Monday, March 8, 2010

Coming Next Week: The 2nd Annual ADIRONDACK BRACKET™


March has come to the Adirondacks which means it is once again time for the ADIRONDACK BRACKET™, the Almanack’s salute to everything Adirondack. For those of you who missed last year’s exciting tournament, the ADIRONDACK BRACKET™ is a two-week-long randomly determined contest among 68 nouns, expressions, concepts, and whatnot having some connection to life inside the Blue Line.

To jump start our second annual contest we are soliciting from our readers eight of your favorite Adirondackiana to fill four “play-in” spots on the tournament bracket. For the sake of continuity, the top seeds in this year’s bracket will be filled by last year’s final four contestants, namely: Samuel de Champlain, the World’s Largest Garage Sale, Northville/Placid Trail, and—the overall champion of the 2009 Bracket—Stewart’s Ice Cream Shops.

So enter a few of your favorite Adirondack things by way of the comments section below or by e-mail. We will be selecting the bracket entries next Sunday, and posting results, round by round throughout the rest of the month.


Monday, March 8, 2010

DEC: Big Buck Hunting Harvest Down 21 Percent Locally

Hunters killed approximately 222,800 deer in the 2009 season, about the same number as were harvested statewide last season, according to an annual report by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). In the Northern Zone, antlerless take was down by almost 8 percent and the buck take dropped 21 percent from 2008, returning to levels seen in 2005 and 2006.

Deer take during the regular season seemed strongly affected by a warm November according to DEC officials, as both deer and hunter activity tend to slow down in warm weather and the lack of snow cover made for difficult hunting conditions during a time that typically accounts for the majority of deer harvest. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Newcomb VIC:Build American Kestrels Boxes, Garden Seed Exchange

On Saturday, March 13, the Visitor Interpretive Center at Newcomb will host a kestrel nest box workshop, a seed exchange program, and a guided trail walk. The Newcomb VIC is located on NYS Route 28N just west of the Hamlet of Newcomb, Essex County. For more information on any of these activities (described below), call 582-2000.

The public is invited to join members of the Northern New York Audubon Society (NNYA) in building nest boxes for American Kestrels from 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. on Saturday. Breeding pairs of kestrels in New York have declined significantly over the past 20 years, partly due to both habitat loss as well as competition for nest cavities in suitable habitat.

To address this, local Audubon New York chapters will be building, erecting, and monitoring kestrel boxes in suitable habitats throughout New York State, including the Adirondack Park. Participants on Saturday will also have the opportunity to meet a live American Kestrel, one of the VIC’s educational birds of prey. Pre-registration is not required and the program is free.

On Saturday afternoon from 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. the Newcomb VIC will host a Seed Exchange. Master Gardener Lorraine Miga will lead a pre-season scramble for seeds! Bring seeds you collected from your garden last fall, seeds left over from last summer’s plantings, and seeds from previous years’ gardens. Also get tips on how to save heirloom seeds from your own plants. Among the available seeds will be beans, peas, corn, squash, tomatoes and more. If you have no seeds, but are interested in seeing what others are surplussing, stop by. No seeds will be for sale – all are available for swap only. As with most plant swaps, those who come earliest get the best selection. VIC staff will also be on hand to answer your questions about invasive species in the garden. Pre-registration is not required and the program is free.

Also on Saturday afternoon at 1:30 p.m. there will be a guided trail walk entitled “Out and About: Winter Still Here.” Guest Naturalist Peter O’Shea will lead a snowshoe walk on one of the VIC trails. Snowshoes will be available, if needed, at no charge. Pre-registration is required and the program is free.


Sunday, March 7, 2010

Got Great Food? The Adirondack Museum Needs You

Is your raspberry jam extraordinary? Do you grow fresh herbs, craft fresh mozzarella, or make the crunchiest granola this side of Cranberry Lake? If so, the Adirondack Museum invites you to be part of three special marketplace events that will celebrate local artisan food preparation this year.

