With the help of local citizen scientists using snow-tracking to gather data, WildPaths is expected to provide important information about where wildlife are crossing roads in several towns in the Black River Valley. The results are hoped to help guide conservation actions to maintain and enhance habitat connectivity between the Adirondacks and Tug Hill region. » Continue Reading.
Posts Tagged ‘Black River’
A team of University of Texas at Arlington biologists working with the U.S. Geological Survey in the Black and Oswegatchie river basins has found that watershed wetlands can serve as a natural source for the improvement of streams polluted by acid rain.
The group, led by associate professor of biology Sophia Passy, also contends that recent increases in the level of organic matter in surface waters in regions of North America and Europe – also known as “brownification” – holds benefits for aquatic ecosystems. The research team’s work appears in the September issue of the journal Global Change Biology. » Continue Reading.
The state’s ongoing purchase of some 65,000 acres from the Nature Conservancy brings to mind the largest land purchase for the Forest Preserve in history. In 1896, the needs of the Erie Canal resulted in the state’s purchase from Dr. William Seward Webb of 74,584 acres.
The story begins with the Black River, which starts primarily at North Lake reservoir and travels in a route that begins southwesterly then turns northwesterly around Forestport to ultimately end at Lake Ontario. At 115 miles, it is the longest river running completely within New York’s borders. Bodies of water adding to the Black River’s water volume include Otter and Woodhull Creeks, and the Independence, Moose and Beaver Rivers. In the 19th century, Watertown and other river towns grew from villages to industrial centers with factories and mills relying heavily on water power. » Continue Reading.
On June 2nd, 1797, twenty-five years after Archibald Campbell surveyed part of the northern line of the Totten and Crossfield Purchase, another surveyor named Charles C. Brodhead, tasked with working to the same line but starting from the east and chaining to the west, made the following entry in his field journal: “3 Miles, 20 Chains: assg. Ye mountain, Top ye mountain – (snow 24 inches deep) Timber Balsom and Spruce. 3 Miles, 23 chains: desending steep rocks, no Timber.”
This relatively pedestrian entry has at least the curiosity of recording so much snow in June but it otherwise causes one to long for the florid prose and colorfully descriptive thoroughness of Verplank Colvin. Colvin’s accounts of his surveying journeys make for real drama, whereas this journal, typical of the time, offers the barest details beyond the numbers, with only occasional comments on the quality of the land or detours that needed to be taken.
New York State has purchased 518 acres of land in northern Oneida County which will become the area’s newest state forest, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner Joe Martens announced today. The acquisition in the Town of Forestport will protect almost a mile of Black River shoreline, just outside the Adirondack Park.
According to the press announcement, the state paid $385,400 for the land, which came from the Environmental Protection Fund. The property will be its own named state forest, as it is not adjacent to other state forests and will remain on local property tax rolls. The property is characterized by shady ravines with several springs that run year round, northern hardwood and coniferous forests, bogs with rare plants like pitcher plants and forested wetlands. The area is adjacent to conservation easement lands that protect the Town of Forestport water wells and will provide added protection for the Town’s water supply.
» Continue Reading.
No bones were broken. It’s a statement of relief that frequently appears in accident reports, emphasizing the fact that perhaps bones should have been broken, but due to amazing luck or some other reason, the victim survived perilous circumstances to emerge relatively unscathed. Stories of that type appear occasionally, and they’re always interesting.
It’s remarkable that in July 1895, three North Country survival stories appeared on a single newspaper page. Forget broken bones—it’s amazing that any of the victims survived. Yet among the three, there was only one broken bone.
Fourteen-year-old Frank Blanchard of Buck’s Bridge, about eight miles north of Canton in St. Lawrence County, was driving a load of hay when he fell from the wagon. He unfortunately fell forward, and as the horses drew the loaded wagon down the road, it ran over his shoulders and neck.
Despite the brush with death, young Blanchard was apparently intact and reportedly on the way to a quick recovery.
Along the Black River in Jefferson County, Mrs. Carl Hart was performing a routine chore in the field, untying a cow for milking. As she did so, a train passed by, spooking the cow, which bolted for parts unknown.
