Posts Tagged ‘Lake Champlain-Champlain Valley’

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Lake Champlain Basin Flood Resilience Conference

The Lake Champlain Basin Program will be hosting the Lake Champlain Basin Flood Resilience Conference Monday, June 4th through Tuesday, June 5th at the University of Vermont. The results of this conference will provide Vermont, New York and Québec governments with technical and policy information about the flood events from Lake Champlain’s spring 2011 record high water level and tropical storm Irene last August. Speakers from all three jurisdictions will share their knowledge with researchers, government officials and the public.

Bill Howland, LCBP Program Manager noted, “This two day conference draws information from two technical workshops held in Quebec in February and New York in May.” Howland stated that many topics will be covered including flood response for rivers and lakeshores, emergency response, flood vulnerability assessment, as well as impacts to agriculture, and more. It is through the cooperative effort of many lake and river partners, including the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the office of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, that this conference will be made possible. » Continue Reading.



Monday, May 28, 2012

Lawrence Gooley: Remembering Charlie Barney

The ranks of those who love nature and history were badly diminished earlier this year with the loss of an old friend. I found out about it in terrible fashion a few days ago. The subject of my next book had been narrowed down to three possibilities. The one I was leaning towards was Clinton Prison at Dannemora. An old school friend had urged me several times to get to work on it, and at the top of my list of contacts that day was his name, Charlie Barney.

I began the day as usual with a brief scan of the headlines in a few online newspapers. After a quick look at the local obituaries, I would reach out to Charlie. I knew he would be a big help, and he’d be happy that I was finally doing it. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, May 27, 2012

Cabin Life: Wonders of Wildlife

There was a loon swimming off the beach this morning, its haunting call reminding me of years past.  In college, I lived on one of the several Loon Lakes here in the Adirondacks.  It was great until the loons showed up, all six pairs of them.  They wouldn’t shut up all night.

I know from experience that loons are smart animals.  As large as a goose, but barely able to walk, their black and white body with red eyes are an iconic part of the Adirondacks.  I used to monitor banded loons and their nests, and after a few weeks of kayaking around them, I was often treated to the loons swimming under my boat and tagging along on the weekly paddles. » Continue Reading.



Sunday, May 20, 2012

Vote Online in Champlain Area Trails Writing Contest

From the power of a turtle-crossing sign to the secret of the “Coon Mountain panther,” from the healing potential of a hike to the 1.5 tons of Vidalia onions sold in Willsboro, the 11 final entries for the second CATS Travel Writing Contest offer a  taste of the riches that the Champlain Valley offers.

“We invite everybody to visit our website, read the articles, and vote for their favorite,” said Chris Maron, executive director of CATS. “People can read the stories describing trails, local businesses, and the enjoyment of this area at our website (www.champlainareatrails.com).” » Continue Reading.



Sunday, May 20, 2012

Cabin Life: Back to Work

I’m sitting on a picnic table on the shore of Lake Champlain. Valcour Island is in front of me, the sun is shining and the birds are chirping.  Tonight is the calm before the storm so to speak, as the campground opens tomorrow.

Paved roads, electricity and hot showers are now plentiful, as is the wildlife.  There are three osprey nests within a half mile of my new cabin, and of course, the raccoons are around a lot.  Pico has been marking the yard, and that’s keeping them away for now, but the cats still aren’t going outside. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, May 17, 2012

Champlain Bridge Grand Celebration This Weekend

New York Vermont Bridge OrganizationAfter many months of planning the Lake Champlain Bridge Community (LCBC) will host its two-day Grand Celebration which celebrates the re-opening of the Lake Champlain Bridge and the re-connected New York and Vermont communities that surround it. The bridge re-opened to traffic on November 7, 2011, but the celebration was postponed until now.

