Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Adirondack Council Seeks New Conservation Director

After five years as Director of Conservation for the Adirondack Council, John Davis will be leaving his post at the end of the year to commence a conservation project aimed at improving the wildlife habitat connections between the Atlantic, Appalachian and Adirondack landscapes.

Wildlife migration is gaining in importance as climate change alters the locations of suitable homes for many species of animals and plants.

Davis’s departure creates a job opening on the Program Team at the Adirondack Council, a leading environmental research, education and advocacy organization based in Elizabethtown. Founded in 1975, the Adirondack Council has fourteen full-time staff members. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Diane Chase: Adirondack Family Activities Take Your Child Outside Week


By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities
Take Your Child Outside Week (annually September 24-30) started four years ago when Liz Baird, Director of School Programming at the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, was inspired by Richard Louv’s book, “Last Child in the Woods.”

“This is a movement to inspire people to take a pledge to go outside for unstructured play,” says Baird. “One barrier we have discovered is that some parents do not want their children to get dirty or parents just don’t know what to do outside.”

“If this week inspires parents and children to go outside then that is fine. If they want to do it again and again, that is wonderful,” says Baird. “Children being able to spend time outdoors is a right just as much as having clean water and clean air. It is their right to explore nature.”

When Baird started the movement she felt she would be fortunate to have ten organizations partner with her. She now has close to 400 partners representing all fifty states and four foreign countries helping children enjoy a healthy outdoor lifestyle. In the Adirondack Park, The Wild Center, Pok-O-MacCready Outdoor Education Center, The Adirondack Museum and the SUNY –ESF’s Adirondack Ecological Center are part of this movement to connect children to nature.

So for those looking to get their children outside here are a few options to keep the costs to a minimum. If you are reluctant to go for a walk on your own, Smithsonian magazine is conducting their annual free museum day this September 25th.

The Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake and the 1932/1980 Winter Olympic Museum in Lake Placid are participating. Fill out the form with the Smithsonian and you receive a free pass for two for September 25. Though there are plenty of inside activities at the Adirondack Museum, there are also chances to explore around the grounds as well. If you are reluctant to climb a mountain, this may be a good place to start.

The Olympic Museum is, well, inside. So the outside portion of the program would have to be conducted elsewhere. After exploring Lake Placid’s Olympic heritage, take children to the nearby town beach and explore the shoreline for the food chain.

In my family outings one thing we are always on the lookout for is what other animals are eating, whether insect or bird. Let children take time to explore the small details like witnessing hardworking ants preparing for winter or dragonflies catching insects. If parents don’t want to join in take a moment for yourself to relax. You may not get another opportunity for awhile.

September 25th is also designated as Nature Rocks Day where parents are encouraged to get outside with their families and explore natural habitats.

According to Baird she hopes that we eventually won’t need a week to get kids outside, that is, it will become an everyday occurrence.

“Wouldn’t that be exciting if we no longer needed a week designated to get children outside,” exclaims Baird. “ That would mean this disconnect with nature will be obsolete.”

Photo used with permission from Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Time www.adkfamilytime.com


photo and content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 



Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Spiny Water Flea Confirmed in Sacandaga Lake

Spiny water fleas, an aquatic invasive species, have been found in Sacandaga Lake in the southern region of the Adirondack Park near Speculator, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced today. It was previously confirmed in the Great Sacandaga in 2008, Peck Lake in 2009 and Stewarts Bridge Reservoir earlier this year.

Native to Eurasia, the spiny water flea feeds on tiny crustaceans and other zooplankton that are foods for fish and other native aquatic organisms, putting them in direct competition for this important food source. The tail spines of the spiny water flea hook on fishing lines and foul fishing gear. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Norm Van Valkenburgh: Conservation Hero and Sleuth

I was watching a Sherlock Holmes mystery the other day titled The Second Stain. Holmes’ deductive reasoning solves the theft of a letter that, if placed into the wrong hands, would result in a diplomatic and military crisis. The bumbling Inspector LeStrade provides the critical clue when he asks Holmes to inspect a “mere trifle,” the blood-soaked carpet which lacked any corresponding stain on the floor immediately beneath. “There is nothing more important in solving crime than attention to mere trifles,” one can hear Holmes’aside to Watson.

