To the casual observer, the Lake George Steamboat Company’s marine railway near the foot of the lake is unlikely to conform to any preconceived notion of a historic site.
Built in 1927 by Crandall Dry Dock Engineers, it’s a utility, used to haul vessels in and out of Lake George for repair, maintenance and storage.
But in the 19th century, almost every harbor on the eastern coasts of the United States and Canada had similar railways, almost all built by Crandall Dry Dock Engineers; the Crandall railway at Hart Bay is, according to New York State’s Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, among the few that remain intact and in operation today.
The New York State Board for Historic Preservation has, therefore, recommended that the railway be added to the State and National Registers of Historic Places. The Board cast its votes when it met in March in New York, where it recommended adding thirty nine sites to the registers, including Fort George in Lake George.
“These nominations reflect many of the varied commercial, agricultural, political and social movements that have shaped New York State,” said Rose Harvey, Commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. “Bringing recognition to these properties will help us to preserve and illuminate important components of New York State history.”
According to Bill Dow, president of the Lake George Steamboat Company, the entire marine railway complex, which includes 390 feet of track under water, the cradle and the gears in the small frame head house, was nominated for the registers.
“Without the marine railway, the Lake George Steamboat Company could not have continued to operate through the Depression and the post-War eras,” said Dow.
According to Dow, the railway was constructed to haul the Sagamore from the lake for repairs.
On July 1, 1927 the Sagamore rammed the point of Anthony’s Nose, and began to sink. The captain, John Washburn of Ticonderoga, ordered that the hole in the hull be stuffed with mattresses. He then sailed her into Glenburnie, where she discharged her passengers, and then beached her in a small cove. After repairs were made at Hart Bay, she was refurbished, launched again in May 1928, and sailed for another five years.
According to the State Board of Historic Preservation, the Crandall Marine Railway complements the Lake George Steamboat Company’s Mohican, which was placed on the registry of Historic Places two years ago.
“Together, the railway and the excursion boat recall the nearly two century history of pleasure boating on one of the Adirondack Regions’ largest and most popular and accessible tourist destinations,” the State Board noted.
The Lake George Steamboat Company is now preparing an application to place the former Lake George train station on the registers of historic places.
Like the Steamboat Company, the station was owned by the D&H railroad, which built the station in 1909 in the same Spanish Colonial Revival style of architecture as its nearby hotel, the Fort William Henry.
“The Lake George Steamboat Company represents America, or the America of the past, as few companies do,” said Bill Dow. “We feel a responsibility to honor that past by preserving our legacy.”
This announcement is for general use – local conditions may vary and are subject to sometimes drastic changes.
Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Recreation Report Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1) and the stations of North Country Public Radio.
The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional Forest Ranger incident reports which form a stern reminder that wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Be aware of the latest weather conditions and carry adequate gear and supplies.
SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND ** indicates new or revised items.
** HIGH WATERS – FLOODING The worst is now over in the central Adirondacks but areas downstream of the the region’s major rivers are still experiencing significant flooding. Most waters are well above normal and a significant number of closed roads, impassable river, stream and brook crossings, and flooded trails and campsites plague the backcountry. Docks, boat launches, and low-lying waterfront property across the region’s lakes and reservoirs are submerged by high waters. Lake Champlain is currently at the highest level ever recorded on the USGS gauge at Burlington. Most boat launches in the region are flooded, making it risky to launch and retrieve boats. Boaters and paddlers should be aware that waters are cold and swift and may contain logs, limbs and other debris. High waters also conceal navigation hazards such as boulders, rock shelves, docks and other structures that normally are easily seen and avoided. DEC is recommending that paddlers and boaters consider staying off larger rivers such as the Raquette, Saranac, Hudson, and Schroon. Paddlers consult the latest streamgage data and use extreme caution. A complete report of the Adirondack Floods of 2011 can be found here.
**EXPECT BLOWDOWN Saturated soils could result in numerous trees being toppled and tails and campsites may be covered and blocked by fallen trees and other blowdown. The danger of landslides on mountain slopes is currently high.
** ROAD CLOSURES Many secondary roads and backcountry roads remain closed due to flooding. DEC has closed most roadways for mud season. Gates on roads designated for motor vehicle traffic will be reopened when conditions warrant.
** WET AND MUDDY CONDITIONS This is a good time to stay off wet trails. While snow is still present above 3,000 feet, lower and mid-elevation trails are wet and muddy. Be prepared by wearing waterproof footwear and gaiters, and remember to walk through – not around – mud and water on trails.
** SNOWSHOES STILL REQUIRED The use of snowshoes is required in the Eastern High Peaks where ever snow depths exceed 8 inches, as is currently the case on some trails above Lake Colden. Using snowshoes prevents “post-holing”, avoids injuries, and eases travel through snow.
** HUDSON RIVER WHITEWATER DERBY The Hudson River Whitewater Derby will run May 7-8 2011. The event includes novice slalom, giant slalom, and other races from North River to Rapairus.
BEAR CANISTERS NOW REQUIRED IN HIGH PEAKS The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness, and recommended throughout the Adirondacks, between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters.
Carry Extra Winter Gear Snowshoes or skis can prevent injuries and eases travel in heavy snow. Ice crampons should be carried for use on icy trails and mountaintops and other exposed areas. Wear layers of wool and fleece (NOT COTTON!), a winter hat, gloves or mittens, wind/rain resistant outer wear, and winter boots. Carry a day pack complete with ice axe, plenty of food and water, extra clothing, map and compass, first-aid kit, flashlight/headlamp, sun glasses, sun-block protection, ensolite pads, a stove and extra fuel, and bivy sack or space blankets.
