Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Volunteer: Cornell Orinthology Lab Bird Feeder Watch

­The 2008-09 season of the Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s Project FeederWatch gets underway November 8 and runs through April 3. For more then 20 years participants have been counting the numbers and kinds of birds at their feeders each week and sending the information to the Ornithology Lab. Participants submitted more than 115,000 checklists during the 2007-08 FeederWatch season, documenting unusual bird sightings, winter movements, and shifting ranges-­a treasure-trove of information that scientists use to monitor the health of the birds and of the environment.

“Being a FeederWatcher is easy and fun, and at the same time helps generate the world’s largest database on feeder-bird populations,” says project leader David Bonter. “We are grateful for the contributions our participants have made for the birds and are proud of the joy they say it brings to their busy lives. Since we started in 1987, more than 40,000 people have submitted observations, engaging with the wildlife beyond their windows.”

Scientists learn something new from the data each year, too, whether it’s about the movements of common backyard birds or unusual sightings of rarely-seen species. Highlights of the most recent season include the largest southward movement of Red-breasted Nuthatches in the history of the project­-part of an expected influx of northern birds that fly farther south when their food supplies run short.

Other northern species showing up in record numbers included Common Repolls and Pine Siskins. Among the rare birds reported was a Streak-backed Oriole in Loveland, Colorado-­the state’s first report of this bird, native to Mexico. A December nor’easter deposited a Dovekie in Newton, Massachusetts, the first time this North Atlantic seabird has ever been reported to Project FeederWatch.

Long-term data show some species increasing in number, such as the Lesser Goldfinch in the Southwest. Other populations continue a downward trend, such as the Evening Grosbeak throughout their range. Once one of the most common species seen at feeders in the northern half of the continent, the grosbeaks are declining for unknown reasons.

Beyond the benefits to birds and science, however, is the benefit to participants. “Nature is not merely an amenity; it is critical to healthy human development and functioning,” says Nancy Wells, Cornell University assistant professor of design and environmental analysis. Her studies find that a view of nature through the window or access to the environment in any way improves a child’s cognitive functioning and reduces the negative effects of stress on the child’s psychological well-being. Wells also notes that when children spent time with nature early in life it carries over to their adult attitudes and behavior toward the environment.

Project FeederWatch welcomes participants of all ages and skill levels, from scout troops and retirees to classrooms and nature center visitors. To learn more and to sign up, visit www.feederwatch.org or call the Lab toll-free at (800) 843-2473. In return for the $15 fee ($12 for Lab members) participants receive the FeederWatcher’s Handbook, an identification poster of the most common feeder birds in their area, a calendar, complete instructions, and the FeederWatch annual report, Winter Bird Highlights.

You can visit the “Explore Data” section of the www.feederwatch.org to find the top 25 birds reported in your region, rare bird sightings, and bird summaries by state or province.


Monday, October 20, 2008

Top Military Leaders Converge on Adirondack Airport

According to the online edition of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, high-level military leaders have converged suddenly at Adirondack Regional Airport in Lake Clear. They arrived Friday and their planes have been guarded around the clock by the military:

Among the passengers of a large Boeing 757 airplane with “United States of America” printed on its fuselage were top members of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff and their counterparts from France, Germany and another country, possibly Great Britain, according to Barry DeFuria, a town of Harrietstown councilman and Airport Committee member who was there when the plane landed. A top military delegation from Italy flew in on a separate Falcon airplane, DeFuria said.

One commenter on the story had this to say:

I had a wild crazy daydream, that Bush will finally play his trump card and pull Bin Laden off that plane parked here in Lake Clear. Maybe a week before the election to save the McCain campaign, once all the Iraq and Afghan coalition brass are assembled for the photo op.

Why are they here in the Adirondacks? An all expenses paid – by our tax dollars – hunting junket? An October surprise?

What’s your theory?


