Posts Tagged ‘Wetlands’

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Facing the Storm: Preparing for Increased Extreme Weather

View from Bridge of HopeI attended a recent forum in Albany, Facing the Storm: Preparing for Increased Extreme Weather in Upstate New York, and wanted to pass along some of what I heard, or thought I heard. The event was sponsored by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government.

For a forum concerning the impacts of a changing climate the audience was unusually diverse in terms of backgrounds and professions. As a staff member for Adirondack Wild, I was sitting next to a firefighter from a village in Montgomery County. At the next table were other firefighters and emergency personnel in uniform.  Across from me were several members of the League of Women Voters.  Initially we all wondered if we were in the right meeting. I think by the end we realized what we all have in common. » Continue Reading.



Monday, April 14, 2014

First Signs of Spring: Skunk Cabbage

skunk_cabbageIt’s spring. Red-winged blackbirds are calling, chipmunks are foraging and flocks of robins abound. Bending down to smell the first subtle scents of crocuses and daffodils, we give thanks that winter is over. Sometimes, we also take a whiff of skunk cabbage flowers, just for the olfactory shock value.

Skunk cabbage grows throughout the Northeast and Midwest, ranging from North Carolina well up into the northernmost reaches of Quebec. The flower emerges through the snow and ice of March in the understory of wooded swamps, along riverbanks, lakeshores, and in other habitats with rich wet soils. First growth is an exotic, crimson-hued, three to six inch tall cowl –called a spathe – that surrounds and protects a spherical cluster of flowers. Each flower measures ¾-inch across and consists of 50 to 100 tightly packed florets. » Continue Reading.



Monday, March 17, 2014

The Boreal Baker’s Dozen:
Northern Birds in Adirondack Wetlands

A Gray Jay by Simon Pierre BarretteImagine that you are walking on a path through a forest in the Adirondacks and suddenly, you see an opening in the trees ahead. Moving closer, you gaze out on a vast opening covered in a mosaic of leafy shrubs and dotted with spiky conifers. You take a step further and feel the “squish” as your boot sinks into a wet, dense mat of bright green moss. From the top of a nearby snag, you hear the distinctive “quick-three-beers” song of an Olive-sided Flycatcher followed by the complex, jumbled, slightly metallic sound of a Lincoln’s Sparrow. Looking down again, you notice the pale, delicate flowers of a white-fringed orchid. All the sights and sounds are conclusive: you have entered the Adirondack boreal.

The term “boreal” is used to describe cold, wet areas in northern latitudes. For the most part, people think of northern Canada and Eurasia, with vast spruce-fir forests, extensive wetland complexes, and frigid winter conditions. Though much of the Adirondack Park is within the temperate deciduous bioclimatic zone, we can also find low-elevation boreal pockets containing bog rosemary, pod-grass, tamarack and other boreal plants. » Continue Reading.



Monday, March 10, 2014

APA Seeks Expedited Approvals For Some Wetland Activities

APA officeThe Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is seeking public comment on two new general permits related to wetlands in the Adirondack Park that would expedite APA approval for qualifying activities. One relates to the the management of invasive species within 100 feet of a wetland, the other to access and replacement of power poles in wetlands. Both General Permits will apply throughout the Adirondack Park and will be effective for three years unless revoked or modified by the Agency.

The APA will accept public comments until March 28, 2014. If there is significant concern with, or opposition to these General Permits, a public hearing may be required. Approval of a General Permit by the Agency is a SEQRA, Type 1 action. A negative declaration and Full Environmental Assessment Form has been prepared by the Agency and is on file at its offices in Ray Brook, New York. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Adirondack Wetlands:
A New Citizen Science Monitoring Project

Black Spruce  in an Adirondack wetland - photo by Samouel BeguinWith this winter shaping up to be a cold one, spring may still seem far away. But with time and a little patience, we will soon start to notice the lilac leaves bursting from buds, the return of brightly colored warblers, and the ringing chorus of spring peepers in the evening. Any time you detect events unfolding in the natural world, you are making phenological observations.

Phenology refers to the study of the timing of biological activities. Perhaps unsurprisingly, many of these changes in the life cycles of plants and animals coincide with the seasons. Besides day length, factors that influence the timing of biological events include temperature, precipitation, snowpack formation and melting, and wind. » Continue Reading.



Monday, January 13, 2014

DEC Plans To Dismantle Marcy Dam

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen Tropical Storm Irene damaged Marcy Dam, draining most of the pond behind it, hikers debated passionately whether the dam should be rebuilt to restore an iconic vista enjoyed by tens of thousands of visitors over the years.

It looks like it won’t be.

The state Department of Environmental Conservation recently decided to dismantle the wooden dam in stages over the next five years.

