Saturday, July 12, 2008

History of Electric Boats at The Adirondack Museum

Although they were popular in the Adirondacks in the 1890s and early 1900s, according to the G. W. Blunt White Library at Mystic Seaport, Connecticut, no one is really sure who founded the Electric Launch Company (“Elco”):

Electric motors that could be used for marine application had been invented by William Woodnut Griscom of Philadelphia in 1879, and in 1880 he started the Electric Dynamic Company. In 1892 Griscom’s electrical company went bankrupt, and Electric Dynamic Company was bought by Isaac Leopold Rice who founded Electric Storage Battery Company (“Exide”). Rice had become interested in Electric Launch Company; they had been buying his storage batteries. He also was interested in Holland Torpedo Boat Company. He purchased the latter and merged it, along with Elco, into the Electric Boat Company in 1899. In 1900, Elco, which had previously acted as middleman by farming out the hull contracts and installing Griscom’s motors and Rice’s batteries, built its own boat-building facility at Bayonne, NJ.

Join Charles Houghton, former president of the Electric Launch Company will present a program entitled “Batteries Included: The History, Present, and Future of Electric Boating” at the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake that will be presented this Monday, July 14, 2008 in the Auditorium at 7:30 p.m.

The company provided 55 electric launches for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago to ferry sightseers over the fair’s canals and lagoons. Elco shifted to gasoline engines by 1910 and had a long life building military and some of the first widely produced pleasure boats. During World War One, the company built 550 sub chasers for the British navy. In 1921 they introduced the popular and (reasonably) affordable 26-foot Cruisette, a gas engine cabin cruiser. During World War Two Elco developed the the PT Boat, an 80-foot torpedo boat with a Packard aircraft engine.

At the end of the war, the company merged with Electric Boat of Groton, CT to form the nucleus of General Dynamics. By 1949, General Dynamics’ CEO thought he could make more money by building military craft and Elco’s workers were fired, the shipyard in Bayonne, New Jersey and all its equipment was sold.

The company was re-incorporated in 1987 but didn’t shift into electric boats again until 1996 the year Monday’s speaker, Charles Houghton, became company president. Under his direction the company began building electric motor boats and electric drives for boats and sailboats.

Friday, July 11, 2008

2008 Annual Adirondack Loon Census

The Zen Birdfeeder points us to the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Annual Loon Census, set to take place Saturday, July 19th:

The Annual Loon Census provides valuable data for the Loon Program to follow trends in New York’s summer loon population over time. Hundreds of residents and visitors throughout New York assist them each year by looking for loons on their favorite lake or river. » Continue Reading.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Newcomb VIC to Host Climate Change Lecture

According to a media release we received last week, the SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry’s (ESF) Adirondack Ecological Center (AEC) and the Adirondack Park Agency Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) in Newcomb will feature a presentation on climate change during the Huntington Lecture Series at 7 p.m. this Thursday, July 10th at the Newcomb VIC.

Colin Beier (that’s him at left) is a research associate at the AEC. He will present a program titled “Changing Climate, Changing Forests: from Alaska to the Adirondacks.”

Beier will demonstrate that the impacts of climate change in the far north are much more than disappearing sea ice; the boreal forests are changing dramatically, due to increased fire, insect outbreaks and tree diebacks. These are all are linked to climatic changes in the last century. » Continue Reading.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Andy Flynn’s New Blog ‘Adirondack Writer’

Adirondack Almanack gets a lot of requests to link to new blogs and nearly all of them we turn down because they don’t have anything to do with the Adirondacks. By the way, our criteria for inclusion as an Adirondack blog is simple – it should be written in or about the Adirondacks. A new blog from Andy Flynn promises both.

Flynn, from Saranac Lake, reports that he:

Writes the newspaper column, ‘Adirondack Attic,’ which runs weekly in five northern New York newspapers. It features stories about artifacts from the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake, N.Y. Andy is the author of the book series, New York State’s Mountain Heritage: Adirondack Attic, with volumes 1-5 in stores now. He owns/operates Hungry Bear Publishing and lives in Saranac Lake, N.Y. During the day, he is the Senior Public Information Specialist at the NYS Adirondack Park Agency Visitor Interpretive Center in Paul Smiths.

