The 11th Northeast Natural History Conference (NENHC), including the founding meeting of the Association of Northeastern Biologists (ANB) will be held April 6-9, 2011, at the Empire State Plaza Convention Center in Albany.
The conference promises to be the largest regional forum for researchers, natural resource managers, students, and naturalists to present current information on the varied aspects of applied field biology (freshwater, marine, and terrestrial) and natural history for the Northeastern United States and adjacent Canada. It is expected to serve as a premier venue to identify research and management needs, foster friendships and collegial relationships, and encourage a greater region-wide interest in natural history by bringing people with diverse backgrounds together.
For more information visit: http://www.eaglehill.us/NENHC_2011/NENHC2011
It is easy during a transition to focus on the work ahead to the exclusion of the past. As the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry assumes control of the Adirondack Park Agency’s Newcomb Visitor Interpretive Center the college does not want that to happen.
The Newcomb center and her sibling center at Paul Smiths are both fabulous year-round facilities with beautiful trails through diverse and wonderful habitats. But they are beloved by visitors and park residents alike not just because of what they are, but because of “who” they are. » Continue Reading.
It’s been a busy week couple weeks for new contributors and today I’ve got some more good news for our readers who enjoy the Almanack‘s natural history side.
Please join me in welcoming Paul B. Hai as our newest contributor. Paul is the Program Coordinator for the Northern Forest Institute for Conservation Education and Leadership Training of the State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) and the leads the Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) in Newcomb, the former Newcomb VIC, and now the educational outreach venue of the NFI. He is co-founder of Children in Nature, New York and serves on the Grassroots Leadership Team of the Children & Nature Network.
Paul is passionate about creating interdisciplinary programs using natural history, inquiry-based activities and outdoor experiences as the foundations for teaching the process of science, exploring the Adirondack experience, and for getting children outside. He says that his commitment to using informal science education as a vehicle for reconnecting children to nature will form one of the key programmatic themes of the Adirondack Interpretive Center. Paul first “visited” the Adirondacks at three-months old, returning with his family to camp on the islands of Lake George two weeks each summer for the next 14 years. He also spent eight summers attending Adirondack Swim and Trip Camp on Jones Pond, an experience that took him by foot and paddle all over the region.
Paul and his wife, ecologist Stacy McNulty, Associate Director of the Adirondack Ecological Center, live in Newcomb with their two daughters. Prior to moving to Newcomb, Paul spent four years living in Bolton Landing and working in Chestertown and Warrensburg before moving to Syracuse to attend graduate school at ESF.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is calling for writers to share inspirational stories of experiences in New York’s great outdoors by entering the “Great Stories from the Great Outdoors” contest. Stories can range from the simplest walk through the woods to meeting a challenge through an outdoor activity. The contest is open to all and runs through February 2011.
Each month, DEC will select stories and post them on the DEC website (www.dec.ny.gov). A prize will be awarded for the top story each month. Complete contest rules are available online. Through the Great Outdoor Stories contest, students, sportsmen and women, outdoor enthusiasts, campers and hikers can reflect and share the importance of the natural environment in their lives.
Entries can range from a few sentences to a maximum 650 words. All story entries must be received by February 28, 2011. Submit stories online at GreatOutdoorStories@gw.dec.state.ny.us or by mail to:
Carole Fraser NYS DEC Universal Access Program 625 Broadway, 5th floor Albany, NY 12233-4255
Illustration: The Great Adirondack Pass 1837 by Charles Ingham.
Every Friday, Saturday and Sunday throughout the winter season you’ll be able to come in from the cold at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake to explore our natural world. Visitors can learn about North American carnivores and tracking them from naturalist Susan Morse; join Adirondack naturalist Peter O’Shea for a nature walk on “The Wild” side; watch “The Legend of Pale Male” the infamous Red-tailed Hawk of Central Park and explore the “Return of the Wild”.
Sunday Family Art and Nature features special programs with a naturalist – a walk outside, an animal encounter or a story and a family art project related to the theme of the day. Themes include Hibernation Fascination, Outrageous Raptors, All About Bears and Otter Birthday Party. Visitors can use free snowshoes on the Wild Center’s trails during their visit, watch feature films, and the regularly scheduled otter encounters. The Wild Center also has unveiled a new Winter Season Pass for residents and frequent visitors to the Adirondacks. With something happening every weekend during the winter months, the season pass is valid for unlimited visits from January until Memorial Day weekend. There are over 50 days that you can use the Season Pass. Pass holders can also take advantage of regular special sale discounts at the Center’s store. Please visit www.wildcenter.org/pass to purchase a Winter Season Pass at a special online today.
