Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Former Military Rifle Range Inspections Set

The National Guard Bureau will surveying old National Guard rifle range in Ticonderoga, Malone, Glens Falls, and Saratoga Springs for the presence of environmental poisons this summer. The ranges are among 23 former New York Army National Guard training sites used between 1873 and 1994.

The program is being conducted worldwide to address human health, safety, and environmental concerns at former non-operational defense sites. This includes over 400 sites in 48 states and two territories formerly used by the National Guard. The training sites in New York vary in size from 3.7 to 939 acres.

Currently, the New York National Guard has three training sites located in Guilderland, Youngstown and at Camp Smith, near Peekskill. Soldiers also train regularly at Ft. Drum, near Watertown.

Current property owners are in the process of being asked to allow contractors on their property to conduct this check which although mandated by the Department of Defense Military Munitions Response Program, will only include soil samples from a depth “less than two to three inches.” The survey will also a visual inspection and checks with hand-held metal detectors. According to a press release issued by the Guard, “the inspectors will collect the samples with disposable plastic spoons, which are about the size of an ice cream scoop.”

A preliminary assessment to identify locations, research historical records, land usage and past incident(s) in the area was completed in 2008; this summer’s site inspections are expected to collect additional information, data and samples necessary to determine if following actions are warranted.

About the sites:

The Malone Small Arms Range was used from about 1895 to 1985. The range was approximately 43 acres; the range layout and boundary are unknown, as are the types of ammunition used there. The former range is located on state land, redeveloped for a correctional facility, northwest of Malone.

An older Ticonderoga Small Arms Range measured about 406 acres and was used from about 1950 to 1973; the newer one measured 105 acres and was used from about 1986 to 1994. The layouts and boundaries of the ranges are unknown, as are the types of ammunition used at them. The former ranges are located between Vineyard Road and Corduroy Road.

The Glens Falls Small Arms Range was used from about 1878 to 1955. The range was approximately 876 acres; the range layout has been verified, but the types of ammunition used there are unknown. The former range is located on forested, municipal property north of Peggy Ann Road.

The Saratoga Springs Small Arms Range was used from about 1878 to 1951. The range was approximately 100 acres; the range layout has been verified, but the types of ammunition used there are unknown. The former range is located on residential properties and forested land east of Weibel Avenue.

Anyone who has documents, records or photographs of the range are encouraged to contact Master Sgt. Corine Lombardo at corine.lombardo@us.army.mil or (518) 786-4579.

Photo: New York Army National Guard Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry, conduct weapons training at the Guilderland Weekend Training Center.


Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Phil Brown: Questions About Adirondack Cougars

Does the eastern cougar still exist? A few weeks ago, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service concluded that it does not—a finding that’s unlikely to end the debate over whether cougars live in the Adirondacks.

Here’s another question: did the eastern cougar ever exist?

No one disputes that cougars once roamed the Adirondacks and the rest of the East. Indeed, the Fish and Wildlife Service report describes the cougar as “the most widely distributed land mammal in the New World.” The cats have adapted to a variety of habitats, including forests, swamps, deserts, and high mountains. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

APA Meeting This Week: LGRB Deal in Works

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, March 17 and Friday March 18, 2011 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. The meeting will be webcast live and meeting materials are available for download.

Among the topics for discussion will be a Memorandum of Understanding between the Adirondack Park Agency and the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board.

The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 for Executive Director Terry Martino’s report where she will review monthly activities.

At 9:15 a.m., the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider a proposed five lot shoreline subdivision involving wetlands and within a scenic river area, a proposed shoreline structure setback variance involving the vertical expansion of single family dwelling, a proposed telecommunication tower with antenna and ancillary equipment, and a third renewal request for a previously approved resort community project.

At 1:00, Francis J. Murray, Jr., President and CEO of the NYS Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) will brief the Park Planning and Policy Committee on programs NYSERDA offers throughout the Adirondack Park.

At 2:00, the State Land Committee will convene for an informational presentation on the Hoffman Notch Wilderness Unit Management Plan.

At 3:45, the Economic Affairs Committee will hear a presentation from Mark and Kristin Kimball on Sustainable Agriculture and Community Markets.

Kristin Kimball is author of The Dirty Life: On Farming, Food, and Love, a memoir about her adjustment from a writer’s life in Manhattan to running the Essex Farm in Essex, New York together with her husband Mark.

At 3:30, the Administration Committee will discuss the Agency Delegation Resolution.

At 4:15, the Enforcement Committee will receive a program overview highlighting activities and accomplishments.