The Grand Celebration will take place on Saturday and Sunday, May 19 and 20. Saturday’s events begin at 9 a.m. with an opening ceremony and end at approximately 10 p.m. after a street dance. Sunday’s events begin at 6 a.m. with a sunrise ecumenical service and close with a fireworks show at dusk. All events will take place at or near the Chimney Point State Historic Site, Addison, Vermont and the Crown Point State Historic Site, Crown Point, New York. All of the weekend’s events are free and will take place rain or shine. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, May 9, 2012

High Peaks Happy Hour: Essex Inn, Essex

The town of Essex has a coastal New England charm, from the centuries old brick homes and diagonal street parking, to the waterfront buildings in colors to rival the Atlantic coast. The Essex Inn, grand in comparative scale to the federal and Greek revival style architecture that defines the hamlet, is the centerpiece of Essex. With a full-length front porch, imposing white columns and freshly painted yellow siding, the Essex Inn’s cheerful facade is warm and inviting.

Management of the 200-year-old Essex Inn was undertaken by Gladys and Josh Archer in 2010 after it was meticulously renovated and restored in a year-and-a-half-long process by Rick and Karen Dalton, who initially purchased it to house the College for Every Student (CFES) organization. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, May 3, 2012

Conservation Partnership Program Grants Awarded Locally

Conservation Partnership Program grants totaling $1.4 million were awarded to 53 nonprofit land trusts across the state according to a statement by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Land Trust Alliance. The grants, funded through New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), will be matched by a total of $1.2 million in private and local funding.

The purpose of the grants is to increase the pace, improve the quality and ensure the permanence of voluntary conservation of private lands, which is expected to result in environmental and economic benefits for communities throughout New York. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, March 31, 2012

Forest to Fields: Champlain Valley Agriculture History

A short booklet, From Forest to Fields: A History of Agriculture in new York’s Champlain Valley published by Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Essex County and the Lake to Locks Passage Scenic Byway highlights the rich history of the Champlain Valley with a focus on the region’s farms and fields.

From Forests to Fields is authored by Anita Deming, who has more than 30 years experience as an agricultural extension agent with CCE, and Andrew Alberti, Program Manager for Lakes to Locks Passage since 2008 (where he focuses on 21st century technology applications and local and regional interpretation and planning). Alberti is also editor for the Lakes to Locks Passage and National Geographic Geotourism website. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, March 29, 2012

Camp Little Notch, Closed Since 2008, Plans Reopening

The nonprofit Friends of Camp Little Notch have signed an agreement with the Open Space Institute to lease, with an option to purchase, the site in Fort Ann where many of the group’s members attended summer camp as girls.

In addition, the Friends have announced that the camp will be reopening this summer for the first time since 2008. The Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York had operated the camp for 70 years previously.

The protection of Camp Little Notch, which is located between Lake George and Lake Champlain in the southeastern corner of the Adirondack Park, began two years ago and has unfolded via a series of creative partnerships since.

In November 2010, the Open Space Conservancy, OSI’s land acquisition affiliate, purchased the 2,364-acre Camp Little Notch, a former Girl Scout camp, from the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York. In March 2011, OSI sold 1,921 of the acres to Meadowsend Timberlands Limited, a sustainable forestry company.

The third phase of the project, which is hoped to ensure the long-term protection of the property, is to sell the remaining 443 acres to the Friends of Camp Little Notch, a nonprofit group created by former Little Notch campers, counselors and supporters. The sale of the camp, like the sale of the forest tract to Meadowsend, will be subject to a conservation easement that limits development while permitting camp uses.

The Friends have signed an agreement that gives them three years to raise the $1.1 million purchase price. The group’s current lease payments are being credited toward the acquisition cost.

“This landscape has captured the hearts of hundreds of Girl Scouts over the years, and it is fitting that the Friends of Camp Little Notch are involved now in the permanent protection of the site,” said OSI CEO and President Kim Elliman. “This project, through each of its phases, has created jobs and tax revenue for the town of Fort Ann while preserving an Adirondack institution.”

This summer, Camp Little Notch is expected to run three one-week sessions for girls ages 7-17, and a two-week session for girls ages 9-17. Activities include nature exploration, low and high ropes course adventures, hiking, yoga, cookouts, the arts, social consciousness education and aquatics.

Camp Little Notch will also offer wilderness trips for girls ages 14-17, and a three-week Counselor-in-Training program for girls ages 16-17. Interested parties are advised to contact the camp director, Julie Schwartz, by phone at (518) 306-9239 or by email at campdirector@camplittlenotch.org.

