Saturday, May 16, 2009

Water Quality Best Management Practices

Water quality best management practices are an important component for logging operations. Potential problems include sedimentation of streams and other water bodies, thermal pollution (damage by exposing stream beds to full sun for example), and biogeochemical changes (changes in soil chemistry). Forester Peter Smallidge notes that “cutting trees does not cause erosion, disturbing soil causes erosion.” Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Logging roads and skid trails should follow contours in the land.

Disturb as little soil as possible, especially along streams and stream beds. Skid in winter.

Deal with small amounts of slow moving water such a rain events by using waterbars, sediment barriers, and culverts.

Avoid streams whenever possible. Always cross streams at right angles.


Saturday, May 16, 2009

Agro-Forestry: Making Money From The Forest

At MFO training, agro-forestry expert Bob Beyfuss talked about income opportunities for forest owners that don’t include logging. Here are a few things folks can do according to Bob:

Recreation: hunting leases, cabins, and cottages for various seasons. Take a look at www.aplacetohunt.net and www.woodlandowners.org.

Silvapasture is leasing for grazing or browsing. Although now somewhat limited for elk and deer due to Chronic Wasting Disease and it’s not for sheep or cattle (they cause too much forest damage), there are opportunities for goats. Goats love burdock, beech, and especially poison ivy. They still may need to be fed if they are grazing in strictly forested lands.

Maple syrup production – I’ve already covered that here.

Ginseng, goldenseal, bloodroot, black cohosh, ramp/wild leeks, and fiddleheads are just a few of the botanicals that can be managed on forest lands for profit. Contrary to popular belief, while nothing can be taken from state land, only ginseng and goldenseal are regulated on private land. Old ginseng can sell for $1,700 a pound. Other opportunities include native ornamental plants like foam flower, maidenhead fern, and a lot more. In 1900, there were 5,000 ginseng farms in New York State and New York was the leading producer.

Mushrooms: chanterelles and morelles can be gathered, but oysters and shitakes can be grown at home (shitakes can bring $16 a pound).

Bob recommends two books:

Growing & Marketing Ginseng, Goldenseal & Other Woodland Medicinals

Wildflowers, (The New England Wild Flower Society)

Also check out Marketing Special Forest Products in New York State


Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Lost Ladybug Project – Perfect for Families

“Ladybug, Ladybug, fly away home
Your house is on fire and your children are gone.”

I never really understood that little ditty when I was a kid. I mean, why would you tell this specifically to a ladybug, as opposed to a bumblebee or a dragonfly?

As it turns out, there is a reason. A quick search on the Web turned up a neat little website on nursery rhymes: http://www.rhymes.org.uk/ladybug_ladybug.htm. It seems that in merry ol’ England it was traditional to burn the fields after the fall harvest to cut down on potential future insect infestations. The farmers knew that this beetle, which they call a ladybird, was the farmer’s friend (they are ravenous aphid-eaters), so this was essentially a courtesy call made to tell the insects to leave the fields before they set them on fire.

Today we find ladybugs mostly in our houses in the winter and spring. This is because these insects seek out good hidey-holes for hibernation (cracks along the outside of the house), and when they detect the warmth and light inside, they move on in. Ladybugs are totally harmless, but they can exude a foul-smelling orange goo from their legs if they are pestered. This is a defense mechanism meant to drive away predators, but to them a broom is just as aggressive as a bluejay, so if you try to sweep them away, they may leave this exudate on your walls and curtains. The majority of the ladybugs that turn up in your house are probably non-natives, the Halloween ladybug being the most common perpetrator. This species is orange and black, and often shows up in the fall.

Despite this apparent evidence to the contrary, many native ladybug species are in rapid decline. Back in 1986, when the nine-spotted ladybug was proposed as New York’s state insect, it was common, but by 1988 its population was in a tailspin. One hasn’t been seen in New York now since the late ‘80s. Only one specimen has been found since then in all of the eastern US, and that was discovered by two children in Virginia.

