The meeting will include, among other items, re-use of the Big Tupper Ski Area, a new general permit process for Subdivisions Involving Wetlands, The Town of Edinburg’s repeal and replacement of their existing Zoning, Land Use and Subdivision Ordinance, Queensbury’s local Sign Law, classification proposals and unit management plans (UMP) for lands in and near the Moose River Plains Wild Forest Area. amendments to the Watson’s East Triangle Wild Forest and Scaroon Manor Campground UMPs.

The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 for Executive Director Terry Martino’s report where she will discuss current activities including a recent meeting with the co-chair, Sanford Blitz, of the Northern Forest Regional Border Commission.

At 9:30 a.m., the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider three projects; a second renewal request for construction of a single-family dwelling and a dock on a preexisting vacant lot of record, authorizing the temporary re-use of the Big Tupper Ski Area and possible action for a Verizon Wireless telecommunication project. The committee will also be briefed on a new general permit application for Subdivisions Involving Wetlands.

At 11:00, the Full Agency will hear a presentation regarding the Department of Environmental Conservation Steering Committee.

At 11:15, the Local Government Services Committee will convene to take action on proposed amendments to two approved local land use programs. The Town of Edinburg seeks approval for the complete repeal and replacement of their existing Zoning, Land Use and Subdivision Ordinance while the Town of Queensbury seeks approval for an amendment involving revisions to the local Sign Law.

At 1:00, the State Land Committee will consider State Land classification proposals for lands in the vicinity of the Moose River Plains Wild Forest Area. The committee will also determine State Land Master Plan compliance for the Moose River Plains Wild Forest Unit Management Plan and the Moose River Plains Intensive Use Unit Management Plan. Following these discussions the committee will consider approving amendments to the Watson’s East Triangle Wild Forest Unit Management Plan and the Scaroon Manor Public Campground Unit Management Plan Amendment.

At 3:00, the Park Ecology Committee will convene for a presentation by Robert Davies and Gloria Van Duyne of the Department of Environmental Conservation on New York State’s Forest Resource Assessment and Strategy report.

At 4:00, the Full Agency will convene for the ongoing Community Spotlight series. This month Town of Indian Lake Supervisor Barry Hutchins will overview his community and discuss important issues facing this Hamilton County town.

On Friday morning, November 19 at 9:00, the Park Ecology Committee will re-convene for a presentation and discussion by Jerry Jenkins on “Climate Change in the Adirondacks: The Path to Sustainability.

At 10:00, the Legal Affairs Committee will continue discussing possible ways to simplify procedures for modest variance requests and review draft guidance relating to camping units in NYS Department of Health permitted private campgrounds within the Adirondack Park. The committee will receive a staff report summarizing the Executive Order 25 regulatory assessment. The committee meeting will conclude with a discussion of agency legislation proposed in 2009 and 2010.

At 11:15, the Full Agency will assemble to take action as necessary and conclude with committee reports, public and member comment.

Meeting materials are available for download from the Agency’s website.

There are no plans for a December 2010 meeting

January Agency Meeting: January 13-14 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Review: ‘Long Distance’ by Bill McKibben

I recently read Bill McKibben’s book about cross-country-ski racing and wrote the following review, which will appear in the next issue of the Adirondack Explorer.

Several years ago, we asked Bill McKibben to ski the entire Jackrabbit Trail in a single day and write about it. Saranac Lake to Keene. That’s twenty-four miles, but that wasn’t enough for McKibben.

When he turned his story in, I learned he started instead at Paul Smith’s, where there is an orphan piece of the Jackrabbit. By following this trail and then a railroad bed, he was able to make it to Saranac Lake and add ten or eleven miles to the trek.

Why extend an already-lengthy trip by slogging along a boring railroad track? I thought Bill must be a bit nuts, but now that I’ve read Long Distance, I understand what motivates him.

Long Distance chronicles McKibben’s yearlong quest to become the best Nordic ski racer he could. He trained like a pro, working out for hours each day, and competed on three continents. Originally published in 2000, the book was reissued in paperback by Rodale this past fall.

Early on, McKibben visits the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid to undergo a series of unpleasant tests involving a treadmill, a snorkel-like device, and numerous blood-lettings to ascertain his VO2 Max—a measurement of how efficiently his body uses oxygen. The tests reveal he has a higher-than-average VO2 Max, but it’s still far below that of elite athletes. And no amount of training will change that. The upper limit of his VO2 Max and thus of his competitive potential are determined by genetics.

It is not McKibben’s destiny to become a champion. Nevertheless, he diligently puts in six hundred hours of training over the year, all to prepare for a grand total of maybe twelve hours of racing. In one event in Lake Placid, he manages to come in first in his age group, but usually he’s closer to the middle of the pack.

What’s the payoff then? McKibben describes the “absolute immersion in the present” that he feels during a fifty-kilometer race in Ottawa, when all the cares of modern life fall by the wayside. “Everything really had come together for a moment,” he writes. “Or perhaps a better way to say it is that everything had disappeared.”