Know The Latest Weather Check the weather before entering the woods and be aware of weather conditions at all times — if weather worsens, head out of the woods.
Fire Danger: LOW NOTE: We’re currently in the state’s historically high fire risk period from mid-March until mid-May.
** Central Adirondacks LOWER Elevation Weather
Friday: Chance of rain and snow showers; partly sunny, high near 59. Friday Night: Slight chance of showers; mostly cloudy, low around 38. Saturday: Chance of showers; mostly cloudy, high near 61. Saturday Night: Chance of showers; mostly cloudy, low around 33. Sunday: Mostly cloudy, with a high near 55.
The National Weather Service provides a weather forecast for elevations above 3000 feet and spot forecasts for the summits of a handful of the highest peaks in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. [LINK]
** Snow Cover Snow is gone outside the High Peaks where there is still snow cover above 3,000 feet. Conditions still require snowshoes above Lake Colden on some trails.
** Backcountry Ski Report Snow cover is no longer suitable for backcountry skiing.
** Rock Climbing Closures All rock climbing routes on Moss Cliff in Wilmington Notch and the Upper and Lower Washbowl Cliffs at Chapel Pond remain closed to allow for peregrine falcon nesting. DEC has confirmed that peregrine falcons are nesting on the Nose on Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain and 54 climbing routes remain closed including Garter and Mogster (Routes #26 through #82 in Adirondack Rock) through the nesting season. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.
** Warmwater Sportfishing Opens Saturday The first Saturday in May marks the beginning of the fishing season for many popular warmwater sportfish species, including walleye, northern pike, pickerel, tiger muskellunge, and catch and release fishing for black bass (largemouth and smallmouth bass) in many waters across the state. Muskellunge fishing season and the regular (harvest) season for black bass open on the 3rd Saturday in June (June 18). Spring also provides outstanding fishing opportunities for yellow perch, sunfish and crappie, valued for their tasty flesh. A complete listing of 2011 warmwater fishing hotspots recommended by DEC biologists can be found online.
** Use Baitfish Wisely Anglers using fish for bait are reminded to be careful with how these fish are used and disposed of. Careless use of baitfish is one of the primary means by which non-native species and fish diseases are spread from water to water. Unused baitfish should be discarded in an appropriate location on dry land. A “Green List” of commercially available baitfish species that are approved for use in New York State has now been established in regulation. A discussion of these regulations and how to identify approved baitfish species is available online. Personal collection and use of baitfish other than those on the “Green List” is permitted, but only on the water from which they were collected and they may not be transported overland by motorized vehicle. Anglers are reminded that new regulations for transportation of baitfish are currently under consideration, and these proposed regulations can be viewed online.
** Preventing Invasive Species and Fish Diseases Anglers are reminded to be sure to dry or disinfect their fishing and boating equipment, including waders and boots, before entering a new body of water. This is the only way to prevent the spread of potentially damaging invasive plant and animal species (didymo and zebra mussels) and fish diseases (Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) and whirling disease). Methods to clean and disinfect fishing gear can be found online.
** Lake Champlain Anglers Warmwater anglers on Lake Champlain are requested to report any catches of sauger to Emily Zollweg at the DEC Region 5 office in Warrensburg at (518) 623-1264. The status of sauger, a close relative of the walleye, has been unknown in the lake for a quite some time, until a single sauger was caught in a DEC survey last spring. Sauger can be distinguished from walleye by the three to four saddle-shaped dark brown blotches on their sides, the distinct black spots on the first dorsal (back) fin and the lack of a white tip on the lower lobe of the tail fin.
Trout Season Opened April 1st Trout (brook, rainbow, brown and hybrids, and splake) and landlocked Salmon season opened April 1st, but the season is still suffering from high and cold waters. With large lakes like Lake Champlain and Lake George at record levels, smaller lakes and ponds are your best bet. For catch and size limits view the freshwater fishing regulations online.
Spring Turkey Season Opened May 1 DEC biologists expect the spring turkey harvest to be well below the state’s 10-year average of about 34,000 birds, and likely below last year take of 25,807. This is likely to be a third year of poor production in the Adirondacks. 2009 was one of the worst poult production years on record and as a result there will be fewer 2-year-olds, last year’s poor production means fewer yearlings (jakes). Because those birds make up most of the spring turkey harvest, it will likely be considerably lower than average.
ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS
NORTHVILLE PLACID TRAIL
The Northville Placid Trail (NPT) is the Adirondack Park’s only designated long distance hiking trail. The 133 mile NPT was laid out by the Adirondack Mountain Club in 1922 and 1923, and is now maintained by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Up to date NPT trail condition information can be found online.
** Upper Benson to Whitehouse: About 1.8 miles north of the Silver Lake lean-to and just south of the Canary Pond tent camping area, the trail is flooded and may require wading through water and mud.
** West Canada Lakes to Wakely Dam: The bridge over Mud Creek, northeast of Mud Lake, has been washed out. Wading the creek is the only option. The water in Mud Creek will vary from ankle deep to knee deep.
** Lake Durant to Long Lake: About a half mile north of the Lake Durant trailhead at Route 28/30 the trail crosses several flooded boardwalks. Use extreme caution as the boardwalk is not visible and may shift. Expect to get your boots wet and use a stick or hiking pole to feel your way along to avoid falling off the boardwalk.
** Lake Durant to Long Lake: About 4 miles north of the Tirrell Pond the trail is flooded by beaver activity. The reroute to the east is now also flooded in spots.
** Duck Hole to Averyville Rd. and Lake Placid: Beaver activity has flooded the trail about 3 miles south of the Averyville trailhead and will require a sturdy bushwhack.
