Monday, May 2, 2011

Guest Essay: Lessons from the 2010 Census

What follows is a guest essay by Ken Strike, Professor Emeritus at Cornell University and member of the board of Protect the Adirondacks. Ken and Lorraine Duvall produced a demographic study of the Adirondacks following 2009’s Adirondack Park Regional Assessment (APRAP) report. The Almanack asked Ken, who lives in Thendara on the Moose River, to provide his perspective on the 2010 Census.

What does the 2010 census tell us about ourselves? The Adirondack population is basically flat with growth in some places and losses in others, and our population is aging. For some it has been easy to conclude that these demographics are the result of a poor economy and that this poor economy results from public ownership of land and the Park’s regulatory environment. However, a more careful reading of the 2010 census data tea leaves does not support these views. Rather, they suggest that we are much like other rural areas – in fact we’re better off than many. Our population dynamics also track the dynamics of the U.S. and NYS white population. No great surprise that. And they suggest that the Park is an asset, not a liability. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, May 1, 2011

Adirondack Ice: Local Ice-Out Contests

For many, springtime (mud-season) looms as the longest and most trying of seasons. Skating, skiing, ice fishing and other winter sports are no longer possible; hiking trips await drier footing, paddling is on hold until the ice goes out. Adirondackers, often in some desperation, look for diversions to help them survive this interminable time of year.

With the arrival of March, temperatures start to swing wildly from 5º to 65º. Water drips, brooks babble and lake ice slowly dwindles away; not sinking as some would believe, but rather becoming porous and water filled until finally it melts completely and disappears. This happens bit by bit in different parts of lakes and over a period of many days. Ever resourceful, residents take advantage of this phenomenon to provide entertainment in the form of ice-out contests. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 30, 2011

Curt Stager’s Fresh Look at Climate Change

Paul Smiths College Professor Curt Stager’s new book, Deep Future: The Next 100,000 Years of Life on Earth (St. Martin’s Press, 2011) is a fresh look at global climate change. Stager’s approach is that of the paleoecologist, a discipline that has traditionally been focused on reconstructing the paleoenvironment using the fossil record to clarify the relationship that plants, animals, and humans have to their environment in the past.

Typically, paleoecological researchers have aimed their attentions on the Quaternary period (the last two million years), particularity with studies of the Holocene epoch (the last 11,000 years), or the Pleistocene glaciation period (50,000 to 10,000 years ago). Stager’s Deep Future looks in the other direction, 100,000 years into the future.

Stager is quick to point out that no, humans won’t go extinct; some species will win, some lose, because after temperatures rise, they’ll fall (at a slower rate). Deep Future is built around the Anthropocene, the first epoch in which humans have come to influence the Earth’s ecosystems.

Scientists are somewhat divided over when the Anthropocene begins. Some suggest 8,000 years ago, when we began clearing forests to raise animals and grow crops during the Neolithic Revolution, others establish a date as late as the Industrial Revolution of the 1750s. Both agree that what’s significant is that atmospheric carbon dioxide (CO2) is increasing at a faster rate, and to a much greater extent, that previous glacial-interglacial cycles of the past million years, and that humans are the cause.

Deep Future illuminates the changes of the coming 100,000 years, among them the effect we’ve already had in delaying the next ice age. Describing himself as a “converted climate skeptic” thanks in part to research at Paul Smiths into weather and lake ice records in the Adirondacks, Stager explores the idea that our distant descendants may well applaud us for the changes we cause, but many of the earth’s species will suffer dramatic transformations. Acidification of our oceans will impact sea species, shifting micro climates will force great species migrations to adapt, which on land may be blocked by human development.

The bottom line of Deep Future is that what we decide to do now about controlling our carbon emissions will have tremendous impacts on our future descendants. Putting it into an even larger context, Stager offers this unique perspective: “If we burn through all our fossil fuels now, we will leave nothing for the people of the future to burn to stave off future ice ages and prevent the crushing devastation of migrating ice sheets.”

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.


Friday, April 29, 2011

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 5,700 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.


Friday, April 29, 2011

Fort William Henry Hotel: Lake George’s First Luxury Resort

Lake George has been lodging visitors at the site of the Fort William Henry Resort and Conference Center for more than 150 years. 156 years, to be precise.

Five years after the original hotel opened in 1855, the first Minnehaha was launched, and her captain entered into a relationship with the steward of the hotel’s dining room; as the boat came churning up the lake, the captain would blow the ship’s whistle once for every 10 passengers aboard, so that the steward would know how many would be in for dinner.