Sunday, October 19, 2008

DEC Searching for Missing Man Near Indian Lake

The DEC is requesting information from individuals who may have been hiking in the Indian Lake, Hamilton County, region of the Adirondacks earlier last week. A 71-year-old man named Frederick Gillingham from Camarillo, California, has been missing since approximately Sunday, October 12. He is 5’9″ and 165 pounds with thinning white hair, a white beard, glasses and is possibly wearing a pair of old, brown hiking boots in size 9. That’s a picture provided by the family at left.

Since first being notified of the missing man’s disappearance on Wednesday, October 15, DEC Forest Rangers have been conducting search efforts with the assistance of New York State Police helicopters, search and rescue volunteers and search dogs. An incident command post has been created at the Indian Lake DEC facility and an 8,600-acre primary search area has been established.

Mr. Gillingham’s car was found at the Rock River trailhead on Route 30 in Indian Lake at DEC’s Blue Mountain Wild Forest on Wednesday. Evidence found at the man’s seasonal camp located nearby, as well as discussions with family members, indicates he may have been missing since last Sunday. Other than Mr. Gillingham’s car at the trailhead, no other evidence of Mr. Gillingham has been discovered to date.

DEC asks that any hiker, hunter or other visitor to the Indian Lake region in the past week who may have encountered Mr. Gillingham or have information on his whereabouts to please contact the DEC command post at 518-648-0108 or the DEC Ray Brook dispatch at 518-897-1300.


Saturday, October 18, 2008

Essex Co Historical Society Wins Archives Award

The Board of Regents and the New York State Archives have selected the Essex County Historical Society | Adirondack History Center Museum in Elizabethtown to receive the 2008 Annual Archives Award for Program Excellence in a Historical Records Repository. The award will be presented to Essex County Historical Society Director Margaret Gibbs, Assistant Director Jenifer Kuba, and Museum Educator Lindsay Pontius at a luncheon ceremony at the State Education Building in Albany on October 20, 2008.

The award commends Essex County Historical Society for its outstanding archival program that contributes significantly to understanding the region’s history. The award recognizes the historical society for its well organized and managed archives and for its efforts to provide access to the county’s documentary heritage through interesting exhibitions and excellent educational programs for school children.

Previous award winners include Schenectady County Historical Society (2007), Huguenot Historical Society in New Paltz (2006), M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives at the University at Albany (2005), Onondaga Historical Association (2004), Canajoharie Library and Art Gallery (2003), and Hofstra University (2002)


Friday, October 17, 2008

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Friday, October 17, 2008

Adirondack Museum Celebrates Indian Lake

The Adirondack Museum set aside tomorrow (Saturday, October 18, 2008) for a day dedicated to the Town of Indian Lake, celebrating its 150th anniversary this year. The Adirondack Museum offers free admission to year-round residents of the Adirondack Park in the month of October, and is open from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

The special day will begin with a presentation by Curator Hallie Bond at 11:00 a.m. entitled “The Armchair Canoeist’s Guide to Blue Mountain Lake.” Enjoy the warmth and comfort of dry land as Bond leads a “virtual” canoe trip to some of the historic sites on the shores of the lake.

Known as the “Koh-i-noor of the smaller wilderness gems” in the 1880s, Blue Mountain Lake was the most fashionable highland resort in the northeast. The presentation will include “then” and “now” photographs of landmarks such as the Prospect House, Holland’s Blue Mountain House, the town library, the Episcopal Church, and the mighty steamboat Tuscarora.

Bond will ask the audience to reflect on the meaning of “progress” and the ups and downs of a tourist economy. She will also ask Blue Mountain Lake old-timers to help in the identification of mystery photos in the museum collection, and reminisce about days gone by.

At 1:00 p.m., Dr. Marge Bruchac will offer a program called “The Indians of Indian Lake.” The presentation will include historic anecdotes, photographs, and family histories of some of the Indians who have made their homes in the village.

Native peoples such as Sabael Benedict, Emma Meade, and the Tahamont family were involved in growing the Adirondack tourism industry, promoting and preserving herbal medicine, and even in developing the image of the Hollywood Indian. According to Bruchac, these highly visible families were not the “last of the Indians” in Indian Lake.

