Friday, February 18, 2011

Lake George Goes to Court to Protect Public Spaces

William Caldwell, the son of the founder of the settlement at the head of Lake George, continues to play a role in local affairs 150 years after his death.

While owning the majority of property in the community (including the so-called McGillis tract, which remained undeveloped until 1898, when his will was finally settled), William Caldwell deeded space for public purposes, including a site for a court house and rights of way for roads and sidewalks.

Now that it has been awarded a $536,000 grant to rebuild the west side of its main street, the Village of Lake George wants to come to terms with businesses that have encroached upon the space that Caldwell donated to the new municipality for the public right of way.

In preparation for sidewalk renovations, the Village is seeking a judicial determination that the space belongs to the public, not the business owners.

Lake George Village’s Board of Trustees have resolved questions arising from encroachments with several building owners, but the owners of at least four buildings dispute the Village’s claims of ownership.

A Warren County Supreme Court judge is expected to issue an opinion sometime this spring, said Mayor Bob Blais.

William Caldwell’s father, James, laid the foundations of the family fortune (and the community that would bear his name) in a store in Albany, where his wife tended counter. In time, Caldwell came to own a group of mills in which all sorts of articles, from hair powder to chocolate, were made.

Despite the fact that he was a Federalist, and the Governor, George Clinton, was a Jeffersonian, James Caldwell’s application to purchase land from the state commission charged with selling the state’s unappropriated and waste lands was accepted, and he acquired one of the largest tracts that the commission sold. Early in 1800, he purchased the site of Fort William Henry and a tract of land around it known as Garrison Ground from Columbia and Union Colleges, which had received them from the State.

Within ten years, James and William Caldwell had built twenty houses. When Timothy Dwight, president of Yale, visited the village in 1811, he remarked that he was surprised to find “a beautiful village.”

The renovation of Canada Street’s west side will include new sidewalks, lights, benches, a state-of-the art storm water management system and, among other plantings, disease-resistant elm trees.

The project is expected to be completed this spring, said Mayor Blais.

Photos: Encroachments into the public right of way began as early as the 1920s.
Canada Street today.

For more news from Lake George, read the Lake George Mirror
or visit Lake George Mirror Magazine


Friday, February 18, 2011

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories

Each Friday morning Adirondack Almanack compiles for our readers the previous week’s top stories. You can find all our weekly news round-ups here.

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Feb. 18)

This announcement is for general use – local conditions may vary and are subject to sometimes drastic changes.

Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Report Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.

The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional Forest Ranger incident reports which form a stern reminder that wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Be aware of the latest weather conditions and carry adequate gear and supplies.

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

** indicates new or revised items.

** POOR ICE CONDITIONS ON ADIRONDACK WATERS
Recent heavy snows combined with earlier thaws have brought about inconsistent ice conditions on the surfaces of lakes, ponds and other waters in the Adirondacks and surrounding areas. The weight of snow has caused ice to sink slightly forcing water from below the ice up on to the surface. Water, in some places up to a foot deep, may refreeze resulting in alternating layers of ice and water all covered by a blanket of snow. The snow acts as an insulator preventing the water from refreezing completely even in very cold temperatures. There have been numerous reports of snowmobiles and other vehicles getting stuck in the mixture of snow, slush, ice and water. Several snowmobiles and vehicles have broken through areas of thin ice. These conditions also are dangerous to non-motorized recreationist who may have a much harder time traveling across the surface of waters becoming tired, wet and vulnerable to hypothermia. Snow cover also prevents seeing areas of thin ice, putting them at risk of breaking through to the cold waters underneath. Check the depth of the ice before crossing, and at several points along the way. Be particularly cautious around inlets, outlets, near ice prevention devices (bubblers), shoreline seeps and over moving water. Remember, ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Be prepared by carrying ice picks to pull yourself out of the water, and a 50 foot rope to pull others out of the water. Remember Reach-Throw-Go.

** AVALANCHE CONDITIONS
Snows have accumulated to sufficient depths on Adirondack Mountain slopes to create conditions conducive to avalanches and DEC has issued an Avalanche Warning. Avoid traveling on open areas with slopes between 25 & 50 degrees and no vegetation. Never travel alone, carry proper safety equipment; and inform someone where you will be traveling.

** WINTER CONDITIONS AT ALL ELEVATIONS
Winter conditions exist throughout the area. Expect to encounter 25-30 inches of snow on the ground, more in higher elevations and ice on summits and exposed areas. These conditions will require snowshoes or skis at all elevations and crampons on exposed areas. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 3 feet on the ground at the cabin. Snow cover is good on all trails. Snowshoes or skis are required throughout the area.

