Almanack Contributor Mary Thill

Mary Thill

Mary Thill lives in Saranac Lake and has worked alternately in journalism and Adirondack conservation for three decades.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hunting: Deer Season Opens in The Adirondacks

On Friday my friend Todd was seen stocking up at Blue Line Sports Shop in Saranac Lake. That could only mean muzzleloading season was opening Saturday.

Muzzleloaders, or black-powder hunters, are older school than their “regular” shotgun and rifle counterparts. Maybe they’re more interested in the pursuit than the kill; they’re definitely more process-oriented and Daniel Boone-like. It’s no surprise that muzzleloading interests Todd, a guy so deeply into fly-fishing that he learned to scuba dive so he could see for himself how fish behave. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Saranac Lake Community Store Closer to Funding Goal

Last week we received word from the people behind the Saranac Lake Community Store project that a recent fundraising surge has brought investment capital to $395,000. They need to sell $500,000 worth of shares to launch the store.

If organizers don’t reach half a million by the initial offering deadline of December 17, board vice-president Gail Brill said they will apply for an extension on the offering. “We are so close,” she said in an e-mail, “and light years ahead of Greenfield, MA, which started well before we did.”

Shares cost $100 each and may be purchased by residents of New York State only. Individuals may buy up to $10,000 worth of shares. Organizers had hoped to have the store open by this summer but the economy appears to have rescheduled those expectations. When $500,000 is reached, backers will choose a location, hire staff and purchase inventory.

The business is expected to be about 5,000-square-feet, located downtown and carry department-store-type retail items not currently available in Saranac Lake. Organizers say they will ask local people what they want the store to sell. The village has been without a department store since Ames closed in 2002 but citizen groups have thwarted efforts by Wal-Mart to open a big box. Hardware and drug stores have been filling some of the retail gap.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Adirondack Events for Saturday’s Day of Climate Action

Several local events calling for drastic reductions in fossil fuel emissions are planned for Saturday, October 24. They’re all part of an international day of climate action organized by 350.org.

In the Adirondacks so far nine actions have been announced. People are invited to hike a High Peak, kayak Lake Champlain, carpool, attend seminars, stack firewood, make a mural, and gather at a ski area, among other things. They will stand together for group photos that’ll be displayed on 350.org’s Web site to send a message to policymakers. 350.org hopes grassroots activism will encourage world leaders to enact a meaningful global climate treaty this year at their meeting in Copenhagen. Below are in-park event locations with links to more information, including how to participate.
 
Blue Mountain Lake

Keene

Lake Champlain (Westport)

North Creek

Paul Smith’s College and neighbors

Saranac Lake

Tupper Lake

Parkwide (cool commute)

Also, the coordinator of the Adirondack High Peaks Summit Steward Program is planning a hike up Mt Marcy to take photos with a banner. Others are invited to participate, though pre-registration is necessary because of group-size limits in the High Peaks Wilderness. Contact Julia Goren via [email protected]

“As NY’s highest peak, Mt. Marcy seemed like an obvious choice of an iconic location for this event,” Goren e-mailed. “The Adirondack High Peaks Summit Steward Program is a partnership of the Adirondack Mountain Club, the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, and the NYS DEC. We work to protect alpine vegetation atop the highest peaks, so the effect of climate change on this special ecosystem is of particular concern. We will discuss some of these effects during the hike. ADK will also be participating in the 350 event on October 24th at the Heart Lake Property as well.”

Read here for information on why some scientists think 350 parts per million of atmospheric CO2 is an important threshold for all life on earth, or read here for an explanation of the number’s significance.

For more information see 350.org, founded by End of Nature author and former Johnsburg resident Bill McKibben. Late-breaking events may pop up on that site during the week, or you can organize and list your own action.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Adirondack Mill Provides Paper for Al Gore’s Next Book

On November 3 a new solution-oriented climate-change book by Al Gore will be published. Our Choice will pick up where An Inconvenient Truth left off and, like everything Mr. Gore does, it will be scrutinized for its environmental integrity, right down to the paper it’s printed on.