What can YOU do? Cornell University, home to many a citizen science project, has started the Lost Ladybug Project (www.lostladybug.org). This is a great hands-on project for kids, families, or adults. All you do is go out, look for ladybugs, take their pictures, and send the photos in to Cornell, along with the particulars of where you found the ladybug, when you found it, etc. There are three species they are especially interested in finding: nine-spotted, two-spotted, and transverse ladybugs. If you go to their website, they have lots if photos and color print-outs that can help you succeed in this mission.

I know that I’m going to add ladybug hunting to my list of outdoor activities this summer. I have a patch of tansy that in the past has been loaded with ladybugs, both adults and their larvae (which are strange-looking beasts). Chances are most of these will be introduced species, but you never know…lurking among the immigrants there just might be a native or two.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Using the Wedge: Felling Trees The Right Way

Well, I’ve heard of the technique, but like most folks who’ve felled trees I’ve been doing it more dangerously than necessary. New York State Extension Forester Peter Smallidge educates on the wedge method that puts the tree right where you want it without chasing it down with a back cut. He cut his notch, then used the plunge method to leave all but the hinge.

A couple of wedges are placed in the backcut – one just as a safety measure to be sure your saw doesn’t get pinched – and the other to safely and slowly drop the tree. The top should generally never move (no rattling top and falling branches) until you drive the wedge home. Then it falls right on the mark. Take the “game of logging
training Smallidge gives to learn to do it right. He also runs forestconnect.com, Cornell Cooperative Extension site for all things forestry that includes plenty of resources for forest owners, including regular webinars.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Adirondack Weekly Blogging Round-Up


Friday, May 15, 2009

Maple Sugar Bush Production For Forest Owners

At the MFO training we heard from Mike Farrell of Cornell’s maple program at the Uihlein Forest. It turns out that New York is not what it should be in maple production, it’s second in the nation. The US imports four times more syrup from Canada than it produces. New York City alone consumes more syrup that all of New York State produces.

Here is a little more of what we learned:

All maple produces syrup, but sugar maple produces the most and the sweetest sap. However, a very large well-established and healthy red maple can produce nearly as much as a smaller less-healthy sugar maple.

You can tell sugar maple from red maple because the bark peels from the side; red maple bark peels from the top and bottom.

Trees less then 10 inches in diameter should not be tapped; the recommendation is one tap per tree, two on very large trees. Taps should be moved around the tree (about an inch and a half a year) and up and down a few inches. Spouts should be 5/16, instead of the older 7/16.

An average sugar bush has 50-60 taps per acre (about 30% of the basal area is maple), easy access, and a gentle slope with water and power at the bottom. Roads should be as few and as straight as possible with grades 3-10%; try to keep keep water off your roads.

Tapped maples don’t die sooner, but they do grow considerably slower. Regeneration of the sugar bush should be considered – that requires protection of seedlings from browsers (like deer!), freedom from species competition, and adequate sunlight. Conifers attract squirrels, which can be a problem – they love to chew on taps and tubing.

Tubing is more environmentally friendly, produces a greater yield, and is less work than taps and buckets. It should be run tight, straight, and downhill. Vacuum systems add up to two to three times the yield to gravity systems. They can be left in place, but they still have to be maintained and annually flushed (use a power washer and plain water – chlorine can build up salts in the line and encourage pests). Tubing costs about $8 per tap to install.

Options for landowners include leasing to a producer, collecting and selling sap to a producer, or producing your own (most work, and profit). Setting up your sugar bush may make you eligible for an New York property tax agricultural assessment.

What about saw timber? There is a nice market for tapped maple butt logs (previously not usually accepted by local mills for saw timber and generally only used for firewood) because the wood is stained and has a natural look (the more tap holes, the more money a board can be worth). Butt log boards can fetch $3 a board foot by marketing it as a specialized wood product.

Check out www.mapletrader.com for used equipment and the New York State Maple Producers Association for information on setting up a maple syrup operation.

