Thursday, June 11, 2009

Cooperative Extension Offers Youth Wilderness Paddling Trips

The Cornell University Cooperative Extension 4-H Program is conducting two, three day Wilderness Exploration trips which are open to both 4-H and non-4-H youth. According to a press release issued by Warren County Cornell Cooperative Extension “The trips are designed to give youth a basic knowledge of the Adirondack environment including its forest and wildlife. Low-impact camping is stressed, developing in youth an attitude that they are part of, not apart from, the environment in which they live.”

The first trip, scheduled June 26 – 28 is for 9-11 year olds. The group will be camping and canoeing in North River area of, New York. The cost for this trip is $20.00 per participant. There is required a pre-trip meeting planned for Thursday June 18th at the Warren County Fairgrounds.

The second trip scheduled July 15–17 is for 12-15 year olds. The group will be canoeing and camping at Raquette Lake. The cost for this trip is $40.00 per participant. There is only one spot left on this trip, so call immediately if interested. There is a required pre-trip meeting scheduled for Thursday July 9 at 6PM at the Warren County Fairgrounds.

The 4-H Wilderness Trip Program is entering its 36th year of operation. Activities on the trip will include woods lore and safety, identification of forest trees and wildlife, compass skills, canoeing skills and safety. Pre-registration and payment for these programs is required by June 18 and July 1 respectively. Please call Cornell University Cooperative Extension of Warren County at 518-623-3291 or 668-4881.


Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Lean2 Resecue Receives DEC’s Adirondack Stewardship Award

On National Trails Day, June 6, at an event in Wanakena, St. Lawrence County, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) presented its Adirondack Stewardship Award to Paul DeLucia of Baldwinsville, Onondaga County, and his organization, known as Lean2Rescue, for their work in restoring Adirondack lean-tos. Since 2004, Lean2Rescue has worked on more than 30 lean-tos in St. Lawrence, Herkimer and Hamilton Counties, primarily along the western edge of the Adirondacks. The Adirondack Stewardship Award is presented by DEC to groups or individuals who demonstrate outstanding stewardship of the natural resources of the Adirondacks.

“With the state facing one of its most severe fiscal crises in history, partnerships with organizations such as Lean2Rescue are even more important in helping DEC protect and manage the Adirondack Forest Preserve,” DEC Commissioner Pete Grannis said in a press release. “DEC is fortunate to have dedicated volunteers like Paul DeLucia and the members of Lean2Rescue who are willing to contribute their time, money, and sweat to ensure our recreational facilities are there for the public to use and enjoy. We are grateful for their hard work and are proud to present them with this prestigious award.”

DEC Region 6 staff from the Divisions of Land and Forests, Operations, and Forest Rangers, along with the volunteers of Lean2Rescue, have rebuilt and renovated a total of 33 different lean-tos in wilderness and wild forest areas within the past four years. Lean2Rescue, with a core group of 20 to 25 members and additional assistance of up to 50 more volunteers, carried in logs, beams, boards, cement, shingles and more by hand, cart, and canoe to reach remote wilderness areas. Facing mud, rain, cold, and bugs, rescuers not only complete their mission of rebuilding a leanto, but then turn around and carry out old materials and debris.

Previous Adirondack Stewardship Award recipients include Chad Dawson of SUNY Environmental Science and Forestry; Joe Martens of the Open Space Institute; Dave Gillespie of the Alpine Club of Canada and the New York State Ranger School; the Family of John E. Foley of St. Lawrence County and John Dent of St. Lawrence County; Friends of Mt. Arab and Mike Carr of the Adirondack Nature Conservancy and Adirondack Land Trust; Sierra Club’s Northeast Outings Committee and St. Lawrence County YCC; Paul Smiths College; the Adirondack Trail Improvement Society; Ward Lumber Company of Essex County; Edwin Ketchledge of Clinton County and the Chris Behr family of Vermont; Clarence Petty of St. Lawrence County and the Warren County Board of Supervisors; the Bouquet River Association of Essex County; and the Fulton Chain of Lakes Association of Herkimer and Hamilton Counties.


