Almanack Contributor Guest Contributor

Guest Essayist

The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional guest essays from Adirondack residents, visitors, and those with an interest in the Adirondack Park.

Submissions should be directed to Almanack editor Melissa Hart at [email protected]


Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Stillman’s Historic Painting and the Future of Follensby Pond

stillman painting from follensby pond

William James Stillman’s painting “The Philosophers’ Camp in the Adirondacks.” Courtesy of Concord Free Public Library

By Philip Kokotailo

Will recently reported discussions about the future of Follensby Pond (between representatives of the Nature Conservancy and New York State) acknowledge the powerful themes of art as well as the enduring lessons of history?  Let’s hope so.  It was Follensby Pond, after all, that provided the setting for William James Stillman’s 1858 painting, The Philosophers’ Camp in the Adirondacks.  It has become, in the 163 years that followed, the most frequently reproduced image of a much-celebrated event.  The past two summers in particular reveal why.  

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, December 7, 2021

Mobile Market grateful for another successful season

 mobile marketBy Heart Network staff

Here in the North Country, our communities exist in vast, rural areas, where access to life’s basic necessities is limited. Healthy, nutritious food can be hard to come by for those who live in less populated towns and villages, and it often takes creative solutions to overcome these obstacles.

The Joint Council for Economic Opportunity’s Mobile Market provides access to seasonal produce, baked goods and a salad bar; the market made its debut in 2018 in a partnership with JCEO and the Heart Network, with funding from the New York State Department of Health’s Creating Healthy Schools & Communities grant. One bus started with 12 stops and has since expanded, adding more communities and offerings. The Mobile Market accepts Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits with the additional bonus of the Double Up Food Bucks Program (DUFB), which doubles the amount of produce SNAP recipients can purchase; customers can also use Office for the Aging farmers market vouchers.

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Monday, November 22, 2021

No farmland, no food

Holly Rippon-Butler photo by Meqo Sam Cecil
Holly Rippon-Butler is Land Campaign Director for the National Young Farmers Coalition, owner of Farmers Cone Creamery, and an Adirondack Land Trust board member. Following are her remarks from the Adirondack Land Trust’s 2021 annual meeting on the relationship between farmland and the unique Adirondack food system.

I grew up on my family’s dairy farm in Schuylerville, NY, just outside of the Adirondack Park. My first experiences with the Adirondacks were hiking in the mountains and exploring lakes and streams. It wasn’t until I was older and living in the Champlain Valley that I began to appreciate the rich agricultural landscape that is woven into the fabric of the Park as well.

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Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Formality Will Not Generate the Planning Needed in the Adirondacks

By Lee Nellis

Thanks to Peter Bauer for once again providing us with useful facts and commentary in his “Team Cuomo” editorial. I have no argument with what he says, so far as it goes, but fear that he creates the impression that the more frequent use of formal adjudicatory hearings will restore sound land-use planning to the Adirondacks.

It will not.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, November 15, 2021

A remembrance from growing up near Akwesasne

david fadden, photo by linda Friedman Ramirez

Editor’s note: In recognition of November being Native American Heritage Month, reader Joel Rosenbaum shared this story:

By Joel Rosenbaum

The grandfather of David Fadden (see here for a recent profile on David Fadden), Ray Fadden, was always talked about with a great deal of respect in my family, where I grew up in Massena, N. Y., not far from the Native American reservation (Akwesasne) in Hogansburg, N. Y.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, November 8, 2021

It’s Debatable: Short-term rentals

short term rental housingEditor’s note: This commentary is in the Nov/Dec 2021 issue of Adirondack Explorer magazine, as part of our “It’s Debatable” feature. In this regular column, we invite organizations and/or individuals to address a particular issue. Click here to subscribe to the magazine, available in both print and digital formats: www.adirondackexplorer.org/subscribe.

The question: Should communities take steps to regulate short-term rentals around the park?

» Continue Reading.


Monday, November 8, 2021

Wild Center COP26 update from a youth delegate

cop26

The Wild Center has sent a 9-person delegation to Scotland for COP26, the 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties, as well as pre-COP26 events. The Wild Center’s delegates will have a front-row seat as representatives from 197 countries seek solutions to mitigate ongoing effects of climate change.

Here is an update from Day 1 from Silas Swanson. Silas is studying earth and environmental engineering and philosophy at Columbia University, where he is a senior. He is the founder and head coordinator for the Columbia Youth Climate Summit, and a member of the Youth Climate Program’s Advisory Board. Silas has also worked as a research assistant at the National Renewable Energy Laboratory and the Columbia Electrochemical Energy Center. He also served as president of the Columbia International Relations Council and Association, and is a former student mentor for the Green Schools Alliance.

Pictured here: Silas speaks on a panel in the Blue Zone about the need to scale up Youth Climate Summits and their impact in order to meet the goals of COP26

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, October 28, 2021

We’ve hit the ceiling on short-term rentals

housingBy Mary Brophy-Moore

I find myself frustrated by the ballooning trend in the Adirondacks, including the Town of Webb, whereby local family homes in once stable neighborhoods are being bought up by out of towners looking to make a killing on short term rentals.

As a resident since 1986, I’ve watched the housing market move steadily upward in terms of new builds and values. In the early 2000’s, especially after 9-11, there was a strong uptick in neighborhood homes being bought by down-staters presumably to have a place to escape the cities and feel safe. That created “dark” spots in previously year-round neighborhoods. But locals at least knew who their neighbors were even if their presence was sporadic. A direct result of the demand was a significant increase in property values that led to the current housing crisis in which locals are unable to afford homes of their own and fewer quality long-term rental units are available. 

