The Ride for the River was launched in 2012 to encourage visitors to return to the Ausable Valley after Tropical Storm Irene. The goal of the Ride was to support local communities and businesses impacted by the flooding during Irene and support the work the Ausable River Association was doing to build resilience in both the natural and human communities in the Ausable Valley. The Ride proved a success and continues to be a way to celebrate the cultural and natural resources within the Ausable Valley. » Continue Reading.
Posts Tagged ‘Ausable River’
Most people don’t think about culverts, the large pipes that carry streams and runoff underneath our roads. Even with their essential role in our transportation infrastructure, culverts tend to be in the spotlight only when they fail. In dramatic ways, Hurricane Irene and other recent storms have put culverts (and bridges) to the test. Unfortunately, the high water from these storms overwhelmed many culverts, washing out roads, causing millions of dollars in damages across the Adirondacks, and disrupting life in many communities. For example, the town of Jay sustained about $400,000 in damage to its culverts and adjacent roads as a result of Irene. Across the Northeast, the story is much the same.
Following Tropical Storm Irene, I was part of a team of conservation professionals to assess the performance of road-stream crossings (i.e., culverts and bridges) in Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest. The peer-reviewed study, published in the current issue of Fisheries, found that damage was largely avoided at crossings with a stream simulation design, an ecologically-based approach that creates a dynamic channel through the structure that is similar in dimensions and characteristics to the adjacent, natural channel. On the other hand, damages were extensive, costly, and inconvenient at sites with stream crossings following more traditional designs. » Continue Reading.
Executive Director Corrie Miller, who led the Ausable River Association (AsRA) through the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene and has overseen the organization’s operations over the past two years, has announced her departure. Miller has accepted the position of Executive Director of Friends of the Mad River in central Vermont.
Replacing Miller as executive director is Kelley Tucker, long-time member of the AsRA board and co-author of the draft Ausable River Watershed Management Plan that is being prepared for public comment this year. “We took stock as a board and carefully reviewed our organizational needs, those of the community, and the watershed, and we decided we have the right person within our own ranks,” AsRA Board Chair Larry Master state in a statement to the press. » Continue Reading.
Despite all his accomplishments, Charles Shaw’s career is largely defined by a decade-long battle he fought on behalf of the cable interests for rail control of New York City’s streets. Cable’s two main rivals: horse-powered rail and underground lines. Both had many powerful backers.
Initially, Charles was hired to perform one task: lobby the state legislature for specific modifications of a bill under consideration in Albany. After earning the modern equivalent of more than a quarter million dollars for his efforts, Shaw was retained by the cable men, who wanted San Francisco-type cars operating on 70 miles of New York City roads.
Charles became the leading voice for cable, and was often vilified for his intense lobbying efforts. He refused to give up, at one point leading a four-man legal team against a cadre of 38 lawyers. The New York Times and other newspapers saw Shaw’s plan as nothing more than a city land-grab. But still he fought on, winning some victories and eventually spending over a million dollars in the effort. How high were the stakes? It was estimated that lobbyists representing cable had coughed up close to $5 million … and had still come up empty so far. » Continue Reading.
From a car, it might look as if you’re passing over a small bridge. Underneath, though, is often a metal tube channeling water—a tube that may create a barrier for native fish. While these culverts may escape your attention, for fish they are a matter of life and death.
That’s why the Nature Conservancy is working with the New York State Department of Transportation and local highway departments to provide better fish access through culverts – a step that may help tangibly address some of our most pressing conservation challenges. » Continue Reading.
Work has began this week on a stream and habitat restoration project at Johns Brook in Keene Valley. This first phase of restoration, addressing the lower third of the impacted reach, should be complete by the end of this month and is intended to speed the stream’s return to pre-Irene character and function, reduce bank erosion and improve wildlife habitat.
In the wake of Tropical Storm Irene in August of 2011, nearly half a mile of Johns Brook was dramatically altered by local officials from its natural state – from the Route 73 bridge upstream. The work was done in the spirit of public safety to remove stream blockages and protect property. Unfortunately, flattening (removing cascades and filling in pools) and straightening the stream channel reduced its ability to dissipate the water’s energy and the faster moving water causes additional flooding and erosion problems. Furthermore, the stream’s trout habitat was drastically diminished. » Continue Reading.
