Randomly organized links to ideas for making life in the Adirondacks just a little bit easier – technology tools and tips, do-it-yourself projects, and anything else that offers a more interesting, more convenient, or healthier way of life in our region.
Blogger, and part time Adirondack resident, Tigerhawk (who knew he was the cousin of another great semi-local blogger Walking the Berkshires) has posted photos of a pair of nesting Bald Eagles (Haliaeetus leucocephalus, with little ones) above his camp. He is expecting “periodic showers of whitewash, partially eaten small mouth bass, and the bones of small mammals” on his deck from the feeding birds of prey.
Experts note that “the bald eagle is a long-lived bird, with a life span in the wild of more than 30 years. Bald eagles mate for life, returning to nest in the general area (within 250 miles) from which they fledged. Once a pair selects a nesting territory, they use it for the rest of their lives.”
The Bald Eagle was officially reclassified from “Endangered” to “Threatened” in 1995 by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, and was delisted as “Endangered and Threatened Wildlife” in June 2007. The Adirondacks was once home to plenty of bald Eagles, which can stand three feet tall and weigh up to 14 pounds, with a wingspan of four feet. Estimates of Eagle populations in the lower-48 during the 1700s ranged from 300 to 500 thousand, but by the 1950s there were just 412 nesting pairs.
The species was first protected in the U.S. and Canada by the 1918 Migratory Bird Treaty, later extended to all of North America. The 1940 Bald Eagle Protection Act in the U.S., which protected the Bald Eagle and the Golden Eagle, prohibited commercial trapping and killing of the birds. The Bald Eagle was declared an endangered species in the U.S. in 1967, and amendments to the 1940 act between 1962 and 1972 further restricted commercial uses and increased penalties for violators. Also in 1972, DDT was banned in the United States. DDT was completely banned in Canada in 1989, though its use had been highly restricted since the late 1970s.
With regulations in place and DDT banned, the eagle population rebounded. The Bald Eagle can be found in growing concentrations throughout the United States and Canada, particularly near large bodies of water. In the early 1980s, the estimated total population was 100,000 birds, with 110,000–115,000 by 1992; the U.S. state with the largest resident population is Alaska, with about 40,000–50,000 birds, with the next highest population being the Canadian province of British Columbia with 20,000–30,000 birds in 1992.
According the DEC, they are still listed as Threatened in New York State:
The New York State Bald Eagle Restoration Project began in 1976 in an attempt to reestablish a breeding population through hacking (hand rearing to independence). Over a 13 year period, 198 nestling bald eagles were collected (most from Alaska), transported and released in New York.
The hacking project ended in 1989, when it accomplished its goal of establishing ten breeding pairs. The bald eagle program’s focus has now shifted to finding and protecting nesting pairs in New York, and monitoring their productivity. Bald eagles continue to do well; in 2005 New York had 92 breeding pairs, which fledged 112 young. Each year, New York’s bald eagles fledge about 10 percent more young eagles than the year before.
Here is a (rather unlikely) story which you can take for what it’s worth. In 1912, Milton Stelves of Glens Falls reported that he was “nearly killed in a fight with a bald eagle” near a North Creek lumber camp. Stelves was walking into camp when he spotted two eagles on the carcass of a calf. He drew up his gun and killed one of the birds but the other came straight for him. Before he could reload it was on him and he was hollering for help and trying to beat it away with the butt of his rifle. A man coming to the rescue beat the bird to death with a club. According to Lowville Journal Republican it measured nine feet from wing tip to wing tip and weighed in at 72 pounds.
Local news is reporting that construction has begun on four new new cell towers: Warrensburg, North Hudson, Schroon Falls and Lewis. They are expected to be working by the end of the year.
The following list is from a document called “Adirondack Park Agency Status Update on Cellular Projects in the Adirondack Park.” It includes the status of cellular carrier projects approved, currently under review, or projects submitted but deemed incomplete. It does not include other related tower projects such as TV, radio, or emergency services systems. It does however include a historic look at towers and concludes the surprising fact that 59 new cellular carrier permits have been issued since 1973 – missing of course is any indication of permits denied, which I suspect is none or close to none. Here are the details:
The Agency Board approved the Independent Towers LLC/RCC Atlantic Inc application (Town of Lewis, Essex County). This project was the first cell tower application submitted specifically designed to accommodate multiple cellular carriers. AT&T was a co-applicant and will provide service from this site. There is room for three additional carriers. The tower will provide Northway coverage south and north of exit 32.
