Friday, May 8, 2009

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Thursday, May 7, 2009

ADK Music Scene: Battles, Bunnies, Jazz and Dancing

A musical battle in Indian Lake , three Bunnies and two Long Hares in Saranac Lake, jazz in North Creek and late night dancing at The Waterhole.

Not quite a feast . . . more of a nice spread.

On Friday May 8th at 8 pm The Battle of The Bands sponsored by ALCA will be held at the Indian Lake Theater. There is $20 registration fee and the winner takes it all home. Tupper Lake’s Fat River Kings will be one of the competing groups.

A show I shamelessly recommend is: The Dust Bunnies and Long Hares at BluSeed Studios in Saranac Lake. It starts at 7:30 pm, Saturday night. Yours truly is one of the troupe so I’m biased, but honestly we write great songs. Love, loss and laundry contemplated in three part harmony AND backed up by a fabulous rhythm section — it promises to be a fun evening. Call for reservations: (518) 891- 9402 or take your chances and just show up at 24 Cedar Street. We’d love to see you!

Also on Saturday at The Waterhole, 48 Main Street in Saranac Lake, Tim Herron Corporation (THC) starts at 10 pm for a $5 admission — late enough so you can go dancing after the Dust Bunnies!

Even more on Saturday at 7:30 pm, the Tony Jenkins Jazz Trip will be playing at Tannery Pond Community Center, 222 Main Street, in North Creek. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students. Call (518) 251-2505 for more information.

A correction: The open mic at Station Street I posted about last week is not a weekly event yet. They are still working out which night is most appropriate and how many times a month. As soon as I learn when the next open mic is scheduled, it will be posted.

Photo: Two Hares (Colin Dehond and Kyle Murray) and Two Buns (Tracy Poszditch and Mary Lou Reid) on way to record their upcoming CD


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Lake Placid: Doris II Replacement; Lady of The Lake Sold

On Lake Placid, the era of the big public tour boat is over. At least for the time being. According to Brian Bliss, Manager of the Lake Placid Marina, a fully covered, thirty-foot aluminum pontoon boat has been purchased to replace the sixty-foot, one hundred-passenger Doris II, which was retired from service on April 16th. The new boat will handle sixteen passengers. Bliss says there are no plans to find a larger or more distinctive vessel to accommodate the sightseeing trade.

This is the second loss in as many years to Lake Placid’s once proud tour fleet. Lady of the Lake was removed from service before the start of last summer’s season. Lake Placid Marina sold the sleek vessel—built in 1929 by Hutchinson’s Boatworks of Alexandria Bay—to Brian Arico, former owner of Camp Minnowbrook on the lake.

Attempts to resell the boat for private use on nearby water were unsuccessful, and a prospective sale to an individual from Lake Eustis, Florida fell through at the last minute. Lady of the Lake spent the winter months alongside Route 86 in Ray Brook. Late last month she was finally sold to a private classic boat collector who transfered her to a flat bed trailer and hauled her away to Wisconsin.

The loss of Doris II and Lady of the Lake, along with the retirement to private ownership some years ago of the smaller Anna, ends a streak of large boat excursion service on Lake Placid dating back to 1882. Mattie (1882), Water Lily (1884), Ida (1886) and Nereid (1893) were all propelled by steam, as was the original Doris (1898) until her conversion to a gasoline engine in 1907. In March 1950, when Doris II was assembled on the shores of Lake Placid, she inherited the original 30″ by 36″ propeller from her namesake. Asked if Doris II might still have that same propeller, Brian Bliss said that logs and maintenance records were not retained over the years.

Photo of Nereid courtesy of Lake Placid Shore Owners’ Assn.


Thursday, May 7, 2009

Healthcare: Hamilton, Essex Counties Have Most Uninsured

Health care reform has been promised by President Obama for this year (here is a pdf of his plan). According to a new map created by Jim Gimpel of the political blog The Monkey Cage, the Adirondack region, particularly Essex and Hamilton counties, has the most to gain from health care reform. The numbers are drawn from the 2005 US Census and represent the percentage of uninsured in each county (under age 65, those older are eligible for Medicare).