Friday morning at 9:00, the Local Government Services Committee will discuss a Memorandum of Understanding between the Adirondack Park Agency and the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board.

At 9:45, the Park Policy and Planning Committee will be updated on mapping and Geographic Information Services available at the Adirondack Park Agency.

At 10:30, the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider authorizing staff to proceed to public notice for draft General Permit 2011G-2 – “Herbicide Vegetation Management for Guide Rail and Sign and Delineator Posts Adjacent to Wetlands in the Adirondack Park.

At 11:00, the Full Agency will assemble to take action as necessary and conclude with committee reports, public and member comment.

The April Agency is scheduled for April 14-15, 2011 at Agency headquarters in Ray Brook.

May Agency Meeting: May 12-13 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Footy Film Fest in AuSable Forks

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities
The Footy Film Festival isn’t just for the freestyle and snowboard culture, Director Mike Kirshner insists. The category was left ambiguous, snow-sport action footage from the current season with the only restriction being time. This first winter-sports amateur film contest has an under 5-minute and under 30-minute category that includes entries from all walks of life, not just the freestyle world.

Kirshner says, “We wanted the festival to be open to all though we did primarily get entries that are involved in the culture. We do have an ice fishing entry and even one with young kids competing in some of the disciplines. We want this event to continue to grow and have more entries outside the freestyle culture.”

The disciplines that Kirshner refers to are in two areas, ski and snowboard. In the ski category competitors compete in Moguls, Dual Moguls, Aerials, Slopestyle, Halfpipe and Skiercross. In the snowboard field, participants compete in Slopestyle, Halfpipe, Boardercross, Giant Slalom and Slalom.

Spectators are encouraged to attend the Footy Film Festival and all funds will be used to support the United States of America Snowboard Associations Adirondack (USASA ADK) athletes at Nationals at Copper Mountain.

“The idea of an amateur film festival felt like a natural fit. A lot of the first year boarders and younger kids in the snow and ski culture are already filming themselves on YouTube and Facebook,” says Kirshner. “For some kids the filming may even take priority over the primary activity. So out of this culture we decided to have a contest for the Adirondack region that would support the subculture while also acting as a fundraiser for those athletes trying to make Nationals, which are in Colorado this year.”

The film festival will take place at the Hollywood Theatre in AuSable Forks this Friday, March 18 at 6:30 p.m. All tickets are $5. Awards will be given to the top three in each category following the showing. First place for <5 minute edit will receive $100 cash prize and a GoPro camera while the first place winner for < 30 minute edit will receive $200 cash prize and a GoPro camera. Other prizes will be awarded from PlacidPlanet Bicycles and Hardway Apparel.

All in all it should be a fun first-time event that will continue to grow overtime. For some it may be an introduction to freestyle sports or just an interesting view at some up and coming talent.


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, March 15, 2011

Local Sites Suggested for Historic Registers

The New York State Board for Historic Preservation recommended the addition of 39 properties to the State and National Registers of Historic Places, including a Clinton County lumber company and a Saratoga County grain and feed store, a Lake George marine railway, Fort George, a home in Lowville, and more.

Listing these properties on the State and National Registers can assist their owners in revitalizing the structures, making them eligible for various public preservation programs and services, such as matching state grants and state and federal historic rehabilitation tax credits.

The State and National Registers are the official lists of buildings, structures, districts, landscapes, objects and sites significant in the history, architecture, archeology and culture of New York State and the nation. There are 90,000 historic buildings, structures and sites throughout the state listed on the National Register of Historic Places, individually or as components of historic districts. Property owners, municipalities and organizations from communities throughout the state sponsored the nominations.

Once the recommendations are approved by the state historic preservation officer, the properties are listed on the New York State Register of Historic Places and then nominated to the National Register of Historic Places, where they are reviewed and, once approved, entered on the National Register.

Local sites recommended for inclusion in the State and National Registers of Historic Places. Past recommendations are available here.

Clinton County
Heyworth-Mason Industrial Building, Peru – the 1836 structure is an example of an early stone industrial building that housed A. Mason and Sons Lumber Company, a firm that operated for 90 years and greatly impacted the building industry in Clinton and Essex Counties.

Essex County

Crandall Marine Railway, Ticonderoga – the rare and remarkably intact 1927 railway dry dock facility was, and still is, used by the Lake George Steamboat Company to haul its excursion boats in and out of Lake George for maintenance and storage.