Northern Lights Expected
Astronomers are reporting that a massive sunspot (with “a width nearly eight times the width of our Earth” has unleashed significant solar flare activity over the past few days. As a result, astronomers say the northern lights might be visible at lower-than-usual latitudes Thursday night and into the weekend. Although our nearly full moon and cloud cover could reduce visibility, if we’re lucky we could see quite a show of northern lights.

Snowmobiles
All the regions snowmobile trails are open snowmobiles are operating on designated snowmobile trails. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage. Not all lakes are safe for snowmobiles. Three men lost their sleds into the waters of Lake George after driving onto slushy ice in early January.

Thin Ice Safety
Always check the thickness of ice before crossing and at several points along the way. Ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Be cautious of ice near inlets, outlets and over any moving water. Remember, ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Each year a number of people fall through thin ice. One has already died and several more have gone through the ice – including three men on Lake George in early January. Use extreme caution with ice.

Carry Extra Winter Gear
Snowshoes or skis can prevent injuries and eases travel in heavy snow. Ice crampons should be carried for use on icy trails and mountaintops and other exposed areas. Wear layers of wool and fleece (NOT COTTON!), a winter hat, gloves or mittens, wind/rain resistant outer wear, and winter boots. Carry a day pack complete with ice axe, plenty of food and water, extra clothing, map and compass, first-aid kit, flashlight/headlamp, sun glasses, sun-block protection, ensolite pads, a stove and extra fuel, and bivy sack or space blankets.

Know The Latest Weather
Check the weather before entering the woods and be aware of weather conditions at all times — if weather worsens, head out of the woods.

Fire Danger: LOW

** Central Adirondacks Lower Elevation Weather
Friday: Showers likely, mainly before 10am. Cloudy, with a high near 50. Breezy, with a west wind between 16 and 21 mph. Chance of precipitation is 60%. New rainfall amounts of less than a tenth of an inch possible.
Friday Night: Chance of snow, mostly cloudy, low around 16, breezy.
Saturday: Chance of snow showers, mostly cloudy, high near 18, breezy.
Saturday Night: Mostly cloudy and breezy, with a low around 1.
Sunday: Chance of light snow, mostly cloudy, high near 25.
Sunday Night: Chance of snow, cloudy, low around 8.
Presidents Day: Chance of snow, mostly cloudy, high near 14.

The National Weather Service provides a weather forecast for elevations above 3000 feet and spot forecasts for the summits of a handful of the highest peaks in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. [LINK]

** Snow Cover
There is a 2 to 3 feet of snow at lower elevations across most of the Adirondack Park. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports 3 feet on the ground at the cabin. Snow cover is good on all trails. Most trails have been broken out with a few inches of new snow on them. These conditions will require snowshoes or skis at all elevations and crampons on exposed areas such as summits. The latest snow cover map from the National Weather Service provides an estimate of snow cover around the region.

** Downhill Ski Report
All mountains will be open this weekend and the skiing should be outstanding on a one to three foot base. Big Tupper Ski Area is currently celebrating the 50th anniversary of the original opening of Big Tupper in the winter of 1960-61. Events are planned all week long.

** Cross Country Ski Report
All cross country ski areas will be open this weekend with an 12 to 18 inch base. The Jackrabbit Trail is skiable its entire length, with about two to three feet of base Complete cross-country conditions are available [here].

** Backcountry Ski Report
Snow cover is suitable for skiing on all trails with about 3 feet at Lake Colden and 4 to 5 feet over 4,000 feet. Most routes have been broken out. Marcy trail beyond Marcy Dam finally in good condition all the way to the summit. There is good cover reported on the upper part of the Wright Peak Ski Trail, but still a few rocks showing on the hiking trail portion. The weight of new snow has led to slush conditions on many lakes. Bring a scraper. Snows have accumulated to sufficient depths on Adirondack Mountain slopes to create conditions conducive to avalanches and DEC has issued an Avalanche Warning. Avoid traveling on open areas with slopes between 25 & 50 degrees and no vegetation. Never travel alone, carry proper safety equipment; and inform someone where you will be traveling. The Avalanche Pass Slide is closed to skiing and snowshoeing during the winter months.

