Tuesday, July 20, 2021

Rent a Bear Canister, Save a Life

bear cubThe black bear’s sleek black coat and seven-foot frame used to symbolize Adirondack wilderness. The black bear could be found munching on berries or grabbing fish from a stream. Today, black bears in the High Peaks scavenge for food left out by backpackers and hikers. Black bears are opportunist hunters and will eat whatever is the easiest to find. Why bother hunting when a human has a feast prepared?

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Monday, July 19, 2021

Report Moose Sightings to DEC

mooseDEC asks the public to report moose sightings online as part of ongoing efforts to monitor moose across New York. While the Adirondacks are home to most New York moose, some live in the eastern part of the state along the Vermont and Massachusetts borders. Moose can also occasionally be found in southeastern New York and the Catskills, but these are usually individuals that have dispersed from other areas. In 2020, the public submitted over 250 moose observations to DEC, and approximately 50 have been reported so far this year.

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Friday, July 2, 2021

Adirondack moose: One spotted on trails at the Paul Smith’s VIC

mooseBy Alice Menis, Paul Smith’s College VIC Steward

Do you dream of finding an Adirondack moose? Look no further, here at the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Information Center we have had multiple sightings of a moose!

Our first photograph of the moose was taken via trail camera during a research project by STEM students at Paul Smith’s College. For the past few weeks, we have been finding tracks on our trails but no one reported a sighting until Wednesday, June 16, when a lucky hiker captured a picture of the moose on the Heron Marsh Trail. The moose has been hanging out near this trail because there is plenty of food in the marsh. Moose love to eat wetland plants such as pond lilies because of their high sodium content. Moose also enjoy leaves, twigs, and buds of hardwood and softwood trees and shrubs.

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Tuesday, June 29, 2021

American martens: ‘Ambassador to all things wild’

martenThe American Marten is a truly enigmatic ambassador to all things wild. Sightings of these large members of the weasel family will brighten any family camping trip or bring a flash of raw wilderness while exploring the backcountry.  

Amazingly there are actually two types of Marten in North America. “Martes Americana” – which is what we see on the Adirondacks and most of the mountainous parts of the northeastern United States and across Canada and also “Martes Caurina” who lives in the far Western parts of Canada and in the US Rockies as well as parts of California and Oregon.  

While exploring Mother Nature over the many years we have been lucky enough to have seen both varieties in the wild although, Martes Caurina was a single and very brief but very close encounter. My wife Anne (who’s Marten Americana images are included with this article) and I were exploring the Rockies, actually looking for Grizzlies to film.

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Friday, June 25, 2021

Clubmoss: An Ancient Group of Plants

clubmossIf you have ever taken a hike or just walked through the woods, I guarantee you have seen this interesting group of understory plants. Clubmoss is a fern ally that includes horsetails, spikemosses, and quillworts. They are categorized as fern allies because of the combination of a spore-producing phase and a sexual phase. There are some 1,200 species worldwide. Inside the plant classroom clubmoss is referred to as Lycopodium which interoperates to lyco– wolf; podium– foot. Common names include ground pine, running pine, and even wolf claw clubmoss.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2021

In recognition of Pollinator Week, it’s time to make some changes

bees on honeycomb

The old saying “The road to hell is paved with good intentions” has been a great comfort to me over the years, since I figure that means the road to heaven is paved with bad thoughts, which are all too easy to come by. Since ancient times, we’ve built chemins, highways, byways, boulevards, terraces, turnpikes, tow-paths, and bike paths. But given the astonishing pace at which our native pollinator populations are dwindling, it’s a critical time to blaze a new kind of road. A pathway, to be specific.

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Monday, June 21, 2021

Flight of the Pollinators

For over a month now, pollinators here in the mountains have been working their life keeping magic.  Each of these winged creatures participating in the cycle of life of the flora that covers the forest floors and meadows.  The first pollinators to appear as Spring rolls in, are the mason and carpenter bees who are able to withstand the cooler temperatures followed by bumble bees and then the smaller breeds of solitary, ground dwelling bees which includes polyester bees among many.

In Lepidoptera land, moths that have overwintered in the Adirondacks emerge from their cocoons as well as butterflies that are able to withstand the slowly warming temperatures have made their winged displays known.  The eastern tiger swallowtail (pictured here) is one of the first butterflies to soar the fields and roadsides.  They are not alone, the checkered and mustard whites, orange and clouded sulfurs and some skippers join them.  Some of the migrating butterflies have began to arrive back to the mountains beginning the first week of May, so you may have observed white and red admirals, northern crescents and common blues and whites with monarchs to arrive here by the end of this month.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

All about Brook Trout

brook trout The state fish of New York (and 9 other states). Perhaps the most sought after fish in the Adirondacks due to its elusiveness and beauty. If you have ever caught one, they are a thrill and an absolute gem to the eye. In my experience, no other fish that you try to catch feels like you are hunting with a fishing rod and line. They are tricky, and thus a true challenge. It sure is a splendid feeling catching one.