The map is remarkable because it shows that the liberal northeast has the lowest rate of uninsured. New York however, has the highest rate of uninsured in our region, and Hamilton County, one of the lowest rates of insured in all of New York.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Woodcock Watching – A Sure Sign of Spring

Spring arrives in fits and starts. For many it is the longer days and warmer temps that say “spring is here,” while for others the signs are more subtle: the first flowers that bloom (around here that is usually coltsfoot), the first robin in the yard, the first thunderstorm echoing across the mountains. For me, each “first” is another stepping stone bridging the gap between winter and summer, and one of my favorites is the flight of the woodcock.

Woodcocks are odd-looking birds, resembling something that may have been desiged by a committee: the body is squat and compact with a dinky head, an impossibly long beak, and large eyes placed in such a way that the bird almost appears cross-eyed. In fairness, the eye placement really is to the woodcock’s best advantage, since it gives the bird nearly 360 degrees of vision, allowing it to see above its head, in front of its face, and along both sides. I suspect its periferal vision picks up movement from behind as well. And that beak, well, it may look goofy (like a bird with a straw stuck to its face), but it also has some marvelous adaptations: the end is highly flexible and has a sensitive tip that is able to sense worms underground, worms being the woodcock’s preferred food.

But the characteristic that makes this game bird near and dear to the hearts of many a naturalist is the male’s courtship display. You just know that spring is here when you head outside in the evening, right after sunset, and your ears pick up the unmistakable buzzy nasal peent coming from the ball field, golf course, or yard. That would be the male woodcock out strutting his stuff in an open area, hoping to win the heart of a nearby female. But, wait! There’s more! After a few peents, the bird takes off for the sky, twittering away in an almost musical way, ascending the heights in ever-increasing spirals. And when you can no longer see his silhouette agaist the darkening sky, the sound changes to chirping, popping noise as the bird plummets back towards earth in a series of death-defying zigzags. The sounds stop suddenly (the bird is now 50-100 feet aloft), and he lands, only to start strutting and peent-ing once more. As if this weren’t enough to grab one’s attention, note this: the sounds made as he is airborne are not vocalizaions; they are created by the wind created by his flight interacting with his feathers!

I urge you to step out some evening this spring, when the temperature is above freezing, and find yourself a good open space near some woods. Dress warmly and tune your ears for the insect-like peent near the ground. Locate the bird if you can and wait for an aerial display that will impress even the youngest members of your family. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Another New Contributor: Naturalist Ellen Rathbone

Adirondack Almanack is happy to welcome Ellen Rathbone to the ranks of our contributors. Ellen, posting as NatureGirl, is by her own admission a “certified nature nut.” She lives in Newcomb and has been working as a naturalist or environmental educator almost steadily since she graduated from SUNY ESF in 1988 with a BS in forestry and biology. Her work has taken her from NY to NJ to VT and finally back to what she calls her “beloved Adirondacks,” where she has been an environmental educator for the Adirondack Park Agency’s Visitor Interpretive Centers for nearly ten years.

“I consider myself a generalist, since almost any natural history subject is bound to catch my attention,” Ellen told me. “That said, I tend to drift towards plants and ethnobotany (plants are easy to study because they stand still), and I am quite fond of bats (which were the topic for my master’s degree work) and snakes. The more I learn about nature, the more fascinated I become with the complexities that keep our world in balance; it’s an amazing place, this planet we call home.”

Please join us in welcoming Ellen. Her natural history posts will appear regularly on Wednesday afternoons (starting today at 3 pm) and Saturday mornings. On Sunday morning, another treat — Ellen will be providing a local gardening piece! We’re hoping she’ll be adding her naturalist insights at other times as well.


Wednesday, May 6, 2009

There Is Still Time To Enter Our Twitter Contest

There is still time left to enter to win a copy of the new, expanded Adirondack Reader. Thanks to a donation from the Adirondack Mountain Club, which published the latest edition of the Reader, Adirondack Almanack is giving away a copy of what Mary Thill called in her review a collection of “pivotal and perceptive accounts of how people have experienced these woods since the arrival of Europeans 400 years ago.”