** High Waters – Cold Temperatures: Water levels are very high, especially on the Raquette River, flooding is occurring on most rivers and streams, and water temperatures are low. Paddlers and other boaters should be prepared for high waters that may contain logs, limbs and other debris. See High Waters – Flooding Warning Above.
** Saturated soils could result in numerous trees being toppled and tails and campsites may be covered and blocked by fallen trees and other blowdown. The danger of landslides on mountain slopes is currently high.
** East River Trail: The first bridge on the East River Trail has been washed away, high waters make crossing risky.
** Snow at Elevation: Snow is present in elevations above 3000 feet, and snowshoes may be warranted in elevations above 3500 feet.
** Corey’s Road Closed: Corey’s Road is closed at Stony Creek Ponds, there is no access to the trailheads for the Western High Peaks. The unpaved section of Corey’s Road, the main entrance to the Western High Peaks Wilderness, is closed for mud season.
** Day Glow South Camping: Campsites in the Day Glow South camping area below the Lake Colden Dam, including the McMartin and Opalescent lean-tos, are once again available for use, though the area may be wet and muddy.
Preston Pond Trail: The first bridge west of Henderson Lake on the trail to Preston Ponds and Duck Hole went out with an ice jam and is now impassible.
Johns Brook Valley: The Bear Brook Lean-to has been removed and will not be replaced.
Bear Resistant Canister Now Required: The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness, and recommended throughout the Adirondacks, between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear-resistant canisters.
Giant Mountain Wilderness: All rock climbing routes on Upper and Lower Washbowl Cliffs are closed to allow for peregrine falcon nesting. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.
Johns Brook Valley: Lean2Rescue, in cooperation with DEC, will be undertaking several lean-to projects in the Johns Brook Valley over the course of the next several months. DEC will post notifications at the Garden trailhead prior to work being started. The Deer Brook lean-to is currently closed while it’s being moved.
Opalescent Cable Bridge: The cable bridge over the Opalescent River on the East River/Hanging Spear Falls trail has been washed out. The crossing will be impassable during high water periods.
Western High Peaks Wilderness: Trails in the Western High Peaks Wilderness are cluttered with blowdown from a storm that occurred December 1st. DEC has cleared blow down along the Corey’s Road, and in most areas accessed from the that road, including the Seward Trail, although not along the Northville-Placid Trail.
Western high Peaks Wilderness: The unpaved section of Corey’s Road, the main entrance to the Western High Peaks Wilderness, is closed for mud season.
Sentinel Range Wilderness: The Copperas Pond/Owen Pond Loop Trail was impacted by serious winds resulting in significant blow down. While most of the blowdown has been cut out, some downed trees and limbs are still present.
** Ampersand Mountain Trail: There is heavy blowdown on the Ampersand Mountain Trail as far as the old caretakers cabin – approximately 1.7 miles in.
Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands: The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season. This adds 2 miles of hiking, plan trips accordingly.
Bushnell Falls: The high water bridge at Bushnell Falls has been removed, the low water crossing may not be accessible during high water.
Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail: While much of the blowdown on the Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail between the Calkins Brook lean-tos and Shattuck Clearing has been removed, the trail remains impassable to horses and wagons.
CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS
** Wakley Dam: The Wakely Dam Area is closed due to significant damage from flooding.
Moose River Plains Wild Forest: The Moose River Plains Road System is closed for mud season. Gates have been closed at the Cedar River Headquarters and the Limekiln Lake. The road system will be reopened once they have dried out and all necessary maintenance and repairs have been completed.
Ferris Lake Wild Forest: The West Lake Boat Launch was impacted by rains and floods last August. DEC staff have made repairs to the roadway, parking lot and ramps, however, be aware that the waters off the boat launch are more shallow than before.
Perkins Clearing/Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement: Gates have been closed on all roads for the mud season. The roads will be reopened once they have dried out and all necessary maintenance and repairs have been completed.
EASTERN / SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS
** Western Lake George Wild Forest / Hudson River Recreation Area: The two designated campsites at Scofield Flats and the two designated campsites at Pikes Beach are flooded by 2-4 feet of water.
** Lake Champlain Islands: Lake Champlain is at record levels. Access points, campsites and trails on Valcour and other islands may be flooded.
Shelving Rock Road: The Town of Fort Ann has reopened Shelving Rock Road.
Ausable Point Campground & Day Use Area: The entry road to the Ausable Point Campground and Day Use Area is closed until further notice due to flooding. DEC has placed barricades at the end of the road and will be patrolling the area to ensure the public is abiding by the closure. The road will be reopened once the waters have receded and it is determined the road can handle motorized traffic without further damage.
Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: The Town of Fort Ann has closed the Shelving Rock Road for mud season.
Western Lake George Wild Forest: The Bear Slides ADA-accessible route is open.
Western Lake George Wild Forest: The following roads have been closed for spring mud season: Scofield Flats, Pikes Beach, Darlings Ford in the Hudson River Special Management Area, Palmer Pond Access Route, Gay Pond Road, Lily Pond Road, Palmer Pond Road, Jabe Pond Road.
Hammond Pond Wild Forest: The Lindsey Brook Trail is closed due to flooding by beaver activity.
Hoffman Notch Wilderness: Some stream crossings do not have bridges and may be difficult to cross in high water conditions.
Hudson River Recreation Area: Gates on the Buttermilk Road Extension in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area), in the Town of Warrensburg remain shut and the roads closed to motor vehicle traffic.
** Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: See the High Waters – Flooding Warning Above. Water levels are high and water temperatures are low. Paddlers and other boaters should be prepared for high waters that may contain logs, limbs and other debris. DEC is recommending staying off the Hudson River at this time.
Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands (former Champion Lands): All lands are open to all legal and allowable public recreation activities beginning January 1. The gate to the Pinnacle Trail remains closed until after the spring mud season.
Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: The gate to the Lake Lila Road is closed. Public motorized access to the road is prohibited until the gate is reopened after the spring mud season. Cross-country skiers, snowshoers and other non-motorized access is allowed on the road. Trespassing on lands adjacent to the road is prohibited.
Taylor Pond Wild Forest: Peregrine falcon nesting has been confirmed on The Nose on the Main Face of Poke-o-Moonshine Mountain, rock climbing routes between and including Garter and Mogster (Routes #26 through #82 in Adirondack Rock) will remain closed through the nesting season. See Adirondack Rock Climbing Route Closures for more information.
Norton Peak Cave / Chateuagay Woodlands Conservation Easement Lands: Norton Peak Cave has been reopened to the public following the expiration of the cave closing order on March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. DEC is considering whether to close all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easements to protect the bat population. It’s best to stay out of caves at this time.
GENERAL ADIRONDACK NOTICES
Accidents Happen, Be Prepared Wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Hikers and campers should check up-to-date forecasts before entering the backcountry as conditions at higher elevations will likely be more severe. All users should bring flashlight, first aid kit, map and compass, extra food, plenty of water and clothing. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods and always inform others of your itinerary.
Personal Flotation Devices Required Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.
Cave And Mine Closings White nose syndrome, the fungal disease that’s wiping out bat populations across the northeast has spread to at least 32 cave and mine bat hibernation sites across the New York state according to a recent survey. Populations of some bat species are declining in these caves and mines by 90 percent. White nose was first discovered in upstate New York in the winter of 2006-2007 and is now confirmed in at least 11 states. An order closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easements to protect the bat population expired on March 31. DEC is reconsidering whether continuing the closing to protect the bat population is warranted. At this time it’s best to stay out of caves that may contain bats.
Practice ‘Leave No Trace’ Principles All backcountry users should learn and practice the Leave No Trace philosophy: Plan ahead and be prepared, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of others. More information is available online.
——————– Warnings and announcements drawn from DEC, NWS, NOAA, USGS, and other sources. Detailed Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation and trail conditions can be found at DEC’s webpages. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf].
The new DEC Trails Supporter Patch is now available for $5 at all outlets where sporting licenses are sold, on-line and via telephone at 1-866-933-2257. Patch proceeds will help maintain and enhance non-motorized trails throughout New York State.
Climate Justice will be the focus of this year’s annual John Brown Day on Saturday, May 7, 2011. A tradition dating back to the 1930s, John Brown Day is held each year at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid, to honor one of the nation’s most influential abolitionists on the anniversary of his birth in 1800.
Dedicating his life to eradicating slavery, Brown eventually risked all attacking the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, in 1859. Captured by troops led by Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart, Brown’s trial and execution are considered by many historians as a spark that help ignite the Civil War 150 years ago. » Continue Reading.
As we enter the month of May a season dreaded by all backcountry enthusiasts in the Adirondacks quickly approaches. Only the heartiest (or craziest) hikers and backpackers venture far into the backcountry during the height of the bug season in May and June. And with the recent abundant rainfall overflowing the lakes, ponds and streams there should be a bumper crop of biting and blood-sucking insect pests to torment anyone unwearyingly stepping out into the outdoors without the proper preparation and protection. A menagerie of four different types of flies form the core of the biting or blood sucking community within the Adirondacks. These four blood-sucking flies of the Adirondacalypse are black flies, mosquitoes, no-see-ums (or biting midges) and deer flies. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Fishing Expo will be held May 21 and 22 in Old Forge. It will be at the Community Center on Park Ave, located behind Souvenir Village at the “Five Corners.” Hours are 9 – 4 daily. It is sponsored by Souvenir Village and the New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame with proceeds to benefit Hall of Fame youth programs.
There has been a renewed interest in fishing the Adirondacks but many people are unaware of the potential that exists here, or the methods to take advantage of it. With exhibits, demonstrations, and seminars the attendees at the Expo can gain a better idea of where to go and how to fish for the species they desire. There will be exhibitors ranging from canoe and kayak sales, fishing tackle vendors, Adirondack guides, outfitters such as canoe rentals or seaplanes, fly tyers, conservation organizations, tourist information, wildlife artists, and craftsmen. You will have the chance to meet and talk with award winning artist and outdoorsman Tom Yacovella and hear his methods for brook trout fishing.
Throughout the day there will be seminars and presentations on Adirondack bass fishing, brook trout fishing, kayak fishing, fishing remote trout waters, trolling techniques and lures, fly fishing, and photography. Learn and sample fish cooking techniques from the masters Nick Bankert and Jim Holt. Professional photographer Angie Berchielli will share her tips for taking better fish photos.
There will be information on fishing various lakes, ponds, and rivers, as well as free “fish finder” maps available from FishNY.com. Explore the options of getting to fishing waters ranging from roadside boat launches to flying in by seaplane, packing in by horseback, or traveling by canoe. Meet the outfitters and learn from their presentations on what to take and how to pack.
There will be fly fishing demonstrations, clinics, or lessons. Participants will have the chance to meet popular authors and get autographed books.
Seminars and demonstrations will include kayak fishing (10 am), floatplane (10:30 am), Yacovella on brook trout (11 am), fly tying demo (11 and 2), fly casting clinic (11:30), back country brookies (12 noon), fish cooking demo (1 pm), bass fishing (1:30 pm), better fishing photos (2:15), pack in by canoe (2:45 pm) and trolling techniques and lures (3 pm).