Camp Little Notch and the surrounding forestlands are dominated by northern hardwoods, an 80-acre lake that is drained by Mount Hope Brook, and a variety of rustic camp structures. Its lands are ideal habitat for a variety of Adirondack flora and fauna, including black bear.



Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Fort Ti to Host Conference on Lake George, Champlain

Fort Ticonderoga will a conference on Lake George and Lake Champlain on August 11-12, 2012 that will explore the history, geography, culture, ecology, and current issues related to the Lake George and Lake Champlain region.

The conference will include sessions exploring the 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century history of Lake George-Lake Champlain region, examining the works of 19th- and 20th-century photographers, and detailing current issues of concern related to the ecological well-being of these two important lakes.

Programs include a history strand looking at the 1758 “Sunken Fleet” in Lake George by noted underwater archaeologist Joseph Zarzynski and the Steamer Ticonderoga that sailed on Lake Champlain from 1906-1953 by Curator Chip Stulen from Shelburne Museum. Chapman Museum Director Timothy Weidner will discuss the works of Seneca Ray Stoddard related to Lake Champlain while photographer Mark Bowie talks about the photographic works of his grandfather Richard Dean of Dean Color.

SUNY Plattsburgh geologist David Franzi will talk about how the glaciers of the last ice age formed today’s Lake Champlain Basin. Meg Modley, from the Lake Champlain Basin Program, provides an update on the current battle against invasive species in both lakes, and Emily DeBolt from the Lake George Association, talks about lake-friendly landscaping techniques.

Fort Ticonderoga recently received a grant from the South Lake Champlain Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation to support the conference and has also received programming support from the Lake George Association.

Registration for the conference is now open. A downloadable conference brochure is available online.

You can also receive a printed version by contacting Rich Strum, Director of Education, at Fort Ticonderoga, at rstrum@fort-ticonderoga.org or at 518-585-6370.



Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Team Adirondacks: Local and Regional Tourism

Despite the fact that it’s been more than twenty years since I walked the halls of my Adirondack K-12 school, I still consider myself a Westport Eagle.

I’m actually somewhat of a traitor, living in neighboring Moriah. But since our two schools were in different sports leagues (based on enrollment), the people of Westport do continue to welcome me for reunions and the like. (Now, if I lived in Elizabethtown, we’d be having a whole different conversation.)

It occurred to me long ago that our Adirondack community rivalries embed themselves early via friendly competition on soccer, baseball and football fields. As we grow older, those loyalties remain.

The competitive rivalries continue today for those who grew up in these communities, and are contagious for those who relocate to them from afar, but the stakes have changed. Instead of a league title, there is a competition between municipalities for County, Region and State attention and funding, and for most, competition for a share of tourism; the greatest economic driver for the region.

It is encouraging and inspiring to see those municipal boundaries disappear, however, courtesy of a threat from a common rival. A crisis such as Tropical Storm Irene, for example, showcased both the communities rivalries AND teamwork. The Town of Jay perceives that it didn’t initially receive the heightened attention from Albany and the media that the town of Keene and the repair to Route 73 received. On the other hand, the ongoing outpouring of hands-on cleanup and monetary support for relief efforts in all of the affected communities from the Adirondack neighborhood was overwhelming and inspiring.

This takes us to the reason I brought this up; a recent instance in which those community boundaries disappeared in front of my very eyes.

New York State’s tourism promotion program, I Love New York, is run by the the state’s Empire State Development wing. In 2012, they hired a new public relations agency to promote the State’s regions to the traveling public via traditional public relations efforts. The agency, M.Silver Associates, were ushered around the state to meet with tourism promotion agents from each county in meetings set up by region. This was an exercise set up so that the agency could learn as much about the regions as possible in order to develop their strategy for acquiring editorial coverage.

For tourism promotion, the state has been cut into 11 geographic regions, including the Catskills, Finger Lakes, New York City, Thousand Islands-Seaway and Greater Niagara, and the Adirondacks. As communications director for Essex County, I attended the meeting in which they solicited information about the Adirondacks from representatives from the Counties that comprise our region; the Tourism Promotion Agents that make up the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council.

