Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Adirondack Philosophy: Our Divided Interests

The 18th century Scottish philosopher David Hume may seem like an unlikely lens through which to interrogate our Adirondack situation, except that all of our contemporary discord over public versus private land ownership and conflict over the need to manage natural resources in order to ensure human and other-than-human flourishing for generations to come, all sounds vaguely familiar.

Hume makes an impassioned argument for the commons when he writes of a world where resources “would be used freely, without regard to property; but cautiously too” after all he asks “why raise land-marks between my neighbor’s field and mine, when my heart has made no division between our interests” (Hume, 1777). » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Celebrating Earth Day 2011

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities
Earth Day is every day, I get that and I do hope I live that way. That doesn’t mean that I don’t need a few nudges. Having an Earth Day celebration is like giving your own mother a card for your birthday and letting her know that you really appreciate the 22 hours of labor she went through. (So far my children only hear white noise when I mention that.)

So here are a few ideas to help make Mother Nature’s job just a bit easier.

For anyone in Essex County that wishes to “dump the pump” on Earth Day, the Essex County Transportation Bureau is offering free bus rides for everyone on April 22nd.

On April 23rd, Judy’s Computer Support will be at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise‘s parking lot from 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. as part of a Community Computer Recycling Day to collect used computers, printers, laptops, monitors, faxes and computer cords.

You can spend a few hours before going on a hike and clean up a trailhead parking lot. Sadly, I am always surprised by the amount of garbage we pick up. Remember to bring gloves and a bag because some of the stuff we’ve found is just plain nasty. This activity has made such an impact on my children that they are more mindful of their own wrappers. It has even sometimes altered their purchasing decisions when they now recognize excess packaging.

Last year we made a B’ Earth Day Cake for my daughter but there is no reason why Mother Nature can’t share in the calories plus it’s an exercise in geography. It was refreshing to hear my son say ”I think we need to move South America a bit more to the right.”

In Saranac Lake, The Adirondack Green Circle continues to sponsor their Wake-Up! Film Fest with a showing of Blue Gold tonight (April 19th) at Upstairs at the Waterhole on Main Street with the next film offering being the comedic documentary How to Boil A Frog on May 3rd (same time, same location). The other dates are set but films are being decided for May 17 and 31st. Please call 518-891-7230 for more information.

Recycling electronics, computers and your grandmother’s TV (that wouldn’t sell on eBay even though you listed it as “antique”) can now be taken away for free. On May 2nd from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m., Lake George residents and small businesses can recycle their old, used or broken electronics for free at The Sagamore Resort in Bolton Landing.

On May 3rd Cornell Cooperative Extension in Hudson Falls will offer a free lecture on ways to reduce energy bills through no-cost/low-cost actions.

A wonderful inside activity, while waiting for the last of the Adirondack snow to melt, is planting seeds. Nothing connects children more to the earth than seeing the miracle of a tiny seed growing into something they can eat. Remember that some flowers are edible, too. It doesn’t always have to be about the vegetables.

Finally, the weekend of April 29 to May 1 is the “Build a Greener Adirondacks” Expo at the Wild Center with training workshops for everyone from contractors to home owners. The Wild Center will then reopen to the public on May 1st with GreenFest, a day packed with family activities, animal encounters and green crafts for kids.

I am sure I’ve missed a few and will gladly amend this post to make sure all favorite Earth Day options are listed.

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, April 19, 2011

‘Owner’s Manual’ for Landowners Available Free

When you buy a car or a refrigerator, you receive an owner’s manual. But when you buy a piece of land, you’re on your own. Until now, that is. A new owner’s manual is now available for New York landowners, and it’s free.