The Agency Board will consider approval for Verizon’s proposed tower in the Town of Chesterfield, Essex County at its September 11-12 meeting. This project is located near Poke-O-Moonshine Mountain between exits 32 and 33.
Staff is reviewing the fabrication designs for the Schroon Falls (Town of Schroon, north of exit 28) Verizon tower. This tower will be a simulated Pine tree.
Staff is seeking additional information for a second Verizon tower submitted in the Town of Lewis, Essex County.
Agency staff monitored visual analysis for the Verizon cellular application proposed for the Town of Keene, Essex County. Visual analysis was also conducted for a site in Keene Valley. Staff is awaiting submission of the visual analysis for the Keene site and an application for the Keene Valley site.
Verizon’s application submitted in the Town of Wells, Hamilton County remains incomplete.
Staff is reviewing a permit amendment to upgrade an antenna on a preexisting tower in the Town of Moriah, Essex County.
The Agency approved a general permit application from T Mobile (AT&T) to co-locate cellular panel antennas on a 145-foot tall existing tower. The project is located in the Town of Fine, St. Lawrence County.
Cellular carrier activity since January 1, 2008:
4 cellular carrier permits approved for new towers
2 cellular carrier general permits approved for co-location
3 cellular carrier application for new towers incomplete
1 cellular carrier application for upgrades to an existing tower remains incomplete
1 cellular carrier application currently being reviewed for Board consideration
1 cellular carrier permit amendment being reviewed
0 cellular carrier applications submitted for temporary towers for I-87
Cellular carrier activity May 1973 through present:
59 new cellular carrier permits approved authorizing 65 activities:
11 new free standing towers
13 tower and/or antenna replacements
21 co-locations on free standing existing towers
6 co-locations on existing buildings
6 co-locations on water tanks
3 co-locations on existing fire towers
2 co-locations on Olympic ski jump
2 co-location on smokestack
1 temporary tower and a second renewal (Town of Mayfield, Fulton County)
Mammoths roam the valleys, giant sloths clamber up trees and whales swim in from Lake Champlain. It’s all part of the Wild Center‘s new movie that is earning rave reviews for its new take on a rarely seen story.
The Wild Center was designed with a showpiece theater. The screen is so wide it requires three projectors working together to create the panoramic effect. This summer the Center raised the curtain on its first full-motion movie, filmed expressly for the special wide-screen theater. The movie, called A Matter of Degrees, was filmed on location in Greenland and the Adirondacks over the course of two years by the award-winning film company Chedd-Angier-Lewis. “It’s amazing to see that the glacier that wiped this place out is basically still around, and still making news up in Greenland,” said Susan Arnold, the Museum’s membership manager who has seen the movie numerous times with all kinds of audiences. “People are really responding to the movie, everything from tears to waiting in line to see it again.”
The movie has writing credits from former Adirondack Life publisher Howard Fish, features music by sometime Saranac Lake resident Martin Sexton and is narrated by Sigourney Weaver, another of the long list of participants with strong Adirondack ties.
A Matter of Degrees takes viewers back to an Adirondacks that was home to mammoths, California condors, ground sloths, ice and floods. “We wanted to look at what made the Adirondacks,” said Stephanie Ratcliffe, Executive Director of The Wild Center and one of the film’s producers. “It was fascinating to know how much has happened in this one place, and that it’s never been explored on film before.” Ratcliffe was on the team that flew to inspect Greenland as a location. “It really felt like time travel. There were places in Greenland that looked similar to the Adirondacks, without the forest cover. We stood at the edge of a glacier, and it did feel as if we were standing on an Adirondack peak 12,000 years ago.”
Rick Godin, who led the local camera crew, flew over the Adirondacks with a state-of-the-art camera that could zoom down on details from a mile above the tree tops. “It was the same technology used in filming Planet Earth for the BBC. It was great to be up there, knowing that we were making a real movie about the Adirondacks and telling what we think is a really important story.”