So, I am thinking this weekend of a great fan of Sherlock Holmes, an author of mysteries in his own right, and one of the State’s most important conservationists and public servants, Norman J. Van Valkenburgh. Norm acquired for us all magnificent tracts, both large and smaller, of wilderness placed on the market in the Adirondacks and in his beloved Catskills during the 1960s, 70s and 80s. Just as important, Norm has written numerous histories about the Forest Preserve and how its tracts of land came into public ownership. In many cases, he was directly responsible. » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Phil Brown: Objections to Car-Camping

Earlier this year, the state Department of Environmental Conservation proposed reclassifying the main road in the Moose River Plains as an Intensive Use Area to permit roadside campsites to remain.

In doing so, DEC recognized that the proximity of many of the campsites to each other violated the rules governing primitive tent sites set forth in Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. Those rules require that primitive sites be at least a quarter-mile apart. Many of the sites in the Plains also have fireplaces and picnic tables, both of which are not allowed at primitive tent sites.

But the campsites in the Plains are just the tip of the iceberg. A new study [pdf] by the State College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF) has found that there are 508 roadside campsites on Forest Preserve lands throughout the Park.

Under DEC regulations, a primitive tent site must be at least 150 feet from roads, trails, and water bodies unless DEC has designated the site (with a yellow disk) as an official campsite. The study found that at least 149 of the roadside campsites on the Forest Preserve lack a DEC disk. Presumably, most of these are illegal.

There are other problems as well. Some sites are denuded from overuse. Some are situated close to the road, the water, or other tent sites. They often lack screening. And many have amenities such as fireplaces and picnic tables that are not allowed at primitive tent sites.

Jim Connolly, deputy director of the Adirondack Park Agency, said at last week’s APA meeting that the agency faces some hard choices regarding roadside sites.

Some argue that roadside sites should be brought into compliance with the primitive-site guidelines — a policy that would require closing or moving sites or taking away amenities. Others argue that the State Land Master Plan should be amended to recognize roadside camping as its own activity, with its own set of regultions.

Closing roadside campsites would be controversial. Chad Dawson, the main author of the ESF study, said roadside camping has evolved into an Adirondack tradition—a free, more rustic alternative to DEC campgrounds. Some families return to the same sites year after year.

“People love their roadside camping,” Dawson told the APA board. Yet most people probably don’t know about the opportunities for road-side camping. “It’s one of those well-kept secrets of the Adirondacks,” Dawson said. “You get initiated into it, but you can’t find a brochure about it.”

Dawson said the great majority of roadside sites—459 out of 508—are located in Wild Forest Areas. They include 163 in the Moose River Plains region. Other Wild Forest sites can be found, among other places, on Floodwood Road, on the Powley-Piseco Road, and along the shores of North Lake and Horseshoe Lake.

The other forty-nine sites are in Wilderness, Canoe, and Primitive Areas, where motorized access is generally prohibited. These include eight sites along Coreys Road in the High Peaks Wilderness and thirteen sites along West River Road in the Silver Lake Wilderness.

Connolly said roadside camping evolved from the 1920s, when DEC began establishing formal campgrounds. Some people question the legality of the campgrounds. How do you square the crowds and noise at Fish Creek with the forever-wild mandate of the state constitution? Legal objections aside, the campgrounds are recognized by the State Land Master Plan. Roadside campsites are not.

The car-camping tradition may be well-established, but it often appears to flout the law. Should it be more tightly regulated?

Photo: A well-used roadside campsite. From the ESF report.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Keeseville’s Thomas W. Symons, Part I

In 1847, Thomas Symons operated a book bindery in the village of Keeseville, offering ledgers, journals, receipt books, and similar products. Rebinding of materials was much in demand in those days, a service that helped expand his clientele. While Thomas, Sr., was successful in building a business, his son, Thomas, Jr., would play an important role in building a nation.

