Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Adirondack Journalism Conference Coming to Blue Mt. Lake

The Adirondack Center for Writing (ACW) will host a journalism conference at the Blue Mountain Center, in Blue Mountain Lake, on Tuesday, November 10. Some of the region’s and state’s best reporters will be presenters, and the keynote speaker will be environmental journalist Jeff Goodell, author of Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future (Houghton Mifflin, 2007). Adirondack Almanack’s John Warren will participate as a panelist in a discussion on blogs.

The conference is open to all, and registration details are provided at the end of this press release from ACW:

Presenters include Will Doolittle of the Glens Falls Post-Star, Mike Hill of the Associated Press and Brian Mann of North Country Public Radio.

Topics will include “How to Write A Compelling Story with a 24-hour Deadline”; “Tough Reporting in Small Towns,” how to effectively report tough stories even when they involve neighbors and friends; and “How to Make a Living as a Freelance Journalist,” strategies for building a sustainable income as a journalist working in the Adirondack North Country. This discussion will include nuts and bolts issues of multiple sales, quality control, contract arrangements, and deadline management.

A blogging panel discussion features John Warren of Adirondack Almanack and New York History, Brian Mann of NCPR’s “In Box,” and Adirondack Life associated editor Lisa Bramen, who blogs for the Smithsonian’s “Food and Thought.” That discussion will be moderated by Elizabeth Folwell of Adirondack Life magazine.

Jeff Goodell is a best-selling author and journalist. The New York Times called his latest book, Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future (Houghton Mifflin, 2007), “a compelling indictment of one of the country’s biggest, most powerful and most antiquated industries . . . well-written, timely, and powerful.”

Goodell is the author of three previous books including Sunnyvale, a memoir about growing up in Silicon Valley that was selected as a New York Times Notable Book. Our Story, an account of the nine miners trapped in a Pennsylvania coal mine, was a national bestseller. He is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, and his work has appeared in many publications, including The New Republic, The Washington Post, The New York Times Magazine, and Wired. His new book, How to Cool the Planet: Geoengineering and the Audacious Quest to Fix Earth’s Climate will be published by Houghton Mifflin in the spring of 2010.

Will Doolittle grew up in Saranac Lake and started his journalism career as a 14-year-old at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, which, along with the Lake Placid News, was at that time owned and run by his father. He has worked as a reporter and photographer at the Lake Placid News, reporter and city editor at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and managing editor at the Malone Telegram. He has lived in Glens Falls for 16 years, working at the Post-Star in various positions including night editor, Sunday editor, features editor and, currently, projects editor. He has continued reporting during those years and has written a weekly column for the paper for about a decade.

Doolittle has won numerous state journalism awards and several national ones, as a reporter and editor. He has focused on investigative reporting throughout his career and often—in Malone, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, especially—found himself investigating people he knew and often ran into around town. He has learned how to do the job in the most effective way, by making many mistakes. He is looking forward to revealing those mistakes to a roomful of reporters.

Mike Hill, in his two decades reporting for The Associated Press, has covered the state Capitol in Albany, the Sept. 11 attacks, crime, technology, culture and food. He has taught journalism at the University at Albany for five years as an adjunct and contributes to Adirondack Life magazine. He lives near Albany with his wife and two children.

Brian Mann came to the Adirondacks after working as a public radio journalist in Alaska and Missouri. He founded the Adirondack news bureau for North Country Public Radio and has won three national Edward R. Murrow Awards. His work appears regularly on National Public Radio. His 2006 book, Welcome to the Homeland, was widely reviewed. Mann is Adirondack bureau chief for North Country Public Radio and has built a thriving business as a freelance writer and producer. He will talk about strategies for building a sustainable income as a journalist working in the Adirondack North Country. His discussion will include nuts and bolts issues of multiple sales, quality control, contract arrangements, and deadline management.


The Adirondack Center for Writing (ACW) is a resource and educational organization that provides support to writers and enhances literary activity and communication throughout the Adirondacks. ACW benefits both emerging and established writers and develops literary audiences by encouraging partnerships among existing regional organizations to promote diverse programs. ACW is supported by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.

