Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wild Center to Host Solar Thermal Collection Systems Workshop

The Wild Center, in partnership with the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) and the US Green Building Council – NY Upstate Chapter, is hosting a Solar Thermal Collection Systems Workshop on April 15th and 16th, 2010.

The educational event will include a full day of classroom instruction on solar thermal collection system principles, design considerations and system installations for residential and commercial applications and a second day of hands-on installation training involving flat plate and evacuated tube solar collectors, storage vessels, pumps, piping and controls. Participants in the two day event will experience what it takes to install state-of-the-art solar thermal collection system components as part of a larger NYSERDA supported renewable energy demonstration project. The workshop is expected to draw a wide-ranging audience of building industry professionals, business owners and homeowners from throughout upstate NY.

The instructor will be Peter Skinner P.E., a solar thermal installer, designer, researcher and educator. He has designed and installed many residential and commercial solar thermal systems, two of which were supported by NYSERDA and are fully performance monitored. Mr. Skinner has served on the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Solar Thermal Test committee and currently serves as co-chair of the NYS Solar Thermal Roadmap work force development and education committee. He has designed and guides manufacture of the SunDog Solar Rover, a portable solar thermal demonstration unit, and chairs a group of professionals preparing educator and student manuals for a comprehensive solar thermal education program.

One day registration for the April 15th classroom instruction is $65 and two day registration (April 15 and 16) for classroom instruction and hands-on training is $95. Registration for the program is limited and includes continental breakfast and lunch both days. Eligible building professionals can earn educational benefits for attending the event. For more information and to register visit www.wildcenter.org/solar or call Chris Rdzanek, Director of Facilities, (518) 359-7800, ext. 117.


Sunday, March 21, 2010

Safe Boating Courses Will Be Offered Locally

The Lake George Association is co-sponsoring a series of safe boating training courses, leading to certification through New York State Parks and Recreation. Two options are available: a single-day course on a weekend, or a three-day evening course during the week. Students who take one of the sit-down courses this spring will be able to come back in the summer for an on-lake program aboard the LGA’s
Floating Classroom boat.

The courses are free and are open to adults and children 10 years of age and older. The course is required for all young boaters ages 10 – 18 and for any person in New York State who is driving a personal water craft (PWC), also known as a jet ski. People 18 and over who complete the course hours and requirements must send in a $10 fee to receive their course completion card.

Instructors for the indoor training are provided by the Eastern New York Marine Trades Association (ENYMTA) and the Lake George Power Squadron. Class size is limited to 15 participants.

ENYMTA courses:
Sunday, May 16 SNUG HARBOR MARINA, Ticonderoga, 9 am – 5pm
Register with Bob Palandrani 518-585-2628

Saturday, June 19 SCHROON LAKE MARINA, Schroon Lake, 9 am – 5 pm
Register with Craig Kennedy 518-532-7882

Saturday, July 17 ALPIN HOUSE, Amsterdam, 9 am – 5 pm
Register with Kathy Andrews at 518-843-4400

LAKE GEORGE POWER SQUADRON courses:
All at the Lake George Association Office – e-mail the LGA at info@lakegeorgeassociation.org or call 518-668-3558 to register.
April 26, 28 and 30 (M, W, F) – 5:30 – 8:30 pm
May 10, 12, 14 (M, W, F) – 5:30 – 8:30 pm
June 7, 9, 11 (M, W, F) 5:30 – 8:30 pm

Later in the summer, aboard the LGA’s Floating Classroom boat, students will experience navigating through marked channels, identifying navigational markers, and using a marine radio, GPS and radar. The LGA will also point out safety equipment, fire suppression, life-saving devices and the proper use of personal flotation devices.

The Lake George Power Squadron is the local squadron of the U.S. Power Squadrons, a nationwide nonprofit advocating boating safety and recreation. For membership information or to learn more, contact Commander Stephen W. Traver at Traver@Capital.net or visit the web site at www.LGPS.org.

The LGA is a not-for-profit membership organization of people interested in working together to protect, conserve, and improve the beauty and quality of the Lake George Basin. For more information, contact the LGA at (518) 668-3558 or check out LGA on the web at www.lakegeorgeassociation.org.


