Friday, September 17, 2010

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories

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

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Thursday, September 16, 2010

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Sept. 16)

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

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.

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

DO NOT FEED BEARS: Recently a forest ranger shot and killed a bear that was harassing campers at the Eight Lake State Campground near Inlet. Wildlife biologists believe the yearling had been fed by campers and grown not to fear people. This is the first bear killed so far this year by the Department of Environmental Conservation; eight problem bears were killed in the Adirondacks last summer.

Fire Danger: LOW

Central Adirondacks Weather
Friday: Cloudy, then gradually becoming mostly sunny; high near 60.
Friday Night: Partly cloudy; low around 36.
Saturday: Mostly sunny; high near 68.
Saturday Night: Chance of showers; cloudy, low around 47.
Sunday: Mostly sunny, with a high near 59.

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

SPORTSMEN LICENSES NOW ON SALE

The 2010-2011 hunting, trapping and freshwater fishing sporting license year will begin on October 1, 2010 and all sporting licenses are now available for purchase. Find out how to purchase a sporting license on the DEC website. Information about the 2010 Hunting Seasons is also available online [pdf]. All first-time hunters, bowhunters and trappers are required to take and pass one or more education courses. Visit the DEC website to get more information on the Sportsman Education Program and find an upcoming course near you.

GENERAL ADIRONDACK CONDITIONS

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

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; the use of bear-resistant canisters is encouraged 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].

ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS

** indicates new or revised items.

** Indian Lake: The Great Adirondack Moose festival will take place in Indian Lake this weekend, September 18-19. The event offers guided hikes, scenic driving tours, fly-fishing and fly tying demos, a car show, and open houses.

** Lake Champlain Tributaries: The Lake Champlain Fish and Wildlife Management Cooperative (Cooperative) will be applying lampricide to portions of five tributaries to Lake Champlain during the month of September. Vermont Department of Fish and Wildlife, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will be treating the Salmon River, Little Ausable River, Ausable River, and Putnam Creek in New York, and Lewis Creek in Vermont. Treatments are scheduled to begin in New York on September 14th and finish in Vermont by the end of the month. These treatments are part of the Cooperative’s long-term sea lamprey control program for Lake Champlain. Temporary water use advisories will be in effect for each of the five treated rivers to minimize human exposure to affected waters. Each state’s Department of Health recommends that the treated river and lake water not be used for drinking, swimming, fishing, irrigation, or livestock watering while the advisories are in effect.

West Lake Boat Launch (Fulton County): The boat launch was impacted by August rains and floods. DEC staff have made repairs to the roadway, parking lot and ramps, however, be aware that the waters off the boat launch are more shallow than before.

Poke-O-Moonshine Fire Tower: The firetower on Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain is now closed for the season

Blue Mountain Wild Forest: Forest Ranger Greg George has retired after 33 years of service. If you had contacted Ranger George in the past for camping permits, backcountry conditions or for any other purpose, you should now contact Forest Ranger Bruce Lomnitzer at 518-648-5246. For matters regarding Tirrell Pond contact Forest Ranger Jay Scott at 315-354-4611.

Blue Mountain Wild Forest: The Blue Mountain Fire Tower is open to the public including the cab. The fire tower was restored a few years ago. The DEC intern present during August to greet the public and educate them about fire towers and the forest preserve is no longer available however.

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: Rock Dam Road and the campsites along it have reopened. The main Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road), the Otter Brook Road up to the Otter Brook Bridge will also be open this weekend. Gates to other side roads, including Indian Lake Road, Otter Brook Truck Trail, and Otter Brook Road, remain shut and the roads closed to motor vehicle traffic at this time.

** Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road: DEC Contractors have completed constructing a bridge over the Bradley Brook. Work has now begun to remove the culvert from Sumner Stream on the main Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road) and replace it with a bridge. All locations within the Moose River Plains remain accessible, however locations east of the Sumner Stream crossing – including the Otter Brook Road – must be accessed from the Cedar River entrance, while locations west of the Sumner Stream crossing must be accessed from the Limekiln Lake entrance. The work should take no more than a week to complete. See the map for locations of the Bradley Brook and Sumner Stream crossings.

Shaker Mountain Wild Forest: The lean-to on the south shore of Chase Lake has been removed, and a new one is under construction on the lake’s north shore. A new trail spur leading off the old trail and approaching the new lean-to from the west has been marked. The site of the old lean-to is now a designated tent site.