Dr. Marge Bruchac is a preeminent Abenaki historian. She is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Coordinator of Native American Studies at the University of Connecticut at Avery Point. A scholar, performer, and historical consultant on the Abenaki and other Northeastern Native peoples, Bruchac lectures and performs widely for schools, museums, and historical societies. Her 2006 book for children about the French and Indian War, Malian’s Song, was selected as an Editor’s Choice by The New York Times and was the winner of the American Folklore Society’s Aesop Award.

At 2:30 p.m. a reception will be held for all in the museum’s Visitor Center. Caroline M. Welsh, Director of the Adirondack Museum, and Barry Hutchins, Supervisor of the Town of Indian Lake, N.Y., will offer remarks. Cake, tea, and coffee will be served.

Artwork created by students at Indian Lake Central School will be displayed in the Visitor Center throughout the day.

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. The museum closes for the season on Sunday (October 19).


Thursday, October 16, 2008

Volunteers Needed for Adirondack Fall Trails Day

On Saturday, Oct. 18, the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) Trails Program will hold its 16th annual Fall Trails Day in the High Peaks Wilderness of the Adirondack Park.

Volunteers, working with trained leaders, will use hand tools to clean drainage, trim overgrown sections of trail and remove downed trees. This maintenance work will help prepare the trails and their existing erosion-control structures for spring. Once debris is cleared from drainage ditches, the trails will be better suited to withstand rainwater and spring snowmelt runoff. All maintenance work is in cooperation with the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

“Numerous projects are scheduled for participants of all abilities, including half- and full-day trips,” said Wes Lampman, ADK’s director of field programs. “Cleaning all of the existing drainage may be one of the most important things we can do to help the trails. It’s a great way for hikers to give back to the trails they enjoyed all year.”

The day will commence with a simple breakfast at the High Peaks Information Center near the Adirondak Loj. Participants will receive a Volunteer Trail Program T-shirt upon completion of the project. Most volunteers pre-register, but walk-in participants will be welcomed. Participants can stay at ADK’s Wilderness Campground for free on both Friday and Saturday nights.

For more information on volunteering and registering for Adirondack Fall Trails Day, contact the ADK Trails Program, P.O. Box 867, Lake Placid, NY 12946, (518) 523-3441 or visit our Web site at www.adk.org .

ADK is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to the protection and responsible recreational use of New York state’s Forest Preserve, parks and other wild lands and waters. The Club has over 30,000 members and 26 chapters across the state and region. ADK operates two wilderness lodges and conducts conservation, education and natural history programs.


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

‘State of the Park’ Report Released by Adirondack Council

The Adirondack Council reserved its highest praise for Attorney General Andrew Cuomo and the Department of Environmental Conservation, while offering criticism to the federal government and State Senate in its 23rd Annual “State of the Park” report. The publication tracks the actions of local, state and federal officials who helped or hurt the ecological health or wild beauty of the Adirondack Park over the past 12 months.

A non-partisan environmental research, education and advocacy organization based in the Adirondack Park, the Adirondack Council is funded solely through private donations. It doesn’t accept government grants or taxpayer-funded contributions of any kind. The Council does not endorse candidates for public office. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

ADK: Lows Lake Commericial Floatplane Victory

The Adirondack Park Agency has rejected a proposal by the state Department of Environmental Conservation that would have allowed commercial floatplanes to continue to use Lows Lake for up to 10 years under a permit system. Agency commissioners rejected the plan 6-5.

Neil Woodworth, executive director of the Adirondack Mountain Club, said the decision is not just a win for canoeists and kayakers who use Lows Lake, which straddles the Hamilton-St. Lawrence county border in the western Adirondacks. It is also a victory for anyone who cares about the future management of the Adirondack Forest Preserve, he said.

“There is much more at stake here than whether commercial floatplanes should be allowed on a particular Adirondack lake,” Woodworth said. “The real issue is whether DEC is bound by the provisions of the Adirondack Master Plan. APA said today that they are.”