The movie is 24 minutes long, and received rave reviews when it was screened for preview audiences at The Wild Center’s national climate conference in June.
With all the news about Michael Phelps medal wins at the Olympics, some Adirondack Almanack readers may have missed the two tragedies that occurred on Schroon Lake last week.
On Sunday night, two boats (both running without navigation lights) collided just before 11 p.m. A Boston Whaler operated by 17-year old Gerald Smith turned in front of a Hydrostream Vector (operated by Brett D. Bernhard, 20, of Horicon). Daniel Miller, 20, also of Horicon and a passenger on the Hydrostream, was hit in the head during the collision and knocked unconscious. He was taken by ambulance to Moses-Ludington Hospital in Ticonderoga and then transferred to Fletcher Allen Health Care in Burlington – he was in critical condition with a severe head injury.
Then on Tuesday night, Elizabeth A. Weiner, 81, of Cazenovia, drowned behind the Davis Motel, near where her family has a summer camp: “Investigators said Mrs. Weiner left her camp to go wading by herself in Schroon Lake. She was a seasonal resident of Schroon Lake, police said, and known to be a non-swimmer.”
Visitors and locals alike fall from shore, docks, and out of boats of all sorts. In the days of closer connection to lakes and waterways for drinking, washing, ice, work, transportation, and entertainment, drownings were far more common. “Many Drowned Sunday” reads one report from 1910 that gives accounts of “several accidental drownings” in Connecticut; three drowned in the Delaware River near Philadelphia; a man and woman in the Ohio River and another near Scranton; the bodies of Eddie Hammond and Harold Driscoll (both nine) discovered in the Varnick Canal in Oswego, NY; John Whalen and Francis Forti drowned in a creek near Albany. That same Sunday Frank Namo was drowned bathing in the Black River, and the Brooklynite superintendent of the Lake Placid Yacht Club, Oscar C. Nicholas, was also drowned while bathing. Swimming has taken the largest toll by far. I thought I’d take a closer look at drownings in Schroon Lake to get an indication of what the overall historic statistics may look like. In the twenty years between 1924 and 1944 – a time when the resort area was in its heyday – at least 14 people drowned, plus two more in nearby Gull Pond, and at least one in Trout Brook which runs into Schroon, a number of other drowned in the Schroon River.
Of the fourteen, two were women (both servants), the rest were all males, including two boys. The vast majority were under the age of 30. Two, in different incidents, were men on their honeymoons (both were staying at Moon Hill Camp). Two were employed by the Little Club and two by Scaroon Manor. Three were laborers. Five of the fourteen were locals.
What follows is a look at all the drowning deaths I could locate in local papers for Schroon Lake between about 1875 and 1950:
On September 15, 1884, 80-year old Hiram Jenks, described in a local paper as “the best known fisherman and guide in Essex county,” was found drowned in Schroon Lake near the Grove Point House. He had left home on a fishing expedition the night before.
A 1906 newspaper article “A nurse had a cramp while bathing and sank,” described the death of a Miss White, who drowned while swimming with her employers children in Schroon Lake.
In October of 1908 alcohol appeared to be a factor in the drowning of Frank DuBois, employed building a road nearby. According to a local newspaper report DuBois had, “left his boarding place to go to the village for supplies. He left the village to return and the next day the empty boat was found together with his coat and a bottle nearly filled with alcohol.” His body was found nearly a month later on a sandy beach about a mile and a half south of Schroon Lake Village.
William Brandies, a waiter at the Leland house was drowned in Schroon Lake in July 1920. Brandies had gone out in a canoe and not returned; the empty boat and his body were recovered later. He was about 35 years old and had lost two brothers in World War One.
In July of 1924, Esmond Smith of Adirondack (on the east side of Schroon Lake) and David Middleton loaded a quantity of tile and brick into a flat bottom boat with a small motor. They set out in rough waters to a cottage a few miles distant from Adirondack but were soon swamped. Middleton, 70, swam to shore, but Smith, 40, apparently could not swim and drowned.
In July of 1928, two employees of Scaroon Manor were drowned when one, Erma Treppow, 22, of Brooklyn, slipped off a submerged ledge into deep water. She could not swim so Edward Maggiogino of Long Island jumped in to save her. Treppow panicked and grabbed her would-be rescuer, dragging them both under while two other women watched helplessly from shore.
