Please join me in welcoming Phil Brown of Saranac Lake as a new contributor to Adirondack Almanack. Phil has been the editor of the nonprofit Adirondack Explorer, the regional bimonthly with a focus on outdoor recreation and environmental issues, since 1999. He is also an energetic outdoorsman whose job and personal interests often find him hiking, canoeing, rock climbing, trail running, and backcountry skiing, all experiences that will no doubt inform his his weekly posts here at the Almanack. Phil’s work will appear mostly on Monday afternoons, but occasionally at other times as well. Brown is also the owner of Lost Pond Press, which has published Bob Marshall in the Adirondacks, an anthology of Marshall’s writings, Adirondack Birding by Gary N. Lee and John M.C. Peterson, and Within a Forest Dark, a prize-winning novel by Michael Virtanen.
Regular readers of Adirondack Almanack know that the site has been growing dramatically over the past year with the addition of a dozen new contributors. In contributing to the Almanack, Phil Brown will be joining quite a stable of outstanding local writers: longtime local journalists Mary Thill and Lake George Mirror publisher Anthony Hall, experienced local naturalists Ellen Rathbone and Brian McAllister, paddling guru Don Morris, local inquiring family writer Diane Chase, outdoors writers Alan Wechsler and Kevin MacKenzie, local music contributors Shamim Allen and Nate Pelton, and local politics sketch commentator Mark Wilson. Our complete list of contributors is located at the lower right side of the page.
Assemblywoman Teresa Sayward, who last winter got her wish with the closing of local campgrounds by the DEC, is working hard on her plan to privatize more of the Adirondacks. In a recent opinion piece sent to local media entitled “Preserving The Rights of Adirondack Families,” Sayward argued that the Willsboro mining operation NYCO Minerals should be given permission to mine 250 acres of the Jay Mountain Wilderness, the smallest wilderness area in the Adirondacks.
NYCO built the world’s largest wollastonite mine and processing facility in Sonara, Mexico in 1997, so they can’t be too concerned with American jobs, but that is exactly Sayward’s pitch for the required amendment to the State constitution. “Without this amendment,” she says, “future operations at NYCO could be shortened by many years.” NYCO’s Chairman Jay Moroney told the Adirondack Daily Enterprise that handing over the Forest Preserve lands to private mining company “could provide an extension of life to [their] operation.” How long? Five to nine years, according to Moroney. I suppose the lack of wisdom in that plan is obvious, but what really gets me is Sayward’s divisive attack on her neighbors whose future she claims is “grim” thanks to late-arriving environmentalists. “My family, friends and neighbors are being forced out of existence and few seem to care,” Sayward says in a classic “us locals are being oppressed by them newcomers” argument.
Sayward’s opinion piece targeted her neighbors who support Protect the Adirondacks, the environmental conservation organization that began in 1901—nearly 110 years ago. “When people first began discovering the Adirondacks, we carried their packs, cut their trees, built their homes, dug their ditches, labored in their mills, taught their children, healed their sick and welcomed them like family” Sayward writes. “Most have become our friends and our neighbors, but those who came with their own agenda have stood Judge and Jury.”
I’ve come to expect a lot of “common man” rhetoric from politicians, but Sayward is so far off the mark it’s disgraceful—she misstates her own connections to the region and insults her neighbors as outsiders.
In the past two months the Adirondack community lost two people Teresa Sayward apparently saw as enemies, Clarence Petty of Coreys, Canton and Saranac Lake and Nellie Staves of Tupper Lake. Both were avid supporters of the Forest Preserve, the Adirondack Park, and Protect the Adirondacks. Both, then, according to Sayward’s twisted logic, were in part responsible for her “family, friends and neighbors . . . being forced out of existence.” Combined, Staves and Petty had more then 160 years of Adirondack experience under their belts.
As far as I can tell, Sayward didn’t even live in the Adirondack Park until the 1972 when Willsboro was brought within the Blue Line. Sayward lived in Connecticut in 1960s before moving to Willsboro.