We went around the room, describing the events, attractions, activities and experiences that differentiated our respective Counties as the PR agency staff furiously took notes. As the conversation drew on, however, the comments from the individual counties took on a more collective, regional context. Oddly enough, that change happened right after M. Silver mentioned what they had learned while talking to the “Catskills people”, and that they were headed next to talk to the “Finger Lakes” representatives.

New York State is big, and some of our competition lies within. Suddenly, we were not St. Lawrence, Essex, Warren and Hamilton Counties; we were Team Adirondacks. And when we had finished explaining all the reasons that the Adirondacks should represent most of M. Silver’s promotional efforts versus the other regions of New York State, we then turned our attention to the adjacent states.

As an unintentional catalyst for mayhem, the M.Silver rep asked innocently, “Isn’t Lake Champlain in Vermont?”

An uproar quickly ensued. We replied defensively that the “Adirondack Coast” is collectively promoted from Plattsburgh south to Ticonderoga, despite the vast promotion of “Vermont’s Lake Champlain”. 

The evidence was stacked up with comments from every side of the table. “Vermont doesn’t own Lake Champlain, and WE produce maple syrup, too,” “Forts Ticonderoga and Crown Point are on OUR side,” and the most convincing: “Everyone knows that Champ, the Lake Champlain monster, lives on the New York side of the lake.”

The conflict over our common asset, Lake Champlain, seems strangely appropriate as one of the most historically significant waterways in America, home to discoveries and events that shaped the Country. And fittingly, the conversation culminated in the proposed creation of a new event in which the Adirondacks wage a battle against Vermont to gain control of Lake Champlain – in tandem with the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.

The mission of the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council is to promote the region collectively on behalf of the Counties, and our organization has long subscribed to a regional approach with respect to destination marketing. But this conversation banded us together in a different context, and there is a greater understanding that not just for Essex County’s Lake Placid, or Warren County’s Lake George, but for all of our region’s communities, our competitive advantage is to tie our destinations to the Adirondacks. After all, visitors don’t know when they’ve crossed a county line.

The meeting for me was enlightening and encouraging. In those moments when we were able to shout out our individual differentiators, I learned even more about the visitor experiences that the rest of the region offers.

And now I look forward to seeing what our Team Adirondack uniforms look like. We’ll need them for our war with Vermont.

Illustration: Lake Champlain-River Richelieu watershed. Courtesy Wikipedia.

Kimberly Rielly is the director of communications for the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism based in Lake Placid.



Monday, March 5, 2012

Champlain Area Trails Spring Travel-Writing Contest

Champlain Area Trails (CATS) has launched its Spring Travel-Writing Contest. “We invite people to write about using the trails, patronizing local businesses, and visiting New York’s Champlain Valley,” said Chris Maron, the CATS Executive Director. “The winner will earn $500. And People’s Choice prize is $250, so it is definitely worth the effort. The top entrees will be on our website and linked to many other websites, making it a good way to promote the Valley and give exposure to writers.”

CATS is coordinating a series of travel writing contests to boost the local economy through outdoor recreation based tourism. “People research vacation destinations online. We want them to see these articles about New York’s Champlain Valley and get inspired to come here, enjoy the outdoors, visit local businesses, and tell others about this beautiful area,” added Maron. » Continue Reading.



Friday, March 2, 2012

The Battle on Snowshoes Event at Fort Ticonderoga

A living history event at Fort Ticonderoga highlighting Major Robert Rogers and the Battle of Snowshoes will be held on Saturday, March 10 from 10 am – 4 pm. Visitors will be able to encounter the French Garrison in the middle of winter inside Fort Ticonderoga and tour through opposing pickets of British rangers and French soldiers adapted to frontier, winter warfare.

At 1 pm on Saturday, visitors will experience the hectic tree to tree fighting in a recreated battle during which the rangers make a stand against superior numbers, only to retreat through the deep woods.

Visitors will be invited to tour Fort Ticonderoga as it appeared in the winter of 1758, meet the French and Indians who overwhelmed Roger’s experienced woodsmen, and see how native and French soldiers survived the deep winter at this remote military post. More adventurous visitors can take a hike led by a historic interpreter through the opposed pickets of soldiers in the deep woods. In these tours visitors can see how rangers kept a vigilant watch for subtle signs that might reveal their ferocious enemy.