Friday, June 5, 2009

Wilmington: New Multi-use Flume Trail System Opens

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has officially opened the Flume Trail System as the first trail system on forest preserve lands in the Adirondacks designed to allow mountain biking. Representatives and staff from DEC, the Town of Wilmington, the Wilmington Mountain Peddlers, Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) and Whiteface Mountain Ski Area and the members of the public attended a ribbon cutting ceremony at the trailhead in the Wilmington Wild Forest. Earlier that morning volunteers spent time working on the trails. Afterward the Town of Wilmington and the Wilmington Mountain Peddlers hosted a barbecue.

The Flume Trail System includes approximately eight miles of trails for four season recreational activities including mountain biking, hiking, cross country skiing, and snowshoeing. The trails were designed to meet the specifications of the International Mountain Bicycling Association and include trails rated as easy, moderate and hard. The system includes a trail along the West Branch of the Ausable River and a hiking only trail to Flume Knob.

The majority of the trails lie within the Wilmington Wild Forest unit of the forest preserve, however, approximately two miles of trail are located on the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area, which is operated by the Olympic Regional Development Authority.

The Town of Wilmington strongly advocated for mountain bike trails during DEC’s development of the management plan for the Wilmington Wild Forest. In addition to the Flume Trail System, the management plan, which was approved in October 2005, also proposes a seven mile multi-use trail system in the Beaver Brook Tract, off of Hardy Road, designed to include mountain biking. The Town also appropriated funds to pay for the Adirondack Mountain Club’s professional trail crew to construct new trail segments at the Flume in 2007.

The Wilmington Mountain Peddlers have been involved from the early days of trail development at the Flume, and have also been strong advocates for mountain bike trails. The group has volunteered countless hours to construct and maintain the trails. They will continue to maintain the Flume Trail System under DEC’s Adopt-A- Natural-Resource program.

In addition to work by their professional crew, the Adirondack Mountain Club has organized numerous volunteer work projects to upgrade existing trails and construct new trail segments at the Flume. An ADK volunteer trail crew will be constructing a new trail to connect the Flume Trail System with the Whiteface Trail from the Wilmington reservoir this summer.

The Whiteface Mountain Ski Area has allowed some of their trails to be included in the Flume Trail network for the free use of the public. These include a scenic trail along the West Branch of the Ausable River, utilized by bikers, hikers, and anglers. Mountain bikers can pay a fee to access the ski areas other 25 trails and the gondola to the top of Little Whiteface. Crews from Whiteface also assisted in the construction of some of the initial trails in the trail system. A proposed hiking only trail to Bear Den Cliffs, will be constructed in the future on the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area lands, and will be open to the public as part of the Flume Trail system.

The Flume Trail System can be accessed from trailhead on Route 86, approximately 2 miles west of the hamlet of Wilmington or from the Kid’s Campus parking lot at the Whiteface Mountain Ski Area.


Thursday, June 4, 2009

DEC Reminder: ‘A Fed Bear is A Dead Bear’

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is reminding campers, hikers and homeowners to take precautions against unwanted encounters with black bears. There are approximately 4,000 – 5,000 bears in New York’s northern bear range, primarily in the Adirondacks. Bear populations have been increasing in number and expanding in distribution over the past decade.

Black bears will become a nuisance and can cause significant damage if they believe they can obtain an easy meal from bird feeders, garbage cans, dumpsters, barbecue grills, tents, vehicles, out-buildings or houses. When bears learn to obtain food from human sources, their natural foraging habits and behavior are changed. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 18, 2009

Volunteers: Cranberry Lake 50, National Trails Day

June 6th is National Trails Day and Adirondack region hikers will have an opportunity to volunteer, at Cranberry Lake in the western Adirondacks. Each year, the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) sponsors an event in conjunction with the American Hiking Society’s celebration of National Trails Day. This year, ADK’s event will celebrate the Cranberry Lake 50, the recently completed 50-mile loop around the lake.

According to the ADK: “Volunteers will spend the day performing trail-maintenance work, such as cutting brush, removing blowdown and building waterbars and rock steps, under the supervision of an ADK trail professional. One crew will tour the lake by motorboat, with state Department of Environmental Conservation personnel, to move outhouses and clean up campsites. There will also be a project for kids, planting tree saplings near the Streeter Lake lean-to.” » Continue Reading.