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Learning Something New Every Day – Small Winter Stoneflies

The way I look at it, a day where you don’t learn something new is a day wasted. For those of us who are nature nuts, learning something new is pretty easy to do, for there is so much “out there” that no one person can possibly know it all (although, not for lacking of trying). Take, for example, the insect in the photograph here.

I was out the other day checking the trail for animal tracks, not expecting to find much, thanks to all the balmy weather we’ve had of late, but ever hopeful. I was sidetracked by a patch of sunlight along the south-facing bank of the new beaver pond, and found myself lulled into a soporific state, enjoying the sunshine, the birdsongs, and the new green growth all around me. I wasn’t the only one out taking in a few rays; spiders and insects galore hopped and flew all around.

Several of small insects (see photo) chose to use me as a landing platform. I finally decided to photograph one (kind of like trying to photograph a microscopic greyhound at the racetrack) in a somewhat amused attempt to get the things identified. There was something familiar about them; I thought at first they might be some sort of parasitic wasp, but I was keeping an open mind.

When I sent my photograph off to the find folks at BugGuide.net, I included in the description a note that it had two little tails sticking out its nether regions. It dawned on me that these little tails were what was familiar – they reminded me of the two little tails one sees sticking out behind stonefly nymphs (I was no longer thinking “parasitic wasp” at this point). So, I added this observation to my note. The pithy response that came back was “That’s because it’s a stonefly.”

Now, I’ve turned over a lot of rocks in rushing streams and I’ve seen more than my share of stonefly nymphs. If that’s a stonefly, I thought, it’s gotta be the smallest stonefly in the world. This insect measured maybe 5mm from stem to stern, while every stonefly nymph I’ve ever uncovered has easily been two to four times the size of this adult insect. Usually when insects go through The Change, they end up bigger – I’d never heard of one ending up smaller. So, suspicious and curious, I took this stonefly information to my Kaufman’s Field Guide.

And wouldn’t you know! There it was – a tiny little stonefly from the family Capniidae – the Small Winter Stoneflies. Even better, the photo of Allocapnia sp. seemed to fit my insect like a glove. There are 38 species in this genus, and they are the common small winter stonefly here in the eastern United States.

I had to know more.

According to yet another one of my field guides, these stoneflies dare to be different, for they change into adults and emerge for a terrestrial life while winter still has a grip on the world (December to April). They can be seen actively flying around when the air temperature is a chilly 20 degrees Fahrenheit. It’s no wonder they were zipping around in the afternoon sunshine – it must’ve been close to 60!

As juveniles, these little stoneflies fill a very important niche. They are detritivores, or shredders, meaning that they are responsible for chewing up leaves that fall into the streams where they live. If it weren’t for insects like them, our streams, rivers and ponds would be choked solid in only a short matter of time.

Now, I don’t know which species of stonefly my little friends were, and for now I don’t really care – I’m just excited to know that they are stoneflies. Still, at some point in time I’m going to want to know a little more information. Until I can identify the species, my knowledge will be limited. And a quick scan through some of the common names has already piqued my curiosity. Who wouldn’t want to know more about something called “Black Warrior Snowfly,” or “Peculiar Snowfly,” or, my personal favorite, “Sasquatch Snowfly”?


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Art Exhibition: The Question of Mountains

511 Gallery Lake Placid will present a group exhibition March 26–April 20 entitled “The Question of Mountains”—paintings, drawings and photographs that focus on the subject of mountains, created by artists ranging from the Hudson River School through the early and mid-twentieth century, and up to the contemporary period. Following are more details from a gallery announcement:

“The mountains are calling, and I must go,” said the naturalist John Muir. For those of us who live year-round or seasonally in the Adirondacks and those who make annual or several-times-a-year pilgrimages to this landscape, the “call” remains a compelling one. It has been so throughout the ages.

Work by several of the artists in The Question of Mountains address the Adirondacks, such as Whiteface Mountain (1873) by Sylvester Hodgdon, or Whiteface Mountain, Lake Placid (ca. 1878) by George W. Waters, or Untitled (Mountain Stream), (ca. 1980) by Sarah Jaffe; but the meanings and import of other mountains are brought to life in the exhibition as well: Scottish artist Lesley Punton explores the top of the highest peak in her country’s Munro range in the series of ink on paper works, The Extent of Snow: Ben Lomond, Winter into Spring (2006) and photographer Ansel Adams, comes close to defining the sublime in Tetons and the Snake River (1942).