Here’s how you can win:

1. Follow Adirondack Almanack on Twitter.

2. Tweet the following:

Just entered to win a copy of The Adirondack Reader. Just follow @adkalmanack and retweet – www.adirondackalmanack.com

We’ll be drawing at random on June 1, 2009. You must tweet by May 31, 2009. Good luck.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

ADK Club To Host "Black Fly Affair: A Hikers Ball"

The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) will host a “Black Fly Affair: A Hikers Ball” on Saturday, May 30. The gala and auction is the largest fund-raising event of the year for the club, with proceeds supporting ADK programs such as maintaining hiking trails and connecting children with the outdoors. Recommended attire for the event is semi-formal dress (black tie) and hiking boots, although the dress code will not be strictly enforced.

The Black Fly Affair will be held from 7 p.m. till midnight at the Fort William Henry Resort and Conference Center in Lake George. Selected regional food and drink vendors, including The Boathouse, Villa Napoli and the Fort William Henry Resort, will provide their specialties for sampling. Wine and champagne tasting is courtesy of Frederick Wildman & Sons Wine Distributors and beer sampling courtesy of Cooperstown Brewing Co. There will also be dancing to the music of the Frank Conti Band.

ADK boasts one of the largest silent auctions in the region in addition to its very lively live auction, where guests will bid on original artwork, outdoor gear, weekend getaways, jewelry, cultural events and more. The auction will be conducted by Jim and Danielle Carter of Acorn Estates & Appraisals. A preview of auction items is available at the ADK Web site, www.adk.org.

Dr. John Rugge, CEO of Hudson Headwaters Health Network, is chairman of the event. Dr. Rugge is an avid paddler and author of two books about wilderness paddling. Longtime ADK leader Bob Wilcox will serve as master of ceremonies. Corporate support for the event has been provided by the Times Union, Jaeger & Flynn Associates, Cool Insuring Agency, Price Chopper Golub Foundation, TD Banknorth, The Chazen Companies and LEKI USA.

Tickets are $35 in advance and $45 at the door. To make reservations, visit www.adk.org or call (800) 395-8080, Ext. 25. To donate an auction item or to become a corporate sponsor, contact Deb Zack at (800) 395-8080, Ext. 42.

The Adirondack Mountain Club, founded in 1922, is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to protecting the New York State Forest Preserve and other wild lands and waters through conservation and advocacy, environmental education and responsible recreation.


Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Adirondack Museum Opens For Season May 22nd

The Adirondack Museum will open for its 52nd season on Friday, May 22, 2009. The Adirondack Museum once again extends an invitation to year-round residents of the Adirondack Park to visit free of charge in May, June, and October. Through this annual gift to close friends and neighbors, the museum welcomes visitors from all corners of the Park. Proof of residency is required.

The Adirondack Museum is open daily from May 22 through October 18, 2009 from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. Friday, September 4 and Friday, September 18 are exceptions to the schedule, as the museum will be closed to prepare for special events. All paid admissions are valid for a second visit within a one-week period.

On Saturday, May 23 the Museum Store will host a book signing from 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m. as part of the opening weekend festivities. Elizabeth Folwell, Creative Director of Adirondack Life will sign copies of her new book Short Carries – Essays from Adirondack Life. Betsy Folwell joined the staff of Adirondack Life in 1989. Since then she has written scores of articles and essays on the politics, nature, history and culture of the six million acres Adirondack Park. She has won eight writing awards from the International Regional Magazine Association.

The twenty-two exhibits, historic buildings, outstanding collections, lovely gardens, and pristine views that are the Adirondack Museum tell stories of life, work, and play in the Adirondack Park of northern New York State.