The rope became wrapped around Mrs. Hart’s ankles, and in an instant she was being dragged to almost certain death. Her body bounced terribly across the rough ground and then into the underbrush, where branches and thorns tore at her clothing and skin. The resistance of dragging through the brush caused the rope to slide down until it finally pulled her shoes off. That may well have saved her life.
The cow continued, but Mrs. Hart was left lying unconscious in the brush, bleeding from a multitude of cuts and scrapes, and nearly naked, her clothing having been shredded. Noticing her unusual absence from the home for so long a period, Mr. Hart began searching, and about thirty minutes after the incident, he found her.
After carrying his wife’s limp form to the house, Mr. Hart tended to her wounds and summoned a doctor. When Mrs. Hart finally regained consciousness, it was determined that she had suffered a broken bone in her right arm. It was termed “a miraculous escape from a terrible death.”
In Chateaugay, ten-year-old Delor Bushey and some friends spent a hot summer day playing in the river above a waterfall. The strength of the current proved too much, and young Delor was swept downstream over the 35-foot-high falls.
Landing on his head and shoulders, he was drawn into the whirlpool at the base of the falls, and it was five minutes before his friends finally managed to pull Delor ashore, an apparent drowning victim.
His body was taken to the Bushey home, where a doctor found signs of life in the boy. But Delor remained unresponsive, and as the hours passed, hope faded.
Then, in the unlikeliest of outcomes, he regained consciousness about eight hours after plunging over the falls. On the very next day, he was out and about as usual.
Despite sliding along the rocky riverbed and dropping 35 feet, Delor’s final assessment was — no bones were broken.
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 and have recently begun to expand their services and publishing work. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.
A summer day. The road to the Moose River Plains from Limekiln Lake is free of traffic this morning, the sun’s rays have not yet turned the evening dew to dust. As I drive down the shaded road I think about the work of local people from Inlet who dug and placed sand on these roads to give the heavy logging trucks enough traction on the steep sections. Dick Payne, former Inlet Police Chief, left me memorable impressions of working the Plains in the “old days.” Since 1964 when the Gould Paper Company sold this land to the people of the State, the land is Forest Preserve. As the cicadas begin to whine from the trees, I try to remember another group who hiked in via the Red River valley to discover what was at risk from the Higley and Panther Mountain Dams on the South Branch of the Moose River.
The years were 1945 and 1946. At first, they were flown over the Plains by Scotty, the bush pilot from Inlet. Next, they carried heavy packs, snowshoes and cameras. They “discovered” a strange, beautiful land they had never seen before despite over thirty years of exploration in the Adirondacks. A land threatened with inundation by great dams and reservoirs. Not just the land, and the over-wintering deer, as well as the Plains itself and the great trees were at risk but those same roads where the people from Inlet, who knew this land intimately, worked for the trucks extracting resources from this valley. All were at risk from reservoirs that would provide cheap hydropower to the Black River valley to the west, that would drown even the tallest white pine and red spruce lining the Moose, and its tributary, the Indian, where 19th century trappers and, later, the guides and their sports from the cities hunted, fished and prepared hearty fare.
Their cameras and their story of all that would be drowned by these reservoirs won the day, but only by the hardest. It took ten years of advocacy, publicity, study, photography, lobbying, court action…and plain old stubbornness because their adversaries, the Black River Regulating District, had considerable legislative powers to dam rivers. The final vote came in 1955. The people of the State had to answer the question in the voting booths that fall: “There shall or shall not be constructed the Panther Dam on the South Branch of the Moose River.” “There shall not be,” said the voters, by a million votes. So, later, this land became part of the Adirondack Forest Preserve protected by an article in the NYS Constitution, where no lands can be flooded to regulate the flow of rivers without a constitutional amendment.
I came to view Beaver Lake and the Indian River, where Paul Schaefer and his associates photographed white pines and red spruce hundreds of feet tall, white-tailed deer feeding in wetlands, where they spoke for the life they saw threatened by the dam builders. The Indian River lies at elevation 1815 ft.. The high-water elevation of the proposed Higley Dam reservoir would have been 1892 ft. Panther Dam high flow line would have been lapping at everything below the Indian in elevation, at 1716 ft.