Fulton County

Hotel Broadalbin, Broadalbin – originally built in 1854 as a specialty store selling gloves manufactured at the local Northrup & Richards glove factory, it was greatly enlarged in 1881 for use as a hotel for the growing numbers of tourists visiting the Adirondacks.

Herkimer County

Frankfort Hill District #10 School, Frankfort Hill – constructed in 1846, the vernacular building retains a high degree of architectural integrity and remarkably served as an active public school for 110 years until 1956.

Lewis County

Stoddard-O’Connor House, Lowville – built in 1898, the Queen Anne/Colonial Revival-inspired home is adjacent to the commercial heart of Lowville, which was experiencing ample growth during the turn of the last century.

Mary Lyon Fisher Memorial Chapel, Lyonsdale – the late Gothic Revival masonry chapel in Wildwood Cemetery was built in 1921 by the children of Mary Lyon Fisher in honor of their mother, and is an important reminder of the philanthropy of the Lyon family, a preeminent family of the region.

St. Lawrence County

Young Memorial Church, Brier Hill – built 1907-1908, the church is an intact example of the Shingle style, featuring a two-story square Gothic bell tower and decorative windows of opaque glass and stained glass medallions and portraits made by a local artisan.

Saratoga County

Smith’s Grain and Feed Store, Elnora – constructed in 1892, the store served the local farm community for generations by selling feed, grain, coal, fertilizers and other goods that were transported to the store by the railroad, which unloaded at the store’s own siding.

Warren County

Fort George, Lake George – archaeological investigations at the French and Indian War site have provided rare insights into New York’s colonial wars and it reflects early and successful public initiatives in land conservation and commemoration.

Also included was the Caledonia Fish Hatchery in Livingston County, significant for its association with Seth Green, who established the first fish hatchery in the western hemisphere there in 1864, creating what has been acclaimed nationally and internationally as the world’s largest and most productive fish plant in continuous use. A roadside souvenir stand modeled after a 1954 tepee on Route 20 in Cherry Valley, Otsego County, was included as an example of popular roadside architecture.


Tuesday, March 15, 2011

3rd Annual Adirondack Donegal Beard Contest

This year’s Adirondack Donegal Beard Contest will take place 4 to 7 pm St. Patrick’s Day, Thursday, March 17th, at Basil & Wicks (formerly Casey’s North), Route 28, in North Creek, NY. The contest is open to beardsmen who were clean shaven on January 1, 2011 and have since grown a Donegal beard.

A Donegal beard is a traditional Irish beard that grows along the jaw line and covers the chin — no soul patch, no mustache. This year marks the contest’s third year. New beardsmen are welcome to take part in the event, which is free and open to the public. Judging begins at 6 pm; contestants are judged on length, fullness, style, and
effort. There will be beer specials, music by Mike Leddick, corned beef and cabbage and complimentary taxi rides home from 7 pm to 11 pm.

To see pictures from previous contests, and to join the Facebook group, go here.


Monday, March 14, 2011

The Gray Squirrel in the Adirondacks

Anyone living in a town or hamlet in the Adirondacks knows that the gray squirrel is a common member of the wildlife community within the Park. This bushy-tailed rodent ranks among the most frequently seen creatures, especially if a few individuals in the neighborhood are maintaining bird feeders. Yet, as common as this skilled aerialist may appear, the gray squirrel is not as widely distributed throughout the Park as it would seem.

The gray squirrel is a creature that is heavily dependent on acorns for its staple source of food. It is in mature stands of oaks that the population of this species reaches its natural peak. In areas where oaks occur only sporadically, the gray squirrel has a far more challenging time surviving. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 14, 2011

Notorious Outlaws Meet Boonville’s Jesse Knight

Among the North Country men who made their mark in the Old West was a native of Boonville, in the foothills of the southwestern Adirondacks. He became a success in business, politics, farming, and law, and played an important role in the development of a wild territory into our 44th state. But it was ties to some notorious characters that brought him a measure of fame.

Jesse Knight was born in Boonville on July 5, 1850, the son of Jesse and Henrietta Knight. His grandfather, Isaac, had settled in Oneida County in the early 1800s and raised a family, among them Jesse’s father. But young Jesse never knew his dad, who left that same year for California, and died of yellow fever on the Isthmus of Panama. (The isthmus was a newly created US Mail route to reach California and Oregon, and a popular path for pioneers headed West.)

Jesse attended schools in Lewis, Oneida, and Fulton counties, and at 17 went to live with an uncle in Minnesota for two years. He moved to Omaha, and then settled in the Wyoming Territory. Within a decade, Knight progressed from store clerk and postmaster to court clerk and attorney. At Evanston, near Wyoming’s southwest border, he ran a successful law practice and served as Territorial Auditor.