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. Also, DEC and Student Conservation Association crews have been working throughout the summer to move 8 campsites, close 23 campsites and create 21 new campsites [online map]. Please respect closure signs. Work is occuring 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. Use caution if you choose to cross this area.

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 / Hanging Spears Falls trail has 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.

West Canada Lakes Wilderness / N-P Trail: The bridge over Mud Creek, on the Northville-Placid Trail northeast of Mud Lake, has been washed out.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: Flooding is also affecting the Wilcox Lake Wild Forest, particularly the Pine Orchard Trail and Murphy Lake Trail. Bridges at Mill Creek, approximately 3 miles from the trailhead on Dorr Road has no decking, only stringers, the bridges over Mill Brook, north of Pine Orchard, is not decked, and the Dayton Creek bridge is out on the trail from Brownell Camp (at the end of Hope Falls Road) to Wilcox Lake.

——————–
Forecast provided by the National Weather Service; warnings and announcements drawn from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and other sources. Detailed Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation and trail conditions can be found at DEC’s webpages. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf].

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


Thursday, September 16, 2010

LGLC to Host ‘Observe the Moon Night’

The Lake George Land Conservancy (LGLC) is hosting an event for International Observe the Moon Night at its office in Bolton Landing, September 18, 2010, at 6 – 8 pm. LGLC is currently the only event host site in upstate New York.

International Observe the Moon Night (InOMN) 2010 is hoped to be an annual public outreach event dedicated to engaging the lunar science and education community, amateur astronomers, space enthusiasts, and the general public in annual lunar observation campaigns that share the excitement of lunar science and exploration.

Those joining LGLC in Bolton will hear from lunar scientist, Rosemary Millham, Ph.D., observe the Moon through telescopes, simulate their own lunar impacts, and more.

Dr. Millham is currently the science coordinator for the secondary science education program and assistant professor at SUNY New Paltz, and works part-time for NASA GSFC in science writing and curriculum development.

Participants should meet at the LGLC Macionis Family Center for Conservation, at 4905 Lake Shore Drive, for a lunar presentation and explanation of the project, from 6-7:00 pm. The group will then go outdoors (may be at the Center or a short distance down the street) to view the moon. Dr. Millham will lead the group in lunar observations and conduct activities from 7:30-8:00. Participants are then invited to return to the Center for light dessert refreshments.

Participants may wish to bring a camera and their own binoculars or a telescope, should wear sturdy shoes and dress for cool evening temperatures.

This is a free event and for all ages. Registration is not required but is appreciated. Please call 644-9673 or email shoffman@lglc.org to sign up.

For more information about InOMN and the moon, including how to get downloadable flyers and moon maps, visit http://observethemoonnight.org.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Adirondack Museum to Host Fiber Fest

Talented artisans will make this year’s Adirondack Fabric and Fiber Arts Festival at the Adirondack Museum the premier needlework event of the season. The festival will be held on Saturday, September 25, 2010. Activities are planned from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. All are included in the price of general museum admission.

The festival will include demonstrations of rug hooking, quilting, felting, spinning, and weaving, a regional quilt show, textile appraisals, an artisan marketplace, a “knit-in” for a good warm cause, hands-on activities, and the museum’s beautiful exhibit, “Common Threads: 150 Years of Adirondack Quilts and Comforters.”

Demonstrations will be held from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. at locations throughout the museum campus. Returning participants include the Serendipity Spinners, members of the community-based needlework group Northern Needles, the Adirondack Regional Textile Artist’s Association, as well as felter Sandi Cirillo and mixed-media quilter Louisa Austin Woodworth.

Liz Alpert Fay will make her first appearance at the festival, demonstrating the art of rug hooking. Fay studied at Philadelphia College of Art, and then participated in the Program in Artisanry at Boston University, where she received a BAA in Textile Design in 1981.

Fay created art quilts for seventeen years, exhibiting nationally and in Japan. Her work was exhibited in shows such as “Quilt National” and at the American Craft Museum in New York City. In 1998 she became intrigued with the technique of traditional rug hooking. Since then she has created colorful hand hooked rugs of her own design. The rugs have been purchased for private collections, and many have been selected for juried shows and invitational museum exhibitions. In 2002, Fay’s rugs were featured in the October issue of Country Living magazine; in 2005 she was filmed in her studio and her rugs featured on HGTV (the Home and Garden Channel).