Thomas William Symons, Jr., was a Keeseville native, born there in 1849. When he was a few years old, the family moved to Flint, Michigan, where several members remained for the rest of their lives. His younger twin brothers, John and Samuel, operated Symons Brothers & Company, the second largest wholesale firm in the state. They became two of Michigan’s most prominent men in social, political, and business circles.

Thomas chose a different route, completing school and applying to the US Military Academy at West Point. After acceptance, he proved to be no ordinary student, graduating at the top of the Class of 1874. He was promoted to Second Lieutenant, Corps of Engineers, and served at Willett’s Point, about 50 miles south of West Point. After two years, he was ready for some field work, and his timing couldn’t have been better.

Symons was assigned to join the Wheeler Expedition under fellow West Point alum George Wheeler. The travels of explorers Lewis & Clark and Zeb Pike are better known, but the Wheeler Expedition is one of four that formed the nucleus of the US Geological Survey’s founding.

The engineers, Symons among them, not only explored, but recorded details of their findings. The land encompassing Arizona, California, Colorado, Nevada, and Utah was surveyed using triangulation, and more than 70 maps were created. Their studies on behalf of America’s government produced volumes on archaeology, astronomy, botany, geography, paleontology, and zoology. The possibilities of roads, railroads, agriculture, and settlement were addressed.

The experience Thomas gained during this work was invaluable. In 1878, he was promoted to First Lieutenant. In 1879, Symons was appointed Engineer Officer of the Department of the Columbia, and was promoted to captain in 1880. Similar to the work he had done under Wheeler, Thomas was now in charge of studying the area referred to as the “Inland Empire of the Pacific Northwest,” focusing on the upper Columbia River and its tributaries.

Much of the land was wilderness, and the job was not without danger. The American government was notorious for breaking treaties with Indians, and groups of surveyors in the region were driven off by angry natives who said they had never sold the rights to their land.

Symons was a surveyor, but he was also an officer of the military. Leading a company of the 21st Infantry from Portland, Oregon, in Washington, he faced off against 150 armed warriors. The situation was potentially disastrous, but Thomas listened to the concerns of the Indians, learning their histories and beliefs. Bloodshed was avoided as Symons skillfully negotiated a truce, allowing him to survey from the Snake River north to the Canadian border, unimpeded.

Much of the upper Columbia study was conducted in a small boat carrying Symons, two soldiers, and several Indians. His report provided details of the region’s geology and history, a review so thorough, it was published as a congressional document. Combined with his earlier surveys of Oregon, it made Symons the government’s number one man in the Northwest.

Whether or not his superiors agreed with him, Symons addressed the Indians’ issues in prominent magazine articles, sympathizing with their plight. Few knew the situation better than Thomas, and he freely expressed his opinions.

Besides exploring and mapping the Northwest, he chose locations for new army outposts, built roads, and carried out military duties. He also became a prominent citizen of Spokane, purchasing land from the Northern Pacific Railroad and erecting the Symons Building, a brick structure containing commercial outlets and housing units. (A third rendition of the Symons Block remains today an important historical building in downtown Spokane.)

Thomas’ proven abilities led to a number of important assignments. In 1882, he was placed on the Mississippi River Commission, taking charge of improvements on the waterway. In 1883, the Secretary of State asked Symons to lead the US side of the joint boundary commission redefining the border with Mexico. Surveying, checking and replacing border markers, and other work was conducted while averaging 30 miles per day on rough ground in intense heat. For his efforts, Thomas received formal thanks from the State Department.

He was then sent to Washington, D.C., where he worked for six years on city projects, principally the water supply, sewage system, and pavements. He also developed complete plans for a memorial bridge (honoring Lincoln and Grant) connecting Washington to Arlington, Virginia. (A modified version was built many years later.)

Symons’ next assignment took him back to familiar territory, the Northwest. Based in Portland, he was given charge of developing river and harbor facilities in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. He did primary engineering work on canals, including one in Seattle that remains a principal feature of the city, and planned the tideland areas for Ballard, Seattle, and Tacoma harbors. Seattle’s present railroad lines and manufacturing district were included in planning for the famed harbor facilities.

