Monday, August 9, 2010

Commentary: Forest Preserve – Forever Taxable?

The approximately three million acre, publicly-owned and “forever wild” NYS Forest Preserve in the Adirondack and Catskill Parks is taxable for all purposes. Since 1886, that’s been the law. How can we make sure such tax obligations are paid, forever? I want it that way, and so do many others.

The law says that Forest Preserve lands shall be valued for tax purposes as if privately owned (Section 532a of the Real Property Tax Law). Late 19th century lawmakers recognized that downstate economic and other benefits of protecting upstate watersheds in the Adirondacks and Catskills more than justified waiving the State’s exemption from being taxed. And thus it has been ever since. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Plattsburgh’s Link to a Maritime Tragedy

In the past 200 years, a few ships have borne the name Plattsburg. In the War of 1812, there was the unfinished vessel at Sackets Harbor, a project abandoned when the war ended. There was the rechristened troop transport that hauled thousands of troops home from the battlefields of World War I. There was the oil tanker that saw service in the Pacific theater during World War II. And there was the cruise boat that plied the waters of Lake Champlain in 2003–4. One of them played a role in perhaps the most famous maritime disaster of all time.

The unfinished ship at Sacket’s Harbor had been designated the USS Plattsburg. The oil tanker was the Plattsburg Socony, which survived a horrific fire in 1944. Thirty-three years later, after two more re-namings, it split in two beneath 30-foot waves and sank off Gloucester. The cruise ship was the short-lived Spirit of Plattsburgh. But it is the USS Plattsburg from the First World War that holds a remarkable place among the best “what if” stories ever.

In early April 1917, just three days after the United States entered World War I, a merchant marine ship, the New York, struck a German mine near Liverpool, England. The damage required extensive repairs. A year later, the ship was chartered by the US Navy, converted into a troop transport, and newly christened the USS Plattsburg.

By the time the armistice was signed, ending the war in November of that same year, the Plattsburg had made four trips to Europe within six months, carrying nearly 9,000 troops of the AEF (American Expeditionary Forces) to battle.

The transport assignment continued, and in the next nine months, the Plattsburg made seven additional trips, bringing more than 24,000 American troops home. A few months later, the ship was returned to her owners, reassuming the name SS New York. After performing commercial work for a few years, the ship was scrapped in 1923.

When the end came, the New York had been in service for 35 years. At its launch in 1888 in Glasgow, Scotland, it was named S.S. City of New York. The S.S. indicated it was a “screw steamer,” a steamship propelled by rotating screw propellers (City of New York was one of the first to feature twin screws). After service under the British merchant flag, the ship was placed under the US registry as the New York, where it served in like manner for five more years.

In 1898, the US Navy chartered the New York, renaming it Harvard for service during the Spanish-American War. It served as a transport in the Caribbean, and once plucked more than 600 Spanish sailors from ships that were destroyed off Santiago, Cuba. When the war ended, the Harvard transported US troops back to the mainland, after which it was decommissioned and returned to her owners as the New York.

A few years later, the ship was rebuilt, and from 1903–1917, it was used for routine commercial activities around the world. In April 1912, the New York was at the crowded inland port of Southampton, England. It wasn’t the largest ship docked there, but at 585 feet long and 63 feet wide, it was substantial.

Towering above it at noon on the 10th of April was the Titanic. At 883 feet long, it was the largest man-made vessel ever built. This was launch day for the great ship, and thousands were on hand to observe history. The show nearly ended before it started.

No one could predict what would happen. After all, nobody on earth was familiar with operating a vessel of that size. Just ahead lay the Oceanic and the New York, and as the Titanic slowly passed them, an unexpected reaction occurred.

The Titanic’s more than 50,000-ton displacement of water caused a suction effect, and the New York, solidly moored, resisted. It rose on the Titanic’s wave, and as it dropped suddenly, the heavy mooring ropes began to snap, one by one, with a sound likened to gunshots. The New York was adrift, inexorably drawn towards the Titanic. A collision seemed inevitable.

Huge ships passing within 50 to 100 feet of each other might be considered a close call. In this case, desperate maneuvers by bridge personnel and tug operators saved the day (unfortunately). The gap between the two ships closed to only a few feet (some said it was two feet, and others said four). Had they collided, the Titanic’s maiden voyage would have been postponed.

