Monday, November 16, 2009

Exporting The Adirondack Park Model to England

There’s been a lot of discussion in recent months about the exportation of the “Adirondack model” – the sense that the environmental conservation model used here in the Adirondack region can be exported to other places in the world. It’s an argument that North Country Public Radio’s Brian Mann called “one of the great orthodoxies of Adirondack theory.”

Recent interviews by former Adirondack Park Agency chairman Ross Whaley to support the 600 page tome The Great Experiment in Conservation have left a sense that the Adirondack experiment – that combination of public and private lands, overseen by a combination of local and regional authorities – can not be repeated. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 16, 2009

The Last Days of John Brown: Southern Fears

There were about 4 million slaves in the United States at the time of John Brown’s raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia in 1859. Slavery in the South rested on complex and often convoluted political, social, and economic systems, enforced by violence. Perhaps because forcing people to work for you for free was so dependent on violence, the south was continuously racked with fear – fear that one’s slaves (or someone else’s) would rise up against them. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, November 15, 2009

World Cup Bobsled, Skeleton Returns to Lake Placid

The 2009-10 FIBT World Cup bobsled and skeleton season is underway and some of world’s best bobsledders and skeleton athletes will be coming to the Olympic Sports Complex track in Lake Placid, during the second stop of the seven-race tour November 20-22. Here are the details supplied by the Olympic Regional Development Authority, who manages the Lake Placid Olympic venues:

While in Lake Placid, the U.S. squad will try to match the same success it enjoyed last season when driver Steve Holcomb helped lead the team to four world championship medals on the 1,455-meter long course. The “Night Train” stood on three medal podiums, winning bronze in the two-man man race, bronze in the team competition and gold in the four-man event. That victory allowed him to become the first American pilot to claim a World title in 50 years.

Fellow American Shauna Robuck is also looking forward to being back in Lake Placid. Last season, the 32-year-old won a pair of world championship medals, piloting her sled to silver in the women’s two-man event, before helping the squad nab bronze in the team competition.

The U.S. skeleton team should be just as strong. The women’s line up is led by two-time World Cup Champion Katie Uhlaender and 2007 World Champion Noelle Pikus-Pace, while Zach Lund, the 2007 World Champion, and Eric Bernotas, a winner of several World Championship and World Cup medals during his career, headline the men’s roster.

Other sleds to watch include German Andre Lange, who won the four-man silver medal, and Latvia’s Janis Minins, the 2009 four-man World Championship bronze medalist. Other athletes to keep an eye out for include Switzerland’s Gregor Staehli, the reigning men’s skeleton World Champion, and Germany’s Marion Trott, the defending women’s skeleton World Champion.

Racing begins Friday, Nov. 20, at 9:30 a.m. with the women’s skeleton event, followed by the men’s skeleton race at 1 p.m. The men’s two-man bobsled race is slated for Saturday, Nov. 21, also beginning at 9:30 a.m., while the women’s two-man bobsled race is scheduled to begin at 1:30 p.m. Both the four-man bobsled race and the team competition are set for Sunday, Nov. 22. The four-man race begins at 9:30 a.m. and the team event caps off the three days of racing at 1 p.m.

Daily Tickets are available for $8.00 for adults and $6.00 juniors and senior citizens. Anyone who brings a non-perishable food item for the Lake Placid Ecumenical food pantry will receive free entry. For tickets call the Olympic Sports Complex at 518-523-4436 or pick them up at the gate on event days. For more information on the Nov. 20-22 FIBT World Cup bobsled and skeleton race in Lake Placid, log on to www.whiteface.com.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Lecture: The Klan, Vigilantism in the Adirondacks

Writer and social historian Amy Godine will be giving a talk about vigilantes and the Ku Klux Klan on Sunday, November 22, at 3 p.m., at 511 Gallery on Main Street in Lake Placid. The lecture, entitled “Have You Seen That Vigilante Man?”, is being sponsored by The Lake Placid Institute.

Those interested in local history should be familiar with Godine’s work on social and ethnic history of the Adirondacks. Her stories, which have appeared a number of times in Adirondack Life magazine, take on the usually ignored aspects of Adirondack history. Spanish road workers, Italian miners, black homesteaders, Jewish peddlers and Chinese immigrants have all been brought to life through Godine’s meticulous research and writing. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, November 14, 2009

Porcupines: Armed and Dangerous

At the mention of the word “porcupine” most of us conjure in our minds the image of a medium-sized brown animal covered with long quills. But beyond this, I’d be willing to say that the average person knows very little about our second largest rodent, a relatively shy animal with poor eyesight, little muscle tone, and a fondness for salt. So, I thought I’d look into the cultural and natural history of the porcupine and see what interesting tidbits I could come up with to expand the average person’s knowledge of this denizen of our Adirondack forestlands. What I found was really quite interesting. » Continue Reading.