Our Choice will use 100% recycled paper and be carbon neutral, according to a release from publisher Rodale Press. For North American editions, that paper will be produced in the Adirondack Park, at Newton Falls Fine Paper in St. Lawrence County.

“The Al Gore book is a very small percentage of our volume overall, about .5 percent of our total production,” says Scott Travers, president and vice chairman of the Newton Falls mill. “But it’s not the size of the order, if you will, it’s . . . that we were recognized by such an individual and such an effort for our environmental stewardship. The bigger issue is that the entire marketplace will recognize us for our environmental attributes.”

This is the mill’s first 100-percent recycled product, but it has been making partially recycled paper for decades, and since it was acquired and re-opened two years ago by the Canadian holding company Scotia Investments, which among other companies owns Minas Basin Pulp & Power and Scotia Recycling. The latter recovers paper all along the Eastern seaboard, Travers says. Scotia Recycling provided fiber to the Newton Falls mill for Our Choice.

“We hope that eventually all of the paper in the Newton Falls mill will have 100 percent recycled content,” he says. “It was an open, competitive bidding process for the Al Gore book. What excites people today is having a minimal impact on the environment or having an even better impact, to be able to improve the environment. If we’ve captured fiber that would have gone to the landfill, we’ve improved the environment.”

The mill is also working to have a “closed-loop” wastewater system on line by November, Travers says, eliminating the need to export waste such as sludge from the facility. One day managers also hope make steam for heat and papermaking from biomass instead of oil.

The Newton Falls story is improbable as well as inspiring. At a time when paper mills around the perimeter of the Adirondack Park were closing, this tiny one-industry hamlet rallied to recruit a new owner after the mill there was idled in 2000. The mill had a century-long history but adapted with the times and markets. Its last owner, Appleton Paper, had invested millions in upgrades. For seven years, potential buyers raised hopes and dashed them until Scotia Investments partnered with a former mill manager in 2006. The facility now employes 120 people and has been retooled. Travers says the mill will expand into recycled packaging as demand for publishing paper continues to decline.

“I applaud the people in Newton Falls and their desire to make a positive difference. The important thing is we have a dedicated workforce, we have a dedicated community, we have a dedicated holding company,” Travers says. “We’re fully committed to the success of that operation.”

Photograph of Newton Falls Fine Paper provided by Scotia Investments


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Adirondack Journalism Conference Coming to Blue Mt. Lake

The Adirondack Center for Writing (ACW) will host a journalism conference at the Blue Mountain Center, in Blue Mountain Lake, on Tuesday, November 10. Some of the region’s and state’s best reporters will be presenters, and the keynote speaker will be environmental journalist Jeff Goodell, author of Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future (Houghton Mifflin, 2007). Adirondack Almanack’s John Warren will participate as a panelist in a discussion on blogs.

The conference is open to all, and registration details are provided at the end of this press release from ACW:

Presenters include Will Doolittle of the Glens Falls Post-Star, Mike Hill of the Associated Press and Brian Mann of North Country Public Radio.

Topics will include “How to Write A Compelling Story with a 24-hour Deadline”; “Tough Reporting in Small Towns,” how to effectively report tough stories even when they involve neighbors and friends; and “How to Make a Living as a Freelance Journalist,” strategies for building a sustainable income as a journalist working in the Adirondack North Country. This discussion will include nuts and bolts issues of multiple sales, quality control, contract arrangements, and deadline management.

A blogging panel discussion features John Warren of Adirondack Almanack and New York History, Brian Mann of NCPR’s “In Box,” and Adirondack Life associated editor Lisa Bramen, who blogs for the Smithsonian’s “Food and Thought.” That discussion will be moderated by Elizabeth Folwell of Adirondack Life magazine.

Jeff Goodell is a best-selling author and journalist. The New York Times called his latest book, Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future (Houghton Mifflin, 2007), “a compelling indictment of one of the country’s biggest, most powerful and most antiquated industries . . . well-written, timely, and powerful.”

