Saturday, September 18, 2010

Adirondack Development: A Naturalist’s View

You know, we aren’t half lucky, those of us who live in the Adirondacks. I drove home this weekend to visit my folks, and even though they don’t live that far away, and I do go home a few times each year, I still find it stunning to see all the development that has taken place during my lifetime, especially in the last ten years. Fields that were pastures, land that was once forested, all now converted to housing developments, strip malls, car dealerships, storage units.

I read an article recently about the houses that are going up on the mountainsides up around Keene and Keene Valley, and how the creation of these homes, with their driveways and parking areas, altered the watershed(s) enough that streams at the base of the mountain(s) are no longer filling.

This in turn has a direct impact on the invertebrate life that lives in those streams, invertebrates that not only feed the next level in the food chain (fish, amphibians, larger invertebrates), but invertebrates that also clean the water by filtering out particulate matter. The impacts of a single house go beyond its immediate footprint on that mountainside.

When a house/airport/mall/road, is built, the patch of land it covers is “removed” from the surrounding landscape. Anyone who gardens knows that the vitality of the soil is the key to a good garden. It is also the key to a healthy ecosystem. When we cover the ground with impermeable surfaces, it cannot be good for the life that was once there. If water can no longer penetrate that patch of ground, then the life that once lived there either dies or moves away.

At the Newcomb VIC we have a recorded dramatization of the congressional meeting at which the 14th Amendment, the Forever Wild Clause, was created. It plays in the background in one of the exhibits, and staff sitting at the front desk can hear those parts in which the actors are making loud, emphatic points. Certain phrases stick out, like the gentleman describing how logging has led to erosion, where the water, now unimpeded by vegetation, “sweeps down the mountain, carrying away the soil…ruining our rivers and destroying our commerce!” For those who don’t know, one of the driving forces for creating the Adirondacks Park, and the enclosed Forest Preserve, was to protect it as a watershed. Okay, it was to protect the water source for the folks downstate, but still, the point is that even then they knew about the importance of the watershed.

In my line of work I often hear people grouse about the restrictions that are put on development within the Blue Line. But one only needs to drive beyond this invisible boundary to see just why such restrictions are important. Every year more and more open space is converted to developed land. New homes are built faster than people can occupy them. Roads are built, shunting ever more rainwater and snowmelt (with their attendant pollutants) into streams at accelerated rates.

I know that I lean towards the green side of philosophy, but I like to think it is because I try to look at the bigger picture and keep an eye towards the future. We are but one species living on this planet, and as far as we know, it is the only habitable planet in the neighborhood. How selfish it is of us in the here and now to create/destroy things for our own wants and desires without taking into consideration the impact it will have on those whose time has not yet come. Just because we are of “greater intelligence” than those invertebrates filtering the streams, ponds and rivers, does that make us more important? Truthfully, I think those invertebrates are contributing a whole lot more to the betterment of the planet than we are.

But I know I am not above my fellow humans, for I also drive a car (although I drive the most energy efficient vehicle I can), I live in a development (although I have filled my yard with native plantings, and I do not treat my land with chemicals so I can have the perfect lawn), and I own way too much “stuff.” I do try, however, to make decisions that have the least impact possible on the land around me. Would I like a bigger house? Yes, but I don’t need a bigger house. And I think that is what it often comes down to: need vs. want. Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should.

I know that living in the Adirondack Park can be a hassle. It is often a long drive to the grocery store, or to get new pipes for the ruptured pipe under the kitchen sink. And it can be well over an hour to the nearest hospital in an emergency (I used to be an EMT, and believe me, an hour plus in the back of an ambulance can seem like a lifetime). With unemployment in my future, finding a replacement job will be well nigh impossible. But, despite these drawbacks, I know that the Adirondack Park is a very special place and not one I would change to accommodate a few whims. I moved here knowing the limitations. If I wanted conveniences, I would live somewhere else.

As a naturalist, I hope that the integrity of the Park and the Forest Preserve, lasts in perpetuity. An intact ecosystem is important, and even though we see ourselves as pretty advanced here at the beginning of the 21st century, I’d be willing to bet that in a couple hundred years (or less) we will have discovered even more about how important it is. With all our advanced knowledge, we do not hold all the answers yet. By keeping this bit northern forest intact, we may find that we’ve done the planet a greater service than we ever could have dreamed.


Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Dave Gibson: On Common Ground

The political reality in America today is certainly distressing. We elect too many Republicans and Democrats who feel unable to reach across the party aisle towards each other, or to be even seen with one another for fear of being unelectable in their primaries. The same polarization can be found dividing environmental and conservation circles. Fortunately, I’ve known quite a few Adirondackers who relate to the person, not the label, and who share the Adirondack woods and waters as common ground. I wanted to write about two of them.

Last night I read an entry in my journal about DEC Regional Director Tom Monroe’s retirement dinner in Lake Placid in early 1994. Tom had been Regional Director since the 1970s, still a time when DEC Regional Directors rose to that position through the civil service ranks, and who had considerable autonomy as a result. Put another way, these Regional Directors were forces unto themselves. That all ended by the time Tom Monroe retired. For good or ill, his able successors have been appointed by Commissioners, and ultimately answer to Governors, and enjoy far less autonomy.

I had gone to the dinner with my friend and associate Tom Cobb, who at the time was Park Manager with the State’s Office of Parks, Recreation, and Historic Preservation and Trustee of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, and who is now a Director of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve. Both Tom and I – and many others from all ends of the conservation spectrum – respected Tom Monroe. Environmental leaders sometimes had their reasons to distrust him. I remember an environmental colleague advising me “just make sure he is truly retired”! However, the respect came from the fact that Tom Monroe was completely his own person, and was seen to treat people equally, without favoritism. Tom did not suffer bullies easily, and there are many interesting stories about his time at DEC. This quality of perceived even-handedness brought a diverse crowd to his dinner. In my journal, I write: “I feel pretty good about going to a farewell dinner that brought together the likes of Bob Purdy (Supervisor of Keene), Peter Paine (member of the APA), Roger Dziengeleski (Woodlands Manager of Finch, Pruyn and Co.), Senator Ron Stafford and Tom (Cobb) and I in one place.”

These qualities of Tom Monroe reminded me of a woman attending his dinner who was beloved by sportsmen and women, and respected by elected leaders. She died late last year. Nellie Staves of Tupper Lake was a deeply rooted Adirondack conservationist who made friends and influenced people wherever she went. Elegant at an evening dinner one day, warmly clad to inspect her traps the next, she was comfortable being Nellie Staves. Like Tom Monroe, Nellie didn’t mind in the least whom she was seen with. I first met her in 1988 when, in a memorable few words to the Adirondack Park Agency, she made the case why wildlife mounts deserved to be a part of the soon- to- be opened Adirondack Park Visitor Interpretive Center at Paul Smith’s. Her presentation earned her an audience with Governor Mario Cuomo at the dedication of the VIC the next year. Years later another Governor, George Pataki, would dedicate the Wild Center (Natural History Museum of the Adirondacks) with its founding director, Nellie, at his side. In 2007, I was so grateful to Nellie for coming up to me after a fractious meeting about the Adirondack Club and Resort at the high school. “Good to see you in Tupper Lake, Dave,” she beamed.

One day at an Adirondack conference on Upper Saranac Lake, Nellie opened the back of her car and she invited our staff member and photographer Ken Rimany to look in: there were some of the world’s most beautiful depictions of wildlife drawn not on canvas, but on bracket fungi (“toadstools,” she said) once growing on great, craggy Adirondack trees. Ken was overwhelmed with her artistry. From that time on, their friendship grew and he was introduced to members of her family. With Ken’s encouragement and help, her artwork came to be featured in The Conservationist magazine – not once but several times.

Thanks to Nellie, we were introduced to some fine Adirondack people from diverse perspectives whom we learned to respect, people who shared Nellie’s sense of humor and gift for storytelling. What hearty laughter she induced in all who knew her. Thanks to Nellie, we learned not to take ourselves too seriously, to observe closely and be receptive to the unexpected. From her, we learned that those who know the most about the Adirondack woods, from its wilderness to its wildlife, to those who work in those woods also care very deeply about the future. Nellie helped us remember that those who log, fish, hunt, trap, create or teach in the Adirondacks have one great legacy to pass on: caring, understanding, knowledgeable, talented kids growing up on these lakes, or on the trails.

Photo:(Nellie Staves outside Tupper Lake High School


Monday, September 6, 2010

APA Revised Boathouse and Dock Regulations

The Adirondack Park Agency’s (APA) revised regulatory definitions for “boathouse” and “dock” will become effective on September 21, 2010. The agency board approved the dock regulation at its May 2010 board meeting and the boathouse regulation at the June 2010 meeting.