The town-owned parcel, located on state Route 73 along the banks of the East Branch of the Ausable River, had been a staging area for the Rivermede river restoration project. As the volunteers spread out topsoil a few feet away from shore, Ironman Foundation Executive Director David Deschenes said his organization and the Newton team actively look for ways to give back to communities that host the Ironman race.
“The mantra of the team is service through sport and commitment to community,” he explained. » Continue Reading.
I tried to document life in a Great Blue Heron nest last year and it ended abruptly when all three babies vanished in early July, most likely as dinner for a bald eagle or great horned owl family. I had somewhat better luck this year.
April 29, 2013 – I checked the heron nest I’d been watching in 2012 – the pond, still with some ice, appeared empty, no herons around. There was snow in sheltered places along the trail. According to the Cornell Ornithology Lab web site “Heron FAQ’s” page, their herons laid eggs between March 28 and April 6 in 2012. I tend to think that the northern Adirondacks are about 3 weeks ahead of the Ithaca area for fall colors – so perhaps three weeks or more behind for laying eggs – probably dependent upon weather conditions as well.
May 8 – Sneaking in to view the nest from my hiding spot, there was a single adult heron standing on it. Was this the male hoping to attract a female?
May 13 – This time there was a heron down on the nest – all I could see was the head and beak. This is a pretty good sign that there are eggs. » Continue Reading.
The Ausable River Association’s second annual Ride for the River is happening this weekend on Sunday, July 21. Three new Ride routes designed by Keene Valley bike shop LeepOff Cycles, music by Darryl Stout and Eric Klotzko, and a Hornbeck Boats canoe raffle are planned. This year’s Ride is in memory of Carol Rupprecht, a dedicated steward of the Ausable River.
The Ride for the River celebrates the scenic and recreational resources of the Ausable River as well as the communities and businesses that make the Ausable Valley a great place to live, work and play. Cyclists of all ages and skill levels can register for one of three scenic routes alongside the Ausable River and across its hills and valleys. » Continue Reading.
It’s called the Valley Kitchen, and it’s an idea cooked up by a group of energetic volunteers from the Upper Jay area. I had a chance to meet with three of them – Heather Morgan, Natalie Woods and Rob Farkas – on a hot, sunny day back in June. (Yes, the sun was really out. I have photographic evidence.)
Standing outside the Upper Jay Schoolhouse, located on state Route 9N, Farkas – who is secretary of the Valley Kitchen Board of Directors – recalled that Trudy Rosenblum, who curates the Jay Community News with her husband Seth, urged her neighbors to think about coming together to work on a community project. » Continue Reading.
The Ausable River Association (AsRA) will hold its second Ride for the River bike ride and invites residents and visitors to join in on Sunday, July 21. The Ride for the River celebrates the scenic and recreational resources of the Ausable River as well as the communities and businesses of the Ausable Valley. Cyclists of all ages and skill level can register for one of three scenic routes alongside the Ausable River and across its hills and valleys.
Following the Ride, enjoy a picnic and live music with fellow riders as well as friends and family at Jay Covered Bridge in Jay, NY. All proceeds of the Ride benefit the Ausable River Association’s work to protect and restore the valued resources of the Ausable River for their benefit to the ecosystem and human communities. This year’s ride is in memory of Carol Rupprecht, a dedicated steward of the Ausable River. » Continue Reading.
The fact that the opening day of trout season in New York coincides with April Fool’s Day does not seem to be a coincidence to many people in the Adirondacks. To any rational human, the thought of standing for hours along a partially frozen stream, fending off hypothermia and frostbite only to wait for the slightest tug on a monofilament line epitomizes foolishness. However, for many avid sportsmen, April 1st is just as sacred as the opening of big game season and regardless of how miserable the weather can be, there is a need to get out and “wet-a-line” in a favored fishing spot on this day.
The cold start to spring this year has kept ice along the shores of many streams and brooks, and in some slower moving waterways, there still exists a solid covering of ice for long stretches. Fishing for trout under these harsh conditions is an extreme challenge, yet experienced anglers are often able to snag enough brookies or browns to make a meal. » Continue Reading.