In September of 1929, Edwin Buchman, a wealthy Troy manufacturer and a summer resident of Schroon Lake, was believed to have had a heart attack or stroke and to have fallen into Schroon Lake near the former O’Neill property which he owned. He had planned to take a swim before breakfast but never returned. His body was found in shallow water.
In October of 1929, Fred McKee of Pottersville, Elmer Liberty of Olmsteadville, and Angus Montayne of Schenectady were transported a 50-gallon drum of gasoline in their motorboat from Charles Bogle’s boathouse to Isola Bella Island on Schroon Lake. The lake was rough and when the motor stalled the barrel rolled forward and capsized the boat throwing all three men into the water. McKee and Montayne, who could not swim, attempted to hold onto the barrel. They soon disappeared as Elmer Liberty watched; he survived by clinging to the overturned boat. Forty men, under the supervision of John Flannigan, began dragging the lake for the bodies. They were recovered the same day.
In June 1933, Brooklyn newlyweds Louis and Elsie Gerber left their honeymoon digs at Moon Hill Camp on Schroon Lake in a canoe with Mrs. Robert Epstein of the Bronx. They got about 150 feet from shore when the canoe capsized. A man driving by saw the three clinging to the sides of the canoe, stopped his car, and rowed out to them in a rowboat. According to the Ticonderoga Sentinel, Louis Gerber told the man that he alright and to take the women ashore first – when the men returned Louis was gone. “A searching party was quickly organized,” the Sentinel reported, “but it was not until evening that the body was recovered. The body was taken to Brooklyn by the broken-hearted bride whose honeymoon was so tragically ended.”
Just one month later, in July of 1933, Paulding Foote Sellers, recent graduate of Hamilton College and captain of the college’s football team (and nephew of Admiral David Foote Sellers, died after diving into Schroon Lake – “he sank without a struggle.” It was surmised by the local coroner that he “had a weak heart.”
Parry Lee Shivers, 25, an African American maid, was drowned in Schroon Lake in August of 1937. Shivers was in a boat with another African American maid, 18-year-old Carrie William who later told a newspaper what had happened: “She spoke to Miss Shivers as they were returning to the shore, and there was no response. She turned and was amazed to discover that her friend was not in the boat. Hastily scanning the water in the vicinity of the boat, she saw Miss Shivers swimming about sixty feet away. According to her story, she called to her, but gained no response. A few seconds later Miss Shivers sank beneath the surface and failed to reappear.”
In 1926, a thirteen-year-old George Plumley of Minerva fell from a dock and drowned. In 1938, an eight-year old Schenectady boy, Robert Crossman, was drowned near his parent’s camp opposite Moon Hill Camp. His eleven-year-old sister found his body; he had been last seen just a few minutes before on the camp dock but failed to show for lunch.
In June of 1940 Louis Kankewitz, 30, of New York City was drowned when the canoe he was paddling alone capsized near Eagle Point. He and his new bride were staying at Moon Hill Camp – it took a week to find his body.
Another Brooklynite drowned in July of 1944. Melvin Leon, 16, had jumped into the water at the Leland Hotel’s beach to save George Solow, 17 (also of Brooklyn). The boys were employed at the Little Club, They had been fooling around in a row boat when Solow jumped into the water with the oars; when he lost the oars and couldn’t get back into the boat, Leon jumped in to help him. A third young man in the boat tried in vain to paddle the boat against the wind with his hands. Another boater eventually rescued Solow, but it was too late for Leon.
Almost one year to the day, another young man employed by the Little Club drowned while trying to retrieve an errant boat. Schroon Lake native Glenn Cramer, 16, went out towards Keppler’s Point when his own rowboat overturned; he could not swim. A passerby yelled to him to hold onto the overturned boat but Cramer panicked and was gone by the time his would-be rescuer arrived.
The Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks believes the adoption of the new state Department of Transportation (DOT) Guidelines for the Adirondack Park – also called the “Green Book” – is a significant step for the protection and sound environmental maintenance of the park’s highways and greenways.