He also acted as a land sales agent for Union Pacific. Among the properties he sold was 1,906 acres on the Bear River … to one Jesse Knight.

In 1888 he was elected prosecuting attorney of Uinta County, and in 1890, when Wyoming attained statehood, he was voted a member of the state constitutional convention. He was also elected as judge of the Third Judicial District.

By this time, Knight was doing quite well financially and had added to his landholdings. On nearly 1400 acres along the Bear River and more than 800 acres of hills, the judge’s ranch had developed into an impressive enterprise. Within the fenced property, he grew high-quality hay (250 tons) and rye (50 tons), and raised herds of superior-grade cattle and horses.

Irrigation was a key element: two main ditches (one was 3 miles long, 20 feet wide, and 4 feet deep) supplied ample water. The Union Pacific rail line bisected the property, allowing Jesse’s products easy access to markets elsewhere.

Besides his showcase farming operation, Knight’s public career was also flourishing. In 1896, he suffered what appeared to be a setback, failing to win the Republican re-nomination for district judge. Unfazed, he ran as an Independent and won handily. A year later, he was appointed as an associate justice of the Supreme Court of Wyoming to fill an unexpired term. In 1898, Knight was elected to a full 8-year term.

His business ventures were similarly successful. Besides the ranch, he owned part of a copper mine. He was also one of only two Americans working with several of Europe’s wealthiest men in developing oil wells in Wyoming. The consortium was valued at $10 million (equal to over a quarter billion in 2011). Jesse had a seat on the board of directors.

In 1902, his prominence was noted in the naming of the Knight Post Office, which served a community near Evanston for 19 years.

On April 9, 1905, though still a young man of only 55, Supreme Court Justice Jesse Knight died of pneumonia. He had accomplished a great deal for any man, let alone a poor, fatherless boy from the wilds of New York. His survivors included a wife and five children.

Among Knight’s legacy are connections to some of the West’s notorious characters. In his capacities as rancher, lawyer, prosecutor, and judge, he dealt with many violent, dangerous men over the years. According to biographers of “Big Nose” George Parrott, it was Judge Jesse Knight who sentenced Parrott to hang for the attempted robbery of a Union Pacific pay car and the subsequent killing of two lawmen who were pursuing him.

It was pretty much an average crime story until Parrott tried to escape from jail before Knight’s sentence could be carried out. The attempt prompted an angry mob to forcibly remove Big Nose from his cell and string him up from a telegraph pole. (But it wasn’t easy.)

John Osborne, one of the doctors who had possession of Parrott’s body, examined the brain for abnormalities. Further dissection of the body led to lasting fame for Parrott’s remains. The skull cap that had been removed was saved, and over the years it served as an ash tray, a pen holder, and a doorstop. A death mask of his face was also made. That aside, now it gets gruesome.

The body was flayed, and the skin was sent to a tannery, where it was made into a medical bag, a coin purse, and a pair of shoes, all of which were used by Osborne. The shoes were two-toned—the dark half came from the shoes Parrot wore during the hanging, and the lighter part was made from his own skin.

Doctor Osborne wore the shoes for years—even to the inaugural ball when he was elected governor of Wyoming! The rest of Parrott’s remains were placed in a whiskey barrel filled with a salt solution, and eventually buried. The barrel was uncovered in 1950, and it was found that the skull cap neatly fit the remains, proving it was Parrott’s body. Other tests later confirmed the results. The death mask and “skin shoes” are now on display in a museum in Rawlins, Wyoming.

In 1903, Supreme Court Justice Knight was involved in the famous case of Tom Horn, a former lawman and detective turned outlaw and hired gun. In a controversial trial, Horn was convicted and sentenced to hang for the killing of a 14-year-old boy. Justice Knight was among those who reviewed the appeal, which was denied. Horn was hanged in November, 1903.

The most famous character linked to Knight was Roy Parker, who was actually Robert LeRoy Parker, better known as Butch Cassidy. They met when Cassidy was arrested for horse theft, a case tried in “Knight court.” After delays, the trial was finally held in 1894. Cassidy was very popular, and many of his friends were in town with the intent of intervening on his behalf.

A verdict was reached, but Knight ordered it sealed, to be opened on the following Monday, by which time it was hoped many of the visitors would have left town. But Cassidy’s friends were loyal, and high anxiety reigned in the packed courtroom when the verdict was read. To counter the danger, the sheriff, several town officials, many private citizens, and the attorneys all came to court armed. Famously, Judge Jesse Knight carried a pistol, hidden beneath his robes.

