Saturday, October 17, 2009

A Look at the Shrews of the Adirondacks

On Wednesday I promised you a future with shrews it in, so we’ll take a look at shrews today. Shrews are another member of the Order of mammals known as Insectivora, which is a reflection of their diet: they eat a lot of insects. Much like their mole cousins, shrews spend a good portion of their lives underground, and as such, like moles, they have no (or nearly no) external ear flaps, weeny little eyes, and non-directional fur. Their bodies are also rather long and cylindrical, which helps them move easily through tunnels.

Six species of shrews call the Adirondacks home: the masked shrew (Sorex cinereus), the water shrew (S. palustris), the smoky shrew (S. fumeus), the long-tailed or rock shrew (S. dispar), the pygmy shrew (S. hoyi), and the short-tailed shrew (Blarina brevicauda). Most of these you will never see, for they are rather secretive animals, but one, the short-tailed shrew, is quite common and frequently found in houses, so we’ll start with that one. » Continue Reading.


Friday, October 16, 2009

Weekly Adirondack Blogging Round-Up


Friday, October 16, 2009

Origins of the Adirondack Park Agency: A Footnote

New York’s history of preserving wild, open spaces in the Adirondack Park while, at the same time, sustaining (or at least suffering) its small communities has become known as “an experiment,” a misleading term at best.

Now comes “The Great Experiment in Conservation; Voices from the Adirondack Park,” a collection of essays meant to extract transferable lessons from the Park’s history of mixing public and private uses. » Continue Reading.


Friday, October 16, 2009

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Adirondack Music Scene:Hip Hop, Blues, Modern Folk and Opera

We have a few interesting shows to choose from this weekend in the Adirondacks. I’m excited to check out Bruce Hayes in Upper Jay on Friday. His energy is so infectious I could feel it through the internet. The other event I think will be fascinating to check out is the Met Live in HD in Potsdam on Sunday. If the weather stays as it has, a few hours listening to amazing music in a movie theater sounds cozy.

Thursday October 15:

In Lake Placid at LPCA, Ball In The House is in concert at 7:30 pm. There are five singers in this vocals only band. Their studio album is tight as tight can get. You can check out the song “Trust Me” here. Students are $10 and adults $14.

Friday October 16:

In Upper Jay at The Recovery Lounge, Bruce Hayes starts at 8 pm. I listened to what I could of his music online and I really enjoyed it. An accomplished mandolin, acoustic and steel guitar player, he also has a wonderful voice. I love that he lists Jimi Hendrix and Lyle Lovett as influences.

Saturday October 17:.

In Saranac Lake Saranac Village at Will Rogers, in conjunction with Lazar Bear Productions, presents Tao Rodriguez-Seeger in concert at 7:30 pm. Pete Seeger’s grandson enjoys taking old time songs and giving them a modern twist. It’s interesting to hear electronic sounds mixed with a classic like “Sally Gooden”, which you can hear if you check out the above link. Tickets are $15 in advance and $18 at the door.

Later in Saranac Lake at the Waterhole, The Tim Heron Band starts at 10 pm. The doors open at 9 pm for cocktail hour. Brandon Devito features a special cocktail during this pre-show hour to get you in the dancing mood.

Sunday October 18:

In Potsdam at the Roxy Theater the Metropolitan Opera Live in HD is offering an encore showing of Puccini’s “Tosca” at 1 pm. The story consists of an opera star, a free-thinking painter and a sadistic police chief—just your typical love triangle . . .
Click here for tickets.

Wednesday October 21:

In North Creek at barVino, The Tony Jenkins Jazz Trip will be playing from 8 – 10 pm.

Photo: Bruce Hayes


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Schroon Lake Resort, Gas Pipeline Get Stimulus Funds

Governor David Paterson announced this week (in Malone) that $17.5 million in Upstate Regional Blueprint Fund stimulus grants will be spent on 15 projects across the state. According to a press release issued by the governor’s office the funds are expected to support “projects that help provide a framework for future growth in regions with stymied development.” This first round of funding includes two Northern New York projects, one inside the Blue Line.

