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, [email protected]; 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.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Remote and Difficult Adirondack Paddle Trips

The Adirondacks have a number of remote, difficult trips suitable for either long, single-day trips or for multi-day trips. One notable trip is the Cold River, starting at Tahawus and on to Duck Hole, paddling the entire length of river down to the Raquette, and then either upstream to Long Lake or down to Axton’s Landing.

Another involves a paddle down the upper East Branch of the Oswegatchie to Inlet starting from the Lower Dam on the Bog River, up Lows Lake , and over to the Oswegatchie via Big Deer Pond. (I know of one party that got to the upper East Branch from Stillwater Reservoir and then north via Salmon, Witchhopple, and Clear Lakes.) » Continue Reading.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

APA to Move Forward on Boathouse Regulations

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold public hearings on the APA’s proposed revisions to its boathouse regulations. Following APA meetings in August and September, 2008, the Agency voted of 8 to 3 to submit the proposed revisions for State Administrative Procedure Act (SAPA) authorization (in February of this year). Following authorization to proceed (which the agency received on October 8) the APA will be scheduling several public hearings (both in-park and outside the Blue Line) later this fall. Here is the complete notice from the APA:

The APA Boathouse definition was implemented in Regulations adopted in 1979, and revised in 2002. The new 2009 definition proposes specific roof, height and footprint criteria to replace the 2002 “single story” limitation. The revision clarifies design components and continues to prohibit the use of boathouses for anything other than boat storage.

Other uses, if independently built, would be subject to the shoreline setback requirements of the APA Act. For example, other structures such as decks, guest cottages, and recreation rooms are prohibited on the shoreline if greater than 100 square feet in size. In the past, landowners attached these components as part of what would otherwise be a boat berthing structure, and argued these components were part of the “boathouse” because the previous definitions did not specifically exclude them.

The 2002 definition limits boathouses to a “single story.” However, the definition fails to prohibit large “attics,” and extensive rooftop decks, resulting in some very large non-jurisdictional shoreline structures. The lack of clarity requires architect’s plans and time-consuming staff evaluation.

This is a particular problem in towns that do not have their own zoning ordinances. Currently within the Park, local boathouse regulation runs the gamut from no regulation to some towns having limits on size, including square footage and height restrictions. Some town regulations are more restrictive than the present 2009 proposal.

The 2009 proposal retains the 2002 provisions that define “boathouse” to mean “a covered structure with direct access to a navigable body of water which (1) is used only for the storage of boats and associated equipment; (2) does not contain bathroom facilities, sanitary plumbing, or sanitary drains of any kind; (3) does not contain kitchen facilities of any kind; (4) does not contain a heating system of any kind; (5) does not contain beds or sleeping quarters of any kind”.

The proposal adds: “(6) has a footprint of 900 square feet or less measured at exterior walls, a height of fifteen feet or less, and a minimum roof pitch of four on twelve for all rigid roof surfaces. Height shall be measured from the surface of the floor serving the boat berths to the highest point of the structure.”

The change is prospective only; lawful existing boathouse structures may be repaired or replaced pursuant to Section 811 of the APA Act within the existing building envelop.

For those who wish to exceed the size parameters or expand a larger existing boathouse, a variance will be required. Standard shoreline cutting and wetland jurisdictional predicates still apply in all cases.

Shorelines are important. The dynamic ecosystems that edge Adirondack Park lakes, wetlands, rivers, and streams are critical to both terrestrial and aquatic species. Well-vegetated shorelines serve as buffer strips, protecting banks from erosion, safeguarding water quality, cooling streams, and providing some of the Park’s most productive wildlife habitat. Large structures and intensive use at the shoreline causes unnecessary erosion and adverse impacts to critical habitat and aesthetics and raises questions of fair treatment of neighboring shoreline properties.

The Statutes and Regulations that the Agency is charged to administer, strive to protect water quality and the scenic appeal of Adirondack shorelines by establishing structure setbacks, lot widths and cutting restrictions. However boathouses, docks and other structures less than 100 square feet are exempt from the shoreline setback requirements. The original Adirondack Park Agency Act also allows a higher density of residential development on shoreline lots. Continuing development and redevelopment on the water’s edge, including large dock and boathouse structures, continues to threaten water quality and increase the types of use detrimental to long term protection of the Park’s greatest asset.


Sunday, October 11, 2009

Volunteers Needed for Adirondack Fall Trails Day

Adirondack outdoor recreation enthusiasts will have an opportunity to give back to the region’s trail system on Saturday, Oct. 17, when the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) Trails Program holds its 17th Annual Fall Trails Day in the High Peaks Region. Participants can stay at the ADK’s Wilderness Campground for free both Friday and Saturday nights; Saturday begins with a basic breakfast at the High Peaks Information Center near the Adirondak Loj (volunteers should pack a lunch). A list of trail projects is available at www.adk.org/trails/Fall_Trails_Day_List.aspx.

According to the ADK announcement of this year’s Fall Trails Day “volunteers, working with trained leaders, will use hand tools to clean drainage, trim overgrown sections of trail and remove downed trees. This maintenance work will help prepare the trails and their existing erosion-control structures for spring. Once debris is cleared from drainage ditches, the trails will be better suited to withstand rainwater and spring snowmelt runoff.” All maintenance work is done in cooperation with the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

For more information or to register, contact the ADK Trails Program at (518) 523-3441.


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Paddler and Author Don Morris Joins Adirondack Almanack

Adirondack Almanack is pleased to announce that Don Morris is joining the site as paddling contributor. Don’s posts on all things canoeing and kayaking will run monthly, beginning tomorrow.