In response to public comment, the board delayed implementation of the revised regulations until after the 2010 summer construction season. Therefore this definition change does not apply to new boathouses with in-water components such as support piers substantially underway pursuant to a Department of Environmental Conservation permit or docks lawfully in place on the effective date of September 21, 2010. In addition, the board modified the proposed regulations applying Lake George Park Commission dimensional requirements for boathouses and docks built within the Lake George basin.

The regulatory change is prospective only. Lawfully existing boathouse structures may be repaired or replaced pursuant to Section 811 of the APA Act within the existing building envelope. An APA variance is required, however, to exceed the size parameters or expand a larger existing boathouse. Standard shoreline cutting and wetland jurisdictional thresholds still apply in all cases.

The revisions were undertaken as part of a statutorily required, five-year review and clarification of APA regulations following the 2002 promulgation of the current definitions. Additional changes were made as a result of public comment received during the rulemaking process.

The new regulatory definitions are:

Boathouse means a covered structure with direct access to a navigable body of water which (1) is used only for the storage of boats and associated equipment; (2) does not contain bathroom facilities, sanitary plumbing, or sanitary drains of any kind; (3) does not contain kitchen facilities of any kind; (4) does not contain a heating system of any kind; (5) does not contain beds or sleeping quarters of any kind; (6) does not exceed a single story in that the roof rafters rest on the top plate of the first floor wall, and all rigid roof surfaces have a minimum pitch of four on twelve, or, alternatively, one flat roof covers the entire structure; and (7) has a footprint of 1200 square feet or less measured at the exterior walls (or in the absence of exterior walls, at the perimeter of the roof), and a height of fifteen feet or less. For the purpose of this definition, the height of a boathouse shall be measured from the surface of the floor serving the boat berths to the highest point of the structure. The dimensional requirements specified herein shall not apply to a covered structure for berthing boats located within the Lake George Park, provided the structure is built or modified in accordance with a permit from the Lake George Park Commission and is located fully lake-ward of the mean high-water mark of Lake George.

Dock means a floating or fixed structure that: (1) extends horizontally (parallel with the water surface) into or over a lake, pond or navigable river or stream from only that portion of the immediate shoreline or boathouse necessary to attach the floating or fixed structure to the shoreline or boathouse; (2) is no more than eight feet in width, or, in the case of interconnected structures, intended to accommodate multiple watercraft or other authorized use, each element of which is no more than eight feet in width; and (3) is built or used for the purposes of securing and/or loading or unloading water craft and/or for swimming or water recreation. A permanent supporting structure located within the applicable setback area which is used to suspend a dock above water level for storage by means of a hoist or other mechanical device is limited to not more than 100 square feet, measured in the aggregate if more than one such supporting structure is used. A dock must remain parallel with the water when suspended for storage, unless the size of the total structure does not exceed 100 square feet. Mechanisms necessary to hoist or suspend the dock must be temporary and must be removed during the boating season.

Contact APA’s jurisdictional office at (518) 891-4050, or email aparule@gw.dec.state.ny.us with any questions about the new definitions.

The APA statutes and regulations are meant to protect water quality and the scenic appeal of Adirondack shorelines by establishing structure setbacks, lot widths and cutting restrictions. Boathouses, docks and other structures less than 100 square feet are exempt from the shoreline setback requirements.

Shorelines are important to the Adirondack Park’s communities and environment. The dynamic ecosystems that edge Adirondack Park lakes, wetlands, rivers, and streams are critical to both terrestrial and aquatic species. Well-vegetated shorelines serve as buffer strips, protecting banks from erosion, safeguarding water quality, cooling streams, and providing some of the Park’s most productive wildlife habitat.

Large structures and intensive use at the shoreline cause unnecessary erosion and adverse impacts to these critical areas.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Lake George Asian Clam Invasion Appears Localized

The colony of Asian clams discovered in Lake George last week appears to be confined to an area between English Brook and Pine Point in the Village of Lake George.

“As far as we can tell, the population is contained within a relatively small area,” said Peter Bauer, executive director of The Fund for Lake George. “More research will follow this week and next to verify this. We’ll also survey other areas that appear to be suitable habitat for the species. But if we’re lucky and maybe this is an isolated infestation that we caught early, then eradication of this invasive species is a strong possibility.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 30, 2010

APA Announces New Regulatory Chief

The Adirondack Park Agency has announced the promotion of Richard E. Weber to serve as the Deputy Director for Regulatory Programs. Mr. Weber fills the position vacated by the retirement of long serving Deputy Director Mark Sengenberger. Mr. Weber’s appointment is effective immediately.

