Thursday, October 9, 2008

Wild Center: Local Leader on Adirondack Climate Change

Two years ago I was lamenting that no local public leaders were stepping up to the plate on trying to understand what global climate change would mean for the Adirondacks (and it’s ski-tourism industry) – thankfully, that has changed. The Wild Center in Tupper Lake has taken on the lead role of informing their neighbors about the potential impacts of global warming (such as the impact on amphibians), showing local builders what they can do to mitigate those affects, and organizing scientific meetings to discuss and asses the progress of climate change in the Adirondacks.

Next month, The Wild Center will be taking another important step with a another significant conference – American Response to Climate Change Conference: The Adirondack Model. This latest event follows-up on the national leadership meeting held this past June that addressed greenhouse gas abatement policies for the United States. This conference, however, will have a regional approach, with a focus on the Adirondacks. The work of the Adirondack Conference will, in part, be shaped by the research, findings and recommendations from the national conference. According to the website:

The primary conference objective will be to develop a Climate Action Plan for the Adirondacks. This will include specific action recommendations for individuals, communities, and enterprises; detailing climate change driven economic opportunities and benefits for region; concrete time-bound goals for efficiency improvements in buildings and transportation; alternative fuels and small scale power generation options; the role of Adirondack forests and natural systems mitigating greenhouse gas emissions; adaptation measures for local government and economics in changing climate; the role of local governments; policy recommendations for region and state; identification of priority messages and strategies for broad communication efforts; and the creation of an ongoing structure to forward action after the conference.

More than 150 leaders from businesses, local and state government, academia, Adirondack non-profits, and experts in climate mitigation in the areas of building efficiency, alternative fuel sources, small scale power generation technologies, transportation, natural systems and resources, rural areas and local economies.

The conference will take place on November 18th and 19th, 2008; Conservationist of the Year Bill McKibben will be a featured speaker.

BTW, on October 22nd, The Wild Center will announce, with its research partner the Wildlife Conservation Society and Jerry Jenkins, author of The Adirondack Atlas, a major research effort concerning impacts of climate change in the Adirondacks.

Congratulations Wild Center, for showing the way in making our region a leader in the discussions over local impacts to global warming.


Wednesday, October 8, 2008

5 Questions: Northern NY Library Network’s John Hammond

I asked John Hammond, Executive Director of the Northern New York Library Network (NNYLN), five questions about the library consortium’s efforts to digitize northern New York newspapers. The NNYLN added its millionth page earlier this year.

AA: What is the North New York Library Network?

JH: The Northern New York Library Network is a consortium of public, academic, school, and specialized libraries chartered in 1965 to improve library and research service to the people of the North Country. Our service area consists of Clinton, Essex, Franklin, St. Lawrence, Lewis, Jefferson, and Oswego counties. In addition to the Northern New York Historical Newspapers project, we support several other initiatives such as an online catalog of all the materials held in all the libraries in the region (ICEPAC) and a regional digital history project (North Country Digital History). All of our projects can be accessed from our main site: www.nnyln.org

AA: How many newspapers / pages do you currently have online?

JH: We currently have thirty-four newspaper titles online, totaling 1.2 million pages. The site has proven to be quite popular – for instance, there were 24,356,486 individual searches conducted on the site in the last twelve months. From the feedback we receive, it appears that researchers from all over the country find the site to be very useful.

AA: What’s the process you use to get the newspapers online?

JH: We use a Mekel automated scanner to scan previously microfilmed newspapers, and then run those results through Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. When you enter a search term, you are actually searching the results of the OCRing, but then get to read the digital image of the actual newspaper article you’re interested in….with your search term highlighted on that page. We load both the images of the actual newspapers and the OCR results on servers here in the NNYLN office in Potsdam, NY.

AA: Who pays for the NNYLN Newspaper Project?

JH: Paying for a project of this magnitude is an ongoing challenge. The NNYLN paid the start-up costs from special projects funds, and we have been very fortunate to receive support from many sources, including the Lake Placid Education Fund, the New York State Library, the Friends of the Potsdam Public Museum, the St. Regis Falls Historians Association, the St. Lawrence County Genealogical Society, and many individual researchers who contribute using our online form.

AA: You must see a lot of newspapers – is there a favorite? Which one?