The museum introduces a new exhibit in 2010. “Let’s Eat! Adirondack Food Traditions” celebrates food, drink and the pleasures of eating locally, sharing culinary stories and customs from Native American corn soup to Farmers’ Markets.

In conjunction with the exhibit, the museum will hold three food-related events: “Picnic in the Park” on Saturday, July 10; “The Adirondacks are Cookin’ Out” on July 29; and the annual “Harvest Festival” scheduled for October 2 & 3, 2010.

The museum seeks Adirondack “foodies” to display and sell their products at one, two, or all three of the events. Products may include jams, jellies, syrups, honey, sauces, marinades, meat, eggs, dairy items, fruits and berries (fresh or dried), vegetables, herbs, condiments, cider, teas, candy, granola, and baked goods. Pre-packaged mixes and prepared foods are also welcome.

Marketplaces will be held from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. on the day of each event. 10′ x 10′ lawn booths will be available for $25 per event. For more information or an application, call (518) 352-7311, ext. 115 or email jrubin@adkmuseum.org.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

DEC Reschedules St Regis, Jay, Hurricane Mountain Meetings

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has rescheduled two public meetings that had been canceled due to poor weather. A meeting on the draft amendment to the St. Regis Canoe Area Unit Management Plan (UMP) will now be held at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 10, in the Freer Science Building Auditorium at Paul Smiths College, at the intersection of Routes 86 and 30 in Paul Smiths.

A meeting on draft UMPs for Jay Mountain Wilderness and Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area will be held at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, March 11, in Keene Central School, 33 Market Street in Keene Valley.

A presentation on Adirondack Park Fire Tower Study will be made at both meetings, followed by a presentation on the draft UMPs or draft amendment, after which public comments will be taken. Comments for the draft UMPs or the draft amendment will be taken at either meeting.

Copies of the documents are available on compact discs (CD) at DEC offices in Albany, Herkimer, Warrensburg, and Ray Brook. To request a copy, e-mail r5ump@gw.dec.state.ny.us or call 518-897-1291. CDs containing all four documents are also available for public review at the town offices of Santa Clara, Brighton and Harrietstown in Franklin County, and the town offices of Elizabethtown, Jay, Keene and Lewis in Essex County.

The following libraries also have CDs containing the documents for public review:

Saranac Lake Free Library, (518) 891-4190.
Joan Weil Library, Paul Smiths College, (518)327-6313.
Elizabethtown Library, (518) 873-2670.
Keene Public Library, (518) 576-2200.
Keene Valley Public Library, (518) 576-4335.

Additional information about the study, the draft UMPs and the draft amendment and the full documents may be viewed or downloaded at the DEC web site as follows:

Fire Tower Study – www.dec.ny.gov/lands/62283.html

Draft Amended St. Regis Canoe Area UMP – www.dec.ny.gov/lands/22588.html

Draft Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area UMP – www.dec.ny.gov/lands/62167.html

Draft Jay Mountain Wilderness UMP – www.dec.ny.gov/lands/61975.html

The deadline for comments is March 26. Submit written comments as follows:

Draft Amended St. Regis Canoe Area UMP: Steve Guglielmi, Senior Forester, P.O. Box 296, Ray Brook, NY 12977.

Draft Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area UMP or the Draft Jay Mountain Wilderness UMP: Rob Daley, Senior Forester, P.O. Box 296, Ray Brook, NY 12977.

Or e-mail a comment on either of the two Draft UMPs or the Draft Amendment to
r5ump@gw.dec.state.ny.us.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Skiers Have Many Options Today

It’s a blue-sky March Saturday. Go skiing. Dewey Mountain in Saranac Lake is holding its annual Dewey Mountain Day, a free celebration with lots of things for kids to do, including x-c and snowshoe races, scavenger hunts. The SLPD will be there with their speed gun to clock and ticket fast skiers.