“Common Threads: 150 Years of Adirondack Quilts & Comforters” is one of two exhibits to debut in 2009. The exceptionally beautiful exhibition will include historic quilts from the Adirondack Museum’s textile collection, as well as contemporary quilts, comforters, and pieced wall hangings on loan from quilters in communities throughout the region. The exhibit illustrates a vibrant pieced-textile tradition nurtured by the Adirondack region for over a century and a half. From bedcovers, plain or fancy, meant to keep families warm through long Adirondack winters, to stunning art quilts of the twenty-first century, the quilts and comforters of the North Country mirror national trends and also tell a unique story of life in the mountains.

The second new exhibit, “A ‘Wild, Unsettled Country’: Early Reflections of the Adirondacks” will include paintings, maps, prints, and photographs that illuminate the untamed Adirondack wilderness discovered by early cartographers, artists, and photographers. The exhibit will showcase more than forty paintings from the museum’s exceptional collection, including works by Thomas Cole, John Frederick Kensett, William Havell, and James David Smillie. Also featured are fifty of the engravings and lithographs of Adirondack landscape paintings that brought these images to a wider audience and provided many Americans with their first glimpse of the “howling wilds” that were the Adirondack Mountains. A dozen rare and significant maps from the collection of the museum’s research library demonstrate the growth of knowledge about the Adirondacks.

“A ‘Wild Unsettled Country'” will feature photographs sold as tourist souvenirs and to “armchair travelers.” The first photographic landscape studies made in the Adirondacks by William James Stillman in 1859 have never been exhibited before. Photos by Seneca Ray Stoddard will also be included. The exhibit will include special labels and text just for kids in addition to the traditional presentation. The Adirondack Museum encourages parents and children to explore and discover together.

The Adirondack Museum’s 2009 Photobelt exhibition will feature rarely-seen images from the extensive postcard collection. “Wish Your Were Here” will showcase Adirondack views of hotels, campsites, tally-ho rides, scenery, boat trips, restaurants, and roadside attractions – sent home to friends and relatives from 1900 to 1960. Postcards have always been treasured souvenirs and the perfect way to say, “Wish you were here!”

Five newly acquired boats will be displayed in the exhibition “Boats and Boating in the Adirondacks.” These include a very rare 1918 Moxley launch, a Hickman Sea Sled (forerunner of the Boston Whaler), a Grumman canoe, a Theodore Hanmer guideboat, a Grant Raider, and a 1910 William Vassar guideboat.


Monday, May 4, 2009

Pottersville Fair: Gambling, Races, and Gaslight Village

Those traveling on the Adirondack Northway (I-87) between Exits 26 and 27 probably don’t realize they are passing literally over Pottersville, the northern Warren County hamlet that borders lower Schroon Lake. From the 1870s into the early 1960s the tiny village was home to amusements that drew thousands. The most remarkable of them, the Pottersville Fair, drew 7,000 on a single day in 1913. Later it hosted a large dance hall, roller skating rink, and the Glendale Drive-in, while nearby Under the Maples on Echo Lake was host to circus acts and an amusement park that was a forerunner of Gaslight Village. Today only the long abandoned Drive-in screen remains, a silent sentinel to Pottersville’s past as an amusement Mecca.

It’s no surprise that the tiny hamlet could host such remarkable amusements. The Town of Chester was on the early stage coach road north of Warrensburgh and Caldwell (as Lake George was then known). It was home to two main villages, Chestertown and Pottersville, and several smaller ones (Starbuckville, Darrowsville, Igerna, Riverside – now Riparius, and Haysburg). In the years after the Civil War Chester became a center for summer visitors and hotels and boarding houses sprung up to welcome them. Early travelers made their way from the D & H Railroad to Riverside (where the first suspension bridge across the Hudson River was built) and then by coach to Chestertown, Pottersville, and Schroon Lake. From a dock at the south end of Schroon small steamers plied the lake. Numerous summer camps were established for children and adults in and around Pottersville. Cottages, colonies, and motels were added with the coming of motor transportation – until recently the Wells’ House was a stop on the Adirondack Trailways bus line. It was all ended with the construction of the Adirondack Northway which diverted traffic over the historic hamlet.