Thistle Hill Weavers, Cherry Valley, N.Y. will offer a weaving demonstration from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. The company is a commercial weaving mill that produces reproduction historic textiles for museums, designers, private homeowners, and the film industry. Textiles created by Thistle Hill have appeared in more than thirty major motion pictures. The business was founded by Rabbit Goody, who is also the owner and current director. For more about Thistle Hill Weavers, visit www.rabbitgoody.com.

Museum visitors can learn more about personal antique and collectible fabrics with Ms. Goody who is a textile appraiser and historian. For a small donation to the Adirondack Museum, she will examine vintage textiles and evaluate them for historical importance and value. Appraisals will be held in Visitor Center from 9:30 a.m. until 12:00 noon.

The second annual “Great Adirondack Quilt Show” will feature a display of nearly three-dozen quilts inspired by or used in the Adirondack Mountains.

A presentation, “Knitting in the North Country: History and Folklore,” will be offered by Hallie Bond and Jill Breit at 1:00 and 3:00 p.m. in the museum’s Auditorium. Bond, a museum curator and novice knitter, will share her ongoing research about the place of spinning and knitting in local history including traditional techniques and the wearing of knitted garments. Breit, Executive Director of Traditional Arts in Upstate New York and a superb knitter, will discuss the vital and vibrant knitting scene in
the North Country today.

A special knit-in, “Warm Up America!” will create afghans that will be donated to Hamilton County Community action, an organization that helps people help themselves and others. The knit-in will be held in the Visitor Center from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. Participants will knit or crochet 7″ by 9″ rectangles that will be joined together to make cozy afghans.

A dozen regional artisans will sell handmade fabrics and fiber specialty items in a day-long marketplace as part of the Adirondack Fabric and Fiber Arts Festival.

The Adirondack Museum tells stories of the people – past and present — who have lived, worked, and played in the unique place that is the Adirondack Park. History is in our nature. The museum is supported in part by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency. For information about all that the museum has to offer, call (518) 352-7311, or visit www.adirondackmuseum.org.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Commentary: The Cast of ‘Opposing Smart Development’

Despite undeniable proof that the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) almost never denies a permit, the usual anti-APA folks are currently rallying once again for another push against the regional planning and zoning board that has kept the Adirondacks from looking like a suburb of the Northeast megalopolis for more than 30 years. It’s time for those who support reasonable and responsible development in the Adirondack Park to step forward and let their voice be heard.

In case you went to the lobby during intermission, here’s a review of the cast of leading characters:

Maynard Baker: Despite his failed leadership that left Warrensburg perhaps the most poorly developed village in the Park – a virtual wreck of its former self – Maynard Baker persists in his angry denunciations of anything even approaching planning, zoning and smart development. Baker is the scariest of the cast, having once started a fistfight during the Battle of Crane Pond. His latest approach has been lawsuits, and threats of lawsuits. Most recently he is attempting to argue in court that veterans cannot access the Park. On Monday, Baker called the APA “terrorists” securing for all time that this guy is a dangerous demagogue.

Will Doolittle: Despite serious questions about his motives with regards to his reporting about the APA (detailed here, here, and here), Will Doolittle has started another campaign in the pages of the Glens Falls Post Star. That’s the same Post Star that called for the abolition of the APA in an editorial during Doolittle’s last round of APA attacks. You’d think that when your motives are questioned so seriously regarding your reporting of a particular subject, you’d leave those stories to someone else. Not Doolittle, apparently he and his bosses think it’s entirely appropriate to continue to put an anti-APA reporter on the job to cover the APA.

Kim Smith Dedam: One of only two women in the cast (Carol LaGrasse and her one-woman Property Rights Foundation of America is the other), Kim Smith Dedam is the Plattsburgh Press Republican‘s answer to accurate and judicious reporting of the APA and smart development in the Adirondacks. Her outright false claims, apparently designed to foster her agenda, are awful legend. Kim Smith Dedam can always be counted on to tell the story of development in the Adirondacks to the benefit of her handlers. Check out two stories that read like press releases: “Tupper Lake project projected to create 584 jobs” and “Veterans sue for seaplane access to Adirondack lakes.” Floatplane ban supporters? Kim Smith Dedam doesn’t think they’re necessary in a story about the ban on floatplanes, but that’s just one in what seems an unending litany of slanted stories about development issues in the Adirondacks.