Journalism Conference Date: November 10, 2009
Time: 10:00 AM – 4:15 PM
Open to all – $30 per person, lunch provided (call for group rates)
Location: Blue Mountain Center, Blue Mountain Lake
Contact: Adirondack Center for Writing, (518) 327-6278, acw@paulsmiths.edu; www.adirondackcenterforwriting.org


Monday, October 12, 2009

Local High Peaks Access Point: The Garden

The “Garden” in Keene Valley is one of the more popular access points to the High Peaks region. Turn west from Route 73 onto Adirondack Street which turns into Johns Brook Lane. The parking lot with a capacity of around three dozen cars (including a centerline of vehicles) is located about two miles from Route 73 at the end of Interbrook Way. A modest parking fee of $5.00/day helps to maintain winter plowing, upkeep and pay the weekend attendants. A seasonal shuttle to and from the southwest corner of Marcy Field, with the last run of this season slated for October 18th, helps with overflow. Further details regarding parking/shuttle rates can be viewed via this link.

The Garden’s popularity is perhaps owed to its proximity to a multitude of High Peaks including those of the Great Range. Johns Brook Lodge sits three and one half miles southwest and can be directly accessed via either the Southside trail or the Northside Trail, both of which parallel Johns Brook. While the grandeur of the peaks tempts many, simple explorations of the immediate area can be equally fulfill whether just a brief walk, snowshoe or ski through a hardwood forest or exploration of Johns Brook itself. The easiest access to the brook is from the Southside trail which deviates south (left) from the Northside Trail one half mile from the parking lot.

For all its familiarity to the hiking community, the origin of the Garden’s name is often a mystery since the parking lot appears to be a far cry from a garden. Its origin is, however, as simple as it sounds. It was derived from a vegetable garden maintained at the site of what is now the parking lot in and about the year 1915, according to the Spring 1971 issue of the Forty-Sixer newsletter. The few hikers that passed through the area at that time used the vegetable garden as a reference point and the name remains today.

 


Monday, October 12, 2009

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Monday, October 12, 2009

The Last Days of John Brown: Harpers Ferry, Day One

Friday, October 16th, will be the 150th anniversary of the anti-slavery raid on Harpers Ferry that ended in the trial and execution of John Brown of North Elba. An “Anniversary Procession” will take place from the Kennedy Farm, where Brown and his compatriots spent there last weeks before the raid, to Harpers Ferry. Tim Rowland, 46er, author of High Peaks: A History of Hiking the Adirondacks from Noah to Neoprene, and a regular reader of Adirondack Almanack who lives about 10 miles from the Kennedy Farm, sent this anecdote about the annual John Brown procession: » Continue Reading.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Remote and Difficult Adirondack Paddle Trips

The Adirondacks have a number of remote, difficult trips suitable for either long, single-day trips or for multi-day trips. One notable trip is the Cold River, starting at Tahawus and on to Duck Hole, paddling the entire length of river down to the Raquette, and then either upstream to Long Lake or down to Axton’s Landing.

Another involves a paddle down the upper East Branch of the Oswegatchie to Inlet starting from the Lower Dam on the Bog River, up Lows Lake , and over to the Oswegatchie via Big Deer Pond. (I know of one party that got to the upper East Branch from Stillwater Reservoir and then north via Salmon, Witchhopple, and Clear Lakes.) » Continue Reading.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

APA to Move Forward on Boathouse Regulations

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold public hearings on the APA’s proposed revisions to its boathouse regulations. Following APA meetings in August and September, 2008, the Agency voted of 8 to 3 to submit the proposed revisions for State Administrative Procedure Act (SAPA) authorization (in February of this year). Following authorization to proceed (which the agency received on October 8) the APA will be scheduling several public hearings (both in-park and outside the Blue Line) later this fall. Here is the complete notice from the APA:

The APA Boathouse definition was implemented in Regulations adopted in 1979, and revised in 2002. The new 2009 definition proposes specific roof, height and footprint criteria to replace the 2002 “single story” limitation. The revision clarifies design components and continues to prohibit the use of boathouses for anything other than boat storage.