No one can say for sure what else might have happened, but a launch delay would have prevented the calamity that occurred a few days later, when the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank within hours, claiming more than 1,500 lives.

There you have it. A ship that bore four names—City of New York, Harvard, New York, and Plattsburg—is forever tied to the fascinating, tragic story of the Titanic.

Photo Top: USS Plattsburg at Brest France 1918.

Photo Middle Right: L to R: The Oceanic, New York, and Titanic in Southampton harbor.

Photo Middle Left: The tug Vulcan struggles with the New York to avoid a collision.

Photo Bottom: The New York (right) is drawn ever closer to the Titanic.

Lawrence Gooley has authored eight books and several articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004 and have recently begun to expand their services and publishing work. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Monday, August 9, 2010

Film Shot in Tupper Will Premiere at Wild Center

The much-anticipated local sci-fi adventure Recreator will have its premiere at The Wild Center on Thursday, August 19th at 7pm in advance of a local theatrical run, say the film’s producers, who shot the movie last fall in Tupper Lake. The premiere will benefit the Big Tupper Ski Area, according to Center Executive Director Stephanie Ratcliffe and ARISE Chairman Jim LaValley, co-hosts of the event. Tickets for the benefit, which includes the screening, reception and appearances by some of the actors and filmmakers are $25 and available online at www.wildcenter.org/recreator. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

ACW Presents Bill McKibben and Verlyn Klinkenborg

The Adirondack Center for Writing presents Bill McKibben and Verlyn Klinkenborg as a part of The Field Guide to Nature and Environmental Writing – a weekend workshop at Paul Smith’s College. McKibben will give a lecture entitled “Writing and Fighting: The Great Activist Legacy of American Nature Writers” on Friday, August 13th at 7:30 PM. Klinkenborg will read the following evening at the same time, and both talks will be held in The Pine Room at the Joan Weill Student Union on Paul Smith’s Campus. The lectures are open to the public, free for ACW members and $5 for non-members.

Bill McKibben is an American environmentalist at the forefront of climate activism and writing. He published The End of Nature in 1989, the first book for a mass audience on the subject of climate change. Since that groundbreaking release, McKibben founded and manages 350.org, which organizes international grassroots climate action, hoping to stabilize global carbon concentrations at 350 ppm.

His most recent book, Eaarth, questions whether we have changed our planet too fundamentally to treat it as the “Earth” we once knew. He outlines how we can live “Lightly, Carefully, Gracefully,” in our communities, and has been called by the Time Magazine, “maybe the world’s best green journalist.” In addition to his groundbreaking climate writing, he is the author of Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and Durable Future, Wandering Home and edited the collection American Earth.

Bill is a frequent contributor to magazines including The New York Times Magazine, The Atlantic Monthly, and Orion Magazine, He is also a board member for Grist Magazine. He has been awarded Guggenheim and Lyndhurst Fellowships, and he won the Lannan Prize for nonfiction writing in 2000. He lives with his wife Sue Halpern and their daughter Sophie in Ripton, VT. He is a scholar in residence at Middlebury College.

Verlyn Klinkenborg is an acclaimed author of several books, and of the much-loved column “The Rural Life,” which appears on the The New York Times editorial page twenty-six times a year. Tom Brokaw has called Klinkenborg “our modern Thoreau;” others hear echoes of E. B. White in his voice. Like both of them, Klinkenborg observes the juncture at which our lives and the natural world intersect, and finds the luminous details that transform everyday experiences into luminous and revitalizing prose.

His books include The Rural Life, Making Hay, The Last Fine Time, and Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile. He has published extensively in The New Yorker, Harper’s, Esquire, National Geographic, Mother Jones, and other periodicals.

Klinkenborg was raised on an Iowa farm belonging to his family, graduated from Pomona College, received a PhD from Princeton, teaches creative writing at a number of American universities and colleges, and lives on a small farm in upstate New York. In 2007, he received a Guggenheim Fellowship, which is funding his current writing project, The Mermaids of Lapland, about the 18th-century English radical and farmer William Cobbett.


Sunday, August 8, 2010

Renowned Conservationist Amy Vedder to Speak Placid

Internationally renowned wildlife biologist Amy Vedder will be the keynote speaker at the 2010 annual meeting of The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter and the Adirondack Land Trust. The event, which also features family-friendly activities and field trips, is being held on August 14 at Heaven Hill Farm in Lake Placid. The public is welcome.