Cornell Cooperative Extension is working with the publishers of Northern Woodlands magazine to distribute this new publication that will provide New York landowners with essential information for taking care of their land and getting the most out of it. The guide, called The Place You Call Home: A Guide to Caring for Your Land in New York, is being distributed free of charge to people who own 10 or more acres in New York. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wetlands: Vernal Pools And Their Inhabitants

What follows is a guest essay from Stacy McNulty Associate Director and Research Associate at SUNY ESF’s Adirondack Ecological Center in Newcomb. Following last week’s story on the destruction of wetlands by ATVs at the 2011 SNIRT rally, the Almanack asked Stacy to provide some background on vernal pools, small intermittent wetlands that are important sources of Adirondack biodiversity.

On a proverbially dark and stormy night in mid-April I climb the hill, flashlight sweeping the ground for obstacles. The first warm, spring rain has been falling and snow piles lie here and there. Faintly I hear a quacking sound up ahead, signaling my target – but what I seek is not a duck, but a frog. Scores of wood frogs swim and call from the pool, their eyes shining in the beam of my light. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Books: Best Easy Day Hikes

Saranac Lake native Lisa Densmore has just published her second Adirondack guidebook within the past year: Best Easy Day Hikes: Adirondacks, a selection of twenty-two hikes, most of them under four miles.

Densmore chose the hikes from her longer book, Adirondack Hiking, reviewed here . The descriptions have been condensed and the photos dispensed with. As a result, the new book is slimmer (126 pages), more compact (4¼ by 7 inches), and less expensive ($9.95). It fits easily into a backpack.

All of these hikes are worth doing. People may differ on how easy they are, as all of them involve climbing to a summit or lookout. Perhaps Best Short Climbs would have been a more accurate title.

Half of the hikes are less than three miles. The easiest is probably Bald Mountain outside Old Forge: a two-mile round trip with only 353 feet of ascent. Only four hikes are longer than five miles. The hardest is Noonmark Mountain in Keene: 6.3 miles round trip with 2,100 feet of ascent.

At the top of each chapter, Densmore lists the following facts about the hike: total distance, type of hike (“out and back” or loop), highest point, vertical gain, hiking time, and canine compatibility. Each chapter also includes a map, driving directions (with GPS coordinates), and a list of waypoints along the hike, such as trail junctions, with their distances from the trailhead.

Densmore is a good writer who packs a lot of trail details into a small space (“the canopy opens briefly as you wind through a small clearing of ferns”), giving hikers a good sense of what to expect. She also identifies trees and wildflowers that grow alongside the trails and weaves in historical tidbits when appropriate.

The hikes are spread throughout the Adirondacks, though there is a heavier concentration in the High Peaks region. Ten of the trails lead to fire towers.

If you’re looking for an introduction to the Adirondacks, Best Easy Day Hikes is a good choice at a low price. Eventually, you may want to buy a more comprehensive guidebook, such as Densmore’s earlier book (both were published by Falcon Guides) or one of the others on the market.

Click here to read about a hike up Loon Lake Mountain that I took with Lisa while she was working on her first Adirondack guidebook.

NOTE: This review will appear in the May/June issue of the Adirondack Explorer, which we are about to send to the printer. The magazine also will include articles about the financing of the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort, the continued decline of bats, the local-food scene, a family camping trip on Forked Lake, and the death of Jim Goodwin, among other subjects. Our centerspread is a gallery of wildflowers that paddlers are apt to see on Adirondack streams and ponds.

Phil Brown is the editor of the Adirondack Explorer.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Commentary: Oversight Needed for Conservation Easements

Conservation easements are real property arrangements designed for the insider. Specialists predominate before and after an easement is consummated in private, including the negotiators to the terms of the easement (the seller, donor, buyer, or grantor and grantee and their lawyers), the appraiser of the easement’s value, and an ecological specialist who conducts baseline surveys of the land in question. There is rarely, if ever, a public meeting to discuss the details of the easement. The public may learn about easements through after the fact press releases, but their specific provisions and public benefits may be unclear for years. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Local History: Liberian Pioneer Jehudi Ashmun

Thursday, April 21, marks the birthday of one of the most famous men you never heard of, and surely the least known of all North Country figures who once graced the world stage. It is also appropriate to recall his story at this time for two other reasons. It has ties to slavery and the Civil War during this, the year marking the 150th anniversary of America’s darkest period. And, in relation to current world news, it involves fighting for change in Africa.

