Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tom Kalinowski Worries About Low Snowpack

The mild temperatures and limited snowfall that the Adirondacks have experienced this winter season have failed to establish the usual snowpack that blankets the region by this time of year. While a substantial covering of snow provides numerous recreational opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts, it also serves as an essential fresh water reserve to supply the many brooks, streams and rivers across the Park with water when spring arrives during March and April.

With the first few thaws of late winter and early spring, much of the water produced from melting snow flows over the surface of the still frozen ground. This water quickly moves down hillsides and creates small, seasonal water courses on the forest floor. As these tiny tributaries merge and empty into larger, more permanent streams, the level of the water increases, along with the strength of the current. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Kimberly Rielly: A New Climate for Winter Tourism

Mother Nature has handed us a smorgasbord of weather so far this winter, with wildly fluctuating temperatures and at least 14 types of precipitation. We haven’t got a contract with her; and I am confident that the usual blanket of snow will arrive just a little bit later than expected this year.

Of course, I’m no meteorologist; maybe it won’t.

I’m not going to talk about climate change. It’s a fact; and though it might not completely eradicate what we now consider typical winter recreation in the Adirondacks for decades, these weather fluctuations WILL be a factor from now on.

As a tourism-dependent region, it is incumbent upon us to be flexible. In addition to having a wardrobe that consists of a variety of different weight jackets, business owners need to be nimble enough to switch modes quickly with respect to marketing.

My office has put this to the test.

I’ve had a “snow alert” email queued up for distribution for a couple of months now. It’s still there waiting for the moment we hear about that predicted nor’easter.

In promoting winter to the leisure travel market, our content and marketing strategy includes a schedule of prioritized topics and keywords for inclusion in emails, blogs, SEO releases and more. For winter, these topics include snowshoeing, alpine and nordic skiing, pond hockey, skating, tobogganing and other ways to play in the snow and ice throughout the region.

But this winter, we’ve had to adjust that schedule. Our original timeline called for a switch from highlighting alpine skiing in December to cross country/backcountry skiing in January. Due to the lack of snow on the backcountry AND groomed trails, we reverted to highlighting the promotion of alpine skiing again this month, as Whiteface Mountain was up and running, primarily with man-made snow.

Content changed on all fronts. Instead of writing a blog about snowshoeing, I recently wrote about the virtues of ice, and adventures in hiking with microspikes for these conditions.

This was prompted by conversations that I had with a couple of our local licensed guides. They reported to me that they had convinced some of their backcountry ski and snowshoe clients to keep their reservations, and have taken them out with microspikes or crampons for the icy trails. Flexibility saved the day; not to mention their projected income for the week.

If I had submitted an editorial (or advertorial) about snowshoeing to a print publication for distribution in January or February this winter, there would be no recourse. Inspired by the article, the potential visitor would inevitably be disappointed to learn upon further investigation that there isn’t enough snow. Instead, I have in my arsenal a toolbox full of flexible tools such as blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Google+ to nimbly post updated photos, to promote events and to monitor and respond to inquiries.

Over 90 percent of all travel research is conducted online. And now, social networks like Twitter and Facebook are filled with on site, in-person, real-time accounts from people who are already in the destinations that are being researched. With the prevalence of smart phone use, potential visitors are able to check the current weather in Colorado while walking down the streets of New York City. If there’s no snow, savvy travelers will know. Why not provide them with incentive to visit anyway?

Fortunately, the product that we have to offer, whether direct or indirect, serves as a very popular backdrop. We know that the primary driver of visitation to the region is the unique mix of mountains, lakes and rivers that comprise the Adirondacks, and the outdoor recreational activities that they offer.

If Mother Nature has taught us anything this winter, it is that there is an increased need for creativity and flexibility. If you can’t go snowshoeing, hike with crampons. If your customers are looking for a weekend getaway in the Adirondacks, offer them a creative experience they can’t resist, (and market it online, where they will find it!)