Goodell is the author of three previous books including Sunnyvale, a memoir about growing up in Silicon Valley that was selected as a New York Times Notable Book. Our Story, an account of the nine miners trapped in a Pennsylvania coal mine, was a national bestseller. He is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, and his work has appeared in many publications, including The New Republic, The Washington Post, The New York Times Magazine, and Wired. His new book, How to Cool the Planet: Geoengineering and the Audacious Quest to Fix Earth’s Climate will be published by Houghton Mifflin in the spring of 2010.

Will Doolittle grew up in Saranac Lake and started his journalism career as a 14-year-old at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, which, along with the Lake Placid News, was at that time owned and run by his father. He has worked as a reporter and photographer at the Lake Placid News, reporter and city editor at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and managing editor at the Malone Telegram. He has lived in Glens Falls for 16 years, working at the Post-Star in various positions including night editor, Sunday editor, features editor and, currently, projects editor. He has continued reporting during those years and has written a weekly column for the paper for about a decade.

Doolittle has won numerous state journalism awards and several national ones, as a reporter and editor. He has focused on investigative reporting throughout his career and often—in Malone, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, especially—found himself investigating people he knew and often ran into around town. He has learned how to do the job in the most effective way, by making many mistakes. He is looking forward to revealing those mistakes to a roomful of reporters.

Mike Hill, in his two decades reporting for The Associated Press, has covered the state Capitol in Albany, the Sept. 11 attacks, crime, technology, culture and food. He has taught journalism at the University at Albany for five years as an adjunct and contributes to Adirondack Life magazine. He lives near Albany with his wife and two children.

Brian Mann came to the Adirondacks after working as a public radio journalist in Alaska and Missouri. He founded the Adirondack news bureau for North Country Public Radio and has won three national Edward R. Murrow Awards. His work appears regularly on National Public Radio. His 2006 book, Welcome to the Homeland, was widely reviewed. Mann is Adirondack bureau chief for North Country Public Radio and has built a thriving business as a freelance writer and producer. He will talk about strategies for building a sustainable income as a journalist working in the Adirondack North Country. His discussion will include nuts and bolts issues of multiple sales, quality control, contract arrangements, and deadline management.


The Adirondack Center for Writing (ACW) is a resource and educational organization that provides support to writers and enhances literary activity and communication throughout the Adirondacks. ACW benefits both emerging and established writers and develops literary audiences by encouraging partnerships among existing regional organizations to promote diverse programs. ACW is supported by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.

Journalism Conference Date: November 10, 2009
Time: 10:00 AM – 4:15 PM
Open to all – $30 per person, lunch provided (call for group rates)
Location: Blue Mountain Center, Blue Mountain Lake
Contact: Adirondack Center for Writing, (518) 327-6278, [email protected]; www.adirondackcenterforwriting.org


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Paddler and Author Don Morris Joins Adirondack Almanack

Adirondack Almanack is pleased to announce that Don Morris is joining the site as paddling contributor. Don’s posts on all things canoeing and kayaking will run monthly, beginning tomorrow.

Don is co-author of Adirondack Canoe Waters, North Flow, the classic canoeing and kayaking guide and just a great book, period. “Don is an experienced kayaker at home in technical waters beyond the skill of the original writer,” Paul Jamieson (the book’s selfsame original writer) wrote in 1994 as he announced the transition in authorship. Jamieson died in 2006 at age 103. Don has added whitewater routes as well as detail about technical runs to the book. But he says he spends just as much time on flatwater in the Adirondacks and on his travels outside the region.

Photograph: Don Morris and friends paddle Ausable Chasm


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Adirondack Park Disappears from Google Maps

Searching for a map of Beaver River yesterday I noticed that the raggedy roundish green shape that usually defines the Adirondack Park on Google maps had been reduced to a wedge over the Northwest Flow.

The Web site TechCrunch.com explains that Google has been incorporating user input to provide more detailed information, particularly about parks, bodies of water, roads, even bike trails. And there’s a “Report a Problem” link. At least one TechCrunch commenter has already reported the Adirondack Park shrinkage.