McKibben, of course, is best known as an environmental writer, the guy who sounded the alarm about global warming in The End of Nature and who founded a worldwide movement to try to get politicians to do something about it. When I saw him speak a few months ago in Saranac Lake, he struck me as an Old Testament prophet with a sense of humor.

Long Distance reveals the private side of the public intellectual. Despite all his accomplishments—as a Harvard graduate, staff writer for the New Yorker, best-selling author, and global activist—McKibben still longs to be what so many males long to be: an athlete. Growing up, he felt like a wimp, because he wasn’t much good at basketball, hockey, baseball, or the other crucibles of boyhood. He writes that “gym became a recurring bad dream, highlighted each year by the President’s Physical Fitness Test, when I got to prove to myself that I still couldn’t do a pull-up.”

He feared he didn’t measure up to his athletic father, who went out for baseball and climbed mountains in his youth. Bill gravitated toward intellectual pursuits. While still in high school, he covered the school’s basketball team for the local paper. His father picked him up after the games. “He was proud of me, I knew, but I think some part of me always wondered if he’d have been prouder had I been out on the court myself,” he writes.

Part way through his training year, McKibben receives word that his father has a malignant brain tumor. He spends the next several months shuttling between Vermont, where he lives, and Boston, where his father is dying. He continues to exercise and ski, when possible, but the ordeal of watching his father deteriorate, physically and mentally, puts cross-country skiing into perspective. Training for a race becomes a metaphor for training for life. Our real tests are the difficulties thrown in our path—depression, illness, the demands of human relationships.

“The most profound test, of course, is the last one, dealing with your death,” he says. “But if you’ve done the training, the race will take care of itself—or so it seemed, watching Dad.”

After his father’s death, McKibben travels to Norway with his wife, Sue, and their daughter, Sophie, to enter one last competition, the Birkebeiner, a grueling fifty-eight-kilometer race that attracts several thousand serious skiers each year. He’s happy to finish in the middle of his age group.

“The next morning dawned clear and cold, so Sue and Sophie and I went for another ski,” he says. “For the first time in a long time, it meant nothing at all, and that was nice, too.”

Don’t expect to find lots of tips about wax, poling technique, and such in Long Distance. You’ll learn more about life than about skiing.

Click here to see a video of a downhill run on the Jackrabbit Trail.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.


Monday, November 15, 2010

Woodstock of the North: The 1970 Churubusco Live-In

We’ve all heard of Woodstock at one time or another—that famous (or infamous) concert held in August 1969. It was scheduled at different venues, but the final location was actually in Bethel, New York, about 60 miles from Woodstock. For many who lived through three major homeland assassinations, the Vietnam War, and the racial riots of the turbulent 1960s, Woodstock was an event representing peace, love, and freedom. It’s considered a defining moment of that generation, and a great memory for those who attended (estimated at 400,000).

Many subsequent concerts were planned, though most never came to fruition. What few people know is that one of the major follow-up concerts to Woodstock was scheduled for just nine months later, and the location was in the North Country, near a tiny community known as Churubusco. Signed to appear were many top acts of the day, including Chuck Berry, Steppenwolf, Bo Diddley, Grand Funk Railroad, Richie Havens, 3 Dog Night, Judy Collins, Sly and the Family Stone, B. B. King, and Canned Heat.

In spring 1970, a company called Fest-I-Rama announced that the three-day Churubusco Live-In would be held on Memorial Day weekend. Similar events were planned at the same venue for the Fourth of July and Labor Day. The complete story of the controversial event occupies a full chapter in my latest book, History of Churubusco. With subtitle, it’s History of Churubusco and the Town of Clinton, Clinton County, New York (to avoid confusion with well-known Churubuscos in Indiana and Mexico). The book is a new release available this week from Bloated Toe Publishing’s North Country Store.

Churubusco is a tiny, square-shaped settlement only a quarter-mile long on each side. It was named after a historic battle fought in 1847 during the US-Mexican War, and is located in the northwest corner of Clinton County. Amidst farmer’s fields and plenty of forest, the setting is remote, and that’s one of the reasons it was chosen to host a major rock concert. The entire town encompasses nearly 70 square miles, but is home to only around 700 residents.

The history of this tiny village and the agrarian town of Clinton is truly remarkable. One citizen became lieutenant governor of New York, served for years as a top state politician, and at one time was FDR’s closest advisor. Another was one of the founders of the city of Seattle and the state of Washington, and is highly honored there. And there were the famed “monks of Churubusco,” who actually have their own pope on the international stage. Many other very surprising details led me to the realization that the town’s amazing history should be recorded.

Among my favorite stories connected to Churubusco is the proposed rock concert. At the time the Live-In was announced, I was 16 years old and sometimes dreaded the trips (nearly every weekend) from Champlain to Churubusco to visit relatives. (My mom, now in her 90th year, was born there, and that’s where she and my dad, 86, met in the 1930s.)

