Thursday, October 8, 2009

Adirondack Park Disappears from Google Maps

Searching for a map of Beaver River yesterday I noticed that the raggedy roundish green shape that usually defines the Adirondack Park on Google maps had been reduced to a wedge over the Northwest Flow.

The Web site TechCrunch.com explains that Google has been incorporating user input to provide more detailed information, particularly about parks, bodies of water, roads, even bike trails. And there’s a “Report a Problem” link. At least one TechCrunch commenter has already reported the Adirondack Park shrinkage.

Image: Screen capture from Google maps this morning. Adirondack Almanack added the Blue Line for context


Thursday, October 8, 2009

Posted Sign Do’s and Don’ts

Q. May a hunter who has wounded game pursue it onto posted property?
A. Only if permission has been granted by the posting party.

Most hunters know this. But when it comes to the Posted signs themselves, landowners don’t always know there are rules guiding the information they put on them. We didn’t know either, until a friend of the Almanack sent us this link to a handy New York State Department of Environmental Conservation site.

It’s a helpful page for landowners and hunters, with information on trespass law and liability, but as our friend pointed out, the section on navigation rights could be improved. A few word-tweaks would help clarify this widely misunderstood section of state law. First, get rid of references to “mean high water mark,” which have no bearing on the legality of through-travel on a river. And this friend suggests starting the discussion this way:

Q. May a person travel in a boat or canoe on a waterway which is posted?
A. Yes, but it is illegal to post a waterway against specific navigational activities such as canoeing, kayaking, boating, etc. if the waterway is “navigable in fact” under common law criteria.

There are a few unmistakably navigable rivers in the Adirondacks that are still posted, whether by honest mistake or by intent. The sign pictured here is appropriate for most boundary lines, but facing upstream on a navigable river, as it was on the East Branch of the St. Regis River in June, it confuses if not intimidates paddlers. The landowner, contacted this summer, says the sign came with the property when he bought it in the 1990s and he has no intention of replacing it or changing the wording.

For more information on posting in New York, here is the pertinent section of state Environmental Conservation Law. For more information on public rights of navigation, see this brochure by the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks.

[Post-publication addition: Flickr has a group called “No Trespassing!” featuring Posted signs. The Almanack has added four Adirondack signs, including historical ones, from Lake George Islands, Tahawus, Whitney Park and the East Branch of the St. Regis River. But we don’t endorse the group manager’s incitement to trespass. UPDATE: We quit that group (see comments). You can now see vintage Adirondack posted signs among this Flickr group of Adirondack signs.]


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Musings on an Adirondack Autumn

“When will the colors be at peak?” Every year, starting in early August, we get asked this question countless times. We are tempted to give answers like “September 26th at 4:43 PM,” but in truth, one can never know. Predicting the fall colors is about as reliable as predicting the weather – you can only know for sure when it is happening.

Around here, colors start to change in July. Many folks gasp when I tell them this. Isn’t that a bit early? No, not for us. The central Adirondacks have a very short growing season, and as such our springs arrive later and our falls arrive earlier. For those who have a hankering for a spot of color early in the season, the central Adirondacks is the place to be. Want to wait for peak color? Then schedule your trip for late September or early October; if you are lucky, you will catch it in time.

From year to year, the fall color show can be a surprise. Some years the colors are simply stunning – reds and oranges set the hillsides a-glow like so many embers fanned by the wind (this is one of those years). Other years the colors are just “okay.” And then there are the years that are complete duds. Fortunately, the latter are few and far between. We had a dud a couple years ago. The colors were not spectacular, and then the leaves dropped suddenly, all at once. It was a real disappointment for the leaf peepers.

Leaf peeping, as you can probably imagine, is one of the big tourist draws for the Adirondacks, and one of the many things I do is provide Fall Foliage reports for the central Adirondacks. Once a week I send in my report, rating color, guessing percentage of change, and trying to select the best viewing spots. It can be tricky, for it often depends on where you stand. It might be only 50% out my window, but two miles to the east the forest could be 90% changed, while two miles to the west it could be only 30%. Not only that, but what may be 20% when I send in my report might be 70% before the week is out!

How can you tell if it is a good year? I think dark, cloudy days are the best indicators: if on these days the mountains still glow, you know you have a great season on hand.

If you are looking for a good leaf peeping experience, you can’t miss right now if you drive through the central part of the Adirondack Park. Most of the hillsides are very colorful, creating some wonderful reflections in our many lakes and ponds. Once you hit the lower elevations, though, colors are not quite “there” yet. Give them a couple more weeks and they should be pretty good.