Amy Vedder, who has over 30 years of experience in conservation efforts across the globe, has overseen more than 100 different conservation projects in locations ranging from New York State and Wyoming to Mongolia and East Africa. With experiences as a Peace Corps volunteer, the Director of the Living Landscapes program for the Wildlife Conservation Society, and now as the Senior Vice President of the Wilderness Society, Vedder has dedicated her career to balancing wildlife conservation issues with human needs.

She is perhaps best known for the Mountain Gorilla Project, an innovative approach under taken with her husband, Bill Weber, to conserving habitat in war-torn Rwanda for one of the world’s last remaining gorilla populations. The resulting ecotourism initiative is the basis of her book, In the Kingdom of Gorillas: Fragile Species in a Dangerous Land, which she co-authored with Weber.

As both an admirer of the Adirondack region and an advocate for conservation issues across the Park, Vedder portrays the Adirondack story from a global perspective. “The Park offers more than a century of important lessons for conservation”, and “there is no question that the Adirondack Mountains qualify as a conservation area of global importance,” she wrote in a chapter of the recently published Great Experiment in Conservation: Voices from the Adirondack Park.

The meeting will also feature a conservation update from Executive Director Michael Carr, delivering the latest news on land protection projects, highlighting the chapter’s report concerning climate change in the Lake Champlain Basin and recapping the land trust’s recent work to protect two local farms.

This year’s meeting offers a unique opportunity for children to learn about wildlife. Wendy Hall of the Adirondack Wildlife Refuge and Rehabilitation Center, with a sanctuary in Wilmington, N.Y., will talk about her work and introduce some of the wild birds she has rescued.

Arrival and check-in starts at 11:30 for those interested in bringing their own lunch to enjoy with trustees, staff and fellow supporters of the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and the Adirondack Land Trust. The official meeting, which will take place under the cover of a tent, kicks off at 1:00 pm and runs until 3:00 pm. The wildlife “show-and-tell” for children over 5 also begins at 1 pm and will take place at a separate location on the Heaven Hill grounds.

Participants are asked to register in advance. Field trip descriptions can be found online at www.nature.org/adirondacks under “Field Trips and Events.”

To register for this event and the field trips, contact Erin Walkow at (518) 576 – 2082 x133 or ewalkow@tnc.org.

Photo: Wendy Hall with a rescued bird, courtesy The Nature Conservancy.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

Second Annual Forever Wired Conference Set

Clarkson University is now taking registrations at for the second annual Forever Wired Conference on Tuesday, September 7, in Potsdam. Conference organizers intend to grow telework and economic opportunities in the greater Adirondack Park and demonstrate how technology and services can help local businesses and individuals in predominantly rural regions.

Last year’s conference drew more than 260 participants from across New York State and included many seasonal residents of the Park as well. Adirondack Almanack founder John Warren covered the event for the Almanack.

This year sessions include a panel of independent broadband technology experts who will answer questions about existing and emerging broadband alternatives; representatives from brick and mortar businesses adopting new Internet-based business strategies, artisans using emerging online business strategies to expand their outreach; and independent entrepreneurs adopting broadband as their primary interface point with customers.

The conference is a central component of the Adirondack Initiative for Wired Work, which is championed by a team of regional leaders and energized professionals dedicated toward creation of a sustainable economy in the greater Adirondacks. Through their activities, the Adirondack Initiative encourages telework, green-tech commerce and entrepreneurship from home offices and businesses with minimal impact on the natural environment.

Clarkson University is expanding support services for teleworkers and entrepreneurs in the area. Renovations are underway now for the Adirondack Business Center hosted by the Clarkson Entrepreneurship Center in Saranac Lake, N.Y. The center will be equipped with wireless Internet, a conference room, quiet workspace, and will provide other
amenities to the public. The built-in classroom will hold sessions such as “My Small Business 101” to advance practical business skills of local entrepreneurs.

For more information on the Adirondack Initiative for Wired Work, or to
register for the Forever Wired Conference, go to http://www.clarkson.edu/adk, e-mail foreverwired@clarkson.edu or call
315-268-4483.