As Deputy Director for Regulatory Programs, Mr. Weber will supervise a staff of 12 who are responsible for implementing the statutory and regulatory provisions of the Adirondack Park Agency Act, the Freshwater Wetlands Act, and the Wild, Scenic and Recreational Rivers System Act.

Regulatory Program Division responsibilities include pre-application project guidance and assessment, application completeness determinations, applying review standards and preparing permits, variances or denial orders. From January 1st, through August 12, 2010, the Regulatory Program Division received 257 project applications and issued 244 permits. In addition, staff participated in 112 pre-application meetings.

Mr. Weber was originally hired by the Adirondack Park Agency in November, 2002 and served in the Planning Division as Supervisor for Regional Planning. He was promoted to Assistant Director for Planning in April, 2008.

Prior to joining the APA, Mr. Weber directed multi-disciplinary design teams for professional consulting firms. His responsibilities included site plan design, environmental planning, contract administration, visual impact assessment, land use planning, permit application preparation and development of Geographic Information Systems.

Mr. Weber became a registered Landscape Architect in November 1980 and served as a Planning Board member for the Town of Galway, Saratoga County in July 2002. He graduated from the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry and received a Masters of Landscape Architecture from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources.

In a statement for the media, Deputy Director for Regulatory Programs Richard Weber said, “The Adirondack Park always represented to me an opportunity to get it right. I see the Park as a place where open space and community intersect to the benefit of people and nature. It is a great responsibility and honor to serve as the Deputy Director for Regulatory Programs. I will strive to do my best to achieve the legislative mandate of the Adirondack Park Agency Act to balance natural resource protection with the sustainability of the Park’s 103 municipalities.”


Tuesday, August 24, 2010

APA Seeks General Comments on APA Rules

Pursuant to Executive Order No. 25 issued by Governor Paterson, all New York agencies are required to conduct a regular review of their regulations to ensure that they are current, reflect available technologies, establish clear standards, avoid undue burdens and are as flexible as feasible.

Accordingly, the New York State Adirondack Park Agency invites comments from regulated entities and interested parties to identify existing regulations that impose unnecessary, burdensome or excessive costs, paperwork, reporting or other requirements.

The Agency’s regulations are contained in Subtitle Q of Title 9 of the Official Compilation of Codes, Rules and Regulations of the State of New York (9 NYCRR), which may be accessed on the New York State Department of State website.

The Adirondack Park Agency requests public comment which describe and quantify any burdens and suggests appropriate remedies that the agency may undertake to eliminate or amend regulations that are unnecessary, unbalanced, unwise, duplicative or unduly burdensome.

Public comments must be received on or before October 18, 2010. Submit comments in writing to:

Adirondack Park Agency
Attn: APA-Executive Order No. 25
PO Box 99
NYS Route 86
Ray Brook, New York 12977

In addition, comments may be submitted electronically at the following e-mail addresses: APAEO25@gw.dec.state.ny.us; and to Gaurav Vasisht at Gaurav.vasisht@chamber.state.ny.us; and to the Governor’s Office of Regulatory Reform at EO25@gorr.ny.gov.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Lake George Association to Celebrate 125th Years

The Lake George Association will hold its historic 125th Annual Meeting this Friday, August 20 at 10 am at the Lake George Club. The public is invited to attend and the meeting is free; an optional lunch afterward is $21 per person. Reservations are required.

Ken Wagner, Ph.D. will be the keynote speaker. Ken is editor in chief of Lake and Reservoir Management, the international journal of the North American Lake Management Society. For decades, Ken has played a valuable role in environmental research conducted on Lake George, working with the Lake George Association and other lake organizations. He is owner of Water Resource Services, a lake management consulting firm. Ken has worked for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection and has 25 years of experience with northeastern consulting firms, working on a variety of water resources assessment and management projects. Ken holds a B.A. in environmental biology from Dartmouth College and M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in natural resource management from Cornell University.