See the New York State Outdoor Writers Association Hall of Fame website for more information.
A series of remarkable photographs issued by the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) shows shoreline erosion and sediment and nutrient loading of Lake Champlain as a result of the flooding that continues to occur around the region. The lake has reached historic levels that have accelerated shoreline erosion and sent dark plumes that likely contain contaminants into open water.
The filling of historic wetlands, channeling streams and development along watersheds that empty into the lake have increased storm water run-off and added what is considered an unprecedented about of contaminants – pollution, nutrients and sediment – into the Lake Champlain ecosystem according to the LCBP. “While there will be time in the future for a careful assessment of the flooding of the many tributaries and of the Lake itself,” an LCBP press statement said, “it already is clear that the impact on water quality (in addition to the immediate human distress) will be very significant.”
Among water quality managers’ concerns is controlling run-off phosphorus pollution from household cleaning products and lawn fertilizers, believed critical to managing and reducing water pollution. Increased phosphorus pollution is linked to the growth of potentially toxic and economically disruptive algae blooms.
During unseasonably warm weather last July health warnings were issued in New York and Vermont for algae blooms in Lake Champlain (including some near Westport, Port Henry, and Crown Point). At the time health officials recommended avoiding all contact with the affected water including swimming, bathing, or drinking, or using it in cooking or washing, and to keep pets and livestock from algae-contaminated water.
The water quality issues come at a time when Plattsburgh is celebrating its 10th year of hosting professional fishing tournaments on Lake Champlain. According to Dan Heath, writing in the Press Republican, Plattsburgh has hosted more than 50 tournaments that included some 25,000 anglers since 2001. More than 3,000 bass anglers are expected for this year’s tournaments which together will offer $1,8 million in prizes. “Lake Champlain has earned a reputation as one of the best smallmouth bass fisheries in North America,” Heath wrote.
The tournament season will kick off withe the American Bass Angler’s Weekend Series on June 11th.
The Lake Champlain Basin Program has posted the aerial photos (taken on April 29-30, 2011) online; the photos are also linked to Google Maps. It’s likely a similar situation is occurring on many of the Adirodnack region’s lakes and reservoirs.
Photos: Above, sediment plume from the Ausable River and Dead Creek; Below, headland erosion and suspended sediment north of Mooney Bay. Photos courtesy the Lake Champlain Basin Program.
The Long Horn Restaurant and Pub at Lake Vanare in Lake Luzerne has been owned by Jeremy and Shannon Carner for three years. Right off the area snowmobile trail, they were kept very busy with an abundance of snow this winter. Glad to see some good come from that snow. In the summer months, the Long Horn caters to vacationers and motorcyclists. Lake Vanare, Fourth Lake and Lake George are all close by. In the immediate vicinity are camping, cabins for rent, an assortment of motels and vacation homes. A few dude ranches draw yet another crowd. The exterior of the Long Horn boasts a rustic wood and brick theme. Patios adorn both sides, but were not yet set up for use. Upon entering through the bar entrance, the eye is drawn to a specials board mounted on the backside of a large fireplace, the centerpiece for both rooms. Slate and hardwood floors complement the fireplace; log rafters and pine paneled walls lend warmth. Pub tables on both sides of the room, only moderately distanced from the bar, were empty as we arrived, but filled up quickly. The dining room, which features another fireplace, is completely separate from the bar to afford a quieter atmosphere. A pool room at the other end offers enough seclusion to be a part of the bar scene, but to play a serious game.
The bar was full, but we found an empty pub table adjacent to the bar, close enough to feel a part of the crowd. We were immediately greeted by the waitress who took our drink orders and offered menus. Specialty drinks like the Almond Kiss, Hot Bootie and Peppermint Pattie, the usual liquor stock, and plenty of bottled and draft beer selections were available. The Long Horn also has a “mug club” with members’ only discount benefits.
XM Radio music from our generation (not giving that one away) played at the right volume in the background. We found the patrons to be friendly almost immediately. We met a member of the local band, Hill Billy Rocker, who goes by the name of Wild Bill, and learned the story behind the moniker as well. Carl was just passing through from a window tinting job and had decided to stop in. He shared a story about already being mentioned in a book, and seemed to be looking forward to a new story along that line. Pat and Jim, whose business cards boast “snowbirds” as their occupation, overheard the summary of our endeavors and eagerly shared a story of a similar encounter in Myrtle Beach as well as the inside scoop on a number of fantastic local happy hour venues. Better keep an eye on those two!
We eventually settled in and ordered from the varied and creative menu. Evidence of the influence of Deadheads was discreet, but menu items cleverly named after Grateful Dead songs, a small framed drawing of Jerry Garcia, and a skull hidden above the fireplace quietly suggested we were among friends. We ordered a half-order of supreme nachos ($5.69), a chicken fajita wrap ($7.89), and Cosmic Charlie’s Chili ($3.49 cup; $4.99 bowl). The nachos were indeed “supreme” and the wrap and chili both delivered an unexpected and subtle smoky flavor.
The Long Horn was closed for a week in April. The owners took a vacation, but it was obvious that the floor had just been resurfaced with polyurethane, a complete cleaning was performed and I believe I smelled fresh paint in the restroom. I admire a business willing to forgo a week’s income to freshen up for a new season.
Eventually a few stools opened at the bar and I was able to interview the bartender. Since most of the facts needed were available on their website, I didn’t have to burden Leah with too many mundane questions. She confirmed that the Long Horn is closed on Tuesday all year round. My margarita was served in a pint glass, and I wanted to know if that was the norm or if we were getting special treatment. Leah’s answer was this: “I’m Irish! If I can’t get drunk, I’m going to get you drunk.” Very quotable and evasive.
