Appollos Austin “Paul” Smith was born on this date in Milton, Vermont, in 1825. A new book from Arcadia Publishing‘s “Images of America” series provides a pictorial history of Paul Smiths, the place, which is also largely the history of Paul Smith, the man.
Smith came to the Adirondacks in his early 20s to pursue a love of hunting and fishing and to work as a guide. He convinced his family to move to Loon Lake and start a guest house. A wealthy visitor was so impressed with his managerial and guiding talents he financed Smith’s purchase of land on Lower St. Regis Lake to establish a new resort for the enjoyment of families, not just hunters. As author Neil Surprenant details, Paul Smith’s Hotel was a huge success, and the charismatic owner became famous for his hospitality, entrepreneurism and bonhomie. Surprenant, who is also library director at Paul Smith’s College (on the site of the former hotel), has assembled a well-chosen, well-captioned collection of more than 200 photographs showing the opening of the hotel in 1859 through its heyday and expansion in the late 19th and early 20th century, to fire and hard times during the 1930s, to its conversion into a college specializing in resort management and forestry in 1946, to the present-day four-year institution offering a variety of related degrees.
Surprenant also shows less-historical moments of life in Paul Smiths, including how big lawns were mowed before motors (see page 61 for the answer) and how students pass time in their dorm rooms.
The 127-page book costs $21.99 and is available at local stores, online bookstores and through Arcadia Publishing at www.arcadiapublishing.com or (888) 313-2665.
According to a just-released U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study, scientists detected mercury contamination in every fish sampled in 291 streams across the country. About one fourth of the fish sampled were found to “contain mercury at levels exceeding the criterion for the protection of people who consume average amounts of fish, established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” according to USGS. More than two-thirds of the fish exceeded the U.S. EPA level of concern for fish-eating mammals. Mercury contamination of fish, ospreys, loons, and other aquatic-feeding animals continues to be a concern in the Adirondack region where the problem is the most acute of all New York State. New evidence in the Northeast shows mercury contamination in animals that only feed on land, spreading the concern from water based ecosystems to terrestrial ones as well. » Continue Reading.
It almost seems too early, but there they were, web and all, clinging to my Royalty Crabapple: fall webworms (Hyphantria cunea).
For most folks, the sight of a webby mass clinging to the branches of a deciduous tree brings on thoughts of tent caterpillars. I learned early on in my youth that if you see this mass in the spring, it is tent caterpillars, but if it is late summer or fall, you are looking at fall webworm, an entirely different insect. If you’re still not sure, you can verify which insect it is be monitoring the movements of the caterpillars. Fall webworms stay within their webby nest all the time, eating and sleeping there. They do not leave until they are ready to pupate. Tent caterpillars, on the other hand, only use their webby nest for shelter at night and during inclement weather. When they get hungry, they must leave the nest to forage on nearby leaves. » Continue Reading.
On June 13, 2009, Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) held its annual meeting at the Boathouse Theater in Schroon Lake, during which time the following individuals were elected to serve their first three-year term on AARCH’s Board of Directors: Willem Monster (Northampton), and Albert Price (Piseco Lake); Jane Mackintosh (Queensbury), and Howard Lowe (Plattsburgh), were elected to serve their second three-year term; William Johnston (Westport), Jay Higgins (Lake Placid), and Phebe Thorne (Keene Valley), were elected to the AARCH Advisory Council. And, at the July AARCH Board meeting, Stewart de Camp (Thendara) was elected to serve on the AARCH Board for a first three-year term. Adirondack Architectural Heritage is the private, non-profit, historic preservation organization for New York State’s Adirondack Park. AARCH was formed in 1990 with a mission to promote better public understanding, appreciation and stewardship of the Adirondack’s unique and diverse architectural heritage. For more information on membership and our complete program schedule contact AARCH at (518) 834-9328 or visit our website at www.aarch.org.
Protect the Adirondacks! will host the 7th Clean Waters Benefit on Saturday, August 22, 2009 at Hornbeck Boatworks off Troutbrook Road in Olmstedville, in the Town of Minerva to raise funds for its programs and services in the Adirondack Park. The event will begin at 11:30 AM with a canoe/kayak paddle on Minerva Stream, concluding at the historic Olmstedville dam.
Participants are asked to bring their own canoe and be prepared to pull over several beaver dams. Tours of Hornbeck Boat Works and of the owner’s Forest Stewardship Council certified forest will begin at 12:30 PM. A Reception begins at 3:00 PM and features author Bill McKibben as the event’s guest speaker along with Adirondack singer-songwriter Dan Berggren. » Continue Reading.
