Almanack Contributor John Warren

John Warren

John Warren has been exploring the woods and waters of the Adirondacks for almost 50 years. After a career as a print journalist and documentary television producer he founded Adirondack Almanack in 2005 and co-founded the geolocation services company Adirondack Atlas in 2015.

John remains active in traditional media. His Adirondack Outdoors Conditions Report can be heard Friday mornings across the region on the stations of North Country Public Radio and on 93.3 / 102.1 The Mix. Since 2008, John has been a media specialist on the staff of the New York State Writers Institute.

John is also a professional researcher and historian with a M.A. in Public History. He edits The New York History Blog and is the author of two books of regional history. As a Grant Consultant for the William G. Pomeroy Foundation, he has reviewed hundreds of historic roadside marker grant applications from around New York State for historical accuracy.


Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Teddy Roosevelt and The Adirondack Forest Preserve

This post has been cross-posted to New York History, the blog of Historical News and Views From The Empire State.

In the heart of the Adirondacks is the Town of Newcomb, population about 500. The town was developed as a lumbering and mining community – today tourism and forest and wood products are the dominate way locals make a living. As a result the Essex County town is one of the Adirondacks’ poorer communities ($32,639 median income in 2000). » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Rare DEC Adirondack Forest Ranger Interview

We don’t often get an opportunity to hear from local Department of Environmental Conservation forest rangers, so yesterday’s interview with 26-year veteran DEC Forest Ranger Mark Kralovic by Gloversville Leader-Herald reporter Kayleigh Karutis is worth noting here on the blog.

Although Kralovic, who is stationed in Wells, Hamilton County, notes that he has not seen an Adirondack moose yet, he has seen some strange and dramatic things:

Kralovic said he has seen anywhere from five to over a dozen rescues a year, and each presents its own unique challenges. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 25, 2008

OPINION: Lower The Drinking Age

I recently read that as many or more people are killed crossing at marked crosswalks than jay-walking. It got me thinking about all those jay-walking stings – you know, where the police lay in wait for people to cross the street.

In July more than 100 college presidents took an important step toward backing away from that kind of criminalizing barrage on Americans by suggesting we lower the drinking age to 18. It’s called the Amethyst Initiative and it was begun by John McCardell, the former President of Middlebury College in Vermont.

The website says:

These higher education leaders have signed their names to a public statement that the 21 year-old drinking age is not working, and, specifically, that it has created a culture of dangerous binge drinking on their campuses.

The Amethyst Initiative supports informed and unimpeded debate on the 21 year-old drinking age. Amethyst Initiative presidents and chancellors call upon elected officials to weigh all the consequences of current alcohol policies and to invite new ideas on how best to prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol use.

Those locally who have supported the idea include (1, 2, 3):

  • Paul Smith’s College President Dr. John Mills
  • Clinton Community College, Interim President Dr. Frederick Woodward
  • Clarkson University President Anthony G. Collins
  • St. Lawrence University President Daniel F. Sullivan
  • Hamilton College President Joan Hinde Stewart
  • Plattsburgh State President Dr. John Ettling “feels the idea deserves serious consideration”

Vermont State Colleges Chancellor Robert Clarke and University of Massachusetts System President Jack M. Wilson also signed on.

MADD is, well, mad. They still argue that raising the drinking age in 1984-1988 is what has reduced alcohol related deaths among 16 to 20 year-olds (why 16 and not 18?) some 60 percent since 1990 – though they have risen over the past ten. I’ll bet the cause is more likely the stricter DWI enforcement and penalties – the bottom line is young people need to learn from their elders what responsible drinking is about.

Chicago’s Mayor Daley (son of Richard “the policeman isn’t there to create disorder, the policeman is there to preserve disorder” Daley) is also mad:

You think the president of the university is gonna open a beer hall in his house? Do you think the coach of the baseball team or football team will open it up? They should raise their standards and think that drinking is not part of college life. … Everybody has responsibility on this and drinking at universities isn’t something you should be proud of. … You don’t send your son or daughter to learn how to drink at universities. You send ‘em for an education.

According to the more civilized discussion points in the piece:

More than 40 percent of college students reportedly show at least one symptom of alcohol abuse or dependence. And every year, more than 500,000 full-time students at four year colleges suffer injuries tied in some way to excess drinking.