Saturday, August 7, 2010

New Otter Joins Wild Center Family

The Wild Center introduced its newest member of the family this week. Remy, a one year-old river otter from Pittsburgh Zoo and Aquarium, joins Squeaker, Squirt and Louie at the newly expanded Otter Falls, the most popular exhibition at the Center. Remington, or Remy for short, is named for Frederic Remington, the American painter, illustrator, sculptor and writer who was born in nearby Canton, NY.

Dennis Money, who was the President of the New York River Otter Project (NYROP), officially welcomed Remy, while marking the 15th Anniversary of the River Otter Project. In 1995, the NYROP and the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation launched the project that successfully released 279 river otters in Central and Western New York. Most of the released otters were trapped in the Adirondacks. Money also spoke about his experiences restoring other species, including peregrine falcons, in New York State. Money’s stories merge with the Center’s new Return of the Wild exhibition that explores how wild animals are returning to the Adirondacks.


Friday, August 6, 2010

This Week’s Adirondack Web Highlights


Friday, August 6, 2010

Garbage Collection on Lake George Islands to End

New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation will stop collecting garbage and recycleables from the state-owned islands on Lake George, a DEC spokesman said.

Starting in 2011, the DEC will maintain a “carry in – carry out” policy, said David Winchell.

“This is the system that is used in the rest of the forest preserve,” he said.

The decision to discontinue garbage collection was made to save money, said Winchell: “Due to funding reductions to the Department of Environmental Conservation from the state’s historic budget shortfall, all DEC programs are seeking ways to reduce operating costs while still providing the basic services.”

According to Winchell, the island campsites are more expensive to operate than other camp grounds, and garbage collection increases those costs.

“The DEC recognizes that this is somewhat of an inconvenience for some campers, however, the costs for operating the campgrounds must be reduced to avoid other steps that campers are less receptive to, such as raising rates or reducing the number of campsites,” said Winchell.

Erich Neuffer, a Bolton Landing deli owner who operates the Glen Island commissary as a concession, said his contract with the state requires the DEC to collect garbage and recyclables from the store.

But his contract expires at the end of 2010 and he said he had no definite plans to renew it.

New York State began collecting garbage from the islands in 1955, a service that provided summer employment to hundreds of local youths.

“People told us we were the hardest working state employees they had ever seen, said Kam Hoopes, who worked on the barges in the 1970s

A petition has been circulated among the island campers calling upon the state to maintain the service

Approximately 700 signatures have been collected at the Glen Island store and sent to DEC, said Marie Marallo of Rutland, Vermont.

“This decision will be devastating to Lake George and the beautiful land and water,” said Marallo.

Marallo said she fears people will ignore the “carry in- carry out” policy and leave their garbage on the islands, or throw it into the lake.

“I was told that people have made the comments that they will just bring burlap bags, put the trash in them, weight them and then throw these into the lake,” said Marallo.

Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky said he would urge the DEC to reconsider adopting the new policy.

“The new policy is not lake-friendly,” he said. “It will lead to a lot of rubbish problems.”

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror.


Friday, August 6, 2010

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Thursday, August 5, 2010

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (August 5)

This announcement is for general use – local conditions may vary and are subject to change. 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]. Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Conditions Report on Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1) and on the stations of North Country Public Radio.

Fire Danger: MODERATE

Be sure campfires are out by drowning them with water. Stir to make sure all embers, coals, and sticks are wet. Stir the remains, add more water, and stir again. If you do not have water, use dirt not duff. Do not bury coals as they can smolder and break out into fire later.

General Weather Report
Friday: Cloudy, chance of afternoon showers; high near 67.
Friday Night: Partly cloudy, low around 36.
Saturday: Sunny, high near 67.
Saturday Night: Mostly clear, low around 37.
Sunday: Sunny, high near 75.
Sunday Night: Chance of showers and thunderstorms; low around 55.

The National Weather Service has begun providing 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]

General Backcountry Conditions

Wilderness conditions can change suddenly. 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.

Biting Insects
It is “Bug Season” in the Adirondacks so Black Flies, Mosquitos, Deer Flies and/or Midges will be present. To minimize the nuisance wear light colored clothing, pack a head net and use an insect repellent.

Firewood Ban
Due to the possibility of spreading invasive species that could devastate northern New York forests (such as Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Wooly Adeljid and Asian Longhorn Beetle), DEC prohibits moving untreated firewood more than 50 miles from its source. Forest Rangers have begun ticketing violators of this firewood ban. More details and frequently asked questions at the DEC website.