In 1868, the hotel was sold for $125,000 to T. Roessele & Sons of Albany and enlarged. A mansard roof was added and the hotel was now seven stories high. A 25 foot wide piazza extending the entire length of the north side of the building, supported by a row of 38 foot-high Corinthian columns, was also added. By then, steamboats were being met on the docks at the foot of the hotel’s lawns with 13 piece German bands. The hotel could accommodate 1000 guests; among them, former president U.S. Grant and Generals W.T. Sherman and Philip Sheridan, to name just a few of the celebrities who cooled themselves on the piazza.

A twelve year-old Theodore Roosevelt accompanied his family to Lake George in 1871, and they, too, put up at the hotel. Roosevelt kept a diary of the visit, recounting each day’s activities. For instance, of August 2nd he writes:

”Early in the morning we went to the ruins of Fort George which we found after some difficulty. We brought home some specimens with us. There was an airgun before the hotel with which we had some shooting matches with variable success. There was an Indian encampment near which of course we visited. Then we hired some boats and rowed off to an island in the lake where we left the Ladies, went off some distance and had a swim. We then rowed back to the island (and then) home to dinner.”

A visitor during that same decade wrote:

”The coach is driven with a sweep and a swirl through the grounds of the hotel , and, suddenly turning a corner, dashes up before the wide and corridored piazza, crowded with groups of people – all superb life and animation on one side of him, and a marvelous stretch of lake and mountain and wooded shore on the other…”


The hotel opened for business in mid-June. Life there was pleasant and undemanding, if an 1893 account in the Lake George Mirror is any indication. “The hotel is supplied with every modern convenience, and there are billiard rooms, bowling alleys, swimming baths, lawn tennis courts, and music is provided throughout the season, there being also balls and parties at intervals.”

The Mirror continues: “The cuisine is always of the finest and cannot be improved upon, it being of a character to commend it to wealthy and fastidious people. The drives in the neighborhood, the fishing in the lake, and the boating and yachting, all contribute to make a stay at the Fort William Henry Hotel all that once could wish for… The outlook from the piazza is at all times little less than enchanting, commanding, as it does, the level reaches of the lake for miles, with a number of the most picturesque islands and promontories. In the evening, by full moonlight, or on a peaceful Sunday, while the orchestra discourses sacred music, and the only undertone is the flutter of cool dresses, dainty ribbons and fans, and the low voices of friendly promenaders, life here seems entirely worth living.”

The author of the Mirror’s account goes on to describe the interior of the hotel:

“Under the dome (from the upper part of which a grand view of the lake is obtained) is the general office, including also a ticket office, telegraph office, bazaar, news, book and cigar stand, etc. West of this is the drawing room, and on the east, suites of apartments, bijou parlors, and the large billiard hall, while at the back is the great dining hall. A cabinet of Indian and historical curiosities, gathered from the locality, attracts great interest.”

The hotel was owned by the Delaware & Hudson Railroad when it burned in June 1909, and two years later a new hotel was constructed on the site. In an article on the opening which appeared in the Lake George Mirror, the new structure was acclaimed “a masterpiece of architecture. With its companion hotel at Bluff Point on Lake Champlain, it shares the honor of being the only fireproof house in Northern New York devoted to the resort business.”

In another edition of the Mirror, an editorial described the lavish display of flowers and shrubs surrounding the new hotel and urged the natives to cooperate with the hotel in guarding the grounds against vandalism.

This hotel was demolished in the summer of 1969, the very same week that the Prospect Mountain Highway opened for the first time. In retrospect, the two events seem not co-incidental, since it was the automobile, more than any other single factor, which brought about the demise of the great resort hotels. The original dining room of the 1909 hotel, however, is still intact, as is the hotel’s stable.

Photos courtesy of the Lake George Association.

For news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror or visit Lake George Mirror Magazine.


Friday, April 29, 2011

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.

Subscribe! More than 5,700 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.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (April 28)

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

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

** indicates new or revised items.

** DEC DISCOURGING BACKCOUNTRY USE
As of 3:30 pm on 4/28 only the trailheads for the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness located along Route 73 south of Keene can be reached by motor vehicle. DEC is discouraging the public from entering the woods or accessing the waters of the Adirondacks due to significant number of closed roads, impassable river, stream and brook crossings, flooded trails and campsites, and the High Wind Warning that has been issued for Thursday afternoon and evening. Saturated soils could result in numerous trees being toppled and tails and campsites may be covered and blocked by fallen trees and other blowdown. The danger of landslides on mountain slopes is currently high.