Sunday, May 17, 2009

ORDA Announces Summer Olympic Venue Schedules

The New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) will soon be re-opening the Olympic venues for the summer and fall seasons. Facilities scheduled to open in the coming weeks include the Whiteface Mountain Highway, the Olympic Sports Complex, the Olympic Jumping Complex, Whiteface Ski Center, and the Olympic Center skating rink. A variety of events, tours, and opportunities are being offered,

The Whiteface Mountain Veterans Memorial Highway in Wilmington kicked-off the openings on Friday (May 15). The highway allows visitors to drive to the top of the fifth-highest peak in the Adirondacks. The highway is an eight-mile drive from Wilmington to the summit, where a castle made of native stone and an in-mountain elevator await. The highway will be open daily from 9 am – 4 pm thru October 12.

The Olympic Sports Complex, where the combined bobsled/luge/skeleton track and the 1980 Olympic Bobsled Track are located, began summertime venue tours Saturday (May 16). Tours will be available daily thru October 12 from 9 am – 4 pm. The Lake Placid Bobsled Experience consists of a ½-mile wheeled bobsled ride with a professional driver and brakeman through awe-inspiring turns, a 4”x6” photo, commemorative pin, a team gift and more. The LPBE is scheduled to begin May 30 for weekends only from 10 am – 4 pm through June 21. Starting June 27, bobsled rides will be available Thursday through Monday until September 6.

Mountain biking on the cross country ski trails at the Olympic Sports Complex begins May 23 with the trails open on weekends only thru June 21, with daily operation beginning June 27. The venue offers over 20 miles of trails for riders from beginner to intermediate. High Peaks Cyclery runs the mountain bike center at the venue and offers lessons, rentals, and trail passes. The trails will be open from 10 am – 5 pm, and rentals are available.

The “Be a Biathlete” clinics begin June 27 at the Olympic Sports Complex Biathlon Range. Participants learn the basics of the sports of biathlon, are taught gun safety, and then get to shoot a .22 caliber rifle at the same targets used during the 1998 Olympic Winter Games in Nagano. This program is offered Thursday through Monday from 10 am – 4 pm.

The Olympic Jumping Complex, home to the 90-meter and 120-meter ski jump towers and the freestyle aerial training facility, is currently open 9 am – 4 pm Thursday-Sunday. The complex offers a 26-story elevator ride to the Sky Deck atop the 120-meter tower for spectacular views of the Adirondacks, and on May 23 opens the chairlift from the base lodge to the base of the ski jump towers as well. The chairlift and elevator are open Friday-Sunday until June 26, when both the chairlift and elevator will be open daily.

The Olympic Jumping Complex is also home to the Soaring Saturdays and Wet and Wild Wednesdays jumping series. Each Saturday, beginning July 4 and running thru August 22, top Eastern ski jumpers take to the hill in hopes of landing the longest jumps of the day. The season ends with the Flaming Leaves Festival October 10-11.

At the freestyle aerial center, aerialists of all types launch from one of three kickers high into the air, performing twists, flips and turns before splashing down in the 750,000-gallon pool. The pool opens for the summer training season in June. The center is home to the weekly Wet and Wild Wednesday aerials shows, beginning July 8 and running through August 26. Another highlight at the pool is the annual Huck & Tuck Summer Freestyle Competition, slated for August 29.

The Whiteface Ski Center will open for the summer season on June 19. The mountain offers scenic Cloudsplitter gondola rides which take guests to the summit of Little Whiteface, lift-serviced downhill mountain bike trails for pedalers of all abilities. For further mountain biking information go to www.downhillmike.com. Whiteface also offers an hour and a half nature trek to the beautiful Stag Brook Falls. Gondola rides and mountain biking are available daily from 10 am – 4:30 pm thru September 7. Nature treks depart the base lodge each day at 11 am from June 26 to September 17.

The Olympic Center is celebrating the 77th Anniversary of the Summer Skating Program. In addition to being named “The Best Summer Skating Camp for Kids” by Sports Illustrated For Kids magazine, the Olympic Center also offers basic skills lessons, hockey power skating classes, and hosts the weekly Citizens Bank Skating Series, including Freaky Friday and Saturday Night Ice Shows. This year the Olympic Center is host to the annual Lake Placid Free Skating Championships and the Ice Dance Championships, as well as the USA Hockey Junior Men’s Camp.