Bear-Resistant Canisters
The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear resistant canisters; DEC encourages the use of bear-resistant canisters throughout the Adirondacks.

Low Impact Campfires
Reduce the impact on natural areas by utilizing lightweight stoves, fire pans, mound fires or other low impact campfire techniques. Use only dead or small downed wood that can be broken by hand and keep fires small. Leave hatchets, axes and saws at home. Never leave a fire unattended, don’t burn garbage, and restore the appearance of your fire site; do not move fire rings. Campfires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness [LINK].

Local Adirondack Conditions

Western Warren County: Western Warren County will be a busy area this weekend with the
Stony Creek Mountain Festival, featuring musicians, vendors, exhibits and children’s games in the town park and a town-wide garage sale on Saturday and Sunday. In North Creek, hundreds of visitors will be on hand for Saturday’s annual “Race The Train” event, an 8.4 mile race against the Upper Hudson River Railroad train from Riparius to North Creek. On Saturday afternoon North Creek will host Waynestock, a North Country Hardship Fund benefit concert at the Historic North Creek Ski Bowl, and an unrelated celebration of Adirondack authors that will bring some twenty writers to Main Street to meet fans and sign books.

Ausable River: There is no public access to area of the East Branch of the Ausable River known as Champagne Falls, where a young boy recently drowned. No swimming is permitted and dangerous rocks and currents are found there. Heed the additional “No Trespassing” and “No Swimming” signs that have been posted. This covers both the Grist Mill and Hulls Falls sides of the River. Parking is being restricted. Law enforcement officers have added this area to their patrols and will be enforcing the law.

Lake Champlain: Hot and humid weather this week means that potentially toxic algae blooms in Lake Champlain are still a concern. Affected areas could include Westport, Port Henry, and Crown Point, and near St. Albans on the Vermont side, but there may be other blooms as well. Take the following precautions: Avoid all contact (do not swim, bathe, or drink the water, or use it in cooking or washing) and do not allow pets in algae-contaminated water.

Raquette River Boat Launch: Rehabilitation of the Raquette River Boat Launch on state Route 3 outside Tupper Lake, also known as “The Crusher”, is complete. DEC expended approximately $190,00 from 2009 EPF Parks Capital Fund to upgrade the parking lots, install a new concrete boat ramp and floating dock, construct a separate launch area for canoes and kayaks and the improve the site so it is accessible for people with mobility disabilities. Paddlers are encouraged to use the canoe and kayak launch and retrieval area which is located just 50 feet upstream of the boat launch ramp.

Moose River Plains Wild Forest: The main Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road) and the Otter Brook Road up to the Otter Brook Bridge are open. DEC, the Town of Inlet, and the Town of Indian Lake have partnered to make repairs to roads and campsites along the road. Gates to side roads, including Rock Dam Road, Indian Lake Road, and Otter Brook Road, remain shut and the roads closed to motor vehicle traffic at this time.

Lake George Wild Forest / Hudson River Recreation Area: Funding reductions have required that several gates and roads remain closed to motor vehicle traffic. These include Dacy Clearing Road, Lily Pond Road, Jabe Pond Road, Gay Pond Road, Buttermilk Road Extension and Scofield Flats Road.

Lake George Wild Forest: Equestrians should be aware that there is significant blowdown on horse trails. While hikers may be able to get through the trails, it may be impossible or at least much harder for horses to get through. Lack of resources, resulting from the state’s budget shortfall, preclude DEC from clearing trails of blowdown at this time.

St. Regis Canoe Area: The carry between Long Pond and Nellie Pond has been flooded by beavers about half way between the ponds. A short paddle will be required.

St. Regis Canoe Area: DEC and Student Conservation Association crews will be working throughout the summer to move 8 campsites, close 23 campsites and create 21 new campsites. An online map of the St. Regis Canoe Area depicts the campsites that are being moved, closed or created. Please help protect this work by respecting closure signs. Work will occur during the week, and only on one or two campsites at a time.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: Beaver activity has caused the flooding of the Stony Pond Road approximately one mile from the trailhead. Please use caution if you choose to cross this area.

Pok-O-Moonshine Mountain: Climbing routes on The Nose on the Main Face of Poke-o-moonshine Mountain have reopened.