Friday, November 13, 2009

Weekly Adirondack Web Highlights


Friday, November 13, 2009

APA Reverses Lows Lake Wilderness Vote

All three of Governor David Paterson’s representatives on the Adirondack Park Agency board have reversed votes made in September and opposed designation of the waters of Lows Lake as Wilderness, Primitive, or Canoe. By a 6-4 vote the APA had added most of the waters and bed of Lows Lake to the Five Ponds Wilderness in September. The rest of the lake was classified as Primitive, which would have prohibited motorized use. It was later learned that the tenure of one of the APA commissioners had expired and the vote needed to be retaken – that vote occurred today and ended in a 7-4 reversal of the previous decision. » Continue Reading.


Friday, November 13, 2009

State Investigators Probing Lake George Officials

The New York State Comptrollers Office is investigating potentially illegal actions by Town of Lake George officials, a spokesman for the Comptroller’s office said. “An investigation is underway but we cannot comment on its scope or how it was initiated,” said Mark Johnson, a spokesman for Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. Lake George supervisor Lou Tessier said he had no knowledge of any investigation nor any idea why such an investigation would be undertaken.

Auditors from the Comptroller’s Division of Local Government and School Accountability have begun an examination of the town’s books, Tessier said, but stated that a performance audit is a routine matter. A similar audit was made of Lake George Village’s records earlier this fall.

Investigators from the Office of the Comptroller’s Division of Investigations, based in New York City, traveled to Lake George in mid-October to conduct interviews, the Lake George Mirror has learned. Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky and Fort William Henry Corporation president Robert Flacke were among those interviewed.

Navitsky said he was asked whether he knew of any instances of favoritism in the granting of variances or permits by the town’s Zoning or Planning Boards.

Flacke said he was asked about issues that emerged during his unsuccessful campaign for Town Supervisor two years ago. “We discussed issues such as whether developers are given gravel free from the town’s gravel pit and whether town employees work on private roads and driveways,” said Flacke.

Rita Dorman, a former Town Clerk who was later elected to the Town Board, said she was contacted by investigators but has not spoken with them. “I haven’t had any association with the town government in recent years; I have no information to give,” she said.

Warren County District Attorney Kate Hogan, to whose office any criminal actions might be referred, said she has had no formal contact with the Comptroller’s office about the Lake George investigation.

Some residents have surmised that the investigation was begun after the Office of the Comptroller received complaints from one or more current or former town employees.

According to the Office of the Comptroller, the public is encouraged to report allegations of fraud, corruption or abuse of taxpayer dollars to a hotline staffed by investigators from the Investigations Unit of the Legal Services.

After conducting a preliminary investigation, the Office may proceed with a full investigation and refer its findings to a prosecutor or, if no evidence of wrong-doing is found, close the case.

Individuals who make complaints are granted anonymity, the Office says.

Photo: Lake George Supervisor Lou Tessier

For more news from Lake George, read the Lake George Mirror or visit http://www.lakegeorgemirror.com


Friday, November 13, 2009

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Adirondack Music Scene:Blues, Bluegrass, Heavy Metal and Jazz

Quite a variety this week. Country Legend in Glens Falls, Heavy Metal Nightmare in Albany, Bluegrass in Peru, and Jazz in North Creek. Whatever your musical taste, come out and support live music.

Thursday, November 12
Tonight in Glens Falls, country music great George Jones will perform at the Glens Falls Civic Center. This show is part of a Thanksgiving canned food drive, so bring non-perishable food items to donate. George Jones has been recording music for 55 years. Tickets are $35 at the show starts at 7pm.

If heavy metal is more your style, Metallica is playing the Times Union Center in Albany tonight at 7pm. Ticket prices range from $51.50 to $71.50.
http://www.metallica.com
http://timesunioncenter-albany.com

Friday, November 13

On Friday night, acoustic bluegrass group Bear Tracks will perform at the Peru Community Church at 7pm. Some of you might be familiar with the band from the Upper Hudson Bluegrass Festival in North Creek.
http://www.beartracksband.com
http://www.perucommunitychurch.com

Dreaded Wheat will be at Hotshots Bar in Glens Falls playing a regular bar-time show from 10pm-2am. Dreaded Wheat is a partying duo playing all your favorites since 1999.
http://www.myspace.com/dreadedwheat
http://www.myspace.com/clubhotshots

Matt & Shannon Heaton are a husband and wife duo playing traditional Irish music. They will be at Caffe Lena in Saratoga Springs at 7pm. Tickets are $15 in advance and $17 at the door.
http://www.mattandshannonheaton.com
http://www.caffelena.org