Undoubtedly early religious camp meetings were held at the grove where The Pottersville Fair was established by the Faxon family in 1877. The Faxons were the town’s leading industrial family, owner of Chester’s largest employer, a tannery. The fair was immediately popular, not so much for its agricultural exhibits – there generally weren’t any – but for its gambling opportunities. For thirty years gambling was the main attraction at the fair, and horse racing the main event. In 1897, the fair advertised “a fine program of races consisting of trotting and pacing, running, bicycle, and foot races in which liberal purses and prizes are offered.”

By 1906 anti-gambling forces were applying pressure and the Ticonderoga Sentinel reported that year that “The fair in Pottersville drew good crowds, the feature being the horse races. There were no exhibits made.” “It is the purpose of the management,” the paper suggested “to reorganize the Glendale Union Agricultural Society and devote the exhibition entirely to sports, giving large purses for the racing events.”

The anti-gambling crusade was part of a larger backlash against the free-spirited Gay Nineties. Throughout the country society’s moral guardians railed against the liberties and license of the period and chief among them was drinking and gambling. The heaviest attacks were leveled at the racetracks like the Glendale. Newspapers depicted horse bettors as dupes of a crooked alliance of track management, bookmakers, owners and politicians who continued to allow horse racing. Across the country state after state made tracks like the Glendale illegal. Only Kentucky, Maryland, and New York refused to join them in outlawing the popular sport. That was until the anti-gambling forces secured one of our own local boys Charles Evans Hughes, born in Glens Falls in 1859, as Governor of New York.

Soon after taking office in 1907 Hughes began pushing a bill to eliminate gambling at the state’s racetracks. Although resistance was formidable, the Agnew-Hart Bill [pdf] passed in June 1908 and it became illegal to openly quote odds, solicit gambling, or stand in a fixed place and record bets. Police detectives worked themselves into the crowds at the tracks and arrested those violating the law, the penalty for which was jail. The result was the near death of horse-racing in New York – including at the Pottersville Fair, although gaming and horsebetting continued there underground. In 1914, for example, it was reported to members of the state legislature that the Pottersville Fair “has long been famous… for the great variety of wide open gambling and lottery schemes.” If you want to read how the whole thing affected the horse racing stock, and more about how horseracing survived, take a look at the Thoroughbred TimesRacing Through the Century: 1911-1920.”

As local citizens and summer tourists began fearing arrest and imprisonment for gambling – they weren’t really there for the horses – gate receipts dropped and the Glendale Union Agricultural Society went bankrupt. In 1910, the Pottersville Fair Association took over the fair. The Ticonderoga Sentinel described the newly reopened fair grounds of 1910:

The Pottersville Fair, it is frankly admitted, is conducted solely for the amusement of its patrons. The exhibits of products of farm and factory, beautiful specimens of feminine handiwork, art subjects and curios found at other fairs are her conspicuous by their absence. The association makes no effort to get them and does not believe that the majority of people who go to the fair want them. Nobody would want them anyhow, for all over the grounds, in the midway, on the race track, on the stage in front of the grandstand, and in the dance hall, there is every minute something doing to amuse and interest the crowd.

In addition to the racing, gaming, dancing, and carnival and stage acts the renewed fair in 1910 featured “an areoplane flight, which is positively guaranteed, and which will mark the first appearance in these parts of an airship.”

In the 1920s the dance hall at what was then called Glendale Park featured dancing every Thursday, 9 pm to 1 am (later expanded to Friday and Saturday as well). Among the bands who played there were Val Jean and His Orchestra, Domino Orchestra, Guy LaPell’s Orchestra, and the James Healey Band. The park’s skating rink was reported in 1945 to be “almost too crowded to skate.” Eventually a drive-in movie theater would be installed. A neighbor of mine who worked in the kitchen at the Glendale reported that the bar there was staffed by seven bartenders at once.