So what about Sayward’s family? If she is only a part-time Adirondacker, surely her family comes from the Adirondack Park? Surely they were some of the Adirondack guides, loggers, carpenters, ditch diggers, mill hands, teachers, or doctors she claims they were right? Well – no, they weren’t. In fact, only Sayward’s mother lived inside the Blue Line, and only late in life.
Teresa Sayward’s father Joseph Riley, whose family was apparently from Willsboro, died at least 20 years before that town was added to the park in 1972. Sayward’s mother, Beatrice Garrow, was born in Plattsburgh in 1917 the daughter of William and Rose (D’Amour) Garrow.
So Sayward should lay off the hateful “us locals versus them outsiders” nonsense. Environmental conservation, supported and encouraged by those who live here, have helped shape the Adirondack way of life for 125 years. Sayward’s home was only included (apparently against her will) in 1972, if anything, that makes her the late-arriving outsider trying to impose her will.
A new book on Teddy Roosevelt by New York Times bestselling historian Douglas Brinkley is described by the publisher as “a sweeping historical narrative and eye-opening look at the pioneering environmental policies of President Theodore Roosevelt, avid bird-watcher, naturalist, and the founding father of America’s conservation movement.” For those interested in the Adirondack region, this new biography helps put TR’s Adirondack experiences into the lager context of wilderness protection and wildlife conservation history.
Brinkley draws on never-before-published materials for his look at the life of what he calls our “naturalist president.” Launching from conservation work as New York State Governor, TR set aside more than 230 million acres of American wild lands between 1901 and 1909, and helped popularize the conservation of wild places. Brinkley’s new book singles out the influential contributions of James Audubon, Charles Darwin, and John Muir in shaping Roosevelt’s view of the natural world. Some of the most interesting parts of the book relate to TR’s relationship with Dr. C. Hart Merriam, who reviewed the future president’s The Summer Birds of the Adirondacks in 1877; Merriam’s own The Mammals of the Adirondacks Region of Northeastern New York, published in 1884, was duly praised by TR.
Merriam and Roosevelt later worked successfully to reverse the declining Adirondack deer population (they brought whitetail from Maine), and to outlaw jack-lighting and hunting deer with dogs and so helped establish the principles of wildlife management by New York State.
During his political stepping-stone term as 33rd Governor of New York (1899-1900) TR made the forests of the state a focus of his policies. He pushed against “the depredations of man,” the recurrent forest fires, and worked to strengthen fish and game laws. Roosevelt provided stewardship of the state’s forests and the Adirondack Park in particular, that led to the most progressive conservation and wilderness protection laws in the country.
TR also worked to replace political hacks on the New York Fisheries, Game, and Forest Commission (forerunner of the DEC), according to Brinkley, and replaced them with highly trained “independent-minded biologists, zoologists, entomologists, foresters, sportsman hunters, algae specialists, trail guides, botanists, and activists for clean rivers.” To help pay the bill he pushed for higher taxes on corporations while also pursuing a progressive politics – what Brinkley calls “an activist reformist agenda.”
The book ranges with Roosevelt to Yellowstone, the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Dakota Territory, and the Big Horn Mountains. It does capture Roosevelt’s time in the Adirondacks, but its’ strength is in putting that time into the larger context of Roosevelt’s life as a wilderness conservationist. For example, TR’s opposition to the Utica Electric Light Company’s Adirondack incursions is only mentioned in passing, though Brinkley’s treatment of the relationship between Gifford Pinchot and TR is more developed. An index entry – “Adirondack National Park” – is lightly misused bringing into concern how much Brinkley really appreciates the impact of Roosevelt’s Adirondack experiences (both in-country and in Albany) on his wilderness ethic.
All in all, however, Wilderness Warrior is a well written collection of the strands of Roosevelt’s conservationist ideas, woven into a readable narrative. Considering TR’s role in so many disciplines related to our forests, that’s no mean feat.