For more information on ORDA venues and events and for web cams from five locations visit www.whitefacelakeplacid.com.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

NYSEG Ordered to Open Ausable Chasm to Paddling

Serious whitewater boaters are frothing at the prospect of access to a Class IV multidrop stretch of the Ausable River along Upper Ausable Chasm. Word on the Northeast Paddlers Message Board is that the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) has ordered New York State Electric & Gas (NYSEG) to develop a plan to enable kayakers to cross its land to reach the river for the period between Memorial Day and October 31.

But patience: paddlers are saying it’s doubtful NYSEG will be able to comply in time for this season.

The Adirondack Mountain Club and American Whitewater, a national organization, have battled for years for the right to use NYSEG’s land to get to a 3.4-mile stretch of the Ausable, from the NYSEG powerhouse below Rainbow Falls Dam to the Route 9 bridge. “BOO YAH. That thing runs ALL SUMMER,” comments one paddler on the Northeast Paddlers Message Board, which has more information. The run is expected to draw boaters from around the Northeast because of its consistent water.

NYSEG and the Ausable Chasm Corporation, which operates a tourist attraction at the gorge, had argued against boating access because the steep and narrow canyon, 150 feet deep in places, makes rescue difficult. Ausable Chasm Co. also offers tubing and rafting for paying guests on the lower portion of the chasm. But ADK and American Whitewater countered that FERC had a duty to maintain public access to a public waterbody that had become obstructed by the power dam.

This YouTube video offers a preview of the drops and rapids.


Monday, May 11, 2009

Know Your Rights: Canoe Passage

I’m accustomed to setting out on an article knowing less about a subject than the people I interview. A recent assignment went the other way, to a surprising extent.

The topic was navigation rights in New York State. The editor of the Adirondack Explorer, Phil Brown, and I wanted to know why, ten years after a state high-court decision affirmed canoeists’ rights to carry around obstacles, paddlers rarely test rivers that flow through private Adirondack land (you can see the article here).

Out of five riparian landowners I spoke with, three stated that their rivers were “closed” because bridges, dams or downed trees block the streams and paddlers are prohibited from carrying around them. That’s a pre-1999 view. Obstructions have not been grounds for denying canoe passage for a decade, I explained, no matter who owns the riverbank.

All three landowners then responded that the rivers were probably impassable anyway and who would want to paddle them. (A sixth landowner who in the past claimed that passage is closed between Mud Pond and Shingle Shanty Brook did not return phone calls or e-mails; I have no doubt from a trip through that property myself that it is a navigable stream with one quick carry.)

Frankly I expected landowners on disputed rivers to know the law because they have the most at stake. I expected to find the confusion on the paddlers’ side of the issue, and there is plenty among that group too. This first page of the 2008 Paddlesports Press guidebook Adirondack Paddler’s Guide states: “Most private lands, however, are just that — the public is not allowed.” Zero effort to explain the river access that paddlers fought decades to earn. The next sentence: “In fact some private reserves are patrolled and huge lawsuits have ensued for trespass.” There was one lawsuit, and it changed everything: A group of four canoeists and one kayaker provoked a test case on the South Branch of the Moose River in 1991, and the ensuing trespass suit sought $5 million in damages, which a judge dismissed. One of the defendants says the dollar figure never weighed on the group. It did take seven years and three courts to reach a final ruling, which contains vague language that only rivers proven to be “navigable in fact” are open. Nuanced, but not a blanket ban and not a reason to monger fear.

These examples prove a point made by Charlie Morrison, a retired Department of Environmental Conservation official. Morrison is lobbying the state legislature to pass a bill that would make the 1999 Moose River decision statutory. He says he does not want to change the law, just to codify it so it doesn’t get lost again.

Navigation rights are not new; they derive from common law and interpretation of that law by courts. The late canoeist and author Paul Jamieson pointed out that travelers crossed the Adirondacks freely by small craft in the early 19th century. Gradually, transportation became land-based, landowners began posting rivers, law enforcers began upholding the land-posters, and rights of passage faded. The 1999 ruling restored them.

Jamieson and the Moose River paddlers righted a century-old wrong, which is not to say the landowners’ instinct to protect their privacy is wrongheaded. Some told me off the record that members of the public who have passed through their land left fire rings and litter. If a paddler gets hurt — and these are generally tricky rivers, not flatwater cruises — landowners are the ones who’d have to come to the rescue. The Moose River case affirmed the right to travel through, but they do not give paddlers the right to stop, picnic, fish, hunt, camp, even take a pee. If you can’t run a river through somebody’s property in a day, then that river is not navigable, at least under existing state law. The West Branch of the St. Regis River below the St. Regis Canoe Area probably falls into that category.