Big Tupper in Tupper Lake will donate all its proceeds today to the family of soldier Bergan Flannigan, who was wounded last week in Afghanistan. There will be ski races, a big-air competition, snowmen-building contests, Olympic ski jumper Peter Frenette will stop by, and more.

Hickory Ski Center in Warrensburg is hosting its third annual telemark festival. Get your ticket online and get 10 percent off.


Saturday, March 6, 2010

Honey Bees in Winter: Think You Got it Tough?

It was a bright, sunny, and cold day in early January. I was down in Wilton for a tracking workshop, and as we headed out across an open expanse, I discovered a dead honey bee lying on top of the newly fallen snow. Why had this bee been out in the middle of winter, and on a day that was so cold? I had no answers, and neither did anyone else, so I took a photo of the poor thing, set it back on the snow, and rushed to catch up with the disappearing class. I have since discovered some interesting things about bees in winter.

As we all know, the honey bee of gardening fame is not native to this country. Apparently it was the Egyptians, some 5000 years ago, who first started to keep bees in hives so they could have a steady source of honey for personal use. Over the ensuing years, bee keeping spread around the Mediterranean Sea and across Europe and Asia. When explorers became settlers here in the west, honey bees soon followed.

Now, I am not a bee keeper. In fact, I grew up terrified of bees. But over the years I have studied bees from a naturalist’s point of view, and have discovered many fascinating things about these fairly docile insects. I’ve come to appreciate their social system and am often fascinated by their behaviors, to the point where I have even contemplated keeping a hive. I’ve since given up the idea of a bee hive in favor of encouraging native bees in my yard and gardens, but this makes honey bees no less interesting.

Which brings us back to the lone bee on the snow. It turns out that honey bees, whether in man-made or wild hives, will sometimes leave the hive on warm days in the dead of winter. The reason? They’ve “gotta’ go.”

Honey bees are very clean creatures. They will avoid soiling the hive at almost any cost. But when winter closes it fist on hives in northern climes, a bee can be faced with some important decisions. Fortunately, bees are able to “hold it” for quite some time. I’ve read accounts that claim bees can easily retain their fecal matter within their bodies for four to six weeks! When the first warm day comes along, out from the hive they zoom, dropping their loads as soon as possible. Bee people claim that the snow around the outside of a bee hive will be brownish-grey in color from all the released fecal matter.

But what happens if the weather doesn’t warm up? Suppose a cold snap has gripped the region, with weeks and weeks, or even months, of cold cold temperatures. What is a bee supposed to do? Some bees bite the bullet and head out any way, only to freeze to death after they leave the hive. Other bees opt to keep holding it.

As you might imagine, retaining one’s fecal matter for weeks on end is bound to cause problems. The bees start to swell, and they start to get sick. When they can hold it no longer, they end up letting loose in the hive, splattering fellow bees, honey, and comb with contaminated fecal matter. When this happens the whole hive is bound to sicken and will often perish. Perhaps it is best for the hive if these bees just go outside and freeze to death instead.

Bee keepers can tell when their bees are having a rough time of it when the snow at the base of the hives is black and yellow from contaminated feces, instead of the brown-grey that surrounds a healthy hive. The ground will also be littered with the swollen bodies of dead bees.

Looking back at the photograph of my dead bee, I can’t tell for sure if the abdomen is abnormally large or not. I am inclined to think that it is at least somewhat swollen if only because I have yet to discover any additional reason why a honey bee would be flying around on a cold winter’s day.

When I think of the horrible death experienced by a nearly exploding bee, it makes me grateful for simple things, like indoor plumbing. And it makes me appreciate even more the little things we all take for granted, like honey on our muffins and in our tea.


Friday, March 5, 2010

Pictures from the Parade for Local Olympians

Nine Olympians from Lake Placid and Saranac Lake were welcomed home like heroes and friends in Saranac Lake this afternoon. Here are some of the photographs we took. It was a great event. Congratulations, all.