I’ll go with Peter McWilliams – a man who really understood these issues and who once wrote:

It is the law’s job to protect innocent people from likely harm to their person or property. It is not the law’s job to protect adults from the risks of their own consensual acts.

In case you still have any doubt that criminalizing drinking will make any real cultural difference, here is an article from the Ticonderoga Sentinel on backsliders in the Schroon Lake Temperance Society in 1884:

C. T. Leland has found an old book giving the facts concerning the organization
of the Schroon Lake Temperance Society in the year 1884, and gives the names of all members, business transacted, record of back-sliders, etc.

At the start 185 persons joined, altho we find that beside many names are written the words “withdrawn,” “older,” “drank,” “intoxicated” giving exact dates of each slip-up, while beside one name appears this amusing inscription “Mr. Benthusen,” “drank every time any body asked him,” and below that information some one had added these words, “Who could blame him.”

Who could indeed. Abstinence and enforcement have failed, it’s time for another approach.


Friday, August 22, 2008

Adirondack Attendence, Tourism, and Sales tax

There is an interesting post at the Adirondack North Country Association‘s blog that outlines the various attendence, tourism, and sales tax figures for the summer season so far. It a nice overview of what is happening with the local tourism economy. Here are some of the most important details:

Five North Country counties have had an increase in sales tax revenue for the first six months of 2008 as compared to the same period last year. The state average (excluding NYC) increase for the same time period is 3.7%.
The state Dept. of Taxation and Finance reported that sales tax revenue in Clinton County increased by 12.1%, Essex County 3.4%, Saratoga 5.2%, Washington 13.3% and Warren 5% ($524,345 more than last year).

The year-to-date visitation numbers at the outdoor venues of the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) as compared to last year are down as of Aug. 12 from 101,531 to 87,919. Their indoor venue, the Winter Olympic Museum, has increased from 6,134 to 6,971. Already short summer seems shorter still, Monday, August 18, 2008, Press Republican, p. A5.

Since 2001, annual attendance at Fort Ticonderoga has decreased from 115,000 to 77,000 in 2007 with a 10% increase in 2008. Fort Ticonderoga considers sale of artwork, Chris Carola (Associated Press), The Sunday Gazette, August 10, 2008, p. B10.

The post concludes that “Retail shopowners with no other income streams, such as selling their own product, may be the most threatened businesses in our region because of the increase in food and gas prices.”


Thursday, August 21, 2008

Blogging Adirondack Bald Eagles

Blogger, and part time Adirondack resident, Tigerhawk (who knew he was the cousin of another great semi-local blogger Walking the Berkshires) has posted photos of a pair of nesting Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus, with little ones) above his camp. He is expecting “periodic showers of whitewash, partially eaten small mouth bass, and the bones of small mammals” on his deck from the feeding birds of prey.

Experts note that “the bald eagle is a long-lived bird, with a life span in the wild of more than 30 years. Bald eagles mate for life, returning to nest in the general area (within 250 miles) from which they fledged. Once a pair selects a nesting territory, they use it for the rest of their lives.”

The Bald Eagle was officially reclassified from “Endangered” to “Threatened” in 1995 by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and was delisted as “Endangered and Threatened Wildlife” in June 2007.

The Adirondacks was once home to plenty of bald Eagles, which can stand three feet tall and weigh up to 14 pounds, with a wingspan of four feet. Estimates of Eagle populations in the lower-48 during the 1700s ranged from 300 to 500 thousand, but by the 1950s there were just 412 nesting pairs.

According to the great wiki:

The species was first protected in the U.S. and Canada by the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty, later extended to all of North America. The 1940 Bald Eagle Protection Act in the U.S., which protected the Bald Eagle and the Golden Eagle, prohibited commercial trapping and killing of the birds. The Bald Eagle was declared an endangered species in the U.S. in 1967, and amendments to the 1940 act between 1962 and 1972 further restricted commercial uses and increased penalties for violators. Also in 1972, DDT was banned in the United States. DDT was completely banned in Canada in 1989, though its use had been highly restricted since the late 1970s.

With regulations in place and DDT banned, the eagle population rebounded. The Bald Eagle can be found in growing concentrations throughout the United States and Canada, particularly near large bodies of water. In the early 1980s, the estimated total population was 100,000 birds, with 110,000–115,000 by 1992; the U.S. state with the largest resident population is Alaska, with about 40,000–50,000 birds, with the next highest population being the Canadian province of British Columbia with 20,000–30,000 birds in 1992.