An examination of a bull moose shot by state officials in the Ausable River last September found no diseases or ailments to explain its strange behavior, according to the state Department of Environmental Conservation.
“We’re not sure what was wrong with it, but something was,” DEC spokesman David Winchell told the Adirondack Almanack. » Continue Reading.
The Open Space Institute has announced that a private landowner has donated a conservation easement that will protect a nearly 1,400-acre forest in the northeast corner of the Adirondack Park. The property borders the western shore of Butternut Pond and is bisected by several brooks, most of which feed into Auger Lake, which in turn empties into the Ausable River and eventually into Lake Champlain.
The parcel, a largely wooded Essex County tract owned by the Johanson family, buffers state lands, including Pokamoonshine Mountain, and sits within the viewshed of the historic firetower on the summit of Pokamoonshine, a popular destination for rock climbers, hikers and cross-country skiers.
» Continue Reading.
State officials felt they had no choice but to kill an injured moose that had been hanging out in the Ausable River in Wilmington Notch, according to David Winchell, a spokesman for the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
“The primary factor was its deteriorating condition,” Winchell said this morning. “It was not able to move out of there on its own, and the likely outcome would have been its death anyway.”
The bull moose showed up last weekend in a steep ravine on the West Branch of the Ausable. Over the next several days, motorists would stop to gawk at the animal, creating a traffic hazard along the narrow Route 86 corridor. On Saturday, a DEC wildlife technician shot the moose with a paintball gun to try to get it to leave. Although favoring its left leg, the moose was able to move into nearby woods. At the time, DEC thought the animal stood a good chance of recovery. » Continue Reading.
The Ausable River Association will host a Ride for the River bike ride on Sunday, September 16. The event will include a 37-mile scenic bike ride following the river from headwaters to lake designed to raise awareness of issues affecting the Ausable River’s vital natural resources and raise funds for the Ausable River Association (AsRA), a local organization that stewards the watershed’s resources and connects communities around protection of the river.
Ride for the River will start near the source of the Ausable East Branch by the Ausable Club and follow the gentle path of the river valley to conclude with a picnic on the Main Stem at the famous Ausable Chasm. For the more adventurous, a ride back to start will accomplish a total of 74 miles. The Ride has an intermediate grade along the river and is entirely on state roads, the majority of which have wide shoulders. A portion of this route is used in the Ironman Lake Placid Triathlon. » Continue Reading.
The tour will be at Rivermede Farm. For more information, contact Dave Reckahn of the Essex County Soil and Water Conservation District, 518-962-8225, firstname.lastname@example.org, Corrie Miller at the Ausable River Association, email@example.com or Dan Plumley at Adirondack Wild’s regional office in Keene, firstname.lastname@example.org. » Continue Reading.
Located near Au Sable Chasm, the Au Sable Bridge in itself is a child’s playground. After coming out of the woods from a hike we passed through Clinton County via Route 9 when both my children yelled for us to stop the car.
The water rushing over the falls is breathtaking so we pull over at the nearby parking area and go for a stroll. I watch my kids run across with snowball in hand to toss over the side.
I am leery of heights, to put it mildly. I can climb mountains and sit on the edge of a cliff but my brain is never at ease on a manmade object of any significant height.
This highway bridge that spans the gorge dates from 1934 so my children are quick to reassure me of their safety. (What about me?)
We find out this isn’t the first bridge near this spot. The earliest bridge was built in 1793 of logs and located about one mile downstream. Various other wooded bridges were built but consumed by flooding or rotted from the mist from the falls. In 1890 a one-lane iron bridge was erected and can still be seen upstream from the 1934 stone bridge.
The current bridge’s most distinguishing features are the 212’ steel arch span and the concrete arches faced in local granite and sandstone. My children’s eyes start glazing over with the history lesson. They always amaze me with their ability to retain information while acting disinterested only to parrot back information later to their friends.
For now they just want to watch snowballs drop and disappear into the rushing waters of the Au Sable River. According to the Au Sable Chasm website the Route 9 bridge was the main route that connected the northern communities such as Plattsburgh and Montreal to the southern sectors like Albany and New York City before in the Interstate was built in the mid 60s. It is said that remnants of the original railroad bed foundation is underneath the existing bridge but I wasn’t about to peer over the side to look for it.