Image: Screen capture from Google maps this morning. Adirondack Almanack added the Blue Line for context


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Posted Sign Do’s and Don’ts

Q. May a hunter who has wounded game pursue it onto posted property?
A. Only if permission has been granted by the posting party.

Most hunters know this. But when it comes to the Posted signs themselves, landowners don’t always know there are rules guiding the information they put on them. We didn’t know either, until a friend of the Almanack sent us this link to a handy New York State Department of Environmental Conservation site.

It’s a helpful page for landowners and hunters, with information on trespass law and liability, but as our friend pointed out, the section on navigation rights could be improved. A few word-tweaks would help clarify this widely misunderstood section of state law. First, get rid of references to “mean high water mark,” which have no bearing on the legality of through-travel on a river. And this friend suggests starting the discussion this way:

Q. May a person travel in a boat or canoe on a waterway which is posted?
A. Yes, but it is illegal to post a waterway against specific navigational activities such as canoeing, kayaking, boating, etc. if the waterway is “navigable in fact” under common law criteria.

There are a few unmistakably navigable rivers in the Adirondacks that are still posted, whether by honest mistake or by intent. The sign pictured here is appropriate for most boundary lines, but facing upstream on a navigable river, as it was on the East Branch of the St. Regis River in June, it confuses if not intimidates paddlers. The landowner, contacted this summer, says the sign came with the property when he bought it in the 1990s and he has no intention of replacing it or changing the wording.

For more information on posting in New York, here is the pertinent section of state Environmental Conservation Law. For more information on public rights of navigation, see this brochure by the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks.

[Post-publication addition: Flickr has a group called “No Trespassing!” featuring Posted signs. The Almanack has added four Adirondack signs, including historical ones, from Lake George Islands, Tahawus, Whitney Park and the East Branch of the St. Regis River. But we don’t endorse the group manager’s incitement to trespass. UPDATE: We quit that group (see comments). You can now see vintage Adirondack posted signs among this Flickr group of Adirondack signs.]


Monday, October 5, 2009

A New Hiking Guide for Adirondack Dog Lovers

There are many good reasons to pick up a copy of Dog Hikes in the Adirondacks: 20 Trails to Enjoy with Your Best Friend, a useful and big-hearted little book from Westport’s Shaggy Dog Press: Authors who know the territory offer their favorite places to hike with pets. The book’s editors, Annie Stoltie and Elisabeth Ward, provide tips on introducing young dogs to the trail, rules and courtesies, and veterinary care. Finally, proceeds from the sale of the book benefit animal shelters and humane organizations throughout the Adirondack Park.

“The Adirondack Park remains uncrowded by the grace of location,” the book’s introduction says. “The pet population may well rival that of humans, which helps to explain the number of animal shelters in the park’s 11 counties. As in any predominantly rural setting, these shelters are overfilled and struggling to save abandoned cats and dogs, to educate on proper care of pets, to teach the importance of spay and neuter programs. Often these shelters have to rely on the kindness of the strangers who visit the Adirondacks for their outdoor experiences.”

Cats are an especially big challenge for Adirondack shelters, as Annie Stoltie explains in this Adirondack Life article. The link also provides addresses and contact information for Adirondack humane organizations.

North Country Public Radio’s Brian Mann aired a charming on-trail interview with the book’s publisher, Libby Treadwell, last week.

The soft-cover book is 64 pages. To order send $12.95 per copy (price includes tax and postage) to: Shaggy Dog Press | PO Box 318 | Westport, NY 12993. Donations also sent to that address will be forwarded to shelters. North Country Books is distributing the book, so check your local bookstores as well.


Thursday, October 1, 2009

North Country-Grown Wines Win Awards

This week Richard Lamoy will help begin the harvest of 25 varieties of cold-hardy grapes at an experimental farm in Willsboro. “The grapes are running about two weeks late this year,” says Lamoy, who lives in Morrisonville and cultivates a three-acre vineyard of his own. With a cold winter, wet spring and summer, windy pollination and now a cold rainy harvest, he says, “pretty much anything that can go wrong this season has gone wrong. Still we’re hoping to get some good wines out of it.”

