Some of the biggest news this summer has come out of the Nature Conservancy. First there was the announcement at the end of August that it will list for sale — under conservation easement — about 90,000 acres of the 161,000 acres of former Finch, Pruyn lands it acquired in June 2007.
Now comes the news that the Conservancy has purchased Follensby Pond for $16 million. The pond was the location of the Philosopher’s Camp where Ralph Waldo Emerson, William James Stillman, Louis Agassiz, and others helped birth the Transcendentalist movement, often cited as a important precedent for the modern environmental movement. » Continue Reading.
On Wednesday, September 10, 2008 at the Agency’s offices, there will be an energy conservation workshop beginning at 1:00 (and ending no later than 4:00) focused on technical assistance for the design, construction and financing of energy efficient residential dwellings. The session will be web-cast. Presenters will include:
James Hotaling, Architect-Planner, AIA, AICP, will discuss the overall energy aspects approach of the regional plan, site assessment, including solar and other potentials, and his experience for the possible energy-related futures for large and small scaled homes, with ‘old’ and ‘new’ examples.
Michael DeWein, Technical Director, BCAP/Alliance to Save Energy, will discuss simple, cost-effective things people can do to save money and energy in the home. This will cover simple home air sealing and insulation treatments, to getting a proper energy audit, to installing a variety of energy conservation measures themselves.
David Trudeau, Program Coordinator for Honeywell, will discuss 3 NYSERDA residential programs for existing homes: i) EmPower NY, ii) Assisted Home Performance with Energy Star, and iii) Home Performance with Energy Star. David will also discuss various types of heating fuels (electric, propane, fuel oil, Kerosene, wood pellets, and cord wood) and the cost comparisons between them.
The Wild Center is the only LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified museum in New York State. LEED is a green building rating system, developed by the U.S. Green Building Council to provide standards for environmentally sustainable construction. The certification is considered the international benchmark for green building design. The Wild Center is going farther then just the certification, however, and will host a special day in October for builders and regional leaders to learn about the newest techniques and technologies of green building. » Continue Reading.
Mammoths roam the valleys, giant sloths clamber up trees and whales swim in from Lake Champlain. It’s all part of the Wild Center‘s new movie that is earning rave reviews for its new take on a rarely seen story.
The Wild Center was designed with a showpiece theater. The screen is so wide it requires three projectors working together to create the panoramic effect. This summer the Center raised the curtain on its first full-motion movie, filmed expressly for the special wide-screen theater. The movie, called A Matter of Degrees, was filmed on location in Greenland and the Adirondacks over the course of two years by the award-winning film company Chedd-Angier-Lewis. “It’s amazing to see that the glacier that wiped this place out is basically still around, and still making news up in Greenland,” said Susan Arnold, the Museum’s membership manager who has seen the movie numerous times with all kinds of audiences. “People are really responding to the movie, everything from tears to waiting in line to see it again.”
The movie has writing credits from former Adirondack Life publisher Howard Fish, features music by sometime Saranac Lake resident Martin Sexton and is narrated by Sigourney Weaver, another of the long list of participants with strong Adirondack ties.
A Matter of Degrees takes viewers back to an Adirondacks that was home to mammoths, California condors, ground sloths, ice and floods. “We wanted to look at what made the Adirondacks,” said Stephanie Ratcliffe, Executive Director of The Wild Center and one of the film’s producers. “It was fascinating to know how much has happened in this one place, and that it’s never been explored on film before.” Ratcliffe was on the team that flew to inspect Greenland as a location. “It really felt like time travel. There were places in Greenland that looked similar to the Adirondacks, without the forest cover. We stood at the edge of a glacier, and it did feel as if we were standing on an Adirondack peak 12,000 years ago.”
Rick Godin, who led the local camera crew, flew over the Adirondacks with a state-of-the-art camera that could zoom down on details from a mile above the tree tops. “It was the same technology used in filming Planet Earth for the BBC. It was great to be up there, knowing that we were making a real movie about the Adirondacks and telling what we think is a really important story.”
The movie is 24 minutes long, and received rave reviews when it was screened for preview audiences at The Wild Center’s national climate conference in June.
The Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and the Adirondack Land Trust are holding their Annual Membership Meeting and Field Day on August 16, 2008, at Heaven Hill Farm in Lake Placid, New York. The event, featuring keynote speakers Pete Grannis, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner, and Charles D. Canham, Ph.D., Forest Ecologist, is open to the public. Preregistration is required. Prior to becoming DEC Commissioner, Grannis was a NY State Assemblyman for 30 years. During that time, he was an active member of the Environmental Conservation Committee and received recognition from a variety of environmental organizations for his role in enacting laws addressing such issues as acid rain, clean air and water.
