This week I’m posting from The Catskill Irish Arts Week in East Durham, NY. in a few moments I’ll be taking a class in beginner Irish guitar accompaniment. That may seem funny because I already accompany some Irish musicians but the truth is I need the fundamentals. Despite internet connection issues and cell phone service sparsity I’m attempting to give you a good overview of the activities I’ll be missing this weekend in the Adirondacks while attending this great week of all Irish music and bluegrass at Grey Fox. You have two chances to catch a band called Jatoba. On Friday they are going to be at the Monopole starting at 10 pm in Plattsburgh. Then on Saturday they’ll be at the Waterhole in Saranac Lake; a free show starts at 7pm and it’s outside on the patio. Later that night stick around for The Hospice Benefit which aside from being for a phenomenal cause will offer a variety of bands to listen and dance to. I wish I could tell you more but the bands are a mystery as of Wednesday night, however, I’m sure it’ll be worthwhile night.
The NYS Senate granted unanimous approval (58-0) today to two bills designed to help three small communities qualify for economic development and community enhancement projects through money available from the NYS Department of State and provided through the federal Coastal Resources program. If signed by Governor Paterson, the bills would grant inland waterway status to Lake Placid, Mirror Lake and the Little River in the Town of Franklin.
According to the Adirondack Council’s John Sheehan, “these programs encourage comprehensive planning and sustainable economic development, especially projects that also help to protect water quality and other natural resources. Businesses and residents will be eligible for state and federal matching funds for business development and community beautification/revitalization programs.” » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold a legislative hearing on Tuesday, July 28, 2009 at the Forestport Town Hall on a proposed widening and improvement of a ten mile stretch of Route 28 from Route 12 (in Forestport, Oneida County) to the Moose River in the Town of Webb (Herkimer County). The project sponsors, NYSDOT and National Grid, will also be there to answer questions or address concerns about the design of the project. APA staff will be available to discuss the permitting process. The legislative hearing will start at 6:15pm. Here is a description of the project and other details on the meeting which were supplied by the APA:
The project begins approximately 6 miles north of the intersection of Routes 12 and 28 in Alder Creek and terminates at the Moose River in McKeever for a total project length of approximately 10.3 miles. The project consists of resurfacing a section from the southerly limit of the project for a length of approximately 2 miles; a reconstruction section for approximately 2.5 miles through Woodgate and a portion of White Lake; resurfacing a section with minor widening for a length of approximately 1.5 miles through a portion of White Lake; and resurfacing a section for the remainder of the project for a length of approximately 4.5 miles through Otter Lake to the Moose River in the Town of Webb. There will be utility relocations throughout the reconstruction section to provide a minimum offset from the edge of travel lane of 16 feet. There will be additional isolated utility pole relocations within the resurfacing sections to provide the same 16 foot offset.
PURPOSE OF MEETING: This is an informal legislative hearing conducted by the Adirondack Park Agency pursuant to APA Act section 804(6) to receive public comment on the proposed project. The hearing will include introductory presentations on the project design by the NYS Department of Transportation and National Grid. Agency staff will take notes on the public comment. Comments may be submitted by verbal statements during the hearing or by submitting a written statement. Agency Board Members and Designees may be present to hear the public comments. The Agency Board will make its decision on the project at one of its monthly meetings at some time in the near future.
GOAL OF THE MEETING: To allow the public to express concerns regarding this proposed project and how it may positively or negatively impact individual properties or the community.
MEETING FORMAT: NYSDOT, National Grid and APA personnel will be available from 5:30 to 6:15, prior to the formal presentation, to address any questions or concerns that individuals may have about the design of the project or the APA permitting process. At 6:15 APA Deputy Director Mark Sengenberger will commence the formal portion of the hearing. He will introduce NYSDOT and National Grid personnel who will make brief presentations concerning the project objectives, scope, schedule and cost. During the presentations, the public can ask questions for clarification purposes only. Following the presentations, members of the public will have the opportunity to make brief verbal statements about the project. There will be a sign up sheet for any persons wishing to make public comment. In order to allow everyone to speak who wants to, comments will be limited to no more than 3 minutes in length and speakers will go in the order that they signed up. Members of the public can provide additional written comments to the Agency at or after the meeting. Town of Forestport and Town of Webb officials will be present and introduced at the meeting.