Other uses, if independently built, would be subject to the shoreline setback requirements of the APA Act. For example, other structures such as decks, guest cottages, and recreation rooms are prohibited on the shoreline if greater than 100 square feet in size. In the past, landowners attached these components as part of what would otherwise be a boat berthing structure, and argued these components were part of the “boathouse” because the previous definitions did not specifically exclude them.

The 2002 definition limits boathouses to a “single story.” However, the definition fails to prohibit large “attics,” and extensive rooftop decks, resulting in some very large non-jurisdictional shoreline structures. The lack of clarity requires architect’s plans and time-consuming staff evaluation.

This is a particular problem in towns that do not have their own zoning ordinances. Currently within the Park, local boathouse regulation runs the gamut from no regulation to some towns having limits on size, including square footage and height restrictions. Some town regulations are more restrictive than the present 2009 proposal.

The 2009 proposal retains the 2002 provisions that define “boathouse” to mean “a covered structure with direct access to a navigable body of water which (1) is used only for the storage of boats and associated equipment; (2) does not contain bathroom facilities, sanitary plumbing, or sanitary drains of any kind; (3) does not contain kitchen facilities of any kind; (4) does not contain a heating system of any kind; (5) does not contain beds or sleeping quarters of any kind”.

The proposal adds: “(6) has a footprint of 900 square feet or less measured at exterior walls, a height of fifteen feet or less, and a minimum roof pitch of four on twelve for all rigid roof surfaces. Height shall be measured from the surface of the floor serving the boat berths to the highest point of the structure.”

The change is prospective only; lawful existing boathouse structures may be repaired or replaced pursuant to Section 811 of the APA Act within the existing building envelop.

For those who wish to exceed the size parameters or expand a larger existing boathouse, a variance will be required. Standard shoreline cutting and wetland jurisdictional predicates still apply in all cases.

Shorelines are important. The dynamic ecosystems that edge Adirondack Park lakes, wetlands, rivers, and streams are critical to both terrestrial and aquatic species. Well-vegetated shorelines serve as buffer strips, protecting banks from erosion, safeguarding water quality, cooling streams, and providing some of the Park’s most productive wildlife habitat. Large structures and intensive use at the shoreline causes unnecessary erosion and adverse impacts to critical habitat and aesthetics and raises questions of fair treatment of neighboring shoreline properties.

The Statutes and Regulations that the Agency is charged to administer, strive to protect water quality and the scenic appeal of Adirondack shorelines by establishing structure setbacks, lot widths and cutting restrictions. However boathouses, docks and other structures less than 100 square feet are exempt from the shoreline setback requirements. The original Adirondack Park Agency Act also allows a higher density of residential development on shoreline lots. Continuing development and redevelopment on the water’s edge, including large dock and boathouse structures, continues to threaten water quality and increase the types of use detrimental to long term protection of the Park’s greatest asset.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Volunteers Needed for Adirondack Fall Trails Day

Adirondack outdoor recreation enthusiasts will have an opportunity to give back to the region’s trail system on Saturday, Oct. 17, when the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) Trails Program holds its 17th Annual Fall Trails Day in the High Peaks Region. Participants can stay at the ADK’s Wilderness Campground for free both Friday and Saturday nights; Saturday begins with a basic breakfast at the High Peaks Information Center near the Adirondak Loj (volunteers should pack a lunch). A list of trail projects is available at www.adk.org/trails/Fall_Trails_Day_List.aspx.

According to the ADK announcement of this year’s Fall Trails Day “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 done in cooperation with the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

For more information or to register, contact the ADK Trails Program at (518) 523-3441.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Paddler and Author Don Morris Joins Adirondack Almanack

Adirondack Almanack is pleased to announce that Don Morris is joining the site as paddling contributor. Don’s posts on all things canoeing and kayaking will run monthly, beginning tomorrow.

Don is co-author of Adirondack Canoe Waters, North Flow, the classic canoeing and kayaking guide and just a great book, period. “Don is an experienced kayaker at home in technical waters beyond the skill of the original writer,” Paul Jamieson (the book’s selfsame original writer) wrote in 1994 as he announced the transition in authorship. Jamieson died in 2006 at age 103. Don has added whitewater routes as well as detail about technical runs to the book. But he says he spends just as much time on flatwater in the Adirondacks and on his travels outside the region.