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

First of Several Local John Brown Events on Saturday

This year marks the 150th anniversary of abolitionist John Brown’s anti-slavery raid on Harpers Ferry, Virginia, his subsequent execution and the return of his body to North Elba. I’ve been writing a series of posts – The Last Days of John Brown – to commemorate Brown’s struggle to end slavery in America, and here at the Almanack we’ll be reporting on local events as the anniversary approaches. So far activities include a lecture, a symposium, and a reenactment of the return of Brown’s body to North Elba. It all kicks off with a lecture this Saturday, October 10th, with a lecture by historian Zoe Trodd at 2:00 PM, at John Brown’s Farm.

Here is the event announcement:

A Living Legacy: John Brown in the Anti-Lynching Protest Tradition, a lecture by Zoe Trodd. Protest writers have long pointed to the abolitionist past as central to present and future social change. At the heart was of this living legacy was one figure: John Brown. This lecture will trace the presence of Brown in anti-lynching literature from the Niagara Movement to Langston Hughes. Trodd is the author of Meteor of War: The John Brown Story; American Protest Literature; and The Tribunal: Responses to John Brown and the Harper’s Ferry Raid. This event is presented by John Brown Lives!


Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Adirondack Council Releases 2009 State of the Park Report

The Adirondack Council has released its annual State of the Park Report, what it calls “a comprehensive review of how the actions and decisions of local, state and federal officials have helped or harmed the ecology and beauty of the Adirondack Park over the past year.” Attorney General Andrew Cuomo received high praise; Governor David Paterson received a split rating. Several Adirondack towns also are being praised for efforts to protect the environment. “There was a time when it seemed like environmental organizations only argued with local government officials in the Adirondacks—those days are over,” Adirondack Council Executive Director Brian L. Houseal said in a press release accompanying the report. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

APA To Consider New Cell Towers, Invasives, Hamlets

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will meet on Thursday, October 8 and Friday, October 9 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. The agency will consider two more towers along the Northway, one near the Lincoln Pond Rest Area in Elizabethtown and the other near Exit 30 in North Hudson. The October meeting will be webcast live on the agency’s homepage; meeting materials are available online. Here is the meeting agenda as provided by the APA: » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Another Adirondack Weed Season Comes To An End

The arrival of widespread frost marks the end of the harvest season for most local crops, and the close of cat-and-mouse season for North Country police and marijuana growers. Police made their biggest bust this fall in Jay, where from a helicopter they spotted about 800 plants scattered around the town and charged two men with growing about 300 of them.

Adirondack Life has just posted its recent article on the dynamics of local marijuana farming as well as this region’s separate role as a gateway for Quebec-grown hydroponic. It was reported by Adirondack Life associate editor Niki Kourofsky and Almanack contributor Mary Thill. Well worth a read.

The photo is an aerial taken by State Police of some of the 1,900 plants police discovered growing in a boggy area north of Irishtown, in the Essex County town of Minerva, in 2008. Police say the cannabis is the shrubby emerald green growth on the open bog. In September the tropical plants remain vibrant while native vegetation begins to fade.


Monday, October 5, 2009

Internet Resources for Backcountry Navigation

Navigation through the Adirondack backcountry can be difficult. Out of the way rivers, streams, geologic features, ponds and even mountains are not always accessible by paths or readily described in books. The internet provides a number of valuable visual resources that help take some of the guesswork out of locating and navigating to a remote location. Some of the most helpful sites include ortho-imagery (aerial photographs digitally adjusted for topography, camera tilt and other details), latitude/longitude specifics, compass orientation and 3-D modules.

Flash Earth displays the latitude and longitude in relation to an on-screen crosshair. These details can be input into a GPS to further narrow the margin of error. Several satellite aerial photograph choices with scaling allow an in-depth study of the earth’s features. A compass in the upper right of the screen provides accurate orientation as well as map rotation if desired.

Terra Server USA adds a topographic map to the mix, but narrows the aerial photo choices to one source. Latitude and longitude information is displayed and can be used to display a general location. The lack of a cross-hair or other relative on-screen marker makes it a bit more difficult to tell what section part on the map corresponds to the latitude/longitude.

Virtual Earth uses either a “road” view or an “aerial” view with several powerful features. Latitude, longitude and altitude correspond to the cursor’s location on the image and work in both the two and three dimensional modes. The 3-D module allows the user to truly study the area’s topography by using the zoom, tilt, rotate, pan and altitude functions. A special “Bird’s Eye” view overlays photographs (where available) of specific areas.

State Lands Interactive Mapper or SLIM is located on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s site. Map details are manipulated by about twenty different layer options that can either be added or removed from the map via the map contents pane. Layer choices include trails for mountain bikes, hiking, snowmobiles, horses and cross country skiing. Waterways, roads and areas accessible by persons with disabilities may also be selected. Several boundaries including state land boundaries help the back country explorer avoid private lands. Ortho-imagery or topographical maps may be chosen as well.