In rejecting DEC’s proposal, APA commissioners followed the recommendations of APA counsel and staff, who concluded that the proposal was “inconsistent with the guidelines and criteria of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan.” According to the Master Plan, which is part of state Executive Law, the “preservation of the wild character of this canoe route without motorboat or airplane usage … is the primary management goal for this primitive area.”

At 3,100 acres, Lows Lake is one of the larger lakes in the Adirondack Park. The lake stretches about 10 miles east to west and is the centerpiece of two wilderness canoe routes. Floatplanes were rare on Lows Lake until the mid-1990s. Sometime before 1990, non-native bass were illegally introduced into the lake, and as public awareness of the bass fishery grew, floatplanes and motorboat use increased.

In January 2003, when it signed the Bog River Unit Management Plan, DEC agreed to phase out commercial floatplane use of Lows Lake within five years, but the agency never developed the regulation to implement the ban. In May, ADK, the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, the Sierra Club and the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks sued DEC. The lawsuit was adjourned while APA considered DEC’s proposed amendment to the Bog River UMP, which would have established a permit system for floatplane operators and limited flights into the lake.

APA’s decision to reject the amendment was supported by state law and regulation, including DEC’s 2005 regulation to ban motorboats on Lows Lake. DEC rejected a proposal to zone the lake to provide designated areas for motorboat use, noting that “it would not satisfy the legislative intent to manage the waterway ‘without motorboat or airplane use’ as set forth in the Master Plan.” DEC’s Regulatory Impact Statement for the regulation also refers to the Master Plan as a “legal mandate.”

APA also considered the 1994 UMP for the Five Ponds Wilderness Area that designated the lake as part of a wilderness canoe route. An Oct. 1 APA staff memo noted that that the canoe route was designated “for use by those primarily seeking a wilderness experience.”

DEC has argued that banning floatplanes from Lows Lake would cause financial hardship for the two floatplane businesses in the Adirondacks, but APA staff pointed out that economic considerations were irrelevant to compliance with the Master Plan. Steve Erman, APA’s economic adviser, said in a memo that DEC had provided “little information to indicate that either of these floatplane operations is truly at risk if flight operations to Lows Lake were halted.”

On the other hand, Erman noted that DEC failed to look at the potential economic benefits of paddling on outfitters, lodging, restautants and other businesses in the Adirondacks. “The economy of the Boundary Waters Area of northern Minnesota has been heavily promoted for paddling for years and it has become a significant economic generator,” he said.

Removing commercial floatplanes from Lows Lake will go a long way in bringing to fruition DEC’s goal of expanding “quiet waters” opportunities in the Adirondacks. Roughly 90 percent of the lake and pond surface in the Adirondack Park is open to motorized vessels.

“In light of the law and the recommendations of APA staff, the agency really had no choice but to reject DEC’s proposed amendment,” Woodworth said. “Now it is incumbent upon DEC to move forward on a regulation that will enhance the wilderness character of this important canoe route and prohibit floatplanes on Lows Lake before the 2009 season.”

In court papers, DEC agreed to promulgate regulations to ban floatplanes if its proposal were rejected by the APA. “If the agency (APA) determines that the proposed amendment does not conform to the Master Plan, this proceeding will likely become moot because DEC will then begin to promulgate regulations eliminating public floatplane access to Lows Lake,” according to a motion by Lawrence Rappoport of the state Attorney General’s Office.


Monday, October 13, 2008

OPINION: Museum Planning Should Include Miners

Mining in the Adirondacks was labor-intensive, dangerous work. More than 250 mines and ore processing sites have operated over time in the region, extracting eleven different minerals. Ores from the Adirondacks fed a national hunger for iron as the country expanded in the late 1800s. Mining is a major Adirondack story, which has been covered in part here at the Adirondack Almanack (and then picked up by NCPR).