One obstacle Morrison faces in Albany is the disorganization of the state Senate. Assembly sponsor (Democrat Sam Hoyt of Buffalo) needs to find a counterpart in the next week or two. Another obstacle is the passive resistance of the Adirondack Landowners Association, which seems to prefer the inhibiting effect of the reigning confusion: if the law is not spelled out, canoeists will stick to publicly owned waters where they don’t have to decipher access rights.

And over the past 15 years the state has acquired miles of new public waterways, so the situation on the ground is relatively peaceful. But keep an eye on the Beaver River connecting Lake Lila to the Stillwater Reservoir: The landowners and guerilla padders I interviewed agree it’s really only runnable after snowmelt, and then for a week at most. Whether that makes the Beaver “navigable in fact” may take another court to decide.

Photograph: The Beaver River near Lake Lila; by MWanner, from Wikimedia Commons


Sunday, May 10, 2009

Sliding Sports Museum Proposed For Lake Placid

At the 1932 & 1980 Lake Placid Winter Olympic Museum Board of Directors’ April meeting, newest member Joe Clain donated $1,000 to kick-off the creation of an International Sliding Sports Museum in Lake Placid. Clain made the donation on behalf of his father Gus Clain and the Linney Family in the hopes that other prominent families in the history of sliding sports will come forward and meet the challenge.

Angus (Gus) Clain was the brakeman for the four-man sled piloted by Robert Linney, which qualified at the 1939 trials in Lake Placid for the 1940 Olympic Winter Games. Because of WWII, the Games were not contested in 1940 or 1944. The family of Gus Clain previously created and donated a very rare exhibit consisting of the sweater and jacket issued to the 1940 Olympic Bobsled team, and which is on permanent display in the Olympic Museum.

The Sliding Sports Museum at Mt. Van Hoevenberg will be an annex to the already existing Olympic Museum – located within the Olympic Center – and as such will come under the same chartering agency, the Board of Regents of the University of the State of New York on behalf of the State Education Department. The future museum will share the same 501(c) 3 not-for-profit status making all donations eligible for a tax deduction.

“The next logical step is to create an advisory board of interested community members who share the same passion for preserving, displaying and educating future generations on the rich history of sliding sports in this area,” said Olympic Museum Director Liz De Fazio in a press release issued this week.

For more information on the proposed International Sliding Museum, or to make a donation, contact De Fazio at (518) 523-1655, ext. 226 or ldefazio@orda.org.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

DEC Revises Adirondack Campground Closure Plan

The DEC has announced that under the new plan, it will operate four of six campgrounds previously slated for closure for shortened seasons, from June 26 through Labor Day. In addition, after partnering with local officials, DEC will substitute one Piseco Lake-area campground in Hamilton County on the closure list for another. At the campgrounds that will remain closed, DEC will allow use of its hiking and horse trails and climbing routes.

In DEC’s own words:

“New York is facing tough economic times and closing campgrounds was not an easy choice. With the help of local officials, DEC has devised a way to soften the impact,” Commissioner Grannis said in a press relase. “Each of the targeted facilities historically suffered from low occupancy over the course of a full season. By shortening the season, we can open the campgrounds during traditional peak occupancy periods. This plan will help local tourism and provide opportunities for affordable getaways while still reducing our annual operating costs.”

The revisions for the 2009 season are:
In the Catskills

Beaverkill, Roscoe, Sullivan County.

The campground will be operated under an abbreviated season – from June 26 through Labor Day. DEC will operate the facility with assistance from Sullivan County, upon adoption of a cooperative agreement.

Bear Spring Mountain, Walton, Delaware County.

The previous decision to close the camping area within this facility remains in effect. However, numerous horse and hiking trails and associated trailhead parking areas at this popular Wildlife Management Area will continue to be available for public use. There will be no fee for parking.
In the Adirondacks

Point Comfort, Arietta, Hamilton County.

The campground will be operated under an abbreviated season – from June 26 through Labor Day. However, DEC will not open Poplar Point, which is also in the Piseco Lake area, for 2009. DEC will explore options to work cooperatively with Arietta officials to continue to potentially offer a day-use facility at Poplar Point in future years.

Sharp Bridge, North Hudson, Essex County.