On the Pacific coast, Thomas’ work on the world-renowned jetty works at the mouth of the Columbia River was featured in Scientific American magazine. He also provided the War Department with surveys and estimates for harbor construction at Everett, Washington.

Next week: Even bigger and better things, including historic work in New York State.

Photo Top: Thomas Williams Symons, engineer.

Photo Bottom: Modern version of the Symons Block in Spokane, Washington.

Lawrence Gooley has authored eight books and several articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004 and have recently begun to expand their services and publishing work. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Monday, September 20, 2010

Paul Smiths VIC To Close October 10th

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) has announced that The Paul Smiths Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) will end public programs during what the agency is calling “a transitional period pursuant to state budget mandates.”

The VIC will close to the public on October 10, 2010. For the time being, APA staff will continue to work at the main building but will no longer provide public interpretive programming or provide general information to visitors.

The outside trail system will remain open to the general public seven days a week. Rest room accommodations will be available Monday-Friday.

“During the transitional period, the Adirondack Park Agency will continue to explore alternatives for the potential reuse of the facility,” APA spokesman Keith McKeever said. The VIC will no longer be funded by the state after December 31, 2010.

In July, officials from the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) transfered ownership of the state-owned buildings and equipment at the Newcomb VIC to the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF). ESF will manage future Newcomb VIC programs, but current employees of the VIC fear layoff at the end of the year.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Franklin Co. Historical Hosts Antique Appraisal Event

Curious what your great-grand-mother’s shawl or old family Bible is worth? The Franklin County Historical and Museum Society will be holding an Antiques Appraisal fund-raising event on September 22, 2010, from 4:00-7:00pm at the Knights of Columbus Hall at 41 Elm St., Malone. Saranac Lake resident Ted Comstock, former curator at the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, will be providing verbal appraisals of antiques for the community. Members of the public are encouraged to bring objects from their attics and display cases to the K of C to obtain an independent appraisal of the value of their family heirlooms.

Unlike for-profit ventures which seek to purchase valuables for resale, this appraisal event is independent and for the benefit of the community. Attendees are encouraged to stay to hear Ted Comstock’s fascinating explanations of the objects and their history as it relates to the area. Ted graciously donated his time and expertise in September 2009 for a similar event, which drew a capacity crowd.

The cost to have your antiques appraised is $5 per object or 3 for $12 (limit 3 objects, please). All proceeds go to support the work of the Society. Please call the museum at: 518-483-2750 for more details or for directions to the Knights of Columbus building.

Please omit coins, stamps and jewelry.

The House of History museum is housed in an 1864 Italianate style building, most recently the home of the F. Roy and Elizabeth Crooks Kirk family. A museum since 1973, the House of History is home to the headquarters of the Franklin County Historical & Museum Society and its historic collections pertaining to the history of Franklin County. The recently renovated carriage house behind the museum is the beautiful Schryer Center for Historical & Genealogical Research, which opened in 2006. The Schryer Center contains archival materials and a library of family history information and is open to the public. FCHMS is supported by its members and donors and the generous support of Franklin County.

The House of History is open for tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1-4pm through December 31, 2010; admission is $5/adults, $3/seniors, $2/children, and free for members. The Schryer Center for Historical & Genealogical Reseach is open for research Tuesday-Friday from 1-4pm through October 8, 2010 and Wednesday-Friday from 1-4pm October 13-May 1, weather permitting. The fee to use the research library is $10/day and free to members.

Information about Franklin County History, the collections of the museum and links to interesting historical information can be found at the Historical Society’s website.

Contact the Historical Society with questions at 518-483-2750 or via e-mail at [email protected]


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Andean Shaman to Speak Locally

An Andean shaman who has addressed audiences on multiple continents will appear at Paul Smith’s College on Thursday, September 23th. Don Alverto Taxo will discuss a 500-year-old prophecy in which the eagle – the industrialized north – and the condor – the people of South America – will fly in harmony. That time, he urges, is now.