JH: Each newspaper has its own story to tell….they all did a wonderful job reporting local news over the years. Of course, since we are processing so many materials – some in better shape than others- we like those that are the most legible so that our efforts result in a product of greatest research value.


Monday, October 6, 2008

Ruling Protects Adirondack State Tax Payments

On Friday, the Appellate Division of State Supreme Court, 4th Department, ruled in the Dillenburg Case that the state may continue to make tax payments on state-owned land. The ruling will ultimately protect the Forest Preserve, local schools and governments, and the local economy.

In December of last year New York State Supreme Court Judge Timothy Walker issued an order throwing out payments in lieu of taxes for state lands. The move threatened to have a huge impact on towns, schools, and taxpayers in the region. Town of Inlet Supervisor J.R. Risley, said his town has about 400 year-round residents, 10,000 summer residents, and that 93 percent of the land is state-owned. The ruling was expected to double the town’s tax rate. Twenty-two percent of the Saranac Lake Central School District tax levy comes from taxes on state land – the number is fourteen percent in Tupper Lake. The ruling had been stayed while awaiting appeal – it was #2 on Adirondack Almanack’s Top Stories of 2007. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 6, 2008

2008 Adirondack Political Season Online

This marathon political season is coming to a close, so I thought I would survey the local Adirondack political scene online. By the way, Friday is the last day to register to vote.

Thanks to outrageous gerrymandering, the Adirondacks is split into a number of districts:

20th House – Kirsten Gillibrand (Blue Dog Dem) vs. Sandy Treadwell (Right Wing Repub)

23th House – John McHugh (Moderate Republican) vs. Mike Oot (Moderate Democrat)

24th House – Michael Arcuri (Conservative Dem) vs. Richard Hanna (Conservative Repub)

NYS Legislature

45th Senate – Betty Little (Conservative Republican) UNOPPOSED
47th Senate – Joseph Griffo (Cons. R) vs. Michael Boncella (Working Fam)
48th Senate – Darrel Aubertine (Mod. D) vs. David Renzi (Cons. R)
51st Senate – James Seward (Cons. R) vs. Don Barber (Mod. Dem)

112th Assembly – Ian McGaughey (D) vs. Tony Jordan (R)
113th Assembly – Teresa Sayward (Cons. R) UNOPPOSED
114th Assembly – Janet Duprey (R) UNOPPOSED
115th Assembly – David Townsend (Mod. R) vs. Daniel LeClair (Cons. R)
117th Assembly – Marc Butler (R) vs. Daniel Carter (D)
118th Assembly – Addie Jenne Russell (D) vs. Robert W. Cantwell III (R)
122nd Assembly – DeeDee Scozzafava (R) UNOPPOSED

Adirondack Almanack has several ways to follow the local political scene. You can read all the political blog posts here. You can also get our complete elections RSS feed here. Last year’s election round-up is here.

Here are the districts I tend to cover (I will endeavor to improve this list by the next election):

20th CD Kirstin Gillibrand (All Stories, RSS)
23rd CD John McHugh (All Stories, RSS)

45th NYS-SD Betty Little (All Stories, RSS)
48th NYS-SD Darrel Aubertine (All Stories, RSS)

113th NYS-AD Theresa Sayward (All Stories, RSS)
118th NYS-AD Russell / Cantwell (All Stories, RSS).

There is a nice overview of national, US House and NYS Legislature races at North Country Public Radio.

A few of the best (active) local political blogs, my view of where they stand, and what they focus on:

Adirondack Musing (Progressive Democrat-leaning) covers mostly national issues, 23rd CD.

Danger Democrat (Moderate Democrat) focuses on Jefferson County, 48th NYS-SD.

Foil Hats Unite (Progressive Liberal Democrat) covers national issues.

Herkimer County Progressive (Progressive Democrat) Herkimer County, 51st NYS SD.

Musing of A (fairly) Young Contrarian (Progressive Green) national issues, Warren County.

Political IV (Conservative Republican) national issues, 48th NYS-SD, and 23rd CD.

Watson in the Adirondacks (Right-Wing Republican) national issues (laying off politics lately).


Friday, October 3, 2008

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Friday, October 3, 2008

Adirondack Museum Harvest Festival 2008

Don’t miss the Adirondack Museum‘s annual Harvest Festival at Blue Mountain Lake, New York on October 4 and 5, 2008.