The Wild Center is open throughout the winter on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm and during the entire week of President’s Day. The Wild Center is closed during the month of April.
What follows is the Winters Weekends schedule. For more information, visit www.wildcenter.org or call (518) 359-7800.
January 8, 2011 Kick start your winter season with a whole day of family fun at The Wild Center, plus kids 16 and under can visit for FREE! The day will be filled with live animal programs, craft projects, story time, face painting and snowshoe treks.
January 9, 2011 Marvelous Mammals, at 1pm at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Free with paid admission.
January 16, 2011 Turtle Time, at 1pm at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Free with paid admission.
January 21, 2011 Join Susan Morse, nationally recognized naturalist and the founder of Keeping Track, for a lecture on North American carnivores at 7pm at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Free and open to the public.
January 23, 2011 Join author, Adirondack naturalist and conservationist Peter O’Shea for a nature walk on “The Wild” side at 12:30pm at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake.
As part of Wild Winter Weekends, there will be a Family Art and Nature project, Nature Detectives, at 1pm at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Free with paid admission.
January 30, 2011 Hibernation Fascination, at 1pm at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Free with paid admission.
February 6, 2011 Outrageous Raptors, at 1pm at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Free with paid admission.
February 13, 2011 Creatures of the Deep, at 1pm at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Free with paid admission.
February 19, 2011 Learn about Adirondack winter birds during live raptor programs and expert-guided bird hikes for the whole family at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. At 1pm, enjoy the Adirondack film premiere of “The Legend of Pale Male”, the true story of love and life about a Red-tailed Hawk’s claim to Central Park.
February 20, 2011 The Mighty Moose, at 1pm at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Free with paid admission.
February 27, 2011 Owl Wisdom, at 1pm at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Free with paid admission.
March 6, 2011 Join author, Adirondack naturalist and conservationist Peter O’Shea for a nature walk on “The Wild” side at 12:30pm at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake.
All About Bears, at 1pm at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Free with paid admission.
March 13, 2011 Rattlesnakes, at 1pm at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Free with paid admission.
March 19, 2011 Spend a day learning from the experts about all of the wild Adirondack carnivores that are here and were once here during ‘Return of the Wild’ at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. The day will include a discussion on wolves and an opportunity to meet a red fox.
March 20, 2011 Creatures of the Night, at 1pm at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Free with paid admission.
March 27, 2011 Otter Birthday Party, at 1pm at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Free with paid admission.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Saratoga Tree Nursery has begun taking orders for its annual sale of tree and shrub seedlings. Schools across New York can also now receive free seedlings for spring planting through the DEC School Seedling Program, which will provide 50 tree seedlings or a mixed packet of 30 wildlife shrubs to any public or private school that would like to participate.
The Saratoga Tree Nursery produces more than 50 species of trees and shrubs for planting on public and private land. The objective of the program is to provide low-cost, native planting materials from known New York sources to encourage landowners to enhance the state’s environment for future generations. Hand-picked New York seed provides the best characteristics for a lifetime of healthy and hardy plants. Trees and shrubs create excellent “green” structures; a row of cedar or spruce make attractive snow fencing, sound barrier, and songbird shelter. A row of shrub willow is a fast-growing and effective visual barrier.
Landowners can get planting advice from their nearest DEC forestry office or private forestry consultant. The brochure and order form “2011 Trees and Shrubs” can be found DEC’s website or by calling the nursery. To order seedlings by phone, call (518) 581-1439. Call early for best selection. Mail orders are also accepted and can be sent to the Saratoga Tree Nursery, 2369 Route 50, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866. Orders may be placed through mid-May. Seedlings are shipped from mid-April to mid-May.
To participate in DEC’s School Seedling Program, schools should contact (518) 587-1120, or the nearest DEC regional forestry office to request a “School Seedlings” brochure. The brochure contains all the information necessary to place an order. The information and application is also available online. Applications must be received at the nursery by March 31, 2011.
The seedlings can be planted on school grounds or other community spaces. Teachers and students are encouraged to plan the project ahead of time by discussing the value trees contribute to the environment and to determine the objectives of the planting. Trees are instrumental in helping control erosion, enhance wildlife, provide windbreaks, and support many other conservation practices.
Here is our list of the Adirondack Almanack‘s ten most popular stories of 2010.