Wine grapes are new to the Champlain Valley so LaMoy was eager to find out how locally grown wines compare to more established vintages. This year he entered eight wines he made in a contest sponsored by WineMaker magazine. He came home with six medals, including a gold for French hybrid white grapes (LaCrescent). “Obviously they did pretty well,” he says. “I’m encouraged by that. The whites are doing especially well in this region.”

LaMoy is one eight grape and wine producers participating in a Northern New York Agricultural Development Program-funded cold-hardy grape research trial based at the Cornell University Agricultural Research Station at the E.V. Baker Farm in Willsboro. The project was established in 2005.

The WineMaker contest is reputed to be the largest amateur winemaker event in the world and had 4,474 entries in 2009, judged in Manchester, Vermont.
 
Lamoy earned three silver medals for varietal wines (St. Pepin, Adalmiina, Petite Amie) made with locally grown French hybrid white grapes, and one bronze medal for a wine made with Champlain Valley French hybrid red grapes (Leon Millot). He earned another gold for a non-local grape.
  
Lamoy plans to apply for a winery license so he can sell wines next year. For now he’s gaining experience working in the vineyard at the Willsboro Research Farm and conducting Northeast Sustainable Agriculture Research and Education-funded trials in his own vineyard, Hid-In Pines.

The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program awards grants for practical on-farm research, outreach and technical assistance and is supported by funds from the New York State Legislature through the backing of the North Country’s state senators and assembly members.
 
The program receives support (funds, time, land, expertise, etc.) from Cornell University’s College of Agriculture and Life Sciences, the Cornell University Agricultural Experiment Station, NYS Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva, six Northern New York Cornell Cooperative Extension Associations, W. H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute, U.S. Department of Agriculture, New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets, cooperating farms, agribusinesses across the region, and others.

To learn more about the Northern New York Agricultural Development Program, go online to www.nnyagdev.org, contact Program Co-chairs Jon Greenwood: 315-386-3231 or Joe Giroux: 518-563-7523, or call your local Cornell Cooperative Extension office.

Photograph of grapes from the Willsboro Research Farm


Thursday, October 1, 2009

Helping Visitors Stop and Enjoy the Culture

As much as people in the Adirondacks go on and on about canoeing, hiking and skiing, a lot of visitors’ favorite thing to do here is drive around and look at the scenery.

In recognition of this, the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) has released the first travel brochure dedicated to things to do along a single road route: the four-county, 188-mile Adirondack Trail scenic byway on Route 30 between Malone and Fonda. ANCA is also seeking grants to design brochures for some of the region’s 11 other designated “byways.”

Since its founding in the 1960s, ANCA has promoted what it called “touring routes” as a means to encourage tourism and economic development, says program coordinator Sharon O’Brien. When New York State instituted a Scenic Byways program in the 1990s, the independent agency changed its labeling but kept encouraging motorists to visit small North Country towns and spend some time and money.

ANCA’s June 2009 “Adirondack North Country Scenic Byways Market Trend Assessment,” a survey of 300 motorists visiting the area, found, “When rating the activities most important to their overall experience and enjoyment, respondents said that driving through the areas, and enjoying the scenery, views of lakes, forest, and mountains were the most important activities while traveling in the Adirondack North Country region, and the reasons they have memorable visits.”

ANCA’s survey also found visitors generally like outdoor recreation; enjoying scenic views of lakes, forests, and mountains; visiting museums or historic sites; and getting out on the water. They also like “activities that take place outdoors, are relaxing, are family-oriented and that offer a change of pace.”

The new four-season Route 30 guide gives visitors ideas and directions on how to find “easy access to nature, history, and culture,” ANCA said in a press release. It suggests stops at obvious attractions like the Wild Center in Tupper Lake as well as local-knowledge places like the South Main Street Fishing Area in Northville or Arsenal Green Park in Malone. “It promotes something unique for visitors to stop and do in each community, thus providing new visibility for those locales with limited marketing budgets,” ANCA said.