Now, under Grannis’s leadership DEC is making history in the Adirondacks with his Smart Growth initiatives and the integral part it is playing in protecting the ecologically and economically significant Finch lands.
Dr. Canham, Senior Scientist with the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY, earned his doctorate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University (1984). Widely recognized as a leader in his field, Dr. Canham’s research papers have appeared in numerous scientific journals. His most recent, Neighborhood Models of the Effects of Invasive Tree Species on Ecosystems Processes (2008), can be found in Ecological Monographs, a publication of the Ecological Society of America.
Dr. Canham’s Adirondack research has taken him deep into the forests of the Five Ponds Wilderness and to hundreds of remote lakes and ponds. He is also a board member of the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and the Adirondack Land Trust and chairs the groups’ Conservation Committee.
Pre-registration is required for this event, which will run from 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Cost per adult is $20, children under 12 are free. Heaven Hill Farm, not ordinarily not open to the public, is just west of the village of Lake Placid, with a magnificent view of the high peaks. To register, or obtain more information, contact Jeff Walton at (518) 576-2082 ext 166 or jwalton[AT]tnc[DOT ORG]
The Nature Conservancy is a leading international, non-profit organization working to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. Since 1971, the Adirondack Chapter has been working with a variety of partners in the Adirondacks to achieve a broad range of conservation results. The Chapter is a founding partner of the High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program, dedicated to the protection of alpine habitat, as well as the award-winning Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, which works regionally to prevent the introduction and spread of non-native invasive plants.
The Adirondack Land Trust, established in 1984, protects open space, working farms and forests, undeveloped shoreline, scenic vistas, and other lands contributing to the quality of life of Adirondack residents. The Land Trust holds 45 conservation easements on 11,174 acres of privately-owned lands throughout the Adirondack Park, including 15 working farms in the Champlain Valley.
Together, these partners in Adirondack conservation have protected 556,572 acres, one out of every six protected acres park-wide.
Adirondack Almanack periodically forwards press releases like this one to our readers.
Another announcement forwarded to you from Andy Flynn:
PAUL SMITHS, NY – The increasing need for wind energy in New York state and the exploding moose population in the Adirondacks will top the list of Adirondack Wildlife Festival programs on Sunday, Aug. 10 at the Adirondack Park Agency Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) in Paul Smiths. The annual event, held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will also feature children’s activities, live music, wildlife exhibits, food, trail walks and live animal demonstrations. » Continue Reading.
The DEC has officially announced that the historic Masten House (at left), on the site of the former iron mines in Tahawus in Newcomb, Essex County, will be the site of “a new leadership and training institute that focuses on the research and management of northern forests.” Northern forests is intended to mean the area that “extends from Lake Ontario at Tug Hill, across the Adirondacks to northern Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.”
Regular Almanack readers know that Eliot Spitzer’s budget called for $125,000 from the Environmental Protection Fund to be put toward SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s purchase and rehabilitation of the Masten House – that had apparently fallen through, late in the budget process, but was apparently found somewhere in DEC’s budget.. The DEC’s press release notes:
The project is a cooperative effort that will enhance forest preserve and wildlands management research and contribute to the local economy. ESF will run the Northern Forest Institute (NFI) on a 46-acre portion of a property owned by [Open Space Institute’s] Open Space Conservancy and leased on a long-term basis to the college for $1 a year. Establishment of the institute is being aided by a $1 million grant from Empire State Development to OSI and $125,000 from DEC to ESF. In addition, DEC has committed $1.6 million over the next four years to ESF scientists who will conduct three research projects on visitor demand, experiences, and impacts, as well as a training program for DEC employees responsible for managing recreational visits to New York State forest preserve lands.
The NFI will focus on meeting the educational and research needs of professional audiences, including representatives of state agencies, business leaders, and educators. The institute will also serve the general public, particularly college and secondary school students.
Here is some history of the Masten House from DEC:
Masten House is within the state historic district that encompasses the former town of Adirondack at the southern entrance to the High Peaks Wilderness area. The town was settled in 1826 and was home to one of the region’s first iron mines and early blast furnaces. The village was resettled in the late 19th century as the Tahawus Club…
The eight-bedroom Masten House was built in 1905 near secluded Henderson Lake and was used as a corporate retreat by NL Industries, which operated a nearby mining site. Masten House is within the state historic district that encompasses the former town of Adirondac at the southern entrance to the High Peaks Wilderness area. The town was settled in 1826 and was home to one of the region’s first iron mines and early blast furnaces. The village was resettled in the late 19th century as the Tahawus Club. Then-Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was staying at Tahawus in 1901 when he learned that President William McKinley had been shot. [Actually, as is noted by a commenter below, Roosevelt already knew McKinley was shot, he thought that the President would be OK and so went to Tahawus].