Saturday, November 14

North Country favorites Raisinhead will be at the Putnam Den in Saratoga from 9pm-1am. Raisinhead has played many shows in North Creek, Lake Placid and Saranac Lake in recent years and has developed quite a following. They have become the official band of the Hudson River Whitewater Derby and are already scheduled for next year’s event.
http://www.raisinhead.com
http://www.putnamden.com

Blues guitarist and singer Christine Santelli is playing upstairs at the Waterhole #3 in Saranac Lake at 9pm. Christine is originally from Albany and has toured the US and Europe.
http://www.christinesantelli.com
http://www.myspace.com/saranacwaterhole

Also Saturday Night, Dreaded Wheat is playing J&J’s Foxx Lair Tavern in Baker’s Mills. This place has a great setup for bands and dancing, and a sweet shuffleboard table. Show is from 9pm-1am.
http://www.myspace.com/dreadedwheat

Sunday, November 15

Traditional Bluegrass Legend Del McCoury is playing at The Egg in Albany at 7:30pm. Tickets are $28. Contemporary Bluegrass Band, The Infamous Stringdusters will open the show.
http://www.delmccouryband.com
http://www.thestringdusters.com
http://www.theegg.org

The Greene Brothers are at the Stony Creek Inn at 5pm. Their Mexican Night starts at4pm, so get there early.
http://www.stonycreekinn.net

Wednesday, November 18

Tony Jenkins Jazz Trip playing at barVino on Main Street in North Creek from 8-10pm. Tony is an exceptional jazz guitarist and is accompanied by bass, drums, and local legend Frank Conti on the saxophone. barVino has music every Wednesday night from 8-10pm with no cover. barVino offers the best beer and wine selection in the Adirondacks. They also serve the tastiest and most creative food inside the Blue Line.
http://www.myspace.com/thetonyjenkinsjazztrip
http://www.barvino.net

Photo: Philly Music Guide


Thursday, November 12, 2009

John Collins of Blue Mountain Lake to be Honored

Blue Mountain Lake resident John Collins will be honored for his achievements over the past forty years in education, community enhancement and wilderness protection in the Adirondack Park by Protect the Adirondacks! at the Forever Wild Dinner in Glens Falls on Saturday.

The organization will award Collins with its highest honor, the Howard Zahniser Adirondack Award.

For more than 10 years Collins served on the board of the Adirondack Park Agency, and helped to organize the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks in 1990; he was chairman of both institutions for a time. He also had a lengthy career on the staff and board of the Adirondack Museum, as a trustee of the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts, and chairman of the Town of Indian Lake Planning Board. Collins also taught 5th grade at Long Lake Elementary School for 26 years. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, November 12, 2009

Adirondack Council Opposes Snowmobile Trails Plan

The Adirondack Council is asking the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) to reject a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) proposed snowmobile trail plan saying that it would allow mechanical groomers on Forest Preserve land and also what the council called the “illegal widening of snowmobile trails on state owned land.”

The APA is considering today and tomorrow in Ray Brook whether the plan, known officially as Management Guidance: Snowmobile Trail Siting, Construction and Maintenance on Forest Preserve Lands in the Adirondack Park, is consistent with provisions of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. The proposed changes include the building of mechanically groomed “Community Connector” trails nine feet wide (12 at curves). » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

November in the Adirondacks

November often seems like the most barren time of the year. The bright colors of autumn have passed, leaving a world of greys and browns behind. Lawns may still be green, but it’s a dull green that’s slowly turning brown. The days are shorter and more chill, and we reach for our sweaters and blankets. Woodstoves are fired up, and the tang of woodsmoke fills the air. People seem to be preparing for hibernation.

But the curious naturalist doesn’t go into hibernation. For many nature nuts, November is the time when secrets are revealed. With leaves off the trees, new woodpecker holes are visible. The line of sight through the forest no longer stops about three inches into the woods. Dens in rocks begin to look lived in, and beaver activity becomes quite pronounced. Signs of feeding, be it bears or squirrels, moose or chickadees, can be found with very little effort.

November is the time to explore. There are fewer distractions now that flowers are not blooming and insects are not buzzing. Everything seems to have been distilled to its essential nature. No more lazing around – it is time to get down to the business of survival, for winter is not far off.

Galls, as mentioned in previous posts, are highly visible in this time between the seasons and make perfect objects for nature studies. Dried flower heads (weeds, to some people) stand out with their own stark beauty and are ideal candidates for winter floral arrangements. In fact, there is at least one book out there to help you identify these ghosts of flowers past: Weeds in Winter, by Lauren Brown.