The campground will be operated under an abbreviated season – from June 26 through Labor Day.

Tioga Point, Raquette Lake, Hamilton County.

The campground will be operated under an abbreviated season – from June 26 through Labor Day.

Pok-O-Moonshine, Keeseville, Essex County.

The previous decision to close this facility remains in effect. Hikers, rock climbers and other recreational users will be able to access hiking trails and climbing routes by parking in the entrance area. No fee will be charged for parking.

DEC will work closely with ReserveAmerica, the state’s camping reservation service contractor, to contact visitors whose reservations were previously cancelled, to offer them their original reservations and to re-open the camping site inventory to them before it is made available to the general public. DEC will cover the cost of the reservation fees to lessen the impact to the visitors that will be affected.

DEC is responsible for managing 52 campgrounds and 7 day-use areas in New York’s Adirondack Park and Catskill Park.


Friday, May 8, 2009

2009 Adirondack Paddling Calendar

Eager boaters have been on the water since ice-out, but the Adirondack canoe-and-kayak social season really gets cruising this month. We offer a chronological calendar:

The first two get-togethers are really commercial affairs, aimed at selling canoes and kayaks, but hey we enjoy new gear as much as anyone: Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters holds Demo Days this weekend, May 9–10, by the state boat launch on Lake Flower, in Saranac Lake, (518) 891-7450. And Adirondack Paddlefest is May 15–17 at Mountainman Outdoor Supply Co., in Old Forge. The Fest is billed as “America’s largest on-water sale.” $5 admission for adults, (315) 369-6672 » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

ADK Club To Host "Black Fly Affair: A Hikers Ball"

The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) will host a “Black Fly Affair: A Hikers Ball” on Saturday, May 30. The gala and auction is the largest fund-raising event of the year for the club, with proceeds supporting ADK programs such as maintaining hiking trails and connecting children with the outdoors. Recommended attire for the event is semi-formal dress (black tie) and hiking boots, although the dress code will not be strictly enforced.

The Black Fly Affair will be held from 7 p.m. till midnight at the Fort William Henry Resort and Conference Center in Lake George. Selected regional food and drink vendors, including The Boathouse, Villa Napoli and the Fort William Henry Resort, will provide their specialties for sampling. Wine and champagne tasting is courtesy of Frederick Wildman & Sons Wine Distributors and beer sampling courtesy of Cooperstown Brewing Co. There will also be dancing to the music of the Frank Conti Band.

ADK boasts one of the largest silent auctions in the region in addition to its very lively live auction, where guests will bid on original artwork, outdoor gear, weekend getaways, jewelry, cultural events and more. The auction will be conducted by Jim and Danielle Carter of Acorn Estates & Appraisals. A preview of auction items is available at the ADK Web site, www.adk.org.

Dr. John Rugge, CEO of Hudson Headwaters Health Network, is chairman of the event. Dr. Rugge is an avid paddler and author of two books about wilderness paddling. Longtime ADK leader Bob Wilcox will serve as master of ceremonies. Corporate support for the event has been provided by the Times Union, Jaeger & Flynn Associates, Cool Insuring Agency, Price Chopper Golub Foundation, TD Banknorth, The Chazen Companies and LEKI USA.

Tickets are $35 in advance and $45 at the door. To make reservations, visit www.adk.org or call (800) 395-8080, Ext. 25. To donate an auction item or to become a corporate sponsor, contact Deb Zack at (800) 395-8080, Ext. 42.

The Adirondack Mountain Club, founded in 1922, is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to protecting the New York State Forest Preserve and other wild lands and waters through conservation and advocacy, environmental education and responsible recreation.


Friday, May 1, 2009

New Public Access To 44,000 Acres Of Lyme Timber Lands

The DEC has announced the opening of limited public access for recreation to three parcels of conservation easement land formerly owned by International Paper Company and currently owned by Lyme Timber. The public will be able to access the lands for non-motorized recreation now; motorized access will be allowed in the future.

The three parcels are the 17,125-acre Black Brook Tract in the Town of Black Brook, Clinton County; the 7,870-acre Altamont Tract in the Town of Tupper Lake, Franklin County; and the 19,000-acre Kushaqua Tract in the Towns of Brighton and Franklin, Franklin County. The parcels are part of one of New York State’s largest land conservation projects – 256,649 acres of land – which was announced on Earth Day in 2004.