 


Friday, May 15, 2009

Dredging the Hudson: An Illustrated Timeline of Delays

When the first bucketload of oily Hudson River muck rises today, ten miles south of the Adirondack Park Blue Line in Fort Edward, it will mark the end of a quarter century of preparation, study, legal skirmishing and no small amount of foot-dragging. Throughout, the goal has remained consistent: the removal of approximately 2,650,000 cubic yards of Hudson Riverbed sediment laced with polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Here is a timeline of the delays:

September 1984 EPA formally places the Hudson River PCBs Superfund site on the National Priorities List. EPA chooses to take no remedial action, citing possible environmental risks posed by stirring up the PCB deposits. Babies born around this date will have graduated with advanced degrees in environmental sciences by the week clean-up actually begins. Unfortunately, considerably more babies will have graduated with degrees in law and public relations.

December 2000 After more than a decade of study and advances in remediation technology, EPA proposes a dredging plan to remove PCB pollution from a 40-mile long stretch of Hudson River between Hudson Falls and Troy NY. A final act of the Clinton Administration’s EPA.

(image right: In a last-ditch effort to derail the inevitable multi-million dollar expense of dredging, GE launches a PR campaign to convince the public and lawmakers to just let the PCBs be.)

August 2001 Following an extended public comment period EPA administrator Christine Whitman agrees to go ahead with the plan.

(image right: The decision by Whitman to back the dredging plan exposed a rift in the traditionally pro-industrial GOP. On the Hudson, the future of the river ran between Governor Pataki and his one-time protege Congressman John Sweeney.)

February 2002 EPA issues its official Record of Decision for a phased dredging project. Dredging scheduled to begin Spring 2005.

(image right: In March 2002 the EPA gets off to an impolitic start, siting the project field office in Saratoga Springs, 21 miles from the dredging site in Fort Edward. The decision is hastily reversed, prompting delays.)

October 2002 The war over cleaning up the Hudson River is eighteen years old, over twice the length of The War for American Independence.

(image right: Reenactors celebrated the 225th anniversary of the Battle of Saratoga at a Fort Edward farm belonging to a cousin of Fort Edward Supervisor Merrilyn Pulver, a dredging opponent.)

March 2003 EPA issues an adjustment to the dredging schedule to accommodate negotiations with GE on payment for and conduct of the dredging operations. Dredging scheduled to begin Spring 2006.

October 2005 EPA and GE reach an agreement on payment for and conduct of the dredging operations. Dredging scheduled to begin Spring 2007.

July 2006 EPA Region 2 Administrator Alan Steinberg cites delays in the delivery of specialized dredging equipment. Dredging scheduled to begin Spring 2008.

November 2006 EPA and GE agree to a Consent Decree that will begin dredging.

2008 EPA approves design of Phase I implementation plan.

Jan 2009 Modification to 2006 Consent Decree stipulating payment for clean water supplies for affected communities during the dredging operations. Dredging scheduled to begin May 2009.

May 15, 2009 In time for the 400th anniversary of the first chronicled exploration of the Hudson by Europeans, the innovative minds that helped build General Electric into one of the mightiest industrial empires in human history have finally run out of excuses to not clean up the river. Or so we believe. . .

(Cartoons originally appeared in the Glens Falls Post-Star, and Hill Country Observer)


Friday, May 15, 2009

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Adirondack Mammals; The Whirlwind Tour

There are 54 species of mammals in the Adirondacks, and the Adirondack Ecological Center’s Charlotte Demers offers a “whirlwind tour.” Here are the highlights:

Marsupials – the possum. The Adirondacks is in the upper range of the possum, so you often find them with signs of frostbite, particularly their ears. Amazingly they give birth just 12 1/2 days after mating.

