Tuesday, March 10, 2009

DIY Natural History at The Wild Center

Maybe you’ve started walking to the store instead of driving, or line-drying the laundry, or insulating drafty gaps in your walls. Whatever you do, little steps like these can give other people ideas on how to reduce their own greenhouse gas emissions.

Visitors to the The Wild Center in Tupper Lake are writing footnotes about their efforts to cut fossil-fuel use and posting them by their hometown on a map of the Adirondack Park. Guests from farther away tape their stories outside the Blue Line. The little feet-shaped pieces of paper represent carbon footprints, which must shrink if the Adirondacks is to have a chance of keeping boreal birds, spruce trees and maples.

Here are a few notes from the map:

— Clifton-Fine and Indian Lake schools are studying the feasibility of heating with wood

— Students at Lake Placid High School conducted an energy audit of their building

— SUNY ESF Ranger School in Wanakena is installing a wood-chip boiler

— The Central Adirondack Association and Adirondack Economic Development Corporation are funding a program to help businesses from Old Forge to Long Lake improve efficiency and reduce energy costs

— The Town of Minerva is weatherizing households applying for HEAP funds

— Saranac Lake citizens are raising capital to open a community store for local shopping

The map hangs unobtrusively on a wall near the natural history museum’s auditorium, and it can’t compete with the otters, brook trout, wildflowers and more vivid exhibits. But it quietly acknowledges that if the park’s natural history is to remain more than just a museum piece, it’s up to us.

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Mary Thill

Mary Thill lives in Saranac Lake and has worked alternately in journalism and Adirondack conservation for three decades.




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