Completion of the Green Book and its revisions was one of the primary stipulations of a legal “Consent Order” that followed the unconstitutional cutting of several thousands of trees on Forest Preserve lands along the Route 3 scenic highway corridor between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake in 2005. The Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks filed a civil violation of the Forest Preserve complaint against the cutting with the NYS-DEC at the time and then worked extensively to see the provisions of a strong “Consent Order” against DOT be brought to fruition. Association Comments on the Draft “Green Book” include:
The Association commends the Department in the tremendous amount of work undertaken in compiling the Draft NYS-DOT Guidelines for the Adirondack Park. The document in and of itself represents a comprehensive compendium of state policy, regulations, design criteria and case studies regarding roadway and highway engineering, design and environmental controls.
The Department is making progress on the requirements of the 2006 “Order on Consent” between the DEC, DOT and APA which required inclusion of policies directing the DOT with regard to addressing hazard tree management within the Adirondack Park, verifying the specific requirements for the application of needed temporary revocable permits (TRPs) and designating accountable Department staff expertise needed to guide and monitor parkwide program implementation. The DOT parkwide engineer position held by Ed Franze was one of AFPA’s recommendations.
The Association is also pleased that the Department has produced the Appendix Q outlining the “Environmental Commitments and Obligations for Maintenance (ECOM) that includes the environmental checklist for NYSDOT maintenance activities in the Adirondack Park and the outline for the needed Adirondack Park Baseline Maintenance Training program.
However, the Association felt these sections require further consensus between the State departments and agencies and public stakeholders in order to fully protect Park resources and to prevent reoccurrences of the 2005 Route 3 tree-cutting which led to the Order on Consent.
Dan Plumley, the Association’s Director of Park Protection, also called on all three state agencies (DOT, DEC and APA) to develop unite around a joint mission to create a planning process for all highway and greenway corridors in the Park. Plumley outlined strategies the agencies should take for enhancing the Park’s scenic, natural character; support walkable communities; advance mass transit opportunities; and mitigate negative effects of roadways and traffic.
A summary of the Associations’ major comments on the Green Book are available online.
The Adirondack Museum will host an encampment of American Mountain Men interpreters on August 15 and 16, 2008. The [event is open to the public, but the encampment is by invitation only.
Participants in the museum encampment are from the Brothers of the New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts segment of the national American Mountain Men organization.
While at the Adirondack Museum the group will interpret the lives and times of traditional mountain men with colorful demonstrations and displays of shooting, tomahawk, and knife throwing, furs, fire starting and cooking, clothing of both eastern and western mountain styles, period firearms, and more. This year’s encampment will include blacksmithing and a beaver skinning demonstration. Mountain men are powerful symbols of America’s wild frontier. Legends about the mountain man continue to fascinate because many of the tales are true: the life of the mountain man was rough, and despite an amazing ability to survive in the wilderness, it brought him face to face with death on a regular basis.
All of the American Mountain Men activities and demonstrations are included in the price of regular museum admission.
The American Mountain Men group was founded in 1968. The association researches and studies the history, traditions, tools, and mode of living of the trappers, explorers, and traders known as the mountain men. Members continuously work for mastery of the primitive skills of both the original mountain men and Native Americans. The group prides itself on the accuracy and authenticity of its interpretation and shares the knowledge they have gained with all who are interested.
The Glens Falls Post Star is reporting on recent permits approved for cell towers along the Northway (I-87):
The applications recently approved include several Verizon permits in Warrensburg, Chestertown, North Hudson and Schroon Lake. Verizon plans eventually to operate 18 towers near the Northway, from Lake George all the way to Peru, just south of Plattsburgh.
Earlier this month, the Park Agency approved a permit to construct a 100-foot tower on Route 9 in Lewis that is expected to cover three miles north and south of the site along the Northway, near Exit 32. In September, the Park Agency will decide on another Verizon application for a permit in Chesterfield, near Keeseville at Northway Exit 34.
One of the biggest issues with the towers has always been the destruction of the Adirondack viewshed, which is crucial to the tourism industry. The APA’s towers policy is being credited by John Sheehan of the Adirondack Council for the swift and appropriate placement of new towers:
The Lewis tower will not interrupt the park scenery for passersby, as it will be hidden from view by a hill and trees, [Adirondack Park Agency Spokesman Keith McKeever] said.