A recent post covered his so far unsuccessful attempts to save a historic one-room schoolhouse in Ellenburg Center (Clinton County):

In this case, I contacted the Adirondack Museum to see if they were interested in saving this schoolhouse, No. 11, in Clinton County. Not really. You see, they already have a one-room schoolhouse, the Reising Schoolhouse, built in 1907 in the Herkimer County town of Ohio. The Reising Schoolhouse was located in the extreme southern part of the Adirondack Park. The Ellenburg Center schoolhouse is located in the extreme northern part of the Adirondack Park.

The Adirondack Museum’s chief curator suggested I call Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) in Keeseville, which I did. The director and I spoke about the situation and agreed it would be a good idea to see the structure first. If anyone can help with saving an historic building in the Adirondack Park, it is AARCH.

So, that’s where we are. If there is any way to help, we’ll try to make it happen. Maybe we’ll get lucky and find someone in the Adirondack region, hopefully in Clinton County, who can help preserve this one-room schoolhouse, an important part of our rich North Country heritage.

Give Andy’s new blog a read, and lend a hand in his latest effort if you can.

Saturday, July 5, 2008

Great Camps of the Adirondacks at the Adirondack Museum

From an Adirondack Museum media release:

Adirondack rustic lodges or “great camps” as their wealthy owners called them, were summer vacation homes. Built primarily of wood and stone and set deep in the great forests, the truly fabulous structures are today both relics of a bygone age and prototype for the contemporary architect, amateur builder, and historian.

On Monday, July 7, 2008, Dr. Harvey H. Kaiser will offer a program entitled “Great Camps of the Adirondacks, 25 Years Later” at the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, New York.

The first offering of the season in the museum’s Monday Evening Lecture series, the slide-illustrated presentation will be held in the museum’s auditorium at 7:30 p.m. There is no charge for museum members. Admission is $4.00 for non-members.

Dr. Kaiser’s talk will be based on his book Great Camps of the Adirondacks. This seminal study of rustic architecture is about great camps built from 1870 to 1930, establishing a style of domestic architecture imitated throughout the country in similar terrain of lakes, timber, and native stone.

Kaiser will preface his observations on the architecture with the history of the Adirondacks and the social forces that created structures that retain their charm and utility, in some cases a century and a quarter after construction. There are fascinating accounts of both the personalities who engineered and financed fabulous great camps, and of the buildings themselves.

When he wrote Great Camps, Kaiser made a strong case for preservation. The destruction of these remarkable structures would have been an irreparable loss, not only to our architectural heritage but also to every individual to whom they are a resource and inspiration.

In his presentation, Kaiser will offer observations on the book’s concerns, the changes that rescued the camps from demise, and the resurgent interest in rustic architecture.

Dr. Kaiser is president of Harvey H. Kaiser Associates, Inc., a consulting firm providing services domestically and internationally in architecture, urban planning, and facilities management.

In addition to Great Camps of the Adirondacks, Kaiser’s current research interest is historic architecture in the national parks. He is the author of Landmarks in the Landscape: Historic Architecture in the Western National Parks, guidebooks on parks in the far and southwest.

The Adirondack Museum tells the story of the Adirondacks through exhibits, special events, classes for schools, and hands-on activities for visitors of all ages. Open for a new season from May 23 to October 19, 2008. Introducing Rustic Tomorrow — a new exhibit. For information about upcoming exhibits and programs, please call (518) 352-7311, or visit

Thursday, July 3, 2008

Adirondack Park Invasive Species Awareness Week

Adirondack communities and organizations will celebrate the 3rd annual Adirondack Park Invasive Species Awareness Week July 6- July 12, 2008.

WHY: Invasive plants and animals threaten Adirondack lakes, ponds, rivers, and forests, which are precious resources that underwrite the economy of many communities through recreation, tourism, forestry, and numerous other uses.

WHAT: Learn about the issues surrounding invasive species (both plant and animal, aquatic and terrestrial) and about the importance of native biodiversity in the Adirondacks by attending workshops, field trips, lectures, and control parties. » Continue Reading.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Best Bets: A Fourth of July Adirondacks Guide

On the advice of a reader we offer a list of Fourth of July Events around the Adirondack Region.