Kim and Pam Ladd’s book, Happy Hour in the High Peaks, is currently in the research stage. Together they visit pubs, bars and taverns with the goal of selecting the top 46 bars in the Adirondack Park. They regularly report their findings here at the Almanack and at their own blog.
This winter’s deep snow pack combined with heavy rains last week and this week continue to leave lakes and ponds brimming, and rivers and streams swollen with cold and fast water. All major rivers are at or above flood stage and flooding continues to occur and is expected to continue through Friday. Except for the Tug Hill Plateau, Flood Warnings continue to be in effect across the region. Roads and trails around the region have been reported closed, several roads and bridges have collapsed, and major flooding has forced evacuations along the Hudson, Schroon, Ausable, Bouquet, Saranac, Moose, Black and Raquette Rivers, and along Lake Champlain and many other water bodies around the Adirondacks.
The NYS Department of Environmetnal Conservation has issued the following announcement about continued flooding and the environmental risks associated with flooding. Gasoline and Oil Spills
DEC is warning homeowners and building owners with flooded basements to check for sheens or odors from gasoline, oil or substances that may have leaked from fuel oil storage tanks, furnaces or motorized equipment before pumping out water. If a sheen or odor is present, contact the DEC Spills Hotline immediately at 1-800-457-7362.
If pumping is already occurring when sheens or odors are discovered, cease pumping immediately. A mixture of gasoline or oil and water can impact the surface water, ground water and soils when pumped and released into the environment. It is best to collect and remove spilled gasoline and oil while it is still contained in a basement. DEC Spills staff will work with home and building owners to determine the most effective means to address the spill.
Repairing Flood Damaged Streambanks and Lake Shorelines
Property owners who have streams or shorelines which have been eroded or otherwise damaged by flooding should check with the DEC Environmental Permits Office before undertaking repair work to determine if a permit or emergency authorization is required. Depending on the situation, work immediately necessary for the protection of life, health, general welfare, property or natural resources may be authorized under emergency authorization procedures. Projects for the purpose of shoreline restoration and erosion protection are subject to a permit application process.
DEC provides a number of documents on its website to assist in developing a shoreline stabilization project:
Both the Lower Locks, located between First Pond and Oseetah Lake and the Upper Locks, located between Lower Saranac Lake and Middle Saranac Lake, are closed to public usage until further notice. High waters and large amount of debris are still preventing the operation of the locks.
Boat Launch Sites
Most boat launches in the region are flooded, making it risky to launch and retrieve boats. Boaters not familiar with the location of the various structures on around the boat launch (ramps, walkways, docks, posts, etc.) that are now underwater risk damaging trailers and boats when launching or retrieving boats.
Paddlers and boaters should continue to stay off of rivers and streams. Water levels are high and water temperatures are low, rivers and streams are running swiftly. Cold waters increase the risk of hypothermia and drowning if you should fall into the water.
Waters may contain logs, limbs and other debris. High waters also conceal navigation hazards such as boulders, rock shelves, docks and other structures that normally are easily seen and avoided.
The previous warning to keep out of the backcountry has been rescinded. However, hikers and campers should be aware of the conditions they can expect to encounter in the backcountry. Streams are still high and extra caution should be used at stream crossings without foot bridges.
Trails are muddy and wet. Hikers should be prepared for these conditions by wearing waterproof footwear and gaiters, and remember to walk through – not around – mud and water on trails. Trails and campsites adjacent to waters may be flooded.
Blowdown may be found on trails, it is expected that large trees may have been blown over due to winds and saturated soils. The danger of landslides on mountain slopes still exists, particularly if the forecasted rain occurs.
Snow is present in elevations above 2900 feet, and snowshoes are required in elevations above 3200 feet.
Rock climbers call it the sharp end of the rope. That would be the end attached to the lead climber, the one taking the risks. Some say you haven’t really climbed until you’ve been on the sharp end.
Cambridge University Press’s online dictionary defines “sharp end” as the part of any activity “where the most problems are likely to be found.” Having experienced the sharp end of the rope for the first time last weekend, I would say that about sums things up.
Unlike the following climber (the “second’’), a leader risks injury or even death if he falls. Although the leader places protection during the climb, meant to hold him in a fall, if he slips, he will plummet twice as far as he ascended above his last piece of “pro”—and a bit more if you factor in slack and rope stretch. Thus, if he is ten feet above his last piece, he falls more than twenty feet. In contrast, when the leader belays the second climber from above, he keeps the rope taut, so if the second slips, he falls hardly at all. Although I never led a climb before Sunday, I had climbed solo on multi-pitch routes on Chapel Pond Slab. You’d think that solo climbing, with no rope or protection, would be more unnerving than leading a climb. Strangely, I found that wasn’t the case.
Anybody attempting a lead climb for the first time should choose a route well within his ability. I did two short routes — “Return Home” and “And She Was” — on the Roast and Boast Slab in Wilmington Notch (my son, Nathan, belayed me). Both are rated 5.2 in the Yosemite Decimal System. Essentially, they’re novice climbs.
So why did I feel less comfortable leading the 80-foot And She Was (named for a Talking Heads song) than I did soloing the 800-foot Regular Route on Chapel Pond Slab, which is rated 5.5?
For one thing, I think my reaction says something about the subjectivity of the rating system. Most of Regular Route is straightforward slab climbing that requires little technique. And She Was, in contrast, follows a series of cracks. Which route you find easier will depend on whether you prefer slab climbing or crack climbing. I enjoy both, but for whatever reason, I felt more comfortable on Regular Route.