** Ice Climbing Report
Most climbing areas are sporting at least some ice in good shape, but breaking trails to get to lesser used climbs could take some time and lower angled climbs like Chouinards, the Slab, Multiplication Gully and others are dangerous right now due to the threat of Avalanche. No climbing yet reported on the north face of Gothics. Additional Adirondack ice climbing conditions are supplied by Adirondack Rock and River Guide Service.

Municipal Ice Skating Rinks Are Open
Most municipal outdoor skating rinks are now open. Call ahead for specific opening days and times.

** Ice Fishing Report
Ice fishing is officially open, but ice conditions vary widely by location and there has been an Ice Warning has been issued by DEC. Recent heavy snow will make for difficult movement and keep ice in only recently frozen areas thin. Slush has become a serious problem with up to a foot of icey water on the top in some locations. Lake George is frozen from end to end, but thin at its widest points and in the central and northern parts of the lake so anglers are mostly keeping to the shorelines and bays. Many smaller local lakes have 8 inches or more of ice. Tip-ups may be operated on waters through April 30, 2010. General ice fishing regulations can be found in the in the 2010-11 Fishing Regulations Guide.

** Snowmobile Trails Report
All of the region’s snowmobile trails are in fair to good condition with about a 6 inch to one foot base. Conditions throughout the region vary depending on elevation, nearness to large lakes, and latitude. Lakes have a good deal of slush and layered ice and the DEC has issues a Dangerous Ice Warning. Water, in some places up to a foot deep, may refreeze resulting in alternating layers of ice and water all covered by a blanket of snow. The snow acts as an insulator preventing the water from refreezing completely even in very cold temperatures. There have been numerous reports of snowmobiles and other vehicles getting stuck in the mixture of snow, slush, ice and water. Several snowmobiles and vehicles have broken through areas of thin ice. Avoid riding on lakes or ponds, and excessive speed. So far this year one sledder has died in Franklin County, one in Jefferson County, one in Herkimer County, and two in Lewis County. Three snowmobiles went through the ice on Lake George in early January. The new connection between North Warren and South Warren Snowmobile club trail systems between Thurman and Warrensburg has been closed on landowner concerns and an inability to make sure the trail was properly cleared. A new connection between South Warren’s trails and the Washington County trail system has been well-received, however.Ride safely. More Adirondack snowmobiling resources can be found here.

** All Rivers Running At Or Below Normal
Waters in the region are running at or below normal levels for this time of year. Ice has formed on all waters. Use care and consult the latest streamgage data.

Hunting Seasons
Some small game hunting is underway. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms or archery equipment while hiking on trails. Recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to hunt on Forest Preserve lands. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare. Hikers may want to wear bright colors as an extra precaution.

Furbearer Trapping Seasons
Some furbearer trapping seasons remain open. This would be a good time to keep pets leased and on the trails. A reminder that body gripping traps set on land can no longer use bait or lure.

ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS

NORTHVILLE PLACID TRAIL

The Northville Placid Trail (NPT) is the Adirondack Park’s only designated long distance hiking trail. The 133 mile NPT was laid out by the Adirondack Mountain Club in 1922 and 1923, and is now maintained by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Up to date NPT trail condition information can be found online.

Upper Benson to Whitehouse: Just north of the Mud Lake lean-to there has been significant blow-down in several areas across the trail that happened sometime in early December that requires several bushwhacks to get around.

West Canada Lakes to Wakely Dam: The bridge over Mud Creek, northeast of Mud Lake, has been washed out. Wading the creek is the only option. The water in Mud Creek will vary from ankle deep to knee deep.

ADIRONDACK CANOE ROUTE / NORTHERN FOREST CANOE TRAIL

Ice: Ice has formed on all waters.

Personal Flotation Devices Required: Users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

HIGH PEAKS

Avalanche Conditions: Snows have accumulated to sufficient depths on Adirondack mountain slopes to create conditions conducive to avalanches. Avoid traveling on open areas with slopes between 25 & 50 degrees and no vegetation. Never travel alone, carry proper safety equipment; and inform someone where you will be traveling. DEC has issued an Avalanche Warning.

Snowshoes Required: Snowshoes are required in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness.

Avalanche Pass Slide: The slide is closed to skiing and snowshoeing.

Western High Peaks Wilderness: Trails in the Western High Peaks Wilderness are cluttered with blowdown from a storm that occurred December 1st. DEC has cleared blow down in most areas accessed from the Corey’s Road, although not along the Northville-Placid Trail.