Schroon Revitalization Group, LLC received nearly a million dollars for “the initial development of an 81-room resort in Schroon Lake for year-round access to the Adirondacks and Lake Champlain.” The development is being put forth as a cornerstone of the revitalization of the Town of Schroon Lake, Essex County.

The St. Lawrence Gas Distribution Project received $2.5 million for the construction of a 48-mile natural gas pipeline from St. Lawrence County into Franklin County. According to the governor’s office the new line has the potential to benefit 4,000 North Country residents. Richard Campbell, President and General Manager of St. Lawrence Gas, said new line will was “vitally important.” “Bringing natural gas to this new market area will provide an economic and environmentally preferred fuel choice to residential, commercial and industrial customers,” he said.

State Senator Darrel Aubertine, Chair of the Senate Majority’s Upstate Caucus, says that the pipeline will create jobs, pointing specifically to expected growth at Fulton Thermal and MaCadam Cheese.

Grant applications and awards were overseen by Empire State Development (ESD). More information about the Upstate Regional Blueprint Funds and application forms can be found at www.nylovesbiz.com. Applications for round II funding are being accepted until October 15, 2009.


Thursday, October 15, 2009

Adirondack Mill Provides Paper for Al Gore’s Next Book

On November 3 a new solution-oriented climate-change book by Al Gore will be published. Our Choice will pick up where An Inconvenient Truth left off and, like everything Mr. Gore does, it will be scrutinized for its environmental integrity, right down to the paper it’s printed on.

Our Choice will use 100% recycled paper and be carbon neutral, according to a release from publisher Rodale Press. For North American editions, that paper will be produced in the Adirondack Park, at Newton Falls Fine Paper in St. Lawrence County.

“The Al Gore book is a very small percentage of our volume overall, about .5 percent of our total production,” says Scott Travers, president and vice chairman of the Newton Falls mill. “But it’s not the size of the order, if you will, it’s . . . that we were recognized by such an individual and such an effort for our environmental stewardship. The bigger issue is that the entire marketplace will recognize us for our environmental attributes.”

This is the mill’s first 100-percent recycled product, but it has been making partially recycled paper for decades, and since it was acquired and re-opened two years ago by the Canadian holding company Scotia Investments, which among other companies owns Minas Basin Pulp & Power and Scotia Recycling. The latter recovers paper all along the Eastern seaboard, Travers says. Scotia Recycling provided fiber to the Newton Falls mill for Our Choice.

“We hope that eventually all of the paper in the Newton Falls mill will have 100 percent recycled content,” he says. “It was an open, competitive bidding process for the Al Gore book. What excites people today is having a minimal impact on the environment or having an even better impact, to be able to improve the environment. If we’ve captured fiber that would have gone to the landfill, we’ve improved the environment.”

The mill is also working to have a “closed-loop” wastewater system on line by November, Travers says, eliminating the need to export waste such as sludge from the facility. One day managers also hope make steam for heat and papermaking from biomass instead of oil.

The Newton Falls story is improbable as well as inspiring. At a time when paper mills around the perimeter of the Adirondack Park were closing, this tiny one-industry hamlet rallied to recruit a new owner after the mill there was idled in 2000. The mill had a century-long history but adapted with the times and markets. Its last owner, Appleton Paper, had invested millions in upgrades. For seven years, potential buyers raised hopes and dashed them until Scotia Investments partnered with a former mill manager in 2006. The facility now employes 120 people and has been retooled. Travers says the mill will expand into recycled packaging as demand for publishing paper continues to decline.

“I applaud the people in Newton Falls and their desire to make a positive difference. The important thing is we have a dedicated workforce, we have a dedicated community, we have a dedicated holding company,” Travers says. “We’re fully committed to the success of that operation.”