If you’re well familiar with the work of Jehudi Ashmun, you’re in a very small minority. Even in his hometown, little has been done to mark his achievements other than a single roadside historical marker. And yet, if you look, you’ll find him in dozens of encyclopedias and reference books as an important part of African and Liberian history. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 17, 2011

DEC Extends Uncertified Wood Boiler Sales

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced the adoption of an emergency rule pertaining to the sales of outdoor wood boilers in New York. The emergency rule extends the current regulation’s sell-through date by 90 days, allowing a distributor to sell through July 14, 2011 any non-certified outdoor wood boiler models that were in the distributor’s stock as of April 14, 2011. Other than units already in stock, distributors may no longer sell any outdoor wood boilers that are not certified by DEC as meeting the emission standards set forth in the state regulation for outdoor wood boilers (Part 247).

The state outdoor wood boiler regulation was adopted on December 29, 2010 and became effective on January 28, 2011. Portions of the current regulation including stack height, setback, certification, and nuisance related guidelines remain in effect as of April 15, 2011 and include:

1. Minimum stack height of 18 feet above ground level.

2. Setback requirements:

100 feet or more to the nearest property boundary line for outdoor wood boilers with maximum thermal output ratings less than or equal to 250,000 Btu/hour.

200 feet or more to the nearest property boundary line, 300 feet or more to the nearest property boundary line of a residentially-zoned property and 1000 feet or more from a school for outdoor wood boilers with maximum thermal output ratings greater than 250,000 Btu/hour.

Setbacks may be based on distances to residences not served by an outdoor wood boiler if the boiler is located on contiguous agricultural lands larger than five acres.

Customers must make sure their setback is based upon the maximum thermal output of their outdoor wood boiler and should consider contacting the manufacturer directly for this information.

3. Distributors must provide potential customers with a copy of the regulation (Part 247) and a Notice to Buyers form. A template for the Notice to Buyers is available on the DEC website [pdf].

4. The opacity and nuisance provisions set forth in the current rule apply to all outdoor wood boilers. Potential buyers must be aware that even if the requirements of the regulation are met, there may be conditions or locations in which the use of a new outdoor wood boiler unreasonably interferes with another person’s use or enjoyment of property or even damages human health. If such a situation occurs, the owner or lessee of the new outdoor wood boiler causing the situation may be subject to sanctions that can include a requirement to remove the device at their own expense as well as any other penalty allowed by law.

For more information on the regulation and details on purchasing an outdoor wood boiler in New York State, visit the DEC website. For more details on the extension and emergency rule, visit http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/73788.html.

Photo: Air pollution caused by an Outdoor Wood Boiler (DEC Photo).


Sunday, April 17, 2011

Taste of Home Cooking School in Old Forge

The Taste of Home Cooking School show, supported by the Arts Center/Old Forge, will be presented live at the North Street Recreation Center in Old Forge, NY on Saturday, May 14; doors open at noon, show begins at 3pm.

General Admission Tickets are $15 and may be purchased in person from the Arts Center/Old Forge and DiOrio’s Supermarket and online at www.ArtsCenterOldForge.org. New this year,
VIP Packages are available for $45. Contact the Arts Center/Old Forge for more details. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Wood Products Mass Customization Workshops

Some of the nation’s top experts on Mass Customization for the wood products industry are coming to northern New England and New York to share their knowledge with owners and managers of the region’s wood manufacturing businesses in a series of one-day workshops.

Mass customization is a promising business model that uses advances in manufacturing and information technology to produce made-to-order items that fit a customer’s unique preferences, but which are manufactured with low cost and short lead times. The approach enhances the economic competitiveness of companies by helping them better serve their existing customer base, serve new market niches and protect against overseas competition.

The Regional Wood Products Consortium—an initiative of the wood products manufacturing industry in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, and northern New York—will conduct specialized one-day innovation workshops on Mass Customization for the Wood Products Industry in late April and early May.

