Friday, December 17, 2021

Latest news headlines

Here’s a look at news from around the Adirondacks this week:

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Thursday, December 16, 2021

Hochul names road salt task force members

road salt truck

Overdue panel charged with preventing further pollution

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Thursday named the members of a promised state task force charged with studying road salt use in the Adirondacks.

The 10 overdue appointees announced by the governor will join representatives from the state Department of Transportation, Department of Environmental Conservation, Department of Health and Adirondack Park Agency as they set out to review current salt use practices and make recommendations to minimize future use.

The governor’s direct nominees include former DEC Commissioner Joe Martens; Adirondack Watershed Institute Executive Director Dan Kelting; Megan Phillips, vice president of conservation at the Adirondack Council; and Kristine Stepeneck, a professor at the University of Vermont.

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Thursday, December 16, 2021

A blown deadline

Billy Jones salt bill

By the Times Union editorial board

Nonexistent task forces have a 100 percent track record of not issuing reports by deadline. So in that sense, the state’s road salt panel is doing exactly what New Yorkers expected of it.

Under the 2020 legislation establishing it, the task force was supposed to study the impact of road salt in the Adirondacks and come up with a pilot plan for reducing it, reporting to the Legislature by Dec. 1, 2021 – as in, weeks ago.

What’s at stake here? Oh, only public health, the environment, and the Adirondack economy. Excess road salt poisons the wells that North Country residents drink from. It degrades farmland, fouls lakes, desiccates trees.

Yes, things have been a bit … chaotic in the Executive Chamber this year. But in the administration of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, long appointment delays and other forms of foot-dragging were a feature, not a bug. Skeptics might speculate that for Mr. Cuomo, the announcement of a plan of action was more important than its implementation.

All of the panel’s members have now been recommended, state officials say, and appointments are in the process of being finalized. We know Gov. Kathy Hochul is catching up on a backlog on empty positions. Prioritizing this process will be a significant way her administration can differentiate itself from its predecessor. State government needs to get moving on this important issue, collecting data transparently and thoroughly, and – at the most basic level – doing what it said it was going to do.

Editor’s note: This originally ran Dec. 13 in the (Albany) Times Union. Used by permission.

Photo: NYS Assemblyman Billy Jones speaks Dec. 4, 2020, at a commemoration of the signing of the Randy Preston Road Salt Reduction Act. More than 10 months later, the task force created by the bill is still without members. Mike Lynch photo

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Saranac Lake Winter Farmers’ Park-It now accepts SNAP

SNAP and farmers market

Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits are now accepted at the Saranac Lake Farmers’ Park-It, a curbside, order-ahead pickup model, through May 28. SNAP, formerly known as “food stamps”, is a federal program that provides low-income families with funds to purchase groceries. Since most vendors aren’t equipped to individually process EBT cards, a market-wide exchange program is required. This is the first year SNAP has been available through the winter and to pay for online-orders through Park-it.

Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Essex County, and AdkAction piloted this new local food access program at the Lake Placid and Saranac Lake farmers’ markets this year from May to October. Shoppers exchanged their SNAP benefits for tokens redeemable at the market. At those two markets, over $1,700 SNAP dollars were spent on local food during the summer season.

This fall, CCE and AdkAction worked together again at the Saranac Lake Indoor Farmers’ Market to provide the same program, and will continue as the market transitions to just a Park-It after the holidays. Prior to this program, SNAP benefits have not been accepted year-round at any farmers’ market in Essex County.

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Thursday, December 16, 2021

NYSCA funding to boost arts and culture nonprofits

barge concert

Gov. Kathy Hochul this week announced $45 million in grant awards through the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA). Grants administered by NYSCA this year will provide critical aid to bolster nonprofit arts and culture organizations and artists as they embark on a dynamic multi-year recovery process.

In June 2021, NYSCA rolled out a reimagined grantmaking process to increase access to state funds through expanded eligibility that embraced a vast range of artmaking in New York State, and led to a nearly 40% increase in applications for FY2022 to date. Following a streamlined application process, the agency will continue to support those severely impacted by the ongoing effects of COVID-19 through flexible funding accommodations.

NYSCA’s Round Three grants include Support for Organizations, Support for Artists, Special Opportunities, and Recovery Grants. All four categories of funding provide organizations and artists with vital dollars to boost their recovery process in response to the devastating economic impact of the last year and a half. More than 60% of NYSCA’s FY2022 grantees have organizational budgets of $1 million or less.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Keeping an eye on bird migrations

bird banding

Endemic to the Adirondack Park are a number of brilliant birders and I’m pretty sure they all roll their eyes when they see me coming, because I’m not much good with biological IDs of any kind, and I’m always peppering them with dopey questions like, “What bird is small, black and white and has a song that kind of goes ‘chickadee-dee-dee.’”

Birds are fascinating for their appearance, songs and habits, and as with most outdoor things, I know just enough to be dangerous.

This week a creature of avian disposition crossed my path and I silently wondered what kind of bird is blue, with a little rust and is about the size of a bluebi …

Oh, right.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Ten years ago….

Here’s a look at what stories were in the news 10 years ago….

 


Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Old trees on opposite coasts

fir treesWhile visiting family in Oregon recently, I spent some time reflecting on what makes the Adirondacks special, while also enjoying some of the incredible nature that makes the Pacific Northwest special.

(Please forgive this small departure from water issues – though forests, as any Adirondack history will remind you, are crucial to water quality.)

