The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter is making upgrades to its Boquet River Nature Preserve trail network in the town of Willsboro. This summer, professional trail builders have been constructing a 1.5-mile loop trail in the uplands portion of the 110-acre preserve. When completed, this multi-use trail is expected to be the longest accessible forest trail in the region designed and built to meet the Federal Trail Accessibility Guidelines under the Architectural Barriers Act.
The new trail will have a minimal slope and a crushed stone surface that can accommodate walkers, runners, bikers, strollers, and wheelchairs. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is accepting public comments on Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan conformance for proposed activities to the Lake Champlain Islands Management Complex Unit Management Plan (LCIMC-UMP). Public comment should address if the proposed activities conform to the guidelines and criteria of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (APSLMP). The APA will accept public comment until January 6, 2017.
The islands that comprise the LCIMC encompass approximately 1,133 acres of Forest Preserve lands on six of the seven state-owned islands in Lake Champlain – Valcour, Schuyler, Cole, Garden, Sheepshead, and Signal Buoy.
There are also approximately 28 acres of land that make up the three boat launch sites included in the LCIMC which are administered by the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Bureau of Fisheries: Peru Dock, Port Douglas and Willsboro Bay. » Continue Reading.
The cold Hardy Grape Variety Research nursery in Northern New York is getting a make-over.
With new funding from the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program that helped establish the nursery at the Cornell Willsboro Research Farm in Willsboro in 2005, old vines have been removed, the soil is being refreshed, and new varieties of grapes have been selected for planting in 2017.
The evaluation of new varieties has been named a priority by growers associated by the wine grape industry across New York state. » Continue Reading.
Five Adirondack communities have received $7.4 million in grants on top of $13.16 million in loans to complete clean water programs to treat their wastewater and provide pure drinking water to their residents from the state’s Water Infrastructure Improvement Act (WIIA).
Counting the $2.5 million in funding for Willsboro and Saranac Lake in last year’s budget, the WIIA has brought nearly $10 million to Adirondack communities since it was created in 2015. » Continue Reading.
As colorful nicknames go, Bloody Bill is tough to beat. It belongs to a number of bad guys, and one very good guy – Bloody Bill Higby, born in Willsboro 202 years ago.
After attending local schools and working on the family farm, he found employment in the iron and lumber business. Higby then enrolled in the Essex County Academy at Westport and went on to graduate from the University of Vermont. After studying law, he began practicing in Elizabethtown in 1847. Three years later, nearing the age of 40, he felt the call of the West amid dreams of striking it rich in California’s gold mines. » Continue Reading.
On the heels of the passage of Proposal 5 last November to sell 200 acres of Forest Preserve to NYCO Minerals, Inc., state agencies and NYCO are now going for broke in new permit applications for a massive expansion of NYCO’s two mines in the Town of Lewis. At the December 2013 meeting of the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) there was unanimous cheering among the APA Board and senior leadership over passage of Proposal 5. In those same weeks, NYCO began its applications to expand its two mines in Lewis.
NYCO is seeking major expansions of both mines. With its political fortunes at an all-time high, the time is right to permanently change the scale of its mining activities in the Champlain Valley. » Continue Reading.
Addressing the concerns of the opponents of the proposed federal constitution, who worried that members of Congress would not be sufficiently representative of the interests and opinions of their districts, the authors of ‘The Federalist Papers’ pointed out that a candidate without local connections would be unlikely to get elected.
They could not win the esteem of their neighbors without having already demonstrated merit and sound judgement. They will be acquainted with local issues, because in all probability they will have served in the state legislature, “where all local information and interests of the state are assembled,” or in some other local office. » Continue Reading.
This Saturday my family and six of my son’s friends will be celebrating his birthday by becoming part of the Underground Railroad. It won’t be the typical birthday party, but it is the one that my son wants to share with his friends. Presented by the Pok-O-MacCready Outdoor Education Center and the Underground Railroad Historical Association, the North County Underground Railroad Experience will be held rain, snow or shine at the Willsboro 1812 Homestead Museum on November 23 from 6-9 pm. This trip through local history is a mere $5 per person.
Participants will play the roles of escaped slaves while the Pok-O-MacCready staff plays the roles of bounty hunters, abolitionists and marshals. According to Brian DeGroat, Director of the Outdoor Education Center, the event is geared to children ages 10 and older due mainly to the serious issues regarding slavery and gearing the lecture to an older audience. » Continue Reading.
Legislation is pending in the State Legislature for “second passage” of a Constitutional Amendment to transfer 200 acres of Forest Preserve lands in the Jay Mountain Wilderness to NYCO Minerals, Inc. This legislation has strong support from North Country elected state representatives. The Governor supports it and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is taking an active role stalking for the bill.
There are two big problems with this effort. First, this land swap sets a terrible precedent for the “Forever Wild” Forest Preserve. Second, the bill is riddled with inaccuracies, outright falsehoods, and misstatements. » Continue Reading.
The Champlain Valley Film Society is going to spend its 10th anniversary this Saturday, April 27 with an Oscar-nominated film. After screening almost 170 films since its inception in 2003, The Film Society is thanking audience members with a free showing of Daniel Day-Lewis’s Oscar winning performance in Lincoln.
Founded by Larry Barns, Thurston Clarke, Bill James and David Reuther, the Champlain Valley Film Society has grown from an infrequent outdoor movie experience to a nonprofit, monthly art house cinema from fall to spring.