The public will also have the opportunity to learn more about the environmental status of Lake George, and to meet others with a passion for its protection. Updates on many environmental initiatives taking place around the Lake will be given. Executive Director Walt Lender will give an update on the West Brook Conservation Initiative, considered the most important lake saving project in the LGA’s 125-year history. Randy Rath, LGA project manager, will provide summaries on the LGA’s other lake saving projects, such as those at English Brook, Hague and Finkle Brook deltas, Indian Brook, and the town of Putnam. Emily DeBolt will speak on the LGA’s educational and outreach initiatives, as well as New York State’s new phosphorus law, and the status of wall lettuce, a new invasive species growing in the watershed. Emily will
also provide results from the work of the LGA Lake Stewards and from the Citizens Statewide Lake Assessment Program.

New members, and those who care about the lake and would like to learn more about protecting it, are welcome to attend the meeting to meet the board of directors, staff, volunteers and other members. Members will be voting on new directors for the organization: Thomas Jarrett and Salim Amersi, as well as returning directors Holly de Buys, William Dutcher and John Schaninger.

The New York State Legislature adopted a joint resolution commemorating the LGA’s 125th Anniversary in April of this year. The resolution recognized the LGA’s “long unyielding commitment to excellence,” and commended the “efforts of thousands of LGA members who, over the years, have increased the public’s awareness and understanding of Lake issues and have actively worked to preserve the purity of the Lake George waters for future generations to come.” The resolution also recognized many of the organization’s accomplishments throughout its history, including:

The LGA was “the first to re-stock the Lake with popular fish species.”

The LGA was “the first to provide a non-point source pollution program for the Lake.”

The LGA was “the first to establish a buoy system in the Lake.”

The LGA “advanced proactive management by government to protect the Lake’s water quality and influenced state leaders … to undertake the first series of technical studies of the Lake,” and later “ensured that effective storm water controls and wastewater treatment systems were included in development plans.”

The LGA worked toward “protecting the interests of dock owners, shoreline property owners and those who navigated the lake” by advocating for “a long-awaited and fought for verdict by the New York State Supreme court regarding lake levels, requiring a commission to supervise maintenance of water levels between 4.0 and 2.5 feet at the Roger’s Rock gauge between June 1 and Oct. 1.”

The LGA has “overseen over 100-plus lake-saving projects to stabilize eroding stream banks and shorelines, reclaim ponds for sediment retention, enhance wetlands, install roadside storm water catchments, and dredge deltas.”

The LGA has “expanded its programming to include active and participatory educational programs for lake users, including but not limited to, a Floating Classroom, serving 1,000 students and visitors each year.”

The Warren County Board of Supervisors issued a proclamation naming the month of August “Lake George Association Month.” The proclamation recognized that “the members of the Lake George Association have worked together to protect, conserve and improve the beauty and quality of the Lake George Basin for 125 years.”

A special postal cancellation stamp has been designed to commemorate the historic occasion of the LGA’s 125th annual meeting. On the day of the meeting, August 20, all post offices around the Lake will hand stamp any mail posted on that day upon request. Commemorative caches will also be available in limited quantities.

Area Stewart’s Shops have renamed the store’s Birthday Cake ice cream flavor in honor of the LGA for the month of August.

Since 1885, the members of the LGA have been protecting and improving the beauty and quality of the Lake George basin. LGA is a non-profit membership organization of people interested in working together to protect, conserve, and improve the beauty and quality of the Lake George Basin. For more information, contact the LGA at (518) 668-3558 or visit the LGA website at www.lakegeorgeassociation.org.


Sunday, August 15, 2010

Follensby Pond Highlight of Wild Center Event

What do violet variable dancer, Johnny darter, magnolia warbler, peppered moth and painted turtle have in common? Each is among the more than 430 species recently cataloged during a “BioBlitz” event at Follensby Pond. Learn more about this BioBlitz and The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) recent purchase of the historic Follensby Pond property on Friday, August 20th, 2010 from 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake.

The day will include a number of events for the whole family, plus a short film on Follensby Pond and a talk by Michael Carr, Executive Director of the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy at 1 pm. Carr will discuss Follensby as a unique conservation legacy. In addition to large-scale habitat protection, the tract offers cultural ties to the development of a uniquely American conservation ethos as the site where, in 1858, the leading intellectuals of the day retreated for the “Philosophers’ Camp”.