Each day will feature activities for the whole family from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. The Adirondack Museum offers free admission to year-round residents of the Adirondack Park in the month of October – making Harvest Festival the
perfect fall outing for Adirondackers!

Dean, Dick, and Mary Merrill will return to the museum once again to demonstrate apple pressing with an authentic steam powered cider press from the 1800s. Visitors can grind apples and press cider themselves using a hand-cranked fruit press. Everyone is invited to taste freshly made cider!

The Circle B Ranch of Chestertown, N.Y. will offer leisurely rides through the museum’s beautiful grounds in a rustic wagon. Youngsters can enjoy pony rides as well, providing a wonderful photo opportunity for parents!

John Scarlett of Little Tree Forge, Rossie, N.Y. will demonstrate traditional blacksmithing techniques throughout the day. Scarlett is known for both decorative and useful iron pieces, created using a coal-fired forge and time-honored tools.

Inspired by the glorious foliage and fruits of fall, the museum will offer pumpkin painting, apple printmaking, and the creation of one-of-kind works of art from natural materials. Join Adirondack Museum staff for creativity
and fun!

On Saturday, October 4 only, the Siver Family Bluegrass Band from Crown Point, N.Y., will play two sets of hand-clapping, toe-tapping music from 1:00 p.m. to 1:45 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. to 3:15 p.m. The Siver Family band features eleven-year-old Dorothy Jane Siver, the 2007 Lake Champlain Young Fiddler of the Year.


Thursday, October 2, 2008

Adirondack Hacks

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.

How to Build a Cider Press
Top 10 YouTube Hacks
Make A Simple Cardboard Pie Box
Retro Recycled Teacup Lights
A Skunk Odor Cure

Adirondack Hacks is an occasional feature of Adirondack Almanack. Take a look at our Adirondack Hacks archive here.


Wednesday, October 1, 2008

A Week of Death and Disaster 3 Years Ago at Adirondack Almanack

Three years ago this week the Adirondack Almanack was mourning the death of one of the regions great historians and cultural and environmental advocates, Barbara McMartin; we were also reporting on one of the region’s deadliest disasters – the sinking of the 40-foot Lake George cruise boat Ethan Allen.


Tuesday, September 30, 2008

ADK Recognizes Efforts to Preserve Wild Places

Curt Stiles, chairman of the Adirondack Park Agency, delivered the keynote address at the eighth annual Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) awards dinner on Sept. 13 at the Queensbury Hotel. The focus of the evening was recognizing outstanding volunteers, staff and organizations that help preserve New York’s wild lands and waters.

The Eleanor F. Brown ADK Communication Award was presented by Eleanor Brown to the Adirondack Mountain Club, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Wildlife Conservation Society for a joint project to educate the public about the problem of black bear/human interaction in the backcountry. To address this problem these groups worked together to promote the proper use of bear canisters in the High Peaks, and the audience was given a quick bear canister use lesson by Leeann Huey from ADK’s High Peaks Information Center.

The David L. Newhouse ADK Conservation Award was presented to Jack Freeman, a member of ADK’s Conservation Committee since 1984. Executive Director Neil Woodworth cited Freeman’s skills at grassroots organizing as being responsible for the successful conclusion of many conservation battles. Freeman is the author of ADK’s “Views from on High: Firetower Trails in the Adirondacks and Catskills,” and is best known outside of ADK as “Mr. Firetower.”

The Arthur E. Newkirk ADK Education Award was presented to Arthur Haberl who said that in 2001 he used funds from his late wife’s life insurance policy to begin funding the Marie Lynch Haberl Youth Outreach Program. To date this program has reached over 2000 youth in three north country school districts, helping to instill a life-long appreciation for the Adirondacks. Also in 2001, Haberl established a scholarship fund for Paul Smith’s College students.

ADK’s Trailblazer Award recipient, Robert J. Ringlee, was recognized by ADK President Curt Miller for his calm and knowledgeable helming of the ADK ship as it traveled through tumultuous waters at various points in its voyage. Ringlee was not only president for three years, but he has served on numerous committees and ad-hoc working groups dealing with critical issues. He continues to serve as one of the stalwarts overseeing the Newhouse and Ringlee Presidential Archives and Library.

The Adirondack Mountain Club, founded in 1922, is a nonprofit membership organization dedicated to protecting the New York State Forest Preserve and other wild lands and waters through conservation and advocacy, environmental education and responsible recreation.