Fred Monroe: When it comes to one-man bands, Fred Monroe plays the loudest. Overseeing the demise and awful strip development of Chestertown as the Supervisor of the Town Chester is not enough for Monroe, so he also collects a paycheck as the Chair of the economically challenged Warren County Board of Supervisors and a paycheck from bankrupt New York State as the voice of the anti-APA Local Government Review Board. That’s right, Monroe is paid by the Town, County, and State government – after a raise he gave himself last year, that’s more than $100,000 in taxpayer-funded salary. It’s no wonder that while he’s content to serve as a mouth-piece around the state for anti-APA activities and as the go-to guy for his media buddies, he came out last year to say that no, he doesn’t want the APA dissolved. And why would he? He’d be out of a job heading a one man (and one wife) tax supported board whose main focus has been to fight another tax funded board. That is the goose that laid the $100,000 egg.

Supporting Characters: The main characters are only part of an ensemble that includes such classic character actors as Don “Invasive Species Are A Bunch Of Bull” Lehman, the editors of Denton “You Can Count On Us” Publications, Betty “Blacklist” Little, Teresa “It’s US Versus Them” Sayward, and newly added to the cast, Doug “When I Get To Congress, I’ll Fight The APA” Hoffman.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Adirondack Invasive Alert: Viburnum Leaf Beetle

I had a request over the weekend to write a piece about an invasive species that has been in the news off and on over the last six to eight years: the viburnum leaf beetle (Pyrrhalta viburni). A native to most of Europe, it first showed up in Ontario, Canada in 1947 and has since made its way into the northeastern United States. Today it is found in Maine, New York, Vermont, Pennsylvania and Ohio.

Normally considered a pest to ornamentals, it seems that this small beetle, which is no more than about a quarter inch long as an adult, is now making some headway into our native viburnums. It is, therefore, time to bring it forward into the limelight once more. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Chris Morris: Election 2010 Primary Recap

The primary elections are in the books and it was a wild ride, indeed.

Carl Paladino shocked pundits — and the Republican establishment — by thumping former Long Island Congressman Rick Lazio in the GOP gubernatorial primary. It wasn’t even close.

I spent primary night at the Red Fox in Saranac Lake, where GOP congressional hopeful Doug Hoffman’s campaign team was set up. I was glued to the returns and shocked to see Paladino put up such big numbers. But Lazio’s death knell came when Ralph Lorigo, his opponent in the Conservative primary, actually took a slim lead for a few minutes.

Paladino has little time to celebrate. Andrew Cuomo is a much more formidable and better-financed opponent.

Paladino’s resounding victory makes Doug Hoffman’s failure to gain victory over Matt Doheny that much more interesting, though.

The tea party express made a strong showing last night. In Delaware, Christine O’Donnell handed Congressman Mike Castle a stunning defeat. The tea party could pick up another big win in New Hampshire, too.

So where was the support for Hoffman last night?

I spoke with Hoffman early in the evening, pointing out that tea party candidates were making a strong showing. He told me that gave him confidence.

Not so much. Not only does it look like Hoffman might lose, the voter turnout was shaky at best.

Throughout his campaign, Hoffman took pride in his get-out-the-vote ability based on last year’s special election. The total number of votes for both candidates — about 31,000 — represents less than half of the total votes tallied for Hoffman last November.

Strange stuff, considering the great interest in this election exhibited by voters in the 23rd.

That brings me to the Upstate New York Tea Party, the group that has backed Hoffman throughout the campaign. The talk among news junkies this morning is a press release issued by UNYTEA Chairman Mark Barie. He says Republicans and Conservatives can’t waste time with lengthy recounts.

“There are less than seven weeks until the November election, and we intend to use that time to reorganize and to make the case to voters that Bill Owens has got to go,” Barie said.

“Doug would have to take about two thirds of the absentee ballots in order to win. I think that’s unlikely, but we can not afford to sit idly by while the recount takes place,” he added.

He also made some strong remarks about Hoffman’s campaign:

“I am very disappointed with the way in which the Hoffman campaign was conducted. It was unorganized, it lacked focus, and it failed to take advantage of Doug’s tremendous popularity. Doug’s senior campaign adviser, Chris Baker, ran this campaign from his office in Arizona and he was clearly ignorant of what was happening on the ground here in the North Country,” he said.

