The Ausable River Association (AsRA) and three regional Rotary Clubs are partnering to host an Ausable River cleanup on Saturday, April 23. This year, The Rotary Club of the Au Sable Valley and Lake Placid Rotary Club will focus on roadways and riverbanks in the Lake Placid, Wilmington, Jay, Upper Jay, and Keene Communities. The Plattsburgh Rotary Club is hosting a simultaneous cleanup event in and around Ausable Point near Peru, NY.
NYS DEC issues annual muddy trail advisory for Adirondacks
Hikers advised to temporarily avoid high elevation trails and prepare for variable conditions on low elevation trails.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today urged hikers to postpone hikes on Adirondack trails above 2,500 feet until high elevation trails have dried and hardened. DEC advises hikers on how to reduce negative impacts on all trails and help protect the natural resources throughout the Adirondacks during this time.
High elevation trails: Despite recent warm weather, high elevation trails above 2,500 feet are still covered in slowly melting ice and snow. These steep trails feature thin soils that become a mix of ice and mud as winter conditions melt and frost leaves the ground. The remaining compacted ice and snow on trails is rotten, slippery, and will not reliably support weight. “Monorails,” narrow strips of ice and compacted snow at the center of trails, are difficult to hike and the adjacent rotten snow is particularly prone to postholing.
Hiking with Grandma Beth: Old Forge resident shares coverage of Nelson Falls springtime hike
As an extension of our recent post about an Old Forge grandmother, Beth Pashley, avid hiker and talented photographer, The Adirondack Almanack will be featuring snippets of Pashley’s hiking adventures on a year-round basis including her visually-striking and artistic nature photographs. Pashley was inspired to embrace the great outdoors with her grandchildren starting at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, dubbing the family bonding time as “The Grandma Chronicles.”
NYS DEC announces proposed changes to wild turkey hunting regulations
On April 6, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced proposed changes to wild turkey hunting regulations, giving hunters additional turkey hunting opportunities. The proposal, if enacted, would not be in place until later this year and among other changes, establishes a spring turkey season in Suffolk County in 2023, with a season limit of one bearded bird.
Adirondack Watershed Institute’s research lab receives state certification
The Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) recently announced that the New York State Department of Health awarded it certification through the Environmental Laboratory Approval Program (ELAP).
The AWI Environmental Research Lab is a state-of-the-art laboratory specifically designed for the analysis of surface and ground water in the Adirondack region. The laboratory saw major upgrades in 2010 when Paul Smith’s College built the Countess Alicia Spaulding-Paolozzi Environmental Science and Education Center.
Adirondack Lake Survey Corp Explores Merger with Ausable River Association
The governing boards of the Adirondack Lake Survey Corporation and the Ausable River Association have announced plans for a merger. The merger would advance their shared goal of deploying critical field and laboratory science in the Adirondack Park to inform the protection of waterways, lands, and air for the benefit of all stakeholders.
NYS DEC issues guidance to reduce conflicts with bears
On April 5, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) reminded New Yorkers to take down bird feeders and secure garbage to avoid potential conflicts with black bears.
Bears are emerging from their dens, and now is the time to take steps to reduce potential conflicts throughout the spring and summer. Bird feeders, unsecured garbage, and outdoor pet and livestock feed can attract bears and lead to potential conflicts for homeowners. Repeated access to bird feeders and garbage can make bears bolder, seeking additional sources of human-related foods inside vehicles or buildings, particularly when natural foods are scarce.
Feeding bears intentionally is illegal. Unintentional feeding through bird feeders and unsecured garbage also has consequences for communities and may ultimately be deadly for the bear if the bear becomes a greater threat to people and property after exposure to these sources of food. It is important to properly manage attractants to avoid human-bear conflicts.
The DEC advises everyone residing in or visiting bear country (most of upstate New York) to remove any attractants. People should take down bird feeders and clean up any remaining bird seed now, begin storing garbage inside secure buildings until the morning of collection, and feed pets indoors. By taking these simple steps, New Yorkers can help ensure bears will find food naturally, which protects people, property, and bears.