Taxo, a native of Ecuador who has been honored as a master wisdom teacher, or iachak, by the Shamanic Council of South America, has been speaking for 15 years on topics as diverse as globalization and the application of ancient Andean practices to Western medicine. In addition to his lectures at schools, universities, conferences and elsewhere, he has published three English-language books.

He says he shares ancient wisdom practices with people who seek happiness, balance and fulfillment to feel the sacredness of each moment and every place.

Taxo’s talk, “The Wisdom of the Condor,” will be held at 7 p.m. in the Adirondack Room of the Joan Weill Adirondack Library. It is free and open to the public.

His appearance has been coordinated by TRIO-Student Support Services; the School of Science, Liberal Arts, and Business; and the Office of Student Activities.


Sunday, September 19, 2010

ANCA Meeting to Consider Arts and Culture

Visionary small business owners, community leaders, and regional arts and cultural non-profits will share how their work is building communities and local economies at the Adirondack North Country Association’s 55th annual meeting Sept. 23, 2010, at Great Camp Sagamore.

Locally as well as nationally, the arts mean business. The Adirondack North Country’s arts and culture nonprofits make up a $21 million industry – one that supports 506 full-time equivalent jobs and generates $2.4 million in local and state government revenue, according to a survey done by Americans for the Arts. Nonprofit arts and culture organizations leverage a remarkable $8.1 million in additional spending by arts and culture audiences — spending that pumps vital revenue into local restaurants, hotels, retail stores, and other businesses in the region.

And this does not include the impact of for-profit craft and art businesses. In the 14-county Adirondack North Country region, the for-profit small business crafts industry generates an estimated additional $8 million in revenues every year, according to ANCA’s Artisan Program Coordinator Nadia Korths.

The panelists represent a variety of interests and come from all corners of the region: Mary Ann Evans, owner, Mare’s Wares, Ogdensburg; Lynn Mishalanie, creator of Utica Monday Nite; Alice Recore, president and CEO of Mountain Lake PBS, Plattsburgh Jesse Cottrell, Associate Director of Salem Art Works, and others will speak to making the arts an economic powerhouse.

ANCA’s upcoming book, “Experiencing Traditions, Foods and Cultures in the 14-County Adirondack North Country” will be highlighted as well. In conjunction with this exciting new project, ANCA asks participants to post photos, videos, statistics, and anecdotal stories describing how your business or organization harnesses the economic engine of culture, arts or history in your community. E-mail content to [email protected]

The daylong meeting costs $22 to attend, which includes lunch and stunning scenic views in a historic retreat, designed and constructed by William West Durant in 1897. For more information about ANCA and to register for the meeting at Great Camp Sagamore, visit ANCA’s website at www.adirondack.org.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

A New Book on Lake Pleasant and Speculator

A new book, Lake Pleasant and Speculator in the Adirondacks, by local authors Beverly Hoffman and Annie Weaver has been released by Arcadia Publishing. The numerous lakes and the forests of the southern Adirondacks provided an abundance of game, fish, and lumber for early settlers to the Lake Pleasant / Speculator area in the 1800s. Sportsmen from the city first came to Lake Pleasant and Speculator for invigorating camping trips and eventually brought the whole family to enjoy the wilderness. Two- and three-story hotels were built to accommodate the vacationing families. Individual cottages and rustic camps were built around Lake Pleasant, Sacandaga Lake, and Echo Lake, followed by children’s and church camps and state campgrounds, which swelled the seasonal population. Boxing and winter sports helped to make Speculator and Lake Pleasant a tourist haven.

Anne A. Weaver has been the Town of Lake Pleasant historian since 2005. She writes a weekly column, “Way Things Were,” for the Hamilton County Express. Beverly Hoffman has been the Village of Speculator historian since 2002. She is a descendant of many early area settlers and has lived in Speculator all of her life. Both authors helped to found the Historical Society of Lake Pleasant and Speculator, which provides artifacts for the town hall’s historical museum.