Giant Mountain: All rock climbing routes on Uppper Washbowl remain closed due to confirmed peregrine falcon nesting activity. All rock climbing routes on Lower Washbowl in Chapel Pond Pass are opened for climbing.

Chimney Mountain / Eagle Cave: DEC is investigating the presence of white-nose syndrome in bats in Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain. Until further notice Eagle Cave is closed to all public access.

Opalescent River Bridges Washed Out: The Opalescent River Bridge on the East River Trail is out. The cable bridge over the Opalescent River on the Hanging Spear Falls trail has also been washed out. The crossing will be impassable during high water.

High Peaks/Big Slide Ladder: The ladder up the final pitch of Big Slide has been removed.

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.

Calamity Dam Lean-to: Calamity Lean-to #1, the lean-to closest to the old Calamity Dam in the Flowed Lands, has been dismantled and removed.

Mt. Adams Fire Tower: The cab of the Mt. Adams Fire Tower was heavily damaged by windstorms. The fire tower is closed to public access until DEC can make repairs to the structure.

Upper Works – Preston Ponds Washouts: Two foot bridges on the trail between Upper Works and Preston Pond were washed out by an ice jam. One bridge was located 1/3 mile northwest of the new lean-to on Henderson Lake. The second bridge was located several tenths of a mile further northwest. The streams can be crossed by rock hopping. Crossings may be difficult during periods of high water.

Duck Hole: The bridge across the dam has been removed due to its deteriorating condition. A low water crossing (ford) has been marked below the dam near the lean-to site. This crossing will not be possible during periods of high water.

Northville-Placid Trail: Beaver activity has blocked a section between Plumley Point and Shattuck Clearing. Hikers can use a well used, but unmarked, 1/4 mile reroute around the flooded portion of the trail.

Wilmington Wild Forest: All rock climbing routes on Moss Cliff in the Wilmington Notch have reopened.

——————–
Forecast provided by the National Weather Service; warnings and announcements drawn from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and other sources.

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, August 5, 2010

North Creek Hosts Authors, Waynestock, Race the Train

North Creek will be busy this weekend with events for runners, music fans and book lovers. Hundreds of visitors will focus on the annual North Creek “Race The Train” event and later on “Waynestock,” hosted by a locally-based community group that raises funds for families suffering from tragedy or misfortune. A celebration of local authors will bring some twenty writers to town as well.

Race the Train is an 8.4 mile race from Riparius to North Creek. Runners board the tourist train of the Upper Hudson River Railroad in North Creek at 8 AM. The train transports the runners (and any family members with purchased tickets) along the Hudson River to Riparius. The train whistle will begin the race back to North Creek along a shady road that starts as pavement and changes to dirt from miles 3 to 7.5.

Waynestock III will feature music at the Pavilion at the North Creek Ski Bowl Park all afternoon. Billed as “BIGGER-BETTER-LOUDER” the event features auctions, raffles, food, and noon to midnight entertainment. Entertainment includes Vinnie Leddick, Blonde Roots, S.L. Smith Band, Phil Camp, Don’t Quit Your Day Jobbers, Donna Britton Band, Finger Diddle, Dogtown Cadillac, Hoffmeister and Keystone Band. A small price of admission supports the North Country Hardship Fund.

The Hudson River Trading Company, 292 Main Street, will host “Rhythm & Rhymes at the Hudson: A Celebration of Authors and Artists” on Saturday from 1pm-3pm. Twenty authors and artists from all over the Adirondacks and northern New York region will sign their books and CDs under the tents in front of the store. Guitarist Scott Adams will perform his Adirondack music.

Among the award-winning writers are Gary and Carol Vanriper, authors of the Adirondack Kids series; Ross Whaley, co-author of the The Great Experiment in Conservation: Voices from around the Adirondack Park; Jerry Jenkins, author of his latest, Climate Change in the Adirondacks; and Elizabeth Folwell, author of Short Carries: Essays from Adirondack Life and a co-author of the bestseller Dog Hikes in the Adirondacks.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

‘Dog Days’ at Adirondack Museum Saturday

Dogs will be welcome at the Adirondack Museum this Saturday, August 7th. The now legendary celebration of all things canine — “Dog Days of Summer” — will return for a fourth year. In 2009, 159 dogs of all shapes, sizes, and breeds participated in this event.