DEC spokesman David Winchell said the cost of rebuilding the dam to modern standards would have been too costly and may have conflicted with the management principles for the High Peaks Wilderness Area. Those principles seek to minimize the presence of man-made structures. » Continue Reading.



Monday, December 23, 2013

LG Porous Pavement Project Update

Map shows Beach Road area at the south end of Lake George.The recent round of snow, ice and rain has provided a good opportunity to see the winter performance of the porous pavement used at the newly reconstructed Beach Road, on  Lake George. In the last few days we’ve seen lots of black ice and freezing rain, but the porous pavement has been clear.

This road project is one of the biggest experiments in the northeast in stormwater management, but many also believed it will provide better winter driving conditions too. » Continue Reading.



Friday, December 20, 2013

Ed Kanze: The Strange Case of The Frozen Frogs

ed_kanze_frogThis is a story of fire and ice in which the ice comes first. Two frogs are found by a class of school kids, the amphibians frozen in the ice covering a pond.

Were the frogs alive, and if so, what came of them? Listen here as I tell a tale of joy, sorrow, and irony in this week’s edition of All Things Natural with Ed Kanze. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Bill Ingersoll: South Pond

DSCN0444I might have abandoned the idea of reaching South Pond had I not caught a glimpse of it through the trees, right at that critical moment of decision. There it was, right there at the foot of the mountain, a snowy white expanse about a quarter mile away, a remote and lonely retreat with a siren call I could not refuse. Not when I was this close.

I became resolved to continue forward—even though it had taken a full two hours just to come this short distance, and Lexie and I still had the trip back over the mountain to face, too. We had taken our time dealing with the thickets of tangled spruce and the isolated deadfalls that had been dogging us all the way up and over the mountain, one after the other. There had not been much clear walking. Ironically, near the bottom of the mountain we began to encounter a new obstacle: small but steep ledges that again forced us to adjust our course and find yet another way around. Not once since we had started up the mountain had we been able to simply proceed in a straight line. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Small Mammals: The Shrew That Walks On Water

shrewOn a morning walk around the pond, the dog and I encountered a dead shrew – perhaps the unfortunate casualty of a neighborhood feline or a red fox (shrews are well-known for being distasteful to mammalian predators). When I picked it up and noticed its velvety black fur, long tail, and unusually large hind feet, I realized that this was a species I did not recognize. I tossed it on the passenger seat of the car so I could identify it later at work.

Like all shrews, this small, mouse-like mammal lying on my desk had a long pointed snout and tiny eyes. Its minuscule ears were barely visible, covered by short velvety fur. As I stroked the soft black hair, I noticed that the fur offered little resistance no matter which direction my finger passed over it, a perfect adaptation for life underground, permitting the animal to slide easily through a tight tunnel in any direction. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, October 5, 2013

Adirondack Wildlife: Wood Turtles

turtleSince as far back as I can remember, the sight of a group of turtles basking on a log has made me pause to enjoy their prehistoric appearance. Most summer days during my early childhood were spent wading in neighborhood ponds to stalk painted turtles and spotted turtles with a long-handled net, while avoiding the larger snapping turtles that were lurking beneath the surface. Stumbling upon an eastern box turtle or a musk turtle, something that has happened far too infrequently, was often the natural history highlight of my year.

This summer, I had what may be my best turtle day ever when I stopped my car to help a turtle cross the road. It turned out to be a rare wood turtle, the first I had ever seen, and an animal that is unmistakable for its striking appearance. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, September 19, 2013

Johns Brook Stream Restoration Begins

Johns Brook Restorian 2013 - Photo by Corrie MillerWork 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.



Monday, September 16, 2013

Wildlife Architecture: Building A Beaver Lodge

Beaver_lodgeAll mammals that employ the use of a shelter in winter instinctively attempt to find a place completely hidden from the view of humans for their home, except for one. When the time comes in late summer or early autumn for establishing a protective enclosure for the coming season of cold, ice and snow, only the beaver places its residence in a spot that can be readily noticed by a person passing through the area.

When hiking, canoeing, biking or driving past a stretch of quiet water, you can often see a sizeable, cone-shaped mound of sticks packed with mud jutting well above the water’s surface. This is the temporary, winter residence of a family of beaver which provides these flat-tailed creatures with shelter from the cold, and protection against their few natural enemies. » Continue Reading.



Saturday, September 14, 2013

Loon Quilt Raffle to Benefit Loon Conservation

Loon QuiltThe Biodiversity Research Institute’s (BRI) Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation will be holding its first-ever Loon Quilt Raffle. The hand-made quilt depicts a pair of loons raising two chicks on an Adirondack lake. The queen-sized quilt was created by Dr. Nina Schoch, Coordinator of BRI’s Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation, based on a McKenna Ryan design, and quilted by Susan Ochs of Saranac Lake.