Monday, October 5, 2009

The Last Days of John Brown: Final Preparations

In early October, John Brown and his small militia were making their final preparations for a raid on the slaveholders of Virginia. The time and place for a raid seem right even now. It was the harvest season in the south and the fields would be filled with disgruntled and overworked slaves bringing in the crops, a perfect opportunity to turn them to revolt. Harpers Ferry was lightly guarded and the arsenal there contained about 100,000 muskets and rifles – enough to carry on a lengthy guerrilla war against southern slaveholders. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 5, 2009

A New Hiking Guide for Adirondack Dog Lovers

There are many good reasons to pick up a copy of Dog Hikes in the Adirondacks: 20 Trails to Enjoy with Your Best Friend, a useful and big-hearted little book from Westport’s Shaggy Dog Press: Authors who know the territory offer their favorite places to hike with pets. The book’s editors, Annie Stoltie and Elisabeth Ward, provide tips on introducing young dogs to the trail, rules and courtesies, and veterinary care. Finally, proceeds from the sale of the book benefit animal shelters and humane organizations throughout the Adirondack Park.

“The Adirondack Park remains uncrowded by the grace of location,” the book’s introduction says. “The pet population may well rival that of humans, which helps to explain the number of animal shelters in the park’s 11 counties. As in any predominantly rural setting, these shelters are overfilled and struggling to save abandoned cats and dogs, to educate on proper care of pets, to teach the importance of spay and neuter programs. Often these shelters have to rely on the kindness of the strangers who visit the Adirondacks for their outdoor experiences.”

Cats are an especially big challenge for Adirondack shelters, as Annie Stoltie explains in this Adirondack Life article. The link also provides addresses and contact information for Adirondack humane organizations.

North Country Public Radio’s Brian Mann aired a charming on-trail interview with the book’s publisher, Libby Treadwell, last week.

The soft-cover book is 64 pages. To order send $12.95 per copy (price includes tax and postage) to: Shaggy Dog Press | PO Box 318 | Westport, NY 12993. Donations also sent to that address will be forwarded to shelters. North Country Books is distributing the book, so check your local bookstores as well.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

ADK Releases Free Eastern Region Guide Supplement

The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) has released online a 24-page supplement to its guidebook “Adirondack Trails: Eastern Region” which features twelve additional trails at ten locations in the eastern Adirondacks, mostly along Lake Champlain; half of the routes are in Wildlife Management Areas. The routes traverse marshland, woodland, meadow and island habitats from the Lewis Preserve Wildlife Management Area in the northeast to Cat and Thomas Mountains Preserve in the southeast.

According to an ADK media release “some, like the alternate access to Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain, are relatively new; others, like the bucolic Lewis Preserve north of Chazy Lake, are visited only infrequently. Noblewood Preserve offers spectacular views of Lake Champlain; other sites have special appeal for birdwatchers, paddlers and skiers.”

The supplement was written by David Thomas-Train and is available as a free downloadable PDF file online at www.adk.org (downloadable PDF file), or for $1 at ADK’s Lake George and Heart Lake properties. It may be ordered by sending $1 to Eastern Region Supplement, 814 Goggins Road, Lake George, NY 12845. The supplemental material will be included in the next printing of the Eastern Region guide.


Sunday, October 4, 2009

What to Do With All Those Carrots

Since we’ve already had our first snow, I figured it was about time to dig up the carrots. So yesterday I braved the wind and rain when I got home from work, grabbed my grandfather’s spading fork and a bushel basket, and headed for the carrot patches. At first I tried pulling the carrots right out of the ground; after all, we’d had plenty of rain lately, so I figured the ground was probably wet enough to let the roots go easily. It’s a good thing I brought the fork.

I planted several varieties of carrots this year, ever hopeful that some would grow well. I’ve not had much luck with carrots, you see, which is surprising, considering how sandy our soil is. Loose sandy soils are usually great for growing carrots, for their roots can push down easily, growing to great lengths before harvest-time. I suspect, however, that soil isn’t so much my problem as crowding is.

In early June I scatter the tiny carrot seeds and cover them with a thin layer of soil. Keeping them watered is a challenge, especially since I’m trying at the same time not to wash them away. Once they germinate and get growing, I feel so grateful that any survived this long that I feel guilty if I thin them out. Thinning is really important with carrots, though. If left crowded, few, if any, of them will grow to any size worth keeping. So, bite the bullet and thin them out.