A BioBlitz is a rapid inventory of critters, plants, fungi, dragonflies—you name it. It provides the perfect excuse to look for the wild things—whether common or rare, large or small, in your own backyard or in a vast forest. It’s also a way to call attention to some of the intricate parts of the working ecosystems that give us clean air, fertile soil, and fresh water.

“We usually hear the word “biodiversity” in regard to rainforests with their vast number of species. Yet the diversity of life in our own backyards is phenomenal,” said Jen Kretser, Director of Programs for The Wild Center. “We are excited to host this event.”

The upcoming fun and educational event at The Wild Center will include hands-on activities – starting at 10:30 am with a bird walk – for people of all ages led by experts in various fields including mushroom identification, wildflowers, aquatic insects, moths and butterflies, small mammals and reptiles. It’s an opportunity to ask questions, get some field tips on how to look for and identify wild things, and try out some tools of the trade. Display tables, activities, naturalist walks, demonstrations, and more will be part the day.

A short film of the Follensby Pond BioBlitz will premiere at 12:30 pm as part of this special event. “It was truly inspiring to see scientists, naturalists, and students deeply engaged in discovery at Follensby Pond,” said Michael Carr, Executive Director of the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, which purchased the 14,600-acre property in September 2008. “Not only will this film convey the collective enthusiasm shared by the participants, it will also help to introduce people to a very special property that has been capturing the hearts and minds of adventurers and intellectuals alike for more than a century.”

“This event truly epitomizes the goal of the Adirondack All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) to bring scientists and citizens together in sharing their passion for the incredible diversity of life found in the Adirondack Park. I can’t think of another event where you will have some of the State’s experts in so many different groups of organisms all working together in the same place. Whether it’s dragonflies, fungi, or black bears you’re interested in, this event is sure to satisfy and inform,” said David Patrick, Director for the Center of Biodiversity at Paul Smith’s College.

The Wild Center, the Adirondack All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory project at Paul Smith’s College, SUNY ESF’s Adirondack Ecological Center at Huntington Forest, and The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter are pleased to offer this event in celebration and recognition of 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity.

The Bioblitz movie premiere and Follensby Pond lecture are free and open to the public. All other events and exhibits are free for members or with admission. For a full schedule please visit www.wildcenter.org

Mini-Bioblitz Schedule of Events at The Wild Center

From 10:30 am to 3:00 pm, peruse displays in the Great Hall and outside stations featuring different taxonomic groups surveyed during the June 18th and July 9th BioBlitzes that took place at Follensby Park. Participate in hands-on activities perfect for all ages. Experts on moths, small mammals, plants, and more will share the research and surveying techniques used to assess plant and wildlife diversity within the Follensby Pond property. See live specimens like the ones found during the BioBlitz.

10:30 am Local birding expert Brian McAllister will lead a walk down The Wild Center trails in search of as many different bird species as possible. The walk will result in a list of all birds sighted and heard on the property, using the same methods employed in the Follensby Pond ATBI.

At 11:00 am, 1:30 pm, and 3:30 pm, staff-led Animal Encounters in the Great Hall will introduce you to reptiles, a bird, and a mammal that you can find in the wild in the Tupper Lake region. Meet live representatives of Adirondack animals that were counted during the Follensby Pond BioBlitz.

11:30 am Join noted author and naturalist Peter O’Shea for a trail walk highlighting the aspects of the 2010 BioBlitz. Learn some of the plants and animals surveyed in the Follensby area that you can also find on The Wild Center grounds and consider the vast diversity of plant life throughout the region.

12:30 pm Join us in Flammer Theater for the premier of the BioBlitz film shot on location at Follensby Park this summer. Beginning with an introduction by Dr. David Patrick, Director of the Adirondack Center for Biodiversity. See scientists in action as they survey Follensby Pond for particular taxonomic groups and share their contagious enthusiasm, and get a look at this beautiful property currently closed to the public.

1:00 pm (Revised) Join Michael Carr, Executive Director of the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy for a talk about Follensby Pond as a unique conservation legacy.

2:00 pm Mushrooms are popping up all over the place at The Wild Center! Mycologist Susan Hopkins will take you on a tour of fungi. Search for mushrooms and other fungi found on-site and then compare these to some specimens found at Follensby Pond.

3:00 pm Naturalist John Sayles will share tips and hints on identifying plants specimens as well as look at natural succession during this walk.

Throughout the day there will be outdoor stations on identifying Adirondack Ferns, Aquatic insects, and Dragonflies.