Photograph of Newton Falls Fine Paper provided by Scotia Investments


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Mouse, Mole or Vole? Learning Your Adirondack Small Mammals

star nosed molePeople in any field (medicine, education, engineering, archaeology, etc.) become so used to their chosen area of expertise that they soon come to believe that certain things are universal knowledge, even if they aren’t.

Natural history is no exception. Sure, we naturalists figure that most people know a tree from a shrub, but we also expect they know the difference between a mouse and a vole. After twenty years in this field, however, I’ve come to accept that what is obvious to me may not be obvious to everyone else. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Upper Hudson Rail Trail Planned: North Creek to Tahawus

There is a movement afoot to transform the northern end of the Upper Hudson Railroad into a multi-use trail. Although the project has only just begun, Friends of the Upper Hudson Rail Trail have met twice so far in the North Creek area and according to organizers indications are good the new trail will become a reality. The entire route, from the North Creek Railroad Station to the Open Space Institute’s 10,000 acre Tahawus Tract is owned by NL Industries (National Lead, the former operators of the mine at Tahawus), who have been reported for several years to be eager to dispose of the property and salvage the rails. Access points are owned by Warren County, Barton Mines, and the Open Space Institute.

The route would be 29 miles long in three counties (Warren, Hamilton, and Essex) beginning along the Hudson to a bridge just below the gorge, then along the Boreas River, Vanderwalker Brook, and Stillwater Brook before rejoining the Hudson River near Route 28N in Newcomb and finally crossing the Opalescent River and into the mine area. Riders could continue past the restored iron furnace along the Upper Works Road to end at the Upper Works, a southern trailhead to the High Peaks and Mount Marcy. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Adirondack Family Activities:Pendragon Theatre goes to the LPCA

We are huge fans of live performances whether musical or theatrical in nature. My children dress up and put on long, sometimes arduous, routines where we usually have to break for intermission. They are not formal in their script. They only require an avid audience because that is what they give when they go see a performance.

For our household watching a professional performance has many additional benefits to the live show. The scripts are reenacted for days after highlighting the favorite bits. Questions are asked about stages, costumes and lightening. Conversations are initiated about the story line. Even the music or soundtrack make guest appearances in our house. The children are entertained and feel the need to continue to entertain long after the curtain has closed.

For the month of October Pendragon Theatre is in residence at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts for what is being billed as Fall Foliage Theatre. The three remaining performances are not all for the very young. If a good babysitter is available then there is no reason to forego these last few remaining performances.

Time is running out to see the Pendragon’s production of Bus Stop. Theatre Reviewer Connie Meng of North Country Public Radio says, ‘Artistic Director Susan Neal has done a fine job of staging and directing this unclassifiable play. Bus Stop is part gentle comedy, part small tragedies and wholly human. This is a good evening of theatre and a solid production of an American classic.” On a scale from one to five Meng gave Bus Stop 4 1/3 pine trees. (Click here for the full transcript.)

The Wizard of Oz is a beautifully streamlined production that allows the audience to focus on the various characters and dialog. The theme is still relevant today that “there is no place like home.” If children have seen the classic film there will be differences. This is not a musical, the sets are simple and the journey is one of imagination. There are still plenty of quests for a heart, a brain and some courage and least I forget, the best-loved message that there really is, “no place like home.” That still holds all the power with a simple click of Dorothy’s ruby slippers.

Lastly the comedy Candida is performed in its entire original Victorian splendor as two men vie for the love and loyalty of Candida. Written by playwright George Bernard Shaw, winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925, Candida must choose her husband or the much younger poet. Clever and witty dialog stands the test of time.

So bring the children (to OZ) or take a much-deserved night out and enjoy a Pendragon performance, the Adirondack’s only year-round professional theatre.

All evening tickets are $14.00 for adults and $12.00 seniors and students. Oz tickets are $10.00 for adults and $8.00 for children ages 15 and under. Call LPCA for reservations at 518-523-2512.