More important, though, lead climbing is simply harder than solo climbing. You’ve got all that heavy gear—wired nuts, cams, and carabiners—hanging off your harness. It tends to get in the way. You’re also dragging a rope behind you. It sometimes tugs at you, and it might even throw you off balance. Finally, you have to stop frequently to wedge a nut or cam into a crack and clip the rope to it, trying to maintain your position on the cliff with one hand while the other fiddles with the gear. To top things off, if you’re new to leading, you’re bound to have doubts about whether that protection will hold in a fall. I sure did.
I suspect the fears and doubts will subside as I gain experience, but I don’t imagine they ever go completely away, and that’s probably a good thing. Fear keeps you alert.
But why climb at all? Why take any risk? I pondered that question after taking an unroped fall on the Eagle Slide last summer. I wrote about the fall briefly in this story in the Adirondack Explorer. In the newsmagazine’s current issue, I describe the fall in more detail with my commentary. Click here to read it.
Once again commercials are doling out advice on what to get me for Mother’s Day. Well, not just me but any mother. Jewelry and flowers seem to have a stronghold of the market share of Mother’s Day ad dollars. If I were to dog-ear each magazine ad or keep the TV on during the commercials, clearly the hints would lead to some sort of diamond tiara coming my way. Though I have been bedazzling a few items with my daughter (because everything does look better with a bit of sparkle) I feel saddened by those commercials that only indicate that buying something expensive is the way to appreciate the one who labored through birth and probably wiped a few noses as well. Saranac Lake’s Pendragon Theatre offers a win-win situation for families. Mothers get to see the family show on Mother’s Day for free (so it’s a bit of a savings) and it is a wonderful way to spend a few enjoyable hours together.
On May 8th, Pendragon Theatre will open with the E.B. White classic story of Stuart Little adapted for the stage by Joseph Robinette. Personally I belief that seeing a family play isn’t just for people with kids. Sometimes in my hectic life I want to be reminded of magic and animals that talk and to be pulled along into a story that exercises my imagination. Stuart Little promises all of that.
Pendragon Theatre Managing Director and Co-Founder Bob Pettee says,” There will be no intermission during Stuart Little. It is a one act play. The basic story is of a couple who have an unusual son, a talking mouse. We follow the mouse on a series of adventures and meet a variety of characters along the way.”
“It is told in a story theatre where six actors play about 24-30 various characters,” says Pettee. “The actor playing Stuart Little will be altered throughout the season by two younger people (about 10 or 11) with stage experience. The play is done very simply with minimal costume and props.”
The 1:00 p.m. show is general seating only with the next performance happening on June 29. There will be a limited run of nine performances for this showing of the little mouse throughout the summer and into the fall. Admission is $10 for adults and seniors, $8 for those 6-15 and $5 for anyone 5 and under. For more information, please call the theatre at 518-891-1854.
“We are not doing our regular repertory theatre this season, that so many people have come to count on,” Pettee announces, “This season some of the shows will only be performed over a limited period of time so I urge people to not wait to the end.”
Pettee specifically mentions Sweeney Todd (opening July 13 with 12 performances) Mouse Trap (opening August 18 with nine performances) and Les Liaisons Dangereuses (opening July 27 with ten performances). Pettee wants to make sure audience members know to check the schedule and not rely on each performance traveling to the Lake Placid Center for the Arts.
I can not say what my family will do for me on Mother’s Day. I hope it has something to do with copious amounts of coffee and an activity we will all do together that includes a talking mouse.
With summer on the way, biking at the Whiteface Mountain Bike Park is about to begin. High Peaks Cyclery in Lake Placid stepped in to operate the park in 2005 after the Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) decided to eliminate the biking to focus on winter improvements, while Gore Mountain’s biking program was also discontinued.
“Downhill Mike” Scheur, a representative of the bike park says, “That’s when [High Peaks Cyclery] decided to step up with doing 100% of trail maintenance, take over shuttle operations and all work associated with running a successful bike park at Whiteface”. All ages and abilities can enjoy mountain biking, even though it is commonly considered a risky sport. Like skiing, the bike park has novice, intermediate, and advanced trails. The unique aspect of mountain biking is the terrain, however, which is often through woods and over rocks and streams, providing an entirely different experience from regular biking. Beginner mountain bikers should stay at the lower mountain, as the upper mountain trails are indeed some of the most advanced trails anywhere. A gondola transports advanced riders to the upper mountain. A shuttle is available for beginner and intermediate transport, and a lift pass for $35 per day provides unlimited transport via the gondola or shuttle bus. With a little bit of practice, beginners should be able to graduate from beginner trails, to intermediate, and finally to advanced. For new bikers, lessons are available for $35 an hour.
Lift service mountain biking became popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s, when ski resorts started adding mountain biking to their list of mountain-based activities during the summer. According to Scheur, the potential is enormous for mountain biking in Lake Placid: “At least 25 resorts within a few hours of Lake Placid run their lifts in the summer for bikes. Whistler actually profits more in the summer than the winter now, due to their bike park”.
There is more than just mountain biking available at the Whiteface Mountain Bike Park – the facilities also include a pump track. Pump tracks are oval shaped tracks with rolling bumps on the straight-a-ways and banked corners, which enables the rider to gain speed without pedaling. The track also teaches the rider efficiency skills which will increase their mountain biking prowess and provides a fun diversion from the mountain trails.
For those without equipment the park handles rentals, service, and sales at the base area. “We also have regular (cross country) bikes and kid’s bikes,” Scheur said. “It turns out many are afraid to ride Whiteface thinking it’s only for the very experienced. Then when they get here, they notice most others are just like them.”