Figure skating icon Scott Hamilton is back, ready to thrill audiences with a new skating show, Scott Hamilton’s Holiday Concert on Ice, coming to the Olympic Center in Lake Placid, N.Y. on Tuesday, Dec. 29, at 7:30 p.m.
For more than 20 years, the Olympic Champion and four-time World and U.S. National Champion wowed audiences with his annual Stars on Ice tour, which kicked off annually in Lake Placid. Several of those performers are set to join the skating legend again including Ekaterina Gordeeva and Steven Cousins. The show will also feature Kimmie Meissner, Jozef Sabovcik and Caryn Kadavy, all skating to music performed by a live band and American Idols Phil Stacey and Melinda Doolittle. Tickets for the Dec. 29 performance of Scott Hamilton’s Holiday Concert on Ice range in price from $90-$30 and are on sale now at the Olympic Center Box Office 518.523-3330 or online at tickets.com or whitefacelakeplacid.com.
About the Skaters: Together with her late partner and husband, Sergei Grinkov, Ekaterina Gordeeva was the 1988 and 1994 Olympic Champion. She also began touring with Stars on Ice in 1991.
Steven Cousins is an eight-time British National Champion; he competed in eight World Figure Skating Championships and three Olympic Winter Games and toured with Stars on Ice until 2007, while Kimmie Meissner won both the 2007 World Championship crown and the 2007 U.S. National Championship title. Ms. Meissner was also the youngest American athlete to compete in the 2006 Torino, Italy Olympic Winter Games.
Jozef Sabovcik claimed the 1984 Olympic bronze medal and won both the 1985 and 1986 European Championship titles, while Caryn Kadavy, a 1988 Olympian, is a three-time U.S. National Championship medalist.
NOTE: THIS POST COMES DIRECTLY FROM AN ORDA PRESS RELEASE
As we sit and wait for the snow to start (and stay), I find myself chomping at the bit, anticipating another season of animal tracking. For some people winter means skiing, while other folks get excited about winter birding. For me, though, winter means we finally have obvious signs that we are not alone, that we share the Park with various animals that mostly escape our notice the rest of the year: martens and fishers, otters and mink, foxes and hares, porcupines and grouse. Sure, there are people who see these animals during the rest of the year. We all hear the coyotes yipping and howling at dusk. Deer, well, deer and turkeys are about as common as fleas on a dog these days: anyone who’s driven through the Park has likely seen either, or both, along the side of the road. Paddlers routinely report having watched otters at play. Squirrels abound in every yard and on every tree in the forest. The woods and wetlands are full of bird songs and the calls of frogs and insects. By late summer beaver activity is painfully obvious. » Continue Reading.
Ever since 1894, when delegates to a New York State Constitutional Convention voted to keep the Adirondack Forest Preserve “forever wild,” conservationists have come up with any number of arguments in defense of wilderness. Some have been utilitarian, some populist, some historical, some spiritual. Those arguments have always been necessary, because the opponents of maintaining the Forest Preserve as lands forever wild have been many, and at times powerful.
In fact, one of the few valid reasons to oppose another constitutional convention is the political fragility of the state constitution’s Article XIV, the clause that prohibits the destruction of the Forest Preserve. The more astute politicians among the conservationists have always understood that it is the better part of prudence to avoid endorsing a single defense of wilderness, thereby retaining the support of proponents of all other possible arguments. In part because of that catholic perspective, the Adirondack Park has been able to support “a multiplicity of visions,” as Dr. Ross Whaley, the co-editor of “The Great Experiment in Conservation: Voices from the Adirondack Park,” puts it. But new arguments in defense of wilderness can only buttress the cause, and here’s one that’s beginning to emerge: forests offset greenhouse gas emissions and thus play a valuable role in slowing climate change.