** HIGH WATERS – FLOODING
This winter’s deep snow pack combined with heavy rains this week have left lakes and ponds brimming, and rivers and streams swollen with cold and fast water. All major rivers are above flood stage and major flooding is occurring and expected to continue through Friday. More than 75 roads around the region have been reported closed, including several major connecting routes. Several roads and bridges have collapsed, and major flooding has forced, or may soon force evacuations along the Hudson, Schroon, Ausable, Bouquet, Saranac, and Raquette Rivers, and along Mill Brook in Moriah, which has been hard hit. Docks, boat launches, and low-lying waterfront property across the region’s lakes and reservoirs are submerged by high waters. Lake Champlain set the highest level ever recorded on the USGS gage at almost two feet above flood stage. Most boat launches in the region are flooded, making it risky to launch and retrieve boats. Boaters and paddlers should be aware that waters are cold and swift and may contain logs, limbs and other debris. High waters also conceal navigation hazards such as boulders, rock shelves, docks and other structures that normally are easily seen and avoided. Paddlers consult the latest stream gage data and use extreme caution. A complete report of the Adirondack Floods of 2011 can be found here.

**HIGH WIND WARNING – EXPECT BLOWDOWN
The National Weather Service has issued a High Wind Warning until 8 pm Thursday, for Saint Lawrence and Franklin Counties. Winds are expected to be southwest 25 to 35 mph wurth gusts to 65 miles per hour. Saturated soils could result in numerous trees being toppled and tails and campsites may be covered and blocked by fallen trees and other blowdown. The danger of landslides on mountain slopes is currently high.

** ROAD CLOSURES
Numerous major highways and secondary roads have been closed due to flooding and washouts. Any bridge over a major stream or river, and any road running near open water currently has the possibility of closure. Roads that have been recently or are now closed include: Route 28 north of North Creek; Route 28N between Blue Mountain Lake and Long Lake; Route 30 at the bridge over Long Lake and at the bridge over the Cedar River north of Indian Lake; Route 86 in Wilmington Notch between Wilmington and Lake Placid; Route 73 at the bridge over the West Branch of the Ausable River near the ski jumps outside of Lake Placid; Route 73 at the bridge over the East Branch of the Ausable River in Keene; Route 9N between Keene and Upper Jay; Route 9 where it crosses the South Branch of the Boquet River and near Split Rock Falls between Elizabethtown and Exit 30 of the Northway; Thirteenth Lake Road in Johnsburg; Route 28N between Long Lake and Tupper Lake; Schroon River Road at Riverbank; Route 8 between Route 28 in Poland, Route 12 and Route 28 in Deerfield, and Route 10 in Piseco; Route 28 over West Canada Creek between Route 29 and Route 169 in Middleville; Route 5 between Route 5B and Route 233 in Kirkland; Route 922E (River St) between Route 49 and Route 69 in Whitestown and Marcy and the village of Whitesboro; and Route 315 between Route 12 and County Route 9 (Shanley Rd) in Sangerfield. DEC has closed most roadways for mud season. Gates on roads designated for motor vehicle traffic will be reopened when conditions warrant.

** THIN ICE SAFETY
No ice on water is safe.

** WET AND MUDDY CONDITIONS
DEC is discouraging the public from entering the woods or accessing the waters of the Adirondacks due to closed roads, impassable river, stream and brook crossings, flooded trails and campsites, and the High Wind Warning that has been issued for Thursday afternoon and evening. Lower and mid-elevation trails, those below 2,500 feet, are wet and muddy. Be prepared by wearing waterproof footwear and gaiters, and remember to walk through – not around – mud and water on trails.

SNOWSHOES OR SKIS
The use of snowshoe or skis is required in the Eastern High Peaks where ever snow depths exceed 8 inches, as is currently the case above Marcy Dam. Using snowshoes or skis prevents “post-holing”, avoids injuries, and eases travel through snow.

BEAR CANISTERS NOW REQUIRED IN HIGH PEAKS
The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness, and recommended throughout the Adirondacks, between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters.

Carry Extra Winter Gear
Snowshoes or skis can prevent injuries and eases travel in heavy snow. Ice crampons should be carried for use on icy trails and mountaintops and other exposed areas. Wear layers of wool and fleece (NOT COTTON!), a winter hat, gloves or mittens, wind/rain resistant outer wear, and winter boots. Carry a day pack complete with ice axe, plenty of food and water, extra clothing, map and compass, first-aid kit, flashlight/headlamp, sun glasses, sun-block protection, ensolite pads, a stove and extra fuel, and bivy sack or space blankets.

Know The Latest Weather
Check the weather before entering the woods and be aware of weather conditions at all times — if weather worsens, head out of the woods.

Fire Danger: LOW
NOTE: We’re entering the state’s historically high fire risk period from mid-March until mid-May.

** Central Adirondacks LOWER Elevation Weather

Friday: Chance morning rain and snow, then rain showers. High near 53.
Friday Night: Chance of rain and possibly snow showers, with a low around 30.
Saturday: Sunny, high near 57. North wind between 6 and 8 mph.
Saturday Night: Mostly clear, with a low around 29.
Sunday: Chance of afternoon showers after 2pm. Mostly sunny, high near 67.

