Almanack Contributor Editorial Staff

Editorial Staff

Stories under the Almanack's Editorial Staff byline come from press releases and other notices.

Send news updates and story ideas to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at [email protected]


Monday, April 6, 2009

APA Reforms Moving Through Legislature

The New York State Senate introduced three measures, advanced by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA), which the APA argues will “benefit the Park, its residents and improve overall APA efficiency.” The three bills hope to address the issue of affordable housing, to establish regular funding for local planning efforts, streamline the project review process, and expand flexibility for transferring development rights.

Regular APA critic Fred Monroe, executive director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, is first out of the box to question the affordable housing plan. The bill would encourage community housing projects within a three-mile radius of APA-designated hamlets (shown in the map above).

In an interview with the Plattsburgh Press Republican Monroe says that that 31 of the 92 towns in the Adirondacks do not have APA-designated hamlets. A look at the map shows he’s exaggerating a bit, as only about a dozen of those towns have any real acreage inside the park and several of those are some of the park’s most remote.

Monroe wants the new law’s hamlet designation to include those areas locally considered hamlet, not just APA-designated hamlets, which are downtowns and population centers where local zoning holds sway. Monroe is the Supervisor of the Town of Chester and Chair of the Warren County Board of Supervisors; Chester and Warren County have some of the highest numbers of APA designated hamlets of all the park’s municipalities. About 3/4 of the Town of Chester would fall into the new designation, enabling development for affordable housing purposes almost anywhere in town.

Here is a description of the three bills from an APA press release (I have pdf briefing documents for anyone interested – drop me a note):

Bill S.3367 would increase affordable housing opportunities within the Adirondack Park on land best suited to sustain a higher density of development. The lack of adequate affordable housing is a problem that must be solved to retain year-round families and ensure community sustainability.

Bill S.3366 would establish a Local Government Planning Grant Program administered by the APA. This would result in steady funding for local government planning initiatives. Grant funding would be sustained through civil penalties, settlement agreements and application fees collected by the APA.

Bill S.3361 would modify the Agency’s project review process to improve Agency efficiencies and reduce unnecessary burden and expense to applicants. This bill would also result in expanded flexibility for transferring development rights. Transferring development potential from more restrictive APA land use areas into less restrictive areas can balance protection of the Park’s unique natural resources with the growing demand for increased development opportunities on land capable of sustaining higher density development.

Sen. Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn), chairman of the finance committee, introduced the affordable housing bill, which proposes a four-to-one density bonus for community housing built for seniors, low income and workforce population.


Saturday, April 4, 2009

Conservation Easements And The Adirondack Forest

I received this week from John Sheehan, Director of Communications for The Adirondack Council, the following interesting history and analysis of the recent Nature Conservancy sale and what it means to the history of logging in the backcountry. I’m reprinting it here in its entirety for the information of Adirondack Almanack readers:

When the ATP Group, a private investment company that handles pension funds for the Danish government, made its first major investment in the United States Monday, its purchase of 92,000 acres of commercial forestlands from The Nature Conservancy brought to an end the era of the industrial ownership of the Adirondack Park’s vast, private backcountry. » Continue Reading.


Friday, April 3, 2009

ADK: Plan To Cap State Tax Payments Officially Dead

The Adirondack Mountain Club has just announced the final death of Governor Paterson’s plan to cap tax payments on state owned land. The state will now continue to pay its fair share of local taxes on Forest Preserve lands in Adirondacks and Catskills and on other state-owned forest and park lands statewide.

Since 1886, in recognition of the impact of large state land holdings on local tax rolls, New York has voluntarily paid local property and school taxes on Forest Preserve lands. Over the years, the Legislature has extended the payments to other areas with large tracts of state forest or park land. In 2007-08, New York paid more than $170 million in local taxes on more than 4 million acres.

Under the Executive Budget, those payments would have been frozen at 2008-09 levels, which would have caused double-digit property tax increases in some rural communities and severely undermined local support for open-space protection programs statewide. Local governments have the right to veto most state land deals financed through the Environmental Protection Fund. The proposed payment freeze was stricken in a budget deal last week, but it was not officially dead until the state Senate passed the relevant bill late Thursday.

