Almanack Contributor Melissa Hart

Melissa Hart

Melissa is a journalist with experience as a reporter and editor with the Burlington Free Press, Ithaca Journal and Fairbanks Daily News-Miner. She worked as a communications specialist for the Adirondack North Country Association and runs her own New York State Women owned Business-Enterprise Bootstrap Communications, which includes digital marketing, strategy and design. She enjoys hiking, camping and other outdoors activities, and spending time with her husband, their twin daughters, and rescue animals -- two dogs and a cat.


Friday, December 18, 2020

Adirondack Communities: Developing Support Networks for an Aging Population 

The Adirondack population is rapidly getting older. By 2030, according to projections from the New  York State Office for the Aging, more than one third of the population in most North Country counties will be over the age of 60. New York State itself ranks fourth in the nation in the number of adults over 60. And state-wide the fastest growing population is over 85. For the remote towns and villages of the Adirondack region, this represents a challenge and an opportunity. 

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Thursday, December 17, 2020

Where to see holiday lights in the Adirondacks

Let’s face it, there’s not much going on for events this holiday season. So every more reason to head out for a drive to check out some socially distance lights displays.

Here are a few taking place around the Adirondack region:

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Monday, December 14, 2020

Adirondack communities: Fixing food insecurity, child care gaps

The Adirondack Explorer/Adirondack Almanack is partnering with Adirondack Foundation to shine a light on unmet needs in the region as well as highlight promising efforts to address them. This special series was inspired by the Foundation’s 2019 report “Meeting the Needs of Adirondack Communities.”  To learn more, visit adirondackfoundation.org/meeting-needs-adirondack-communities.

In our previous post, we gave an overview of some of the struggles working families face — finding child care and access to fresh, healthy food options. look at organizations that are working to address the problems that working families face.

Here, we’ll highlight some new ways organizations are addressing the needs of working families. 

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Sunday, December 13, 2020

Send us your story ideas

As we round the bend into 2021, we’d like to hear from you. What kinds of stories would you like to see more of? Is there something happening in your community we should know about?

Send your thoughts and feedback to [email protected].


Wednesday, December 9, 2020

Adirondack communities: Working families face challenges

The child care landscape is “bombed out and pitted,” said Jamie Basiliere, executive director of the Child Care Coordinating Council of the North Country, speaking to Adam Federman for an article that ran in the Adirondack Explorer earlier this year.

That same story found that virtually every corner of the region has been impacted by the shortage of providers. Across all seven North Country counties, 86 percent of census tracts, which roughly accord with towns and villages, qualify as child care deserts where the number of young children exceeds the system’s capacity. According to a report from the Child Care Coordinating Council of the North Country, there are on average nearly six children for every child care slot in a regulated facility. In Franklin County, for example, there are 2,405 children ages birth to 5, but only 1,602 openings in child care programs. Since July 2019, a staggering 28 programs have closed.

» Continue Reading.


Monday, December 7, 2020

Adirondack communities: Addressing needs, coming up with solutions

The Adirondack Explorer/Adirondack Almanack is partnering with Adirondack Foundation to shine a light on unmet needs in the region as well as highlight promising efforts to address them. This special series was inspired by the Foundation’s 2019 report “Meeting the Needs of Adirondack Communities.”  To learn more, visit adirondackfoundation.org/meeting-needs-adirondack-communities.

From the report’s introduction:

The needs and barriers across the Adirondack region are real. And the solutions are not always  obvious. The percentage of families who earn too much to qualify for public assistance but not  enough to make ends meet has grown dramatically in recent years. There’s a critical shortage of child  care providers, which can make it difficult for parents to commit to full time employment or advance  their careers. Meanwhile access to public transportation and safe, affordable housing in the region is  limited.

» Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 26, 2020

Gobble gobble: All about wild turkeys

wild turkey - maleHappy Thanksgiving. In honor of the holiday, I’ve plucked out some stories about wild turkeys from the Almanack archive.

Found in all 50 states and hunted in every state but Hawaii, American sportsmen and women harvest roughly 700,000 turkeys annually. That makes turkeys the most sought after gamebird on the continent, according to Richard Gast in this 2018 article.

In Wild Turkeys Were Once Rare, Ellen Rathbone wrote about her encounters with them. Wild turkeys are an Almanack favorite, and you can read more stories about them here.

In our sister site the Adirondack Explorer, a recent column from the Nov/Dec 2020 issue of the magazine is posted here.


Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Outdoor tips for winter hiking and other excursions

winter gearEarlier in 2020, Explorer intern Zach Lawrence wrote a series of articles that aim to help beginners get started with winter hiking.

Here they are, for a reference, as we gear up for the start of snow season:

Food essentials: Packing the proper—and right amount—of food for your backcountry winter excursions can be overwhelming when you’re first starting out. You can get ideas online, but the bottom line is you have to find out what works best for you.

Everyone’s dietary preferences and needs are different, but there are items everyone should include. This guide provides a baseline. READ MORE

Footwear: In the winter, there are several pieces of footwear that will be necessary depending on the activity you are interested in as well as the conditions of the trail you want to explore. What you put on your feet will be dependent on variables such as snow depth, ice, and the difficulty of your planned excursion. READ MORE

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Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Make it: Last-minute local food ideas for Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving! I’m taking today and the next few days off for the holiday. In case you are looking for some last-minute recipes or food inspiration, here are a few treasures from the Almanack archive:

Kim and Pam Ladd, who wrote the popular “Happy Hour in the High Peaks: An Adirondack Bar Guide,” are two ladies who know cocktails. They put together some favorite Thanksgiving Cocktail Recipes.