Photograph: Don Morris and friends paddle Ausable Chasm


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Olympic Region Athlete Send-Off Celebration Tonight

There will be a public send-off celebration today to honor the more than 200 athletes from the sports of Biathlon, Bobsled, Cross Country, Freestyle, Luge, Nordic Combined, Skeleton, Ski Jumping, Downhill and others who are in the region training and competing for a spot on the 2010 US Olympic Team that will compete in Vancouver, British Columbia February 12th to February 28th. (The Paralympic Winter Games will be held March 12, to March 21, 2010.)

The event will begin at 6 pm in Mids Park, Main Street, Lake Placid, and will feature live music by former luge Olympian Gordy Sheer and his band Loud & Stupid. An autograph session will kick off the event, which will also include an Olympic Send-Off Ceremony and Torch Lighting.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

It Came From The Cupboard: Larder Beetles

It was small. Black . . . with a reddish band across the middle. It scuttled across the kitchen counter on six short legs. I had to swat at it more than once to kill it. It was . . . a larder beetle.

Larder beetles (Dermestes lardarius) are also known as bacon beetles, and, as you may have guessed, they are frequently found in our kitchens. A member of the scientific family Dermestidae, these insects, while at once creepy and revolting, serve an important function in the world: they clean up messes. That’s right.

In general, dermestids are scavengers, feeding on skin, carcasses, old plant fibers, feathers, dead insects, and so on. They are right helpful out in the wild, but in our houses, they make us wonder about our housekeeping skills. The larder beetle, and its cousin the carpet beetle (there are more than one species) are probably the dermestids most commonly found in your house.

Let’s start with a look at the larder beetle. It is small (a centimeter long at most). It is black at the head and tail ends, with a reddish band running across the middle. Sort of like a woolly bear caterpillar. And it is in your house because there is food there for it: animal-based products. It’s not called a bacon beetle for no reason. Often these insects are found in warehouses, places that store fatty meats (such as bacon), hides, carcasses, etc. Slaughterhouses are probably a good place to look for them, too.

So why do we find them in our kitchens? Most of us don’t have hams hanging in the rafters anymore. If we have meat, it is in the fridge or freezer. Why, I was a vegetarian for seventeen years, and I still had them! What could they be eating? After due consideration, I finally decided it must be the cat (and later, dog) food. But then I read about the larvae. When larder beetle larvae are ready to pupate, they develop prodigious appetites, eating all sorts of household products that would turn our stomachs: wood, cork, paper, textiles, mortar and soft metals, like lead. Well, they aren’t really eating these things, per se. They are actually chewing holes in them to make cozy little dens in which to go through “the change”. Still, they are chewing our stuff. And once they pupate, they are adults, and perhaps it is these newly pupated adults that I am finding in my house.

Carpet beetles, on the other hand, are less fussy – they are simply eating any animal-based product that contains keratin (old fur, old hair, old feathers, old insect parts), although some are also attracted to plants (nectar, pollen). They range in size from one-quarter inch to one inch in length, and they vary in color depending on species. If you have animals in your house shedding away (and what animal doesn’t, with the possible exception of those Egyptian sphinx cats and naked molerats), then your house could be a good candidate for these insects. And the species that like wool can wreak havoc on your precious Persian carpets! One source I found even claimed that carpet beetles can cause allergies, a direct result of our inhaling the shed hairs of the larvae. Ick.

We need to remember, though, that in the wild these insects are really beneficial. They are part of nature’s janitorial crew. Thanks to their yen for skin, fur, feathers, carcasses, we are not surrounded by dead things. Why, they are so industrious that I lost an entire study skin collection to dermestids several years ago (imagine my horror when I opened my collection, which was stored in a wooden wine box, to find nothing left but a pile of dust and wires); they had to be pretty determined to find it. Admittedly, I wasn’t too thrilled, but it is this ravenous desire to consume all things once living that makes dermestid beetles the friends of bone collectors.