The Black Brook, Altamont and Kushaqua Tracts had a five year waiting period before the properties could be opened to the public, which expired on April 22. The three tracts are open to public access for non-motorized recreation only- on foot, mountain bike, on horse, or canoe/kayak. According to the DEC “The full array of recreation rights purchased will not be available at this time due to lack of resources.” Currently permitted recreational activities include hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing, mountain biking, hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife viewing and canoeing/kayaking. Camping and campfires are also prohibited until camp sites are designated.

Parking lots, trails, and trailheads, have not been buit and there is no signage yet. Trails for motorized recreation will be developed in the future following a planning process. Access to the property is by adjoining public highways and the DEC has asked that users avoid blocking any gates or obstructing traffic when parking.

These lands are privately owned and actively managed for timber. The landowner also leases private recreation camps. Lessees have the exclusive right to use one acre of land surrounding their camp which are not open to ANY public use or access. The one-acre camp parcels, however, may not block public access to or use of main access roads, trails, streams or ponds.

Visitors to these lands may encounter logging and construction equipment used in forest management and motorized vehicles, including ATVs, belonging to the landowner, their employees or camp lessees. The DEC asks that the public respect the rights of the landowner, camp lessees and their guests when using the property.


Thursday, April 23, 2009

Placidians Win Multisport Mountain Race

Congratulations to five Lake Placid residents who won the team category in the Tuckerman Inferno pentathalon Saturday. The course links running (8.3 miles), downriver kayaking (7.5 miles), bicycling (18 miles), hiking (3.5 miles) and finally a 600-foot climb-up/ski-down of Tuckerman Ravine, the spring backcountry ski mecca on the side of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington.

The Inferno combines the April recreation options of hardcore Northeastern mountain jocks. Team Lake Placid finished in 3:46:21, ten minutes ahead of a second-place group from Vermont. The Lake Placid crew comprised people who manage to stay seriously fit despite serious day jobs: Marc Galvin (run), Charlie Cowan (kayak), Edward Sparkowski (bike), Jeff Erenstone (hike) and Laurie Schulz (ski).

Also Saturday fourteen club cyclists with Team Placid Planet finished the punishing 65-mile Tour of the Battenkill in southern Washington County, the largest bike race in the United States. The loop includes about 15 unpaved miles and attracts both amateur and pro riders with its challenging hills. Among Adirondackers competing were Keith Hager, Dan Anhalt, Bill McGreevy, Charlie Mitchell, Jim Walker, Bruce Beauharnois, Ed Smith, Dan Reilly, Bill Schneider, Bill Whitney, Tim Akers, Shawn Turner, Darci LaFave and Susanna Piller.


Monday, April 20, 2009

A Dry White(water) Season

Low snowpack and scarce April showers have led to burn bans around the Adirondack Park. The drought also has river paddlers wandering, searching for streams pushy enough to float their colorful little boats.

“Whitewater kayakers are being forced into summer habits of traveling downstream, unfortunately by car, to seek water levels suitable enough to sink their paddles in,” writes Jason Smith, on Adirondack Lakes and Trails Outfitters blog. “The Hudson River along with the Moose River, in the central Adirondacks, offer reliable spring flow and are popular spring runs. But even these mighty rivers are running lower than usual. . . . [D]on’t be alarmed if you see a vehicle loaded with short, plastic kayaks driving aimlessly around your neighborhood.”

Other Adirondack critters known to crave a good spring rain are amphibians. In Paul Smiths, in the high-elevation north-central Adirondacks where ice was still on ponds as of Thursday, wood frogs and spotted salamanders began to move on a warm rainy night about two weeks ago, observes Curt Stager, professor of biology at Paul Smith’s College. The cold-blooded creatures live buried in the forest floor most of the year, braving exposure to predators and car tires on rainy April nights to travel to the ephemeral ponds where they breed. Peepers, American toads and other frogs and salamanders also congregate at waterholes this time of year.

Showers Saturday gave creeks and rivers a noticeable boost. The last two weeks had brought snow and then unrelenting sun. “They [herps] have been dribbling around. It was an early start and then it got cut off by the dry weather,” says Stager, who studies local phenology. “Every year is a little different in the Adirondacks. You’ve got to watch it for decades to notice a real pattern.”

High/dry kayaker sketch courtesy of Jason Smith


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