Friday, December 4, 2009

Commentary: Monetizing the Forest Preserve

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.

For more news and commentary from Lake George, read the Lake George Mirror http://www.lakegeorgemirror.com


Friday, December 4, 2009

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Adirondack Music Scene : Phish Review, Reggae, Blues & Bluegrass

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.

Thursday, December 3

Sirsy will be playing Satatoga’s Victorian Street Walk at the Downtown Saratoga Marketplace from 8-10pm. This is an all-ages show and admission is free. Under 16 must be accompanied by an adult.
http://www.sirsy.com
http://www.saratoga.com/news/victorian-streetwalk.cfm

Friday, December 4

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

Saturday, December 5

North Country favorites Lucid will be at the Waterhole Saturday night.
Roots of Creation were scheduled to play, but looks like they’re playing a festival by NYC instead.
http://www.rulucid.com/
http://www.myspace.com/saranacwaterhole

Dan Melon is at Laura’s Tavern in North Creek. Solo act playing all your favorites. He takes requests.
http://www.laurastavern.com

Sunday, December 6

The Stony Creek Band will be playing the “Close-Up Party” at the Stony Creek Inn at 6pm. Last chance to party at The Inn until Spring.
http://www.stonycreekband.com
http://www.stonycreekinn.net

Wednesday, December 9

Jamie Notarthomas will be playing at barVino downtown North Creek from 8-10pm. No cover.
http://www.jamienotarthomas.com
http://www.barvino.net

Photo: Phish’s “From the Road” website (Albany 11-28-09)


Thursday, December 3, 2009

A Holiday Tradition: The Annual Christmas Bird Count

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.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Advocacy Group On-Board With Upper Hudson Rail-Trail

Parks & Trails New York, an Albany-based advocacy group, has joined an effort to develop a rail-trail between North Creek and Tahawus.

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 ptny@ptny.org or visit the Parks & Trails New York website here.


Thursday, December 3, 2009

Books About the Adirondacks That Make Great Gifts

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 Almanack here.

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.

Why the Adirondacks Look the Way They Do: A Natural History – Mike Storey’s guide to the Adirondack landscape describes ecological and geographical changes with a large number of images that illustrate remarkably well the processes that make our region what it is.

Short Carries: Essays From Adirondack LifeAdirondack 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.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

A Favorite Bird: Red-Breasted Nuthatches

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.


Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Adirondack Legend Clarence Petty Has Died at 104

Adirondack legend Clarence Petty died at his son’s home in Canton on Monday at the age of 104. Petty was the subject of Christopher Angus’s biography The Extraordinary Adirondack Journey of Clarence Petty: Wilderness Guide, Pilot, and Conservationist which chronicled his remarkable life.

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.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Adirondack Family Activities: Champlain Valley Film Society

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!


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

A New Franklin County History Blog

There’s a new blog from the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society. Executive Director Anne Werley Smallman has been making regular posts on county history and the collections of the society, which was founded in 1903 and is located in Malone. I asked Ms. Werley Smallman a few questions about the society and the new online presence:

AA: Could you tell me about yourself? How did you come to be the Executive Director of the Society?

AWS: Although I did not do most of my growing up in the North Country, I did graduate from Franklin Academy in Malone and subsequently married a Malone boy. We lived ‘away’ for a goodly while, but have been back for a little over five years now. I’m a museum professional by training and by wont, and have been the Executive Director of the Franklin County Historical Society since we returned. In fact, the position was one of the many catalysts for our return to the North Country. My husband and I are building a log home by hand, which makes us feel very superior – and poor.

AA: What is the Franklin County Historical and Museum Society all about?

AWS: The Society was initially founded in 1903, and was reinvigorated in the 1960s. It is housed in the 1864 House of History museum in Malone, with a recently renovated carriage house behind that which is now the Schryer Center for Historical & Genealogical Research.

The collections are comprehensive and specific to Franklin County history and we are bursting at the seams with everything from silver tea service to dental equipment to wooden water pipes. We attempt to collect equally from all parts of the county, but there was an unfortunate collecting bias toward the northern end for many years, most especially on Malone, and that is reflected in our overall collection. We have an annual (print) historical journal The Franklin Historical Review that has been published since 1964.

Fourth graders from all over Franklin County have been visiting the House of History for Museum Day tours and hands-on activities (like spinning and candle-dipping) for over 35 years. We currently have one half-time staff member (me) and a strong corps of volunteers (50+). The museum and Schryer center are open Tuesday and Thursday 1-4pm (and by appointment). The Society is funded by a combination of membership dues, federal and state grants, county funding, and private donations.

AA: What is your plan for the Society’s blog? How does it fit with your mission?

AWS: The blog attempts to mitigate our lack of extensive open hours and exhibit space and to provide a platform to showcase the collections of the Society by taking advantage of technology. I view the blog as a sort of ‘virtual exhibit’ — a way for the public to be able to peek into the historic collections of the museum and take away some Franklin County History in manageable bites. The collections are extensive and many wonderful items will likely not be put on exhibit soon; through the blog I hope to give access to the public to these items, at least virtually and in small measure.

Photo: The Franklin County Historical and Museum Society’s House of History, 51 Milwaukee Street, Malone.


Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Tupper Lake History: Mostly Spruce and Hemlock

The long awaited reprint of Louis J. Simmons’s “Mostly Spruce and Hemlock” (previously only available in an expensive collectible first edition) is now available thanks to Andy Flynn of Saranac Lake’s Hungry Bear Publishing and the Goff-Nelson Memorial Library.