While the tax freeze has been widely viewed as an Adirondack and Catskill issue, the fact is that half of the state tax payments in 2007-08 went to communities outside the 16 Adirondack and Catskill counties. For example, the state pays full property taxes on Harriman State Park, Sterling Forest and Allegany State Park, and pays school taxes for the site of Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Westchester County. In 2007-08, the state made $33 million in local tax payments in Rockland County, $19 million in Suffolk County, $11.9 million in Orange County, $4.8 million in Cattaraugus County, $3.2 million in Putnam County, $3.1 million in Chenango County, $1.8 million in Dutchess County and $1.2 million in Allegany County. The tax freeze would also have hampered efforts to protect New York City’s Catskill/Delaware watershed, which provides drinking water to 9 million New Yorkers.


Friday, April 3, 2009

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Friday, April 3, 2009

Adirondack Blogging Round-Up


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

America’s Cup Returns to The Olympic Sports Complex

The Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) and the United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation will be hosting the FIBT 2009 Lake Placid America’s Cup Bobsled and Skeleton competition at the Olympic Sports Complex April 2 – April 5. Nineteen nations will be competing in this international competition, with 154 athletes competing within the four disciplines.

Lake Placid is the final stop on the America’s Cup Circuit. This race allows competitors to earn points and experience that are necessary for a world ranking that determines starting positions and seeding at FIBT World Cup, Intercontinental and World Championship levels.

Competition starts Wednesday, April 1 with two-man bobsled and women’s bobsled Race 1 beginning at 1 pm. Men’s and women’s skeleton Race 1 will be held Thursday at 9 am, with two-man bobsled and women’s bobsled Race 2 starting at 1 pm. The men’s and women’s skeleton Race 2 will be held Friday at 9 am with the four-man bobsled race following the skeleton race. The final event held on Saturday, April 4 is four-man bobsled Race 2 beginning the first runs at 9 am.

U.S. drivers take the top two spots in two-man bobsled with Mike Kohn leading the way with 689 points and teammate John Napier in second with 644 points. Australian Chris Spring is third with 500 points.

Napier tops the four-man field with 752 points. Poland’s David Kupczyk sits in second place with 549 points, followed by Milan Jagnesak of Slovakia with 448 points.

Canadian Amanda Stepenko leads the way for the women, currently first with 658 points. American Bree Schaaf is second with 630 points, and Elfje Willemsen of Belaruse is third with 420 points.

France’s Gregory Saint-Genies slides into first place with 720 points for men’s skeleton. John Daly of the U.S. is second with 510 points while teammate Kyle Tress sits in third with 363 points.

Tionette Stoddard of New Zealand is at the top of the leader board in women’s skeleton with 928 points. Japan’s Nozomi Komuro has 873 in second place and American Anne O’Shea is third with 780 points.

Entrance to the Olympic Sports Complex is $7 for adults and $5 for student/senior.


Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Adirondack Trout And Salmon Season Opener Tips

Tomorrow is the traditional April 1 opening day for New York’s trout and salmon fishing seasons so DEC has issued tips and reminders for anglers heading out on opening day. Early season trout angling in the Adirondack region may be slow due to lingering cold weather and melting snow. Since many Adirondack ponds are likely to remain frozen for opening day, anglers should scout out areas beforehand. Here are DEC’s opening day fishing tips:

Slow presentations using spinners or minnow-imitating lures and, where permitted, live bait, work well in the early season. Those preferring to fly fish will find that similar slow, deep presentations using weighted nymphs and streamers can be effective. Trout and salmon fishing on lakes and ponds is often best immediately after ice-out. Prime areas to fish are those locations that warm the earliest, including tributary mouths and near surface and shallow shoreline areas. Afternoons can be better than mornings during the early season, as the sun’s rays can significantly warm surface waters. Early season anglers are reminded to be extra cautious as high flows, ice and deep snow can make accessing and wading streams particularly hazardous. Remember that ice fishing is prohibited in trout waters, except as noted in the Fishing Regulations Guide.

Several hatchery improvement projects were completed last year. Most significant among these was the completion of an extensive pole-barn complex covering hatchery ponds at the Rome Fish Hatchery to reduce trout predation by birds. It is estimated that this project will save 50,000 to 100,000 fingerling trout annually from predatory birds and will lead to more efficient hatchery operations. Additional hatchery rehabilitation projects are planned for this upcoming year including the rebuilding of the main hatchery building at Rome. Rome Hatchery is one of DEC’s oldest and largest hatcheries, growing and stocking more than 650,000 yearling brown and brook trout annually.