A legacy of the Pottersville Fair was its stable of acrobats and stage shows. Under The Maples, an emerging resort of sorts on Echo Lake just south of the Wells House, carried on the carnival atmosphere with acrobats and tightrope walkers. General amusements were installed at Echo Lake and the new amusement park operated late into the 1950s, eventually under the name Gaslight Village as it still retained much of its Gay Nineties theme. In about 1958 Charley Woods purchased the whole kit and kaboodle and moved it to Lake George where the 1890s were relived until about 1990 at his own Gaslight Village. You can read about that here.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Madrid, Hammond Newspapers Added to Local Archive

Murderers, slaves and the future of the weekly newspaper. What could these ideas possibly have in common? They were all topics of articles published in St. Lawrence County within a 30-year time span. The Hammond Advertiser and the Madrid Herald are the latest additions to the Northern New York Historical Newspapers website. The Hammond paper has a run from 1886-1947, and the Madrid paper runs from 1904-1918.

These two newspapers join over 40 others with a total of more than 1,366,000 pages on the NNY Historical Newspapers site. There are over 14 newspapers from St. Lawrence County. The site is provided free of charge to the public by the Northern New York Library Network (NNYLN) in Potsdam.

The June 16, 1904 edition of the Madrid Herald had the following notices under its “News of the Week” section:

“Tyson Taken to Auburn – James Tyson, the boy murderer, was taken from Lockport to Auburn State Prison to begin serving a term of twenty years for manslaughter. He was in charge of Under Sheriff Spaulding. Tyson stabbed Joseph Callahan, a waiter, in the Falls View Hotel, on the morning of February 10.”

It also reported, “Old Slave Dies – Henrietta Moore, colored, aged 103 years, died at Binghamton. She was born in slavery in Maryland, but escaped and served as a nurse for the Northern troops during the Civil War.”

A story in the June 15, 1939 edition of the Hammond Advertiser noted the following:

“WEEKLY PAPERS GAIN – The idea that weekly newspapers are on the way out is entirely wrong, according to Professor Bristow Adams of Cornell, who points to figures in the current issue of Ayers’ Newspaper Directory. About 20 years ago there was some pessimism about the future of the country weekly, he says, and much was written about the competition of the daily papers, the difficulty of getting national advertising for small newspapers, and similar drawbacks to success in the weekly field. Time has proved, he says, that the well managed, thoughtfully edited weekly is more of a rival to the daily than the daily is to the weekly, largely because the weekly can and does print strongly localized personal news which the daily paper is unable to get.”

The NNY Library Network is currently working on additional years of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Saranac Lake; and the Press-Republican, Plattsburgh.


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Adk Invasive Program Wins EPA Environmental Quality Award

The Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program (APIPP) was one of 26 projects across New York State to receive the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s highest honor: the Environmental Quality Award. The award ceremony was held last week in Manhattan in conjunction with Earth Day. Founded in 1998 and housed by The Nature Conservancy in Keene Valley, APIPP is leading the charge to protect Adirondack natural resources from the damaging effects of invasive species by engaging partners and finding solutions through a coordinated, strategic, and integrated regional approach. Unlike many places, the opportunity exists in the Adirondacks to hold the line against invasive species and prevent them from wreaking havoc on natural resources and economic vitality. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, May 2, 2009

The Adirondacks and the Long Emergency

James Howard Kunstler will speak about The Long Emergency at 7:30 p.m. Monday at Paul Smith’s College. The event, in the auditorium of Freer Hall, is free and open to the public.

Kunstler’s 2005 book, subtitled “Surviving the converging catastrophes of the 21st Century,” has received international attention, but the Saratoga Springs resident has long had an Adirondack following. In 1987 he wrote one of the funniest things ever to appear in Adirondack Life: “The Man Who Would Be King,” a profile of Roger Jakubowski, in which he let the megalomaniacal then-owner of Great Camp Topridge bury himself under pronouncements about his plan to amass an Adirondack empire. (That empire has been whittled to a dormant water-bottling plant in Port Kent.)

The author’s humor is intact even though his subject now is sobering: the implosion of oil-based economies and a transformation of day-to-day life. Kunstler tells the Almanack that the Adirondacks will probably lose population under the new world order.

MT: Have you given any thought, in light of the system failures you foresee, to how well people in the Adirondacks will fare?