Photo: Au Sable Bridge (Courtesy Diane Chase) Diane Chase is the author of Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 activities. Her second book of family activities will cover the Adirondack Lake Champlain coast and in stores summer 2012.
Burlington College students, under the direction of their instructor, Adirondack Almanack editor John Warren, will conduct Oral History interviews to record the Tropical Storm Irene stories of Jay and Keene residents on Saturday, December 3rd, at the Keene Community Center, (8 Church Street, in Keene), between 10 and 4 pm. The public is invited to share their stories; the resulting oral histories will be added to the collections of the Adirondack Museum.
Participants can schedule a time on December 3, or walk-in anytime between 10 am and 4 pm. It will only be necessary to spend about 15-20 mins at the Community Center where participants will be asked a number of questions about their experiences with Irene and will be provided an opportunity to tell the stories they think are important to remember about the events of this past late-summer.
To schedule your participation contact John Warren via e-mail at email@example.com or call (518) 956-3830. The public is invited. Walk-ins are welcome.
One of the more amazing statistics to emerge from Tropical Storm Irene was that the East Branch of the Ausable crested at 18.43 feet in Ausable Forks—three feet higher than the previous record and more than eleven feet above flood stage. The river’s flow peaked at fifty thousand cubic feet per second, a hundred times greater than normal.
Just a few months after the record storm, the U.S. Geological Survey is warning that it will be forced to discontinue most of the streamgages in the Lake Champlain basin on March 1 unless funding can be found to keep them going.
Throughout New York State, the USGS plans to discontinue thirty-one gages, including nine in or near the Adirondack Park. (The USGS uses the spelling “gages” rather than “gauges.”)
The gage that measured the record crest on the East Branch of the Ausable is not on the chopping block, not yet anyway. However, one nearby that is at risk has been in operation for more than eighty years, longer than any of other gages scheduled to be discontinued.
“We’ve got eighty-two years of records at this site. It is important for determining how flows are changing over time,” said Ward Freeman, director of the USGS New York Water Science Center in Troy. The center’s website contains real-time data from rivers throughout the state.
Streamgages measure the height and flow of rivers. Data are used to predict floods, calculate nutrient pollution, assess conditions for paddling, and determine when it’s appropriate to put lampricide in tributaries of Lake Champlain.
John Sheehan, spokesman for the Adirondack Council, warned that without stream data, riverside communities will find it more difficult to protect themselves. “We won’t know what the changes in a river’s height and volume are, and as a result we can’t plan for flooding events,” he said.
In the past, many gages were funded through congressional earmarks, but lawmakers eliminated the earmarks a few years ago to save money, Freeman said. He added that the USGS needs $134,000 to keep the nine North Country gauges operational. (Each gage costs about $15,000 a year to operate and maintain.)
Eight of the gages are on rivers that feed Lake Champlain. Besides the Ausable, they are the Great Chazy, Little Ausable, Salmon, Boquet, Mettawee, and Putnam Creek. The ninth is on a narrow part of Lake Champlain itself near Whitehall.
Gages on another dozen rivers in Vermont that feed Lake Champlain also are scheduled to be shut down. Four others were discontinued in October.
This year, USGS was able to keep the gages on Lake Champlain tributaries running only after obtaining financial assistance from the Lake Champlain Basin Program. Freeman said he hopes the Lake Champlain organization and other interested parties can come up with money again.
“We’re going to do all we can to save these gages,” Freeman said.
Eric Howe, a technical coordinator for the basin program, said the non-profit organization will do everything it can to keep the gages operational, but it’s too early to tell if the group will have enough funds. Last year it spent about $150,000 to keep the gages running.
“The gages were extremely important during Tropical Storm Irene,” Howe said. “They helped us see what the tributaries were doing in the flooding.”
Thanks to a gage on the Winooski River, he said, farmers were able to round up volunteers to harvest crops in advance of floods.
Freeman is asking those willing to contribute funding for the gages to call him or Rob Breault at 518-285-5658 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Click here to read the Adirondack Explorer’s comprehensive coverage of Tropical Storm Irene.
Photo by Ken Aaron: a high-water line near Ausable Forks.
Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.