Here is a link to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise story, with wonderful photos. Super Nancie Battaglia photos are mixed with her Olympic shots on NCPR’s site.

Photograph of Ursula Trudeau of Saranac Lake carrying an Olympic boquet replica


Friday, March 5, 2010

8th Annual Backcountry Ski Festival Starts Saturday

This coming weekend (March 6th and 7th) The Mountaineer in Keene Valley will be hosting the 8th Annual Adirondack Backcountry Ski Festival. Although most of the clinics have been filled, there are still two openings in the Karhu Traverse (Tahawus to Adirondack Loj).

On Saturday there will free demos and mini clinics at Otis Mountain in Elizabethtown from 10am-3pm. Reps from Black Diamond, Dynafit, G3, Garmont and Scarpa will be there to outfit you with the latest in backcountry ski equipment to test out. Local legend Ron Konowitz will offer free telemark turn clinics at 11am and 1pm, with a skinning clinic at noon.

There will also be an avalanche transceiver clinic sponsored by Mammut at 2pm (Mammut’s beacon park will be available all day for those who want to practice beacon searches on their own).

On Saturday evening at 7:30 Backcountry Magazine will be hosting a backcountry ski movie night at The Mountaineer. “The Freeheel Life” is a telemark ski movie by John Madsen, and “Fine Line,” an avalanche film by Rocky Mountain Sherpas. The fee is $10 at the door, and the running time is about 2 hours.


Friday, March 5, 2010

This Week’s Adirondack Web Highlights


Friday, March 5, 2010

A Mountain of Dreams:Developer Seeks Redemption in Proposed Ski Area

Every small town has its stars. Rolf Ronning was one of Bolton’s. The only child of a wealthy, well-educated couple, he graduated from St. Lawrence University in 1966 and earned two Masters, a doctorate and a law degree before returning to his hometown in 1977.

A little more than a decade later, he was in prison, convicted of possessing and conspiring to sell cocaine.

“I embarrassed myself and my children with those drug charges,” says Ronning. “My wife and I have tried to make it up to them. My daughter is at St. Lawrence and wants to go to law school. My son wants to get his PhD and teach. I want to succeed for them. I can’t give up.”

Released from prison in 1992, Ronning returned to Bolton Landing. Stripped of his license to practice law, he turned to real estate development, in which he made millions of dollars.

Now he’s lost most of those millions. Foreclosure proceedings have been brought against five of his properties, including his lakefront home.

The state of Ronning’s financial affairs is threatening to overwhelm his latest project, one that he hopes will redeem his fortune and his reputation: a ski area on one hundred acres near Exit 24 of the Adirondack Northway.

“I wish I could appear before the Town Board and the various agencies as a financially secure individual, but the rumors that I am in financial difficulty are true,” said Ronning.

Ronning concedes that title to the property, once envisioned as a residential subdivision to be called Westwood Forest, could end up in court.

“There’s litigation regarding the validity and enforceability of the mortgages,” said Ronning, guardedly and obscurely.

Some of those mortgages, he added, are held by companies controlled by “a person who loans money at high interest rates but whose name never appears on documents.”

At a Bolton public hearing on a proposal to permit ski centers in two areas currently zoned for rural and residential uses, a letter was read aloud by Supervisor Ron Conover from someone whom Ronning believes is affiliated with one of those companies.

“Rolf Ronning is not capable of handling a ski resort as he hasn’t the proper funds. He owes the investors involved in Westwood Forest over one million dollars. He is broke. It will be just a matter of time before Ronning loses all his properties,” wrote Gloria Dingee.

Ronning said he was surprised that Conover read the letter aloud, since it had no bearing on the issue before the Town Board, which at that point was nothing more than a change in zoning rules.

As Conover himself says, “the zoning change is not being undertaken on behalf of any particular project; we’re doing it to increase opportunities for appropriate development within the Town.” Nevertheless, Ronning would be its first beneficiary.