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 Cover
Snow is all but gone outside the High Peaks where there is still 15 inches of slushy wet snow on the ground at Lake Colden and more in higher elevations. Conditions there still require snowshoes or skis above Marcy Dam.

** Backcountry Ski Report
Snow cover is no longer suitable for skiing below Marcy Dam, and above snow cover is starting to wane and get patchy, there remains about 15 inches to two feet and more at higher elevations. Avalanche Lake should no longer safe for crossing. The bridge is out on the trail to Marcy, see below for details. Phil Brown skied Mount Marcy last weekend and noted that the approximately four miles from the Summit to Phelps Brook still has plenty of snow. “I expect diehards will be able to ski this stretch for a few weeks more,” Brown reported, “but they’ll have to carry their skis 3.5 miles on the ascent and on the descent.”

** Rock Climbing Closures
All rock climbing routes on Moss Cliff in Wilmington Notch and the Upper and Lower Washbowl Cliffs at Chapel Pond remain closed to allow for peregrine falcon nesting. DEC has confirmed that peregrine falcons are nesting on the Nose on Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain and 54 climbing routes remain closed including Garter and Mogster (Routes #26 through #82 in Adirondack Rock) through the nesting season. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

Migrating Birds
Thousands of birds are currently undertaking their seasonal journey along the Atlantic Flyway from their southern wintering grounds. Flocks of migratory waterfowl like geese, ducks and swans are among the first to arrive, as songbirds like the red-winged blackbird, Eastern bluebird, Eastern meadowlark and American robin take up residence and build their nests. Over the next few weeks, grab your binoculars to watch the spectacle of birds arriving this spring. Visit DEC’s Watchable Wildlife site to find a place near you for great bird and wildlife viewing opportunities.

Whitewater Rafting Season Has Begun
The whitewater rafting season has begun on the Moose, Black and Sacandaga rivers. The Hudson River Whitewater Derby will run May 7-8 2011. The event includes novice slalom, giant slalom, and more.

** Trout Season Opened April 1st
Trout (brook, rainbow, brown and hybrids, and splake) and landlocked Salmon season open April 1st, but the season is still suffering from high and cold waters. Trout stocking was suspended in Warren County because of cold waters and widespread flooding that has brought streams to record levels. We’ll need at least one dry week to get local waters back to fishable levels. With large lakes like Lake Champlain and Lake George at record levels, smaller lakes and ponds are your best bet. For catch and size limits view the freshwater fishing regulations online.

** Spring Turkey Season Opens May 1
DEC biologists expect the spring turkey harvest to be well below the state’s 10-year average of about 34,000 birds, and likely below last year take of 25,807. This is likely to be a third year of poor production in the Adirondacks. 2009 was one of the worst poult production years on record and as a result there will be fewer 2-year-olds, last year’s poor production means fewer yearlings (jakes). Because those birds make up most of the spring turkey harvest, it will likely be considerably lower than average.

ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS

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: Just north of the Mud Lake lean-to there has been significant blow-down in several areas across the trail that happened sometime in early December that requires several bushwhacks to get around.

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.

ADIRONDACK CANOE ROUTE / NORTHERN FOREST CANOE TRAIL

** High Waters – Cold Temperatures: Water levels are high, major flooding is occurring on most rivers and streams and water temperatures are low. Paddlers and other boaters should be prepared for high waters that may contain logs, limbs and other debris. See High Waters – Flooding Warning Above.

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

HIGH PEAKS

** Visits to High Peaks Di scourged: DEC is discouraging the public from entering the woods or accessing the waters of the Adirondacks due to significant number of closed roads, impassable river, stream and brook crossings, flooded trails and campsites, and the High Wind Warning that has been issued for Thursday afternoon and evening. Saturated soils could result in numerous trees being toppled and tails and campsites may be covered and blocked by fallen trees and other blowdown. The danger of landslides on mountain slopes is currently high.

** Limited Access: As of 3:30 pm on 4/28 only the trailheads for the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness located along Route 73 south of Keene can be reached my motor vehicle.

** Opalescent Lean-to: The Opalescent Lean-to is once again available for use.

Preston Pond Trail: The first bridge west of Henderson Lake on the trail to Preston Ponds and Duck Hole went out with an ice jam and is now impassible.

Johns Brook Valley: The Bear Brook Lean-to has been removed and will not be replaced.

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

Giant Mountain Wilderness: All rock climbing routes on Upper and Lower Washbowl Cliffs are closed to allow for peregrine falcon nesting. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

McKenzie Mountain Wilderness: All rock climbing routes on Moss Cliff are closed to allow for peregrine falcon nesting. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

Snowshoes or Skis: The use of snowshoe or skis is required in the Eastern High Peaks when snows are at least 8 inches deep, as is the case above Marcy Dam. Using snowshoes or skis prevents “post-holing”, avoids injuries, and eases travel through snow.

