Thursday, June 27, 2013

Adirondack Loon Researchers Need Money

ACLCLogoThe Adirondack Center for Loon Conservation got its start more than a decade ago (albeit under a different name) with the mission of monitoring a bird that appeared to be in trouble–from acid rain, mercury contamination, lead sinkers, and other environmental threats. Now it appears the researchers are in trouble.

Nina Schoch, coordinator of the center, hopes to raise about $20,000 over the next few weeks to hire field staff to monitor loon nesting on some ninety lakes across the Adirondack Park. She has had monitors in the field for the past eleven summers, but she doesn’t have enough money  to hire them this year.

Schoch said the loon monitors check lakes to see where the birds are nesting and then follow the progress of the reproductive cycle from the laying of eggs to the fledgling of the chicks. For a variety of reasons, some eggs do not hatch and some chicks do not survive. Without monitors in the field, Schoch said, “we won’t be able to tell the cause of nest failure.”

The loon population has been growing in recent years, but Schoch said the birds, icons of the North Woods, still bear watching as they serve as barometers of ecological  health.

The center, which is affiliated with the Biodiversity Research Institute, relies on state grants, charitable foundations, and private donations to fund its research. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority has helped fund the research in the past and expects to do so again.

“Pending approval, NYSERDA anticipates funding the loon monitoring project at approximately the same level as last year.  NYSERDA provided $40,000 for the ADK loon project last year, and we are reviewing BRI’s request for more than $42,000 per year for the next five years, to provide stability to the loon monitoring program,” a spokeswoman said in an email.

The problem, Schoch said, is that one of its foundations could not give the center money this year.

Initially, the center faced a $35,000 shortfall, but some private donors have helped close the gap in recent weeks.

“It’s been fantastic the response we’ve got from our private donors. They really came through,” Schoch said.

To make up the difference, Schoch is making a general appeal to the public for contributions. Click here to make an online donation. You also can email Schoch directly at

The center also will raffling a loon quilt. Tickets are $5 each or 6 for $25. The drawing will be October 13 at the Paul Smiths VIC as as part of an Adirondack loon celebration. For more information, click here.


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Phil Brown is the former Editor of Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, the same topics he writes about here at Adirondack Almanack. Phil is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing. He is the author of Adirondack Paddling: 60 Great Flatwater Adventures, which he co-published with the Adirondack Mountain Club, and the editor of Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings.Visit Lost Pond Press for more information.

2 Responses

  1. TiSentinel65 says:

    They can take solace in the fact that there are many loons in the Adirondacks now. I hiked into West Canada lake over the weekend. I saw loons in Brooktrout Lake and West Lake. Brooktrout lake was in the past dead from acid rain. As I paddled around Brooktrout Lake I discovered what appeared to be equipment to study the brooktrout on a spot in shore. It must be state biologists doing it because I found fish tags and nets that the state must be using to sample data from the brookies that are in the lake. Some of their equipment was locked in boxes, so I assume it must have been more sensitive or expensive stuff that they took added measures to secure. I also noted that some fishermen that stayed in the leanto at Brooktrout Lake noted in the leanto log book catching some nice brookies. It appears that ione of the worst case scenarios for acid rain in the Adirondacks, Brooktrout Lake is well on its way to recovery. Lots of brookies and lots of loons.

  2. Dan Crane says:

    While recently exploring a remote portion of the Five Ponds Wilderness, I observed a common loon on Lower South Pond and Crooked Lake, along with one on an unnamed pond southwest of Crooked. I doubt the presence of a loon determines whether fish are present, but it definitely suggests it.

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