The jury pronounced Cassidy guilty, recommending him to the mercy of the court. Knight sentenced him to two years in the Wyoming State Penitentiary at Laramie. A few months before his scheduled release, Cassidy’s sentence was commuted. The term imposed by Judge Knight was the only prison time Butch Cassidy ever served during his lengthy, notorious career.

Photo Top: Jesse Knight.

Photo Middle Right: Big Nose George Parrott.

Photo Middle Left: Shoes of George Parrott … literally.

Photo Bottom: Robert LeRoy Parker, aka Butch Cassidy.

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


Monday, March 14, 2011

Dave Gibson: Less Pigeon Holing, More Story Telling

Today, the experiences, views and outlooks of wild land advocates and foresters are often pigeon-holed as necessarily antithetical to each other. I don’t hold that view, and neither does Adirondack Wild’s Dan Plumley. For evidence, read Dan’s “December Wood” essay. We were both mentored by Paul Schaefer, one of the most effective advocates for wilderness conditions in the Adirondacks during the 20th century.

Paul had many outdoor debates during the 1950s with former Finch, Pruyn executive Lyman Beeman. The two men saw a tract of forest and viewed its potential quite differently, of course. Yet, they both respected each other’s point of view and recognized, as we do today, that foresters of all kinds share with wilderness advocates a deep love for the land, for productive soils and for stewardship over a long period of time, on a human time scale anyway. Good wood grows on good wood, some say. And sometimes a conservationist has got to make some money cutting trees.
What brought this to mind is one of the most interesting stories I ever heard from Paul Schaefer. One day in January, 1991 he was reminiscing about the great depression and World War II, when the bank withheld his assets from his construction company. Then his bank closed, and would not allow any withdrawals, forcing Paul to take on odd jobs in order to feed his family. Then came severe restrictions and shortages on the building materials he used as a homebuilder, and the cost of a house became very dear, preventing him from doing a lot of building.

One day during WW II, Paul read in the daily newspaper in Schenectady that the county airfield, mostly undeveloped at the time, needed to be transformed into a bombing range and military airport. Trees had to be cleared there, pretty big ones at that. Paul read this and went over to Scotia to take a look. He found about ten state or county workers clipping goldenrod with handclippers. He went in and spoke with the person in authority and asked “you want someone to cut trees for you don’t you?” Yes. “What are they cutting goldenrod for?” “They don’t have the skills to cut trees,” came the answer. “Well, you’ve got your man here,” Paul replied.

Paul needed the help of some Adirondackers, so he got in touch with George Morehouse in Bakers Mills to come down and give him a hand with the tree cutting. Each week, Paul would drive up Route 9 to Bakers Mills (at least a 2.5 hour trip one way in those days), pick George up and drive him down to Scotia and the two of them would cut for days at a time. George would stay at Paul and Carolyn Schaefer’s home at night. There were no chain saws available. They required a cross-cut, two-man saw.

“We worked together really smooth,” Paul told me. They cut and they cut. One day, Paul and George got a saw wedged in the tree. They left it, took up another saw and went on cutting. Years later, Paul recovered that wedged saw, all rusted except the blade in the bole of the tree, which was gleaming. “If you want your blade to remain nice and shiny, keep it in a piece of oak or something,” Paul advised. That blade was a part of Paul’s memorabilia destroyed when his barn burned down in the early 1960’s.

One day, after many hours of cutting, George Morehouse said he had to get home. Paul offered to let him stay overnight and drive him home tomorrow. No, I got to get home today, George said. Paul, dead tired, drove George back to Bakers Mills and all the way back. He was so tired on his return journey that he almost failed to stop at a railroad crossing. He put on his brakes a foot before the train roared past him.

So that’s the way Paul Schaefer, the wilderness advocate, guide and homebuilder, got by several years during World War II by selling some of this wood from the airport as lumber and firewood, and turning the little airfield in Scotia, NY into a military facility.

Photo: Paul Schaefer at his Adirondack cabin, c. 1960, courtesy of the Paul Schaefer Collection, Adirondack Research Library.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Changes Planned for Baitfish Transport Regulations

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will propose revisions to the current rule restricting overland transport of uncertified baitfish. DEC is currently developing a proposed revision to the regulations that would allow baitfish to be transported overland within defined “transportation corridors” for use within the same waterbody from which they are collected. DEC anticipates issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in March to be followed by a 45-day public comment period. » Continue Reading.


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