Kimberly Rielly is the director of communications for the Lake Placid CVB/Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism


Monday, February 13, 2012

APA Wildlife Review Process Deficient, Outdated

Will the Adirondack Park Agency reform the way it identifies and assesses impacts to wildlife habitat from new development? Will it employ 21st century ecological understanding by evaluating the ecological impact zone of houses built in the Adirondack backcountry? Will habitat fragmentation, perforation, edge effect, spatial configuration and connectivity, land alteration and additional indicators of ecological impact that Dr. Michale Glennon introduced as evidence at the Adirondack Club and Resort hearing be used as evaluative tools? For that matter, will testimony at future adjudicatory hearings actually matter? » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 13, 2012

Natural History: Climate Change and the Winter of ’32

“Is our climate changing? This is a question heard often these days. Some are inclined to believe it is, but others are inclined to believe it is just one of those unusual open winters. The weather has been so mild that pussy willows are showing buds, woodchucks are out, and caterpillars were found crawling on the ground.” Those aren’t my words. They’re from the Norwood News, January 20, 1932.

On my way to the mailbox four times in the past week, I stepped between different types of insects on the sidewalk, a reminder of how unusual our weather has been. While reading about years past, it struck me how this mild winter parallels those of 1932 and 1933.

In both instances, ice fishing was drastically curtailed by the open waters of Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence River. Fishermen were successful back then by using motorboats from Whitehall to Rouses Point, in the dead of winter, to access the best fishing spots.

Temperatures were often in the 50s, pleasant for sure, but not so much for business. Logging, a mainstay of the region’s economy, was months behind schedule. Even when brief cold snaps allowed construction of the required ice roads, balmy weather quickly turned them to slush and mud. Cut timber, ready to haul, lay in the woods until cold weather returned, which wasn’t often.

It was feared the 1932 Olympics in Lake Placid would be cancelled due to a lack of snow: January’s temperatures averaged nearly 13 degrees above normal. At one point, the entire bobrun was washed out by heavy rain. Snow was hauled in by train to ensure the games would be held. A storm just days before the opening ceremonies helped, but warm temperatures caused problems throughout the Games.

In 1932 and 1933, events normally associated with summer occurred throughout the winter, grabbing everyone’s attention. In January: outdoor picnics; bicycling; ducks and geese flying north; the picking of wildflowers; and, in Whitehall, using the village street-sprinkler to suppress road dust.

In February: fishing from rafts at Port Henry; boating on Lake George and Lake Champlain; woodchucks, chipmunks, and other mammals out and about; blackbirds, robins, and other songbirds sighted regularly; and snakes (some of them hit by cars) seen on area roadways.

Both months saw golfers on area courses, interrupted only by occasional cold―and thunderstorms! Baseball players couldn’t resist the opportunity to play, although the effort was often better characterized as mudball. Still, in most any year, even playing catch in winter wasn’t even a consideration.

Experience tells us we’ll still get slammed this season, but just as folks did back then, we can marvel for now at how far into the new year the weather has remained so warm. It’s been a pleasure, and for me, a back-saver as well.

Photo: Headline from January, 1933.

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


Monday, February 13, 2012

Wally Elton: The Great Backyard Bird Count

For those who enjoy birds, Presidents’ Day weekend brings a chance to combine the pleasure of birdwatching with contributing to science’s understanding of current bird populations and their conservation. The 15th annual Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC), organized by Audubon and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology (and Bird Studies Canada north of the border), is a nationwide mid-winter bird census that calls on bird enthusiasts everywhere to help assemble a picture of bird numbers and distribution. This year’s count dates are this week, February 17 – 20.
» Continue Reading.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Glens Falls Co-op Seeking Members

Residents of Glens Falls and surrounding communities are organizing an effort to establish a retail food cooperative, a store similar in organization to the Saranac Lake Community Store which opened late last year. The group has already incorporated and established an interim board of directors and several committees. They are currently pre-selling memberships and are outfitting donated space at Rock Hill Bakehouse.