There’s not much to do in Churubusco, and a day in the remote countryside was not exactly heaven for a teenager. But heaven arrived in early 1970. A huge rock concert, and with one of my favorite groups (Steppenwolf), was incredibly, impossibly, coming to Churubusco. Better than that, the venue was located across the road from my grandfather’s 100-acre farm. This was fantastic!

Well, fantastic for teenagers, maybe, but not so much for Churubusco or Clinton County. The call to arms went out, and that can just about be taken literally. During the battle to stop the event, attorney and local legend J. Byron O’Connell issued this statement: “That Live-In will turn into a lynch-in. People up here aren’t used to long hair. They don’t fool around with legal niceties, and they’re not going to put up with any nonsense from college kids. If they come up Rt. 189, they’re just liable to get shot.”

O’Connell was an outstanding trial attorney, and he was doing his best for his clients. He was bombastic at times, and that aggressive quote appeared in major newspapers in Boston, New York, and elsewhere. As Churubusco’s representative, he sought to derail the concert and preserve the hamlet’s quiet, rural life, while the promoters, Hal Abramson and Raymond Filiberti, fought back.

I wasn’t much interested in the adult perspective at the time. I had protested against the Vietnam War, and my draft time was rapidly approaching. If you were a male teenager in the 1960s, your future was on display nightly in national news reports on television, where body counts were offered like baseball’s daily box scores. Unless the war miraculously ended, it was only a matter of time before you went. If I could be sent off to kill people as soon as I graduated from high school, couldn’t I be allowed the privilege of enjoying myself first? I figured the Churubusco Live-In would at least give me that.

Still, there was that rational adult viewpoint. The feeling voiced most often was that all those hippies will be drug-crazed, and we don’t want them here. And, who would pay for everything? Extra police, medical facilities, food—the logistics seemed impossible even if someone did pay for them. Why did it seem impossible? It was fully expected that upwards of 200,000 fans would attend the Live-In, drawing from Montreal, Boston, New York City, and the other cities of New York State.

For three days of rock music, it wasn’t just Churubusco that would be bursting at the seams. A crowd of 200,000 would more than triple the entire county population virtually overnight. Battle lines were drawn, and the ensuing struggle lasted for weeks over whether or not the concert would be held. While the promoters and local authorities went back and forth, ticket sales continued and more bands were signed.

Thrown into the mix was a remarkable ordinance concocted by J. Byron O’Connell and Clinton town officials. When the ordinance was passed, it gained widespread attention for the unusual clauses it contained and the American liberties it surrendered, all in the name of stopping the concert.

It was a wild time. The subject dominated the news media in the region, and developments were followed by youth across the nation. If this was the second coming of Woodstock, nobody wanted to miss it, even those on the West Coast.

In the end, the adult viewpoint won, and the concert was canceled (along with subsequent Churubusco concerts). It may have been the right thing to do, but who knows? For three days of love, peace, and music (described by others as sex, drugs, and rock and roll), and a huge mess to clean up afterward, Churubusco might have become a must-see site for millions of baby boomers. Those tourist dollars sure would come in handy today.

(Note: Anyone in the Northern Tier is welcome to join us at Dick’s Country Store on Rt. 11, a few miles east of Chateaugay, on Friday, November 19, from 4-8 pm, for the official release of History of Churubusco. I’ll be on hand to sign copies and chat with visitors. My other books, including 3 reprints just received, will also be available. Among the reprints is Terror in the Adirondacks: The True Story of Serial Killer Robert F. Garrow.)

Photo Top: 1970 Poster advertising the Churubusco Live-In.

Photo Middle: Map showing location of Churubusco.

Photo Bottom: Cover of History of Churubusco, with Live-In poster at center of collage.

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, November 15, 2010

The Big Blowdown of 1950

The Adirondacks is prone to powerful windstorms, isolated tornadoes, and occasional hurricanes, derechos, and microbursts. The second most destructive of these in modern Adirondack history (next to the 1998 Ice Storm) occurred in November, 1950.

The Big Blowdown brought heavy rains and winds in excess of 100 mph. In a single day – November 25th – more than 800,000 acres of timber was heavily damaged. The storm caused a complete shutdown of the roads and trails across large swaths of the park, a historic suspension of the State Constitution, a temporary glut in the spruce market, and a political impact that continues to this day. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Adirondack Stats: ATV Trails

Miles of ATV trails created so far by Lewis County, the leader of establishing ATV trails in New York State: 47.6 miles

Miles of ATV trails created so far by Jefferson County: 36 miles (plus 334 miles of roads)

Amount budgeted by Lewis County in each of the last two years (2008, 2009) to build and maintain ATV trails: $140,000

Amount budgeted by Lewis County to build and maintain ATV trails for 2011: $88,500

Estimated cost per mile, to maintain ATV trails each year including in-kind volunteer services: $17,000 » Continue Reading.


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