Spring is a busy season for the DEC Hatchery System. From mid-March through mid-June, nine trout and salmon hatcheries stock fish five days a week using 30 state-of-the-art stocking trucks. Stocking of catchable-size trout generally commences in late March and early April in the lower Hudson Valley, Long Island, and western/central New York, and then proceeds to the Catskills and Adirondacks. This year, DEC plans to stock more than 2.3 million legal-size brook, brown, and rainbow trout in 304 lakes and ponds and roughly 3,000 miles of streams across the state. Approximately 100,000 two-year-old brown trout ranging from 12 to 15 inches in length will also be stocked into lakes and streams statewide.

More than 2 million yearling lake trout, steelhead, landlocked salmon, splake and coho salmon also will be stocked by DEC this spring to provide exciting angling opportunities over the next several years. For those who prefer a quieter more remote setting, 325,000 brook trout fingerlings will be stocked in 343 remote lakes and ponds this spring and fall to bolster “backwoods” fishing opportunities. For a complete list of waters planned to be stocked with trout this spring go to www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/30465.html. A listing of waters stocked with all sizes of trout last year can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/30467.html. In addition to stocked waters, New York State has thousands of miles of wild trout streams that provide excellent fishing opportunities. Regional fisheries offices, which are listed in the Fishing Regulations Guide, can offer specific details about the locations and opportunities offered by these waters.

The general creel limit for brook, brown and rainbow trout is five fish per day and the open season for trout in most New York State waters runs from April 1 through Oct. 15. There are numerous exceptions however, so anglers should review the Fishing Regulations Guide before heading out to their favorite pond or stream.

A New York State fishing license is required for all anglers 16 years of age and older. Those looking to renew licenses can do so at http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/6101.html or by calling 1-86-NY-DECALS. Fishing licenses can also be purchased from various sporting license outlets located throughout the state (town and county clerks, some major discount stores and many tackle and sporting goods stores).

When purchasing a fishing license, anglers should also consider purchasing a Habitat/Access Stamp, which is available to anyone for $5 from any sporting license issuing agent. Proceeds from sale of this stamp have funded many valuable trout stream access and habitat projects in New York, such as the development of a parking area and footpath on Felts Mill Creek in Jefferson County this past year.

For anglers seeking publicly accessible stream fishing locations, DEC continues to add to its inventory of public fishing rights (PFR) maps that can be downloaded from http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9924.html.

Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species and Diseases – With the recent discovery of the fish disease Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) in New York, and an invasive species of algae, didymo, in the Delaware River system and the Batten Kill, anglers are reminded of the important role that they play in preventing the spread of these and other potentially damaging invasive species and fish diseases. Please thoroughly dry equipment, particularly waders and wading shoes, for 48 hours before moving from water to water. If drying is not possible, equipment must be disinfected. One of the easiest and safest ways to disinfect gear is by soaking it for 10 minutes in a cleanser/disinfectant containing the ingredient alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride. This ingredient is found in most common household antiseptic cleansers such as Fantastic, Formula 409 and Spray Nine. Anglers are also encouraged not to use felt-soled waders as they are more apt to transport didymo and other invasives than other forms of wading soles. For more information on invasive species and disinfection procedures, request a copy of the new DEC brochure “Anglers and Boaters: Stop the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species and Fish Diseases in New York State” from your local DEC office.

New Baitfish Regulations Established to Protect New York Fisheries – Anglers are reminded that a new “Green List” of baitfish species that can be commercially collected and/or sold for fishing in any water body in New York where it is legal to use fish as bait has now been established in regulation. For a complete discussion of these regulations and how to identify these approved baitfish species, download the new brochure “Baitfish of New York State” at www.dec.ny.gov/docs/fish_marine_pdf/baitfishofny.pdf. Personal collection and use of baitfish other than those on the “Green List” is permitted, but only on the water from which they were collected and they may not be transported overland by motorized vehicle. These new regulations have been established to stem the spread of non-native baitfish and dangerous fish diseases in New York State.

Best Bets for Trout Anglers in the Adirondacks:

DEC Region 5 – Adirondack trout streams are icy and there is plenty of snow in the mountains. A relatively mild thaw should clear the ice, but expect high stream flows until the snow pack is reduced. Best bets for early season angling in the southern part of the region are the Batten Kill, Kayaderosseras and Mettawee rivers. Catch-and-release regulations were enacted on the Batten Kill in 2004 from the Eagleville covered bridge to the Vermont state line. Year-round trout fishing is permitted in the catch-and-release section (artificial lures only). The lower two miles of the catch-and-release section will be stocked with two-year-old brown trout some time in May. A creel census of anglers will be conducted in 2009 to assess the fish population and the effectiveness of the catch-and-release regulations.