JHK: Well it seems to me the Adirondacks have always basically been a resource economy, with a recent overlay of mass tourism; before the Second World War it was mostly elite tourism. And that’s what your economy has been. It’s a pretty poor resource area for what it is. And my guess is that the Adirondack region will contract in population a lot.

MT: What do you think will cause that? The collapse of the tourism economy, the lack of a resource economy?

JHK: Not just tourism but motor-based tourism in particular. It’s conceivable that the Adirondacks would remain a retreat for wealthy people, if we continue to have wealthy people. If you don’t get trains running back into the region you’re gonna be in a lot of trouble.

MT: I’ve read a lot of your writing, and I know that you feel that people in the big cities won’t be able to turn to the land, just won’t have the resources that people in the country will have . . .

JHK: Well, I’m often misunderstood about that. I don’t see it quite that simply because there are many forces swirling around in that picture, some of them counterintuitive. For instance, people assume that when I say the big cities will be troubled places, that everyone would move to the country in one form or another, and let’s remember there are several very different kinds of rural landscapes. At the same time people assume when I say the suburbs will fail that I mean everybody will simply leave and move elsewhere. This is not what I mean at all. There will surely be big demographic shifts, but they will occur in ways we may not expect.

For instance, I see the probability that our small towns and smaller cities will be re-inhabited and reactivated because they are more appropriately scaled to the energy realities of the future. In the meantime our rural landscapes are likely to be inhabited quite differently than they are today. For one thing, in the places that can produce food, farming will almost certainly require more human attention. These are the broad outlines that I see. But we don’t know exactly how this might play out.

MT: I live in Saranac Lake, and I see this as a great small town but one with maybe a 90-day growing season and a seven-month heating season. How does that fit into your picture?

JHK: I think places like Saranac Lake will contract while they re-densify at their centers. One thing you’ve got going in all these places like Saranac or Lake Placid, despite the Adirondack Park Agency, is a suburban overlay that just isn’t going to work after a certain point. Despite the APA rules, the basic template of highway development and strip development that became normal all over the rest of the United States was not so different in the Adirondacks, [in terms of] where most of the new business after 1960 located. At the same time, the postwar car culture allowed people to spread their houses out in the landscape in a way that wouldn’t have been possible before the car and won’t be possible after the car.

To clarify, what you’re seeing really is almost nothing could defeat these habits and practices of suburbanization even in a place as rigorously controlled as the Adirondacks. All that stuff on the highway between Placid and Saranac, all the people living 14 miles out of town making a living running front-end loaders or whatever they do, they’re gonna run into trouble with these living arrangements. That’s apart from the issue of how the economy functions.

The guy running the front-end loader living in Rainbow Lake, he’s basically living a suburban life although he thinks he’s living in the country. The issue of how does he make a living now now that he isn’t doing site preparation for other people building houses in Rainbow Lake and places like it — an awful lot of the economy in the Adirondacks, just like the economy in the rest of the U.S. for the last 30 years, has been based on building more suburban sprawl. Up in the Adirondacks you guys have sort of put a sort of lifestyle dressing over it. But it’s still suburban, and it functions very differently from the pre–World-War II towns.

Now even if the population goes down in the Adirondacks it certainly doesn’t mean your towns will die; in fact they may be more lively as they re-densify. All the spread-out stuff is going to lose value and incrementally be abandoned, in my opinion.

MT: I’m actually encouraged because I was wondering whether you think the towns themselves were just too isolated?

JHK: Well they are isolated and that’s a big problem, and that’s why I say if you don’t get railroad service back there you’re going to have enormous problem. You’re basically going to be stuck in the same situation that you were in in 1840, where nothing really got past Lake George or Warrensburg and it was nothing but horse and wagons from there on.

It’s desperately important for the nation as a whole to rebuild the railroad system, but it’s particularly critical in a place like the Adirondacks. I think we fail to appreciate how swiftly the car system could collapse.

MT: Have you ever put a timeline on it?

JHK: It is really pretty hard to predict. But I would say within ten years we’re going to have serious problems, and probably within five.

MT: I love the “Eyesore of the Month” department on Kunstler.com, and I wonder if you have any favorite Adirondack eyesores.