Advocates for environmental preservation, who previously expressed concern over the development of cell phone towers in the region, are pleased with the recent wave of applications and approvals, including the one in Lewis.
“They carefully picked a site that was going to be away from public view and made it large enough to carry more than one company,” said The Adirondack Council’s director of communications, John Sheehan. “That’s exactly the way we were hoping they would carry out the communication expansion in the park.”
Sheehan credited the Park Agency for making its requirements for tower development clear to phone companies. The agency requires that towers be built on sites that aren’t highly visible from roadways and other public areas.
If it’s true, it will be another example of private-public cooperation in protecting the park’s natural resources, but as Adirodnack Almanack predicted over a year ago, there will still be plenty of areas that will not be reached by cell service:
Some gaps in reception, or dead zones, will still exist, [APA Spokesman McKeever] said. “There’s going to be some dead zones when you’re going through a mountainous region like this.”
McKeever recommended people use emergency boxes located every two miles on the Northway if they have an emergency in a dead zone.
Neither of the two people killed on the Northway during severe weather last year would have been helped by a call box, and it’s yet to be seen if the new towers are going to cover the areas where they died.
Hunters, fishermen, and those interested in taxidermy may find my recent post at New York History interesting. The story includes the “world’s largest mounted fish, maybe the largest piece of taxidermy in the world” – a 73-year-old, 32-foot, mounted whale shark caught off Fire Island in 1935 and believed to have weighed about 8 tons (16,000 pounds). It also includes a short history of taxidermy and the covers the role of Carl Akeley whose lifelike creations were installed in dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
The Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and the Adirondack Land Trust are holding their Annual Membership Meeting and Field Day on August 16, 2008, at Heaven Hill Farm in Lake Placid, New York. The event, featuring keynote speakers Pete Grannis, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner, and Charles D. Canham, Ph.D., Forest Ecologist, is open to the public. Preregistration is required. Prior to becoming DEC Commissioner, Grannis was a NY State Assemblyman for 30 years. During that time, he was an active member of the Environmental Conservation Committee and received recognition from a variety of environmental organizations for his role in enacting laws addressing such issues as acid rain, clean air and water.
Now, under Grannis’s leadership DEC is making history in the Adirondacks with his Smart Growth initiatives and the integral part it is playing in protecting the ecologically and economically significant Finch lands.
Dr. Canham, Senior Scientist with the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY, earned his doctorate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University (1984). Widely recognized as a leader in his field, Dr. Canham’s research papers have appeared in numerous scientific journals. His most recent, Neighborhood Models of the Effects of Invasive Tree Species on Ecosystems Processes (2008), can be found in Ecological Monographs, a publication of the Ecological Society of America.
Dr. Canham’s Adirondack research has taken him deep into the forests of the Five Ponds Wilderness and to hundreds of remote lakes and ponds. He is also a board member of the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and the Adirondack Land Trust and chairs the groups’ Conservation Committee.
Pre-registration is required for this event, which will run from 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Cost per adult is $20, children under 12 are free. Heaven Hill Farm, not ordinarily not open to the public, is just west of the village of Lake Placid, with a magnificent view of the high peaks. To register, or obtain more information, contact Jeff Walton at (518) 576-2082 ext 166 or jwalton[AT]tnc[DOT ORG]
The Nature Conservancy is a leading international, non-profit organization working to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. Since 1971, the Adirondack Chapter has been working with a variety of partners in the Adirondacks to achieve a broad range of conservation results. The Chapter is a founding partner of the High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program, dedicated to the protection of alpine habitat, as well as the award-winning Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, which works regionally to prevent the introduction and spread of non-native invasive plants.
The Adirondack Land Trust, established in 1984, protects open space, working farms and forests, undeveloped shoreline, scenic vistas, and other lands contributing to the quality of life of Adirondack residents. The Land Trust holds 45 conservation easements on 11,174 acres of privately-owned lands throughout the Adirondack Park, including 15 working farms in the Champlain Valley.
Together, these partners in Adirondack conservation have protected 556,572 acres, one out of every six protected acres park-wide.
Adirondack Almanack periodically forwards press releases like this one to our readers.