According the DEC, they are still listed as Threatened in New York State:

The New York State Bald Eagle Restoration Project began in 1976 in an attempt to reestablish a breeding population through hacking (hand rearing to independence). Over a 13 year period, 198 nestling bald eagles were collected (most from Alaska), transported and released in New York.

The hacking project ended in 1989, when it accomplished its goal of establishing ten breeding pairs. The bald eagle program’s focus has now shifted to finding and protecting nesting pairs in New York, and monitoring their productivity. Bald eagles continue to do well; in 2005 New York had 92 breeding pairs, which fledged 112 young. Each year, New York’s bald eagles fledge about 10 percent more young eagles than the year before.

Here is a (rather unlikely) story which you can take for what it’s worth. In 1912, Milton Stelves of Glens Falls reported that he was “nearly killed in a fight with a bald eagle” near a North Creek lumber camp. Stelves was walking into camp when he spotted two eagles on the carcass of a calf. He drew up his gun and killed one of the birds but the other came straight for him. Before he could reload it was on him and he was hollering for help and trying to beat it away with the butt of his rifle. A man coming to the rescue beat the bird to death with a club. According to Lowville Journal Republican it measured nine feet from wing tip to wing tip and weighed in at 72 pounds.


Monday, August 18, 2008

A History of Schroon Lake Drownings Recalled


With all the news about Michael Phelps medal wins at the Olympics, some Adirondack Almanack readers may have missed the two tragedies that occurred on Schroon Lake last week.

On Sunday night, two boats (both running without navigation lights) collided just before 11 p.m. A Boston Whaler operated by 17-year old Gerald Smith turned in front of a Hydrostream Vector (operated by Brett D. Bernhard, 20, of Horicon). Daniel Miller, 20, also of Horicon and a passenger on the Hydrostream, was hit in the head during the collision and knocked unconscious. He was taken by ambulance to Moses-Ludington Hospital in Ticonderoga and then transferred to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington – he was in critical condition with a severe head injury.

Then on Tuesday night, Elizabeth A. Weiner, 81, of Cazenovia, drowned behind the Davis Motel, near where her family has a summer camp: “Investigators said Mrs. Weiner left her camp to go wading by herself in Schroon Lake. She was a seasonal resident of Schroon Lake, police said, and known to be a non-swimmer.”

Visitors and locals alike fall from shore, docks, and out of boats of all sorts. In the days of closer connection to lakes and waterways for drinking, washing, ice, work, transportation, and entertainment, drownings were far more common. “Many Drowned Sunday” reads one report from 1910 that gives accounts of “several accidental drownings” in Connecticut; three drowned in the Delaware River near Philadelphia; a man and woman in the Ohio River and another near Scranton; the bodies of Eddie Hammond and Harold Driscoll (both nine) discovered in the Varnick Canal in Oswego, NY; John Whalen and Francis Forti drowned in a creek near Albany. That same Sunday Frank Namo was drowned bathing in the Black River, and the Brooklynite superintendent of the Lake Placid Yacht Club, Oscar C. Nicholas, was also drowned while bathing. Swimming has taken the largest toll by far.

I thought I’d take a closer look at drownings in Schroon Lake to get an indication of what the overall historic statistics may look like. In the twenty years between 1924 and 1944 – a time when the resort area was in its heyday – at least 14 people drowned, plus two more in nearby Gull Pond, and at least one in Trout Brook which runs into Schroon, a number of other drowned in the Schroon River.

Of the fourteen, two were women (both servants), the rest were all males, including two boys. The vast majority were under the age of 30. Two, in different incidents, were men on their honeymoons (both were staying at Moon Hill Camp). Two were employed by the Little Club and two by Scaroon Manor. Three were laborers. Five of the fourteen were locals.

What follows is a look at all the drowning deaths I could locate in local papers for Schroon Lake between about 1875 and 1950:

On September 15, 1884, 80-year old Hiram Jenks, described in a local paper as “the best known fisherman and guide in Essex county,” was found drowned in Schroon Lake near the Grove Point House. He had left home on a fishing expedition the night before.

A 1906 newspaper article “A nurse had a cramp while bathing and sank,” described the death of a Miss White, who drowned while swimming with her employers children in Schroon Lake.