“The proceeds from the loon quilt raffle will help support our loon research and outreach initiatives over the coming year. It was a lot of fun making this unusual quilt,” said Dr. Schoch, “and I hope the support it provides will enable us to continue to address numerous threats to Adirondack loons and the lakes and ponds where they live.” » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Small Species: Critical to Ecosystem Health

Michael Klemens sampling for amphibians(1)Small species slithering unseen within the forest leaf litter, or croaking and peeping from the edge of wetlands rarely take center stage in either conservation or Adirondack land development discussions. 

In fact, they are often completely overlooked, but that is changing with the leading work of Dr. Michael Klemens. An internationally recognized biologist, herpetologist and scientist-advocate for conservation design, Dr. Klemens has been retained by Adirondack Wild to give much needed attention to frogs, salamanders, and reptiles – key to the base of our Adirondack forest ecosystem and food chain. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Adirondack Wildlife: The American Toad

toad cropThe damp weather pattern over the Adirondacks since mid-May, while being a challenge to some creatures, has been most favorable to many others. Among those forms of wildlife that benefit from a moist atmosphere and frequent bouts of rain are the numerous terrestrial amphibians that occur in shady locations across the region.

While the Adirondacks is home to over a dozen species of these moisture-loving entities, the largest and most frequently encountered is the American Toad, a chubby and slow moving animal that is among the most recognizable members of our wildlife community. » Continue Reading.



Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Crayfish: An Adirondack Crustacean

CrayfishAdirondack waterways serve as home to a wealth of invertebrates that range in size from microscopic to those that are several inches in length. Among the giants of this complex and diverse group of organisms are the crayfish, which are larger, more robust and meaty than many vertebrate forms of life in our region.

Because of their size and abundance, crayfish are an important component of all fresh water environments; however these fierce-looking entities have not been as thoroughly researched and studied as have other creatures that reside in the same general surroundings. While the basics of their biology and natural history are known, much still remains to be learned regarding the individual species that populate the many bodies of water throughout the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.



Thursday, July 11, 2013

Adirondack Wildlife: The Four-Toed Salamander

four_toed_salamanderLet’s start out with a riddle: What animal has 16 toes and a tail that breaks off when grabbed by a predator? Not sure? Here’s another clue: It’s the smallest terrestrial vertebrate in our area. If you didn’t guess four-toed salamander, don’t feel bad—it’s probably also the least-known salamander in the North Country.

The four-toed salamander (Hemidactylium scutatum) holds a number of dubious distinctions. Besides its diminutive size (a typical adult may only reach 2-3 inches in length), it is also the only terrestrial salamander with four toes on all four feet. With the exception of the aquatic mudpuppy (which happens to be our largest salamander), all other salamanders have five toes on their hind feet. Four-toeds also have specialized breeding habitat requirements, which probably accounts for their limited distributions in our region. Combine that with their small size and cryptic behavior, and you have a recipe for an animal that very few people have ever heard of, let alone encountered. » Continue Reading.



Monday, July 1, 2013

The Dragonfly: Master of Flight

Slaty_Skimmer_on_flowerThe ability of a flying animal to move through the air varies greatly, with some creatures possessing an exceptional mastery of this skill. While many forms of life simply use their aerial capabilities to quickly and efficiently travel from one place to another, others have evolved extraordinary airborne talents. Bats, swallows and swifts are all well known for their highly maneuverable style of flight, allowing these hunters to pursue and capture bugs in the air. Yet, from an aerodynamic perspective, the most unique and complex flying creature in the Adirondacks is the dragonfly, which must be considered the true master of flight.

The dragonfly actually represents a group, or order, of insects known as Odonata, which encompasses many species of both dragonflies and damselflies. All of the individuals in this category have evolved a highly complex flight style produced by their two sets of long, slender and transparent wings. » Continue Reading.



Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Art and Nature: Returning To the Heron Nest

Heron on nest, 2013If you’ve been reading the Adirondack Almanack for a while, you may recall my emotional writing about the heron nest I found in the spring of 2012, and the three charming youngsters that were about half-grown when nature intervened and they became dinner for some predator like a large owl or a bald eagle. I was devastated as I’d been quietly visiting the nest site for weeks, observing and photographing the heron family. You can see a YouTube video of one of the parents feeding the three youngsters here.

I’m happy to say, the herons are back on the nest. Or more accurately, according to what I’ve read, a male heron, perhaps the same one, returned to this nest site, made sure the nest was in tip-top shape, and then courted a female (who may not be the same one as last year) and convinced her to join him for mating season. I trust those close friends who know where this pond is will keep it quiet and not disturb this nesting pair. » Continue Reading.



Page 1 of 512345