There was an interesting story in Sunday’s Press Republican about Gordon Oil in AuSable Forks. The company was founded by Clifford Gordon in 1921 and is now in it’s third generation. Part of the story was a tiny detail at the end that says a lot about our current economic environment:
“Starting out as Standard Oil of New York — or SOCONY, as the sign on top of the display [at Gordon’s main office] states — in the 1920s it became Mobiloil and then, in 1931, Socony-Vacuum.
Following 1955, every decade or so the parent company underwent business transformations, which included Socony Mobil Oil Co., Mobil Oil Corp., Mobil Corp. and, in 1999, ExxonMobil…
Lewis [Gordon, who operated the business with his brother Waxy for 50 years) recalled the big tanks they used to have, which were cut down for steel during World War II.
“There used to be storage in Plattsburgh,” he said. “Big barges would come through Whitehall and unload up there, and we would go get it.
“Now it all has to be trucked in. All the big companies had their tanks there in Plattsburgh. It’s kind of too bad.”
When the company switched to electrically operated pumps years ago it gave it’s older pumps to a local farmer who used them for many years. That’s the kind of localism we’ve lost and it’s to our detriment.
Localism – involvement in local politics, local economies, an understanding of local culture and the environment, underlies much of the Green movement. It’s not just politics and the environment, it’s about supportive communities of neighbors working together to protect each other from the sometimes ravenous capitalist economy (seen most recently in energy and food costs). It’s what was happening when Gordon Oil gave over those pumps to that farmer. It’s what was destroyed when those tanks were taken down and not replaced.
Localism is also the future we face. I was recently talking with a local hardware store owner, part of the True Value chain. He sells lumber, paint, the usual goods (plus his simply built furniture). He was telling me that he needed a special piece of lumber that he didn’t stock. He took his truck to pick it up at the Home Depot in Queensbury; they were out of stock, so he went to the Lowe’s and found what he was looking for. The piece of lumber cost him an additional $30 in gas for the truck, plus about two hours of time away from his shop. That piece of lumber could have been boughten for a fraction of the price not a quarter-mile away – albeit at a competing lumber store.
The story of the fuel oil storage facilities and the local hardware store owner are revealing for local businesses. They once stocked nearly everything a household needed. As corporations took over our world, local supplies (seen on store shelfs and those Plattsburgh tanks) have had to pared down their stocks as consumers have opted to drive long miles to shop at big box stores (or shippers have turned to trucking and on-demand wharehousing).
That is something that we’re going to see come to an end, although it make take a while for our neighbors to break their old habits. Even if the price of oil goes down before the election (as we argued it would), the damage has been done, and Adirondackers have started turning local out of necessity. That necessity is something local greens have been vociferously saying was bound to happen since the late 1980s, even as they argued for serious political efforts toward locally sustained communities.
The trend toward localism has already begun in a number of segments of Adirondack society – especially among small farmers and local wood products producers – but now we are going to see a much more general trend. Already Chestertown, North Creek, Schroon Lake, and surrounding areas have taxis – that’s right, cabs, right here in the North Country above Warrensburg. Not just a single car either, several companies that range widely through the mountains. You don’t need a taxi unless you are going someplace local.
James Kunstler (recently interviewed locally here) has been the most public area voice for localism. His books are a must-read for people interested in what future local economies could look like:
One thing Kunstler makes clear, is that it’s not just about energy – food is as important, and there are several ways to get informed about going local.
NCPR recently celebrated 10 years of the Warrensburg Riverfront Farmers’ Market, and new markets have been established around the region in recent years. Local Harvest does a good job online showing where you can find local farmers and farmers markets in our region, but eating local means more than local farmer’s markets. It means connecting with a local CSA (Community Supporter Agriculture) farm, it means growing your own food (alone and in cooperation with your neighbors), and it means shopping locally for locally produced goods.
Speaking of growing your own, Cornell Cooperative Extension has a program for beginning framers that has recently expanded on the web. According to NCPR who recently reported the news, the new site:
…guides new farmers, and farmers changing crops or marketing strategy, step by step through starting a farm business: from setting goals and writing a business plan, to evaluating land, to taxes and permits. There’s a frequently asked questions section, worksheets to download, and an ongoing forum. The website is the latest offering from the New York Beginning Farmers Resource Center. The center is based at Cornell, but its roots are in the North Country.