The Return of the Black Flies (Ellen Rathbone) It’s fitting that this year’s most read story was written by Ellen Rathbone, one of the Almanack‘s most popular contributors in 2010. With the state’s economic problems resulting in the closure of the Newcomb Visitor Interpretative Center, Ellen lost her job and we lost her regular contributions on natural history and the environment. In this gem from March, Ellen reminds us that the black flies are much more than a nuisance. The Cougar Question: Have You Seen One? (Phil Brown) There is perhaps no wildlife question in the Adirondacks that raises so much ire as the question of whether or not there are mountain lions (a.k.a. cougars, pumas, panthers, catamounts) in the Adirondacks. When Phil Brown asked the age old question in August, he stirred the pot one more time. Other big mountain lion stories this year included a hoax, Phil’s own encounter stories, and even a story from 2005 which still tops the charts.
Dannemora Notes: The Clinton Prison (John Warren) Some of the most popular posts of all time here at the Almanack are about the history of the Adirondack region. In fact, the history category is the currently the 13th most clicked-on page of all time. The single biggest story each month remains a piece I wrote in January 2008 about Gaslight Village. This year is continuing proof that Adirondack history is a big draw, as my short post about Dannemora Prison drew an astonishing number of readers.
Famous Jerks of the Adirondacks (Mary Thill) When I thought I was clever by coming up with the 10 Most Influential People in Adirondack History, Mary Thill put me to shame by listing the all-time top Adirondack jerks. Mary has been on hiatus from the Almanack for most of this year while she works on other projects, but her wit, wisdom, and insight into all things Adirondack remains.
Siamese Ponds: The New Botheration Pond Trail (Alan Wechsler) Alan Wechsler’s regular forays into the outdoors are something even the most active Adirondackers envy. Not a week goes by when he’s not biking, hiking, skiing, climbing, or thinking and writing about getting outside. When he wrote about the new eight-mile Botheration Pond Loop, a route that circles around the Balm of Gilead Mountain and several lesser hills in the 114,000-acre Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area, Alan grabbed the interest of readers.
A Short History of the Moose River Plains (John Warren) It’s been a big year for the Moose River Plains. road closures, new trails and bridges, and some reclassification brought Adirondackers out in big numbers to learn more about the plains, and to chime in on how it should be managed.
The Death of Climber Dennis Murphy (Phil Brown) The death of Dennis Murphy at Upper Washbowl Cliff in Keene Valley was tragic. Dennis worked at Eastern Mountain Sports in Lake Placid and was a regular at local climbing hot-spots. This post by Phil Brown, written just a week after they had a lengthy talk about climbing gear and soloing Chapel Pond Slab, struck a nerve with readers. Two other stories of danger and disaster this year also ranked high: Ian Measeck’s first hand account of surviving an avalanche while skiing Wright Peak, and the High Peaks disappearance of Wesley Wamsganz.
Commentary: The Cast of ‘Opposing Smart Development (John Warren) Commentaries are always popular at the Almanack, and my own short piece on those who have traditionally opposed smart development in the Adirondacks raised not just a few hackles, but also the readership numbers.
You can also check out the top stories of 2009, 2007, 2006.
While we sit inside on these increasingly colder winter days, have you ever wondered; how do the wild creatures of the Adirondacks survive? From the smallest insect to the largest mammal each is adapted to survive the cold in very interesting ways.
The black bear, an icon of the Adirondack forest does not truly hibernate, but instead slumbers through the cold winter in a torpid or dormant state within a warm den. The difference between true hibernation and a torpid state is, in a torpid state the animal can still be easily awoken. » Continue Reading.
Natural history fans will be happy to see the return of nature writing to the Almanack with the addition of our newest contributor Corrina Parnapy.
Corrina is a Lake George native who has been working and volunteering as a naturalist and an environmental research scientist for over ten years. Her love and interest in the Adirondacks led her to undergraduate degrees in Biology and Environmental Studies. Her professional focus has been on invasive species, fish and algae. Corrina was recently invited to sit on the Lake George Land Conservancy’s Conservation and Stewardship Committee. She currently works for both the state and on a contract basis for the FUND for Lake George, while working on a forthcoming book, A Guide to the Common Algae of the Lake George Watershed.
Please join me in welcoming Corrina as the Almanack‘s 23rd regular contributor. Her columns on the environment and natural history will appear every other week.
The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) will reopen the former Adirondack Park Agency (APA) Visitor Interpretive Center in Newcomb tomorrow after taking over programming at the facility January 1st. The APA closed the Newcomb and Paul Smiths VICs late last year as New York State’s fiscal crisis worsened.