In October of 1908 alcohol appeared to be a factor in the drowning of Frank DuBois, employed building a road nearby. According to a local newspaper report DuBois had, “left his boarding place to go to the village for supplies. He left the village to return and the next day the empty boat was found together with his coat and a bottle nearly filled with alcohol.” His body was found nearly a month later on a sandy beach about a mile and a half south of Schroon Lake Village.

William Brandies, a waiter at the Leland house was drowned in Schroon Lake in July 1920. Brandies had gone out in a canoe and not returned; the empty boat and his body were recovered later. He was about 35 years old and had lost two brothers in World War One.

In July of 1924, Esmond Smith of Adirondack (on the east side of Schroon Lake) and David Middleton loaded a quantity of tile and brick into a flat bottom boat with a small motor. They set out in rough waters to a cottage a few miles distant from Adirondack but were soon swamped. Middleton, 70, swam to shore, but Smith, 40, apparently could not swim and drowned.

In July of 1928, two employees of Scaroon Manor were drowned when one, Erma Treppow, 22, of Brooklyn, slipped off a submerged ledge into deep water. She could not swim so Edward Maggiogino of Long Island jumped in to save her. Treppow panicked and grabbed her would-be rescuer, dragging them both under while two other women watched helplessly from shore.

In September of 1929, Edwin Buchman, a wealthy Troy manufacturer and a summer resident of Schroon Lake, was believed to have had a heart attack or stroke and to have fallen into Schroon Lake near the former O’Neill property which he owned. He had planned to take a swim before breakfast but never returned. His body was found in shallow water.

In October of 1929, Fred McKee of Pottersville, Elmer Liberty of Olmsteadville, and Angus Montayne of Schenectady were transported a 50-gallon drum of gasoline in their motorboat from Charles Bogle’s boathouse to Isola Bella Island on Schroon Lake. The lake was rough and when the motor stalled the barrel rolled forward and capsized the boat throwing all three men into the water. McKee and Montayne, who could not swim, attempted to hold onto the barrel. They soon disappeared as Elmer Liberty watched; he survived by clinging to the overturned boat. Forty men, under the supervision of John Flannigan, began dragging the lake for the bodies. They were recovered the same day.

In June 1933, Brooklyn newlyweds Louis and Elsie Gerber left their honeymoon digs at Moon Hill Camp on Schroon Lake in a canoe with Mrs. Robert Epstein of the Bronx. They got about 150 feet from shore when the canoe capsized. A man driving by saw the three clinging to the sides of the canoe, stopped his car, and rowed out to them in a rowboat. According to the Ticonderoga Sentinel, Louis Gerber told the man that he alright and to take the women ashore first – when the men returned Louis was gone. “A searching party was quickly organized,” the Sentinel reported, “but it was not until evening that the body was recovered. The body was taken to Brooklyn by the broken-hearted bride whose honeymoon was so tragically ended.”

Just one month later, in July of 1933, Paulding Foote Sellers, recent graduate of Hamilton College and captain of the college’s football team (and nephew of Admiral David Foote Sellers, died after diving into Schroon Lake – “he sank without a struggle.” It was surmised by the local coroner that he “had a weak heart.”

Parry Lee Shivers, 25, an African American maid, was drowned in Schroon Lake in August of 1937. Shivers was in a boat with another African American maid, 18-year-old Carrie William who later told a newspaper what had happened: “She spoke to Miss Shivers as they were returning to the shore, and there was no response. She turned and was amazed to discover that her friend was not in the boat. Hastily scanning the water in the vicinity of the boat, she saw Miss Shivers swimming about sixty feet away. According to her story, she called to her, but gained no response. A few seconds later Miss Shivers sank beneath the surface and failed to reappear.”

In 1926, a thirteen-year-old George Plumley of Minerva fell from a dock and drowned. In 1938, an eight-year old Schenectady boy, Robert Crossman, was drowned near his parent’s camp opposite Moon Hill Camp. His eleven-year-old sister found his body; he had been last seen just a few minutes before on the camp dock but failed to show for lunch.

In June of 1940 Louis Kankewitz, 30, of New York City was drowned when the canoe he was paddling alone capsized near Eagle Point. He and his new bride were staying at Moon Hill Camp – it took a week to find his body.