Additional artists and “their” mountains include William Crosby (Mt. Mansfield in Vermont and Denali in Alaska); Viviane Silvera (Green Mountains outside Hong Kong); Alex Schuchard (the Rockies in Colorado); Chris Dunker (Utah ); and James Burnett and Jennifer Odem, two artists who work, individually, within the genre of “mountains of the imagination,”

The opening reception for The Question of Mountains will be held on Friday, March 26th from 6 to 8 p.m. at the gallery at 2461 Main Street.

For further information, contact Janice Thomas at 511 Gallery.

2461 Main Street, The Wilkins Building
Lake Placid NY 12946 USA
[tel] 518 523 7163 [fax] 518 523 3949

5 1 1 G A L L E R Y
252 Seventh Avenue, Suite 12J
New York NY 10001 USA
[tel] 212 255 2885 [fax] 212 255 6518

“Mt. Mansfield, Vermont” by Plattsburgh artist Bill Crosby, courtesy of 511 Gallery


Friday, March 19, 2010

This Week’s Adirondack Web Highlights


Friday, March 19, 2010

Court Rules Against Marina in Bolton Property Dispute

Bolton Landing’s F.R. Smith & Sons Marina is not the owner of a 867 square foot strip of land where it has stored fuel tanks for more than five decades, the Appellate Division of the Supreme Court of New York State ruled on March 11.

Rather, the property belongs to the marina’s neighbor, the Boathouse Bed and Breakfast, which is owned by Joe and Patti Silipigno.

The courts have yet to decide whether an existing tank must be removed immediately, an expensive and time-consuming procedure that could disrupt the sale of gasoline to boaters later this spring.

“We acknowledge that the Appellate Court has ruled against us, and we are considering our options,” said Richard Bartlett, whose firm, Bartlett, Pontiff, Stewart & Rhodes, represented F.R. Smith & Sons.

Attorneys for F.R. Smith & Sons argued that the marina acquired the land by adverse possession before 1997, when marina owner Fred Smith and Joe Silipigno signed an agreement allowing F.R. Smith to make use of the land in return for discounts on marine services and fuel.

“I wanted to be a good neighbor to Freddy, so I agreed to allow him to continue to use the property, and he was elated,” said Silipigno, who bought the Boathouse in 1996.

“Smith’s offered to plow my driveways in winter and service my boat at a 20 percent discount, offers I didn’t take advantage of. All I asked was that I be sold gas at a set price.”

According to Silipigno, that price was $1.73 per gallon, a price he continued to receive until 2001, two years after the death of Fred Smith.

In 2001, court papers state, Smith’s staff increased the price of gasoline and informed Silipigno that the marina was not bound by his agreement with Fred Smith.

Silipigno then brought a suit against the marina in the hope of having his title to the property affirmed, a move which he said caused ill-will among some residents of Bolton Landing.

“I was told, ‘neighbors don’t sue neighbors,’ but I didn’t initiate this. I think there was feeling against me because I’m a flatlander, an outsider, and the Smiths have been here for more than a hundred years,” Silipigno said.

Silipigno said that he was also attempting to protect the integrity of the Boathouse property.

Built in the early 1900s, the boat house was owned by speed boat racer George Reis, who won the Gold Cup in 1933, 1934 and 1935.

Until his death in 1962, Reis stored El Lagarto, his prize winning boat, at the boat house. El Lagarto is now on display at the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake.

“This is a historic property which shouldn’t be jeopardized,” said Silipigno.

The New York State Supreme Court found that F.R. Smith & Sons failed to prove that it had established title to the strip of land by adverse possession, a ruling that was upheld by the Apellate court in its March 11 decision.

Silipigno said that he did not yet know whether F.R. Smith & Sons would be required to reimburse him for his legal fees, which he estimated to be in thousands of dollars.

Photo: Boathouse Bed and Breakfast; from Lake George Mirror files.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror.