Shrews and Moles – There are six different species of what are called “red tooth shrews”. They have an average life span of just a year and eat almost continuously. Our shrews have a toxin in their saliva which paralyzes it’s prey. The pygmy shrew weighs less then a dime making it (arguably) the smallest mammal in the world. The water shrew dives (mostly in streams) for its prey, including frogs and fish. They are often caught in minnow traps. We have two moles – hairy tail (the most common) and the star nose (uglier and aquatic). » Continue Reading.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Field Trip: Tupper Lake Hardwood Mill

Just got back from the Tupper Lake Hardwood mill, the only hardwood mill left in the the Adirondack Park. Our guide, a sixth generation Canadian mill worker, told us that the company is facing tough economic times. Of their three mills only two are currently operating and the Tupper mill is only running one shift a day (16 employees).

The mill sells almost everything that comes onto the lot. Chips are sent to the International Paper mill in Ticonderoga for fine-grade paper, the sawdust is sold for bedding and other specialized uses. The worst grade of lumber (3 Common) goes into pallets and the better grades are shipped mostly to Europe and Asia (55%) and around the United States (after being trucked to Montreal to be kiln dried). The mill produces about 9 million board feet a year when running at full capacity, but is currently running at half that. The logs are all supplied by about 60 suppliers from within about 50 miles of the mill; minimum log size is 9 inches.

Quite a place – we also took the time to try out some tree scaling and grading.

We’re about to start tree identification. I’ll try to post again after dinner.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Adk Music Scene: From Bluegrass to Opera

There’s a little something for everyone this weekend. You can experience dinner with some opera, bluegrass in Jay, free blues in Long Lake and music from the French Revolution in Redford. Musicians can perform at an open mic, and fans can give back to one of our most talented Adirondack musicians, Dan Duggan. He is a generous man whose health crisis has created the need for a benefit. The options, times and venues are listed below.

Tonight P2’s Irish Pub in Tupper Lake holds an open mic from 7 pm to 10 pm.

Also tonight a performance of music from Italian operas will be presented at Little Italy in Tupper Lake, 144 Park Street. Tickets are $22, which includes the performance and a pasta dinner. Update: This event has sold out.

On Friday JEMS presents the Covered Bridge Coffeehouse (located in the Amos and Julia Ward Theater in Jay). The Homegrown String Band (a mom, dad and two daughters, one of whom reportedly plays a smokin’ fiddle) takes the stage to perform bluegrass, country and folk at 7 pm. Call (518) 946-7824 for more information.

A BluSeed Benefit concert for Dan Duggan begins at 7:30 pm Friday, $15. Reservations recommended. Roy Hurd, Dan Berggren, Jamie Savage, Rustic Riders and Joey Izzo. Another update: This concert has sold out. If you want to help Dan, please send a check payable to Dan Duggan care of BluSeed Studios, 24 Cedar St., Saranac Lake, NY 12983

In lieu of Bluseed you could listen to live Irish Music Friday night at O’Reilly’s Pub in Saranac Lake, 33 Broadway. Call (518) 897-1111 or email Morgans11Pizza@gmail.com for more information.

Blues legend Ernie Williams and his band will perform Saturday @ 2 pm at Quakenbush’s Long View Wilderness Lodge in Long Lake on Rt. 30. The 3-hour show is free of charge.

The Champlain Ball, a Champlain Quadricentennial Celebration event, will be held at 8 pm Saturday at the Plattsburgh Elks Lodge. The ball will feature authentic social dance popular in France and England in the 16th and 17th Centuries; Dance historian Michel Landry of Montreal will lead the dances and give preliminary classes at 2 pm. The Baltimore Consort will provide music. Call (518) 293-7613 or visit Hill and Hollow’s Web site for reservations and information.

Last but not least: Early music ensemble The Baltimore Consort presents “La Rocque ‘n’ Roll: Popular Music of the French Revolution,” a Hill and Hollow event, on Sunday May 17 at 3 pm at The Church of the Assumption in Redford. Tickets are $15 and it’s free to kids twelve and under.

Photograph: The Homegrown String Band will perform in Jay Friday night.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Access to DEC Region 5 Forestry and Wildlife Info

This morning we heard from DEC forestry and wildlife representatives from Region 5 (which covers most of the Adirondacks). Tom Martin, DEC Forester, kicked it off with a discussion of the explanation of the role the agency plays in local forests, public and private. Martin was followed by a DEC Wildlife Biologist who pointed out a number of important resources for landowners, including a few cool internet tools.