This week the Adirondack Museum (which closes for the year Sunday FYI) announced that it will re-install its exhibit on Mining in the Adirondacks (expected to open in 2011). According to the Museum, “the extensive new interactive exhibition will tell powerful stories of people and the communities that grew around mines and forges.” As plans for the exhibit progress, the museum has formed a regional advisory committee to serve as a sounding board for curators and museum educators – unfortunately the advisory committee contains no experts on immigration or labor history and it should.

Various immigrant groups, African Americans, and Native Americans have a long history of laboring in Adirondack mines and related industries, and they should be represented in the Adirondack Museum’s planning. Often their stories have been left untold, just as they often went unnamed in local news reports.

In 1907, five unnamed miners – “Polanders, and it was impossible to learn their names” – where injured when the roof of a mine at Lyon Mountain caved in. Two men broke their legs and the other three were less seriously wounded.

“An Italian who was blown up at Tongue Mountain died Thursday,” one report noted. “He accidentally struck a stick of dynamite with a crowbar. The man’s left arm was blown off at the shoulder, there is a compound fracture of his right arm just above the hand, both eyes were blown out of his head, a stone was jammed against his heart and his head was bruised.” It was a remarkable that he wasn’t killed instantly.

The Adirondack Museum has a perfect opportunity to tell the stories of immigrant labor and others who labored in the mines, but they cannot do that properly without including historian of labor and immigration in the process. The museum claims it will convey the “the ebb and flow of a transient population of immigrant workers, work shifts, and company-sponsored social activities set the rhythm of life in mining towns.” The museum’s advisory committee includes a retired GE engineer, a retired mining executive, a retired mining engineer, a mining reclamation specialist, and lots of other bigwigs – but not a single miner; and that’s wrong.

Members of the Mining Advisory Committee include: Dick Merrill, retired General Electric engineer, historian and author from Queensbury, N.Y.; Scott Bombard, Graymont, Plattsburgh, N.Y.; Conrad Sharrow, retired college administrator and Dorothy Sharrow, retired elementary school teacher, Clifton Park, N.Y.; Vincent McLean, retired mining executive, Lake Placid, N.Y.; Gordon Pollard, professor SUNY Plattsburgh, and industrial archeologist; Carol Burke, professor, CAL-Irvine, oral historian, folklorist, and former Tahawus resident, Irvine, Ca.; Bob Meldrum, Slate
Valley Museum, Granville, N.Y.; Don Grout, retired mining engineer, Lake
Placid, N.Y.; Betsy Lowe, Director, DEC Region 5 and mining reclamation
specialist, Lake Placid, N.Y.; and Adirondack Museum Board of Trustee
members Rhonda Brunner, AuSable Forks, N.Y.; Gilda Wray, Keene Valley, N.Y.;
and Glenn Pearsall, Johnsburgh, N.Y.


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Flaming Leaves Festival Ski Jumping Results

For the seventh time in his last eight competitions in Lake Placid, Anders Johnson [video] of Park City, Utah, ski jumped to the head of the field Sunday in completing a sweep of the Flaming Leaves Festival. After taking Saturday’s national championship on the 90 meter hill, Johnson returned to the same Olympic Jumping Complex 24 hours later, under similar sunshine and 65 degree weather, and captured the NYSEF 90 Meter Super Tour event.

Not to be outdone, Lindsey Van [video], also of Park City, took both ends of the Lake Placid doubleheader by winning Sunday’s women’s 90 meter on the artificial surfaces. “I’ve jumped here many times and have always jumped well,” said the past Winter Olympian. “I feel every time I’m here, I can do well.”

For a struggling ski jumper, the six-foot-three-inch athlete appreciated the friendly confine of the 1980 Winter Olympic site. “The start of summer training wasn’t so good for me,” continued Johnson. “But I’ve jumped better since August.”

Then came a month in Europe where he performed better in summer Continental Cups and World Cups. “That got my confidence back. The jumps here this weekend were some of my best of the season. Now I feel confident for this winter.”