Visitors and their pets can explore all that the Adirondack Museum has to offer and enjoy a variety of dog demonstrations, programs, and activities. All dogs are welcome when accompanied by well-behaved owners.

The event will include a few simple rules and regulations for pups and their people: dogs must be leashed at all times; owners must clean up after their pets – special bags will be available; dogs will only be allowed on the grounds – not in the exhibit buildings; Doggie Day Care will be available throughout the day at no charge, with the understanding that dogs cannot be left for more than an hour; poorly behaved or aggressive dogs will be asked to leave the museum grounds with their owners.

Sheep herding demonstrations will return this year. Sarah Todd of Dog Days Farms will herd with a variety of breeds including a Belgian sheep dog, Bearded Collie, German Shepherd, an Old English sheep dog, and an Appenzeller. Visitors can watch these amazingly skilled animals work at 2:30 and 4:00 p.m.

“Dog Days” demonstrations will include “Dancing With Dogs” at 12:00 noon. An informal workshop for visitors and their own dogs will follow. Join members of the Adirondack High Peaks Training Club for fast-paced routines. The talented dancing dogs include German Shepherds, Corgis, Labs, Rotweiller, Border Collie, and Australian Shepherd.

Watch a variety of skilled dogs and their handlers, the “JAZZ Agility Group,” go through their paces on an agility and obstacle course featuring hurdles, weave poles, and tunnels, at 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.

The annual “pooch” parade will include a costume contest this year. The parade will begin at 1:00 p.m. Gift certificates from Benson’s Pet Centers will be awarded category winners, and there will be participation prizes for all. Benson’s Pet Centers are located in Queensbury, Clifton Park, and Albany.

The Lake Placid Pub and Brewery will sponsor an “Ubu Look-Alike” contest as part of the festivities. Not that long ago, Lake Placid, N.Y. was home to Ubu, a legendary chocolate lab with a nose for great beer. Ubu’s story is still going strong, thanks to Ubu Ale, the brewery’s signature beer named in honor of the dog. Is your “best friend” an Ubu double? Chocolate labs can vie for the honor and a gift certificate for the Lake Placid Pub and Brewery.

Lake Placid Pub and Brewery will also offer samples of Ubu Ale and other craft beers at “Dog Days.” Participants must be twenty-one years of age.

Adirondack storyteller Bill Smith will tell “Tall Tails,” humorous stories about people and their dogs at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. Chris Shaw will provide music at 2:00 and 4:00 p.m.

Special presentations will be held in the Mark W. Potter Education Center. At 11:00 a.m. Lois, Alea, and Andy Rockcastle will offer “From Sprint Mushing to the Iditarod: Tales of the Trails.” At 11:30 a.m. Lisa Godfrey and Elizabeth Folwell, contributors to the Shaggy Dog Press publication Dog Hikes in the Adirondacks, will talk about their favorite trails and experiences hiking with dogs.

In addition, Ralph Holzhauer will offer “Fur Under the Desk,” based on his book of the same title. The book tells the real-life story a teacher and dog lover who introduced dog therapy and dog-assisted special education at his school. Finally, Museum Curator Hallie Bond will discuss “Canine Tourists in the Adirondacks” at 3:00 p.m. Historic photographs from the collection of the Adirondack Museum of dogs on vacation over time will illustrate Bond’s presentation.

From 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. “Doggy Booths” featuring great regional working dogs and organizations will be open. Participants include: Champlain Valley K-9 Search and Rescue Dogs; the Schenectady Chapter, Therapy Dogs; Tri-Lakes Humane Society; North Country SPCA; and Canines Can Do. Dog owners and representatives will answer questions about the training, care, and work of special dogs.

“Dog Days of Summer” will also include an expanded agility course for visiting dogs, “Say Woof,” a photo opportunity for dogs and owners, and special story hours for puppies and kids at 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Visitors are asked to bring a donation of food, toys, or cleaning supplies to the museum on “Dog Days.” A drop-off spot will be located in the Visitor Center. The museum will deliver donations to regional animal shelters.

This year’s “Dog Days of Summer” event was made possible by generous support from Nancy and Lawrence Master.

Photo: “Everybody Smiles Here,” The Antlers Hotel on Lake George ca. 1930. Photo by Alfred Santway; collection of the Adirondack Museum.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

New Website Features Franklin County Mill Town

There is a new website about the Reynolds Brothers Mill and Logging operation in the community of Reynoldston in the Township of Brandon (Franklin County) which was in operation from 1870 – 1940.