Ampersand Mountain Trail: There is heavy blowdown on the Ampersand Mountain Trail as far as the old caretakers cabin – approximately 1.7 miles in. Finding the trail may be difficult after fresh snows. Skiing will be frustrating as there are so many trees down. Past the cabin site the trail is good but snowshoes are needed. There is aprox 3 feet of snow near the summit.

Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands: The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season. This adds 2 miles of hiking, plan trips accordingly.

Bushnell Falls: The high water bridge at Bushnell Falls has been removed, the low water crossing may not be accessible during high water.

Opalescent River Bridges Washed Out: The Opalescent River Bridge on the East River / Hanging Spears Falls trail has been washed out. The crossing will be impassable during high water.

Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail: Much of the blowdown on the Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail between the Calkins Brook lean-tos and Shattuck Clearing has been removed. The trail is open for hikers but remains impassable to horses and wagons. DEC crews continue to work to open the trail.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS

Chimney Mountain / Eagle Cave: Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain will be closed to the public from Nov 1 till March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. It is being closed to recreational spelunking to avoid disturbance of hibernating bats. DEC is closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easments to protect the bat population.

Pigeon Lake Wilderness: DEC Forest Rangers and trail crew have been working to clear blowdown from trails. The following trails are cleared and ready for skiing and/or snowshoeing: Shallow Lake Trail (well-marked with some minor blow down), West Mountain Trail (well-marked, some blowdown remains on section east of the summit), and Sucker Brook Trail

SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

Hudson River Recreation Area: Gates on the Buttermilk Road Extension in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area), in the Town of Warrensburg remain shut and the roads closed to motor vehicle traffic.

Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: Ice has formed on all waters. Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

NORTHERN ADIRONDACKS

Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands (former Champion Lands): All lands are open to all legal and allowable public recreation activities beginning January 1. The gate to the Pinnacle Trail remains closed until after the spring mud season.

Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands: Due to logging operations the Madawaska Road and Conversation Corners Road will be closed to snowmobiles and the Snowmobile Corridor C8 has been rerouted.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: The gate to the Lake Lila Road is closed. Public motorized access to the road is prohibited until the gate is reopened after the spring mud season. Cross-country skiers, snowshoers and other non-motorized access is allowed on the road. Trespassing on lands adjacent to the road is prohibited.

NORTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: Numerous cross country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities exist on the Public Use Areas and Linear Recreation Corridors open to the public. Skiers and snowshoers are asked not to use the groomed snowmobile routes. Signs on the trails and maps of the snowmobile routes instruct snowmobilers on which routes are open this winter. Portions of these routes may be plowed from time to time so riders should be cautious and aware of motor vehicles that may be on the road. These route changes are a result of the cooperation of Chateaugay Woodlands, the landowner of the easement lands, and their willingness to maintain the snowmobile network. The cooperation of snowmobilers will ensure future cooperative reroutes when the need arises.

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: A parking area has been built on Goldsmith Road for snowmobile tow vehicles and trailers. The southern terminus of Linear Recreation Corridor 8 (Liberty Road) lies several hundred feet to the east of the parking area and connects to the C8A Snowmobile Corridor Trail (Wolf Pond Road) via Linear Recreation Corridor 7 (Wolf Pond Mountain Road). Construction of the parking area was a cooperative effort of the landowner, the Town of Franklin, and DEC. The Town of Franklin donated time, personnel and equipment from their highway department and will be plowing the parking area.

Sable Highlands / Old Liberty Road / Wolf Pond Mountain Road Snowmobile Trail: Due to planned logging operations by the landowner on lands north of Loon Lake, the western portion of the snowmobile trail (Old Liberty Road/Wolf Pond Mountain Road) that connected with the C7 Snowmobile Corridor Trail (the utility corridor) just north of Loon Lake near Drew Pond and lead to the C8A Snowmobile Corridor Trail (Wolf Pond Road) has been closed this winter. The eastern portion of that snowmobile trail (Wolf Pond Mountain Road) now connects to Goldsmith Road near the parking area. Snowmobiles planning to travel between Franklin County and Clinton County using the C8A Snowmobile Corridor Trail must access C8A at the junction with C7 or use Goldsmith Road and the trail from the Goldsmith Road to C8A (Wolf Pond Road).