“We’ve all felt the effects of the Sagamore closing for the winter, and a ski center might bring visitors back to Bolton in winter and be good for the residents as well,” said Ronning.

According to Ronning, the ski area would consist of a 1,570 foot long double chairlift, a T-bar and a lodge.

“We’re contemplating night skiing and summer activities that would complement the nearby Adirondack Extreme Adventure Course,” said Ronning.

Snow could be made by drawing water from a nearby brook, an idea that Department of Environmental Conservation officials in Warrensburg found reasonable, according to Ronning.

As many as fifty people would be employed every winter, said Ronning.

“This is still in the conceptual stages,” said Ron Mogren of Saratoga Associates, who drafted preliminary plans for the ski area, tentatively named “Thrill Hill.”

But if he can secure at least some of the necessary permits, the investors will come, Ronning says.

Bolton’s Town Board deferred its decision on whether to approve the zoning changes for another month, but Ronning said he remained optimistic.

“I’d be unrealistic if I wasn’t concerned about how people’s views of me might affect this, but I hope that the Town Board, the Planning Board and the others will judge the project on its merits, not on what they might think of me,” he said.

After the meeting, Ronning sought out Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky to show him the plans for the ski area.

The Waterkeeper has brought several lawsuits against subdivisions planned by Ronning, and at times Ronning has publicly accused the Waterkeeper of deliberately attempting to bankrupt him.

But on the surface, the two are cordial toward one another, as is often the case in small towns, even with the most antagonistic relationships.

Navitsky, however, was non-committal.

“It looks interesting, Rolf,” was the extent of his comments.

“I’m trying to do the right thing,” said Ronning. “Every day I wake up and promise myself I’ll do my best. Day by day, that’s how I keep going.”

Editors Note: The Lake George Mirror rents office space from Bell Point Realty, which is owned by Rolf Ronning.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror


Friday, March 5, 2010

Commentary: Some Local Media Perpetuate Lies

Yesterday morning the Plattsburgh Press Republican issued a “Breaking News” e-mail. It contained one story, “Hornbeck Nomination Denied: Senate Finance Committee cites conflicts,” by Kim Smith Dedam, a notorious anti-APA, anti-Forest Preserve “reporter.”

“Gov. David Paterson’s nomination of Peter Hornbeck to the Adirondack Park Agency Board was denied today by the Senate Finance Committee,” the first line read. The problem? It’s not true.

The Senate Finance Committee has yet to vote, and isn’t expected to vote for some time. The story was concocted by State Senator Betty Little for her own political gain and duly reported as fact, without an ounce of actual journalism, fact checking, or confirmation. The only source Smith Dedam cited in the story was Betty Little’s spokesman Dan Mac Entee. The only evidence cited was Mac Entee’s word that “Senator Little was told late yesterday afternoon that there were — at best — 14 votes in support of the nomination.” To their credit, the Times Union’s Brian Nearing debunked Dedam this morning in a follow-up on the false report.

Unfortunately the damage is already done, as WNBZ’s Jon Alexander (who cut his teeth at the anti-environmentalist, anti-APA, Denton Publications) is also now parroting the one-sided report and saying, without a shred of journalistic evidence, that Hornbeck’s nomination is “on life support.”

Neither stories mention that Pete Hornbeck’s own locally elected representatives in Minerva voted to whole-heartedly support his nomination.

The question local reporters ought to be asking is whether our local Senator is holding up the legislature’s business, as she did when she supported last year’s Republican coup that brought the state legislature to a halt.

More importantly, Kim Smith Dedam and her editors need to explain to us how this “story” – “Hornbeck Nomination Denied” – happened, and apologize, or they should resign.

Local media no longer has a place for corrupt journalism.

BTW: You can reach Kim Smith Dedam at kdedam@pressrepublican.com

UPDATE: In case you needed to know how the story plays at Denton, they’re right into the act with “Hornbeck Appointment Turned Down“. One source: Betty Little.