Friday, March 19, 2010

Adirondack Bracket 2010: Adk 64ers Preview II

Equally as engrossing as the 64 stories of those who made it into the Bracket this year are the names and stories of the many more who didn’t make the initial cut. Here are just a few of the unchosen many: leeches, municipal consolidation, Sandy Lewis, the Northway “Hello” sign, snodeo, NCPR fundraisers, TB, “farmers'” markets, Rocky’s Box, gloomy outlooks, and (our perennial favorite) the dump. Better luck next year, guys.

Back to our preview of match-ups in quads three and four of this year’s Adirondack 64er round (after the jump). » Continue Reading.


Friday, March 19, 2010

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Adirondack Music Scene:Open Mic, Musicals, Jam Bands and Acoustic

Thursday, March 18th:

In Saranac Lake, Open Minded Mic Night at BluSeed Studios starts at 7:30 pm, sign up is at 7 pm. Admission is $3.

In Lake Placid, Anne of Green Gables the Musical will be performed at LPCA. It starts at 7:30 pm and tickets are $10 for adults $8 for students.

Friday, March 19th:

In Tupper Lake, Annie will be performed by the high school musical club. Admission is $7.

In Lake Placid, Anne of Green Gables the Musical at LPCA.

Saturday, March 20th:

In Lake Placid, Anne of Green Gables the Musical at LPCA at 11 am.

In Saranac Lake Roy Hurd will perform for the benefit of the Northern Lights School at 7 pm. The benefit is at BluSeed Studios and includes a silent auction, tickets are $15. Call: 891 – 3206 for more information.

In Tupper Lake, Annie at the high school at 7 pm. Admission is $7.

In Saranac Lake, Melvin Seals and JGB will be at The Waterhole starting at 9 pm.

In Canton, Roots of Creation will be performing at the Java Barn starting at 9 pm.

In North Creek, Dreaded Wheat is at Laura’s Tavern at 9 pm.

Photo: Melvin Seals


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Bat Populations Plummet

In February 2006 a caver photographing hibernating bats in Howe Caverns near Albany noticed some bats with an unusual white substance on their muzzles. The following January New York Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) biologists documented more bats with white noses, bats behaving erratically, and numbers of dead bats. Since then NY DEC biologists have been monitoring more than 30 winter bat “hibernacula” in New York’s caves and mines. Over the past three years 93% of the bats in the Northeast, afflicted with what is known as “white-nosed syndrome,” have died. According to the US Fish and Wildlife Service, more than a million bats have perished from New Hampshire to Virginia in the past four years! » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Adirondack Bracket 2010: Adk 64ers (UPDATED)

The Adirondack 64er round is set. Play-in victories by Frankenpines, Lawnchair Ladies, Peter Hornbeck and Backyard Sugarin’ have filled first-round pairings for the second annual Adirondack Bracket.

In general, it seems as though invasive species and related issues have established a beachhead this year. Spiny waterflea, rock snot, Realtors, and watermilfoils (some varieties of which, it must be said, are native to these parts) have joined the dance, as has Triclopyr (the chemical herbicide recently approved by the APA to kill Eurasian watermilfoil on Lake Luzerne), and DEC’s Bureau of Fisheries (whose failure to mount adequate protections at state boat launches is chiefly responsible for the spread of these invaders—with the exception of Realtors, who mostly plague the shorelines).

Click through for some featured match-ups from the first and second quads of this year’s first-round (check in tomorrow for featured matches in quads 3 and 4):

In the first quad, light pollution—an excellent photo essay on the topic by photographer Mark Bowie is featured this month in Adirondack Life Magazine—is going up against the incredibly diverse galaxy of Adirondack mushrooms (our favorite, Ganoderma applanatum, a.k.a. shelf fungus, or—appropriately—bracket fungus, or artist’s conk, is its own natural artistic medium with numerous gifted practitioners throughout the Adirondacks and upstate New York.)

Cougar sightings are a recurring meme in Adirondack lore and blogging. These sinewy felines are going up against real maple syrup. Of the syrup it can be said that the sap runs hard throughout the month of March and is known to dribble furiously. Its chief vulnerability: the tendency to look too far ahead to potential pairings in the sweet sixteen round.