“Speaking just for myself, if Doug doesn’t make some personnel changes, his campaign for Congress is going no where. I think his chances for success on the Conservative Party line are minimal. This is true because, unlike last year when he came so close to defeating Bill Owens, this year’s GOP nominee is not a tax and spend liberal. Matt Doheny is a fiscal conservative.”

Barie stopped short of formally endorsing Doheny, however.

I’ll keep you posted with any updates. News outlets are currently waiting (somewhat impatiently) for Hoffman’s team to make an announcement on whether he is conceding or staying in the race as the Conservative candidate.


Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Adirondack Cairns: Rocks For The Ages

Why should I be fascinated by cairns? Aren’t they just heaps of stones?

Yet whenever I come across one of these heaps on a wild and windswept ridge—on Jay Mountain, for instance—I feel cheered. Aha! I am not alone. Someone else has been here before me, and no doubt someone will pass here after me.

A cairn exists to point us in the right direction, but it often evokes an appreciation that can’t be explained by its utilitarian purpose. You don’t react in the same way to a paint blaze.

As an analogy, think of the difference between a word’s denotation and connotation. The word rose refers to a flower. That is its denotation. But a rose can symbolize love or passion, among other things. So whatever Gertrude Stein may have said, a rose is not just a rose. And a cairn is not just a heap of stones.

The word cairn derives from Gaelic and dates back at least to the fifteenth century, but the building of cairns is an ancient custom, not exclusive to the Celts. Its primitiveness is part of the cairn’s appeal. The cairn connects us to humanity across the ages and reminds us that we are all wayfarers. It is a symbol of our journey.

Cairns appeal to our creative spirit. On many mountains, they resemble sculptures. A fine example is the cairn in the photo above, from the summit of East Dix.

You can read more about cairns on the Adirondack Explorer website by clicking here.

And if you have a favorite cairn, please tell us about it.

Photo by Phil Brown: Cairn on East Dix.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer newsmagazine.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities: Great Adirondack Moose Festival

The Great Adirondack Moose Festival will take place in Indian Lake this weekend, September 18-19. The idea was conceived when Event Chairperson Brenda Valentine read of the return of moose to the Adirondack Park.

Before retiring permanently to the Indian Lake area, Valentine organized fundraisers for Consolidated Edison (ConEd). Her experience with public relations and the support of the community has created a new event, she hopes, for all ages. She admits that she couldn’t just sit down and “be retired.” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Let’s Eat: Advice on Eating in Camp

Enjoying a meal around a campfire is an important part of an outdoor experience. Many a camper insists that food just tastes better when eaten outside.

An anonymous sportsman wrote about his trip to the Adirondacks in 1867, with particular mention of meals: “Trout ‘Flapjacks’ & corn cakes were soon cooked…and then we hurried into the Tent to eat, for the Mosquitos were very troublesome out side, & threatened to devour us, waving [sic] all objections as regarded our not being Cooked. Next morning we were up early & had such a Breakfast. Venison nicely cooked in a variety of ways great blooming Potatoes, splendid Pan cakes with maple sugar syrup, Eggs, & actual cream to drink…We could scarcely leave the Table…” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

The Origins of Friends of the Forest Preserve

Today’s paddlers on the South Branch of the Moose or West Branch of the Sacandaga Rivers, or hikers, loon watchers and snowmobilers along numerous winding forest trails in the Moose River Plains or Ferris Lake Wild Forests would be fifty feet underwater if the mid-20th century dam proponents, and their state sponsors had held sway.

Citizens who valued these Adirondack valleys for their wildlife and wildness opposed them. One of those organizations was Friends of the Forest Preserve, founded in 1945 by Paul Schaefer. I write this on September 13, his birthday. This history of the founding of the organization is contained in Schaefer’s book, Defending the Wilderness: The Adirondack Writings of Paul Schaefer (1989, Syracuse University Press). » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 13, 2010

APA Meeting: Lake George YMCA, Developments

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting, Thursday, September 16 and Friday Sept 17, 2010 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. On Thursday agency members and staff will participate in a field trip lead by Mr. Sean Ross, Director of Forestry Operations for Lyme Timber Company. Mr. Ross will discuss forest management and certification programs. On Friday the board will consider a setback variance requested by the YMCA for its Camp Chingachgook on Lake George, Blue Line Development Group’s 49 unit subdivision proposal in the Village of Tupper Lake, a subdivision proposal for land in the Village of Lake Pleasant, a proposed amendment to the Northville Boat Launch Unit Management Plan, and more.