Bone collectors? I know, it sounds grisly, but in truth it’s not that bad. There are folks who prepare bones, like animal skulls, for display. I have skulls at home, and many nature centers also have collections. And how do you get your bones to be squeaky clean and suitable for display? You bury them with a bunch of dermestid beetles, who will happily remove all remaining skin, fur, feathers, flesh.

You can cut down on the likelihood of having dermestids in your house by keeping your house clean. Vacuum up the pet hair. Scrub the counters. Keep meat in the cold chest. Make sure everything in the cupboard is well sealed. And if a little visitor should happen to show up (perhaps it pupated in your walls), just scoop it up and toss it outside, where it can feast on nature’s bounty safely beyond your eyesight.

Photo by Carolyn Klass, Cornell University


Friday, October 9, 2009

Weekly Adirondack Blogging Round-Up


Friday, October 9, 2009

Adirondack Initiative to be Unveiled at Health Summit

Warned in 2007 that the entire health care system in Adirondacks was at stake, federal and state officials responded with millions of dollars in funding to create a new initiative that will expand health care services in the Adirondacks and serve as a model for under-served regions throughout the country.

That initiative, a multi-year pilot program called the Adirondack Medical Home Demonstration Project, will be unveiled at a second Adirondack Health Summit, to be held October 13 at 10 am at the Warren County Municipal Center in Lake George.

“In August 2007, the New York State Association of Counties convened an Adirondack Health Summit to call attention to an emerging health care crisis in the Adirondacks, especially with regard to primary care. Since then, the region’s health care providers, together with leading payers, have been meeting with he State Health Department to craft a solution. These efforts address health care reform at the local level, where it can be most effective,” said Stephen J. Acquario, the Executive Director of the New York State Association of Counties.

The Adirondack Medical Home Demonstration Project will be launched officially in January, 2010, said Dr. John Rugge, the CEO of Hudson Headwaters Health Network, a consortium of 12 community health care centers Acquario described the Adirondack Medical Home Demonstration Project as a “partnership between health care providers, insurers and government.”

The goal, he said, is to provide “a medical home” for patients in which care is better managed and co-ordinated, especially individuals with complex, chronic conditions that require multiple treatments, medications, and specialty services.

“Primary care clinicians, in collaboration with insurers and the New York State Health Department, are engaged in an initiative to better organize and deliver primary care services while addressing the value and cost of health care services,” said Acquario. “The partnership could reach over 150,000 patients and involve almost 100 physicians and at least seven insurers, including the state. If successful, the model could be replicated in other parts of the state.”

In fact, said U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, “This is a program that may just save health care in the North Country and, what’s more, prove to be a pioneer of national significance. Every crisis represents an opportunity and we are fortunate to have the key health care leaders working together before it is too late.”

The project is supported by Governor Paterson, Commissioner Daines and Deborah Bachrach, Director of the NYS Health Department’s Office of Health Insurance Programs, which includes Medicaid and all public and private insurance programs, said Acquario.

According Acquario, the New York State Health Department is participating in the project as an insurer and has agreed to convene the other major payers across northern New York. Participating insurance companies include the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP), Empire BlueCross BlueShield, Excellus, Blue Shield of Northeastern New York, Fidelis Care, MVP, and United HeathCare (through the ‘Empire Plan’).

The summit will include local government, business leaders, service organizations, educational institutions and environmental groups. New York State Health Commissioner Richard Daines, MD will be the keynote speaker.

According to Dr. John Rugge, the initiative is one attempt to address the high costs of providing health care and inadequate rates of reimbursement for primary care services.

“Everybody knows the system is broken; we have to change the way we practice medicine and the insurers have agreed in principle that health care providers have to be reimbursed for the costs of delivering that care in a more effective and efficient manner,” said Rugge.

Like the “Doctors Across New York Program,” an initiative announced by New York State’s Health Commissioner in Glens Falls last year that will give new physicians as much as $150,000 to repay medical school loans if they spend at least five years practicing in underserved areas, the new project will help communities recruit and retain physicians, Rugge said. “Primary care physicians can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Rugge said. “They know the value of their work will be recognized.”