I visited Oregon’s largest state park, Silver Falls, about 50 miles south of Portland, which includes a loop trail that passes by as many as 10 impressive waterfalls. While on the coast, I hiked through extraordinary, old-growth forest and across cliffs that opened to admittedly-clouded ocean views.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2021

“What are the climate impacts of this project”?

dirtOn July 18, 2019, Climate Leadership and Community Protection Act (Climate Act) was signed into law.  To quote from the NYS Climate Council website, “New York State’s Climate Act is the among the most ambitious climate laws in the world and requires New York to reduce economy-wide greenhouse gas emissions 40 percent by 2030 and no less than 85 percent by 2050 from 1990 levels.

“The 2019 law creates a Climate Action Council charged with developing a scoping plan of recommendations to meet these targets and place New York on a path toward carbon neutrality.”

The Climate Council’s scoping plan is supposed to be released for public comment at the end of December. In an early December interview with WMHT-TV’s New York Now, Climate Action Council co-chair Doreen Harris (president and CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, or NYSERDA), spoke of the careful accounting of carbon emissions that the state’s law requires.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2021

75th Anniversary of DEC Summer Camps Program

Campground Ambassadors

DEC Announces Summer Environmental Education Camp Registration Opens March 6, 2022

Online registration for DEC’s 2022 Summer Camps program will open Sunday, March 6, 2022, at 1 p.m. To celebrate 75 years, DEC’s Summer Camps program will host a series of events and share mementos, including retro logos incorporated into camper shirts, special recognition certificates, and a camp celebration each Saturday during the season. Past campers, families, sponsors, and staff will also have an opportunity to take a literal stroll down memory lane at their favorite camps.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Adirondack coalition launches campaign for clean water, jobs, wilderness

Aaron Mair

A new coalition launched this week, advocating saving the Adirondacks forever, through a campaign for clean water, people and wilderness.

The Forever Adirondacks Campaign Director Aaron Mair released a bold 15-point agenda for protecting clean water, creating new jobs and preserving wilderness in the Adirondack Park.  Elements of the platform have already gained crucial support from a broad array of Adirondack residents, activists, educators and elected officials.

            “The focus of this campaign is on three goals: cleaner water, better employment opportunities and wilderness preservation,” said Campaign Director Aaron Mair.  “I am thrilled to say we are building a strong and diverse coalition of support for these goals, starting here inside the park and moving outward as we go.  We want everyone to know that the coalition will welcome support from all those who love the Adirondacks — whether you are lucky enough to live nearby or come to us from far away.

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Monday, December 13, 2021

Yule Logs

yule logs

The tradition of burning a Yule log has largely fizzled out in most parts of the world. While holiday cards often feature cute, picturesque birch rounds in the hearth, old-time Yule logs in 6th and 7th century Europe were monster tree trunks that were meant to burn all day, and in certain cultures for twelve continuous days, without being entirely used up. 

Apparently, if you didn’t have a leftover bit of this log remaining after the marathon burn, you were doomed to misfortune in the upcoming year. The remnant piece of charred wood was tucked away in the ceiling and was used to light the following year’s Yule log. I assume it was extinguished before being squirreled away in the rafters or some really bad luck would ensue.

While a birch log is charming, it doesn’t compare with many other hardwoods in terms of heat value and how long it will burn. Heat value from wood and other fuels is measured in British thermal units (BTUs), one BTU being the energy required to heat a pound of water one degree Fahrenheit. If you look at firewood BTU-value charts you’ll see that few of them agree exactly. This is to be expected, as the heat value of a given species varies according to the conditions in which it grew.

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Monday, December 13, 2021

Adirondack Watershed Institute expands lake monitoring program

AWI lake monitoring

The Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) recently announced that it has been awarded a grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program to expand the Adirondack Lake Assessment Program (ALAP) and further safeguard waterbodies across the Adirondack region.

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Monday, December 13, 2021

Tupper Lake lands $10M downtown revitalization award

Downtown Tupper Lake by Mike Lynch

State to Work with Residents, Community Leaders and Public Officials to Revitalize Tupper Lake’s Downtown

Gov. Kathy Hochul announced that Tupper Lake will receive $10 million in funding as one of the North Country region winners of the fifth round of the Downtown Revitalization Initiative (DRI). As part of DRI Round 5, each of the state’s 10 regional economic development regions are being awarded $20 million, to make for a total state commitment of $200 million in funding and investments to help communities boost their post COVID-19 economies by transforming downtowns into vibrant neighborhoods.

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Sunday, December 12, 2021

Church Community Addresses the Climate Crisis

keene valley congregational church

Connecting to our environment

“Our oldest unity is our relationship with the earth,” writes John Philip Newell, an internationally acclaimed spiritual teacher and author. He calls for us to reawaken to the sacredness of the earth and challenges us to take transformative action. Our environmental groups in the Adirondacks are taking action as are inter-faith communities.

Since May 2020 members of the Keene Valley Congregational Church (KVCC), under the auspices of the Creation Justice Church Task Force, have continued to address what we can do as a faith-based community. When commissioning this seven-member Task Force, Rev. John Sampson, pastor of KVCC, asked us to reflect upon and lead the congregation through a time of listening for how God may be calling us.

To encourage this listening, the Task Force sponsored spiritual-based explorations in the Adirondack woods and waters – a number of silent paddle trips and Forest Bathing gatherings. Using our senses, these events helped to deepen our personal connection with the natural environment.

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