For more information, please visit DEC’s webpage on reducing human-bear conflicts.
An interview with DEC Wildlife Biologist Jeremy Hurst discussing ways to avoid human-bear conflicts and a video of a bear destroying a bird feeder can be found on the DEC’s website, interview/video coverage courtesy of the NYS DEC.
Photo at top: Black bear in Raquette Lake. Photo by Jeff Nadler, archive photo.
How to Scrape Spongy Moth Eggs
Have you noticed spongy moth egg masses in your neighborhood? Last year was a boom year for spongy moth (formerly known as gypsy moth) caterpillar populations, especially in Central and Western NY. Egg masses contain 600-700 eggs each and will hatch around May. If you find them now, you can scrape them off trees or buildings and drop them into a container of detergent to prevent the eggs from hatching.
Spongy moths are non-native, but are naturalized, meaning they will always be around in our forests. They tend to spike in numbers roughly every 10-15 years but outbreaks are usually ended by natural causes such as predators and disease. Removing their egg masses is not a cure for spongy moth infestations, but it is a small step you can take to help protect trees in your neighborhood. To learn more about this species and management efforts throughout the year, visit our website.
Pictured: spongy moth egg masses on a tree
Following the funding
For our March/April magazine, I sifted through dozens of clean water infrastructure projects in the Adirondack Park. I found around $500 million in projects either planned or under construction, a massive need to improve the critical infrastructure underlying the region and its future.
From sewers in North Creek to drinking water supplies in Essex and St. Armand, town supervisors often fight for years to get the funding to make improvements to their systems – updates that are often required under state directive. The economics of the park make these projects all the more challenging: too few residents to fund the work solely at the local level.
Climate change and debunking the ‘CO2 fertilization effect’
Scientist-like persons hired by the fossil fuel industry have long maintained we should celebrate an ever-increasing level of carbon dioxide in our atmosphere. This gas, a key building block in the photosynthetic process, can enable plants to grow faster and get larger. It’s been called the “CO 2 fertilization effect.” Many crop yields are projected to increase. And bigger woody plants, the reasoning goes, can amass more carbon, thus helping to slow the rate of CO 2 increase in a handy negative-feedback loop.
In other words, they argue that climate change is good for plants, which in turn will help curb climate change. It’s an elegant win-win situation, and environmentalists no longer have to lose sleep over skyrocketing carbon dioxide. However, as with many supposed “truths,” this argument falls apart upon close examination. It’s like in 1981 when former President Ronald Reagan said “Trees cause more air pollution than automobiles do.” He was referring to terpenols (responsible for the pleasant piney-woods aroma in the forest), which can react with auto emissions to form ozone. In the larger picture, trees reduce air pollution of all sorts – and sequester carbon as well – on a colossal scale worldwide. His statement was “true” in a minor, technical sense for a single pollutant, but it was misleading, and for all intents and purposes, false.
Why do we eat what we eat?
What will we eat when the Bugs are gone? Part 2
What you eat and drink is often no less a matter of fashion and tradition than what you wear, with the important qualifier that what you eat has generally much more impact on your health than what you wear, assuming that what you wear at least correlates with the seasons of weather and climate conditions and doesn’t offend people to such an extant that it invites abuse from others. Our Cro Magnon ancestors, who left Africa about 80,000 years ago, were hunter-gatherers who hunted mammals, fished, and routinely ate insects, all of which are good protein sources. They foraged plants which provided nuts, seeds, berries, fruit and roots. Proponents of the paleo diet claim that the fact that we subsisted for 200,000 years on such a diet, and evolved to accommodate such a diet, points to its efficacy.