Thinning can be accomplished multiple ways. Traditionally, you pulled out the superfluous sprouts. This, however, can disturb the remaining ones, so the modern backyard gardener goes out with little gardening shears and snips the tops off the extras. I still couldn’t quite bring myself to cut their little carrot lives short, so I tried relocating the extras this year. I found out yesterday that this did work, sort of. Some of my transplants grew in very odd shapes – all bent and curled.
Some, however, did just fine, while others still remained pretty runty.

So, I forked my way through the carrot patches yesterday, tossing the dirt-covered roots into my bushel basket. Surprisingly, it filled up quickly. In the past I’ve been lucky to fill up a single bag with my carrot harvest. This year, however, I already have two bags of carrots in the fridge, and now I have a bushel more to put up for the winter. Even more impressive, however, is the fact that more than half of these carrots are more than two inches long. I’d even be willing to claim that more than half are over four inches long!

Some sources say to wait to dig your carrots until late in the fall, and then only after several sunny days. It seems our sunny days ended about mid-September, so I dug mine in spite of rain. Then these sources tell you to leave your freshly dug carrots out in the sun to dry for a few hours. This will make removing any clinging soil easier, and it will kill off the root hairs. If you plan to store your carrots whole, say in a root cellar, then you want these root hairs killed of, for this will make the whole carrot go dormant. If the carrot doesn’t go dormant (or if dormancy is broken during storage – more on this in a bit), it will rot.

Now, if you are going to cut up your carrots and freeze them, as my family always did, this next bit won’t apply. You can just go ahead and wash them, cut them up, blanch and freeze. If you want to store your carrots raw, read on.

Clean the soil from the roots. You want to do this gently, with as little handling as possible. Some authorities say to use well-chlorinated water when you clean so as to kill off all unwanted pathogens. Use your own judgement. Take your clean carrots and trim off the tops to about two inches. Now you have a choice to make. Do you want to store the carrots in your fridge, or in a root cellar type of system?

If going the fridge route, take your carrots and place them in plastic bags that have holes in them. You want to be sure the carrots get some air circulation. Then stick them into the coldest part of your fridge. Carrots want to be stored between 32 and 40 degrees Fahrenheit, and they want to be kept moist. Below 32 they will freeze, and over 40 they will break dormancy and either start to sprout or start to rot.

If you opt to store in the cellar, garage, non-heated attic, or on the porch, you can go with the traditional storage system. Take a crate, box or barrel. Fill the bottom two to three inches deep with damp peat moss, sand or sawdust. Place a layer of carrots on top, staying two to three inches from the sides. Cover with another two to three inches of damp peat/sand/sawdust. Add another layer of carrots, etc., until you reach the top. The last layer should be your insulating material. Place the container in a cold, moist area. Again, you want the temperature to be steady, somewhere between 32 and 40 degrees. If your carrots are stored in an area where the temperature fluctuates, even if it is only by about five degrees, your carrots will break dormancy and either sprout or rot.

My last two carrot harvests, which, as previously mentioned, only filled a single bag each year, did very well in my fridge all winter long. I chopped them up for color in my omelets, diced them into the dog’s food, and added them to stews. This year, however, because I have so many carrots, I will probably be blanching and freezing most of them. Some will stay in the fridge, though – a garden fresh carrot is a welcome taste at any time of year.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

September DEC Region 5 Forest Ranger Report (Sept 2009)

For the interest of Almanack readers, we present the September DEC Region 5 Forest Ranger Report in its entirety:

Clinton County
Town of Black Brook, Taylor Pond Wild Forest
On Saturday, September 19, at approximately 2:05 PM, DEC Dispatch received a call from State Police in Plattsburgh, reporting a group of 3 young girls, ages 9, & 10, missing from the DEC Taylor Pond Campground. The girls were last seen at 11:30 AM heading to an outhouse. The girls’ parents searched for 2 hours before reporting them missing. Five DEC Forest Rangers responded, along with the State Police Aviation Unit helicopter. A forest ranger aboard the helicopter spotted the missing group approximately 3 miles from the campground. Another forest ranger searching in the area made contact with the children and safely escorted them out of the woods by 5:15 PM. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, October 3, 2009

North Country Hitchhikers: Getting Stuck on Seeds

There are lots of plants out there that really grab you…literally. We’ve all encountered at least one, probably more. With hooking barbs or puncturing spikes, they lam onto our shoes and socks, pant legs and shirt sleeves – and heaven help you should you be wearing a woven poncho when you have your run-in with them! Our dogs return from a romp in the field with seeds of all sorts clinging to their fur. Yep, late summer and fall are the time of year to get to know your seeds. » Continue Reading.


Friday, October 2, 2009

Weekly Adirondack Blogging Round-Up