Friday, March 5, 2010

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Thursday, March 4, 2010

ADK Music Scene: Legends On Friday Night

Friday March 5 brings the musical legends to the Capital District. Dave Mason and Leon Russell are playing a show together at the Hart Theater at The Egg in downtown Albany. Dave Mason was a founding member of Traffic and recorded with other legends such as Jimi Hendrix and The Rolling Stones. Leon Russell has been touring since the 60’s and has been featured on more studio albums by major artists than you can shake a stick at. The same night, Richie Havens is at Proctor’s Theater in Schenectady. Richie is of course most famous for his performance at Woodstock in 1969. If you’ve never been to Proctor’s, this would be a good night to go. The theater is absolutely beautiful and luckily has been saved from the wrecking ball more than once.

Thursday, March 4

Classic Rock / Reggae influenced Fingerdiddle is at Trapper’s Tavern in North Creek from 7-10pm. This is a fun two-piece band with a guitar and drummer. Look for them sometime Whitewater Derby weekend as well.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Finger-Diddle/185969906157
http://www.copperfieldinn.com/events.asp

Friday, March 5

Another duo with guitar and drums – Sirsy is at The Putnam Den in Saratoga at 9pm. There is an opener.
http://www.sirsy.com/
http://www.putnamden.com/

Red Molly will be playing two shows at Caffe Lena in Saratoga, one at 7pm and one at 9:30pm. Caffe Lena’s website says they are “Called “a cross between the Dixie Chicks and O’ Brother, Where Art Thou’” this hot NYC trio blends their voices on irresistible songs by Gillian Welch, Iris DeMent and Hank Williams, adding in bluegrass standards, old-time southern gospel, and classic American tunes. You simply can’t hear them without falling in love.”
Tickets are $20 at the door.
http://www.redmolly.com
http://www.caffelena.com

Eat, Sleep, Funk plays at 20 Main in AuSable Forks at 10pm.
http://www.facebook.com/pages/Eat-Sleep-Funk/162026102287?v=info
http://www.myspace.com/20main

Dave Mason & Leon Russell at The Hart Theater at The Egg in Albany 7pm.
http://www.leonrussellrecords.com/
http://www.theegg.org/

Richie Havens at Proctor’s Theater in Schenectady at 7pm.
http://www.theegg.org/
http://www.eighthstep.org/8thstep/Home.html

Tim Herron Corporation at Slicker’s in Old Forge at 9pm.
http://www.timherroncorporation.com/fr_index.cfm
http://www.myspace.com/slickers_tavern

Saturday, March 6

Tim Herron Corporation at the Monopole in Plattsburgh at 9pm.
http://www.timherroncorporation.com/fr_index.cfm
http://www.monopole.org/

Jimkata at The Putnam Den in Saratoga at 9pm.
http://www.myspace.com/jimkatamusic
http://www.putnamden.com

Jen Gadway is a solo singer/guitar player who will be playing at Laura’s Tavern in North Creek at 9pm.
http://www.laurastavern.com

Wednesday, March 10

Vinnie Leddick at barVino in North Creek at 7pm.
http://www.barvino.net

Photo: Courtesy of Leon Russell


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Birders Flock to View Rare Visitor From the Arctic

Over the past two weeks dozens if not hundreds of birders from New York and nearby states have traveled to Rouses Point to see an Ivory Gull, one of the rarest birds in the U.S. With its striking white plumage and blue-gray, orange-tipped bill, an adult Ivory Gull is also one of the most subtedly beautiful birds in the world.

Ivory Gulls spend most of their time feeding along the edges of the pack ice in the Arctic Ocean, where they search for food, only rarely venturing further south than coastal Laborador and Newfoundland. Feeding mostly on small fish, Ivory Gulls also search out and scavange the carcasses of seals killed by polar bears. The Rouses Point bird seems to have been enticed to remain for a couple of weeks by handouts from ice fishermen. » Continue Reading.