Here are the best of the day’s events, a full list of fireworks and other celebrations follows:

Wild Center Film (July 4) Premiering of A Matter of Degrees a film shot for the Flammer Theater’s wide screen. It explores the epic story of the last 250,000 years in the Adirondacks, including ice ages, extinctions and depictions of the forces that shaped the world around the Museum. Shot on location in Greenland and the Adirondacks. Free with paid admission. Shows several times daily. Free with paid admission.

Zucchini Brothers at the Wild Center
(July 4) The Zucchini Brothers will give a free performance at 12 and 1pm today. The Zucchini Brothers offer entertainment for the young and young at heart, and have been called the Beatles of kids’ music. The concert will be held outside in the tent.

Independence Day Ski Jump (July 4,MacKenzie-Intervale Ski Jumping Complex, Lake Placid) a great opportunity to see a ski jump competition in the middle of the summer. Adults – $12 / Juniors/Seniors – $8 . The price includes entry to the competition as well as use of the chairlift and a ride up the 26-story elevator to the top of the 120 meter ski jump tower.

I Love New York Horse Show (July 1-6, Lake Placid) World class riders and horses compete in championship Hunter and Jumper competitions for over $470,000 in prize money. Admission to the horse show is $2.00 on weekdays and $5.00 on weekend days. Children under the age of 12 are admitted free. For a behind the scenes look at the shows, take a guided walking tour offered each weekday at 11:30 AM.

32nd Annual Adirondack Distance Run (July 4, 7:30 am) Lake George to Bolton Landing 10 Mile USATF Championship Race. (518) 792-7396.

Ticonderoga Village “Best Fourth In The North” Fair and Fireworks (July 4) Site of the first victory of the American Revolution. Declaration of Independence readings on Fort Ticonderoga grounds throughout the day.

Schroon Lake Beach Concert and Fireworks (July 4) Hosted by Word of Life, this celebration features a concert and one of the largest fireworks shows in the Adirondacks at dusk.

Lake Placid “Set the Night to Music” (July 4) A day of celebration activities with a parade down Main Street and fireworks set to music. 5:00-6:00, parade through Main Street, 6:30-7:30 Sinfonietta Concert – “American Salute” patriotic music, free, open air concert lakeside on Main Street, Mirror Lake Beach fireworks at 9:45 pm.

Jay Fire Department Independence Day Celebration (July 4) Parade at noon, entertainment throughout the day with food, beverages, games, pull tabs, and bingo. The band “Lucid” will be in the parade and will be playing all day. Fireworks will be at dusk. Each year they try to top themselves with a little bigger display.

Other Fireworks Shows

July 3rd

Glens Falls Summer Jam and Fireworks in East Field (6:30 pm, fireworks at 10 pm)
Hague Elvis Live Show & Fireworks (Town Park, 8 pm; fireworks at dusk)

July 4th

Bolton Landing Fireworks (7 pm)
Indian Lake Celebration (6:30 pm, fireworks at dusk)
Inlet Fireworks over Fourth Lake (1 pm Ping Pong Drop, fireworks at dusk)
Lake George Village Fireworks (9:30 pm)
Long Lake Independence Day Celebration (9:30 am – fireworks at dusk)
Old Forge 4th Of July Annual Fireworks & Band Concert (7 pm; fireworks at dusk)
Queensbury Great Escape Fireworks Show (dusk)
Raquette Lake (fireworks at dusk)

July 5th

AuSable Club, Keene Valley, (around 8:30-9pm)
Corinth NY Independence Day Celebration (fireworks at dusk)
Minerva Day (full days of events, fireworks, garage sales and more)
North Creek – Independence Day Celebration in Ski Bowl Park (12 pm, fireworks at dusk)
Northville Fireworks (10 pm)

July 7th

Athol Concert and Fireworks In Veteran’s Memorial Field (7 pm)

There you go – you ask – we deliver.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Lake George Theater Lab Announces 4th Season

The Lake George Theater Lab has announced its 2008 season, its most ambitious ever, including “Four by Four,” an evening of world premiere short plays by a quartet of rising young American playwrights; three free “sneak-peek” readings of full-length plays; a free, outdoor production of “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” part of our annual “Shakes by the Lake” series in Rogers Memorial Park; and a benefit performance of “Chopin and the Nightingale,” the American premiere of a drama with music at the Marcella Sembrich Opera Museum.