“While the space is in South Glens Falls (near Exit 17N), making it somewhat inconvenient for those of us in Queensbury and Glens Falls to get to, we all agreed it would be better to have a donated incubator for this project rather than start it from a position of debt (which causes many coops to fail),” Matt Funiciello, a co-op organizer told the Almanack via e-mail. “We decided that beginning a capital campaign to raise money and perhaps to secure grants to move to a location closer to (or in) Glens Falls would be wise as soon as that becomes practicable.”

They are about $2,000 away from achieving their goal of an estimated $6,000 needed to pay for opening inventory, Funiciello said. Membership forms are available daily at Rock Hill Café (19 Exchange Street Glens Falls, (518) 615-0777), and at Rock Hill Bakehouse (1338 Route 9 Moreau, NY (518) 743-1660). Co-op organizers have also established a webpage and a Facebook group where the membership form and additional information can be found.


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing the Way We Eat

Georgia Pellegrini isn’t the typical image of a hunter. She was once more accustomed to martini on Wall Street than a back woods duck hunt, but after a stint at Wellesley and Harvard she enrolled in the French Culinary Institute and discovered a love for local, sustainable, farm to table cuisine that led her down an unexpected path.

While cooking with top chefs at Blue Hill at the Stone Barns Center for Food and Agriculture in Pocantico Hills, New York, Pellegrini was sent outside to kill five turkeys for that night’s dinner. Suddenly face-to-face with the meat she was preparing, she says she was forced to reevaluate her relationship with food. The result is Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing the Way We Eat, One Hunt at a Time (Da Capo Press, 2011).

The book chronicles Pellegrini’s evolution from buying plastic-wrapped meat at a supermarket to killing a wild boar with a .22-250 caliber rifle, a journey, she says, toward understanding not only where our food comes from, but what kind of life it lived before it reached the table. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Champlain Watershed Educators Opportunities

Since 1992, the Champlain Basin Education Initiative (CBEI) has provided professional development opportunities for educators who wish to teach their students about the Lake Champlain watershed. More than 700 educators have participated in workshops and graduate courses offered through the CBEI partners. A new web resource, WatershED Matters, has now been developed to compile the knowledge and teaching strategies used by recent course participants. WatershED Matters is housed within the Lake Champlain Basin Program’s website on behalf of the CBEI partners.

WatershED Matters features curriculum units and community projects currently being implemented by New York, Vermont and Québec educators. The CBEI partners expect the site to grow as educators suggest links to their favorite field trips and classroom resources for teaching about the Champlain basin.

“This resource tool has been in demand for several years by both teachers and the CBEI partners,” says Colleen Hickey, Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Lake Champlain Basin Program. “In recent years, nearly 40 educators have completed our eleven day watershed course and it’s great to be able to share what they’ve learned about the Lake, its tributaries and nearby resources.”

Champlain Basin Education Initiative partners currently include: the Lake Champlain Basin Program, Shelburne Farms, Lake Champlain Sea Grant-UVM Extension, ECHO at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, the Lake Champlain Committee, and curriculum coach Amy Demarest. Several New York groups have also assisted with educator outreach in the past year by implementing workshops about specific watershed topics.


Saturday, February 11, 2012

Lost Brook Dispatches: Ridgelines and Airplanes

It was New Year’s Eve 2010, our first visit to Lost Brook Tract, just two days after we had closed on the property. I was standing in four feet of snow, contemplating potential trouble. I had bushwhacked down from the small plateau that marks the low point of our land, trying to get a feel for the ridge upon which it lay so that I could solidify the route in my mind.

My family and I had been guided in by Vinny McClelland the first time and on the way I had a noted couple of tricky spots. I was glad for the deep snow that provided sure tracks back to camp for at that moment I stood at one of those locations that raises the pulses of off-trail adventurers. » Continue Reading.


Friday, February 10, 2012

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.

Subscribe! More than 7,500 people get Adirondack Almanack each day via RSS, E-Mail, or Twitter or Facebook updates. It’s a convenient way to get the latest news and information about the Adirondacks.


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