Many mornings are now kissed with frost. Few things are as beautiful as Jack Frost’s artwork, especially in the early morning light. From spears of ice lining late autumn leaves, to feathers and swirls on frozen puddles, these ephemeral gifts of the season presage the coming winter.

And just when you think it is time to pack away the t-shirts and shorts, Mother Nature throws us a bone with a glorious day of sunshine and warmth. Moths and flies dart around in hopes of finding a pre-winter snack, and last minute outside chores are hastily done. Sure, November can be gloomy if you don’t know how to appreciate it, but take a page from the naturalist’s book, and you will soon find yourself looking forward to the month that hangs in the cusp between autumn and winter.


Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Mount Marcy A Safer Ski This Winter

For advanced skiers who are looking forward to hitting the High Peaks this winter, the Adirondack Ski Touring Council has some good news: There are now fewer opportunities to get skewered by branches or whapped in the face by evergreen boughs when skiing down Mount Marcy.

Tony Goodwin, executive director of the council, joined two other local skiers last September to prune trees along the 7.5 mile trail from Adirondack Loj to the summit of the state’s highest peak. This was their second pruning trip in a year.

Long a popular ski route as well as a hiking trail, it’s the only official ski trail to the top of a High Peak.

The route was first built with skiers in mind but has been allowed to grow inward over the years. Recently, the state Department of Environmental Conservation has allowed skiers to go in and clear the trail to the width allowed for skiing – six feet in most places, eight around turns.

The work, which included the use of expandable poles up to 20 feet long – the snow is often five to ten feet deep by March, meaning the dangerous branches are far overhead in summer – drew some curious stares by warm-weather passers-by. “People actually ski this trail?” was a frequent question, Goodwin said.

A week after their work on Marcy, a larger group headed to the Wright Mountain Ski Trail (which stops below the summit), which was also cleared of dangerous branches.

“We’re definitely making a noticeable improvement,” Goodwin said.

Backcountry skiing in the High Peaks has grown into a very popular sport in the past decade, with the advancement of high-tech alpine and telemark gear, a ski festival in March and the release of a photographic guide to skiing slides.

But many serious skiers complain the DEC has refused to consider making the mountains more backcountry ski-friendly, such as creating separate trails for skiers and hikers, allowing the widening of unofficial routes or permitting the pruning of small saplings in areas that would make nice glade skiing.

“They’ve definitely made it clear we can’t go too far beyond the six-foot width for trails,” Goodwin said.

In other ski news, the Town of North Elba has created a small parking lot on McKenzie Pond Road near Saranac Lake for users of the popular Jackrabbit Trail. The parking lot coincides with a new section of trail that takes advantage of an easement purchased by the council to ensure continued access from that point.


Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Adirondack Family Activities:Paul Smiths Visitor’s Interpretive Center

This morning a mob of deer casually gather in our yard. My husband makes the comment that the word has gotten out that we are non-hunting household. It seems like one has told another and soon the neighborhood has not gone to the dogs but to the deer. So while the deer spread their news we humans have our own version of meeting places during hunting season.

Since 1989, the Adirondack Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) at Paul Smiths has offered a safe option during hunting season. The 2,885-acre preserve is owned by Paul Smith’s College and leased by New York State to operate as a public facility. The many trails are available for the enjoyment of children and adults of all ages. The paths are clearly marked, mulched and cleared of debris.

We choose a combination of the Heron Marsh and the Shingle Mill Falls trails. Each trail is about a 0.8-mile loop. Together it forms a 1.5-mile figure eight with easy access and plenty of seating along the way.

My son runs ahead, the guide in our mission to successfully circumnavigate Heron Marsh. My daughter would rather spend a bit more time inside studying the interactive displays, dioramas and touch table.

We continue on another hundred yards to a boardwalk that extends out into the marsh. Signs of beaver surround us and we search for their lodge. I sit to observe the last passing moments of autumn while the rest of the family walks to the observation deck. We come to a crossroads where we can either loop back to the Interpretive Building or continue across the marsh.

We opt to cross the bridge leading over Heron Marsh. The leaves are slick from previous rain so be careful around the shoreline and bridge edge. We cross a bridge, setting leaf boats on the open water to shoot the rapids of the Heron Marsh dam. This was the original site of a gristmill then a shingle mill. It was last used in the 1920s by Paul Smiths Hotel as a source for water.

We loop back and follow the signs to the Interpretive Building because we have yet to identify correctly each birdcall to each bird. Lastly I sit for a bit of the sun while the kids expel any energy they have left on the playground.

Trails are open from dawn to dusk every day. There is no camping or fires allowed. Dogs are only welcome on the trails during the summer months. Located 12 miles north of Saranac Lake on 8023 State Route 30, the VIC building is open Tuesday – Saturday from 9:00 a.m. -5:00 p.m.