Another Brooklynite drowned in July of 1944. Melvin Leon, 16, had jumped into the water at the Leland Hotel’s beach to save George Solow, 17 (also of Brooklyn). The boys were employed at the Little Club, They had been fooling around in a row boat when Solow jumped into the water with the oars; when he lost the oars and couldn’t get back into the boat, Leon jumped in to help him. A third young man in the boat tried in vain to paddle the boat against the wind with his hands. Another boater eventually rescued Solow, but it was too late for Leon.

Almost one year to the day, another young man employed by the Little Club drowned while trying to retrieve an errant boat. Schroon Lake native Glenn Cramer, 16, went out towards Keppler’s Point when his own rowboat overturned; he could not swim. A passerby yelled to him to hold onto the overturned boat but Cramer panicked and was gone by the time his would-be rescuer arrived.


Friday, August 15, 2008

Advocates Endorse DOT’s Adirondack Guidelines

The Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks believes the adoption of the new state Department of Transportation (DOT) Guidelines for the Adirondack Park – also called the “Green Book” – is a significant step for the protection and sound environmental maintenance of the park’s highways and greenways.

Completion of the Green Book and its revisions was one of the primary stipulations of a legal “Consent Order” that followed the unconstitutional cutting of several thousands of trees on Forest Preserve lands along the Route 3 scenic highway corridor between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake in 2005. The Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks filed a civil violation of the Forest Preserve complaint against the cutting with the NYS-DEC at the time and then worked extensively to see the provisions of a strong “Consent Order” against DOT be brought to fruition.

Association Comments on the Draft “Green Book” include:

The Association commends the Department in the tremendous amount of work undertaken in compiling the Draft NYS-DOT Guidelines for the Adirondack Park. The document in and of itself represents a comprehensive compendium of state policy, regulations, design criteria and case studies regarding roadway and highway engineering, design and environmental controls.

The Department is making progress on the requirements of the 2006 “Order on Consent” between the DEC, DOT and APA which required inclusion of policies directing the DOT with regard to addressing hazard tree management within the Adirondack Park, verifying the specific requirements for the application of needed temporary revocable permits (TRPs) and designating accountable Department staff expertise needed to guide and monitor parkwide program implementation. The DOT parkwide engineer position held by Ed Franze was one of AFPA’s recommendations.

The Association is also pleased that the Department has produced the Appendix Q outlining the “Environmental Commitments and Obligations for Maintenance (ECOM) that includes the environmental checklist for NYSDOT maintenance activities in the Adirondack Park and the outline for the needed Adirondack Park Baseline Maintenance Training program.

However, the Association felt these sections require further consensus between the State departments and agencies and public stakeholders in order to fully protect Park resources and to prevent reoccurrences of the 2005 Route 3 tree-cutting which led to the Order on Consent.

Dan Plumley, the Association’s Director of Park Protection, also called on all three state agencies (DOT, DEC and APA) to develop unite around a joint mission to create a planning process for all highway and greenway corridors in the Park. Plumley outlined strategies the agencies should take for enhancing the Park’s scenic, natural character; support walkable communities; advance mass transit opportunities; and mitigate negative effects of roadways and traffic.

A summary of the Associations’ major comments on the Green Book are available online.


Thursday, August 14, 2008

I-87 Adirondack Northway Cell Towers Update

The Glens Falls Post Star is reporting on recent permits approved for cell towers along the Northway (I-87):

The applications recently approved include several Verizon permits in Warrensburg, Chestertown, North Hudson and Schroon Lake. Verizon plans eventually to operate 18 towers near the Northway, from Lake George all the way to Peru, just south of Plattsburgh.

Earlier this month, the Park Agency approved a permit to construct a 100-foot tower on Route 9 in Lewis that is expected to cover three miles north and south of the site along the Northway, near Exit 32.

In September, the Park Agency will decide on another Verizon application for a permit in Chesterfield, near Keeseville at Northway Exit 34.

One of the biggest issues with the towers has always been the destruction of the Adirondack viewshed, which is crucial to the tourism industry. The APA’s towers policy is being credited by John Sheehan of the Adirondack Council for the swift and appropriate placement of new towers:

The Lewis tower will not interrupt the park scenery for passersby, as it will be hidden from view by a hill and trees, [Adirondack Park Agency Spokesman Keith McKeever] said.