The project will be funded in part through grants that will, for example, increase the use of electronic records which will make co-ordinating care easier, said Rugge.

Last week, Governor David Paterson announced that Adirondack health care centers and hospitals would receive a $7 million grant to finance the increased use of electronic records.

According to Rugge, the success of the program will be seen in cost savings derived from fewer trips to the hospitals and unnecessary tests, lower prescription costs and the patient’s healthier lifestyle.

“The average patient may not see a difference in his care, but the chronically ill patient will,” said Rugge. “For adults, disease management will focus on chronic diseases that account for nearly 80% of health care spending. For children, the focus will be providing preventive services and the long-term management of chronic conditions such as obesity.”

By allowing physicians to spend more time with patients and craft individual health care regimens, “primary care will be hiked up to a new level,” said Rugge.

For more news from Lake George, read the Lake George Mirror


Friday, October 9, 2009

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Adirondack Music Scene:Folk Music, Early Music and Coffeehouses

For most of the musical events happening this week – besides JamCrackers at BluSeed tonight – one has to travel a bit. With a little effort you can listen to some interesting music just outside the park. Saratoga, Burlington and Potsdam all have performances this week. Of course, if you’ve been hoping for some down time this might be the weekend. I, for one, will probably be checking out the play Greater Tuna again, this time at LPCA, because the acting was so brilliant.

Thursday October 8th:

In Saranac Lake at BluSeed Studios, Jamcrackers gets going at 7:30 pm. This is an evening of Adirondack folk music featuring Dan Duggan, Peggy Lynn and Dan Berggren. Dan Duggan is a renown dulcimer player and composer you can even hear his work on Paul Simons CD, “You’re The One”. Peggy Lynn and Dan Berggren are both singer/ songwriters. These three have a wonderful time performing together and BluSeed loves them. For reservations call 891 -3799.

Also a reminder that in Jay at the Amos and Julie Ward Theatre every Thursday at 7 pm, the Acoustic Club, sponsored by JEMS, meets. For more information call, Janet Morton at 946-7420.

Friday October 9th:

In Colton -exciting just because they so rarely have any event for me to post – the Zion Episcopal Church is starting their Fall into Fall Coffee House series. This one will feature a Brian Nichols and Keith Galluchi a high school musical duo and Chase Simmons comedian from the 6th grade. Sounds like something wonderful to support. It’s free and you can call (315) 353 – 2427 for more information.

In Saratoga – if you must see professionals – The Gibson Brothers are pretty sweet. They’re playing Lillian’s Restaurant at 8 pm and tickets are $20. Advance sales only. Call (518) 581-1604 to reserve.

Saturday October 10th:

In Potsdam at 1 pm at The Roxy Theater, The Metropolitan Opera will Broadcast Live a performance of Tosca. You can call (315) 267-2277. Tickets prices range from $18 to $12.

In Canton at 2 pm at St. Lawrence University, there will be an Early Music Singers Concert : “Salve Regina”. Here is part of the description I was sent by the Director of Music Ensembles, Barry Torres: Four varied settings of the Salve Regina (Hail, Queen of mercy), the most popular, and arguably the most beautiful of the great anthems to the Virgin Mary in the Roman Catholic liturgy. Each of the settings is based on the chant, which is believed by scholars to have been written by Hermann of Reichenau (1013-1054). Interspersed between these works will be songs by Antoine Busnoys (c. 1430-1492) and other instrumentals played by a recorder trio consisting of Laura Rediehs, Lynn Waickman and Barry Torres. For more information call: (315) 229 – 5184.

In Glens Falls at the Charles R. Woods Theater a Tribute to Bette Midler and Barry Manilow called “You Gotta Have Friends” will be performed. There are two shows one at 3 pm and one at 7:30 pm. For more information call (518) 798-9663.

Also in Potsdam at 8 pm, the New Hope Community Church holds it’s Second Saturday Coffeehouse. For more information call (315) 566 – 9413 or email: edandpatnoble@gmail.com.