“The Battle on Snowshoes event recreates the savage fight between Robert Roger’s rangers, and a mixed French force of regular soldiers, milice, and allied native warriors on March 13, 1758,” said Stuart Lilie, Director of Interpretation at Fort Ticonderoga. “This event is designed to be a rich experience for both participants and visitors alike.”

Re-enactors portraying French soldiers and native allies will live inside the period furnished barracks rooms of Fort Ticonderoga. They will recreate the winter garrison for Fort Carillon, as it was known until 1759. Just as in the March of 1758 these re-enactors will sortie out from the Fort to meet and overwhelm Roger’s men.

Major Robert Rogers force of both volunteers from the 27th foot, and his own rangers headed out on an extended scout from Fort Edward along Lake George, following an attack on a similar patrol from Captain Israel Putnam’s Connecticut rangers. Hiking on snowshoes due to the three feet of snow, the tracks of Roger’s force were spotted on its march up the west side of Lake George. Near the north end of Lake George, Major Rogers, advanced scouts spotted their French counterparts. Rogers and his Rangers took up positions in a ravine, setting his force in ambuscade to await whatever French patrol would come to meet him.

The French patrol that met Roger’s men proved far larger than he imagined, and in this Battle on Snowshoes, the rangers’ ambush was itself surrounded and overwhelmed. In deep woods on deep snow, the rangers were forced to retreat with heavy casualties as the French regulars, malice, and natives pressed home their attack. Despite stands along the way, this retreat quickly became chaotic as rangers, Roger’s included, ran for their lives from superior numbers of French.

Illustration from Gary S Zaboly‘s “A True Ranger: The Life and Many Wars of Major Robert Rogers” (Garden City Park, NY: Royal Blockhouse, 2004).



Monday, February 20, 2012

Ice Fishing: Lake Champlain Shanty Stories

The centuries-old tradition of ice fishing in the North Country has taken a real hit this winter, what with remarkably mild weather dominating the news. In an already terrible economy, the incomes of businesses and individuals alike have been deeply affected by the unusual conditions. There’s little that can be done, but perhaps a few interesting shanty stories from the past will provide a little distraction.

Wind has always been a factor in the lives of ice-fishermen, occasionally turning shanties into moving vehicles. A Plattsburgh fisherman, Frank Herwerth (caretaker at Clinton Community College) discovered just that in 1928 when a stiff March wind sent him sliding a couple of miles to near the middle of Lake Champlain.

The following year, in the narrows at Putnam, south of Ticonderoga, strong winds pushed a shanty across the lake, smashing it against the opposite shore. There were many similar cases over the years where even tethered structures broke free and slid for considerable distance on the open lake.

During the freakishly warm winters of the early 1930s, fishermen got an early start on the task of removing shanties dotting the few frozen sections of Lake Champlain. As conditions deteriorated at Bluff Point near Plattsburgh, one man in a group of five friends drove across the ice and successfully towed his shanty to shore.

Encouraged, his pals followed suit. One of them asked to borrow a car, and the owner lacked the wisdom to say no. Less than 100 feet from shore, the car began to settle in the soft surface. The passengers made a quick exit, and a short time later, another Dodge was on the lake’s bottom. (Not funny for the environment, of course, but a real head-shaker that someone would loan a car in that situation.)

One of the strangest sights ever to grace the surface of Lake Champlain (or any other lake, for that matter) occurred in late March 1911, during a terrific gale. Toppled shanties blew across the lake at speeds estimated between 20 and 30 mph, but that was only a prelude to the star attraction.

On Willsboro Point, a two-story home on the eastern shore was being moved about a half mile to a new location on the point. The easiest way was to deposit it on the ice and slide it, rather than cut a number of trees and attempt the move on land.

The sight of a two-story house sitting on the lake would have been enough, but the gale winds that arrived that day turned the situation into one of high drama. The house began to move to the southwest, slowly at first, but gained momentum, and was soon hurtling down the lake at an estimated speed of 40 mph.

Anomalies in the ice surface caused the house to spin and lurch at times as it sped along. At one point, it was headed towards a community of ice-fishing shanties. Finally, the house struck a prominent crack in the ice, which sent it twirling and slowed its progress. It eventually came to a halt in the vicinity of Split Rock Point, ten miles from its origin. When the wind died down, a team of horses hauled the house back to Willsboro Point.