We need to get to know our local farmers. The Wild Center is holding two more “Farmer Market Days 2008” on September 11th, and October 2nd “in celebration and promotion of the wonderful local food producers in the Adirondack Region.” Naturally we can’t live on the mostly fancy foods the Wild Center’s program seems to focus on, but their effort is a good start to introducing local farm operations to the Adirodnack community at large.
Adirondack Harvest is a buy local food group that was started 7 years ago. They recently received a $50,000 grant to expand their program, which they describe on their site:
Since its inception in 2001, Adirondack Harvest has grown to encompass Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, and Warren counties in northeastern New York. These counties contain major sections of the Adirondack Park and the Champlain Valley. Our focus has been on expanding markets for local farm products so that consumers have more choice of fresh farm products and on assisting farmers to increase sustainable production to meet the expanding markets.
A more direct path to lessening food costs and supporting local farms comes from Adirondack Pork, aka Yellow House Farm and a member of Adirondack Harvest, where you can buy a whole or half locally raised pig (or go in on one with another family). A whole pig serves a family of four for about 6-9 months, depending on your eating habits. They raise a pig for you until it weighs about 200-225 pounds. Your pork is prepared for you by a local butcher – you tell them any special cuts, wrapping, etc., you want. Your meat comes to you wrapped, labeled and frozen. It takes a lot less freezer space then you would imagine, and its cheaper.
The bottom line is the economy is changing and the sooner we accept that it true and end our reliance on the big box stores filled with products from half a world away and their corporate partners. They have a stranglehold on our local economy and it’s time we fought back.
Here is a disturbing story from Glens Falls blogger (i am alive) who was arrested for trespassing after signing the register at the gatehouse at the Adirondack Mountain Reserve’s Lake Road entrance and attempting to hike to Dial and Nippletop mountains:
…we were approached by an armed man. other than his name tag, he was not dressed as a security officer, but he was carrying a silver pistol. he had a digital camera bag around his neck and had a small bleeding wound on his face. without explanation, he took out the camera and began taking pictures of us. as soon as he began speaking, we knew our hike was over… …he proceeded to escort us back to the gatehouse and detain us. he called in another security guard from the Ausable Club and summoned a state officer by radio. we sat being totally cooperative, providing identification and surrendering adam’s weapons (he had a leatherman and his new kershaw knife). inside my head i am thinking, “this is just to scare us, he can’t really arrest us….right?”…
…here we waited for over an hour until a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Officer could arrive to deal with all of our lawlessness. i actually felt bad for the EnCon officer. seriously, did he need to come all that way to deal with us? we would have quietly left the property if mr. cowboy said that we really couldn’t have the dog and had to turn around. he never gave us that chance. so in his generosity, mr. cowboy decided only to “arrest” one of us. oh yeah, you guessed it…it was me.
Amazing. That should be good for regional economic development. I guess it’s not surprising, even their web page is off limits – that is, unless you want to serve them.
What does this say about Sandy Treadwell, who claims AuSable Club owner William Weld as his surrogate? Does Treadwell condone arresting his constituents for through-hiking?
UPDATE: Apparently this is not an uncommon experience. Check out what happened to Press Republican outdoors writer Dennis Aprill in June of this year here.
Check out the orderly books of Captain Amos Hitchcock’s Connecticut provincial companies during the French and Indian War – great primary, albeit difficult, reading [pdf]. Here is a description from the New York State Library, which holds the original volumes:
Orderly books are the companies’ official record of all military orders, and include courts martial, disciplinary actions and promotions. These are the orderly books of Captain Amos Hitchcock’s Connecticut provincial companies during the French and Indian War. The volumes also provide a record of troop movements in northern New York and Canada, and encampments at Albany, Fort Edward, Lake George, Crown Point and Fort Ontario.
The Adirondack Almanack's contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The Almanack is the online news journal of Adirondack Explorer. Both are nonprofits supported by contributors, readers, and advertisers, and devoted to exploring, protecting, and unifying the Adirondack Park.
General inquiries about the Adirondack Almanack should be directed to Almanack founder and editor John Warren.To advertise on the Adirondack Almanack, or to receive information on rates and design, please click here.