Johns Brook Valley: Lean2Rescue, in cooperation with DEC, will be undertaking several lean-to projects in the Johns Brook Valley over the course of the next several months. DEC will post notifications at the Garden trailhead prior to work being started. The Deer Brook lean-to is currently closed while it’s being moved.

Marcy Brook Bridge: The Marcy Brook Bridge, below the junction of the Avalanche Pass and Lake Arnold trails, was damaged by ice during the recent thaw. The bridge is still usable but one of the railings is bent making the path over the bridge narrow. Skiers may have some problems crossing.

Opalescent Cable Bridge: The cable bridge over the Opalescent River on the East River/Hanging Spear Falls trail has been washed out. The crossing will be impassable during high water periods.

Western High Peaks Wilderness: The unpaved section of Corey’s Road, the main entrance to the Western High Peaks Wilderness, is closed for mud season.

Western High Peaks Wilderness: Trails in the Western High Peaks Wilderness are cluttered with blowdown from a storm that occurred December 1st. DEC has cleared blow down along the Corey’s Road, and in most areas accessed from the that road, including the Seward Trail, although not along the Northville-Placid Trail.

Sentinel Range Wilderness: The Copperas Pond/Owen Pond Loop Trail was impacted by serious winds resulting in significant blow down. While most of the blowdown has been cut out, some downed trees and limbs are still present.

Ampersand Mountain Trail: There is heavy blowdown on the Ampersand Mountain Trail as far as the old caretakers cabin – approximately 1.7 miles in. Finding the trail may be difficult after fresh snows. Skiing will be frustrating as there are so many trees down. Past the cabin site the trail is good but snowshoes and crampon are needed.

Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands: The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season. This adds 2 miles of hiking, plan trips accordingly.

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

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.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS

Moose River Plains Wild Forest: The Moose River Plains Road System is closed for mud season. Gates have been closed at the Cedar River Headquarters and the Limekiln Lake. The road system will be reopened once they have dried out and all necessary maintenance and repairs have been completed.

Ferris Lake Wild Forest: The West Lake Boat Launch was impacted by rains and floods last August. 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.

Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement: Gates have been closed on all roads for the mud season. The roads will be reopened once they have dried out and all necessary maintenance and repairs have been completed.

Pigeon Lake Wilderness: DEC Forest Rangers and trail crew have been working to clear blowdown from trails. The following trails are cleared and ready for skiing and/or snowshoeing: Shallow Lake Trail (well-marked with some minor blow down), West Mountain Trail (well-marked, some blowdown remains on section east of the summit), and Sucker Brook Trail

EASTERN / SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

** Lake Champlain Fish Kill: Crews are cleaning up the thousands of dead fish that have washed up along the shoreline of Lake Champlain. Thousands of nonnative alevives that died during the winter have washed up near campgrounds and beaches preparing to open for the season. Officials in Moriah told the Press-Republican that workers, including inmate work crews, are hoping to reduce the possibility of a stench from the rotting fish researching public areas. The fish are being hauled to a local landfill.

** Shelving Rock Road: The Town of Fort Ann has reopened Shelving Rock Road.

Ausable Point Campground & Day Use Area: The entry road to the Ausable Point Campground and Day Use Area is closed until further notice due to flooding. DEC has placed barricades at the end of the road and will be patrolling the area to ensure the public is abiding by the closure. The road will be reopened once the waters have receded and it is determined the road can handle motorized traffic without further damage.

Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: The Town of Fort Ann has closed the Shelving Rock Road for mud season.

**Western Lake George Wild Forest: The Bear Slides ADA-accessible route is open.

Western Lake George Wild Forest: The following roads have been closed for spring mud season: Scofield Flats, Pikes Beach, Darlings Ford in the Hudson River Special Management Area, Palmer Pond Access Route, Gay Pond Road, Lily Pond Road, Palmer Pond Road, Jabe Pond Road.

Hammond Pond Wild Forest: The Lindsey Brook Trail is closed due to flooding by beaver activity.

Hoffman Notch Wilderness: Some stream crossings do not have bridges and may be difficult to cross in high water conditions.

Hudson River Recreation Area: Gates on the Buttermilk Road Extension in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area), in the Town of Warrensburg remain shut and the roads closed to motor vehicle traffic.

** Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: See the High Waters – Flooding Warning Above. Water levels are high and water temperatures are low. Paddlers and other boaters should be prepared for high waters that may contain logs, limbs and other debris. 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.