The promotional piece complements ANCA’s new Scenic Byways website, which so far profiles individual communities in ten counties along three byways. The contents of the brochure and website are based on “travelers’ interests such as their desire for authentic/real experiences as documented in the 2009 Byway Market Trend Assessment.”

34,000 brochures will be distributed to visitor centers, museums, Chambers of Commerce and other tourist stops across the North Country. The project was funded by the New York State Department of Transportation’s Scenic Byways Program through the Federal Highway Administration and the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century. For further information on ANCA’s Scenic Byway Program contact Sharon O’Brien at [email protected] or 518-891-6200.

Photograph courtesy of ANCA


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Potato News: Late Blight Spares Some Crops

Tucker Farms in Gabriels is in the midst of what’s being described as a good potato harvest. According to co-proprietors Steve and Tom Tucker, the 300-acre farm’s crop seems to have escaped late blight.

Less important but surprising: the tomatoes in a shared Saranac Lake garden plot were turned to brown mush by the blight, but untreated potatoes in a mound surrounded by those plants produced lots of apparently healthy tubers.

Steve Tucker has heard similar reports from other gardeners. “Tomatoes are a little more tender to the blight apparently,” the farmer says. The airborne fungal pathogen has destroyed fields of tomatoes and potatoes around the Northeast this year, introduced on shipments of tomato plants to big box stores. Cornell Cooperative Extension reported in July that an unidentified commercial field of potatoes in Franklin County “was completely lost and has been mowed down.”

The Tucker brothers took precautions, spraying the foliage as often as once a week with fungicide. If invisible late blight spores ever reached the Gabriels farm, the fungicide probably killed them. Once the blight enters the plant, however, fungicide won’t help, Steve says.

Because this region is remote, high and relatively pest free, the Adirondacks is a source of seed potatoes for the rest of the state. Tucker Farms sells seed potatoes as well as table stock. Tom Tucker explained that Tuckers’ eating potatoes can also be planted because, unlike most supermarket potatoes, they’re not treated with sprout nip, a chemical that inhibits eye growth. The potatoes in the Saranac Lake garden, by the way, were Tucker Farms’ Adirondack Blue variety, and they were delicious.

Photograph courtesy of Richard Tucker


Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Curious Tales of Lake Champlain Towns

One of the most creative contributors to Adirondack Life is Tom Henry. You never know where one of his travelogues is going to go, and I don’t think he knows, either, until the trip is done and the story finished.

Henry teaches music in Charlotte, Vermont, and is a writer and historian by avocation. A Port Henry Henry, he has made a specialty of exploring the recreation and past of the eastern Adirondacks, often at the same time. He wrote a chapter for Lake Champlain: An Illustrated History (2009, Adirondack Life) and will deliver a slide presentation Saturday, October 3 at Northwoods Inn, in Lake Placid, entitled “Exploring Old Port Towns Along Lake Champlain: Curious Stories Behind Their Relics.”

The following details are from a press release describing the event:

From Shelburne’s elegant passenger steamships to Bridport’s world-famous 19th-century racehorses to Moriah’s strange subterranean world of railroads and iron mines, this slideshow of now and then images from old port towns around Lake Champlain will help us visualize many of the 400-square-mile lake’s unusual early enterprises.

2009 marks the 400th anniversary of European discovery of the lake with the arrival of Samuel de Champlain. Lake Champlain: An Illustrated History celebrates America’s most historic lake and offers stunning photos, vintage postcards, paintings, maps and military history. Tom Henry’s portion of the book, “Towns Along the Lake,” provides some of the book’s most interesting writing. He highlights each of Lake Champlain’s principle shoreline communities and describes their link to the lake’s history.

The evening begins at 6:30 with a half hour cash bar cocktail reception. Mr. Henry will deliver his presentation at approximately 7 p.m. Following, we invite any of our guests to join us in our Northern Exposure restaurant for dinner with Mr. Henry. More information is available at www.northwoodsinn.com.
 