JHK: Like most of America, you could plunk down in any county in the USA except maybe the desert and you wouldn’t have to turn 60 degrees to see something really horrible.

MT: In the 1990s I went to a talk you gave at the Adirondack Park Agency — in your Geography of Nowhere days — and what you said about the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid really stuck with me.

JHK: It’s really f*****g horrible.

MT: You didn’t say that, you said something more like, “It says, ‘We don’t care about you.’ It’s a big wall facing the road.”

JHK: Actually that’s more succinct. Every time I go by I just marvel at it, that we’re a society that can’t even imagine putting up a building that has any generosity.

Probably 90 percent of the buildings anywhere in the USA now, including Saranac Lake, were either built with no thought or have been cobbed up so badly that they’ve destroyed their original value. We’re seeing in part the diminishing returns of technology. The more cheap crappy building materials you make available the more people will use them. The more easily they can be assembled the more universal they’ll become.

The good news is that we’ll have far fewer cheap synthetic modular building materials in the future. What we’ll see all across the nation is we’ll have to return to using regional materials. . . .

MT: Do you have a theme for your talk at Paul Smith’s College?

JHK: Generally addressing the themes of my 2005 book The Long Emergency, which is now under way. And I try to focus on intelligent responses to this predicament. I tend to be suspicious of the word “solutions.” I don’t use it myself because I notice when other people use it that they mean to suggest that there’s some way we can keep running American life the way we do, and I don’t subscribe to that. I think that we have to live a lot differently, and we’re pretty poorly prepared to think about that.

It’s not that surprising to me because the psychological investment in our current arrangement is so huge it’s just difficult for people to think about doing things differently — the investments we’ve made in everything, the automobile structure. Think of the Adirondacks: the fact that over the last 50 years the Adirondacks has based its economy on building houses and servicing the arrival of ever more people — that’s not going to be happening anymore. You’re going in the other direction now. And you’re not going to be building more houses in Rainbow Lake and other distant places.


Friday, May 1, 2009

New Public Access To 44,000 Acres Of Lyme Timber Lands

The DEC has announced the opening of limited public access for recreation to three parcels of conservation easement land formerly owned by International Paper Company and currently owned by Lyme Timber. The public will be able to access the lands for non-motorized recreation now; motorized access will be allowed in the future.

The three parcels are the 17,125-acre Black Brook Tract in the Town of Black Brook, Clinton County; the 7,870-acre Altamont Tract in the Town of Tupper Lake, Franklin County; and the 19,000-acre Kushaqua Tract in the Towns of Brighton and Franklin, Franklin County. The parcels are part of one of New York State’s largest land conservation projects – 256,649 acres of land – which was announced on Earth Day in 2004.

The Black Brook, Altamont and Kushaqua Tracts had a five year waiting period before the properties could be opened to the public, which expired on April 22. The three tracts are open to public access for non-motorized recreation only- on foot, mountain bike, on horse, or canoe/kayak. According to the DEC “The full array of recreation rights purchased will not be available at this time due to lack of resources.” Currently permitted recreational activities include hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing, mountain biking, hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife viewing and canoeing/kayaking. Camping and campfires are also prohibited until camp sites are designated.

Parking lots, trails, and trailheads, have not been buit and there is no signage yet. Trails for motorized recreation will be developed in the future following a planning process. Access to the property is by adjoining public highways and the DEC has asked that users avoid blocking any gates or obstructing traffic when parking.

These lands are privately owned and actively managed for timber. The landowner also leases private recreation camps. Lessees have the exclusive right to use one acre of land surrounding their camp which are not open to ANY public use or access. The one-acre camp parcels, however, may not block public access to or use of main access roads, trails, streams or ponds.

Visitors to these lands may encounter logging and construction equipment used in forest management and motorized vehicles, including ATVs, belonging to the landowner, their employees or camp lessees. The DEC asks that the public respect the rights of the landowner, camp lessees and their guests when using the property.


Friday, May 1, 2009

Adirondack Weekly Blogging Round-Up