According to a press release issued today, the facility’s name has been changed to Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) “to reflect both its location and its mission to serve regional residents as well as visitors from beyond the park’s boundaries.” The AIC, located at ESF’s Huntington Wildlife Forest, will remain open all winter, with 3.6 miles of trails, open dawn to dusk daily, to snowshoe or cross-country ski. The interpretive center’s main building is scheduled to be open 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday. “However, during this transitional period, the building might be closed occasionally during those hours,” ESF Director of Communications Claire Dunn told the press. “Visitors wishing to ensure the building is open when they arrive are advised to check in advance by calling 518-582-2000.”
“We want to carry forward the legacy of the Adirondack Park Agency’s interpretive program,” Paul Hai, an educator with ESF’s Adirondack Ecological Center, who is planning programs for the interpretive center, told the press. “We want the facility to be more than a nature center. We want to offer educational and recreational programs that are based on a foundation of natural history and science.”
Hai said he is finalizing plans for three programs that will be among those held next spring and summer and provided the following descriptions:
Fly-fishing: A series of workshops will explore the natural history of fish and the culture of fly fishing and teach fly-fishing techniques. Participants will have an opportunity to fish waters in the Huntington Wildlife Forest that are otherwise inaccessible to the public. Participants can choose to attend one session or all in the series, which will be held periodically through the spring and summer.
“Working Forests Working for You”: This series will bring experts to the center for programs and presentations on various aspects of forestry and the forest products industry, from silviculture to forest management and pulp and paper mill operation.
“Northern Lights”: This series on luminaries in the Adirondacks will include presentations on famous people whose work had a relationship with the Adirondacks. Subjects will include John Burroughs, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Winslow Homer.
Hai said that he’s also hoping to host professional development workshops, a series exploring the role the Adirondacks in modern philosophy, a book club, and canoe skills training.
It’s certainly getting frosty out there, and that’s particularly true for the state’s environmental centers, educators and interpreters.
I first wrote about the closing of the two Adirondack Park Visitor Interpretive Centers and the loss of their naturalist staff last June, and the good news that the State College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY) would run programs at the Newcomb facility in 2011.
Comments back to me said, to summarize, “it’s nice, but get real. In this recession, we have no time to worry about frills and luxuries like environmental education.” I thought I could make a better effort at stating my case.
Most of these “retired” state naturalists are skilled environmental interpreters – meaning that they, to quote a classic definition of interpretation, are skilled at “revealing meanings and relationships through the use of original objects, first hand experiences and illustrative media, rather than simply conveying factual information” (Interpreting our Heritage, by Freeman Tilden).
In essence, these professionals relate parts of the natural world (or the historic or cultural worlds) to something deep within the personality or experience of the visitor, resident or student. What they reveal provokes people to respond, not to yawn. This provocation, in turn, causes visitors to the VICs, Wild Center, Adirondack Museum, or Five Rivers Center to appreciate what they are seeing or experiencing more intensely.
That intensity of appreciation can lead to a desire to understand the details, or a whole ecosystems. These people may develop into aware, informed, understanding, active environmental managers, conservationists, or historians. These activities can and do change the world in ways large and small, and it often begins through good interpretation at a State Park, Visitor Center, or Museum.
Like all layoffs, these at Christmastide are bad enough for the individuals and families involved, like the forced departure of naturalist Ellen Rathbone from the Newcomb VIC, from her park community and from Adirondack Almanack as she seeks new opportunities beyond New York State. We hope New York’s loss will be Ohio’s gain. But the loss of veteran naturalists and educators in NYS is felt statewide.
For instance, a veteran educator at NYS Parks was just laid off after 26 years of successful efforts to link environmental education to improved stewardship of all 150 State Parks. The response of officials in Albany is predictable. “It’s too bad, but we have to cut these naturalist jobs just to keep most Parks open next year.” Keeping the lights on, the golf courses open, the bathrooms plumbed, the roads cleared are a priority. So is keeping the lights on in our eyes, hearts and minds. What these educators do can have real-world, stewardship implications.
For example, this particular naturalist developed a Bird Checklist system for all State Parks back in the late 1980’s. That was considered a “nice” thing to do. A decade later, the awareness those checklists created helped activists to fight off a proposal to construct a large trucking haul road through breeding bird habitats and wetlands of Saratoga Spa State Park. Fifteen years later, these intact wetlands still feed Great Blue Herons, and Kayaderroseras Creek, which in turn has developed into a premier canoeing and kayaking destination.
Thinking ahead, the opportunities for future environmental education employment – and the services those people provide – are shrinking. The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation is closing two of their three Environmental Education Centers – Stony Kill Farm in Dutchess County, and Rogers EE Center in Sherburne, Chenango County.