Advocates for environmental preservation, who previously expressed concern over the development of cell phone towers in the region, are pleased with the recent wave of applications and approvals, including the one in Lewis.

“They carefully picked a site that was going to be away from public view and made it large enough to carry more than one company,” said The Adirondack Council’s director of communications, John Sheehan. “That’s exactly the way we were hoping they would carry out the communication expansion in the park.”

Sheehan credited the Park Agency for making its requirements for tower development clear to phone companies. The agency requires that towers be built on sites that aren’t highly visible from roadways and other public areas.

If it’s true, it will be another example of private-public cooperation in protecting the park’s natural resources, but as Adirodnack Almanack predicted over a year ago, there will still be plenty of areas that will not be reached by cell service:

Some gaps in reception, or dead zones, will still exist, [APA Spokesman McKeever] said. “There’s going to be some dead zones when you’re going through a mountainous region like this.”

McKeever recommended people use emergency boxes located every two miles on the Northway if they have an emergency in a dead zone.

Neither of the two people killed on the Northway during severe weather last year would have been helped by a call box, and it’s yet to be seen if the new towers are going to cover the areas where they died.

The cell phone issue was named #1 on Adirondack Almanack’s Top Stories of 2007.


Tuesday, August 12, 2008

New York History – A History Of Taxidermy

Hunters, fishermen, and those interested in taxidermy may find my recent post at New York History interesting. The story includes the “world’s largest mounted fish, maybe the largest piece of taxidermy in the world” – a 73-year-old, 32-foot, mounted whale shark caught off Fire Island in 1935 and believed to have weighed about 8 tons (16,000 pounds).

It also includes a short history of taxidermy and the covers the role of Carl Akeley whose lifelike creations were installed in dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.

New York History is my new blog of “Historical News and Views From The Empire State.” Recent stories have included:

Historic Central Park Concert Numbers Questioned

A Week of New York Disasters

State Library Thief Expected to Plead Guilty

Executed Today Blog: New York’s Electric Chair


Wednesday, August 6, 2008

1800s Adirondack Natural History Survey Online

The mid-1800s Natural History Survey of New York has been posted online at the New York State Library here. According to a recent note from the Library’s staff:

The Natural History Survey of New York, undertaken in the mid-1800s, covered zoology, flora, mineralogy, geology, agriculture and paleontology. The NYS Library has digitized the first three components of the survey so far. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Fort Ticonderoga Facing Financial Ruin

Fort Ticonderoga President Peter S. Paine Jr. has suggested in a memo forwarded to the Plattsburgh Press Republican that the historic site (a veteran of the French and Indian and American Revolutionary wars as well as the War of 1812) has seven options to avoid permanent closure, none of them good.

Paine wrote in the memo that “the fort is running through its available endowment funds to pay the Mars Education Center bills, and, in the absence of a major infusion of funds, the fort will be essentially broke by the end of 2008.” » Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 27, 2008

More Funding For New York – Canada Border

An interesting story over at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise that reports a recent windfall of $3.7 million public money for four local counties from “homeland security funding under the Operation Stonegarden program.”

Operation Stonegarden, a program run by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, provides funding for localities to secure U.S. borders from terrorism threats. Jefferson, Clinton, Franklin and St. Lawrence counties all received funding under the program.

The amount is split between the four counties with Jefferson County receiving $1.63 million, Franklin County with $1.47 million, Clinton County with $330,000 and St. Lawrence County with $280,000.

Operation Stonegarden focuses on enhancing law enforcement preparedness and operational readiness along U.S. land borders by providing grants to designated localities to enhance cooperation and coordination among federal, state, tribal and local law enforcement agencies.

No word when the wall goes up.


Thursday, July 24, 2008

Our Endangered Adirondack Amphibians

This weekend The Wild Center in Tupper Lake is hosting a special symposium that will look at the global and local health of amphibians (frogs, toads, salamanders, newts, etc) and what it means for the Adirondacks and our planet (details below, along with a full list of Adirondack amphibians).

Probably because they lived in two polluted worlds – they are cold-blooded animals that metamorphose from a water-breathing juvenile to an air-breathing adult – amphibian populations around the globe are threatened or extinct. Some scientists believe it’s related to environmental pollutants, development that reduces their habitat, and global warming (which exacerbates pathogen outbreaks) are to blame.

