Verkhoyansk, a small town in the Arctic Circle reported a temperature of 100.4 Fahrenheit on June 20, 2020, setting an all-time record. Indeed, the last 5 years have been the hottest in recorded history. We are also seeing, in the wake of COVID-19, that the consequences of profligate production and consumption of fossil fuels are causing more trouble than just rising temperatures and massive climate disruption.
The New York Times reported on June 18 that, “Pregnant women exposed to high temperatures or air pollution are more likely to have children who are premature, underweight or stillborn, and African-American mothers and babies are harmed at a much higher rate than the population at large, according to sweeping new research examining more than 32 million births in the United States.”
A Harvard study in 2018 reports that, “Student fixed effects models using 10 million PSAT-takers show that hotter school days in the year prior to the test reduce learning, with extreme heat being particularly damaging and larger effects for low income and minority students.”
The Open Space Institute (OSI) is celebrating the permanent protection of nearly 9,300 acres of forested land in the Adirondacks. The project, achieved in partnership with private landowners, will support sustainable timber practices in the region and expand recreational opportunities
Under the terms of the “Boeselager Working Forest” agreement, OSI secured conservation and recreation easements on two properties owned by the Ketteler-Boeselager family, which has a long-standing commitment to conservation in the Adirondacks, and their native Germany.
The two newly eased properties in the Clinton County towns of Black Brook, Dannemora, and Saranac total 4,970 acres and will be managed as working forest using sustainable timber practices.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), in cooperation with seven Great Lakes states and two Canadian provinces, have teamed up on the second annual Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS) Landing Blitz, a regional campaign to inform boaters and others about the risks of introducing and spreading these invasive pests.
During this coordinated outreach effort, partners throughout the Great Lakes region are educating the public at hundreds of water access sites through July 5.
AIS are non-native aquatic plants and animals that can cause environmental and economic harm and harm to human health. Many AIS have been found in the lakes, ponds, and rivers of New York, and can be transported from waterbody to waterbody on watercraft and equipment.
The following is commentary from Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve
Recognizing the initial efforts of the High Peaks Strategic Planning Advisory Group, which issued an interim report last week, Adirondack Wild’s David Gibson had this to say: “An advisory body of diverse stakeholders, all volunteers, has been meeting distantly during the pandemic but nonetheless has reached consensus on recommendations to address some key existing pressure points in the High Peaks Wilderness region. During these tough times, that is an impressive accomplishment.”
However, Adirondack Wild is concerned that the group’s recommendations should be connected to the 335-page, approved 1999 DEC High Peaks Wilderness Complex Unit Management Plan, or UMP. “Almost every one of the advisory group’s interim recommendations, including expanded use of Leave No Trace, Human Waste, Education and Messaging, Trail Inventory and Assessment, Data Collection and Visitor Information, and Limits on Use can be traced back to policies and actions in the adopted Wilderness UMP. Yet the interim report makes no mention of the UMP and that’s a worry,” Gibson added.
Adirondack Wild believes that ignoring the High Peaks Unit Management Plan invites management and user conflicts. “The UMP, which took years of stakeholder efforts and was adopted by the Adirondack Park Agency and DEC, is the coordinating document that ties otherwise disparate management activities together to benefit an enduring Wilderness resource. We know the UMP may need to be updated to meet current challenges. The Advisory Group ought to be devoting part of its time to recommend specific parts of the UMP that require updating,” he continued.
To quote from the DEC’s High Peaks UMP, “without a UMP, wilderness area management can easily become as series of uncoordinated reactions to immediate problems. When this happens, unplanned management actions often cause a shift in focus that is inconsistent and often in conflict with wilderness preservation goals and objectives. A prime objective of wilderness planning is to use environmental and social science to replace nostalgia and politics. Comprehensive planning allows for the exchange of ideas and information before actions, that can have long-term effects, are taken.”
“One concern we have is that the task force has recommended that the Limits On Use pilot study be conducted on private land adjacent to the High Peaks when, in fact, it is the overused eastern High Peaks Wilderness – public land – that is in need of a well-designed pilot program limiting use. The 1999 UMP called for a working group to develop a camping permit system, with any decision to implement based upon public input and UMP amendment. That was never done. A pilot program on private land over the next three years further deflects time and attention away from a critical High Peaks management tool that ought to be tested on public land.”
Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve is a not-for-profit, membership organization which acts on behalf of wilderness and wild land values and stewardship. More on the web at www.adirondackwild.org.
Photo: Crowding on Cascade Mountain, eastern High Peaks Wilderness by Dan Plumley/Almanack archive
Friends of Moody Pond, in Saranac Lake, is an organization dedicated to the conservation and protection of Moody Pond and the surrounding neighborhood from invasive species- specifically Eurasian watermilfoil.
This invasive species was found in Moody Pond in 2018 and makes up at least 3.5 acres (14 percent) of Moody Pond, according to the Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program.
A rapid response is essential in managing and eradicating aquatic invasives, and Friends of Moody Pond will be raising funds to educate the public and provide a rapid management response to that end.
Rangers fight wildfires over Memorial Day Weekend DEC photo
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos urged New Yorkers to practice the utmost safety when burning wood and brush outdoors during recent dry conditions. Although the State’s prohibition on residential brush burning ended in May, fire danger still exists.