The closing of these facilities is big deal for many families for whom these centers and their professional staffs represented learning opportunities, career advancement, family fun and happy memories – to say nothing of community meeting space – at no expense just miles from their front doors. As far as I can tell, the electric lights are still on at Five Rivers EE Center in the Capital District, but I’m not sure about the learning lights, meaning the staffing.
Who will provide those “provocational,” interpretive services to our young people and families in 2011, or 2021? More and more, we hear of the crisis of “wired” kids staying indoors, who are not exposed to the confidence-building, skills-building that outdoor experiences and unstructured playtime provide. We need more adults to share our outdoor heritage, not fewer.
The system of centers supporting this activity around the State is frayed. But there is hope. My hope is founded on the efforts of people who have picked up the fallen baton, such as SUNY’s Paul Hai, who is committed to keeping the Newcomb Interpretive Center open for continuing cultural and environmental interpretation under the auspices of the College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
It will take time for that facility and others in Newcomb and elsewhere to gain their footing after the loss of so many experienced staff. But there are people like Paul and institutions like ESF out in their communities who are determined not to lose a chance to change someone’s life, or to turn them on to the Adirondacks, or anywhere else with the potential to reveal both our landscapes and parts of ourselves. Let’s work with SUNY’s Paul Hai, or Paul Smith’s College and many others to keep the “lights on” for the fragile network of Adirondack learning centers, museums and interpretive facilities.
Photo: Paul Hai, right, of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry with Tom Cobb, left, retired Preserve Manager with NYS Parks, former staff with the Commission on the Adirondacks in the 21st Century, and a director of Adirondack Wild: Friend of the Forest Preserve.
The Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative is reporting unprecedented success resulting from the on-going sea lamprey control program. The Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are working together to improve and manage the fisheries of Lake Champlain. » Continue Reading.
Tucked in the lower level of the Saranac Lake Free Library is “the finest collection of Adirondack animals ever gathered in one place.” These animals are not wild anymore or even tame for that matter. The Charles Dickert Wildlife Collection is a one-room museum dedicated to the works of taxidermist, Charles Dickert.
My daughter stands in the entranceway with her jaw dangling open. She has seen mounts before but these are pristinely cared for and arranged and overwhelming in number. We quickly note that not all creatures are indigenous to the area. We ask our son to look for the elephant lamp in the display that we see in an old picture from the Guggenheim camp. He discovers that the black ducks flying in V formation above his head are also in old photos on display. He marvels at the colors of the wood ducks and is curious about the leopard rug. » Continue Reading.
Like many of the winter resorts in the area that offer season passes for skiers and snowboarders, The Wild Center (a regular sponsor of the Adirondack Almanack) is unveiling a new Winter Season Pass for residents and frequent visitors to the Adirondacks.
With something happening every weekend during the winter months, the season pass is valid for unlimited visits from January until Memorial Day weekend. The Center is open throughout the winter on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm and during the entire week of President’s Day. The passes are available at a special online price at The Wild Center’s website for $29.95 for an individual and $55.95 for a family. Pass holders can also take advantage of regular special sale discounts at the Center’s store.
Activities during Wild Winter Weekends will include tracking workshops, nature walks with Peter O’Shea, bird encounters, an in-depth discussion about the Return of the Wild exhibition and the popular Otter Birthday Party.
Every Sunday is Family Art and Nature Day where you can learn more about the Adirondacks and participate in nature-related art projects that the entire family can enjoy.
Visit www.wildcenter.org for detailed information on the Calendar of Events. The new Winter Season Pass covers unlimited admission to The Center for ALL of these activities as well as otter encounters, feature films, screenings of the BBC ‘Life’ series and the free use of snowshoes for exploring the trails.
“We want to offer something to people who would like to use The Center in the winter for family days or to come to all of the lectures and special events, and make it easy,” said Jen Kretser, Director of Programs. “An individual or family only needs to come twice during the winter to have the pass pay for itself. With something happening every weekend, it really is one of the best values in the Park all winter.”
Please visit www.wildcenter.org/pass to purchase your Winter Season Pass at the online price today. The Winter Season Pass is also available for purchase at The Wild Center, for $38 for an individual and $65 for a family. The Wild Center is closed during the month of April.
The Adirondack Almanack is a public forum dedicated to promoting and discussing current events, history, arts, nature and outdoor recreation and other topics of interest to the Adirondacks and its communities
We publish commentary and opinion pieces from voluntary contributors, as well as news updates and event notices from area organizations. Contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The information, views and opinions expressed by these various authors are not necessarily those of the Adirondack Almanack or its publisher, the Adirondack Explorer.
General inquiries about the Adirondack Almanack should be directed to editor Melissa Hart.
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