Paul Hetzler has a piece on Native Foods on the Thanksgiving Table. Larry Gooley has one on an old-time ritual, Nutting Season.

If you’re not into eating crickets, maybe apples are your thing. There’s a recipe for a traditional Thanksgiving Apple Pie or  Farmhouse Apple Crisp.

Ever wonder How Cranberries Get Their Color? Paul Hetzler’s piece All About Cranberries is perennial primer on the native berry. Also try Annette Nielsen’s Adirondack Cranberry Compote.


Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Paul Smith’s VIC to open Dec. 5 for ski season

Weather dependent, the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Information Center plans to open its doors on Saturday the 5th of December for the winter season.
Ski passes are on now on sale (season passes available here), which gives users access to more than 40K of groomed ski and snowshoeing trails. Click here for details on the fees for day use and season passes.
Please note: You can opt out of shipping and pick up your pass at the front desk. You’ll need to sign a NYS ski waiver. If you’d prefer to print an application and mail it to us, you will find the form and address online as well.
With users’ help and cooperation, staff aim to keep the building open throughout the season. Details on what to expect when you arrive at the VIC are forthcoming.
Photo courtesy of Paul Smith’s VIC

Sunday, November 15, 2020

Newsletter survey: Share your thoughts

Wanted: Your feedback
At the Explorer, we’ve added to our slate of newsletters this past year, and we’d love to hear from Almanack readers on how we’re doing.
Whether you are only subscribed to the daily Almanack news digest or if you are signed up for all the topics-based newsletters, please take a moment to share your thoughts.

Thanks in advance for your feedback!

Click here to take the survey

And as always, I welcome you to send along your story ideas and topics you’d like to see covered in the Almanack. Contact me at [email protected].


Saturday, November 14, 2020

Historic buildings and the Forest Preserve

HISTORIC PRESERVATION: A proposal to take down the Debar Lodge as part of proposed management changes to the more than 88,000-acre Debar Wild Forest Area in Franklin County, has drawn some attention. Gwen Craig’s story was the top-read article in the Explorer this past week. READ IT

As the Lodge is a 1940 Adirondack camp on the State and National Register of Historic Places, historic preservation organizations have rallied around it. See this commentary from AARCH that ran this week in the Almanack. From the Almanack archive, Peter Bauer digs into the “historic” classification of buildings in the Forest Preserve in a three part series that ran on the Almanack in 2018. The first dealt with buildings used for administrative purposes and the effort to retain the inner Gooley Club. The second focused on buildings that are classified as Historic and how this group of buildings is growing. The third deals with public residential use through a formal lodging network.

From 2012, Explorer editor Phil Brown looks at dams in the wilderness, and whether the state should preserve of take them out.


Thursday, November 12, 2020

Phil Terrie on an important milestone for the Adirondack Park

Nelson Rockefeller signing legislationHistorian and author Philip Terrie has written an article for Adirondack Explorer about an advisory group that issued its findings in a report 50 years ago, with over 180 recommendations. Much came from that effort, including the creation of the Adirondack Park Agency. As Terrie writes:

“A half century ago, on the 15th of December, 1970, Harold Hochschild presented a substantial document to Nelson Rockefeller. Hochschild was a multi-millionaire industrialist, a seasonal resident of Blue Mountain Lake, and the founder of the Adirondack Museum. Rockefeller was the governor of New York. The document was the final report of the Temporary Study Commission on the Future of the Adirondacks (TSC), appointed by Rockefeller in 1968 and chaired by Hochschild during the final year of its investigations and public meetings and the composition of its final report. The result of the confluence of these two powerful figures and of the document Hochschild handed to Rockefeller was the Adirondack Park Agency and the beginning of the modern era of Adirondack history.”

Read the article and then weigh in here. How did the Temp Study Commission change the way we view and manage the park? What kinds of things should leaders and elected officials be focusing on in the next 50 years?

Photo: Former NYS Gov. Nelson Rockefeller signing legislation/file photo.


Saturday, November 7, 2020

Hunting camp tales

fall hunting campWe’re well into hunting season, so here are a few related tales from the Almanack archive:

From 2018: Debunking the myths around the phases of the month’s effects on deer behavior

From 2010: Dave Gibson writes about being a “greenhorn” at hunting camp

From 2013: Iced in at hunting camp

And for a recent collection of current stories, check out my rundown of the week’s top stories on the Adirondack Explorer and Adirondack Almanack here and/or sign up for my weekly “Adk News Briefing” email newsletter.

Fall hunting camp photo from the Almanack archive


Wednesday, November 4, 2020

Rangers return from Colorado firefighting

Fighting Wildfires: On Nov. 3, DEC welcomed back the State’s fourth team of volunteer wildland firefighters from the Divisions of Forest Protection, Lands and Forests, and Fish and Wildlife that were deployed to help battle and contain wildfires raging in western states.

The crew flew to Denver, Colorado, on Oct. 17 for deployment from the Rocky Mountain Coordination Center and were initially assigned to the Cameron Peak fire for nighttime operations, patrol, and structure defense. Their second assignment was at the East Troublesome fire for daytime operations.

The crew was reassigned to Cameron Peak due to sub-freezing temperatures and heavy snow.

The returning crew includes a DEC Forest Ranger crew boss and nine firefighters:

» Continue Reading.