Over 200 vintage photographs are included in this most recent addition to the publishers pictorial history series of the Adirondack region. Other titles include Piseco Lake and Arietta, Indian Lake, Raquette Lake, Adirondack Hotels and Inns, Along the Adirondack Trail and more.

The book is available at the Historical Society of Lake Pleasant and Speculator, area bookstores and online retailers.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

The Great Adirondack Quilt Show

The Second Annual Great Adirondack Quilt Show will be held at the Adirondack Museum, Blue Mountain Lake, New York on Saturday, September 25, 2010. Nearly fifty contemporary quilts will be displayed in the museum’s Roads and Rails building from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. The show is part of the Adirondack Fabric and Fiber Arts Festival and is included in the price of general museum admission.

All of the quilts and wall hangings in the show were made after 1970; the natural beauty of the Adirondack region has inspired the design of each. This is truly an Adirondack quilt show. Communities from Piseco to Dickinson Center, Diamond Point to Watertown, N.Y., and many towns in between are represented.

The show will include quilts made from published designs (three from one book alone), original compositions, those that are quilted by hand and others by machine, a few tied comforters, and wall hangings constructed using modern layered fabric techniques.

There are a profusion of appliquéd animals – bear and moose predominating! Visitors should look for the “red work” embroidered piece, the round quilt, and the wall hanging made from forty-two rhomboid-shaped “mini” quilts.

Some of the makers featured are truly “quilt artists” with resumes listing the prestigious shows that they have done, and others are Grandmas who have lovingly fashioned special quilts for their grandchildren.

In addition, there will be a mini-exhibit of the textile production of five generations of the Flachbarth family of Chestertown, N.Y. From an 1877 sampler made in Czechoslovakia by Julia Michler Flachbarth to a contemporary quilt representing Yankee Stadium, the exhibit is a fascinating tour of textile history as interpreted by a single family.

Museum curator Hallie E. Bond has organized the Great Adirondack Quilt Show. Bond also curated the exhibit “Common Threads: 150 Years of Adirondack Quilts and Comforters” which will be on display at the Adirondack Museum through October 2011.

The Adirondack Museum tells stories of the people – past and present — who have lived, worked, and played in the unique place that is the Adirondack Park. History is in our nature. The museum is supported in part by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a State Agency. For information about all that the museum has to offer, call (518) 352-7311, or visit www.adirondackmuseum.org.

Photo: “Late Summer” by Joanna Monroe is one of the entries in the 2010 Great Adirondack Quilt Show.


Saturday, September 18, 2010

Adirondack Development: A Naturalist’s View

You know, we aren’t half lucky, those of us who live in the Adirondacks. I drove home this weekend to visit my folks, and even though they don’t live that far away, and I do go home a few times each year, I still find it stunning to see all the development that has taken place during my lifetime, especially in the last ten years. Fields that were pastures, land that was once forested, all now converted to housing developments, strip malls, car dealerships, storage units.

I read an article recently about the houses that are going up on the mountainsides up around Keene and Keene Valley, and how the creation of these homes, with their driveways and parking areas, altered the watershed(s) enough that streams at the base of the mountain(s) are no longer filling.

This in turn has a direct impact on the invertebrate life that lives in those streams, invertebrates that not only feed the next level in the food chain (fish, amphibians, larger invertebrates), but invertebrates that also clean the water by filtering out particulate matter. The impacts of a single house go beyond its immediate footprint on that mountainside.

When a house/airport/mall/road, is built, the patch of land it covers is “removed” from the surrounding landscape. Anyone who gardens knows that the vitality of the soil is the key to a good garden. It is also the key to a healthy ecosystem. When we cover the ground with impermeable surfaces, it cannot be good for the life that was once there. If water can no longer penetrate that patch of ground, then the life that once lived there either dies or moves away.