This brings up the DEC’s Amphibian & Reptile Atlas Project (known as the Herp Atlas), a ten year survey (1990-1999) documenting the distribution of New York State’s herpetofauna. Using more than 1,200 volunteers, the project hoped to count 20 species in each survey block (based on 7.5′ topographic quadrangles) – that number was lowered by the end of the project to 15 species in each block – the data is lame, and hasn’t been exploited as far as I can see.

What data there has been made available is here, although I’m not sure why it hasn’t been included in the USGS North American Amphibian Monitoring Program.
Records prior to 1989 were also supposed to be compiled for a historic database, but the online data doesn’t even include 1999’s findings, let alone any historic data or analysis. So all the public really has to work with is a simple map and a series of fact sheets on the state’s amphibians and reptiles.

We have to wonder (no we don’t, we already know) why the Whitetail-deer management effort is so comprehensive, when the the herps are given short-shrift. The fact is that amphibians are experiencing an obvious and serious decline that suggests they may be “toads in the coal mine.” How about at least a Landowner’s Guide for Managing Amphibians?

Here are the details for the Wild Center’s Amphibian Weekend, which is free for members or with paid admission:

July 26 – 11am-12pm: “Amphibians of New York State” in the Flammer Theater with Dr. Glenn Johnson, Professor Biology at SUNY Potsdam and co-author of Reptiles and Amphibians of New York State 12pm-12:30pm: Amphibian encounter with a Wild Center naturalists in the Great Hall. 1pm-2pm: Lecture in Flammer Theater Why Amphibians Matter with Dr. Kevin Zippel, Program Director of Amphibian Ark, a scientific initiative sponsored by the Chicago Zoological Society . The Chicago Zoological Society is leading zoos worldwide in the globally coordinated public awareness campaign entitled “2008 The Year of the Frog.” 2-2:30pm: Amphibian encounter with a Wild Center naturalists in The Great Hall. 3pm-4pm: Children’s Program in The Great Hall with Wild Center naturalists called “Cyclin’ Around the Pond: The Life Cycles of Amphibians in Blue Pond”.

July 27 – 11am-12pm: Get “Up Close with Wild Center Amphibians” in the Flammer Theater with our own amphibian biologist, Frank Panaro. This program will cover the biology of Adirondack amphibians with special glimpses of them under the camera. 12-12:30pm: Amphibian encounter with a Wild Center naturalists in the Great Hall 1pm-2pm: Lecture in Flammer Theater entitled “Conservation of Kihansi Spray Toad” with Dr. Jennifer Pramuk, Curator of Herpetology at The Bronx Zoo. Other topics covered will be global amphibian health and zoo initiatives to protect and conserve amphibians worldwide. 2pm-2:30pm: Amphibian Encounter with a Wild Center naturalists in the Great Hall 3pm-4pm: Family Art Program- “Flippin’ Frogs and Slithery Salamanders”- Origami frogs and salamanders (the frogs can actually flip!).

Here is a complete list of amphibians from SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry:

Salamanders (Order Caudata)

Mole Salamanders (Family Ambystomidae)
Blue-spotted salamander ~ Ambystoma laterale
Spotter salamander ~ Ambystoma maculatum

Lungless Salamanders (Family Plethodontidae)
Spring salamander ~ Gyrinophilus porphyriticus
Four-toed salamander ~ Hemidactylium scutatum
Red-backed salamander ~ Plethodon cinereus
Two-lined salamander ~ Eurycea bislineata
Mountain dusky salamander ~ Desmognathus ochrophaeus
Northern dusky salamander ~ Desmognathus fuscus

Newts (Family Salamandridae)
Red-spotted newt ~ Notophthalmus viridescens

Mudpuppies (Family Proteidae)
Mud puppy ~ Necturus maculosus

Frogs and Toad (Order Anura)

True Toads (Family Bufonidae)
American toad ~ Bufo americanus

Treefrogs (Family Hylidae)

Spring peeper ~ Hyla crucifer
Gray tree frog ~ Hyla versicolor

True Frogs (Family Ranidae)

Bullfrog ~ Rana catesbeiana
Green frog ~ Rana clamitans
Mink frog ~ Rana septentrionalis
Wood frog ~ Rana sylvatica
Leopard frog ~ Rana pipiens
Pickerel frog ~ Rana palustris


Tuesday, July 22, 2008

ADK Calls For Expansion of St. Regis Canoe AreaDispels Quiet Waters Myths

In a recent press release – “Quiet Waters Would Enhance Adirondack Experience” – the Adirondack Mountain Club countered some of the critics of the newly formed Quiet Waters Working Group and at the same time called on the working group to make use of what it called “an excellent opportunity to expand one of the Adirondack Park’s greatest attractions, the St. Regis Canoe Area.”