Finally, here’s one of the many pranks ice fishermen engaged in, as reported in the Ticonderoga Sentinel seven decades ago: “Del Dumas thought his Champlain fishing shanty was afire when he awakened from a nap in the tiny shack the other day—but it developed that a jokester had plugged Mister Dumas’ stovepipe from the exterior, and you could have smoked a ham inside the hut.”

Photo: Headline from January 1928.

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.



Monday, February 13, 2012

Natural History: Climate Change and the Winter of ’32

“Is our climate changing? This is a question heard often these days. Some are inclined to believe it is, but others are inclined to believe it is just one of those unusual open winters. The weather has been so mild that pussy willows are showing buds, woodchucks are out, and caterpillars were found crawling on the ground.” Those aren’t my words. They’re from the Norwood News, January 20, 1932.

On my way to the mailbox four times in the past week, I stepped between different types of insects on the sidewalk, a reminder of how unusual our weather has been. While reading about years past, it struck me how this mild winter parallels those of 1932 and 1933.

In both instances, ice fishing was drastically curtailed by the open waters of Lake Champlain and the St. Lawrence River. Fishermen were successful back then by using motorboats from Whitehall to Rouses Point, in the dead of winter, to access the best fishing spots.

Temperatures were often in the 50s, pleasant for sure, but not so much for business. Logging, a mainstay of the region’s economy, was months behind schedule. Even when brief cold snaps allowed construction of the required ice roads, balmy weather quickly turned them to slush and mud. Cut timber, ready to haul, lay in the woods until cold weather returned, which wasn’t often.

It was feared the 1932 Olympics in Lake Placid would be cancelled due to a lack of snow: January’s temperatures averaged nearly 13 degrees above normal. At one point, the entire bobrun was washed out by heavy rain. Snow was hauled in by train to ensure the games would be held. A storm just days before the opening ceremonies helped, but warm temperatures caused problems throughout the Games.

In 1932 and 1933, events normally associated with summer occurred throughout the winter, grabbing everyone’s attention. In January: outdoor picnics; bicycling; ducks and geese flying north; the picking of wildflowers; and, in Whitehall, using the village street-sprinkler to suppress road dust.

In February: fishing from rafts at Port Henry; boating on Lake George and Lake Champlain; woodchucks, chipmunks, and other mammals out and about; blackbirds, robins, and other songbirds sighted regularly; and snakes (some of them hit by cars) seen on area roadways.

Both months saw golfers on area courses, interrupted only by occasional cold―and thunderstorms! Baseball players couldn’t resist the opportunity to play, although the effort was often better characterized as mudball. Still, in most any year, even playing catch in winter wasn’t even a consideration.

Experience tells us we’ll still get slammed this season, but just as folks did back then, we can marvel for now at how far into the new year the weather has remained so warm. It’s been a pleasure, and for me, a back-saver as well.

Photo: Headline from January, 1933.

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.



Saturday, February 11, 2012

Champlain Watershed Educators Opportunities

Since 1992, the Champlain Basin Education Initiative (CBEI) has provided professional development opportunities for educators who wish to teach their students about the Lake Champlain watershed. More than 700 educators have participated in workshops and graduate courses offered through the CBEI partners. A new web resource, WatershED Matters, has now been developed to compile the knowledge and teaching strategies used by recent course participants. WatershED Matters is housed within the Lake Champlain Basin Program’s website on behalf of the CBEI partners.

WatershED Matters features curriculum units and community projects currently being implemented by New York, Vermont and Québec educators. The CBEI partners expect the site to grow as educators suggest links to their favorite field trips and classroom resources for teaching about the Champlain basin.

“This resource tool has been in demand for several years by both teachers and the CBEI partners,” says Colleen Hickey, Education and Outreach Coordinator for the Lake Champlain Basin Program. “In recent years, nearly 40 educators have completed our eleven day watershed course and it’s great to be able to share what they’ve learned about the Lake, its tributaries and nearby resources.”