Scheur has high expectations for this coming season. “We have seen an increase of over 350% since we took the bike park over,” he said. “Basically, you need bikers to run the bike park and skiers to run the ski center”.
The Park opens a week before June 17th, which is the date for the Whiteface/Wilmington Bike Fest.
The Adirondack Club and Resort (ACR) adjudicatory public hearing is finally underway. The ACR project was first introduced as a conceptual Adirondack Park Agency (APA) application in 2004. Seven years later, it is still massive, involving 719 dwelling units spread over 6,200 acres near Tupper Lake.
Hearing witnesses gave ample evidence last week that show APA’s staff decision to deem the ACR application complete in the fall of 2006 to have been premature. In reference to the applicant’s repeated failing to produce any kind of serious wildlife or natural resource studies, a key witness for APA, retired director of regulatory programs Mark Sengenberger, noted that APA can only ask for additional information and not receive it so many times. Wildlife habitat was a key piece of that missing information, Sengenberger said. As other witnesses revealed, also missing was any rigorous assessment of alternative designs of the development. The costs of not requiring comprehensive data before deeming such a complex and controversial application complete are considerable. Between the applicant, the APA and the hearing parties, millions of dollars have been spent over six years in pre-hearing phases of the ACR without arriving at any deep understanding of the site to be developed. There are also big gaps in understanding the reliability of infrastructure and financing data in the application. Countless person hours have been spent at APA struggling to get information out of this applicant. I suspect that several legitimate requests from citizens to send other Park projects to hearing were denied, in part, because APA is such a small agency and ACR has consumed too much of its human and economic resources since 2004.
Dr. Michael Klemens, a conservation biologist and witness for Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, stated last week at the hearing: “we are forced to spend time at this hearing debating the lack of biological data, which should have been compiled and assessed before deeming the application complete, while instead this hearing should be discussing the implications of a robust set of ecological information that actually informs how and where to site development.”
In characterizing the proposed layout of development on the ACR site, Dr. Klemens stated “this is classic sprawl on steroids.” The ACR spreads negative ecological impacts out across the landscape, he stated. He added that by compacting the design to be less fragmenting of the landscape, many objectives would be met, both economic and ecological. Less money would be spent simply reaching the site with infrastructure, for example, while the impact or zones of influence of development on sensitive areas would be smaller. His testimony revealed a well known process to successfully build housing in sensitive landscapes that involves developing a complete understanding of the project site first, mapping that information, and only then developing plans for housing which avoids the most sensitive areas and maintains the integrity of ecological processes.
This could have happened for ACR, but unfortunately this application does the very opposite, he noted. Only the APA can determine why they allowed this to happen, he stated. Asked whether or not there is sufficient biological and ecological information in the application for the APA to reach a determination of no undue adverse impact, Dr. Klemens stated “there is insufficient data to make such a determination.”
Asked whether the APA could merely place conditions on a defective application which purport to “mitigate” adverse impacts, Dr. Klemens said “a defective application should never be conditioned. It should simply be denied without prejudice, and the applicant given time to develop that information, and resubmit the application.”
Dr. Klemens is the Planning Board chairman for a town in Connecticut. In that capacity, he said he often imposes expectations on developers working within a complex, ecologically important site to identify and map sensitive resources prior to laying out development sites. “Understand the site first, and from that understanding develop plans for housing or other development.” In fact, he noted, in his experience fast-tracked applications are those that have developed good biological and natural resource data. That way, conflict is reduced, development occurs in the less sensitive places, and money is saved. The “train wrecks” result when a process does not allow for understanding natural systems in the first place, like the ACR.
In responding to cross examination, Dr. Klemens took time to explain his view that his testimony is not about whether or not development should or can take place on the ACR site. It is very likely that development is compatible with areas on the site, he said. The “real issue involved in this hearing is the amount, intensity and lay-out of that development. That’s the key.”
How can the APA use the ACR experience to improve its project review? One way is to mimic the way its sister agency, DEC, as well as many town and county planning boards utilize the State Environmental Quality Review (SEQR) Act. After determining that a project may have one or more significant environmental impacts, a step known as a positive declaration of impact, the lead agency in SEQR must require an environmenal impact statement (EIS) of the developer. Project scoping invites the public to comment on the proposed topics to be covered by the EIS. “The purpose of scoping is to focus the EIS on the most relevant issues and potential impacts, including means to avoid or minimize those impacts; the lead agency may thereby ensure that the draft EIS will be a concise, accurate and complete (emphasis mine) document adequate for public review” (from: www.dec.ny.gov).
Think of the APA application process as a version of SEQR, and the APA’s review as a kind of EIS. Before deeming an application complete, the agency could invite the public to help APA undertake project scoping in order to ensure that an application actually and thoroughly answers key questions, and provides the information required for a comprehensive review of impacts. If that process were used, there might be more meaningful constituent participation with APA and fewer “train wrecks” like ACR, where so much time is spent at an APA hearing debating the paucity and reliability of information and data needed by the commissioners to reach a sound, post-hearing decision. In fact, I remember several APA commissioners suggesting this very reform of their own project review of large projects in 2008, following their approval of the FrontStreet application in North Creek. I have yet to see positive results from their suggestions.
Photo: Dr. Michael Klemens points to a map of ACR during his testimony at the public hearing last week.
It is always difficult to predict when the ice will go out on a given body of water in the Adirondacks, however, it is easy to say when that waterway will be occupied by a loon, as this symbol of the northern wilderness always seems to arrive within hours of the ice disappearing.
The urge to return to its breeding territory is especially strong in male loons. Because of a recent population increase in this species, there can be intense competition for the remote sections of the large lakes and back country ponds that are highly attractive to this bird with the haunting voice. » Continue Reading.
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