All told, the LGTL will present seven new plays – and one classic – from July 10-19:

“Four by Four,” a collection of four new short plays, including “Leo,” an exploration of a hamster’s homecoming by Daniel Heath; “Panopticon,” a comedy by Aaron Loeb about a husband and wife with a few little weapons around; “The Grave,” Gabriel McKinley’s gritty tale of one horseplayer’s blues; and “Three Divided into One,” a drama about letting go by Molly Rhodes. All seven are directed by Rosemary Andress. JULY 10-12; Bolton Central School, 26 Horicon Avenue, Bolton Landing; 8 PM; $15. Reservations: (518) 207-0143.

“Fresh Work At Frederick’s,” readings of three new American plays, presented at Frederick’s Restaurant, in downtown Bolton Landing. With drinks on tap and dinner at the ready, the readings are designed to be a casual way to hear brand-spanking new work – for free! Among the inaugural offerings are “The Swearing Jar,” a contemporary drama by Kate Hewlett; “The Boy From Newfoundland,” a quirky Canadian comedy by Graeme Gillis; and “Away in a Manger,” not your average Christmas play by Jesse McKinley. JULY 14-16; Frederick’s Restaurant, 4970 Lake Shore Drive, Bolton Landing; 7 PM; FREE and no reservations required.

Shakespeare’s “Two Gentlemen of Verona,” the comic fairy tale pitting friendship against love and featuring feisty young gentlemen, intelligent young ladies, servants, outlaws, a duke, a knight, and a dog fight. (Needed: one dog.) Directed by Daniel Spector. JULY 17-19, Rogers Memorial Park, Route 9A; 7:30 PM. FREE and outdoors.

“Chopin and the Nightingale,” a drama about the long-secret romance between the famed composer and Jenny Lind, a beautiful Swedish soprano. Performed with a pair of world class sopranos in the gorgeous environs of the Sembrich Museum, the performance will benefit the Icons of Europe TB Fund, which benefits tuberculosis research. JULY 25, Marcella Sembrich Opera Museum, 4800 Lake Shore Drive, Bolton Landing; 7:30 PM; $20; Reservations: 518-644-2431. (Extra performance: JULY 27, 2 PM).

Monday, June 30, 2008

Do The Rich Confiscate Adirondack Natural Beauty?

Barbara Ehrenreich has an interesting article in the Nation this month about the what she calls considers “the general rule, which has been in effect since sometime in the 1990s: if a place is truly beautiful, you can’t afford to be there. All right, I’m sure there are still exceptions — a few scenic spots not yet eaten up by mansions. But they’re going fast.”

The places she describes, Key West and the Grand Tetons, have remarkable similarities to our own Adirondacks. Here is her description of Key West:

At some point in the ’90s, the rich started pouring in. You’d see them on the small planes coming down from Miami — taut-skinned, linen-clad and impatient. They drove house prices into the seven-figure range. They encouraged restaurants to charge upward of $30 for an entree. They tore down working-class tiki bars to make room for their waterfront “condotels.”

That’s something we’ve all seen in our area. But, as Ehrenreich points out, it comes at a cost, even for the wealthy:

Ultimately, the plutocratic takeover of rural America has a downside for the wealthy too. The more expensive a resort town gets, the farther its workers have to commute to keep it functioning. And if your heart doesn’t bleed for the dishwasher or landscaper who commutes two to four hours a day, at least shed a tear for the wealthy vacationer who gets stuck in the ensuing traffic. It’s bumper to bumper westbound out of Telluride, Colorado, every day at 5, or eastbound on Route 1 out of Key West, for the Lexuses as well as the beat-up old pickup trucks.

Or a place may simply run out of workers. Monroe County, which includes Key West, has seen more than 2,000 workers leave since the 2000 Census, a loss the Los Angeles Times calls “a body blow to the service-oriented economy of a county with only 75,000 residents and 2.25 million overnight visitors a year.” Among those driven out by rents of more than $1,600 for a one-bedroom apartment are many of Key West’s wait staff, hotel housekeepers, gardeners, plumbers and handymen. No matter how much money you have, everything takes longer — from getting a toilet fixed to getting a fish sandwich at Pepe’s.