NORTHERN ADIRONDACKS

Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands (former Champion Lands): All lands are open to all legal and allowable public recreation activities beginning January 1. The gate to the Pinnacle Trail remains closed until after the spring mud season.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: The gate to the Lake Lila Road is closed. Public motorized access to the road is prohibited until the gate is reopened after the spring mud season. Cross-country skiers, snowshoers and other non-motorized access is allowed on the road. Trespassing on lands adjacent to the road is prohibited.

NORTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

** Taylor Pond Wild Forest: Peregrine falcon nesting has been confirmed on The Nose on the Main Face of Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain, rock climbing routes between and including Garter and Mogster (Routes #26 through #82 in Adirondack Rock) will remain closed through the nesting season. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.

Norton Peak Cave / Chateuagay Woodlands Conservation Easement Lands: Norton Peak Cave has been reopened to the public following the expiration of the cave closing order on March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. DEC is considering whether to close all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easements to protect the bat population. It’s best to stay out of caves at this time.

GENERAL ADIRONDACK NOTICES

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.

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.

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.

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. More information is available online.

——————–
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, April 28, 2011

Major Flooding Across the Adirondacks (Updated 6 PM Thurs)

This winter’s deep snow pack combined with heavy rains this week have left lakes and ponds brimming, and rivers and streams swollen with cold and fast water. All major rivers are above flood stage and major flooding is occurring and expected to continue through Friday. More than 75 roads around the region have been reported closed, several roads and bridges have collapsed, and major flooding has forced, or may soon force evacuations along the Hudson, Schroon, Ausable, Bouquet, Saranac, and Raquette Rivers, and along Mill Brook in Moriah, which has been hard hit.

One of the worst hit areas was in Moriah, where Mill Brook Dam overflowed after one of the steady line of storms in the region this week. The Broad Street railroad bridge and the Titus Road Bridge collapsed, undermined by flood waters. Water and sewer lines have been broken and the Mineville-Witherbee fire chief was hospitalized after a road collapsed under his vehicle.

There were evacuations in Keeseville, and major flooding in Keene Valley and AuSable Forks where the Ausable River has reached four feet above flood stage, and those in Jay are trying to hold back flood waters with sandbags. More than 10 roads were closed in Jay alone, including Route 9N between Keene and Upper Jay and Jay and Au Sable Forks. Route 73 is closed at the bridge over the East Branch of the Ausable River in Keene, and at the ski jumps in North Elba, but at 11 am, one lane remained open through Chapel Pond and Cascade passes. The Bouquet River topped its banks and closed Route 9 from Elizabethtown to North Hudson and Route 9 near Split Rock Falls.

The Saranac River system has left officials struggling to try and regulate tremendous flow and communities from the Saranac Lakes to Lake Champlain are experiencing flooding. The gates on the Lower Locks, between First Pond and Oseetah Lake, are closed and waters are threatening to overtop the locks, which could damage them. In consultation with the Village of Saranac Lake, DEC has opened the sluice gates to prevent water from overtopping the dam. High waters and a large amount of debris are blocking the Upper Locks from being opened and both locks are closed until further notice. The Village has been gradually opening the floodgates on the Lake Flower Dam to reduce pressure on the dam. There have been evacuations along the river, including in Bloomingdale, and in the towns of Harrietstown, St. Armand and Franklin. Lake Flower has flood homes, businesses and roads above the village dam.

Hudson River topped its banks in North Creek Wednesday stranding some residents along Old River Road and requiring evacuations. Water is at the steps of the North Creek Train Depot and the river has risen to a record level, but the most dire threat is now below The Glen toward Luzerne and Hadley. About ten roads were closed in Johnsburg including Thirteenth Lake Road, which was washed out in two places after culverts clogged. Hudson River flooding is ongoing or expected in North Creek, Riparius, Chester, Warrensburg, Thurman, Stony Creek, Hadley and Moreau. Storms earlier this week temporarily knocked out a communications tower limiting Warren County emergency communications, and taking North Country Public Radio temporarily off the air.

The Schroon River jumped its banks above Schroon Lake, but more serious flooding is expected below Schroon Lake toward Chester and Warrensburg. Riverbank, near Northway Exit 24, is flooded with the Schroon River approaching nearly 3 feet above flood stage. Trout Creek, which flows into the Schroon River in Pottersville, left its banks and the operators of Natural Stone Bridge and Caves are reporting the worst flooding there in 15 years [photos].

In Hamilton County, Lake Abanakee has crested its dam adding water to the already swollen Hudson. There has been serious flooding in Long Lake, where water has covered Route 30, and also in Indian Lake where at least one road was reported washed out [photos]. Route 10 in Arietta and Route 30 in Hope are still open, but being watched carefully.