In a 2008 issue of BioScience, the journal of the American Society of Biological Sciences, researchers quantified the amount of carbon that Midwestern forests keep out of the atmosphere. They concluded that the forests could offset the greenhouse gas emissions of almost two thirds of nearby populations. While deciduous forests are very good at storing carbon, boreal forests are even better, says John Sheehan of the Adirondack Council, and, he adds, the Adirondack Park contains approximately 800,000 acres of those boreal forests. That’s reason enough for New Yorkers to support the preservation of even more land, if not by New York State, than by conservancies and land trusts.
But if the Adirondack Park has value as carbon storage, we asked Sheehan, could a price be attached to that value? Could the Adirondack Park, for instance, be awarded pollution credits that could be sold for the economic benefit of its residents? Here’s Sheehan’s response: “We are working with a few people right now to see what value could be placed on the global ecological benefits of lands on which we know the trees will continue to grow for centuries to come, that is to say, in the Forest Preserve and in wilderness lands on which New York State holds easements.”
As to whether the Adirondack Park could be awarded credits for storing carbon that would otherwise be sent into the atmosphere, Sheehan said, that’s conceivable. “We think we can seek and win federal credit for those Adirondack communities as part of the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, or in a carbon trading program adopted by Congress.”
While our thought was that any funds derived from the sale of credits should somehow be apportioned among local governments to offset property taxes or to create jobs, Sheehan said, “We think the state should direct the money it receives into the Environmental Protection Fund, and the communities could use the money for planning or for grants to residents and businesses for energy conservation.” But however the funds were used, local governments might now have some financial incentive to support (or at least not oppose too loudly) the preservation of the Adirondacks.
Of greater importance, understanding the role that the Adirondack Park plays in slowing climate change can only deepen our appreciation of these woods – and of those who fought to make and keep them forever wild.
Before we get into this week’s events, I’d like to follow up on this past weekend. Phish played two shows at the Times Union Center (formerly The Knick/Pepsi Arena). I’d seen Phish once or twice a year from 1992 to 1998, but the last time was 11-25-98 at The Knick. I really didn’t know what was in store, but they turned out to be two great shows. The first night was mostly short concise songs and reminded me of one long first set. The second night the band really let loose and it was one of the best shows I have ever seen by any band.
It was hard to tell which songs I knew and which ones I didn’t because they all sounded so good. The band was on fire and it was hard to believe they are just getting over a 5-year hiatus. The sound was as good as it gets for an indoor venue. The security was laid-back to non-existent and the light show was the best I’ve ever seen, hands down. Turns out they have the most expensive light rig on the road. Check out the pics on Phish’s “From the Road” website, or the videos on YouTube.
Got to spend the second set with all my long lost college friends and it was just an all-around great night. I highly encourage anyone on the fence to go see Phish the next chance you get. These guys really put 110% into every aspect of the show. I can only imagine what their festivals are like these days. If you take music and shows seriously, you need to go see how Phish does it. Phish is currently the Greatest Show on Earth.
Jsan & The Analogue Sons will be playing an “End of Semester Rager” at McDuff’s Tavern in Potsdam. Jsan is a reggae band from Ithaca, NY. Friday is also Ladies Night at McDuff’s Tavern. I am familiar with them from the GrassRoots Festival in Trumansburg. The GrassRoots Festival is the best music festival on Earth and tickets just went on sale for the July 2010 weekend. Early bird tickets are available through 2/14, $75 for a 4-day Adult Ticket. This coming year will be my 10th year attending the festival. http://www.myspace.com/jsanandtheanaloguesons http://www.myspace.com/mcduffsbar
Zip City Blues will be playing a JEMS fundraiser show at the Amos and Julia Ward Theater in Jay. Zip City is a blues and swing band from Plattsburgh. They will play two sets beginning at 8pm. There will also be an opening set at 7:30pm by Dogs of Jazz. Tickets are $10 and include cider and donuts from Rulf’s Orchard. http://www.zipcityblues.com/ http://www.jemsgroup.com/events/events.htm
The freshly fallen snow has gently coated (well at least for a few hours!) the Adirondack woodlands and fields around our neighborhood. Time to brush off the binoculars, grab the field guides, and find those mittens and wool tuque.