It’s an interesting read, and one that echoes our own problems with affordable housing, low wages, and disappearing Adirondack style.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

New Route For Northville-Placid Trail

The Schenectady Gazzette is reporting some good news today – the rerouting of the ten mile hike along Route 30 from Northville to Upper Benson that starts the Northville-Placid Trail. In the process DEC is adding six miles to the trail.

Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, said work could begin next year on the planned new southern section of the trail starting in Gifford’s Valley, closer to Northville.

» Continue Reading.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Largest Event at Fort Ticonderoga in Modern Times

It’s a big year at Fort Ticonderoga on Lake Champlain. First it’s the 100th anniversary of their opening with a dedication attended by President William Howard Taft. The Pell family began it’s restoration that year, a project that is continuing with the completion of the Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center that will open on July 6.

This year also marks the 250th anniversary of the French and Indian War of the Battle of Carillon, which was designated as the I Love NY “signature event,” and the opening of the new exhibit “Face of War; Triumph and Tragedy at Ticonderoga, 1758-1759,” the first new exhibit in many years. It details the lives of soldiers taken directly from their diaries and letters.

On the weekend of June 28 and 29th, over 2,000 re-enactors from all over the world are expected to make camp assembling to commemorate and celebrate the battle when Major General Abercromby’s British Army, along with Native Americans and American Militia was defeated by a much smaller force defending the fort under the Marquis de Montcalm. The focal point of the re-enactment of the 1758 battle will be a replica of the log breastwork that was a focal point of repeated and deadly British frontal attacks.

On July 5, the British and the Black Watch will be remembered with a parade to the Scottish Cairn, accompanied by clans, bagpipes and Scots from Canada, England and the United States. On July 8, there will be a parade led by the Fort Ticonderoga Fife and Drum Corps to the Montcalm Cross in remembrance of the French victory.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Adirondack Museum’s 21st Annual Rustic Fair

From the Adirondack Museum:

Talented artists from the Adirondack Park and across the United States bring highly prized craftsmanship and creative expression to one-of-a-kind rustic designs exhibited and sold at the Adirondack Museum’s 21st Annual Rustic Fair. This is the largest event of its kind in the Northeast!

Enjoy delicious food, and great music by the Lime Hollow Boys (Saturday) and traditional fiddling by Frank Orsini (Sunday). See demonstrations of rustic furniture making, carving, and painting throughout the weekend (September 6 and 7, 2008 10 am – 4 pm.

Here is a list of the 2008 Rustic Artisans

Gene Albright
Refined Rustics

Fred Beckhorn
Natural Form Furniture

Barney & Susan Bellinger
Sampson Bog Studio

Tom Benware
Adirondack Woodwright

William Betrus
Adirondack Custom Twig

Steve Bowers
Bald Mountain Rustics

Nathan Broomfield
Zoya Woodworks

Charley Brown
Mote Fly Rustic

Matthew Burnett *
Matt Burnett Paintings

Gary Casagrain
Casagrain Studio & Gallery

Steve & Gwenn Chisholm
High Ridge Rustics

Jim Clark *

Rhea Costello
Paintings by Rhea

Reid Crosby
Branch & Burl

David Daby
Adirondack Rustic Creations

Brant Davis
Gone Wild Creations, Inc.