Region 5 contains more potential commercial forest land (about 3 million acres) than forest preserve land. The region has three part-time people who handle private land services who are basically foresters who help people develop land management plans.

Martin reviewed recent large land transfers in Region 5. “Every single large forest products company has sold their land,” he said. Those include Champion, International Paper, Domtar, and Finch Pruyn. Lands not bought outright by the state (or a third party like the Nature Conservancy) have been purchased by timber management investment companies which Martin said have much shorter term financial goals (and shorter tenure) than the original owners.

By the way, DEC has paid full taxes on land the state owns in the park since the 1880s. The companies that have sold their land all enjoyed 480a tax breaks that reduced their assessments by 80% (that includes state, county and school taxes).

Following Martin, Region 5 Wildlife Biologist Paul Jensen reviewed DEC resources for forest owners including the agency’s beaver damage management program. The program includes nuisance beaver permits that allow trapping and killing of nuisance beaver and the removal of beaver dams; the DEC no longer traps beaver for relocation. Jensen also briefly touched on whitetail deer management, a significant factor in understory regeneration.

Here are a few resources Jensen pointed us to for getting a closer look at public and private forest lands:

Environmental Resource Mapper – enter your property location and find about wetlands, significant natural communities, and rare plants and animals.

Landowner Incentive Program
– provides information and access to funds and/or tax breaks for forest land owners whose land contains at risk species.

State Lands Interactive Mapper – provides a lot of information on state lands.

We’re off to Tupper Lake for a sawmill visit, then back here for tree identification. This evening – Adirondack mammals. I’ll report again after dinner.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Opinion: Hiking, Drinking and News at Adirondack Papers

Why, in a time of newspaper shrinkage — in circulation, ads, staff, content — are local papers creating new vehicles for fluff? The Adirondack Daily Enterprise this month launched an outdoor-oriented bimonthy (it’s possible some stories were missed by one, two, three or four of the park’s other outdoor-oriented bi/monthlies). The 16-page tabloid is called Embark. Now we hear that around Memorial Day the Glens Falls Post-Star will begin publishing a new weekly called the Edge, for the Lake George area. 

Here’s what an Edge staffer blogged that the thing (not magazine, not quite shopper, not newspaper) will be covering: “It will be around 16 pages of light-hearted feature stories such as weekly Q and As with bartenders.” The dailies are not hiring new reporters or investing in high production values for these throw-away publications. They take staff away from covering issues and redirect them to hike Mount Marcy or flab about how crazy their friends got at Lemon Peel the other night. That’s not news. It’s killing trees to put the most trivial of blog content to paper. 

Admittedly blogs should have better things to do than dogpile on print media in a time of hardship (here, here, here and here are some of the dailies’ own accounts of budget cuts). I don’t aim to join that pack. Most online news sources would be nothing without the hustle and dig that real reporters give them to link and amplify; herein should be the strength and future of newspapers. Anyone with an opinion and a laptop can have a blog, but it takes a business plan, structure and a good staff to provide timely, well-edited coverage of courts, cops, public policy and yes sports on a multicounty level.

I subscribe to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and depend on it for a lot of information. It needn’t care what I think, but the fact that only two out of sixteen pages of Embark are covered with ads while the front page of the paper has been filling space with photographs of tree branches and worms should tell the publisher something.

I also like the Post-Star. It has some of the best journalists in the North Country and Capital Region and did especially solid reporting on the Lake George Ethan Allen tragedy. The paper gets competition from the alternately interesting and weird weekly the Chronicle, whose publisher’s personality comes through loud and clear, giving it kind of a bloggy voice. But the Chronicle is nowhere near as informative. It’s unfortunate to see the Post-Star moving in that direction. Edge, a crayon-font attempt to take ad share away from the excellent but shoestring real community newspaper Lake George Mirror, seems ill-advised at best, mercenary at worst, wasteful either way. If the Post-Star will be editorializing about how important the existence of newspapers is to our democracy, I hope it will then explain why it’s squandering diminishing resources to cannibalize a colleague. 