Sable Highlands / Mullins Road: The Mullins Road has been opened to snowmobiles to connect County Route 26 (Loon Lake Road) to C7. The road is located approximately halfway between the intersections of Route 26 with C8 (Debar Game Farm Road) and Route 26 with C7. (12/23)

Norton Peak Cave / Chateuagay Woodlands Conservation Easement Lands: Norton Peak Cave will be closed to the public from Nov 1 till March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. It is being closed to recreational spelunking to avoid disturbance of hibernating bats. DEC is closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easments to protect the bat population.

GENERAL ADIRONDACK NOTICES

Accidents Happen, Be Prepared
Wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Hikers and campers should check up-to-date forecasts before entering the backcountry as conditions at higher elevations will likely be more severe. All users should bring flashlight, first aid kit, map and compass, extra food, plenty of water and clothing. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods and always inform others of your itinerary.

Personal Flotation Devices Required
Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

Cave And Mine Closings
White nose syndrome, the fungal disease that’s wiping out bat populations across the northeast has spread to at least 32 cave and mine bat hibernation sites across the New York state according to a recent survey. Populations of some bat species are declining in these caves and mines by 90 percent. White nose was first discovered in upstate New York in the winter of 2006-2007 and is now confirmed in at least 11 states. DEC has closed all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easements to protect the bat population including Norton Peak Cave in Chateuagay Woodlands Easement Lands and also Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain. Please respect cave and mine closures.

Practice ‘Leave No Trace’ Principles
All backcountry users should learn and practice the Leave No Trace philosophy: Plan ahead and be prepared, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of others. More information is available online.

——————–
Warnings and announcements drawn from DEC, NWS, NOAA, USGS, and other sources. Detailed Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation and trail conditions can be found at DEC’s webpages. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf].

The new DEC Trails Supporter Patch is now available for $5 at all outlets where sporting licenses are sold, on-line and via telephone at 1-866-933-2257. Patch proceeds will help maintain and enhance non-motorized trails throughout New York State.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Disney on Ice in Lake Placid This Weekend

Disney on Ice skated into Lake Placid this week for their new show, Disney on Ice presents Princess Classics. The tour returns to Lake Placid every two years with a new show and new cast members. This year’s show brings the stories of the Disney Princesses to life on ice!

Unlike many ice shows, Disney on Ice showcases elaborate sets, costumes, and special effects to arenas across the country and world. The centerpiece of the production will be a three dimensional, three story castle which transforms to assist in telling the stories of the Disney Princesses. The show will feature Cinderella, Jasmine, Ariel, Sleeping Beauty, Belle, Mulan, Snow White and special guest Tinker Bell.

Disney on Ice presents Princess Classics will open in Lake Placid’s Olympic Center tonight, Thursday, February 17th at 7 pm and continues through Monday. More information can be found online.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Nocturnal Adirondacks: Skunks On A Night Hike

With plenty of snow on the ground, a moon that is only a day or two past being full, and the possibility of breaks in the clouds, this weekend promises to be one of those occasions when enough natural light will exist to venture outside and explore the nocturnal side of nature in the Adirondacks.

While it may not be wise to bushwhack through a thick cedar swamp or a dense grove of hemlocks, regardless of how bright it may be, there is generally enough illumination around the time of a full moon in winter to travel through more open settings. Stretches of seasonal roads, well-used snowshoe paths, and hiking trails that extend into hardwood areas or around forest clearings are sites where travel is possible hours after the sun has set. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

The Almanack Welcomes Naturalist Tom Kalinowski

The Adirondack Almanack is pleased to welcome our newest natural history contributor Tom Kalinowski.

Tom is an avid outdoor enthusiast who taught field biology and ecology at Saranac Lake High School for 33 years. He has written numerous articles on natural history for a variety of magazines and wrote a weekly nature column for the Lake Placid News for nearly ten years. He has also written two books; An Adirondack Almanac, and Adirondack Nature Notes, both of which focus on various events that occur among the region’s flora and fauna during very specific times of the calendar year. Along with writing, he also spends time photographing wildlife. Tom’s work here at the Almanack will also include his more recent work in video. His first post will appear this morning.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Busy Presidents Week at the Wild Center

The Wild Center’s Wild Winter Weekends continue with activities from now until the end of March. On Friday, February 18th join NASA scientist Peter Wasilewski at 1pm for The Color of Ice. “If there is magic on this planet, it is contained in water….” (Loren Eiseley, The Immense Journey).