Fall Foliage Theatre Schedule
Bus Stop by William Inge: October 16 (Friday) and October 17 (Saturday) at 8:00 p.m.
The Wonderful Wizard of Oz: the classic L. Frank Baum story adapted by Michelle Vacca: October 18 (Sunday) at 2:00 p.m.
Candida by George Bernard Shaw: October 23 (Friday) and October 24 (Saturday) at 8:00 p.m.

Photograph of a performance of Candida performed at the Pendragon Theatre


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Food, Agriculture And The North Country Economy

It’s often overlooked as a part of our Adirondack economy and history, but believe it or not farming has been a part of Adirondack culture since the 18th century. At one time, farming was what most Adirondackers did either for subsistence, as part of a commercial operation, or as an employee of a local farm or auxiliary industry. While in general across America the small family farm have been in decline, according to the 2007 U.S. Census of Agriculture farms that sell directly to the consumer in the six Northern New York counties grew from 506 to 619, while all other agriculture sectors declined 6.6%. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Adirondack Journalism Conference Coming to Blue Mt. Lake

The Adirondack Center for Writing (ACW) will host a journalism conference at the Blue Mountain Center, in Blue Mountain Lake, on Tuesday, November 10. Some of the region’s and state’s best reporters will be presenters, and the keynote speaker will be environmental journalist Jeff Goodell, author of Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future (Houghton Mifflin, 2007). Adirondack Almanack’s John Warren will participate as a panelist in a discussion on blogs.

The conference is open to all, and registration details are provided at the end of this press release from ACW:

Presenters include Will Doolittle of the Glens Falls Post-Star, Mike Hill of the Associated Press and Brian Mann of North Country Public Radio.

Topics will include “How to Write A Compelling Story with a 24-hour Deadline”; “Tough Reporting in Small Towns,” how to effectively report tough stories even when they involve neighbors and friends; and “How to Make a Living as a Freelance Journalist,” strategies for building a sustainable income as a journalist working in the Adirondack North Country. This discussion will include nuts and bolts issues of multiple sales, quality control, contract arrangements, and deadline management.

A blogging panel discussion features John Warren of Adirondack Almanack and New York History, Brian Mann of NCPR’s “In Box,” and Adirondack Life associated editor Lisa Bramen, who blogs for the Smithsonian’s “Food and Thought.” That discussion will be moderated by Elizabeth Folwell of Adirondack Life magazine.

Jeff Goodell is a best-selling author and journalist. The New York Times called his latest book, Big Coal: The Dirty Secret Behind America’s Energy Future (Houghton Mifflin, 2007), “a compelling indictment of one of the country’s biggest, most powerful and most antiquated industries . . . well-written, timely, and powerful.”

Goodell is the author of three previous books including Sunnyvale, a memoir about growing up in Silicon Valley that was selected as a New York Times Notable Book. Our Story, an account of the nine miners trapped in a Pennsylvania coal mine, was a national bestseller. He is a contributing editor at Rolling Stone, and his work has appeared in many publications, including The New Republic, The Washington Post, The New York Times Magazine, and Wired. His new book, How to Cool the Planet: Geoengineering and the Audacious Quest to Fix Earth’s Climate will be published by Houghton Mifflin in the spring of 2010.

Will Doolittle grew up in Saranac Lake and started his journalism career as a 14-year-old at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, which, along with the Lake Placid News, was at that time owned and run by his father. He has worked as a reporter and photographer at the Lake Placid News, reporter and city editor at the Adirondack Daily Enterprise and managing editor at the Malone Telegram. He has lived in Glens Falls for 16 years, working at the Post-Star in various positions including night editor, Sunday editor, features editor and, currently, projects editor. He has continued reporting during those years and has written a weekly column for the paper for about a decade.

Doolittle has won numerous state journalism awards and several national ones, as a reporter and editor. He has focused on investigative reporting throughout his career and often—in Malone, Saranac Lake and Lake Placid, especially—found himself investigating people he knew and often ran into around town. He has learned how to do the job in the most effective way, by making many mistakes. He is looking forward to revealing those mistakes to a roomful of reporters.