Don is co-author of Adirondack Canoe Waters, North Flow, the classic canoeing and kayaking guide and just a great book, period. “Don is an experienced kayaker at home in technical waters beyond the skill of the original writer,” Paul Jamieson (the book’s selfsame original writer) wrote in 1994 as he announced the transition in authorship. Jamieson died in 2006 at age 103. Don has added whitewater routes as well as detail about technical runs to the book. But he says he spends just as much time on flatwater in the Adirondacks and on his travels outside the region.

Photograph: Don Morris and friends paddle Ausable Chasm


Saturday, October 10, 2009

Olympic Region Athlete Send-Off Celebration Tonight

There will be a public send-off celebration today to honor the more than 200 athletes from the sports of Biathlon, Bobsled, Cross Country, Freestyle, Luge, Nordic Combined, Skeleton, Ski Jumping, Downhill and others who are in the region training and competing for a spot on the 2010 US Olympic Team that will compete in Vancouver, British Columbia February 12th to February 28th. (The Paralympic Winter Games will be held March 12, to March 21, 2010.)

The event will begin at 6 pm in Mids Park, Main Street, Lake Placid, and will feature live music by former luge Olympian Gordy Sheer and his band Loud & Stupid. An autograph session will kick off the event, which will also include an Olympic Send-Off Ceremony and Torch Lighting.


Friday, October 9, 2009

Weekly Adirondack Blogging Round-Up


Friday, October 9, 2009

Adirondack Initiative to be Unveiled at Health Summit

Warned in 2007 that the entire health care system in Adirondacks was at stake, federal and state officials responded with millions of dollars in funding to create a new initiative that will expand health care services in the Adirondacks and serve as a model for under-served regions throughout the country.

That initiative, a multi-year pilot program called the Adirondack Medical Home Demonstration Project, will be unveiled at a second Adirondack Health Summit, to be held October 13 at 10 am at the Warren County Municipal Center in Lake George.

“In August 2007, the New York State Association of Counties convened an Adirondack Health Summit to call attention to an emerging health care crisis in the Adirondacks, especially with regard to primary care. Since then, the region’s health care providers, together with leading payers, have been meeting with he State Health Department to craft a solution. These efforts address health care reform at the local level, where it can be most effective,” said Stephen J. Acquario, the Executive Director of the New York State Association of Counties.

The Adirondack Medical Home Demonstration Project will be launched officially in January, 2010, said Dr. John Rugge, the CEO of Hudson Headwaters Health Network, a consortium of 12 community health care centers Acquario described the Adirondack Medical Home Demonstration Project as a “partnership between health care providers, insurers and government.”

The goal, he said, is to provide “a medical home” for patients in which care is better managed and co-ordinated, especially individuals with complex, chronic conditions that require multiple treatments, medications, and specialty services.

“Primary care clinicians, in collaboration with insurers and the New York State Health Department, are engaged in an initiative to better organize and deliver primary care services while addressing the value and cost of health care services,” said Acquario. “The partnership could reach over 150,000 patients and involve almost 100 physicians and at least seven insurers, including the state. If successful, the model could be replicated in other parts of the state.”

In fact, said U.S. Senator Chuck Schumer, “This is a program that may just save health care in the North Country and, what’s more, prove to be a pioneer of national significance. Every crisis represents an opportunity and we are fortunate to have the key health care leaders working together before it is too late.”

The project is supported by Governor Paterson, Commissioner Daines and Deborah Bachrach, Director of the NYS Health Department’s Office of Health Insurance Programs, which includes Medicaid and all public and private insurance programs, said Acquario.

According Acquario, the New York State Health Department is participating in the project as an insurer and has agreed to convene the other major payers across northern New York. Participating insurance companies include the New York State Health Insurance Program (NYSHIP), Empire BlueCross BlueShield, Excellus, Blue Shield of Northeastern New York, Fidelis Care, MVP, and United HeathCare (through the ‘Empire Plan’).

The summit will include local government, business leaders, service organizations, educational institutions and environmental groups. New York State Health Commissioner Richard Daines, MD will be the keynote speaker.

According to Dr. John Rugge, the initiative is one attempt to address the high costs of providing health care and inadequate rates of reimbursement for primary care services.

“Everybody knows the system is broken; we have to change the way we practice medicine and the insurers have agreed in principle that health care providers have to be reimbursed for the costs of delivering that care in a more effective and efficient manner,” said Rugge.

Like the “Doctors Across New York Program,” an initiative announced by New York State’s Health Commissioner in Glens Falls last year that will give new physicians as much as $150,000 to repay medical school loans if they spend at least five years practicing in underserved areas, the new project will help communities recruit and retain physicians, Rugge said. “Primary care physicians can see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Rugge said. “They know the value of their work will be recognized.”

The project will be funded in part through grants that will, for example, increase the use of electronic records which will make co-ordinating care easier, said Rugge.

Last week, Governor David Paterson announced that Adirondack health care centers and hospitals would receive a $7 million grant to finance the increased use of electronic records.

According to Rugge, the success of the program will be seen in cost savings derived from fewer trips to the hospitals and unnecessary tests, lower prescription costs and the patient’s healthier lifestyle.

“The average patient may not see a difference in his care, but the chronically ill patient will,” said Rugge. “For adults, disease management will focus on chronic diseases that account for nearly 80% of health care spending. For children, the focus will be providing preventive services and the long-term management of chronic conditions such as obesity.”

By allowing physicians to spend more time with patients and craft individual health care regimens, “primary care will be hiked up to a new level,” said Rugge.

For more news from Lake George, read the Lake George Mirror



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