Jay Dawson
Major Pieces

Russ DeFonce & Deb Jones
Bookman Rustic Furniture

Jeanne Dupre
Adirondack Watercolors

Dave Engelhardt *
Angelheardt Designs

Douglas Francis
Aurora Rustics

John Gallis
Norsemen Designs West

Russ Gleaves & Bill Coffey

Brian Gluck
Rustic Cedar

Brad Greenwood
Greenwood Designs

Barry & Matthew Gregson
Adirondack Rustics Gallery

Eric Gulbrandsen
Trout Pond Rustics

Wayne Hall *

Christopher Hawver
Woodsmith Rustic Furniture

Jason Henderson
J.R. Henderson Designs

Randy Holden
Elegantly Twisted

Michael Hutton *
The Rustic and Painted Garden

Wayne Ignatuk
Swallowtail Studio

Michael Kazlo
Adirondack Mountain Rustic

Phil Kellogg
Adirondack Rustic Furnishings

Morris Kopels
Glens Falls Rustic Studio

Janice and Jonathan Kostreva
Bear View Ridge Rustic Furniture and Lighting

Gary Krauss *
Native Woods

Paul Lakata
Rustic Artwork

Donald Moss
Don Moss Rustic

Anto Parseghian
Abiding Branches

Bill Perkins
Sleeping Bear Twig Furniture

Thomas Phillips
Thomas Phillips Rustic Furniture

Rick & Denise Pratt
Around the Bend

Daniel Quinn
Nature’s Design

Kevin & Jeannie Ridgeway
Unique Woodworks

Michael Ringer
St. Lawrence Gallery

Jim Schreiner
Great Sacandaga Designs

Steven Shroder
Stickworks Custom Furniture

Charles Phinney & Stan Steeves
Harvest Hardwoods

Robert Stump
Robert Stump Studios

Jamie Sutliff
Cold River Gallery

Jonathan Swartwout *
Fisher of the Berry

John Taylor
Rustic Furniture by John and Marjorie Taylor

Jim Thomson
Thomson Rustic Furnishings

Jane Voorhees
Jane Voorhees, Custom Furnishings and Accessories

Judd Weisberg

Tom Welsh
The Rustic Homestead

Bim Willow
Willow Works, Inc.

* Indicates a new artisan

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wild Center: Climate Change ‘Producing Significant Harm’

The Wild Center in Tupper Lake is holding a national climate conference [details pdf] opened today with an admonishment from conference Co-chair Carter Bales: “We know the risks from climate change are immediate and serious. We know that we have to cut emissions now to cut those risks. It is time to stop talking about what we can do, and start to do it.” Conference organizers released this note today:

The two day conference has attracted leaders from industry, science and policy organizations to the Adirondacks because its organizers promised the event would focus on solutions that would place the United States in a leadership position in a global effort to move away from carbon-based economy. But before the conference attendees started to hash out solutions two speakers took the stage to update the audience on the latest climate science.

John Holdren, a world renowned expert and director at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, and President of Woods Hole Research Center spoke first. Holdren warned that climate change was not a future event, but “causing significant harm now.” In graphic detail he presented statistics that showed a speeding up of changes in weather patterns around the world, including new data from China linking droughts in Asia to changes in climate. “This is not some radical group,” he said, “this is coming out of the Chinese government, and it is causing them to act.” Holdren told the gathered leaders that the odds were growing worse each day that the world temperature would reach a level not seen in 30 million years, “a time,” he said, “that crocodiles roamed in Greenland.”

Holdren was followed by Thomas Lovejoy, president of the Heinz Center for Science, Economics and the Environment. Lovejoy echoed Holdren’s calls for swift action. He cited global reports of major shifts in species locations, showing that “nature is already on the move everywhere.” Lovejoy said that based on current science, 20 to 30 percent of all species on Earth are likely to be extinct by 2030 as a result of traumatic system shifts caused by changes resulting from climate change. He pointed to locations all over the globe, using models that consistently predict drought in the critical Amazon region in South America and rising sea levels that would alter vast habitats and force large human migrations. Both Lovejoy and Holdren spoke about the complexity of the natural world, and the difficulty of understanding how each change would impact other parts of the system. They both agreed that the pace and scale of changes would cause, as Lovejoy put it, “ecosystems as we know them to fall apart.”

Lovejoy cited the heat wave that took 35,000 lives in Europe in 2003 as an example. The spike in temperature was then thought of as a one in a hundred year event. Lovejoy said that based on current projections that same heat wave would occur every other year by 2020, and would be considered a cool summer by 2050.

The economists and business presenters followed Lovejoy and Holdren. Dimitri Zenghelis, Chief Economist at Cisco’s climate change long-term innovation group and a special advisor to the British government on climate, who had flown in from London for the conference, reiterated that this was not “tomorrow’s story, this is happening now.”

Zenghelis said that a reduction of emissions across the globe of 6-10% every year for the next ten years would produce a 50/50 chance that global temperatures would stabilize at only 1.2 degrees hotter than today, a level that is projected to lead to severe disruptions in natural systems, including those responsible for food and water supplies.

Zenghelis ended by saying that the solutions that were available to cut emissions could result in a cost of only 1 to 2 percent of global GDP, a number he related to the 5 percent of U.S. GDP dedicated to military expenditures or the 15 percent spent on healthcare.