At the Newcomb VIC we have a recorded dramatization of the congressional meeting at which the 14th Amendment, the Forever Wild Clause, was created. It plays in the background in one of the exhibits, and staff sitting at the front desk can hear those parts in which the actors are making loud, emphatic points. Certain phrases stick out, like the gentleman describing how logging has led to erosion, where the water, now unimpeded by vegetation, “sweeps down the mountain, carrying away the soil…ruining our rivers and destroying our commerce!” For those who don’t know, one of the driving forces for creating the Adirondacks Park, and the enclosed Forest Preserve, was to protect it as a watershed. Okay, it was to protect the water source for the folks downstate, but still, the point is that even then they knew about the importance of the watershed.

In my line of work I often hear people grouse about the restrictions that are put on development within the Blue Line. But one only needs to drive beyond this invisible boundary to see just why such restrictions are important. Every year more and more open space is converted to developed land. New homes are built faster than people can occupy them. Roads are built, shunting ever more rainwater and snowmelt (with their attendant pollutants) into streams at accelerated rates.

I know that I lean towards the green side of philosophy, but I like to think it is because I try to look at the bigger picture and keep an eye towards the future. We are but one species living on this planet, and as far as we know, it is the only habitable planet in the neighborhood. How selfish it is of us in the here and now to create/destroy things for our own wants and desires without taking into consideration the impact it will have on those whose time has not yet come. Just because we are of “greater intelligence” than those invertebrates filtering the streams, ponds and rivers, does that make us more important? Truthfully, I think those invertebrates are contributing a whole lot more to the betterment of the planet than we are.

But I know I am not above my fellow humans, for I also drive a car (although I drive the most energy efficient vehicle I can), I live in a development (although I have filled my yard with native plantings, and I do not treat my land with chemicals so I can have the perfect lawn), and I own way too much “stuff.” I do try, however, to make decisions that have the least impact possible on the land around me. Would I like a bigger house? Yes, but I don’t need a bigger house. And I think that is what it often comes down to: need vs. want. Just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should.

I know that living in the Adirondack Park can be a hassle. It is often a long drive to the grocery store, or to get new pipes for the ruptured pipe under the kitchen sink. And it can be well over an hour to the nearest hospital in an emergency (I used to be an EMT, and believe me, an hour plus in the back of an ambulance can seem like a lifetime). With unemployment in my future, finding a replacement job will be well nigh impossible. But, despite these drawbacks, I know that the Adirondack Park is a very special place and not one I would change to accommodate a few whims. I moved here knowing the limitations. If I wanted conveniences, I would live somewhere else.

As a naturalist, I hope that the integrity of the Park and the Forest Preserve, lasts in perpetuity. An intact ecosystem is important, and even though we see ourselves as pretty advanced here at the beginning of the 21st century, I’d be willing to bet that in a couple hundred years (or less) we will have discovered even more about how important it is. With all our advanced knowledge, we do not hold all the answers yet. By keeping this bit northern forest intact, we may find that we’ve done the planet a greater service than we ever could have dreamed.


Friday, September 17, 2010

Goodnight Desdemona, Good Morning Juliet At Depot Theatre

Adirondack Almanack is pleased to offer this guest post by Fred Balzac of Jay, NY:

Until about midway through the play, William Shakespeare’s famous tragedy, Romeo and Juliet, has all the trappings of a comedy: two feuding families; two young lovers who meet and marry in secret; their hot-blooded, sword-wielding cousins and buffoonish elders whose rivalry is sure to be o’erthrown by the fecund love between two representatives of the next generation of fair Verona.

But then wily old Will throws a curve into the proceedings: during a swordfight between the best duelists among the Montagues and Capulets, the lovestruck Romeo intervenes, enabling Tybalt to fatally wound Romeo’s sharp-tongued cousin, Mercutio, who musters enough breath to utter the curse, “A plague on both your houses,” before succumbing. Dazed and confused, Romeo picks up his cousin’s sword and, before he realizes what he is doing, manages to run it through his new in-law Tybalt, killing him. » Continue Reading.


Friday, September 17, 2010

This Week’s Adirondack Web Highlights

On Friday afternoons Adirondack Almanack compiles for our readers a collection of the week’s top weblinks. You can find all our weekly web round-ups here.

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