I record a few impressions on this sunny August day fifty years after the stunning impact that this land made on Paul Schaefer, Ed Richard, John Apperson, and Beaver Lake landowner Alan Wilcox eventually changed state policy on wild rivers in the Adirondacks forever.
The trail to Beaver Lake seems to be mine, save for a couple who stop to speak of loons on the lake and I to speak with them of the giant witness white pine beside us on the trail. Its three great trunks each reach a worthy 35 inches in diameter; when combined below there is 12 ft. of circumference on a tree that has witnessed the better part of two centuries. Paul Schaefer and associates photographed it constantly during their ten year struggle. The trail, grassy save where feet have laid it low, is sandy gravel, the easiest walking in the Adirondacks. Nowhere else have I been able to survey Adirondack tree tops without tripping over my shoe tops. Massive yellow birch and sugar maple with full canopies soar above.
Beaver Lake comes into view and then the small field where once stood Alan Wilcox’s camp. The camp had a stove in it that saved the life of a hypothermic Paul Schaefer that cold winter of 1946. The sun strikes a billion sparks on the water this warm day. Stillness lays on the far shore, listlessness on the near one. I am in a hurry to progress to the Indian River, but nature is not, and so I am made reluctant to part from the solitude here. A fishermen’s trail heads west, easy to follow save for the expected deadfall. Along the sun-flooded shore of the lake, giant spreading yellow birch and white pine filter the light. Far above those comforting soft boughs an osprey cries, even from the forest floor I saw its head turning, alert to a fish in the warm surface of this shallow lake with bays thick with pond weeds and lilies. On the forest side of the trail, great boulders are cleft, leaving steep precipices and overhangs of green granitic gneiss. As I near the lake outlet, a muddy shoreline is uncovered where, under the harsh summer sun, footprints of deer and moose are drying. These great animals seem to lead me west into the sun on faint animal trails, meandering up and down slope. Avoiding dense brush and blow down, I try to keep to a contour and keep the outlet in its grassy banks in sight. Then out of sight, I hear its soft murmuring now under deep shade.
Then a large stream is seen in the sunlit valley beyond. My heartbeat quickens and I’ve reached the Indian River. A beaver has worked a stagnant backwater. Beyond, about 5 giant pines, several bleached or dying, stand above the streambed. Large red spruce and balsam fir line the shore as well, along with yellow birch. The scene wasn’t so different than the one Paul Schaefer encountered more than fifty years earlier. I wander among the trees. The river takes a sharp turn at this stretch and splits around a heavily wooded island. Then comes an urge to get in the stream to cool amidst the small schools of fish, probably dace. After, I walk the cobbles in the narrowing streambed, gazing every which way. Somehow Paul Schaefer’s photographs that have captured me for years every time I look at them make this a familiar wilderness. Upstream lies the Stillwater where he took many influential photographs of what would have been flooded. But there is no chance of reaching that today. I am leaving this Forest Preserve land of the deer and, now, the moose and returning home. Retracing my steps, there are bicyclists enjoying Beaver Lake shoreline, children cooling in the stream and kayaks on cars and in the Moose River at the Beaver Lake trailhead. Ahead is ten miles of dusty road back to Inlet, but I am elated. I have stood on the shores of the Indian River after imagining the scene for so long. Paul Schaefer was right. This is still Wild Forest land, not a series of reservoirs. This is our Forest Preserve, open to all. As Schaefer wrote, we all own an undivided deed this land of solitude, peace and tranquility. It is up to us and those who come after us to defend that deed.
Photo: Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road.
The gravelly, flat, grassy “plains” of the Moose and Red Rivers are a significant contrast to the rest of the Adirondack Park and one of it’s more unique (and popular) features. Although it’s hard to know for sure, indications from various studies and permit requests suggest that about 50,000 people use the plains each year (not including the some 500 campsites bordering the area, and the incidental use generated by those in the hamlets of Inlet, Raquette Lake and Indian Lake). “The Plains,” as the area is known, was also the site of one of the region’s legendary environmental conservation fights of the last 100 years. » Continue Reading.