What if you want to cut back on your meat consumption, whether for health or environmental reasons, but you lack the imagination to eliminate red meat from your diet altogether? I try to avoid beef whenever possible, and if I am cooking at home, substitute bison, which browse free range, and are much tastier and healthier for you anyway. Bison have lighter impact on the land, being like deer more browser than grazer (grass eater). The word “moose” is derived from “moswa”, a Native American word meaning “twig eater”. Elk are more grazer than browser, but unlike cattle move around to fresh graze, thus allowing grazed lands to recover.
Celebrating fresh water
Happy World Water Day (on March 22). This United Nations observance day was established in 1993 to celebrate water and raise awareness of the 2 billion people across the world living without access to safe drinking water. This year’s theme is a focus on groundwater: “Making the invisible visible.”
The world relies almost entirely on groundwater for drinking water supplies, sanitation systems, farming and other uses, according to the UN. The recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report emphasized concerns about the future of drinking water as warming trends and human development accelerate threats to water supplies.
Keeping track of birds
Some people open Christmas gifts with relish. But it is with an equal amount of anticipation that we bird nerds open the annual PDF emailed by Gordon Howard highlighting the previous year’s count at the Crown Point Banding Station — a document that arrived in the mailbox this week. Volunteers at the station, located at the Crown Point Historic Site, net, count and band dozens of species each spring at one of the nation’s more significant avian highways. Prior to Covid, it had become a popular attraction for tourists, birders and school classes, but it’s been closed to the public for the past two years due to the pandemic. This year it will be open again, from May 6 to May 21 for the station’s 47th consecutive year of banding birds.
$1.35 Million Available to Conserve Forested Land
DEC Announces New Forest Conservation Easements for Land Trusts Grant Program
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Basil Seggos announced the first round of competitive grants for the Forest Conservation Easements for Land Trusts (FCELT) Grant Program. In partnership with the Land Trust Alliance, a total of $1.35 million in grant funding is available for DEC to award to eligible, accredited land trusts to purchase conservation easements on forested land for the purpose of protecting these lands from future development. The goal of the grant program is to increase the pace of forest land conservation to keep forests as forests and combat climate change.
Applicants may apply for up to $350,000 to fund the acquisition of conservation easements on forest land in New York State. To apply, a 25 percent match of grant funding requested is required and land trusts must be accredited by the Land Trust Accreditation Commission.
Funding for the grant program is provided by the State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). In the 2022-23 Executive Budget, Governor Hochul proposed increasing the EPF to $400 million, the highest level of funding in the program’s history. The EPF provides funding for critical environmental programs such as land acquisition, farmland protection, invasive species prevention and eradication, enhanced recreational access, water quality improvement, and an aggressive environmental justice agenda.
FCELT grants will further goals/strategies identified in the New York State Open Space Plan, the New York State Wildlife Action Plan, the New York State Forest Action Plan, and/or other local, regional or statewide land protection plans.
FCELT has a two-step application process, which includes a letter of interest followed by a full application. Letters of interest are now being accepted and are due by May 16, 2022. Full applications are by invitation only. Applicants invited to submit a final application will be notified by June 13, 2022, after which final applications will be due by July 28, 2022. Complete details about this grant opportunity including eligibility requirements and other program elements can be found on the FCELT webpage.
Photo: Land conserved on Upper Saranac Lake, courtesy of Adirondack Land Trust
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Loons cry out
When I was camping a couple of summers ago at Sampson Lake in West Canada Lake Wilderness, all was silent in the dark night but the unforgettable calls of a pair of a loons.
Even someone with a tin ear for bird calls knew what they were hearing. It felt as if it was just me and the loons on that lake – maybe in the entire world. Visitors and residents of the Adirondacks have experienced that feeling of connectedness since time immemorial.
But just like so many other things, a warming climate presents new threats to the iconic species. The Explorer’s new climate change reporter Cayte Bosler examined how climate change may threaten loons in the coming years. From “molt-migration mismatch” that makes loons vulnerable to getting iced-in to torrential rain increasing lake levels, conservationists are working to respond to a variety of risks.
» Continue Reading.