The Northwoods Inn is a 92-room hotel located at 2520 Main Street, the heart of downtown Lake Placid. The hotel includes a sidewalk café, two restaurants and “The Cabin,” a cozy fireplace bar overlooking Main Street. A rooftop deck offers views of town plus the High Peaks and Whiteface Mountain.


Friday, September 25, 2009

Hickory Ski Center and Big Tupper on Track to Open

Adirondackers will have two new old places to ski this winter. Hickory Ski Center in Warrensburg will hold a volunteer work day Saturday to get the hill in shape for its re-opening. Another group of volunteers is trying to get a chairlift running again for skiing at Big Tupper, in Tupper Lake.

Hickory Hill has been closed for four years, so it won’t need an Adirondack Park Agency permit to resume business; however, Big Tupper has not been operational for more than five years, so it will need approval from the state land use agency.

“Everything seems to be falling into place,” Hickory president Bill Van Pelt said this week. A previous volunteer work day on Sept. 12 attracted about 30 people, who repainted buildings, tuned lifts, drilled a new well and created a new drop-off area, he said. Hickory’s new owners, a group of mostly local shareholders, are also pursuing snowmaking, he said, and they expect to have at least a partial system in place this year, but details are still being worked out.

Ticketing will be electronic, Van Pelt said, so when a skier passes through an archway to get on a lift, sensors will keep a tally of how many vertical feet the person has skied this season. Ticket prices are now available here.

To volunteer at Hickory Saturday contact operations manager Shawn Dempsey at [email protected] Dempsey advises: plan to come prepared with a lunch, hiking boots, gloves and any brush-clearing equipment, shovels, rakes.

Van Pelt said Hickory’s opening date will depend on snow and snowmaking. In Tupper Lake, volunteer organizer Jim LaValley said Big Tupper’s opening date is set for December 26. The mountain will go without snowmaking for now, LaValley said, but he’s optimistic about the forecast. “It’s going to be a good year because you’ve got El Nino spinning and the sunspot cycle has made its shift.”

APA staff made a site visit Wednesday, and LaValley said he expects to receive the operating permit by November or December. Volunteers are working continuously on getting a chairlift ready for inspection, improving the base lodge and electrical systems. There will be a call for a volunteer work day in the next few weeks, LaValley said, but in the meantime people who wish to pitch in can contact him at [email protected] or (518) 359-9440. Ticket prices have not yet been set. For future information a Web site is being developed at skibigtupper.org.

You can read more about Hickory’s and Big Tupper’s years of limbo here.


Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Almanack Welcomes Birding Contributor Brian McAllister

Adirondack Almanack is delighted to announce that Brian McAllister is joining the site as resident bird columnist. Brian is a naturalist, educator and one of the Adirondack Park’s most dedicated birdwatchers. His interest in all things avian often takes him beyond the Blue Line (two trips to Cape May this fall alone).

Starting tomorrow, Brian will post birding news every other Thursday at noon. We feel very lucky to know him and to introduce him to Almanack readers.

In his professional life Brian has taught ornithology lab and how to interpret habitats at Paul Smith’s College. The Saranac Lake resident has been involved for six years in an Adirondack boreal bird survey for Wildlife Conservation Society. He also served as a natural history consultant to the Wild Center, a naturalist with the Adirondack Park Visitor Interpretive Centers and the Adirondack Mountain Club, as well as field assistant with the Adirondack Cooperative Loon Program. He helped the Adirondack Trail Improvement Society design a natural history education program and is one of the founders of the Great Adirondack Birding Celebration.

Brian is a contributor to the Adirondack Natural History blog and has his own site, Adirondacks Naturally.

He’s also just the best guy to take a walk in the woods with. He notices things most of us don’t, knows what they are and is able to open your eyes and ears to them in a way that never leaves you. We welcome him to the Almanack.

Photograph: Brian McAllister on Ampersand Mountain



Support the Adirondack Almanack and the Adirondack Explorer all year long with a monthly gift that fits your budget.

Support the Adirondack Almanack and the Adirondack Explorer all year long with a monthly gift that fits your budget.