Water ice is one of the most widespread, intriguing, and familiar compounds on the planet, in the solar system, and beyond. On Earth it falls as snow, forms lacy deposits on winter windows, creates skating surfaces on lakes, gracefully drapes rock cliffs, packs thickly on the polar oceans, and lays even thicker on the ice caps blanketing Greenland and Antarctica. Peter will speak on the history of winter as seen through ice cores and snowflakes. Peter is a research scientist for NASA on changes in the onset and duration of winter over time. His presentation is filled with exceptional images of snowflakes and ice cores close up. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

New Law Allows Lifetime Sporting License Transfers

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced a new state law that allows for the one-time transfer of lifetime hunting, fishing, and trapping licenses under certain circumstances. Previously, lifetime licenses could not be transferred to another individual, regardless of the situation.

Under the new law, lifetime sporting licenses may be transferred to a qualifying relative if the lifetime license holder passes away within one year of purchase of the license or if the license holder passes away while in active United States military duty during a time of war.

“Hunters, anglers, and trappers take their pursuits very seriously,” said Acting Commissioner Joseph Martens, and “this is a way for them to pass on a family tradition.”

The new law became effective January 15, 2011 and stipulates that lifetime licenses may be transferred if the person to whom the license was issued dies within one year of the issuance of the license, the person to whom the license is to be transferred is a legal New York State resident and would otherwise be eligible to purchase the license, and the person to whom the license is to be transferred is a parent, sibling, child or spouse of the license holder.

Application for transfer of the lifetime license must be made within three years of the issuance of the license, except in the case of lifetime license holders that die while serving in the active United States military, naval, or air services during a period of war.

Lifetime license transfer requests must be made by the personal representative of the decedent’s estate. Due to the effective date of the new law, for non-military-related transfer requests, lifetime licenses must have been issued on or after January 15, 2008, with a three month grace period for transfer applications.

For more information on requests and copies of supporting documents for applying for Lifetime License Transfer call DEC’s License Sales Unit at 518-402-8843.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Forest Rangers: Ambassadors for the Wild

As the ice clogged rivers, streams and trails of the Adirondacks thaw, there are many things to look forward to. Wildflowers and spring migratory birds are tops on my list. The sound of running water is another.

Seeing a Forest Ranger in the woods may not top my list, but it’s pretty rare sight and very important to those woods and the public which recreates or works there.

Last year the NYS DEC Forest Rangers celebrated 125 years of care and custody of our wild lands like the NYS Forest Preserve in the Adirondacks and Catskills. It was an historic occasion far too few of us took note of. We may never need to depend upon a Ranger to get us safely out of a wild forest or off of a wild river but, as they say, you never know. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 16, 2011

The State of Nature-Based Education

Uncle Sam Green smlRecently Governor Cuomo gave his first State of the State address and President Obama delivered his third “State of the Union.” New endeavors, or a new year, are popular times to “take stock and look forward”. As we begin to build programmatic structure for the Adirondack Interpretive Center, where natural history and ecology are a foundation of our content, it seems appropriate to consider the State of Nature-based Education.

Nationally, nature-based experience – formal and informal, rural and urban – is increasingly recognized for the critical role it plays in the healthy physical and mental development of children and the on-going health of adults. This role is being supported by peer-reviewed research from diverse academic fields, including medicine, education and ecology. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Phil Brown: The Ethics of Feeding Wild Birds

A few years ago I saw my first gray jay—one of the Adirondack Park’s boreal birds. I had read that the gray jay, a member of the crow family, is known for its boldness in stealing scraps of food from humans. Hence, it has been nicknamed “camp robber.”

I saw the jay in the dead of winter on my way to Mount Marcy. I had skied up the Van Hoevenberg Trail as far as the junction with the Hopkins Trail, about 1.2 miles from the summit. There, in the shelter of the spruce and fir trees, I stopped for lunch—a peanut-butter sandwich with raisins.

As I ate, I noticed the gray jay on a branch about fifteen feet away, eyeing my sandwich. When I held out a crumb in my palm, the bird flew down and grabbed the offering. It then returned to its perch and continued looking at me, cockeyed. So I offered another crumb and another one after that. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Jay Harrison: Cascade Pass Ice Climbing

Drivers heading along Route 73 from Keene into Lake Placid can’t miss the activity on the icy cliffs above the Cascade Lakes. Climbers scurry like ants, from dawn to dusk, up and along the major flows that wind down either side of the main cliff. Chances are anyone learning to climb the transient mineral we call ice will end up here before too long in their studies.

This is the most popular ice climbing venue in the Adirondacks. Parking is plentiful, the approach is short, and there is access to the top of most routes for top-roping.