Friday, July 30, 2010

State Bans Phosphorus Fertilizers

Two years from now, the use of phosphorus-heavy fertilizers will be prohibited not only in the Town and Village of Lake George, but throughout the Adirondack Park and, in fact, the entire state.

Governor David A.Paterson has approved a measure that prohibits homeowners and landscape contractors from applying fertilizer containing phosphorus on any lawns within the state.

The Town and the Village of Lake George adopted regulations limiting the use of fertilizers with phosphorus earlier this summer.

The only exceptions to the state law will be for property owners who are installing a new lawn, or if a soil test shows a phosphorus deficiency. Retailers can still sell phosphorus fertilizer for consumers who fall into those categories, provided signs about the dangers of phosphorus are posted.

The new law, which takes effect January 1, 2012, also prohibits the application of any fertilizer whatsoever within 20 feet of a water body. Fertilizers can be used within ten feet of water if a vegetative buffer has been established along a shore.

“We think this is a great step forward,” said an official with New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation.

Phosphorus has been shown to contribute to the spread of aquatic weeds and the growth of algae, robbing water of oxygen that fish need to survive and limiting the recreational use of lakes and ponds.

“In time, we’ll see a marked difference in plant growth in Lake George once the full effect of the phosphorus ban is achieved,” said Walt Lender, executive director of the Lake George Association.

According to Lender, the bill also bans phosphorus in dishwashing detergent.

“This will keep additional phosphorus out of septic systems and municipal wastewater treatment systems,” Lender said.

“We’re very pleased Governor Paterson signed the bill into law,” said Lender. “It’s a huge step in the right direction, not least because it has generated a lot of discussion about the effects of phosphorus on water quality.”

New York State Senator Betty Little said she voted in favor of the bill after it was amended to allow retailers more time to rid their shelves of phosphorus fertilizers.

She also noted that the New York State Farm Bureau had withdrawn its objections to the bill.

According to Peter Bauer, the executive director of The Fund for Lake George, the ban on phosphorus-based fertilizers should be followed by a ban on the use of all fertilizers.

A fertlizer ban would reduce pollution by another nutrient, nitrogen, which can be just as harmful to water quality, Bauer said.

“Phosphorus free fertilizers are like low tar and nicotine cigarettes – they’re just as dangerous as the originals,” said Bauer. “We don’t need any of these products for healthy lawns.”

Illustration courtesy the Lake Champlain Basin Program’s Lawn to Lake initiative.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror


Thursday, July 29, 2010

10th Annual Loon Census A Success

The Wildlife Conservation Society’s Adirondack Program, Adirondack residents and visitors, and other partners have successfully conducted the 10th Annual New York Loon Census.

More than 300 lakes and ponds were surveyed by more than 500 volunteers during this year’s census—up from 200 lakes and ponds last year. The data obtained during the census will be added and compared to those collected in years prior to gauge the status of the breeding loon population in and around the Adirondack Park and across New York State. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Dave Gibson: Lessons in Adirondack Activism

Adirondack conservationist Paul Schaefer was a pied piper for young people in search of a cause, just as John Apperson had been for him when Schaefer was in his early 20s. By the 1970s and 80s, Paul was approaching 80 years of age, and scouts, teens, and earth activists of all ages found their way to Paul’s doorstep. I want to share a few of the lessons he conveyed.

One spring day in 1990 I met with Paul to discuss Governor Mario Cuomo’s Commission on the Adirondacks (Berle Commission) report which was about to be made public. Paul mentioned that on Earth Day, a group of “idealistic” young people had come down to pay him a visit. He had planned to show his award-winning film, The Adirondack: The Land Nobody Knows, but his Bell and Howell 16-mm projector could not be found (I had borrowed it). Instead, Paul invited the students into his living room. “I’ve never had a better time in my life,” Schaefer told me. “These kids were idealists, and we need them.” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Unsung Adirondack Heroes: Lydia Serrell

In thinking about Adirondack unsung heroes, singer-songwriter Peggy Lynn’s powerfully moving song Lydia about Lydia Smith (wife of Paul Smith) comes to mind. I write about another Lydia who related very strongly to that song, and who did so much for the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks (AFPA). Her name was Lydia Serrell. I worked with Lydia for 18 years, and can attest that she was an extraordinary Adirondacker in her own right, and instrumental to the success of the organization.