Many regional streams and rivers will be stocked in April and May. However, due to ice conditions, very few streams are stocked prior to opening day. If possible, yearling brook trout will be stocked in the Chateaugay River in Franklin County by April 1. The Chateaugay, Salmon and St. Regis rivers are scheduled for a creel census in 2009 to assess angler use and the fish population in these rivers. Rainbow trout might also be stocked in the Saranac River within the Village of Saranac Lake prior to April 1. Hundreds of smaller streams contain wild brook and brown trout. Fish slowly, especially if the water is cold, high, and swift. Contact the regional fisheries office for a brochure listing many of the wild trout streams in Region 5.

Remote ponds in the Adirondacks are rarely ice-free until mid-April or later, a pattern that is likely to hold this year. Once waters are ice-free and temperatures rise, surface trolling for salmon and lake trout is a good bet on the larger lakes. Brook trout pond fishing is good from ice-out through May. Anglers are reminded that in many Adirondack ponds the use of fish as bait is prohibited. For a list of these waters check the “Special Regulations by County” section in the Fishing Regulations Guide, or contact the DEC’s Region 5 Fisheries Office in Ray Brook at (518) 897-1333. A variety of leaflets are also available from the regional office including stocking lists for Region 5, top fishing waters, a list of reclaimed trout ponds, and others. For up-to-date information on fishing conditions in the region, anglers can access www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9219.html on the DEC web site. While browsing the Region 5 Fisheries website, be sure to check out the public fishing rights maps at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/32610.html for many area rivers. These maps can be downloaded and printed out to provide detailed locations for stream sections with purchased and deeded public rights for angling. Maps are also available from the regional office.

DEC Region 6 (Western Adirondacks)

The opening of trout season expands the region’s trout fishing beyond Lake Ontario and a select set of large lakes, to the rest of the region’s great variety of large and small streams, ponds and lakes. Region 6 includes the Western Adirondacks, Tug Hill, and the Black, Mohawk and St. Lawrence river valleys. The region’s wide diversity of water types provide habitat for everything from small headwater brook trout to large deepwater lake trout.

Stocking proceeds from the Mohawk Valley in mid-April north to St. Lawrence County throughout the month of May. The Oswegatchie River below Cranberry Lake is the only river in the region that is stocked prior to April 1, if conditions allow. The popular two-year-old brown trout stocking occurs in early May on some of the region’s larger, more accessible streams. Worms usually produce the best catches this time of year when the water temperatures are colder and the fish are more sluggish. Spinners and salted minnows also are popular lures. For best results, fish the pools and slow, deep riffles. Fishing in the late afternoon after the water has been warmed by the sun is also productive.

Lake Ontario tributaries should also offer good fishing conditions for steelhead. Try Stony Creek, North and South Sandy Creeks, Lindsey Creek, Skinner Creek and the Black River in Watertown, from the Mill Street dam down to the Village of Dexter. Use egg sacs, single hook spinners, wet flies and streamers.

Coldwater anglers in Region 6 should be aware of a few new regulations that are currently in effect. The catch-and-release section for trout on West Canada Creek in Herkimer and Oneida counties has been extended to the Route 28 bridge (Comstock Bridge) and is open year-round. A three-trout-creel limit with a minimum size limit of 12 inches has been established in Beardsley Lake (Montogomery and Herkimer Counties), Kyser Lake (Fulton and Herkimer Counties), and Stillwater Reservoir (Herkimer County). The catch-and-release season for trout on the West Branch St. Regis River in St. Lawrence County has also been extended to all year.

This year, Region 6 staff will be surveying approximately 25 remote brook trout ponds that contain stocked temiscamie hybrids to assess wild reproduction. This information will help guide future management of this unique resource.


Sunday, March 29, 2009

Budweiser Challenge Ski Race Results

From the better late then never department comes an announcement about the winner of the Budweiser Challenge Ski Race Series this week. The Budweiser Challenge is an eight-race alpine ski racing series featuring many of the areas local businesses. The competitors took two trips each down the NASTAR course on the Lower Valley trail at Whiteface with the lower run times counting.

The Budweiser/Cottage team claimed victory for the second straight year with 424 overall series points. Although winning the eighth and final race by posting 57 points, Scheefers Adirondack Builders placed second in the series with 399 overall points. Coming in third place was Wilkins Insurance Agency at 358 series points. Casa Del Sol came in fourth place in the series with 355 points. Fifth place went to the Wilderness-Willkommen team with 148 overall points.