All that convenience makes it a crowded place: come very early or late in the afternoon for the best chance to climb. Roadside conditions are typically inhospitable. High wind sweeps through the pass, making it a bone-chilling place to attempt any chores in the parking lot. Come completely prepared to head directly up the hillside before opening the car door.

There are three main parking areas for the central area of the pass. The western parking lot services the Buster and Sisters flows, the center one is for those intrepid souls venturing onto the main Pitchoff Cliff or Pitchoff Left, the easternmost one services climbers heading for Pitchoff Quarry or Pitchoff Right. The most impressive flow is the Sisters formation. Sister Left rises 130’ from its base, with a lot of 3+ and some grade 4 ice to reach the top. Sister Right is shorter, but presents a greater challenge, from 4 to 5 or even hard mixed climbing depending on the line chosen. While the full length of Sister Left must be climbed from the bottom up, the entire face can be top-roped, using a ledge lying about thirty feet upslope. Getting to the top still requires leading something, Buster being the easiest option.

Buster is a perennial favorite for beginners. The main flow is difficult to walk around for top-rope set-up, but by skirting the right edge, only minimal grade 2 ice is encountered, so it makes a good first lead as well. The front face ranges from grade 2 to 4-, and there is a fixed rappel anchor at the top. Above the anchor, another easy pitch provides a good introduction to multipitch climbing as well.

Buster is often crowded, but there are several nearby alternatives. In recent years, a steep flow directly to Buster’s left has formed reliably, providing 3+ to M4 mixed climbing, depending on its condition. To the right, two more flows (Boozer and Bruiser), both with good walk-around access to their tops and fixed anchors, provide enough room for at least four ropes.

Farther to the right, a large flow called Pitchoff Left begins as a vertical curtain of grade 4 ice, then settles down to easy climbing for the remainder of its length. There is no easy top-rope or lead option for this line, all comers will have to tackle it directly on lead. The good news: it has the fattest, most massive ice of any grade 4 flow in this area. Pitchoff Cliff divides the previous flows from those to the right. There are routes on the main cliff for stout-hearted ice aficionados; most mere mortals just gawk at them and move on.

Pitchoff Right is a heavy draw; it is rare to have this area to oneself. Fortunately, there is plenty of room and variety to go around. There is room for up to nine ropes along this wall, on routes ranging from twenty five to seventy feet tall. Top-roping is easy to establish, via a grade 1 walk-around to climber’s right. Difficulty ranges from the upper end of 2 to hard 4, with plenty of acrobatic mixed climbing potential as well. Be cautious about the pillars that form on the overhangs: while people climb them with reckless abandon, they do occasionally fall down.

The rightmost destination in the area, Pitchoff Quarry, is tucked back just far enough to be nearly invisible from the road. Accessed from the parking lot below Pitchoff Right, climbers walk east along the road for 200 feet, then duck into the alders and meander to the cliff. In good conditions, the quarry has a wide band of very steep ice, ranging between grade 4 and 5. Top-rope set-up is possible via access to climber’s right. The main flow dominates the center of the quarry, with enough room for a couple ropes, and flows to either side provide room for at least four more.

Jay Harrison guides both rock and ice for Eastern Mountain Sports, and occasionally writes about his personal adventures on his own blog.


Monday, February 14, 2011

A Land Purchase Guest Essay:Paradox, Irony and Hypocrisy in Adirondack Politics

What follows is a guest essay from Minerva carpenter Duane Ricketson, an original appointee to the Department of Environmental Conservation’s (DEC) Region 5 Open Space Advisory Committee in 1990 and one of the longest serving state appointees. He’s an Adirondack native whose family arrived in the region in the 1790s and who enjoys fishing, hunting, hiking and camping. Ricketson supported and worked with local leaders on the Region 5 Open Space Advisory Committee to get local governments and Adirondackers enfranchised in the process of open space protection, especially the local government veto, which he now sees as being usurped by the Local Government Review Board.

On the surface, the recent drive by Adirondack politicians and local media to stop the State from purchasing the former Finch-Pruyn lands from the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy is simply a continuation of the storied battle between Adirondackers and the State of New York over buying land in the Adirondack Park. This time it opens a brand new chapter, however, because the actions of local governments are now being called into question by The Local Government Review Board. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Lawrence Gooley: Love So Strong, It’s Criminal

(Warning: If your partner reads this, expectations for today may rise.) Ah, Valentine’s Day. Love is in the air. Chocolates, flowers, and special cards are a must. Maybe a family meal, or perhaps a romantic dinner for two. Jewelry? Diamonds? The sky’s the limit when it comes to making your sweetheart happy and showing true dedication. But it’s all pretty amateurish compared to real commitment. Which brings us to Fred Roderick and Agnes Austin.