Frankenpines, having gotten past the century-deceased master watercolorist Winslow Homer by virtue of their height and period uniforms and three-point game, find themselves facing the Moodys—early and prolific Adirondack settlers whose members include Jacob Moody, founder of Saranac Lake. The legendary guide Martin Van Buren “Uncle Mart” Moody so impressed President Chester Alan Arthur (One of his two Presidential “sports”) with his guiding chops that the president established the eponymous Moody’s Post Office at Moody’s Mount Morris House in Tupper Lake (the present location of Big Tupper Ski Area, and the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort).

Axe-fodder is the leitmotif of the Bracket’s second quad. John Brown (who just last year “celebrated” the sesquicentennial of his hanging, only to return home to his North Elba farmstead to find that the state park has an appointment with the chopping block in the 2010 State Budget) will meet the magisterial eastern white pine, the object of logging desire since the first european settlers arrived on the continent. This section of the Bracket also features Moriah “Shock” Incarceration Correctional Facility and Lyon Mountain Correctional Facility, both slated for closure in this year’s state budget. They will face last year’s Bracket powerhouse Stewart’s Ice Cream Shops of Greenville, NY. Depending on the outcome—not so much of this contest, but of budget negotiations in Albany—Stewart’s might consider a new flavor: Moriah Shocolate, or Moriah Shock-full-o’-nuts, or something like that.

Our personal favorite in this corner of the Bracket is Yellow Yellow, who’s ability to crack the defenses of DEC bear-proof canisters proved that he is definitely smarter than your average bear. Yellow Yellow will meet Wells Olde Home Days.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Status Update: Adirondack Club and Resort

The Adirondack Park Agency yesterday issued the following statement in response to “numerous inquiries” on the status of the Adirondack Club and Resort development proposed for Tupper Lake. The APA board sent the proposal to hearing on ten issues in February 2007:

The adjudicatory hearing is being conducted under the general supervision of Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Daniel P. O’Connell, assigned to the project from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s Office of Hearings and Mediation Services. There are about 40 individual parties to the adjudicatory hearing.

Prior to the completion of a pre-hearing conference, and prior to commencing the formal hearing, the Adirondack Club and Resort project sponsor requested and participated in a mediation process that ended last summer. At the conclusion of the mediation process, the project sponsor asked for additional time to modify the proposal with mitigation measures based on the outcomes of the mediation. Submission of these materials is the necessary next step prior to resuming the formal hearing which will be conducted in public at a place and time to be determined by the ALJ. Project modifications are expected to be submitted in April or May, after which the ALJ will resume regular pre-hearing and hearing proceedings.

The Adirondack Park Agency may only act on this project after the conclusion of the public hearing on the modified proposal that is to be submitted by the project sponsor and following the receipt of the written hearing record.

The mission of the Adirondack Park Agency is to protect the public and private resources of the Adirondack Park through the exercise of the powers and duties of the Agency as provided by law. With its headquarters located in Ray Brook, the Agency also operates two Visitor Interpretive Centers, in Newcomb and Paul Smiths. For more information, call the APA at (518) 891-4050 or visit www.apa.state.ny.us.


Thursday, March 18, 2010

Skiing the Top of New York — Badly

Mount Marcy, you are a fickle temptress.

Every year I skin up and ski down this mountain, at 5,344 feet the highest in the state. Sometimes twice. The 14-mile route is considered by many to be one of the finest backcountry tours on the East Coast.

All these trips, and I still can’t help feeling on the way down that I’m about to die.

Mind you, my ski gear has improved significantly from the first time nearly 20 years ago, when I used cross-country skis and boots so floppy that when I sat down and held my legs out in front of me the skis ticked back and forth like a metronome.

Today, I use telemark skis and plastic boots. I wear safety goggles. But I still can’t shake the feeling that around every curve is sure to be a fatal collision with a blue spruce tree or an overweight snowshoer.

Fear is my undoing, because it’s not my terrible skiing that turns a ski down Mt. Marcy to a fall down Mt. Marcy. It’s the speed, which makes me want to stop, which then causes me to fall. The only good side of this is that there’s not a chairlift in sight, so at least no one’s watching.