Numerous major highways and secondary roads have been closed due to flooding and washouts. Any bridge over a major stream or river, and any road running near open water currently has the possibility of closure. Roads that have been recently or are now closed include: Route 28 north of North Creek; Route 28N between Blue Mountain Lake and Long Lake; Route 30 at the bridge over Long Lake and at the bridge over the Cedar River north of Indian Lake; Route 86 in Wilmington Notch between Wilmington and Lake Placid; Route 73 at the bridge over the West Branch of the Ausable River near the ski jumps outside of Lake Placid; Route 73 at the bridge over the East Branch of the Ausable River in Keene; Route 9N between Keene and Upper Jay; Route 9 where it crosses the South Branch of the Boquet River and near Split Rock Falls between Elizabethtown and Exit 30 of the Northway; Thirteenth Lake Road in Johnsburg; Route 28N between Long Lake and Tupper Lake; Schroon River Road at Riverbank; Route 8 between Route 28 in Poland, Route 12 and Route 28 in Deerfield, and Route 10 in Piseco; Route 28 over West Canada Creek between Route 29 and Route 169 in Middleville; Route 5 between Route 5B and Route 233 in Kirkland; Route 922E (River St) between Route 49 and Route 69 in Whitestown and Marcy and the village of Whitesboro; and Route 315 between Route 12 and County Route 9 (Shanley Rd) in Sangerfield. DEC has closed most roadways for mud season. Gates on roads designated for motor vehicle traffic will be reopened when conditions warrant.

Along the Raquette River, Brookfield Renewable Power is releasing water from the Carry Falls Reservoir in Colton and has told officials in Colton, Pierrepont, Potsdam, Norwood, Norfolk and Massena that flooding was possible.

Luckily, most river ice went out over the past few weeks, so the threat of ice jams had ended, but waters were already high and the ground saturated before heavy rains and warm weather came this week.

DEC is discouraging the public from entering the woods or accessing the waters of the Adirondacks due to closed roads, impassable river, stream and brook crossings, flooded trails and campsites, and the High Wind Warning that has been issued for Thursday afternoon and evening. Saturated soils could result in numerous trees being toppled and tails and campsites may be covered and blocked by fallen trees and other blowdown. The danger of landslides on mountain slopes is currently high.

Docks, boat launches, and low-lying waterfront property across the region’s lakes and reservoirs are submerged by high waters. Lake Champlain set the highest level ever recorded on the USGS gage at almost two feet above flood stage. Fields are flooded in Crown Point and major flooding has been reported in Rouses Point and Essex [photos].

Most DEC boat launches in the region are flooded, making it risky to launch and retrieve boats. Boaters and paddlers should be aware that waters are cold and swift and may contain logs, limbs and other debris. High waters also conceal navigation hazards such as boulders, rock shelves, docks and other structures that normally are easily seen and avoided. Paddlers consult the latest stream gage data and use extreme caution.

This post will be updated periodically throughout the day as new reports come in. The full weekly Adirondack Conditions Report will run this afternoon here at the Almanack, and Friday morning on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.

Photo: Trout Brook at Pottersville’s Natural Stone Bridge and Caves Park . Photo courtesy Natural Stone Bridge and Caves.


Thursday, April 28, 2011

Spring Turkey Season Opens May 1

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is reminding hunters that the 2011 spring turkey season opens on May 1 in all of upstate New York lying north of the Bronx-Westchester County boundary.

Turkey hunters must have a turkey hunting permit in addition to their small game hunting or sportsman license. Shooting hours are from one-half hour before sunrise to noon each day and hunters may take 2 bearded turkeys during the spring season, but only 1 bird per day.

Rifles or handguns firing a bullet may not be used. Hunters may hunt with a shotgun or handgun loaded with shot sizes no larger than No. 2 or smaller than No. 8, or with a bow and arrow.

Successful hunters must fill out the tag which comes with their turkey permit and immediately attach it to any turkey harvested.

Successful hunters must report their harvest within seven days of taking a bird. Call 1-866-426-3778 (1-866 GAMERPT) or report harvest online, http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/8316.html.

For more information about turkey hunting in New York, see the 2010-11 Hunting and Trapping Regulations Guide or visit the “Turkey Hunting” pages of the DEC website.

Be sure to follow the cardinal rules of hunting safety: (1) assume every gun is loaded; (2) control the muzzle; (3) keep your finger off the trigger until ready to shoot; (4) be absolutely sure of your target and what may be beyond it; and (5) Don’t stalk, set-up with your back against a large tree and call birds to you.

To find a sportsman education class in your area, go online or call 1-888-HUNT-ED2 (1-888-486-8332).

Turkey Results from 2010:

An analysis of the 2010 spring turkey take, including a county-by-county breakdown, can be found on the DEC website. Take figures for the 2010 fall turkey season and county-by-county breakdown can be found here.