It’s Christmas Bird Count time! I thought I would give a few details about the history of this tradition dating back to 1900. » Continue Reading.
The group Friends of the Upper Hudson, which seeks to build a 29-mile multi-use trail along an old railroad bed, recently announced the partnership. Parks & Trails will provide help with technical issues, planning, public outreach, grant writing, fundraising and other activities. The trail would follow the railway formerly used to haul ore from the NL Industries mine, passing through the towns of Johnsburg, Indian Lake, Minerva and Newcomb. The trail would provide easy access to the scenic Upper Hudson and Boreas Rivers, as well as a dramatic crossing of the Hudson over a long trestle.
When complete, the trail could lure tens of thousands of users to a part of the Adirondacks that is not visited by many hikers. But there are concerns about the project. First is the cost, estimated at $4.4 million for a stone-dust trail, or $7.3 million for paved. And there are also access questions, as the right-of-way (across both private and state land) will expire with the removal of the tracks. However, backers say a federal law to encourage the reuse of rail beds may solve the complicated land issue.
The project backers have completed a feasibility study and are working with partners to acquire and preserve the corridor for trail use.
Trains haven’t run on this section of rail for decades. To the south, a tourist line called The Upper Hudson Scenic Railroad operates in warmer weather on the same line between North Creek and Riparius. That railroad faces an uncertain future: the section is owned by Warren County, which is seeking proposals from new operators for a scenic railroad. The rail-trail would ave no impact on the tourist line.
The Friends of the Upper Hudson Rail Trail maintain a website here. To find out more about the Healthy Trails, Healthy People program, contact Parks & Trails New York at 518-434-1583 or email@example.com or visit the Parks & Trails New York website here.
In time for those holiday gift purchases, here is a list of books about the Adirondacks I think would make great gifts. You can see all the book notices we’ve run at Adirondack Almanackhere.
Before we get to the classics, I can’t help but make a bold-faced pitch for my own book, Historic Tales from the Adirondack Almanack. A compilation of my history essays from the last four years of the Almanack, the book is a great way to help support the work I’ve put into this site since 2005. The Adirondack Reader – The new third edition of the seminal collection of works by writers of the past 400 years on the Adirondacks. Edited by Paul Jamieson and Neal Burdick.
Champlain’s Dream – David Hackett Fischer’s outstanding biography of Samuel de Champlain has been released in an affordable paperback. 2009 marks the 400th year of Champlain’s first encounter with the lake that bears his name, and the people who lived there.
Short Carries: Essays From Adirondack Life – Adirondack Life turned 40 this year and Betsy Folwell, who has been with the magazine for 20 of those years, has compiled and enjoyable and engaging collection of some of her essays.
Guides of the Adirondacks: A History – A regular favorite on my list of Adirondack must-haves, Charles Brumley’s history of the region’s most famous profession is filled with anecdotes about local guides.
Adirondack Birding – I’m not a birder, that’s why I love this book by Gary Lee and John Peterson. It’s easy to use with great maps and photos, tips, trails, and times to see lots of birds.
The Great Forest of the Adirondacks – I think it’s fair to say that no one really knew the full history of the Adirondack forests until this book by Barbabra McMartin was published. With the insight of a forester and methodological rigor of a great science historian McMartin’s book is readable and reliable.
Contested Terrain – Philip Terrie’s cultural history of the Adirondack region is the most important historical narrative on the region in print today. Recently updated in a new edition, Terrie’s book gets inside the culture of the park in a way no other book does.
Adirondack Park: A Political History – Although it was first published in 1978 and is in serious need of revision, Frank Graham’s seminal history of the politics that shaped the park is still readable and relevant.