We have no set standard for musical appreciation in our family. We have always run the gamut from Broadway soundtracks to jazz, classical to rock. We are (thankfully) well past the refrains that require an “oink, oink here and an oink, oink there.” Though each childlike step through those mind numbing repetitive refrains did serve its purpose whether to learn what happens as the wheels turn on a bus or learn all the sounds the animals at Old MacDonald’s Farm.
As parents of young children we do have ultimate control of the car stereo and able to intersperse nursery rhymes with an eclectic mix of music. From The Grateful Dead to Marcia Ball and Cole Porter to Pavarotti, our kids are being exposed to a variety of musical tastes. I’ve always used music as a means to set the mood whether we are dancing around the house, quietly working or keeping the peace.
My daughter knows our wedding song while I am, much to my chagrin, prolific at singing and performing the Hannah/Miley “Hoe-down/Throw-down.” Listening to classical music is one thing but going to the opera is not an everyday occurrence for this family. Perhaps it should be.
George Cordes, an operatic bass, has performed a variety of roles while with the New York City Opera, Metropolitan Opera and other operatic companies. He will be accompanied by his wife and pianist Elizabeth as they perform at the Long Lake Town Hall at 7:00 p.m. this Saturday. The husband and wife team are of the newly formed High Peaks Opera Studio of Tupper Lake. The Cordeses will perform musical cocktail ranging from the Great American Songbook to scores from Gilbert and Sullivan’s Operettas.
Admission for the event is only $5.00 while children 12 and under are free. If the low cost doesn’t get you to come then the offer of dessert and refreshments should. My children are excited to see someone who performed on stage. I’m glad to oblige.
Even though the State Land Master plan didn’t address them specifically, in the mid-1990s the Adirondack Park Agency acted early on the use of Mountain Bikes on state land. Gibb Technologies’ new 4 x 4 waverunner combination, dubbed the Quadski, is a motorized vehicle that Peter Bauer, Executive Director of the Fund for Lake George and former head of the Residents Committee to Protect the Adirondacks, believes needs to be addressed early as well. Check out the video. “[Mountain Biking] was a case of the APA acting on an issue before there was resource degradation, widespread established use, and where the SLMP had not contemplated an issue,” Bauer recently told the Almanack by e-mail. “[This] is an issue where the APA and DEC should act quickly and proactively or the trails and waters of the Adirondack Park will be changed forever.” The Aquada, another amphibious sport vehicle, has also been gaining ground after Sir Richard Branson became the first to cross the English Channel in one in 2004. » Continue Reading.
The 4th Annual Whiteface 5K Downhill Mountain Bike Race, part of the 2009 Gravity East Series, will take place on August 29-30 at the Whiteface Mountain Bike Park. The race, which also doubles as the Pro GRT Final, will be the first Gravity East event to feature a pro qualifying and seeding run. The pro men’s race will include a $2,000 purse for the winner. The weekend will also feature a round of Gravity East’s inaugural e.thirteen Dual Slalom Series and a chainless downhill after the main event for fun. The Whiteface 5K is almost three miles long, and an eight-plus minute downhill course that is the longest mountain bike competition in the East, with 2,456-vertical feet from the top of Little Whiteface. The main event is sponsored by High Peaks Cyclery who will offer a $5,000 overall purse. Last year’s winner Geritt Beytagh finished with a time of 7 minutes, 24.47 seconds and only seven competitors finished the race under eight minutes.
The race course will be marked five days prior to the event, and is available for training seven days a week including race day. There will be one course for all categories. Participants can register online at www.active.com until August 27 at 12 p.m. for just $25. Riders may also pre-register by phone at 877-228-4881 (option #2 then #3), event 177-1411. Racers can register at Whiteface from August 28 until 11 a.m. on August 29 for $35. The competition will be professionally timed by All Sports Events.
Interested participants can check out bike and stay packages, beginning at $59 per person including lift ticket and hot breakfast, at www.downhillmike.com. The website also offers specific race info, and video and photos from last year.
The Whiteface Downhill Mountain Bike Park is open daily from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Free guided tours are available weekends at 1 p.m. and 3:45 p.m. Lift tickets, mountain bike rentals, lessons, clinics and more are available right on site.
Cornell Cooperative Extension of Warren and Saratoga Counties will be offering an educational program on Saturday August 22, 2009 – “Making Your Land Pay” for forest and farmland. Those looking for new income opportunities to offset some of the costs of owning land will find plenty of suggestions. Some of the topics that will be covered include the importance of soils, natural resource enterprises, and places to find additional resources for land owners. During the afternoon attendees will be going into the field. The cost is $15 per person. For further information and to register for this program, please call Cornell Cooperative Extension Saratoga County at 885-8995.