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Master Forest Owner Training, SUNY-ESF-AEC

Well, I’m here at the Huntington Research Forest / SUNY-ESF Adirondack Ecological Center (AEC), checked in, bag unpacked, and we’ve already made some general introductions and had dinner together at the dining hall. Laurel Gailor, Natural Resources Educator for Warren County Cornell Cooperative Extension and Cornell Department of Natural Resources Program Director Gary Goff (who is primarily leading the training) welcomed me with internet access and a map and schedule.

There are twenty folks here for the training including large landowners and small representing 3,400 combined acres in Warren, Essex, Hamilton, Tioga, and even Broome County. Most are retirement-age men, but we have a handful of women. The group looks pretty diverse as far as experience. Several have been foresters or in the forestry industry for many years, one dairy and maple producer, three engineers, two corrections officers, one college administrator, one principal, two teachers, an anthropologist and a superintendent of highways. One trainee working on his town’s comprehensive plan.

The highlight of tonight’s session (yes, I said tonight, the schedule runs to 8 or 9 pm each night) was an introduction to the Huntington Forest and the Adirondack Ecological Center by the center’s program director Paul Hai. Hai reviewed the history of the Huntington Forest, so I thought I’d relate some of what he said here.

SUNY-ESF is the oldest college in the US solely dedicated to the study of the environment. It was founded in 1911 as the College of Forestry at Syracuse, although Cornell University actually established the first New York State College of Forestry in 1898 under Bernhard Fernow. It was the first professional college of forestry in North America but didn’t last long. Fernow established a research forest near Saranac Lake (I’ve written about that in the past), but opposition from local wealthy landowners and pressure applied to the state legislature forced the closure of both the research forest and Cornell’s Forestry School in about 1909.

Syracuse took up the mantle in 1911 and in 1932 the Huntington family (famed for their connection to the trans-continental railroad and first owners of the Pine Knot Great Camp) donated some 15,000 acres to the College of Forestry. The Huntington Forest allows “research on a landscape scale,” according to Hai, largely because it is private land and therefore outside the constitutional “forever wild” clause. The goal at Huntington is to study the wildlife and biology of the Adirondack / Northern Forest Ecosystem, but also the dynamics of a healthy forest products economy. The AEC has been conducting one of the longest whitetail deer studies in America, and more recently they have been studying how road salt affects amphibians.

In the 1950s cutting-method blocks were established in the Huntington Forest, and later this week we’ll be able to walk through a half century of forestry methods in just a few miles.

Much of what has been learned through research being conducted published in a variety of peer reviewed journals. AEC maintains a list of publications online.

Breakfast at 6:45 am – I’ll try and report more around noon.


Wednesday, May 13, 2009

7th Annual Great Adirondack Birding Celebration

Seven years ago Brian McAllister, then volunteer coordinator at the Paul Smiths Visitor Interpretive Center, had an idea: why not host a birding festival in the Adirondacks? After all, birders are committed hobbyists who will travel great distances to add new birds to their life lists, and this would be a great way to promote the Adirondacks and the boreal birdlife that makes the Park special. Fast forward to 2009: the Great Adirondack Birding Celebration (GABC) is still going strong and has a line-up of speakers and field trips that will appeal to bird (and outdoor) enthusiasts of all abilities.

This year the GABC, which will be held June 5-7, is hosted by the Adirondack Park Institute (API), the Friends Group of the Visitor Interpretive Centers. One of the changes for 2009 is a registration fee ($35 for individuals, $50 for families), which not only includes entry to all the programs and field trips, but also to the Dessert Reception and Owl Prowl at White Pine Camp (June 5), the BBQ lunch at the Paul Smiths VIC (June 6), and a one-year membership to the API. » Continue Reading.