Adirondack Mountain Club officials called on the working group to expand the St. Regis Canoe Area (recently named one of Adirondack Almanack’s 7 Natural Wonders of the Adirondacks) to include 13 interconnecting ponds directly south of the St. Regis and west of Upper Saranac Lake. These would include Follensby Clear, Rollins, Floodwood, Polliwog, Little Square and Whey ponds. They also supported an Adirondack Explorer proposal that the area should remain open to boats with electric motors, with a 5 mph speed limit. Explorer’s proposal also states that “Pre-existing landowners would be exempted,” which wasn’t mentioned in the ADK plan. All told, the 13 ponds have a total surface area of 3 square miles.

Last month, state Department Environmental Conservation Commissioner Grannis and Adirondack Park Agency (APA) Chairman Curt Stiles announced the formation of an interagency “Quiet Waters Working Group for the Adirondack Park.” The working group will evaluate lakes, ponds and rivers in the Park for potential designation as “quiet water,” meaning that motorized craft would be prohibited.

This new proposal is a compromise by paddlers that would allow anglers to navigate the ponds in boats equipped with electric motors and enjoy quiet fishing undisturbed by the noise and wakes of gas-powered motorboats. It’s still to be seen if that will alleviate opponents of Quiet Waters like this one last week by Robert E. Brown in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise:

There has been a decade of new quiet water access purchased by the state with constant loss of motor boating waters. Now we hear of a committee being formed because ‘there are too few paddling opportunities.’ The state, now running out of lands to buy and reclassify as wilderness, intends to regulate motors off waters used by residents and sportsmen for generations.

The ADK supports the creation of the Working Group, saying that it “does not advocate any wide-reaching ban on motorboats on Adirondack waters.”

“Motorboats have been allowed for decades on most larger Adirondacks lakes, and ADK believes that this traditional use should continue,” executive director Neil Woodworth was quoted. “But there also should be more opportunities in the Adirondacks for canoeing and kayaking in peace and quiet. We believe this can be accomplished in ways that has little impact on other users.”

The ADK also called on the Quiet Waters Working Group to study the economic impacts of any Quiet Waters initiatives. Woodworth said the Working Group should also study possible motor restrictions or speed limits on Adirondack rivers, such as the Raquette, Jordan and Osgood. High-speed boats operating close to shore create wakes that disrupt nesting loons and inhibit their ability to reproduce. The Working Group should also consider economic incentives to encourage motorboat owners to switch from loud, dirty two-stroke engines to four-stroke engines.

The ADK also argues that the argument that there are thousands of lakes and ponds, covering hundreds of square miles, that are open to quiet paddling and that many lakes and ponds are inaccessible because they have been “locked up” in wilderness areas., is false.

They argue instead that

The DEC has cataloged more than 3,600 lakes and ponds in the park, but nearly half are less than 5 acres and three-quarters have less than a mile of shoreline. When private and public water bodies are taken into account, about 90 percent of the park’s lake surface area is open to motorboats. Although wilderness accounts for 17.5 percent of the total area of the Adirondack Park, wilderness ponds cover only about 12,000 acres, less than 4 percent of the park’s total.


Monday, July 21, 2008

Home Needed for Anne LaBastille’s Cats

UPDATE: Anne LaBastille died July 1, 2011 at a nursing home in Plattsburgh. You can read a full obituary and review of her life as an important environmentalist in Central America and in the Adirondacks here.

From the Jay Community News comes a note that Woodswoman author Anne LaBastille can no longer care for her animals. Her dog Krispy is living happily with a friend, but her two cats Chunita and Winston are being held in the Adirondack Veterinary Hospital.

Both cats have been indoor/outdoor cats. They were adopted by Anne as strays so their exact ages are not known, but they are believed to be 6 or 7 for Chunita, female, and 4 or 5 for Winston, male.

Don’t contact me – but if you have a home for these two cats – contact the Adirondack Veterinary Hospital in Westport at (518) 962-4311.



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