“We have created this website to document the history of this small community using oral history tapes and transcripts we created in 1969/70 as well as with historical photographs and a range of related historical documentation,” according to local historian and website volunteer Bill Langlois.

Reynoldston is one of the many logging centered communities in the Adirondacks that prospered during the cutting of local forests but disappeared when those same forests were clear cut.

The site already features oral history interviews, photographs and documents and is expected to expand to include material on Skerry in the Township of Brandon and the Bowen Mill as well as a wide range of other tapes and transcripts on the early history of Franklin County.


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Bladderworts: Pretty, But Deadly Adirondack Natives

What child hasn’t read about carnivorous plants? Usually by the time we are in 4th or 5th grade, someone we know has discovered the Venus Fly Trap, that classic carnivore of the floral world. But one needn’t travel to the tropics, or even The South, to discover the joy of plant carnivory. Right here in the Adirondacks we have pitcher plants and sundews, two carnivores that are popular in their own right. But we also have bladderworts, smaller and less unusual (at least on the surface – they look like snapdragons), but no less deadly. These are plants worthy of our attention.

New York is home to fourteen species of bladderworts, four of which are threatened and one that is endangered. Some species float in the water, while others are “rooted” in the soil at the water’s edge (bladderworts don’t technically have roots). Most sport bright yellow flowers that rival birdsfoot trefoil for brilliance, but two come in shades of pale purple, making them a delightful find.

Bladderwort – the name is bound to make one chuckle. It sounds funny and brings some funny images to mind. “Wort” comes from the Anglo-Saxon language, and it simply means “plant.” The “bladder” part of the name does not refer to an excretory system, however. If one pulls up a bladderwort, one will see all sorts of little pouches, or bladders, clinging to the plant. These bladders are the dangerous part of the plant.

Bladderworts come in two basic varieties up here: free-floating aquatics and terrestrial. Despite the name, terrestrial species (which make up about 80% of the world’s bladderwort species) are actually not growing high and dry – they are found in saturated, water-logged soils. This is because bladderworts must have water in order to get their food.

In a nutshell, here’s how it works. The bladders, which look kind of like little helmets, are more or less flat when they are set. When they are set, they are in a state of negative osmotic pressure. Across the opening to the outside world, each bladder has what is essentially a lid. Attached to the lid are the trigger hairs. When a small creature brushes by the trigger, a lever-like action takes place. Where the hair attaches to the bladder, it levers an opening in the seal around the lid. Once this seal is broken, the vacuum is released, the lid flies open, and the surrounding water (and its contents) are sucked into the bladder. When the bladder is full, the lid closes and calmness is restored…at least in the water. All of this happens in the tiniest fraction of a second.

Meanwhile, within the bladder, dire things are happening. Digestive enzymes and bacteria get to work on the prey. Prey items vary in size and species depending on the species of bladderwort involved. The free-floating bladderworts have larger bladders and can take on larger prey, sometimes capturing fish fry, mosquito larvae and even small tadpoles. More likely, however, they are eating things like water fleas and nematodes. The terrestrial species, with their smaller bladders, are consuming things like protozoans and rotifers, microscopic creatures swimming through the watery soil.

The rate of digestion depends on the size of the prey. Some food can be digested quickly, in a matter of minutes, while other items take hours, or even days, to be consumed. When the food had been completely reduced to soup, special cells extract the slurry, transporting it into the stem of the plant, once more creating a vacuum in the bladder. The trap is now reset and ready for its next victim.

While reading up on the digestive habits of these plants, I found myself grateful that they are so small. Can you imagine a bladderwort large enough to engulf a human? No body of water would be safe for swimmers! This could be the stuff of horror movies (giant bladderworts grow near nuclear reactors…swimmers and watercraft are warned to stay out of the water…)!

Science fiction aside, these are some pretty interesting, and highly sophisticated, plants. Bladderworts can be found in many of the Adirondack’s lakes, ponds, bogs, and even along streams and rivers. While they tend to prefer acidic water, some do very well in more alkaline conditions. If you are paddling along and see what look like bright yellow snapdragons sticking above the water’s surface, you have probably found a free-floating species. Reach in and lift out the leafy mass to see the bladders, but be sure to return it to its watery home when you are done.



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