DEC Seeks Turkey Hunters for Ruffed Grouse Drumming Survey – Turkey hunters in pursuit of that wary gobbler in the spring are ideally suited for monitoring ruffed grouse during the breeding season. The characteristic sound of a drumming male grouse is as much a part of the spring woods as yelping hens and gobbling toms. Turkey hunters can record the number of grouse they hear drumming while afield to help us track the distribution and abundance of this game bird. To get a survey form, go online or call (518) 402-8886.

To participate in DEC’s Summer Wild Turkey Sighting Survey or other wildlife surveys visit the “Citizen Science” page of the DEC website.

Do you have photos from a spring turkey hunt you would like to share? DEC has created a Hunting and Trapping Photo Gallery for junior hunters (ages 12-15), young trappers (under age 16), and hunters who have harvested their first big or small game animal. If you are the parent or legal guardian of a junior hunter, or if you are an adult who would like to share your first successful hunt, visit the photo gallery on the DEC website.


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

High Peaks Happy Hour: Luzerne’s Waterhouse

It was yet another cold, dreary day and my expectations for Waterhouse’s were pretty low. Looking for adventure of any sort, I suggested we take the “shortcut” to Luzerne. Harrington Hill Road in Warrensburg meets Route 9 at Fourth Lake, but it’s a dirt road in between the two towns that isn’t maintained in the winter. As we left the pavement of Harrington Hill, we wondered what we would find.

We crossed over a small snowbank (that must be where they stop maintaining the road), some occasional wash-outs, and then came upon some pretty deep, sloppy mud. Kim had visions of our emerging in a mud-caked SUV with only wiper blade trails across the windshield. I turned off the heater in my SUV as we traversed a large crevice in the middle of the road; I was feeling a little warm by then. The road became clear again and we picked up the pace. We’ve traversed worse in a VW bus, but that’s another story.

Somewhat more optimistic after my driving adventure, we pulled into the large, partially filled parking area at Waterhouse. A deck and patio area waited patiently for the weather to change. We took a table in the bar area, as all of the barstools were taken. Cindy, our server, greeted us immediately. She shared beer specials as I tried to decide what to order. Cindy turned to me and, sensing my indecision, suggested a margarita. My eyes lit up and my spirits followed!

There are some establishments where you just don’t order a margarita, or anything containing more than two ingredients, unless they’re advertised. She joked that she was fighting with the bartender and wanted to “get even”. Nothing goes better with a margarita than a server with a sense of humor (except salt).

Several bottled and draft beer choices were available, with a “Mystery Mug” special on Shock Top.The bar is small but a lovely S-shaped oak; a model train sits on an overhead shelf above. No one theme is evident in the decor – a mixture of horse racing, golf, and a vast collection of police and fire department patches from all over the map. The stone fireplace, hardwood floors and knotty pine create a relaxing atmosphere.

The atmosphere was one of local camaraderie. We listened to the banter; welcomes to some who must have gotten away for a week or a winter. People kept coming in and the bar continued to fill, as did the adjacent dining room. Body language was noticeably different here. People sat or stood in anticipation, turned with one eye on the door, so new arrivals were not missed. A nice change from the hunch-shouldered, head-in-your-beer, furtive glance postures we’ve seen from time to time. The mood was contagious and soon Kim was off mingling a bit with the patrons, excited to meet them and get their point of view.

Once people know what we’re up to, they usually love the idea and tend to open up and offer suggestions. It doesn’t usually take long to find common acquaintances (or ancestors) among the crowd. People here were very approachable and friendly, and Kim took the opportunity to hand out some of our cards. We are always asked whether we’re related to Dan Ladd (probably). Is he asked the same about us?

I sat at the bar and continued to query the bartender/owner, Sue Waterhouse, whenever I could sneak in a question. Though off duty at the time, bartender Jim was also helpful in answering our questions.

Waterhouse’s has been in business for 65 years, owned by the Waterhouse family, and has been run by Dan and Sue Waterhouse for the past seven years. The bar area has been renovated a bit and the roof, which blew off in a recent storm, is being replaced.

They are open year-round, closed on Mondays, have open mic nite on Wednesdays, and do catering as well. Open for lunch at 11:30, serving dinner 4 to 9 or 10, the extensive menu includes standard pub fare, appetizers, specialty pizzas and diverse dinners. They entertain locals and tourists, snowmobilers, campers and even the occasional blogger. Warning: the Waterhouse Restaurant and Lounge may be habit forming.

Photos courtesy Sue Waterhouse.

Kim and Pam Ladd’s book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, is currently in the research stage. Together they visit pubs, bars and taverns with the goal of selecting the top 46 bars in the Adirondack Park. They regularly report their findings here at the Almanack and at their own blog.


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