Although they were popular in the Adirondacks in the 1890s and early 1900s, according to the G. W. Blunt White Library at Mystic Seaport, Connecticut, no one is really sure who founded the Electric Launch Company (“Elco”):
Electric motors that could be used for marine application had been invented by William Woodnut Griscom of Philadelphia in 1879, and in 1880 he started the Electric Dynamic Company. In 1892 Griscom’s electrical company went bankrupt, and Electric Dynamic Company was bought by Isaac Leopold Rice who founded Electric Storage Battery Company (“Exide”). Rice had become interested in Electric Launch Company; they had been buying his storage batteries. He also was interested in Holland Torpedo Boat Company. He purchased the latter and merged it, along with Elco, into the Electric Boat Company in 1899. In 1900, Elco, which had previously acted as middleman by farming out the hull contracts and installing Griscom’s motors and Rice’s batteries, built its own boat-building facility at Bayonne, NJ.
Join Charles Houghton, former president of the Electric Launch Company will present a program entitled “Batteries Included: The History, Present, and Future of Electric Boating” at the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake that will be presented this Monday, July 14, 2008 in the Auditorium at 7:30 p.m.
The company provided 55 electric launches for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago to ferry sightseers over the fair’s canals and lagoons. Elco shifted to gasoline engines by 1910 and had a long life building military and some of the first widely produced pleasure boats. During World War One, the company built 550 sub chasers for the British navy. In 1921 they introduced the popular and (reasonably) affordable 26-foot Cruisette, a gas engine cabin cruiser. During World War Two Elco developed the the PT Boat, an 80-foot torpedo boat with a Packard aircraft engine.
At the end of the war, the company merged with Electric Boat of Groton, CT to form the nucleus of General Dynamics. By 1949, General Dynamics’ CEO thought he could make more money by building military craft and Elco’s workers were fired, the shipyard in Bayonne, New Jersey and all its equipment was sold.
The company was re-incorporated in 1987 but didn’t shift into electric boats again until 1996 the year Monday’s speaker, Charles Houghton, became company president. Under his direction the company began building electric motor boats and electric drives for boats and sailboats.
According to a media release we received last week, the SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry’s (ESF) Adirondack Ecological Center (AEC) and the Adirondack Park Agency Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) in Newcomb will feature a presentation on climate change during the Huntington Lecture Series at 7 p.m. this Thursday, July 10th at the Newcomb VIC.
Colin Beier (that’s him at left) is a research associate at the AEC. He will present a program titled “Changing Climate, Changing Forests: from Alaska to the Adirondacks.” Beier will demonstrate that the impacts of climate change in the far north are much more than disappearing sea ice; the boreal forests are changing dramatically, due to increased fire, insect outbreaks and tree diebacks. These are all are linked to climatic changes in the last century. » Continue Reading.
WHY: Invasive plants and animals threaten Adirondack lakes, ponds, rivers, and forests, which are precious resources that underwrite the economy of many communities through recreation, tourism, forestry, and numerous other uses.
WHAT: Learn about the issues surrounding invasive species (both plant and animal, aquatic and terrestrial) and about the importance of native biodiversity in the Adirondacks by attending workshops, field trips, lectures, and control parties. » Continue Reading.
This past month the Adirondack Council filmed a series of public service announcements on acid rain, climate change, the need for pure water, wilderness and wildlife habitat featuring Michael and Kevin Bacon, collectively known as the Bacon Brothers . [At right: L-R, Kevin Bacon, Adirondack Council Trustee Sarah Collum-Hatfield, Adirondack Council Communications Director John Sheehan, Michael Bacon].
Kevin is the famous movie actor (Animal House, A Few Good Men, JFK, Apollo 13, Sleepers, Wild Things, Friday the 13th, Mystic River, Footloose, etc.). Michael is an award-winning composer, with a long resume of stellar work with PBS films. Together, they formed a country/folk/rock band in 1997 whose first album “Forosoco” includes the song “Adirondack Blue.” Their sixth album is due out soon. » Continue Reading.
Forwarded for your information, a press release from the Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks. They have just named a new Executive Director to replace Peter Bauer.