Monday, September 29, 2008

Fort Ticonderoga Appeals to Public for Help

Although it is apparently, no longer up, two local newspapers have reported (1, 2), that Fort Ticonderoga is asking the public to keep the fort from shutting down. According to Fred Herbst of Denton Publications:

You have probably seen the headlines. Fort Ticonderoga is in a very difficult financial situation. We don’t want to sell assets. We don’t want to lay off staff. We don’t want to curtail our education programs. We don’t want to close. Without the help of our friends and supporters, however, we may be faced with having to take one or more of these measures.

Fort Ticonderoga’s financial troubles began when benefactors Deborah and Forrest Mars Jr. withdrew their support – it’s been covered at length here.

The original statement continues:

Fort Ticonderoga needs its army of defenders now more than ever. The new Mars Education Center is 95 percent paid for. We have raised and borrowed more than $22 million, but we still need $700,000 to settle the outstanding bills and an additional $3.5 million to repay the loans and replenish our endowment fund.

Herbst revealed more about the details of Forrest Mars conflict with Executive Director Nick Westbrook.

“The ride is over,” he wrote in an Email to Westbrook that was provided to the Times of Ti.

The Email said Westbrook would not listen to new ideas and had stopped communicating with Mrs. Mars, when she was president of the fort board of trustees.

“We will not be writing any further checks,” Mr. Mars wrote. “Your performance as a manager is lacking. As a historian and archivist, etc., you excel. You have not given proper supervision and leadership to the staff.”

Mr. Mars said he and his wife paid for most of the Mars Education Center.

“As far as the new center, I would think that besides not communicating with your president (Mrs. Mars) regarding the opening of it, the exhibits to be in it, the budget for operating it and a program for the future use, you might have been nice enough and polite enough to communicate with the major donor (Mr. Mars),” the Email reads. “Not a word from you to either of us. We do not even know if you can fund it.”

The Email also said Mr. Mars had paid for one of Westbrook’s sons to attend a private school and had paid for vacations for Westbrook and his wife.

The Fort is under threat to close next year or sell off some it collections; Westbrook will be resigning. The fort closes for the season October 20th.

“The fort is running through its available endowment funds to pay the Mars Education Center bills, and, in the absence of a major infusion of funds, the fort will be essentially broke by the end of 2008,” Paine said in the memo.


Saturday, September 27, 2008

DEC Grants Available for Invasive Species

New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis announced today that grant applications are now being accepted for projects proposing to eradicate terrestrial invasive species. Terrestrial invasive species is defined as a plant or animal that lives or grows predominately on land. Applications will be accepted until October 31, 2008

DEC is making up to $1 million in state grants available to municipalities and not-for-profit organizations for projects to eradicate and/or permanently remove infestations of terrestrial invasive species throughout the state. The funding for these grants was secured in the 2008-09 enacted state budget, through the Environmental Protection Fund. State funds can be used to pay for up to one-half of the cost of selected projects. Individual grants for terrestrial eradication proposals will be awarded for projects that range from $2,500, up to $100,000. » Continue Reading.


Friday, September 26, 2008

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Friday, September 26, 2008

Adirondack Museum Celebrates Hunting and Fishing

The Adirondack Museum is planning to celebrate National Hunting and Fishing Day tomorrow Saturday, September 27, 2008. The museum is planning “A Sportsman’s Paradise,” a day-long extravaganza of programs, demonstrations, and music – just for outdoor enthusiasts. Activities are scheduled from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. All are included in the price of general admission.

Demonstrations will include “Casting a Line” with licensed guide and fly-fisherman Patrick Sisti, “Fly Tying” with Geoff Schaake co-owner of the fly-fishing and fly-tying web site www.theanglersnet.com, and “Fish Decoys and Lures” from mother-of-pearl as made by Peter Heid.

Members of the American Mountain Men will return to the museum campus, creating a living history camp that will feature the traditional equipment and gear that would have been typical of a nineteenth century hunting excursion in the Great North Woods. The group will discuss historic hunting and trapping techniques and demonstrate target shooting with Flintlocks as well as knife and tomahawk throwing.