Here’s the story as described in 1883 in a couple of newspapers. Without hard facts, I can’t account for all the details, but you gotta love the sense of purpose, focus, and ingenuity this couple used to achieve togetherness.

At Sageville (now Lake Pleasant, a few miles southeast of Speculator), Fred Roderick, about 25 years old, had been jailed for stealing a pair of horses, which had since been returned. In those days, a convicted horse thief could expect to do time in prison. Next to murder, it was one of the most serious crimes—horses were a key component to survival in the North Country.

In rural Hamilton County, it was no simple task to organize a trial, so for several months the county jail served as Roderick’s home. It was lonely at times, but he wasn’t entirely without company. Every Sunday, the local Methodist pastor brought a dozen or so members of his congregation to the jail, where they sang songs and held a prayer meeting.

For a couple of years, young Agnes Austin was among the church goers who participated. Shortly after Roderick’s incarceration, parish members noticed that, instead of lending her voice to the choir at all times, she seemed to have taken a personal interest in Fred’s salvation.

Soon Agnes gained special permission from the sheriff for weekday visits which, she assured him, would lead Roderick down the straight and narrow. But it seemed to work in the reverse. Agnes began showing up less often on Sundays and more frequently during the week. Imagine the whispers among her church brethren. Their pretty little friend was consorting with a criminal!

Or maybe her missionary efforts were sincere after all. Fred Roderick finally came forward and accepted religious salvation, owing it all, he said, to young Agnes. People being what they are, tongues wagged more frantically than ever about the supposed scandalous goings-on. Mr. Austin forbade (what was he thinking?) Agnes from making any further jail visits. Taking it one step further, he spoke to the sheriff, hoping to kill a tryst in the making.

It wasn’t long after that Agnes disappeared. With her supposed lover lingering hopelessly in jail, why would she run away? Well, as it turns out, she didn’t. Agnes and Fred had made plans. She was told to hide out at his father’s camp, where he would join her after his escape. (Country jails were often loosely kept, and escapes were common.)

After waiting more than a week, Agnes took matters into her own hands, which led to a sight that shocked the residents of Sageville. A constable rode into town, and behind him trailed Aggie Austin. The charge? That she was a horse thief. In broad daylight, she had taken not just any horse, but one of the very same horses Fred had stolen.

Because she was female, and because she made no effort to run when pursued, bail was set at $600—which Agnes immediately refused. To the puzzled bondsman and the sheriff, she explained: if Fred couldn’t be with her, then she would be with Fred. To that end, she left the camp, stole a horse, made sure she was caught, and now refused to be bailed out of jail.

It gets better. The next morning, Fred informed the sheriff that he wished to marry Miss Austin, and Agnes confirmed the same. Papa Austin most certainly would have objected, but Agnes was 19, of legal age to make her own choice. And that choice was Fred.

The judge was summoned, and the sheriff and his deputies stood witness to the joining. The district attorney weighed in as well, contributing what he could to the couple’s happiness.

Though they must be tried separately, he promised to “bring both cases before the same term of court, and thus allow the pair to make their bridal journey together to their future mountain home at Clinton Prison.”

Now THAT’s commitment.

Photo: Clinton Prison at Dannemora, notorious North Country honeymoon site.

Lawrence Gooley has authored nine books and many articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. He took over in 2010 and began expanding the company’s publishing services. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Monday, February 14, 2011

Brain Worm Confirmed in New York Moose

In mid-October 2010, the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Wildlife Pathology Unit, which is responsible for diagnosing and monitoring causes of sickness and death in New York State’s animals, has confirmed brain worm infections in six of 18 moose examined in 2009-2010. Those moose were found in Clinton, Essex, Oneida, Rensselaer, and Saratoga Counties.

The most recent moose examined, a two and a half year old male moose exhibiting abnormal behavior in the Town of Steuben, Oneida County, was lying down in a cow pasture and appeared blind; it could not stand when prodded by a DEC Biologist. The moose was subsequently euthanized and submitted to the Wildlife Pathology Unit for necropsy (animal autopsy) where it was diagnosed with brain worm infection [review the case report online]. » Continue Reading.



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