The Full Agency will convene on Friday morning at 9:00 for Executive Director Terry Martino’s report.

At 9:30 a.m., the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider a shoreline structure setback variance requested by the YMCA for its Camp Chingachgook facility located on Lake George. The variance involves the replacement of a pre-existing one-story structure. The new structure will be used for camp operation purposes and to improve access to Lake George for participants in the Y-Knot Accessible Sailing Program. The project site is located in the Town of Fort Ann, Washington County.

The committee will consider Blue Line Development Group’s subdivision proposal for land in the Village of Tupper Lake, Franklin County. The project involves the subdivision of a 56±-acre parcel, involving class “1” wetlands and includes the construction of 13 townhouses with 49 total units. A dock would extend into Raquette Pond to accommodate 50 boats. The committee will also review a subdivision proposal for land in the Village of Lake Pleasant, Hamilton County owned by Agency Commissioner Frank Mezzano and consider accepting proposed General Permit Applications for installing new or replacement telecommunication towers at previously approved agency sites and change in use for existing commercial, public/semi-public or industrial buildings.

At 1:00 p.m., the State Land Committee will hear a presentation from Dr. Chad Dawson discussing roadside camping in the Adirondack Park. The committee will consider Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan compliance for a proposed amendment to the Northville Boat Launch Unit Management Plan. This unit is located in the Town of Northampton, Fulton County. The committee will then hear a first reading on reclassification proposals related to fire towers on St. Regis and Hurricane Mountains. The Board will take no action on the fire tower proposals this month.

At 2:30, the Park Policy and Planning Committee will consider approving a map amendment proposal for private lands located in the Town of Westport, Essex County. The proposal is for re-classifying approximately 25 acres of land from Resource Management to Hamlet.

At 4:00, the Full Agency will assemble to take action as necessary and conclude with committee reports, public and member comment.

Meeting materials are available for download from the Agency’s website.

The next Agency meeting is October 14-15 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.

November Agency Meeting: November 18-19 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.


Monday, September 13, 2010

Saranac Lake: The Allen Mooney Murder, Part 2

Despite the physical evidence against Saranac’s Allen Mooney in the murders of Ellen Thomas and Viola Middleton, he could still hope for a lesser conviction, even manslaughter, due to extenuating circumstances. Epilepsy, a weakness for drink, extreme jealousy—the man was obviously beset by many problems. Not a saint by any stretch, but was he a wanton killer?

Unspoken, though, was another factor—Mooney’s extended family. His relatives from the Malone area, and south to Saranac Lake—the Merrills, Jocks, Stacys, and other Mooneys—shared quite the infamous reputation. In the decade surrounding Mooney’s trial, without citing particulars, they committed: assaults, burglaries, robberies, wife beatings, at least 3 murders (and a fourth suspected with arson), prostitution, incest, child abuse, family abandonment, and more.

This was no secret. Leading up to the trial, many of the family’s escapades had been highly publicized in recent years. It would be very difficult for jurors to ignore that reality. And, if Mooney should be considered insane because his aunt was insane (as the defense claimed), then maybe he was an incorrigible criminal like so many members of his extended family.

The courtroom was packed throughout the trial, and extensive testimony hinted that the jury might struggle to reach a verdict. During deliberations, the first vote was 7 for 1st-degree murder and 5 for 2nd-degree murder. With that much uncertainty, a consensus seemed unlikely. It looked like Mooney might be spending the rest of his life behind bars, but at least he’d be alive.

But early the next morning, almost before the court session began, it was suddenly over. The verdict was in: guilty of murder in the first degree. Mooney was told to stand, and the judge pronounced sentence: “That you be confined in Dannemora State Prison until the week beginning July 6, 1903, when, in compliance with the law, you shall suffer death by having a current of electricity pass through your body until you are pronounced dead.” Mooney, calm as ever, spoke only to thank the judge.

He was a condemned man with just six weeks left to live, but Mooney wasn’t the only one under pressure. Dannemora’s executioner felt the heat as well. He was scheduled to dispose of six prisoners during the week of July 6, including that infamous threesome, the Van Wormer brothers, who had brutally murdered their uncle and terrorized his family.

Joining them were William “Goat Hinch” O’Conner (committed murder during a robbery), and Kate Taylor, who was believed long abused by her husband (until she killed him, cut off his head, stuck it in an oven, tried to cut his leg off, burned the corpse, and fed the bones and ashes to the chickens). Allen Mooney was in fine company.