While vendors offered their goods and live bands performed under the tent, Johnson had the two best jumps of the day at 100.5 and 102 meters. His distance and style points totaled 263.5 for an easy victory. Eric Camerota of Park City was second with 249.5 points on jumps of 99.5 and 93 meters. Third place went to Nick Alexander of Lebanon, N.H. after jumping 99 and 92.5 meters for 246 points. Lake Placid’s Andrew Bliss was fourth on the strength of his opening jump of 97 meters. A second attempt of 89.5 gave Bliss 240 points.

Bill Demong of Vermontville, N.Y., sponsored by the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA), was eighth after placing third in the national championship ski jump and second in the Nordic combined nationals, both on Saturday. Demong is preparing to be inducted into the Saranac Lake High School Hall of Fame this week as part of the 1995 state high school championship cross country team.

The diminutive Van, trying to overcome a knee injury incurred last winter, posted jumps of 98.5 and 92 meters, picking up 249 points in the process. “I took myself totally out of the situation and told myself to worry about it (the injury) later,” said Van, who will now go west and seek the care of orthopedic specialist Dr. Richard Steadman. “This weekend was a lot better for me. I concentrated on my in-run position because the in-run here is a bit bumpy. Otherwise, I had stable conditions. It was a great weekend and I had lots of fun. Now I feel good about the winter and will try to stay healthy in the process.”

Jessica Jerome of Park City was next with 97 and 89.5 meter jumps for 237.5 points. Avery Ardovino, Park City, secured third by jumping 89 and 92.5 meters for 226.5 points. Sisters Nina and Danielle Lussi of Lake Placid finished 10th and 11th, respectively. Canadian jumpers came to the surface in the junior division as Calgary, Alberta’s Yukon De Leeuw grabbed the title ahead of teammate Matthew Rowley, also of Calgary. Brian Wallace of Woodbury, Minn. placed third, just a point from second place.

With the close of the Flaming Leaves Festival comes the start of a fall training camp in Lake Placid for many of these competitors. The winter version of this sport gets underway, on snow, next month.

For complete results, including event photos, please log on to www.orda.org.


Friday, October 10, 2008

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Friday, October 10, 2008

James Howard Kunstler’s New Book Set Locally

Mark Frauenfelder over at BoingBoing has a review of James Howard Kunstler’s new, World Made by Hand. A futuristic novel set in an an upstate New York town (somewhere in the Washington or Saratoga counties?), Kunstler’s book looks at what the world could be like in a future laid low by energy shortages and global warming. According to Frauenfelder’s review:

The story is told by Robert Earle, who used to be a software executive. Now he’s a hand-tool using carpenter living in a town in upstate New York without Internet, TV, or newspapers. The electricity comes on every couple of weeks for a few minutes at a time. When that happens, nothing’s on the radio but hysterical religious talk. Rumors of goings-on in the rest of the world are vague…

The story kicks off when Earle (who lost his wife and daughter in the plague and hasn’t seen his 19-year-old son since the boy took off a couple of years earlier to find out what’s happened in the rest of the country) is elected mayor and joins a search party to look for a freight boat and its crew, which disappeared on its way to Albany. Their horse-mounted odyssey takes them on a tour through a post-apocalyptic world of insanity, greed, kindness, corruption, and ingenuity.

While life in Kunstler’s world is lawless and harsh and populated with opportunistic characters that make Boss Tweed look like Glinda the Good, it’s not without charms. Local communities are active and productive. Neighbors all know each other and look after one another. People grow and trade their own produce and livestock, and meals are tasty — lots of buttery corn bread, eggs, chicken, vegetables, streaks, fish. They get together and play music a lot, and because people aren’t stuck in their living rooms watching TV, they actually attend live performances.

Kunstler has been a frequently discussed here at the Almanack; at Amazon you can buy World Made by Hand.


Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wild Center: Local Leader on Adirondack Climate Change

Two years ago I was lamenting that no local public leaders were stepping up to the plate on trying to understand what global climate change would mean for the Adirondacks (and it’s ski-tourism industry) – thankfully, that has changed. The Wild Center in Tupper Lake has taken on the lead role of informing their neighbors about the potential impacts of global warming (such as the impact on amphibians), showing local builders what they can do to mitigate those affects, and organizing scientific meetings to discuss and asses the progress of climate change in the Adirondacks.