It’s not every day that we get a book here at the Almanack that reaches my list of Adirondack must-haves. John Peterson and Gary Lee’s Adirondack Birding:60 Great Places to Find Birds (Lost Pond Press, softcover, 240 pages, $20.95) is the kind of book that you will want to have on your shelf – even if you’re not that into birds. Peterson (of Elizabethtown) and Lee (who hails from Inlet), are two of the Adirondack region’s most skilled birders. They drew on decades of experience in selecting the sites for this, the first comprehensive guidebook to birding hot spots in the Adirondacks. Experienced birders can use the book to search for the Park’s most-coveted species, including boreal birds not found in the state outside the Adirondacks as well as uncommon winter visitors and rare migrants. What I find amazing about this book however, is that it offers the non-birder like me an opportunity to find natural places were I can see a lot of great birds – even if I don’t yet know what they are. If an afternoon exploration to a spot likely to be teeming with birds is what you’re after more than working to complete your birding checklist – this is a great book for you. That’s not to say the experienced birder won’t have something to learn here as well. » Continue Reading.
Schenectady’s Daily Gazette has told its online readers to find their news elsewhere. After a failed attempt to charge online readers ended in 2007, the Gazette‘s online traffic exploded to 1.5 million page views monthly (according to Managing Editor Judy Patrick). No matter, those in charge at the paper apparently think the future is in print media and charging people for what they can find elsewhere for free.
Just for fun, you can read the story at the still online Albany Times Union which reported that beginning last week “the Schenectady paper will reserve the free section of its Web site for blogs, breaking news and some other features. Only paying subscribers, meanwhile, will have access to expanded online content, including articles that appear in the print edition.” The new pay plan is showing that those running the Gazette are confused and scared. Just ask Gazette reporter Jason Subik, who reported in January 2008, just after the paper went online for free, and in an article titled “Newspapers’ free online content gives readers what they want, brings needed revenue boost,” that “Today newspapers are finding new ways to compete and rethinking what it means to scoop the competition, as they publish online as well as in print….” – that’s all you get, because I’m not paying for a nearly two year old slanted piece of self-service “news.”
My guess is that the Gazette’s return to the pay model will mean fewer subscribers, fewer links to their web page, and less involvement of the local community in their news. The Gazette will lose its standing as Schenectady’s newspaper of record, at least online.
I suspect that tens of thousands of links to the Gazette will be broken across the internet. Dozens of links from Adirondack Almanack will be broken, and future readers of this site will be pointed to the reports from other places.
Those who rely on the online edition of the paper because their print edition (yesterday’s news anyway) wouldn’t arrive before they head off to work will find other news sources.
Those who place obituaries will think twice if loved ones across the country can’t read the obit online.
But the bottom line is the move to a pay site will do nothing to stem the tide of lost revenue, began with loss of print subscribers that followed the advent of widespread cable television and 24-hour news channels in the early 1990s – ten years before blogs and news aggregators came to the fore.
Newspapers get most of their revenue from advertising – when they produce quality content that people want to read they grow their audience and garner more advertising dollars. You’d think it would be obvious that cutting access to the paper doesn’t grow its audience. As one commenter to the paper put it simply – “That’s hilarious. Good luck with that.”
I expect they will come out of the woodwork now – the “nothing is free” crowd – to tell me how we shouldn’t expect news for free. That idea is laughable.
Radio news is free. Television news is free. Plenty of books, magazines, and newspapers are all free at the library, cafes, and a hundred other places, even the dentist office. They all carry news – local, national, and international.
In this day and age those who make money from subscribers for general news delivery are a dying breed.
Here’s the problem for the Gazette as it relates to just one subject – the Adirondacks. Many of the links to the paper over the years here at the Almanack were related to the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, which has been based (in part at least) in Niskayuna, just outside Schenectady. Now that we can no longer link to the Gazette, we’ll have to go here, or here. That’s what good online journals do best – they find the news at its source, not filtered through the biases of local reporters, editors, and publishers.
Soon enough, most municipalities in America will have at least two online writers reporting on what happens with their local politics from differing perspectives. Specific subjects, like the Supreme Court, New York Politics, and the Adirondacks, already have active online journals that cover their areas, often more thoroughly, or more widely, or with a more independent mind, then any local paper ever could or will.
When that trend – individual independent citizens reporting on their own from all walks of life – is finally entrenched, we’ll look back and laugh at how naive people were to think that it was “buy a newspaper, or don’t get news.”
Some think that site’s like the Adirodnack Almanack rely on free local news online, but they’re off the mark. We get our news just like everyone else in the media does – through investigative legwork, media releases, and research. We curate what’s happening in the Adirondacks and show people where to find it. Rarely does that require a local newspaper, which, after all, the Almanack is not.