An Author’s Corner and Book Signing will be held in the museum’s Marion River Carry Pavilion from 10:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m. Participants will include: Dan Ladd, whose book Deer Hunting in the Adirondacks serves not only as a guide to public lands open to hunting, but also looks at the history and lore surrounding hunting in the Adirondacks; Robert Elinskas, author of A Deer Hunter’s History Book – a collection of tales from the Blue Ridge Wilderness Area; and Donald Wharton whose collection of Adirondack outdoor stories about trout fishing, bush pilots, deer hunting and more is entitled Adirondack Forest and Stream: An Outdoorsmen’s Reader.

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation booth will provide information and answer questions about hunting and fishing in the Adirondacks throughout the day.

Adirondack musician and storyteller Christopher Shaw will delight audiences of all ages with music celebrating the great Adirondack outdoors at 1:00 p.m. and 3:00 p.m.

At 2:00 p.m. an illustrated presentation, “Images From Trail Cameras,” will be held in the Mark W. Potter Education Center.

The day will conclude with “Adirondack Pond Fishing 101” with Patrick Sisti. Sisti specializes in fly-fishing, fishing trips on the Indian River and Adirondack ponds in central Hamilton County as well as hiking camping, canoeing, and nature walks. His presentation will take participants through the steps taken to locate an Adirondack pond, get there, and fish. Handouts will be provided.

“A Sportsman’s Paradise” visitors should not miss the exhibits “Woods and Waters: Outdoor Recreation in The Adirondacks,” the “Buck Lake Club: An Adirondack Hunting Camp,” and “The Great Outdoors” – an interactive space that is perfect for family adventures.

The Adirondack Museum tells the story of the Adirondacks through exhibits, special events, classes for schools, and hands-on activities for visitors of all ages. Open for the season through October 19, 2008. For information call (518) 352-7311, or visit www.adirondackmuseum.org.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

Take a Child Outside Week at Adirondack Museum

The Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, New York is inviting families visiting the museum from September 24 through September 30 to participate in the “Young Naturalists Program” — a series of self-guided activities that explore gardens, grounds, and wooded areas while learning about the natural history of the Adirondacks.

The Adirondack Museum is one of many participants nationwide in “Take a Child Outside Week.” The program is designed to help break down obstacles that keep children from discovering the natural world. By arming parents, teachers, and other caregivers with resources about outdoor activities, the goal is to help children across the country develop a better understanding and appreciation of the environment in which they live, and a burgeoning enthusiasm for its exploration.

“Take a Child Outside Week” has been initiated by the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences and is held in cooperation with partner organizations such as the Adirondack Museum, across the United States and Canada.

The museum is offering a number of special activities to guide families in exploration of the outdoors. Find the beauty in leaves, trees, and rocks with the Nature’s Art Scavenger Hunt. Use a tree guide to identify and learn about the trees on museum campus. Learn about the tracks and signs animals leave behind at the Animal Signs Station and visit sites on grounds where you can see signs of nighttime animal visitors. Make a pinecone mobile or leaf rubbing at our Nature Crafts Center. Explore mystery boxes at the Senses Station and look at pictures and pelts of Adirondack animals. Learn how animal coloring helps them survive. Watch fish in the pond, learn how to identify rainbow and brook trout, and help feed them lunch at 12:30 p.m. daily.

Families should not leave the museum without a “Young Naturalists” booklet filled with activity suggestions to do at home, in parks, and on trails.

According to the organizers of the weeklong program, “Going Outside” connects children to the natural world, helps kids focus in school, and reduces chances of childhood obesity.


Thursday, September 25, 2008

5 Questions: Nature Conservancy’s Connie Prickett

Connie Prickett is Director of Communications, for the The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter & Adirondack Land Trust in Keene. I sent her five questions about the impending sale of more then 90,000 of the 161,000 acres of Finch Pruyn lands the Conservancy recently purchased; here are her responses.

AA: Does this sale mean that all 90,500 acres will be logged off?

CP: The lands are being offered for sale subject to a conservation easement that specifies the land will be managed on a sustainable basis for forest products; restricts both private and commercial development; and will provide for some public access in the future. The objective is to keep these lands as commercial working forests. The property is currently managed under two “green” certifications: Forest Stewardship Council and Sustainable Forestry Initiative. Maximum annual harvest levels are determined by things like soil, slope, species composition, and growing conditions. There is a fiber supply agreement in place that requires pulp wood from this property to go to the Finch Paper mill in Glens Falls, New York. » Continue Reading.