Next month, The Wild Center will be taking another important step with a another significant conference – American Response to Climate Change Conference: The Adirondack Model. This latest event follows-up on the national leadership meeting held this past June that addressed greenhouse gas abatement policies for the United States. This conference, however, will have a regional approach, with a focus on the Adirondacks. The work of the Adirondack Conference will, in part, be shaped by the research, findings and recommendations from the national conference. According to the website:

The primary conference objective will be to develop a Climate Action Plan for the Adirondacks. This will include specific action recommendations for individuals, communities, and enterprises; detailing climate change driven economic opportunities and benefits for region; concrete time-bound goals for efficiency improvements in buildings and transportation; alternative fuels and small scale power generation options; the role of Adirondack forests and natural systems mitigating greenhouse gas emissions; adaptation measures for local government and economics in changing climate; the role of local governments; policy recommendations for region and state; identification of priority messages and strategies for broad communication efforts; and the creation of an ongoing structure to forward action after the conference.

More than 150 leaders from businesses, local and state government, academia, Adirondack non-profits, and experts in climate mitigation in the areas of building efficiency, alternative fuel sources, small scale power generation technologies, transportation, natural systems and resources, rural areas and local economies.

The conference will take place on November 18th and 19th, 2008; Conservationist of the Year Bill McKibben will be a featured speaker.

BTW, on October 22nd, The Wild Center will announce, with its research partner the Wildlife Conservation Society and Jerry Jenkins, author of The Adirondack Atlas, a major research effort concerning impacts of climate change in the Adirondacks.

Congratulations Wild Center, for showing the way in making our region a leader in the discussions over local impacts to global warming.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

5 Questions: Northern NY Library Network’s John Hammond

I asked John Hammond, Executive Director of the Northern New York Library Network (NNYLN), five questions about the library consortium’s efforts to digitize northern New York newspapers. The NNYLN added its millionth page earlier this year.

AA: What is the North New York Library Network?

JH: The Northern New York Library Network is a consortium of public, academic, school, and specialized libraries chartered in 1965 to improve library and research service to the people of the North Country. Our service area consists of Clinton, Essex, Franklin, St. Lawrence, Lewis, Jefferson, and Oswego counties. In addition to the Northern New York Historical Newspapers project, we support several other initiatives such as an online catalog of all the materials held in all the libraries in the region (ICEPAC) and a regional digital history project (North Country Digital History). All of our projects can be accessed from our main site: www.nnyln.org

AA: How many newspapers / pages do you currently have online?

JH: We currently have thirty-four newspaper titles online, totaling 1.2 million pages. The site has proven to be quite popular – for instance, there were 24,356,486 individual searches conducted on the site in the last twelve months. From the feedback we receive, it appears that researchers from all over the country find the site to be very useful.

AA: What’s the process you use to get the newspapers online?

JH: We use a Mekel automated scanner to scan previously microfilmed newspapers, and then run those results through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. When you enter a search term, you are actually searching the results of the OCRing, but then get to read the digital image of the actual newspaper article you’re interested in….with your search term highlighted on that page. We load both the images of the actual newspapers and the OCR results on servers here in the NNYLN office in Potsdam, NY.

AA: Who pays for the NNYLN Newspaper Project?

JH: Paying for a project of this magnitude is an ongoing challenge. The NNYLN paid the start-up costs from special projects funds, and we have been very fortunate to receive support from many sources, including the Lake Placid Education Fund, the New York State Library, the Friends of the Potsdam Public Museum, the St. Regis Falls Historians Association, the St. Lawrence County Genealogical Society, and many individual researchers who contribute using our online form.

AA: You must see a lot of newspapers – is there a favorite? Which one?

JH: Each newspaper has its own story to tell….they all did a wonderful job reporting local news over the years. Of course, since we are processing so many materials – some in better shape than others- we like those that are the most legible so that our efforts result in a product of greatest research value.


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