The Mass Customization Workshop is geared to leaders of small- and medium-sized wood products companies and will be repeated in five locations throughout the four-state region on the following dates:

April 26, 2011 – Augusta, ME
April 27, 2011 – Concord, NH
April 28, 2011 – Randolph Center, VT
May 10, 2011 – Utica, NY
May 11, 2011 – Glens Falls, NY

Each workshop will feature presentations by experts on the subject of mass customization as well as a local manufacturer who will share their personal experiences of using mass customization, overcoming the challenges and making it a key part of their business strategy.

Featured presenters include Dr. Urs Buehlmann of the Virginia Tech Department of Wood Science and Forest Products; Dr. Torsten Lihra of FP Innovations, Canada’s wood products research institute, and Russ Kahn of 20-20 Technologies.

The New York workshops will feature Lisa Weber, CEO of Timeless Frames, Timeless Décor & Timeless Expressions—the largest, single-site custom picture framing facility in the country.

Any wood products company in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont or northern New York is eligible to participate in any of the workshop sites at a special subsidized registration fee of only $25 per person. Full workshop details and online registration are available at www.foresteconomy.org.

All workshops are co-sponsored by the Wood Products Manufacturers Association (WPMA), Maine Wood Products Association (MWPA), New Hampshire Timberland Owners Association (NHTOA), Vermont Wood Manufacturers Association (VWMA), and Empire State Forest Products Association (ESFPA).

The workshops on Mass Customization are the fourth in an initial series of innovation workshop topics that the Regional Wood Products Consortium is conducting for wood product companies in the region. More than 90 companies have attended the previous workshops, including many that attended more than one topic. The final workshop in this initial series will be held in the fall of 2011 on “Enhancing Economic Competitiveness through Going Green.”

The Regional Wood Products Consortium is a collaboration between the region’s wood products manufacturing industry and Sustainable Forest Futures. Funding support for the Consortium is provided by the Neal and Louise Tillotson Fund of the New Hampshire Charitable Foundation, the U.S. Endowment for Forestry and Communities, the Northeast Utilities Foundation, and the Wood Education and Resource Center, Northeastern Area State & Private Forestry, Forest Service, U.S. Department of Agriculture.

More information about the Regional Wood Products Consortium and the Mass Customization Workshops can be found at www.foresteconomy.org or by contacting Collin Miller: 603-229-0679, ext. 110; or [email protected]


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Adirondack Wild ‘Wings’ to Host NYC Event

The Wild Center will hold the Wings Spring Fling at Affirmation Arts in New York City on Thursday, April 28th from 6:30 pm until 9:30 pm. Wings launched last spring, bringing together the next generation of Adirondackers (21-45 years old) who want to share their passion for the natural world of the Adirondacks, while supporting the important educational and environmental work of The Wild Center.

The event will include an open bar with wine, beer and signature ‘The Wild Thing’ vodka drink, catered hors d’oeuvres and dessert. There will also be music performed by Frankenpine, a Brooklyn-based string band with roots reaching from the subway platforms of the city up the Hudson Valley to the mountains of the Adirondacks.

The banjo and fiddle in Frankenpine give it a touch of bluegrass, but the band’s original music draws on a wide range of influences—everything from blues to gypsy jazz to rock to old-time. Frankenpine has been receiving strong acclaim for its recent CD release, The Crooked Mountain. Like the Wings Spring Fling, Frankenpine (with members Ned Rauch and Colin DeHond, former Saranac Lakers) is a perfect blend of New York City and the Adirondacks.

The event is free for Wings members and there is a $30 guest contribution to Wings for non-members. Sponsors are Affirmation Arts, Frankenpine, Lake Placid Pub and Brewery, Lake Placid Spirits and Photography by Jordan Barnes. For more information and to RSVP for the Wings Spring Fling, please visit www.wildcenter.org/wings.


Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cracking Noah John Rondeau’s Code

On Saturday of Easter weekend, April 23, Dave Greene of Johnsburg and Syracuse will present a power point program in North Creek about how he broke the secret code of Noah John Rondeau (1883 to 1967), the Adirondack hermit who lived ten miles back in the wilderness for 30 years. Rondeau was sure no one would ever decipher his journals, which was written in a code simple enough for him to write in every day but which had some diabolical variations.

Like many hermits, Rondeau was very sociable and was well-loved by many mountain hikers and sportsmen who were glad to carry in food and other supplies for him in exchange for colorful stories and scratchy fiddling. They tried to avoid having to partake of his “everlasting stew”, however. Game wardens were definitely not welcome visitors.

At the age of 22, when Greene, just out of college, was living pretty much as a hermit himself at the foot of Crane Mt. in his family’s primitive cabin, he had time to focus on the puzzling “hen scratchings”. After just 22 hours of work, he had the gist of the code, though some problems and meanings of words remained mysterious. For a good description of Rondeau, the code and Greene’s work, see the February issue of the DEC Conservationist magazine, though the time frame given for breaking the code is not accurate.

The program, in which Greene will explain how he deciphered the code and also teach the audience how to do it , will be held at 7 p.m. in Tannery Pond Community Center, opposite the town hall/library on Main Street, North Creek. Donations will be accepted for the support of the Adirondack Lake Assessment Program (ALAP), a volunteer water monitoring project of Protect the Adirondacks, in partnership with the Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) of Paul Smiths College.

Photo courtesy Wikipedia.


Friday, April 15, 2011

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.

Subscribe! More than 5,200 people get Adirondack Almanack each day via RSS, E-Mail, or Twitter or Facebook updates. It’s a convenient way to get the latest news and information about the Adirondacks.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Review Set For Lake George Mechanical Dredging

The environmental impacts of dredging the deltas that develop at the mouths of Lake George’s tributaries will receive a second look from conservation agencies and advocacy groups.

New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation has agreed to conduct the new review, which will include a study of methods to be used to dredge deltas around the lake, including those at the outlets of Hague, Finkle and Indian Brooks.

The review will constitute an update of the Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement for the “Lake George Delta Sediment Management/ Shoreline Restoration Project,” approved by the Lake George Park Commission in 2002.

The Lake George Association has formally requested the new review, said Walt Lender, the LGA’s executive director.

“We were very involved in drafting the original Environmental Impact Statement, and we felt it was necessary to supplement the original by investigating new methods of dredging so they’ll be fully vetted,” said Lender.

The review should be completed by autumn, 2011, said Lender.

The decision to conduct a new review apparently resolves a deadlock over whether to dredge a delta at the mouth of Finkle Brook, in Bolton Landing.

The proposed method of dredging the delta, called mechanical dredging, was not one authorized when the original Environmental Impact Statement was approved, the Lake George Park Commission said in a resolution adopted in September.

The project as designed might have unintended environmental impacts, the Commission stated.

According to Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky, who also objected to the plan to employ mechanical dredging, “While that method – using a steam shovel and scraping the lake bottom – may be the least expensive, it’s one that’s most damaging to the lake.”
Walt Lender said he hoped mechanical dredging would be approved during the supplemental review so that it could be used at Finkle Brook and other sites around the lake.

According to Lender, an excavator builds its own “access pads” of dredged material as it moves out from shore. The excavator is then reversed, removing the sediment as it returns to shore. The sediment is then transported by truck to a nearby landfill.

Chris Navitsky, however, says the access pads are roads constructed in the lake which, even after they have been removed, will damage the lake and shoreline.

Navitsky also claims the dredging will allow nutrients to escape, creating algae blooms.

Photo: A large Lake George delta, this one at the mouth of English Brook in Lake George Village. Courtesy of Lake George Association.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror or visit Lake George Mirror Magazine.


Friday, April 15, 2011

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories

Each Friday morning Adirondack Almanack compiles for our readers the previous week’s top stories. You can find all our weekly news round-ups here.

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