I’m sorry to see the Gazette go – but go it will. The print newspaper era is waning, the monopoly of the old media is nearly over. As papers like the Gazette leave the online world – and make no mistake, that is what they are doing – others will take their place.
On Monday, August 17, 2009, Ross Whaley, past Chairman of the Adirondack Park Agency, will present a program entitled “Private Lands in a Park: An Historical Accident, A Mistake, or an Asset” at the Adirondack Museum. Whaley will discuss the importance of private land stewardship in defining the character of the Adirondack Park, as well as the challenges of maintaining a park that is unique in the world.
Part of the museum’s Monday Evening Lecture series, the presentation will be held in the Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. There is no charge for museum members. Admission is $5.00 for non-members. Ross S. Whaley is President Emeritus, State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Since October of 2007 Dr. Whaley has served as Senior Advisor to the Adirondack Land Owners Association. He assumed this post after serving as Chairman of the Adirondack Park Agency for four years. He brought to these positions more than 30 years experience as a university teacher, researcher and administrator. He also served as Director of Economics Research for the US Forest Service for six years. Whaley holds a bachelor’s degree in forestry and a PhD in natural resource economics from the University of Michigan.
From 1984-2005 Dr. Whaley was associated with the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, 16 years as its President and subsequently as University Professor. As Professor his interest focused on the political economy of sustainable development.
Ross Whaley has served as a consultant to or member of several state, national, and international commissions devoted to natural resource and environmental issues. In recognition of these activities he has been awarded the Pinchot Medallion by the Pinchot Institute for Conservation, the Professional Conservationist Award by the New York Conservation Council, the Heiberg Memorial Award by the New York Forest Owners Association, and is an Honor Alumnus of Colorado State University.
“What is that green papery thing you have hanging next to the back door?” my mother asked. “It’s a paper wasp nest,” said I. An artificial wasp nest made of paper, as opposed to a nest made by paper wasps.
“What’s it for?”
“To keep away wasps.”
“Does it work?” Ah…that’s the question. Several gardening catalogues sell these Chinese paper lantern type wasp nests as wasp deterrents, and others sell ones made of fabric. The theory is that you hang them in areas where you don’t want wasps. Supposedly, paper wasps are very territorial and will not build a nest in an area where one already exists. So, you hang up these artificial nests and voila! no wasps.
But does it work?
Well, I routinely had wasps build nests next to one of my sheds. And while I’ve come to terms with bees, I’m not so trusting of wasps. Some, like the bald faced hornet, are very aggressive and don’t need much (if any) provocation to attack. As soon as I would see the beginnings of a paper wasp nest, I would knock it down. Luckily, this worked, but I knew that the battle would only repeat every year unless I took some other measure.
Enter the fake nest.
I purchased a two-pack of paper nests a couple years ago. They lie flat and squashed in the package. All you have to do is stretch them out and lock the wire frame in place. Instant wasp nest. Then you hang it in a strategic location. I placed one next to the back door, easily within viewing distance of the corner by the shed. The other I hung inside the porch (a double assurance against wasps coming into the house – or at least this was the plan).
For two years I have followed this routine, and for two years I’ve had no wasps nests built near my shed (or anywhere along that side of the house). Could it be this really works, or is it merely coincidence?
The NCAA Division III Men’s Ice Hockey Committee recently announced that Lake Placid will host the 2010 NCAA Division III Men’s Ice Hockey Championship March 19-20 or March 20-21, depending on the television broadcast schedule. The event will be held in the 1980 Rink Herb Brooks Arena. The Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) and Plattsburgh State University College of New York are the co-hosts for the tournament. Lake Placid has hosted the past two Division III Men’s Ice Hockey Championships, first partnering with State University of New York at Potsdam and then last year with SUNY Plattsburgh. The event features the two semi-final games on the first day, followed by the championship title match on the second day. Other activities associated with the event include a Fan Fest, which features live music, prize give-aways, and vendors.
Last month I was asked why we aren’t seeing any monarch butterflies this year. I had no answer. Well, I had an answer, but it wasn’t the answer this person was likely seeking. I looked back through my records of when monarchs are first seen each year, and discovered that when I first started keeping track, we didn’t really see monarchs until mid- to late summer; in other words, mid-July and August. Two years ago I saw my first one at the end of May. This year, however, July came and went with only a couple monarch sightings. Now August is chugging along towards the halfway mark, and I can still probably count on one hand the number of monarchs I’ve seen. Milkweed plants are conspicuously unmunched, as are the butterfly weeds all around my gardens. » Continue Reading.
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