Ken Ostrowski, who is the head of a major climate initiative at McKinsey & Company, one of the world’s leading consulting firms, presented an outline of the McKinsey Report on greenhouse gas reductions that describes ways the U.S. could reduce emissions. The report also helped form the basis for the conference’s solution-oriented structure. In one example he said that a move to use existing energy efficient products would eliminate the need for $300 billion dollars in new power plant investment freeing up money for other uses.

Ostrowski described a series of ways that the cuts could be made in a way that benefited the economy. He used examples as simple as consumers changing to fluorescent lighting that would cut electric use, reduce overall costs for consumers and cut pollution associated with manufacturing and shipping dozens of old-style incandescent light bulbs that a single long-lasting fluorescent bulb would replace. More complex examples included the challenges posed by the need to move quickly and in an organized way across many parts of the economy.

Each attendee at the conference was supplied in advance with reports outlining options that would collectively help move the United States sharply away from carbon dependence. The eventual goal is an 80 to 90 percent reduction in emissions by 2050. Conferees broke up into three groups, one to hammer out recommendations for power generation, another for forestry and land use, and the last for buildings and appliances. More than 60 leaders from each sector sat around tables and began to shape their group’s recommendation. The gatherings were closed to outside observers to allow what conference director Kate Fish said would be a completely open discussion. “What they are trying to do here could be historic,” said Fish. “We wanted everyone to feel that they could take risks, and take positions without concern that they might be quoted in something they said years from now.”

Fish said that the conference was filled to overflow, with more than 200 total attendees for an event that organizers planned for 125. All of the main presentations are being prepared for internet broadcast by the Wild Center. “We filmed all the Plenary sessions,” said Fish. “We will post the presentations and speeches as soon as possible on the conference website.” She said that the entire conference plan, and all the advance reports were already posted in the website the Wild Center created for the Conference at She said that all the presentations and speeches would be available on that site within three weeks.

Attendees will reconvene Thursday to complete work for each sector, and to convene as a group to work toward a first draft of the conference’s “Message to the Nation,” which will be widely circulated once it has been completed. The conference concludes Thursday at 5:00.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Smart Growth Bill Passes NYS Legislature

From State Senator Carl L. Marcellino (R, Syosset) and Assemblyman Sam Hoyt (D, Buffalo) comes this announcement that the Senate and Assembly have passed the New York State’s first Smart Growth legislation. This is a lot of quotes with not a lot of substance, but here it is nonetheless:

This legislation defines Smart Growth Principles for New York State government to look towards as they implement State policies and programs. State activities are often a foundation for economic and community development. These principles will ensure that the State considers it’s impact on suburban and urban sprawl. A recent survey revealed that as the population in upstate New York grew by 2.6%, the amount of land developed increased by 30%.

“This legislation is a great first step in moving our State from suburban sprawl to smart growth. We need to focus state resources on creating livable neighborhoods that protect our open spaces, and reduce the need for cars and their air pollution,” Senator Carl L. Marcellino said. “Without action, our environment and communities are threatened by shortsighted and poorly planned developments.”

“With this legislation, the State takes its first step towards reducing the taxpayer burden and refocusing development to where it costs the least,” said Assemblyman Sam Hoyt. “These smart growth principles will reinforce communities across New York State and make New York more competitive. As a smart growth champion I am proud to be the Assembly sponsor of New York’s first smart growth law.”

Smart Growth Principles require the State to review public investment, economic development, conservation and restoration, intergovernmental partnerships, community livability, transportation, sustainability and consistency in future state infrastructure and development programs.

“Audubon New York applauds the leadership of Senator Carl Marcellino and Assemblyman Sam Hoyt in establishing the New York State Smart Growth Principles for State Agencies to implement sound development and planning programs,” said Albert E. Caccese, Executive Director of Audubon New York the state program of the National Audubon Society. “Habitat loss resulting from uncontrolled sprawl has been a leading cause of declining bird populations in many parts of New York, and thoughtful planning of development is imperative for many species. Establishing these Smart Growth Principles is an important first step, and we look forward to working with these leaders to advance stronger policies that seek to promote smart growth in New York in the years to come”

“The Nature Conservancy commends Senator Marcellino and Assemblyman Hoyt for recognizing that conservation is not merely a matter of sequestering nature into our parks and preserves,” said Kathy Moser, Acting State Director for The Nature Conservancy in New York. “But rather, effective conservation requires integrating smart growth principles into the public policy planning process in order to protect open space, conserve natural resources, preserve community character, and facilitate adaptation to climate change while still promoting the economic drivers essential to the prosperity of New Yorkers.”