Tuesday October 13th:

In Burlington, VT at the Fletcher Free Library, Robert Resnik is performing from 11 – 11:30 am. I’ve been reading up on this man and he sounds great. He’s the director of the library and hosts a weekly folk and world music show on VPR. This is for all ages, if I were in Burlington on Tuesday I’d go in a second. Call (802) 865 – 7211 for more information.

In Saranac Lake at 7:30 pm until 9:15 pm, The Adirondack Singers are holding rehearsals for their Holiday Concert on Dec. 4th. The rehearsals are open to anyone who wants to sing. No auditions and any ability is welcome. It’s happening at St. Bernard’s Roman Catholic Church every Tuesday night. Call 523 – 4213 for more information.

Photo: Dan Berggren, Peggy Lynn and Dan Duggan


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Golden Eagles Over The Adirondacks

Singer John Denver wrote in Rocky Mountain High, “I know he’d be a poor man if he never saw an eagle fly.” These notes ring true for those of us fortunate enough to see a bald eagle effortlessly soaring over some Adirondack mountaintop or sparkling lake. Bald eagles have made quite a recovery over the past several decades in the Adirondacks, but now I’d like to divert your attention to the the bald eagle’s cousin, the golden eagle.

The golden eagle has long been a source of inspiration, power, and mystery to humans and it shows up as the national symbol of many countries. The golden once flew in great numbers across North America but at this point in time it seems to be holding on to a limited western population and a scattered eastern population. The western population is found throughout the mountainous states from Mexico to Canada and into Alaska. East of the Mississippi it can be found in small pockets of the western Appalachian Mountains during winter, with a majority of the eastern eagles spending their summer breeding season in the regions of northeastern Canada and Maritime Islands.

To this day we still wonder if there was ever a healthy breeding population in the Adirondacks. Teddy Roosevelt stated, in an overview of his 1870’s trips to the Adirondacks: “The golden eagle probably occurs here.” It is believed that the last known nesting golden eagles in this area (around 1971) was found in the Moose River Plains area—a wonderful bird and wildlife watching area anytime of the year. There were also scattered reports of a nest around the Tupper Lake region. As previously mentioned, mystery often surrounds this bird of prey.

Well, slowly and methodically science is trying to pull back this veil of mystery. As this proceeds we get a better picture of the eastern population and, lo-and-behold, the Adirondacks often becomes an integral part of this eagle’s migratory pathways!

As late September blends into autumnal October the golden eagles of Northern Canada’s eastern provinces begin a determined southerly migration into the western Appalachian Mountains. These raptors will often complete a day’s journey of 100 miles or more with good tailwinds. As the estimated 200-300 eastern golden eagles come southward they are naturally funneled over the northeastern states and, as luck would have it, many goldens migrate directly over the Adirondacks.

Technology has played a major role in this investigation. Over the years, many golden eagles have been caught, and radio transmitters have been placed on the backs of these eagles. As the signal is given off by the moving transmitters they show up (via satellite) on “listening” computers and the eagle’s flight path is followed. Based on several mapping sites I found (here’s one), there is a distinct pattern of golden eagles flying over Franklin, Clinton, Jefferson, and St. Lawrence Counties during both fall and spring migration.

OK, now that we know they’re out there . . . what do we look for? As fall marches through October into November I would start looking at the sky when the winds are from the north or northwest. Get out into some open field or on a mountaintop that offers a wide, open view. Personally I like Coon Mountain, near Westport, or I’ll climb the accessible fire tower on Belfry Mt outside Mineville. Both offer some nice views of the Champlain Valley. Another good option is Azure Mt, off Blue Mt Road, northwest of Paul Smiths.

While up there I’ll look with my binoculars for migrating raptors and specifically I’ll focus on the many turkey vultures that are lazily soaring on the heated thermals coming off the valley below. Golden eagles can resemble turkey vultures in flight with a slight “V” shape to their up-turned wings. Most bald eagles and other bird of prey will fly with their wings straight (horizontal) out from their bodies. As you focus on these dark-colored birds, look closely at the wings and try to determine if there are white patches on the undersides of the outstretched wings and a black band on tip of the tail. If so then you may be looking at an immature golden eagle! As our only birdwatching president, Teddy Roosevelt, once said, “Bully for you!”

Photo: A golden eagle in flight.