Louis Simmons, Editor of the Tupper Lake Free Press, published just 2,000 copies of Tupper Lake’s first comprehensive history in June 1976 and it went quickly out of print. Like the original, the new edition includes more than 140 photos (Simmons’s wife Grace was a longtime Tupper Lake librarian after whom the research room is now named).

There are more then 450 pages on the settlement of the village of Tupper Lake and the Town of Altamont (the name of the town was changed to Tupper Lake in 2004) including the local logging industry, railroads, churches, schools, hotels, the Sunmount facility, and local businesses such as the Oval Wood Dish Corporation. The new edition also includes a new index, compiled by Tupper Lake native Carol Payment Poole. Tupper Lake Free Press Publisher Dan McClelland wrote a new foreword for the 2009 edition.

Here’s a short bio of Simmons from the publisher:

Simmons used more than four decades of experience at the editorial helm of the Tupper Lake Free Press to write “Mostly Spruce and Hemlock.” A 1926 graduate of the Tupper Lake High School and 1930 graduate of Syracuse University, he was hired as the Tupper Lake Free Press editor in 1932. He retired as full-time editor in 1979 and continued writing and editing until his death on April 4, 1995. He was also the Tupper Lake historian for many years.


Monday, November 30, 2009

A Great Range Dayhike of 10,000 Vertical Feet

The respite from winter’s grip is about over in the Adirondacks. I, therefore, decided to summarize a hiking route best done in the warm weather as a nostalgic farewell to temperate days. There are many ways to challenge ones hiking metal, one of which is to set cumulative goals such as total mileage, mountains climbed or total vertical gain. The Great Range is the premier Adirondack mountain range for such a venture as hiking over 10,000 vertical feet in a dayhike. As a matter of fact, the Great Range’s complete traverse was listed in Backpacker Magazine as America’s third hardest dayhike. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 30, 2009

The Last Days of John Brown: Martyr, Revolutionary, or Terrorist?

150 years ago this week, John Brown was executed and his body was returned to the Adirondacks. Had Brown escaped from Harpers Ferry rather than been captured he might well today be just a footnote, one of the tens of thousands that struggled to undermine the institution of slavery in America before the Civil War. It’s often said that just one thing secured Brown’s place in the hearts of millions of Americans that came after him – his execution and martyrdom. There is another equally important reason Americans will celebrate the life of John Brown this week however – he was right slavery would end at a heavy price. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 30, 2009

A Saranac Lake Christmas Story

On Sunday December 13 Historic Saranac Lake will present “A Franklin Manor Christmas,” a tea hosted by Ann Laemmle and author Paul Willcott at their home, a former cure cottage and monastery on Franklin Avenue in Saranac Lake. The house is the centerpiece of Paul’s book, A Franklin Manor Christmas.

This novella was published last year too close to Christmas to get the attention it deserves. So here goes: it’s an old-fashioned, tenderhearted, improbable and snowbound tale, everything a Christmas story should be. The book is also true to Saranac Lake and its people. Many of the characters are based on real folks who share some history with the erstwhile nunnery, having either lived there or attended Mass or helped the sisters maintain the rambly building on a prayer.

Paul Willcott is a wonderful writer, but even better than reading him is listening to him read from his own book in his honest Texas drawl. The Historic Saranac Lake gathering begins with mingling, from 3 to 5 p.m. Ann, the most gifted baker in town, will provide holiday cookies, tea biscuits, homemade marshmallows with hot chocolate, and teas. Then Paul will present a history of the house, followed by a reading from his story. The session ends with a carol or two around the tree.

Tickets are $25. A limited number are available. Call Historic Saranac Lake (518) 891-4606 to reserve.

The book and audiobook A Franklin Manor Christmas are available here and here or in local bookstores.


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Warren County 4-H Shooting Sports Program Announced

FROM A WARREN COUNTY 4-H PRESS RELEASE:

Ever wonder what 4-H Shooting Sports is all about? Do you want to find out? Then mark your calendars! 4-H Shooting Sports will be hosting a general interest meeting on Thursday, December 3rd at the Dunham’s Bay Fish and Game Club. The meeting will start at 6pm and cover the basics of 4-H Shooting Sports as well as offer Laser Shot and Archery activities that evening. Any interested youth over the age of nine is welcome.

4-H Shooting Sports fosters responsibility and helps youth acquire knowledge, skills, abilities related to firearms safety, and sound decision making. Shooting sports helps develop social skills, leadership techniques, and provides opportunities for community service.

There are, however, some limitations to participation due to New York State policy. They are as follows: youth age 12 and up can participate in all disciplines which include archery, air rifle, and conventional firearms. Ages 10-12 can participate in archery, living history, and air rifle only. Ages 9-10 can participate in archery and living history only. All youth are able and encouraged to participate in the different projects that enhance 4-H Shooting Sports. These policies are in line with the NYS 4-H Shooting Sports guidelines and are designated based on the “Ages and Stages” curriculum outline.

All participants must be fully enrolled in 4-H prior to participation in any shooting activities. Enrollment will be available the night of the event. Registration is required and can be done by calling Cornell Cooperative Extension at 668-4881 or 623-3291.

Photo: Archery program participant Caroline Lomnitzer of Indian Lake.