The four men found that the closest theatre experience was the Plattsburgh area, which wasn’t always showing films they wished to see. Burlington was too far so they joined forces to bring current, classic, foreign and independent films to the Champlain Valley. » Continue Reading.
Though we have spent most of our time getting out on the various Adirondack trails, my family needs to start working a different muscle group. Our legs are strong, but our arms are in need of a different workout. Though there is still plenty of snow around the Adirondacks, there are other activities that we are able to enjoy. One is getting into rock climbing shape at an indoor climbing wall.
The Crux, in Willsboro, offers the novice and expert a great place to burn off some steam while getting into climbing shape. Under the auspiciousness of Pok-O-MacCready Outdoor Education Center, The Crux is open from mid-October through mid-May. According to the Outdoor Education Center Director Brian DeGroat The Crux’s availability is tailored to accommodate everyone wanting to maintain or improve their skills without climbing outdoors. » Continue Reading.
The owners of 319 acres of farmland and woods in the Champlain Valley have taken steps to protect the property in perpetuity and open it to the public for hiking and cross-country skiing.
Dick and Leanna DeNeale donated a conservation easement on their property to Champlain Area Trails (CATS), a nonprofit organization that has created twenty-three miles of hiking trails in the Champlain Valley since 2009. » Continue Reading.
My family puts a lot of time into children’s Halloween costumes. It seems that my kids start planning the next year’s theme the moment they take off the previous year’s getup. They continue to use those costumes in an ever growing and more sophisticated dress-up bin. Though most scary Halloween events may not be for the very young, we look for opportunities that entertain a wide variety of ages where we can showcase the new costumes.
In the Champlain Valley, the Lakeside School at Black Kettle Farm in Essex has a wonderful treat planned. Award winning author and illustrator Steven Kellogg will be onsite from 10:30 am – 12:30 pm on October 20th. Adults and children alike will enjoy Kellogg’s storytelling as he draws on an oversized drawing pad, quickly sketching one of his stories through a series of vignettes. » Continue Reading.
Located in what we call an “Adirondack plaza”, but known as the Willsborough Business Center, Rick’s Restaurant and Pub is unique in more than its location. Our definition of an Adirondack plaza, and we have encountered several of these business centers in our travels in the Park, is a building that houses multiple businesses but not all are accessed directly from the curb.
The Willsborough Business Center is home to a pharmacy, a bowling alley, a hair salon, several engineering and technology businesses, a bakery and, of course, Rick’s Restaurant and Pub. Enter through the business entrance and it’s one of the doors on the right. There are no windows in the doors, so you may find yourself entering tentatively, hoping you’re in the right place. » Continue Reading.
Bounty hunters and escaped slaves may sound like a game for the Wii but this Friday, November 11 from 6:00 p.m. – 9:00 p.m. you can get your children off the couch and into living history. For a fiver, Pok-O-MacCready Outdoor Education Center (OEC) in Willsboro’s is welcoming the public to experience what is would be like to be part of the Underground Railroad.
Though the Adirondacks has ties to the Underground Railroad, this particular experience, though historically accurate, is not placed true to the location. According to Stites McDaniel, Director of the Pok-O-MacCready Outdoor Education Center (OEC) to provide a more in-depth experience participants play the roles of slaves and attempt to avoid bounty hunters as they move from station to station.
“Bounty hunters wouldn’t have necessarily gone this far north,” says McDaniel. “It would have been more likely the common citizen turning in a runaway for the reward. We had to take a bit of creative license in order for the participants to get, what we felt, would be the entire experience from escape to freedom. There was still the danger throughout the Underground Railroad network as the slaves were shuttled north.”
Participants will play the roles of escaped slaves while staff and volunteers play the roles of bounty hunters, abolitionists and marshals. McDaniel encourages people to come with questions as the event always closes with a discussion. He asks that people take a moment to truly suspend belief and immerse themselves in the experience.
“We run this program with high school and lower middle school students,” says McDaniel. “We have had children as young as seven and are able to cater to the age of the participant. We do not over glamorize. We want families with younger children to feel included.”
This community event is a partnership with the 1812 Homestead, where the event takes place. According to McDaniel the “escaped slaves” will move to each station where there will be an historic discovery during the re-enactment. When a group is participating in a learning station they are off limits to the bounty hunters. As the group moves from station to station they are then running from bounty hunters or may be fortunate to find an abolitionist.
McDaniel says, “We try to incorporate as much historical reference as possible. People may meet a traveling abolitionist named Lucretia Mott. There will also be someone acting as a member of local Keese family. The whole re-enactment is about two hours. Within that timeframe participants will be doing their own learning. We do end with a debriefing. We don’t end the activity without a discussion.”
Pok-O-MacCready Outdoor Education Center (OEC) in Willsboro, a not-for-profit organization comprised of 300 acres, focuses on an outdoor educational experience. The waterfront facilities provide opportunities for canoeing, kayaking and fishing while the property utilizes onsite skiing, mountain biking and nature trails. Catering primarily to school and youth groups, the Pok-O-MacCready OEC continues to add community events to their roster based on their popular school events.
Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates), the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities.
The Adirondack Almanack's contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The Almanack is the online news journal of Adirondack Explorer. Both are nonprofits supported by contributors, readers, and advertisers, and devoted to exploring, protecting, and unifying the Adirondack Park.
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