Champlain Basin Education Initiative partners currently include: the Lake Champlain Basin Program, Shelburne Farms, Lake Champlain Sea Grant-UVM Extension, ECHO at the Leahy Center for Lake Champlain, the Lake Champlain Committee, and curriculum coach Amy Demarest. Several New York groups have also assisted with educator outreach in the past year by implementing workshops about specific watershed topics.



Monday, February 6, 2012

Champlain Area Trails Writing Contest Winners

An independent field biology study turned out to be especially fruitful for both teacher and student. Every week since January 2011, Westport ninth-grader Peter Hartwell and mentor David Thomas Train have been exploring the Champlain Area Trails along shoreline, streams, wetlands, and woods near Westport. Those explorations eventually prompted them to enter the Champlain Area Trails Society Travel Writing Contest.

Hartwell attends the BOCES Special Education program in Mineville. To supplement the Mineville curriculum, he studies several subjects privately—including field biology with Thomas Train. “Peter and I spend time together every Wednesday after school in outdoor science explorations, and we wanted to share what we do and see,” Thomas Train explained. “He is an avid outdoors explorer, with great observation and drawing skills.” And Thomas Train is certainly no stranger to the trails of the Champlain Valley: He is the guidebook author for the ADK Guide To The Eastern Region. “I know the CATS trails well and am excited every time a new one is developed, more open space is protected, and I have a new place to explore!” Thomas Train said. » Continue Reading.



Monday, January 30, 2012

Local Civil War History: The One-Legged Jims

I guarantee you’re going to enjoy this. Continuing in the vein of last week’s piece related to the Civil War (a Plattsburgh woman who served as a man), here’s another unique North Country link to that conflict. Though a true story, it’s perhaps best characterized as one of those Ripley’s Believe It or Not! items, and begs the question: What the heck are the odds of that happening?

I can’t answer that, but I do recall that in my former employment, it was notable when three men all having the same first name worked in the same department. So what can you say about a group of three war veterans called “The One-Legged Jims”?

Among the many Union outfits filled by soldiers from upstate was Company A, 77th Regiment, New York State Volunteers. Enlistment sites, always plentiful, included Chatham, about twenty-five miles south of Albany, and Westport, on the shore of Lake Champlain.

The interest here focuses on three enlistees: James G. Allen, 39; James E. Barnes, 35; and James A. Lawrence, 19. Barnes and Lawrence mustered in at Westport on October 1, 1861, while Allen mustered in at Chatham on February 4, 1864.

All three served in Company A, 77th Regiment. Even though there’s more than a two-year span between their muster dates, they all ended up serving at the same time in 1864. Three Jims, same regiment, same company―no big deal.

In June of that year, the men of the 77th were joined in battle at Petersburg, Virginia. During a lull, the troops relaxed behind the breastworks (barriers to protect from ground attack). Many of them laid down to rest, talking and joking amongst themselves to ease the tensions of war. Within their midst, by mere coincidence lying side by side, were the three aforementioned Jims.

Hell erupted in an instant, courtesy of a Rebel shell that landed virtually in their laps. In describing the scene firsthand, Dr. George Stevens said, “Its explosion threw them in every direction. One went high in the air and fell twenty feet from the spot where he was lying when the shell exploded. Strange to tell, not a man was killed, yet three had each a leg crushed to jelly, and two others were seriously wounded.”

But for the quick work and dedication of medical personnel, the three Jims with mangled legs might have died on the spot. The surgeon gave each a glass of brandy, administered chloroform, and went to work.

Within thirty minutes, three limbs were amputated, the remaining stumps were treated and bandaged, and the men were in ambulances. Their destination was City Point, eleven miles away, where they arrived within three hours of being wounded. The speedy effort saved their lives. Later, all three were transferred to Stanton General Hospital in Washington.

One shell, three legs lost … three left legs … and three one-legged survivors, all named Jim. What are the chances? The coincidence wasn’t lost on anyone, and it earned the men plenty of extra attention during their recovery. In the years to come, they became known informally as The One-Legged Jims. Their story developed into a sort of military urban legend: men would tell it as an incredible army tale from their own outfit, perhaps not aware that it was, in fact, a true story taken from New York’s 77th.