The Adirondack region’s local energy bill is more than $600 million a year. Add in gasoline and the number soars past $1.5 billion a year. A new initiative seeks to cut that cost, and use the savings to help the region’s economy. The details of the region’s energy use are included in a new report, entitled the Adirondack Energy & Greenhouse Gas Inventory, that breaks down energy production and consumption. It details how money spent on energy flows out of the Adirondacks, draining resources from the local economy. The report, documenting the entire Adirondack region, is one of the largest regional energy and carbon audits ever produced in the United States. “We’re interested in getting our hands on these numbers because we want to see how we could use the projected major changes in national and state energy policies to help build our regional economy,” said Ross Whaley former President of SUNY ESF. “If we could save just 10 percent of what we spend importing the energy we use locally we’d have $60 million more dollars a year that we could invest in the Adirondacks.”
The report was supported in part by The Wild Center and ADKCAP, a new initiative that says its goals are to channel federal and state efforts into the region to improve energy efficiency, support regional programs formed to help cut energy costs and waste, and create or save higher-value jobs that could have a lasting impact on the Adirondack economy. A year in the making, the final report that its backers say could lead to tackling energy waste and carbon pollution in the Adirondacks, is now available online http://www.adkcap.org/?q=audit.
Highlights? The report shows some big collective numbers. Almost 490 million gallons of gasoline are used to power vehicles in the region, more than 35 million gallons of fuel oil and kerosene and over 10 million gallons of LPG are used to heat area homes and hot water. Residential users inside the Adirondacks spend more than $25 million a year on electricity to heat their homes and $135 million a year on electricity for things other than heat, like running refrigerators and lights.
“When you become cognizant of the energy dollars being spent in the Adirondacks each year, one quickly realizes that we need to find an approach to keep some of those dollars here,” said Brian Towers of the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages. “Obviously community leaders from around the region need to investigate every avenue from small hydroelectric, solar and wind projects to looking at ways of reducing municipal energy costs with bio-fuels. Any way that we can cut public energy costs has a correlating effect on property taxes.”
The report was prepared by leading research firm Ecology and Environment, Inc. of Lancaster, NY. It was commissioned to create a baseline for looking at energy consumption in the area and dovetailed with the strong interest of a number of area groups who were looking at the Adirondacks as a potential large-scale example of how a region could address carbon dependence and grow its economy. “The national conference held here was about how the United States needs to transition away from carbon as our main energy source. With this transition comes opportunity if we act fast,” said Stephanie Ratcliffe of The Wild Center. “It started people talking about putting the idea of aggressively implementing energy efficiency and developing new renewable energy sources here in the Adirondacks. This is one of the few times that environmental concerns and economic opportunities share the same goals from the outset.”
The Adirondacks as an Example for the Nation
“We think we have a chance to set an example for the nation,” said Kate Fish of ADKCAP. “If we can show that you can cut energy costs in a big way, and use the money to grow your economy, others can learn from what we do. We are a region of 103 living, breathing and working towns and villages with challenges a lot of other places can relate to. Making this happen here could mean a lot for people all over the U.S. who are wrestling with high costs of energy, and the need to rebuild their economies.”
Fish and others say the Adirondacks’ New York location and high visitation make it an attractive place for other organizations, including power companies, who are looking to test efficiency and renewable ideas. “We can be the first place to take on energy independence across a large area. If we can show that 103 regular towns and villages can break the grip of energy dependence and build our local economies in a sustainable way we could demonstrate something important to others,” said Fish.
ADKCAP, an umbrella group, formed after the ‘American Response to Climate Change Conference -The Adirondack Model’ held in November of 2008 at The Wild Center, is working with partner organizations and individuals to build on a variety of plans to turn energy savings into local benefits. Based on data in the report that shows that one third of all the energy used locally in the Adirondacks comes from home heating, a number of partners are focusing on getting effective region-wide access to programs designed to cut home heating and utility costs, including training a skilled energy audit and retrofit workforce. The initial actions being considered would also include logical uses of renewable sources including testing of new low emissions wood gasification systems that could use sustainably harvested local forest products. The development of a forest products-based energy system could also mean local jobs. Other local energy sources could include sun, wind and hydro, including small-scale hydro that could take advantage of standing local dams.