“The basic principles of Smart Growth are good for both the economy and the environment in the Adirondack Park,” said Brian L. Houseal, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council, a not-for-profit environmental research, education and advocacy organization. “We commend Senator Marcellino and Assemblyman Hoyt for their vision and foresight in sponsoring this new law. It will encourage sound planning that promotes economic growth in places where it is most needed and where it can do the least harm to our natural resources.”

“Vision Long Island applauds the Legislature for the passage of the Smart Growth Principles Bill as a first step towards the creation of a Smart Growth program,” said Eric Alexander, Executive Director of Vision Long Island, a regional smart growth planning organization. “Senator Marcellino and NYS Assemblyman Sam Hoyt should be congratulated for their leadership as the principles in this legislation will help lay the groundwork for comprehensive planning and infrastructure reform. With this action and the Governor’s Smart Growth Cabinet, we have seen positive progress towards a Smart Growth agenda for New York.”

“By embracing smart growth values, we will begin to develop a long-range, regional approach to sustainability of our communities. This legislation starts a process that will inspire an overdue change of philosophy as we develop our ever expanding neighborhoods,” Senator Marcellino concluded.

The bill numbers are S.8612/A.7335A – according to the bill memo:

TITLE OF BILL: An act to amend the environmental conservation law, in relation to establishing the New York state smart growth principles

PURPOSE OR GENERAL IDEA OF BILL: The purpose of this bill is to outline state smart growth principles and to direct state infrastructure agencies to implement these principles in funding future policies and programs.

SUMMARY OF SPECIFIC PROVISIONS: This bill defines “smart growth principles” in terms of public investment, economic development, conservation and restoration, intergovernmental partnerships, community livability, transportation, sustainability, and consistency, for future state infrastructure and development programs.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Adirondack Museum Suspends Lake Placid Project

Just arrived from the Adirondack Museum:

Blue Mountain Lake, N.Y. The Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, New York announced today that it has suspended work on its plan to erect a building on Main Street in Lake Placid, N.Y. to house a new branch of the museum and its existing store.

Museum Director Caroline Welsh said that the decision was made very reluctantly and only after detailed consideration of financial and other implications of the project for the museum. The decision was made at a special meeting of the museum’s Board of Trustees on June 23, 2008.

According to John Fritzinger, Chairman of the Board, the decision is the result of the cumulative impact of several key factors.

These include the extended period required to obtain the permits needed to proceed; continuing litigation over those permits that offers the prospect of even further delay and expense; escalation in costs related to the construction and operation of the museum; and the difficulty of raising the necessary capital in the face of deteriorating and uncertain financial markets, a strained economy, and the potential effects of high gas prices on museum visitation.

Ms. Welsh said the Board of Trustees is most appreciative of the strong support the Adirondack Museum has received for the Lake Placid branch from Mayor Jamie Rogers, Town of North Elba Supervisor Robi Politi, and many members of the community. She expressed the thanks of the museum to all for all their help and enthusiasm as the project moved forward.

Welsh also noted that the Board is particularly grateful for outstanding work by architects David Childs and Roger Duffy of Skidmore Owings & Merrill in creating an exciting design for the proposed new museum.

The Lake Placid project was part of the Adirondack Museum’s overall strategic plan that includes the goal of projecting the museum’s presence beyond Blue Mountain Lake. The Director emphasized that the goal remains in place. The museum recognizes the importance of Lake Placid as a cultural hub of the Adirondacks and a premier resort destination. Welsh said that the
museum will continue to deliver its programs and collections to the residents of and visitors to the Tri-Lakes area.

Welsh announced that the Adirondack Museum would partner with the Lake Placid Center for the Arts to offer annual exhibits at the Center’s facility. “Rustic Tomorrow” will be the first exhibition. A show of unique rustic furniture created through the collaboration of noteworthy architects, designers, and craftsmen, the exhibit premiered at the museum’s Blue Mountain Lake campus in May, and will travel to LPCA in late fall.

She also confirmed that museum outreach programs will continue in the village, including the popular Lake Placid “Cabin Fever Sunday” programs.

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