Michael Washburn to head leading regional advocacy group
North Creek –The board of directors of Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks announced today that it has named Dr. Michael P. Washburn of Clifton Park, NY to be executive director beginning January 2008. Washburn is known nationally as a leading figure in the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) sustainable forestry certification movement. He most recently has been engaged in private consulting to help progressive forest companies implement sustainability programs. He previously served as Vice president of Brand Management at the Forest Stewardship Council US in Washington, DC, and is a former research scientist at Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies. He brings 15 years of experience in conservation, including roles with the US Forest Service, and Penn State University.. » Continue Reading.
From the Adirondacks Speculator Region Chamber of Commerce comes a new website that offers snowmobile trail conditions laid out in tables that identify each route (with trail numbers, segments between intersections, and municipal locations), the date the trail was last groomed, the date conditions were assessed and the conditions (great, good, fair, poor, closed).
The page includes trails in Lake Pleasant, Speculator, Arietta, Piseco, Wells, and Morehouse. The page also links to Trail Etiquette, a Trail Map cover 650 miles of area trails, GPS points, a Webcam and Photo Gallery, and a discussion board covering the area plus Indian Lake, the Moose River Plains, and other areas of the park.
Here at the Almanack, we have always believed that appropriately placed snowmobile trails (kept out of wilderness and wild forest areas) are an important component to the Adirondack economy. Riders should accept and defend the seven wilderness “leave no trace” principles.
We normally keep our post here at the Adirondack Almanack to regional concerns. But it’s time for Governor Pataki’s State of the State Address – and while the Pataki Administration has been piling it high and deep, a more sober assessment, relevant for those of us inside the Blue Line, comes from the People’s State of the State. A rally is planned in Albany for tomorrow to urge New York lawmakers to do something about poverty in New York including its “skyrocketing heating bills, lack of access to affordable quality health care, and high housing costs.”
Some highlights from their press release:
Food lines at food pantries and soup kitchens remain at historically high levels and expect the situation to worsen following federal budget cuts and changes in the federal TANF program.
If we look back in time 25 years, a few of our local churches were beginning closet pantries. Today we have 43 food pantries and 22 soup kitchens in Albany and southern Rensselaer County alone, serving more than 2 million meals each year. Programs do not have the resources to do what they are being asked to do,” noted Lynda Schuyler, Director of the Food Pantries of the Capital District.
Anti-hunger advocates are seeking an increase in state funding for the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program from $22.8 million to $30 million. State funding is down $2 million from four years ago. Groups are also concerned about Congress’ elimination of all funding for the Community Food Nutrition Program, the main federal funding for anti-hunger organizations.
Unfortunately, there is probably no one monitoring the poverty situation in the Adirondacks (one of the poorest regions in the state) and no visible advocates for working poor families. There’s more here.
Another disturbing trend for our area is the effective elimination of the DEC ability to monitor our environment and deal with corporate polluters and exploiters. From Inside Albany this week we learned that nearly 800 staff positions have disappeared from the agency since the mid-1990s:
[Environmental Committee Chair Thomas DiNapoli, a Nassau county Democrat] invited DEC commissioner Denise Sheehan to answer questions about how the agency was coping with its severely reduced staff. However, she faxed her testimony, saying she was unable to appear. Sheehan gave no reason and didn’t send an assistant commissioner to read her testimony.
DiNapoli asked Assembly staffer Rick Morse to read Sheehan’s statement. It ran down a list of nearly a dozen examples of Governor Pataki’s “leadership” on the environment. They included the governor’s greenhouse gas initiative to cap carbon dioxide emissions. Also on the list were Pataki’s open space acquisitions. He counts 932,00 acres of land toward his goal of preserving a million acres. The statement did not mention the department’s decline in staff.
Not only were the numbers down, [Environmental Advocates] Tim Sweeney said. Governor Pataki’s general hiring freeze combined with early retirement incentives had stripped the agency of valuable knowledge. Valuable expertise and institutional memory had been lost in the retirements. The trend is likely to get worse. A comptroller’s report estimated that 38% of the department’s staff will be retirement-eligible by 2007. About a thousand more could go by then.
Worse indeed. More large scale developments like those at North Creek and Tupper, enormous development pressures on Warren and Essex counties, proposed wind farms in the park, roads being turned over to ATVs, snowmobile trails expanding every year, more visitors every year, all while year round residents deal with a serious lack of affordable housing, generations of local poverty, closing public schools, low-wage tourism jobs – the one state agency that should be taking a lead role on life in the Adirondack Park is asleep at the wheel.
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