Lydia Serrell fell in love with the Adirondacks at an early age. The daughter of Hungarian immigrants and carriage makers working in Schenectady, she was “shipped out” after her mother’s death c. 1918 to live with her mother’s sister, her Aunt Anna and Uncle Chris Kohler, at their farm in Gravesville, Town of Ohio in the southwestern Adirondacks. Lydia’s great friend Linda Champagne writes: “Lydia attended a small north country school. Her uncle, a guide in the nearby Adirondack League Club (Uncle Chris), and his wife (Aunt Anna), who had been a cook at the club, created a comfortable life for the city girl. The modest home had only a spring for water. Entertainment meant skating on ponds and reading Zane Grey novels by kerosene lantern in the evenings. When her father remarried, and she returned to Schenectady, she continued a lifelong love of hiking, touring and reading the history of the Adirondacks.” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Common Ground Alliance to Focus on Jobs

The Adirondack Common Ground Alliance will hold its fourth annual summer conference at the Sabattis Pavilion in Long Lake on Wednesday (July 14) in an effort to hammer out a strategy for building long-lasting, private-sector employment in the 103 towns and villages that comprise the Adirondack Park.

The Common Ground Alliance is a forum for public-private collaboration. State and local governments, nonprofit organizations, business owners, stakeholders, and residents of the Park participate as equals. The Alliance works to promote the common good of the communities, residents, and resources of the Adirondack Park, not to further specific organizational, institutional, or individual agendas. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Commentary: Land-Banking is Poor Public Policy

It is purposefully difficult to change our Constitution. In thinking about Article XIV of the New York State Constitution, the “Forever Wild” clause, amendments have to undergo tests in two separately elected legislatures. Ill or hastily considered measures to weaken or dilute its legal mandate to ensure a wilderness forever in the Catskills and Adirondacks are weeded out. Overly complex measures are tied up in committee.

Ultimately, the voting public decides whether an amendment constitutes a significant shift away from the mandate of 1894, which is to make the Forest Preserve safe from exploitation as an enduring wilderness for people and wild nature, and a haven for the ultimate expression of our human partnership with nature. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 26, 2010

APA Extends Comment Period For Jessup River UMP

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) has extended the public comment period for the Jessup River Wild Forest Unit Management Plan (UMP) amendment. The APA will continue to accept public comments on Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (APSLMP) compliance for the Jessup River Wild Forest unit management plan (UMP) amendment until August 2, 2010. A proposed final UMP amendment was completed by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). It was subject to a series of public meetings and public input. The Agency will accept public comments on the proposals contained in the UMP amendment until 12:00 PM on August 2, 2010.

This amendment addresses changes to the Jessup River Wild Forest snowmobile trail system. Proposals are in accordance with DEC and APA adopted snowmobile trail guidance and the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. Jointly adopted guidance established a “community connector” snowmobile trail class. Community connector trails can be 9-feet in width which is one foot wider than previously allowed under DEC snowmobile trail maintenance policy. The new guidance also calls for the elimination of trails that lead onto ice-covered water bodies and dead-end trails while promoting snowmobile trails near the periphery of Wild Forest units.

The Jessup River Wild Forest lies in the south-central Adirondack Park. It sits entirely within Hamilton County in the Towns of Arietta, Wells, Indian Lake, Lake Pleasant and the Village of Speculator. The DEC estimates the size of the planning area at 47,350 acres. The area includes Snowy Mountain, the highest peak in the southern Adirondacks – elevation 3,899 feet, more than 24 ponds and lakes – the largest being Fawn Lake and approximately 73 miles of rivers including parts of the Cedar, Indian, Jessup, Miami and Sacandaga rivers.

The UMP amendment is available for viewing or downloading from the Adirondack Park Agency website.

All written comments pertaining to State Land Master Plan compliance should be addressed to:

Richard Weber, Assistant Director, Planning
Planning Division, Adirondack Park Agency
P.O. Box 99
Ray Brook, NY 12977

Or e-mail: apa_slmp@gw.dec.state.ny.us.

The Adirondack Park Agency Board is currently scheduled to consider a compliance determination on the Jessup River Wild Forest UMP amendment at the August 12 and 13 Agency meeting. Any written comments received by 12:00 PM on August 2, 2010 will become part of the public record. Written comments received after 12:00 PM on August 2, 2010, will be provided to Agency Board members on meeting day but will not be part of the Agency meeting materials mailed to the members or posted on the APA website.



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