Winning the Women’s Category 1 Race for Casa Del Sol was Delphine Winter, posting a time of 23.38 seconds. Coming in second for Budweiser/Cottage was Robin Anthony at 24.59. Third place was taken by Niki Olsen, skiing for Scheefers with a 26.44.

Joellen Haviland won the Women’s Category 2 Race, skiing for Scheefers Adirondack Builders, posting a 28.34. Finishing second was Wilkins Insurance Agency’s Rachel Irwin with a 29.23. Third place also went to Scheefers with Lisa Sciacca coming in at 30.11.

Budweiser/Cottage’s Kristie Smith took first in the Women’s Category 3 Race with a 31.77. Wilderness-Willkommen, with their only top three showing for the day, took second with Heike Yost posting a time of 33.16. Debbie Neill with Casa Del Sol took third with 33.40.

Ken Carre, racing for Budweiser/Cottage, posted the fastest time of the day and won the Men’s Category 1 Race at 21.60. Kory Barney, also skiing for Budweiser/Cottage, placed second with a 21.96. Third place went to Scheefers’s Jeff Staves with a 22.18.

The Mens’s Category 2 Race was won by Eric Lanthier, skiing for Scheefers Adirondack Builders, with a time of 24.32. There was a tie for second when Wilkins’s Todd Anthony and Casa’s George Gregory posted times of 24.50. Fourth place went to Mike Stosiek with Wilkins Insurance Agency at 24.67.

Jeff Abbott with Budweiser/Cottage won the Men’s Category 3 Race coming in at 27.04. Scheefers swept second and third place when Bill Dora posted a 27.25 and Ron Morrow a 27.31.

The 2009 Budweiser Challenge Race Series was sponsored by local Budweiser distributor A & M Beverages of Malone. Pictured in the photo are: (left to right) Amy Knappe, Ken Carre, Jay Dewell, Corey Hamelin, Connie Trainer, Kory Barney, Jeff Abbott, Robin Anthony, Karen Tomich, Sue Cameron, Kristie Smith, Denise Bujold and Francisco Braun. In front: Franz Fredericks. Missing from photo: Dave Colleen, Lisa Brown, Jim Sullivan, D.J. O’Neill and Liz Donahue.


Friday, March 27, 2009

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Friday, March 27, 2009

Adirondack Blogging Round-Up


Wednesday, March 25, 2009

High Peaks Ranger Wins Alpine Stewardship Award

The Waterman Fund, whose objective is to strengthen stewardship of open summits, exposed ridgelines, and alpine areas of the Northeast, will present the 2009 Guy Waterman Alpine Steward Award to New York State Forest Ranger C. Peter M. Fish this Saturday, March 28th. The award is given each year to a person or organization that has demonstrated a long-term commitment to protecting the physical and spiritual qualities of the northeast’s mountain wilderness.

Pete Fish, a NYS Forest Ranger for 23 years, has served as a ranger in both the Catskills and the Adirondacks, and as an active member of the Adirondack 46ers and Catskill 3500 Club, where Fish has interacted with thousands of hikers on summits and in valleys. Through these organizations, as well as on his own initiative and time, Fish has educated the public about Leave No Trace, backcountry safety, mountain stewardship, and alpine hiking etiquette. He has assisted in training summit stewards since the early days of the High Peaks Summit Steward Program (a partnership of The Nature Conservancy, Adirondack Mountain Club, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation). Fish has also worked on Ed Ketchledge’s (who received the alpine steward award in 2004) summit restoration efforts in the High Peaks Region. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Whiteface-Gore Offer Spring Skiing Deal

For the first time ever, Whiteface and Gore mountains are teaming up to offer the Ultimate Spring Season Pass, good for unlimited skiing and riding at either mountain through the rest of the 2008-09 season. The pass went on sale Sunday, March 22.

Adults (ages 23-69) can purchase the pass for $129; young adult passes (ages 13-22) are $99. The junior (7-12) rate is $69, and kids 6 and under ski and ride, as always, for free.

Whiteface and Gore mountains are holding the season pass rates for next season, 2009-10. All season passes go on sale Sunday for the greatest value. Adult full season passes are $690 if purchased by June 12. A payment plan is available payments due at time of purchase, July 24, and September 8. This is the best value if pass holders ski more that 9 times a season including holidays.