Mike Hill, in his two decades reporting for The Associated Press, has covered the state Capitol in Albany, the Sept. 11 attacks, crime, technology, culture and food. He has taught journalism at the University at Albany for five years as an adjunct and contributes to Adirondack Life magazine. He lives near Albany with his wife and two children.

Brian Mann came to the Adirondacks after working as a public radio journalist in Alaska and Missouri. He founded the Adirondack news bureau for North Country Public Radio and has won three national Edward R. Murrow Awards. His work appears regularly on National Public Radio. His 2006 book, Welcome to the Homeland, was widely reviewed. Mann is Adirondack bureau chief for North Country Public Radio and has built a thriving business as a freelance writer and producer. He will talk about strategies for building a sustainable income as a journalist working in the Adirondack North Country. His discussion will include nuts and bolts issues of multiple sales, quality control, contract arrangements, and deadline management.


The Adirondack Center for Writing (ACW) is a resource and educational organization that provides support to writers and enhances literary activity and communication throughout the Adirondacks. ACW benefits both emerging and established writers and develops literary audiences by encouraging partnerships among existing regional organizations to promote diverse programs. ACW is supported by public funds from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.

Journalism Conference Date: November 10, 2009
Time: 10:00 AM – 4:15 PM
Open to all – $30 per person, lunch provided (call for group rates)
Location: Blue Mountain Center, Blue Mountain Lake
Contact: Adirondack Center for Writing, (518) 327-6278, acw@paulsmiths.edu; www.adirondackcenterforwriting.org


Monday, October 12, 2009

Local High Peaks Access Point: The Garden

The “Garden” in Keene Valley is one of the more popular access points to the High Peaks region. Turn west from Route 73 onto Adirondack Street which turns into Johns Brook Lane. The parking lot with a capacity of around three dozen cars (including a centerline of vehicles) is located about two miles from Route 73 at the end of Interbrook Way. A modest parking fee of $5.00/day helps to maintain winter plowing, upkeep and pay the weekend attendants. A seasonal shuttle to and from the southwest corner of Marcy Field, with the last run of this season slated for October 18th, helps with overflow. Further details regarding parking/shuttle rates can be viewed via this link.

The Garden’s popularity is perhaps owed to its proximity to a multitude of High Peaks including those of the Great Range. Johns Brook Lodge sits three and one half miles southwest and can be directly accessed via either the Southside trail or the Northside Trail, both of which parallel Johns Brook. While the grandeur of the peaks tempts many, simple explorations of the immediate area can be equally fulfill whether just a brief walk, snowshoe or ski through a hardwood forest or exploration of Johns Brook itself. The easiest access to the brook is from the Southside trail which deviates south (left) from the Northside Trail one half mile from the parking lot.

For all its familiarity to the hiking community, the origin of the Garden’s name is often a mystery since the parking lot appears to be a far cry from a garden. Its origin is, however, as simple as it sounds. It was derived from a vegetable garden maintained at the site of what is now the parking lot in and about the year 1915, according to the Spring 1971 issue of the Forty-Sixer newsletter. The few hikers that passed through the area at that time used the vegetable garden as a reference point and the name remains today.

 


Monday, October 12, 2009

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Monday, October 12, 2009

The Last Days of John Brown: Harpers Ferry, Day One

Friday, October 16th, will be the 150th anniversary of the anti-slavery raid on Harpers Ferry that ended in the trial and execution of John Brown of North Elba. An “Anniversary Procession” will take place from the Kennedy Farm, where Brown and his compatriots spent there last weeks before the raid, to Harpers Ferry. Tim Rowland, 46er, author of High Peaks: A History of Hiking the Adirondacks from Noah to Neoprene, and a regular reader of Adirondack Almanack who lives about 10 miles from the Kennedy Farm, sent this anecdote about the annual John Brown procession: » Continue Reading.