After the war, Jim Lawrence eventually moved west, but Barnes remained in his hometown of Westport. At veterans’ GAR (Grand Army of the Republic) reunions across the state, he became known as the best of storytellers. The highlight, of course, was the retelling of how The One-Legged Jims, a very exclusive club, came into being. Many of the listeners had been present when the shell exploded.

“Well, boys, it was down in a rifle pit before Petersburg on the 21st of June, 1864 – lots of you remember the day – myself, Jim Lawrence, and Jim Allen, all of Company A … had finished our coffee and were lying down, smoking our pipes. My head was supported by my arm, which rested on my knapsack, and my right leg was curled up under me, my left one being stretched out. The other two Jims were lying near me in about the same position. That Rebel shell came, it did, and three Jims lost their left legs.”

He was always careful to describe the treatment and efficiency of the surgeon and others who worked so hard to keep them alive every step of the way.

Barnes made his mark outside the military as well. A pension (equal to $800 a month today) for the loss of his leg helped financially, but he also worked. Those who follow the history of Lake Champlain might recognize James Barnes as the first keeper of Barber’s Point Lighthouse when it opened in 1873.

For the remainder of his life, Barnes attended GAR gatherings. The best one of all, from his perspective, came in 1884, when the annual reunion of the 77th Regiment was held at Westport. Jim’s stories were a highlight of the affair. Over the years, from Saratoga to Plattsburgh, he entertained folks in like manner and made many friends at veterans’ events.

The 1890 reunion was remembered by many as both sweet and bittersweet. Jim Lawrence, the only other surviving member of The One-Legged Jims, came all the way from Nebraska, reconnecting with his friend and sharing stories from the past. It was fortunate that he did.

After the Gloversville reunion, Barnes headed for Westport, but stopped to visit a friend at Fort Ann in Washington County. While there, he was struck down by a stroke and never made it home alive.

As fate would have it, the reunion for 1891 was held in Westport. The unfortunate absence of Barnes was noted in a published summary of the event:

“The ‘boys in blue’ … adjourned to the lower rooms, where refreshments were served and old army stories (which no doubt grow tougher as they grow older) were told. James Barnes, the champion storyteller, was missed from the ranks, he having been summoned by the last roll since their last reunion.”

Photo: The crimson silk flank marker of New York’s 77th Regiment.

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.



Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Funding Restored for 18 Champlain Basin Streamgages

U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) have announced that they have secured funding to prevent the imminent shutdown of 18 United States Geological Survey (USGS) river and lake gauges in the Lake Champlain basin. Those gauges – nine in Vermont and nine in New York – were seen as vital to communities impacted by last year’s spring floods and during Tropical Storm Irene. The funding has been secured through the Great Lakes Fishery Commission (GLFC).

Even before the storms of 2011, however, the USGS gauging network in New York was threatened under earlier rounds of budget cuts. These 18 gauges, plus several more around New York and Vermont, were to be shut down in less than two months, on March 1.

For years Leahy, a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, has secured year-to-year funding for the 18 Champlain Basin gauges, but budget cuts this year closed the traditional funding stream. Last month the Leahy and Schumer wrote to the GLFC and to U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ken Salazar requesting the funding. In a prepared statement the senators said the influx will keep these gauges operating while buying time to work on long-term funding solutions for the monitoring network. Leahy chairs the Appropriations Committee panel that oversees the GLFC budget and previously fought to have Lake Champlain come under the purview of the Great Lakes Fisheries Commission.

The gauges are considered important for ongoing water quality control monitoring and improvements, recreational boaters and paddlers, and as lifesaving tools when flooding threatens. Half of the gauges slated for shut-down have been identified by the National Weather Service as important for their flood forecasting work. Some streamgages have been operational since the early 1900s; the gauge just upstream from the Route 22 bridge over the Boquet, for instance, has been recording since 1923.

In New York, the gauges that will benefit from the funding are:

Clinton County

· Great Chazy River at Perry Mills

· Little Chazy River near Chazy

· Salmon River at South Plattsburgh

· Little Ausable River near Valcour

· Ausable River near AuSable Forks

Essex County

· Bouquet River at Willsboro

· Putnam Creek east of Crown Point Center

Washington County

· Lake Champlain north of Whitehall

· Mettawee River near Middle Granville



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