The popular Whiteface only non-holiday returns for $399 if purchased by June 12. This pass includes blackout dates of December 26, 2009-January 2, 2010, January 16-18, 2010, and February 13-20, 2010. The passes must be purchased by June 12 to receive as the pass won’t be available after that date. This is the best value if pass holders ski or ride more that six times at Whiteface only excluding holidays

Both mountains plan to stay open through April 12. Whiteface is hosting a Mini-Park Meltdown March 28, followed by a Retro Deck Party with live music by Ironwood. The Apple Butter Open moguls competition returns April 4, while pond skimming is April 11. Easter Sunday wraps up the festivities at Whiteface and Gore with the mountains hosting Easter services, brunch, egg hunts and more.

Senior (65-69), young adult and junior passes are available at both mountains. For the complete selection of pass offerings, visit www.goremountain.com and www.whiteface.com.


Saturday, March 21, 2009

Climate Change Insight From Historical Birding Records

On Nov. 1, 1933, Mrs. Bruce Reid recorded seeing both a male and female ivory-billed woodpecker in Texas. And on May 28, 1938, Oscar McKinley Bryans observed a ruby-throated hummingbird in Michigan, noting that the birds were most common when apple trees were blooming.

These are just two of more than 6 million personal observations scribbled and preserved on notecards in government files. The cards record more than a century of information about bird migration, a veritable treasure trove for climate-change researchers because they will help them unravel the effects of climate change on bird behavior, according to Jessica Zelt, coordinator of the North American Bird Phenology Program at the USGS.

That is — once the cards are transcribed and put into a scientific database.

And that’s where citizens across the country come in – the program needs help from birders and others across the nation to transcribe those cards into usable scientific information.

“These cards, once transcribed, will provide over 90 years of data, an unprecedented amount of information describing bird distributions, migration timing, and migration pathways and how they are changing,” said Zelt. “There is no other program that has the same historical depth of information that can help us understand the effect that global climate change has on bird populations across the country. When combined with current information, scientists will better understand how birds are responding to climate change and how to develop tools to help manage that change, especially for at-risk species.”

The millions of hand-scribbled cards sit in row upon row of federal green filing cabinets of ancient vintage in a modest and fittingly old office dating from before WWII. The cards contain almost all of what was known of bird distribution and natural history from the Second World War back to the later part of the 19th century, said USGS senior scientist Chan Robbins, who kept track of the cards’ whereabouts in attics and basements during the intervening years.

“When I go through the files, it is just amazing some of the stories that are recorded there,” said Jessica Zelt, who is an avid birder herself. “For example, one of our online participants recently wrote to tell me she had transcribed a migration card on purple martins by American ornithologist Margaret Morse Nice from 1926. It is exciting to see people today being linked to a piece of birding history.”

Participants recorded their name, locality and year, along with arrival and departure dates, date of abundance, and whether it was a species common in that area. Personal observations on the cards often caught the enthusiastic joy of a birder sighting a rare bird.

The collection, said Zelt, includes information on about 900 species, including some sightings of rare, extinct, or nearly extinct birds, such as the giant albatross, ivory-billed woodpecker and Carolina parakeet, birds whose very names make the hearts of avid birders go pitter-patter.

The BPP is joining efforts with the USA National Phenology Network, which has just kicked off a national program to recruit citizen scientists and professional researchers to monitor plant and animal life cycles, or phenology. The two efforts will complement each other flawlessly, with the BPP combining its expertise on historical bird data with the USA-NPN’s ongoing work to document changes in flowering, fruiting, migrations, reproduction, hibernation, and other plant and animal phenological events.

The BPP was started in 1880 by Wells W. Cooke, who wanted to broaden knowledge and understanding of migration. Eventually, famed scientist C. Hart Merriam expanded the volunteer network to include the entire United States, Canada and part of the West Indies. By the late 1880s the program had 3000 volunteers. Although the program was actively maintained by the federal government, in 1970 the program closed, until it re-opened again last year.

This program relies heavily on the participation of citizen scientists, said Zelt. It currently houses 6 million cards, which need to be scanned onto the website and then converted, solely by volunteers, into a database. Birders who want to concentrate on one particular group of birds can select that group or even a particular species.

To date, volunteers have scanned about 184,000 cards on hooded orioles, barred owls, spotted owls, scarlet tanagers, American redstarts, rose-breasted grosbeak and many other species. That leaves about 5,816,000 cards to go.

If you’d like to volunteer, visit the website. Remember that you can follow current sightings by Northern New York birders here.


Friday, March 20, 2009

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Friday, March 20, 2009

Adirondack Blogging Round-Up



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