Marcy, being New York’s highest mountain, has always attracted visitors. And the extra bonus is that the trail was made for skiing. Unfortunately, it was made for skiers who clearly don’t mind shooting pell-mell down a tobaggan-run of a trail so curvy you never know what’s 20 feet ahead until you’ve risked becoming intimately acquainted with it.

I’ve always been envious of those who can ski down this trail with grace and poise. A few years ago, I was doing my usual ass-over-teakettle descent when I passed Tony Goodwin, the local trail guru. He was calmly and methodically descending the mountain on his old leather boots and cross-country skis, carving out a perfect snowplow in the spring powder as I blundered by. How did he do it?

I’ve had some good descents, generally dependent on snow conditions. Powder slows you down a lot, and makes turning easier, as does wet spring snow. During my most recent descent, with Adirondack Explorer Editor Phil Brown, the snow was powdery but also quite fast. Phil fell once. I lost track of the times that I threw my hurling body to the ground. But I made it down unpunctured by errant tree branch and uncontusioned by face plants.

The record for descent from peak to trailhead, as I understand it, is about 43 minutes. That’s by local skimeister Pat Munn of the famed Ski to Die Club, who was accompanied by his dog Otis. The time includes the few minutes he used to chat with friends at Marcy Dam. Doubtless he stayed upright the entire time. My descent time was more like two hours, though Phil and I did stop to take pictures (and a video, which you can see here).

Why do I keep coming back? Mt. Marcy is the consummate backcountry ski experience: a long skin up, a treeless summit (sometimes with a bowl filled with powder just below the top) and 3,000 feet of vertical drop that is — well, no matter what your skill level — never boring.

You push your way up, with each step the view growing more and more impressive. And then, on a perfect day, the top is bathed in sunshine; the summit cone standing out like a tower amid the stunted forest below treeline; the High Peak’s most rugged peaks are your closest neighbors.

At the top, you fuel up on food and water, rip off your skins and prepare for the long descent. In Phil’s case, he brought a ski helmet. I just wore my fear. And some safety glasses.

Still, for all my sloppy schussing, I’ll keep coming back. The effort, the view (or the white-out, as was the case this year), and that exhausted feeling of satisfaction at the end makes it all worth it.

And the knowledge that with every trip I’m learning. Some day, I know, I’ll ski it clean.

* * *
Interested in skiing Marcy? Park at Adirondack Loj near Lake Placid (fee), and plan for five to seven hours for the round-trip. Backcountry ski gear is available for rent at The Mountaineer in Keene Valley and EMS in Lake Placid. The Visitor’s Center at the Loj parking lot also rents ski gear, but most skiers may find the equipment more suited to lower-angle trails than the steep slopes on Marcy. Remember not to go too fast!


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Adirondack Scat: The Scoop on Poop

It’s a glorious day. You decide to go for a walk. You step out the door and head for the hills. You are ready to take in everything Ol’ Mom Nature has to offer, so you’ve equipped yourself with binoculars, field guides, and a hand lens. You have your heart set on finding flowers, spying birds, or maybe, just maybe, stumbling upon that elusive moose. Anything could happen . . . the sky is the limit. Odds are, however, that you aren’t prepared to peek at poop.

I suspect that we all snigger at the mention of poo because we were raised to think of it as something “dirty.” And, well, I suppose it is, technically, so this is why those of us who study natural science refer to the offending matter as scat, or droppings—words that are less likely to elicit tittering. Still, when I work with kids, I do use the vernacular “poo” or “poop” because it helps move the stuff little further from its tarnished image—when words become familiar they become less taboo. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

John’s Ten Favorite Irish Songs For St. Patrick’s Day

Here are ten songs everyone with Irish aspirations should know, in no particular order. Learn these and you’ll never spend St. Paddy’s alone.

Whiskey in the Jar – This classic tune is believed to have originated in the late 1600s or early 1700s. Since then it’s by been covered by The Dubliners, Thin Lizzy, Peter, Paul & Mary, Gerry Garcia and David Grisman, and Metallica. My favorite line: “I first produced my pistol, and then produced my rapier.” » Continue Reading.


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