Oliver’s War: An Adirondack Rebel Battles the Rockefeller Fortune – Two years ago, Lawrence P. Gooley won the Adirondack Center For Writing’s Award for Nonfiction for Oliver’s War, his telling of Brandon Civil War veteran Oliver Lamora’s battle with William Rockefeller, brother of John D. Rockefeller. Someday, this book will be a movie and you can say you read the book first.
One day last year I was teaching a group of elementary school students the basics of bird watching and bird ID. It was June, the end of the school year, and the morning was mild. Armed with binoculars, we crept around the end of the building, and our silence was rewarded by a family of red-breasted nuthatches hopping headfirst down the side of a tree.
The newly-flighted juveniles were learning the ropes from Mom, who was instructing them in the fine art of foraging. As with many juvenile birds, the youngsters looked larger than the adult, courtesy of their still downy feathers. It was a great find for me (I’ve only once before watched an adult bird teaching its off-spring to find food), and even the kids seemed to appreciate this glimpse into the otherwise hidden lives of our resident birds. » Continue Reading.
Petty spent his early life in a squatters cabin on Upper Saranac Lake and later moved with his family to Coreys. He graduated from Saranac Lake High School and the College of Forestry (now SUNY-ESF). He worked in the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression and was a pilot during World War Two. Later he worked for the Conservation Department and the Adirondack Park Agency where he influenced the classification of Adirondack lands. New York State Conservationist featured Petty in its February 2009 issue. » Continue Reading.
The Champlain Valley Film Society will be celebrating its 100th film with a free showing of classic Katharine Hepburn/Humphrey Bogart film The African Queen. In 1952, this film won Humphrey Bogart his only Oscar though he had been nominated for Casablanca and The Caine Mutiny.
This movie is based on the classic novel by C.S. Forester of the same name. Set during World War I, disgruntled trader Charlie Allnutt and an English missionary Rose Sayer find themselves thrown together aboard the steamboat, The African Queen, in the heart of the African jungle. As in the book, the audience will find themselves immersed in suspense, military maneuvers, and narrow escapes.
One of the CVF Society’s Founding Member David Reuther, says, “The Society started with a group of four friends coming up with the same idea at the same time. We were not able to see the type of movies that we wanted to see.”
So in 2003, Larry Barns, Thurston Clarke, Bill James and David Reuther pooled resources to pull together a showing of Steven Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind at the Willsboro School theatre. They attempted to show the films in summer and outside but really hit their mark in the winter of 2006. By showing critically acclaimed films indoors the crowds grew in size. With the support of a developing and enthusiastic audience the group was able to garner such films as the Oscar-winning Capote and the classic foreign thriller Z.
Reuther says, “This started because we felt there is something quite different about seeing a movie on a big screen and seeing it with an audience. It is like seeing a concert rather than listening to a CD or the radio. Movies are made for the big screen. We wanted to create that opportunity for people to have a conversation about film.”
The Champlain Valley film Society now has a working board of 15 people and a 30-member advisory board that helps select the films. The organization shows films year-round with an average audience of 100 people a show. With a diverse schedule so far the 2010 schedule includes Julie & Julia, District 9, (500) Days of Summer, the Hurt Locker, the Cove and An Education. The spring shows are still being arranged.
In addition to showing films the CVF Society looks for guest speakers to sometimes introduce the films. In 2008, author Russell Banks introduced the movie Affliction based on his book by the same name and writer/director Courtney Hunt was on hand to answer questions and introduce her Oscar nominated film, Frozen River. This January 16th retired chef John ferry will open up about his long-standing friendship with Julia Child as he presents the film Julie and Julia.
There is no membership available for the Champlain Valley Film Society. Each film is $5.00 for adults and $2.00 for children. Consider the free showing of The African Queen as an early gift!
The Adirondack Almanack's contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The Almanack is the online news journal of Adirondack Explorer. Both are nonprofits supported by contributors, readers, and advertisers, and devoted to exploring, protecting, and unifying the Adirondack Park.
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