Appeals delayed his execution (and Taylor’s, too), subjecting Mooney to unexpected angst. Taylor, female, was held in a special cell, but Allen was with the others on Death Row. Described during his trial as “stolidly indifferent,” Mooney now sat nearby as, one by one, the Van Wormers were walked down the hallway to waiting death. Each said goodbye to Mooney. Reports of the boys’ final moments appeared beneath large, bold headlines in newspapers across the country. The last to go was the middle brother, and in memorable fashion:

“Burton’s departure from the death house made the most pathetic scene of all. Besides the aged priest, there was but one person in the world to whom he might say goodbye. That was Allen Mooney, the last occupant of the death cells, who sat in the corner of the front of his cell, sobbing like a child. As Burton stepped from his cell, he looked back toward Mooney’s cell, which was out of his view because of a great iron screen built for that purpose, and called: ‘Goodbye Mooney. I hope you don’t have to go like this.’ And then he marched to the death chair.”

The procession of priest, warden, and guards guided Van Wormer to the death room, where, for the first and last time, he met Robert Elliott, Dannemora’s chief executioner.

Mooney’s reprieve lasted five months, when the court of appeals affirmed his sentence. The execution was two months away, but within a month, reports surfaced that he wasn’t eating, and mostly languished in his cell, deteriorating physically. But after watching the Van Wormers, who converted to Catholicism and clung to crucifixes as they went to their deaths, Mooney took action. He summoned the Catholic priest and converted from the Baptist faith he had been born into (but apparently ignored), hurrying to achieve baptism and first communion by March.

Two months later, just as his cellmates had done, Mooney took Communion and clung tightly to a crucifix. On May 3, 1904, he walked his final steps to join Robert Elliott and the waiting chair. One electrode was attached to his head, and less than four minutes later, Mooney was gone.

To the relief of some, a subsequent autopsy revealed that his liver and kidneys were in good condition, dispelling the notion that physical infirmities in Mooney’s organs might have caused momentary insanity. He was the only inmate executed at the prison in 1904, and the only Franklin County resident to die in Dannemora’s electric chair.

Photo Top: Saranac Lake early street view.

Photo Middle: Court of Appeals document upholding Mooney’s conviction.

Photo Bottom: Sing Sing’s electric chair, same as the one in which Mooney died.

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, September 13, 2010

Whiteface Memorial Highway Celebrates 75 Years

The Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway, in Wilmington, N.Y., turns 75 tomorrow, Tuesday, September 14th. Whiteface, its staff and the town of Wilmington, will celebrate the occasion by rolling back prices to $1 per person, the same rate as it was in 1935. And since the Highway is dedicated to all veterans, they will be admitted free.

Once at the top, guest will have the opportunity to enjoy historical displays at the castle, a specially priced barbeque, and at 1 p.m. a ceremony which will include the reading of then-President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s speech, which dedicated the highway to all the fallen veterans of World War I. Other speakers will include New York State Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) president/CEO Ted Blazer and Town of Wilmington Supervisor Randy Preston.

Opened to automobile traffic July 20, 1935, the Highway “officially” opened with a ribbon cutting ceremony, Sept. 14, 1935 which was attended by President Roosevelt, who was New York’s Governor when ground was broken for the eight-mile long stretch of roadway. During the ceremony, the United States’ 32nd President dedicated the highway to all the fallen veterans of the “Great War,” but in 1985, then-New York Governor Mario Cuomo re-dedicated the highway to all veterans. It has recently been slated for upgrades.

Whiteface Mountain is the fifth largest peak in the Adirondack Mountain range and it’s the only mountain in the Adirondacks that offers accessibility by vehicle. Today, from mid-May to early-October, visitors to the area can take a drive or cycle up the five-mile long scenic highway, from the toll booth to the top. Along the way there are scenic lookout points and picnic areas where visitors can stop and enjoy views of the Adirondack region.

Once at the top of the 4,867-foot high Whiteface Mountain, guests can enjoy a spectacular 360-degree, panoramic view of the region, spanning hundreds of square miles of wild land reaching out to Vermont and Canada. Guests can also visit the castle, built from native stone, where they will find a gift shop and restaurant. For those who are unable to reach the summit on foot, an elevator is available that will take guests the final 26-stories to the summit’s observation deck.

The Whiteface Veterans Memorial Highway was also listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2008.


Sunday, September 12, 2010

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