With that said, the majestic Brook Trout is the appropriate species to kick off the first species account in what will become a series for the Adirondack Almanack.

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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Report Dead or Dying Eastern Larch Trees (Tamaracks) to DEC

tamarackDEC has been receiving reports of dead and quickly-dying eastern larch/tamarack trees (Larix laricina) in the Adirondack region. Upon inspection, the trees have been found to be infested with the eastern larch beetle (Dendroctonus simplex LeConte) an insect native to NY that very rarely attacks healthy trees in the northeast.

DEC is seeking additional reports of dead or dying eastern larch trees in the Adirondacks so that we can better determine if this is a local infestation or a larger outbreak. If you have seen any in this region, please report it by sending photos and location information to DEC at [email protected], or by calling your local DEC office and speaking with a forester. You can find tamarack photos and identification tips on the Wild Adirondacks website.

Photo by Melissa Hart from the Paul Smith’s College VIC


Monday, June 14, 2021

Turtles: Mountain Reptiles on the Move

turtle crossing It’s Turtle Time and these shelled reptiles are making a public appearance here in the mountains. There are 356 species of turtle in the World with only four of them calling the Adirondack Park home; the snapping turtle, the painted turtle, the spotted turtle, and the wood turtle.

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Monday, June 14, 2021

Money Trees

nickel treeIf money grew on trees it seems that could result in vast monocultures, with ruinous environmental impacts. I suppose it depends on currency. If the money tree produced only Iranian rials or Venezualan bolivars, we’d likely consider it a noxious weed.

On the South Pacific island of New Caledonia, there’s a rainforest understory tree that doesn’t bear money; it is money. More or less. The milky sap of Pycnandra acuminata is 25% nickel, the exact same percentage of the shiny metal that the US has been putting in its nickels for the past 155 years (for perspective, nickel ore of 2% is high). To me, the fact a tropical tree can bleed money is nowhere near as strange as the fact that the thing is alive at all, given that even small amounts of nickel – we’re talking below one percent – will kill most plants.

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Saturday, June 12, 2021

Piracy in the Ausable?

As the great glacier that once covered most of the surface of New York State retreated towards the end of the Pleistoncene Epoch, Lake Champlain’s outlet to the north remained blocked. Champlain Valley remained mostly underwater until present day drainways emerged, and the land returned to their current elevations.

Water levels dropped in the valley and the Ausable River was building a delta at Wickham Marsh… until something caused the Ausable to abandon its delta for another at Ausable Point. What caused the Ausable River to divert its Wickham Marsh delta?

Stream Piracy (or stream capture) is a common event, where a river or a stream is diverted into the channel of a nearby river.  They are kept under control by feats of engineering. In the case of the Mississippi River, the Old River Control structure. “a mammoth floodgate system costing hundreds of millions of dollars for construction, operation, and maintenance that keeps the Mississippi on its course to New Orleans.”

Read the full story, written by Gary Henry, a Stream Restoration Associate of the Ausable River Association, by following this link to Ausableriver.org


Saturday, June 12, 2021

The Bald Eagle – A National and a New York State Conservation Success Story

adult bald eagle

According to the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, the bald eagle population in the lower 48 states has grown, since 2009, from just over 72,000, including roughly 30,000 breeding pairs, to an estimated 316,700 birds, something Secretary of the Interior, Deb Haaland, recently called, “truly a historic conservation success story.” 

At the start of the 20th century, New York was home to more than 70 nesting pairs of bald eagles and was the wintering ground for several hundred. But by 1960, only one nesting pair remained and a scant few dozen overwintered here. Today however, as a result of protection and active management, New York State is home to more than 426 occupied bald eagle nest sites. (Source: New York Natural Heritage Program; a partnership between the State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry and New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). 

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Wednesday, June 9, 2021

Construction Damage: the Root of the Problem

rootsIf April showers bring May flowers, then May flowers bring backhoes. Sure it doesn’t rhyme, but as posies push up, construction crews and equipment also emerge, so maybe it’s true.

Those considering an outdoor project this season should be aware that for landscape trees, soil compaction or/ and disturbance is the root of all evil. I suppose chainsaws and forest fires aren’t exactly kind to trees, but when you spot a sickly tree in a park, yard, or on the roadside, root damage is the ultimate cause in nearly all cases.

It takes minutes to inflict lethal damage to a tree by adding soil, driving, or excavating within its root zone. But several years can pass before the tree gets the memo that it’s dead, as fatal root damage shows up over time.

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Monday, May 31, 2021

Fairy Lights and Princesses of Darkness

fireflyThey’re devilishly intriguing, but fireflies, or lightning bugs as they are sometimes called, are angelic to watch. I have yet to hear of a single person who isn’t fascinated by the show that these glow-in-the-dark beetles put on. In the right location it can seem like a swirling, blinking Milky Way has come to visit. They are able to generate their cold-light flash thanks to a pair of chemicals they produce called luciferin and luciferase. Aside from the obvious and unfortunate name association there, the two light-emitting molecules are exemplars of morality and goodness in the chemical world.

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