DEC updates the fire danger map and forecast during fire season on its website and on the NY Fishing, Hunting & Wildlife App (also available on DEC’s website). The majority of the state remains at moderate risk, which means outdoor fires can burn briskly and spread rapidly on windy days. Precipitation in eastern New York and western New England over the last 30 days ranged from 0.50 to 3.50 inches, which is 15 to 90 percent below normal.
Debris burning and campfires are among the top five causes of wildfires. While fireworks are not a significant cause of wildfires, they are a potential hazard. In most cases, fireworks are also illegal. Campfires with family are great fun, when done safely.
The Adirondack Pollinator Project (APP) is once again celebrating National Pollinator Week, June 22-28, to highlight the critical importance of pollinators to biodiversity, food availability, and the economy. Pollinators help produce approximately 1/3 of the food we eat. In New York State alone, bees and other pollinators provide some $350 million in pollination services each year. This year’s programs are being delivered digitally.
The Adirondack Pollinator Project is a project of AdkAction in partnership with The Wild Center, The Lake Placid Land Conservancy, and Paul Smith’s College, with the mission of inspiring individual and collective action to help pollinators thrive. Creative digital program offerings throughout National Pollinator Week will allow people of all ages to learn about pollinators, gardening with native plants, and more.
Over the past several months, as we’ve investigated road salt pollution in homeowners’ water, we’ve been keeping an eye out for lab tests that show salt getting into town and village water supplies.
It stood to reason that since road salt can run off roads into private wells, it could also get into water supplies used by larger public drinking water systems.
But tracking the spread of salt is complicated because of uneven testing by public water systems across upstate New York. The state’s Department of Health decides which contaminants public water suppliers have to test for each year.
Saratoga PLAN has partnered with the Saratoga Film Academy and the Open Space Institute to release a four-part film series about the Palmertown Range Project. The 4 part mini-series was directed and produced by Jon Dorflinger of the Saratoga Film Academy and will feature the Palmertown Range’s winding woodland trails, its storefronts and businesses near its range, and how the trail system will benefit the economy, conservation efforts, recreation, and development within Saratoga County. The first film will cover the overall vision of the range while the following films will focus on a particular aspect of the range: Conservation, Recreation, and Economic Development.
“From protecting water quality to linked trail systems to maple sugaring, the series shows how conservation and various types of land use can be beneficially interwoven,” Says PLAN’s community engagement manager Alex Fylypovych.
Composting Reduces Trash and Provides Healthy Organic Matter for Your Garden
America’s Municipal Solid Waste – By the Numbers
According to the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the amount of municipal solid waste (MSW) generated in this country in 2017 (the most recent information available) was 267.8-million tons. That’s the equivalent of just over 4.5-pounds of waste per person per day. Paper and paperboard products made up the largest percentage of total MSW-generated materials; 25-percent or 67-million tons. Food waste made up the second-largest percentage; 15.2-percent or 40.7-million tons. At 35.2-million tons, or 13.1-percent of total generation, yard waste (grass, leaves, tree and brush trimmings) was the fourth largest material category (just behind plastic at 13.2-percent). Wood accounted for 6.7-percent or 17.94-million tons.
About 139.6-million tons (roughly 52-percent) of America’s MSW ended up in landfills. The largest component of landfilled waste; just under 22-percent or approximately 30.7-million tons; was food. Paper and paperboard made up just over 13-percent, while wood accounted for 8.7-percent and yard waste; 6.2-percent.
ECOs Assist Boaters on Great Sacandaga Lake – Fulton County On June 6, ECOs Shane Manns and Paul Pasciak were patrolling near the Broadalbin boat launch when a wind storm came through the area.
Dozens of vessels began to crowd the launch due to the large waves and windy conditions. ECOs Manns and Pasciak immediately began assisting boaters, safely pulling them to shore and retrieving vessels.
ECO Pasciak rescued a woman who fell overboard from a vessel near the docks and both ECOs rescued an individual who fell off of a personal watercraft and was having difficulty getting to the dock. Dozens of vessels and people safely reached the shore with assistance from the two ECOs. Photo: ECOs Pasciak and Manns assisting boaters during wind storm on Great Sacandaga Lake
In recognition of Invasive Species Awareness Week (ISAW) — which wraps up today — the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) has this profile about Brazilian elodea (Egeria densa):
Also known as Brazilian Waterweed, Brazilian Elodea is a popular aquarium and water garden plant that is often sold under the generic name “Anacharis.” A submerged invasive perennial plant that looks very similar to some native species, Brazilian elodea is characterized by its bright green coloration and minutely serrated leaves that are1-3 centimeters long and up to 5 millimeterswide. Brazilian elodea has four (sometimes eight) leaves per whorl; whereas hydrilla, another invasive species, has five leaves per whorl; and the native American elodea waterweed, has only three.
Brazilian elodea also has small white flowers in the spring and fall. The flowers have three petals and either float on the water or above the surface on threadlike stems.Only male flowers have been found in North America so far, so seed production does not occur in its introduced range.
The Coronavirus pandemic is asserting its influence on Adirondack summer recreation, amplifying worries about public safety and the increased number of visitors, especially in the High Peaks. There are many questions: will there be more hikers this season? Fewer? Will choked trail heads be COVID vectors? Will novice visitors seeking to escape both the coronavirus and social isolation mean an increase in unprepared hikers and rescues? Will a decrease in the usual resources such as open facilities, trail stewards and shuttles cause our visitor management challenges to be overwhelming? No one knows. Understandably, concern is high.