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 27, 2021

ANCA’s Center for Pandemic Response (CPR) helps businesses thrive post-COVID

By Zach Hobbs, Center for Pandemic Response Outreach Coordinator, Adirondack North Country Association

CPR home officeIn graduate school, I studied the concept of risk and resilience as it relates to the development of children and young adults. Put succinctly, the healthy development of humans is slowed by risk factors and promoted by resilience factors. Understanding these factors allows us to address risks and encourage resilience, either generally or in very specific ways.

This rather academic concept was far from my mind 19 months ago when my boss, in another city and in a different capacity, called me across the office for an unscheduled meeting. A growing global concern over a mysterious virus meant we needed to press pause on big ideas and major projects and prepare to respond to a looming crisis.

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, September 26, 2021

Funding for Sustainable Adirondack Trails is Needed

sustainable trails

By Charlotte Staats, Adirondack Council

The overuse crisis is no secret in the Adirondack Park. While it has been building for years, the global COVID-19 pandemic sent residents and visitors to the woods in unprecedented numbers, seeking exercise, solace, and connection to nature. The physical and mental health benefits of spending time outdoors have been well documented; and generally speaking, a growing hiking community is a plus for public health, local businesses, and our collective societal wellbeing.

Here’s the drawback – trails in the Adirondacks were not built with a sustainable design in mind, nor to withstand current levels of use. As a result, Adirondack trails are suffering from trail degradation that impacts natural resources, human safety and the wilderness experience. There’s a solution, and it requires state action and dedicated resources.

» Continue Reading.


Saturday, September 11, 2021

My Loon Friend: A Story of Trust and Healing 

loonBy Ronni Tichenor 

We have a camp on the south shore of 4th Lake, in the Fulton Chain, and early one  morning in August, I was on our dock practicing my yoga. I was about to release my Down Dog  position, when movement on the water caught my eye. It was a loon, less than ten feet off the  dock, swimming slowly by. I froze, fearing that any movement would scare it and cause it to  dive, which meant I could not see very clearly because, in my head-down position, my hair hung  over my face. The loon appeared to have a fish in its mouth—but then I thought I could see little  legs on the side, so I said, “No—it’s a crawfish.” We had seen a couple of loon families in the  previous days, so I thought the loon was delivering breakfast to someone. Once it had swum  away, my husband came down to the dock. He had been up at the house, watching from a  distance. “Wow,” he said, “that was so close.” We went on about our day—he went for a bike  ride, I went for a walk. 

» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 8, 2021

Adirondack Semester: A lifechanging, different kind of ‘study abroad’

By Zach Lawrence

I came to the Adirondacks when I was 12. It was much different for me back then, back before I had put down roots. I didn’t even really want anything to do with this place when I was that young. I had it in my mind that the park was cursed. It seemed to me that those who spent too much time inside the blue line were never truly able to leave. My grandparents were from the AuSable Valley. They had all left for long periods of their lives, traveling around the states at the military’s command. But they all ended up right back where they started. My cousins followed the same path, as did both of my parents. 

I grew up gallivanting around the Rocky Mountain states due to my father’s career in the Air Force. Montana to Wyoming to Colorado. All I had known growing up was wind and dust. Wind that would find its way under my skin and crack my hands. My knuckles split and bled and stung under the unceasing wind of the plains. Dust had a permanent place in my teeth and in my eyes. In the winter, the snow was no better. Dry as can be, I don’t think I ever was able to make a snowman. Champagne powder they called it farther west in the mountains, but where we were on the plains, it was nothing more than white dust. 

So after only living the dry life at 7,500 ft, the Adirondacks were the exact opposite of what I was accustomed to. I remember my first thought when I stepped out of the car at my grandpa’s place in Upper Jay. It felt like the air was sitting on me. It was August of 2012- the sun was high, and the humidity was higher. I was experiencing for the first time a weather phenomenon known by the locals as “muggy,” and I hated it. 

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 5, 2021

Business ownership: the key to retaining a young population?

By Dana Bamford, ANCA 2021 Summer Fellow

Having grown up in suburban Boston, it was a real change moving to northern New York.

Not because of the swarming Yankees and Mets fans and not even because of the dreaded winters —  those I’ve had my fair share of in Boston. The biggest change for me was the shift to a more rural lifestyle.

Before moving up to the Adirondacks and working with ANCA this summer, I attended Colgate University, which is located in a pretty isolated location. At Colgate, I got used to driving an hour to the closest Target, or thirty minutes to the best ice cream spot. Thirty minutes to the nearest gas station, however, came as quite the shock despite my rural-life grace period at school.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 3, 2021

Was the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) Duped?

upper saranac

APA mandate is to “ensure compliance with the laws the Agency administers” including the New York State Freshwater Wetlands Act. Instead, APA did the exact opposite with a recent decision permitting the virtual destruction of a Category 1 Wetland- the highest designation for a wetland – on Lot 9, Deerwood, Upper Saranac Lake (USL). For no apparent reason, other than convenience of the new landowner, APA issued an amended permit.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, August 2, 2021

Sabotaging Trail Deal Was No Way to Protect the Adirondacks 

snowmobile trail

By Brian Wells 

This is a story that should have had a happy ending. 

A story of five Adirondack towns working with state government and environmental non-profits on an agreement to expand the taxpayer-owned Forest Preserve, improve public recreation and bring new economic growth to the area. 

The Community Connector Trails agreement would have helped turn the page on decades of Adirondack Region job losses brought on by industry disinvestment and Forest Preserve expansion, and established a model for the type of common-sense, compromise solutions needed for many problems confronting the Adirondack Park. 

Instead, it’s a sad story of misplaced trust and lost opportunity, ending with the towns and the people who live there getting left out in the cold. 

» Continue Reading.