Groups involved with ADKCAP say that new job creation could encourage younger families to stay in the area, reversing the aging-population trend in upstate New York. “It has been demonstrated conclusively that one of the greatest home energy savers is preventing air infiltration. This can be a low-cost, high yield effort. Next, is improving the efficiency of the furnaces and boilers. Green home energy saving really is possible for everyone,” said Alan Hipps, Executive Director of Housing Assistance Program of Essex County. “Those are simple examples of how we can cut energy costs and create jobs at the same time.”
The renewable energy industry generated about 500,000 jobs and $43 billion revenue in the U.S. in 2007. The much broader energy-efficiency industry generated 8.6 million jobs and $1 trillion in revenue, according to a report issued in January by the American Solar Energy Society. The national study projected that the renewable and energy efficiency businesses could employ 16 million to 37 million people by 2030, depending on government policy.
“We need new jobs here, good jobs, and jobs that let us keep our natural character,” said Ann Heidenreich of Community Energy Services of Canton, NY. “We’re going to need to solve energy challenges one way or another, and this report gives us some of the basic tools to do the smartest thing, and be more in control of our future.”
Mike DeWein, an expert on regional energy issues and a member of the ADKCAP and Energy $mart Park Initiative (E$PI) steering committees, says the Adirondacks could do well by getting out ahead on energy efficiency issues. “We know the energy world is going to change in significant ways in the next 20 years, particularly because of national trends and policies going into effect in current state and Federal legislation. Places that get ahead of the curve will benefit, and the report sets the groundwork for the Adirondacks by moving initiatives and programs and being ready to benefit from those policies, as well as be ready for funding opportunities.” DeWein cited the internet revolution as an example. “Often when something big is happening it pays to “start the train down the track” to be ready for the opportunities rather than sit on the rail siding waiting for the train.”
The report was prepared for The Wild Center and ADKCAP, in consultation with The Adirondack Energy $mart Initiative (E$PI), by Ecology and Environment, Inc and with key contributions from Dr. Colin Beier of SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. The report was funded by the Adirondack Community Trust – Master Family Fund.
NOTE: This post is a reprint of the ADKCAP and Wild Center’s press release.
The Adirondack History Center Museum in Elizabthetown is presenting the annual Bits and Pieces Festival, From the Center of the World: A Celebration of Lake Champlain, beginning Friday, July 17 at 11:00 am. An inter-generational group of actors takes on 400 years of history with reflections on the Quadricentennial. Five production dates are scheduled: three Fridays at 11:00am on July 17, 24, 31 and two Sundays at 4:00pm on July 26 and August 2.
The performance project has been created in collaboration with the Depot Theatre, the Westport Central School and the Westport Heritage Festival. It focuses on seven pivotal moments in Lake Champlain history that have global significance. The moments are depicted through fictional characters using soliloquies to explore their personal connections to each event, the changing landscape, and the curious process of human “discovery.” The production moves the audience through and around the museum. » Continue Reading.
Today marks the anniversary of one of the worst storms in Upstate New York history. During the early morning hours of July 15, 1995 a series of severe thunderstorms crossed the Adirondacks and much of eastern New York. Meteorologists call the phenomena by the Spanish “Derecho” but locals often refer to the event as the Blowdown of 1995. A similar weather event / blowdown occurred in 1950.
A Derecho is part of a larger family of storms called a Mesoscale Convective System (MCS), a complex of thunderstorms that becomes organized on a scale larger than the individual thunderstorms and which includes phenomenon like lake effect snow. An MCS can sometimes act in ways similar to a hurricane and can produce torrential downpours and high winds. Aside from the remarkable power of the weather event, another unique thing happened – a shift in public policy with regard to salvage logging of public lands. The State’s decision to forgo salvage logging was in stark contrast to federal policies at the time that allowed federal lands to be logged in similar salvage situations. » Continue Reading.
The Wild Center in Tupper Lake is planning to install a large-scale wood gasification heat system that will combine sustainably sourced wood biomass with a solar collector system to heat the 54,000 square-foot Center. The project is being touted as “one of the most efficient and modern gasification/solar systems in the United States.” According to press release issued today: “The system has potential application for large buildings, including schools throughout the region, and the technology has the potential to boost the economy of the Adirondacks by creating demand for a sustainably produced local fuel source.”
Leading representatives from the Forest Products industry, system manufacturers, Clarkson University (which will help monitor the test system), and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), which is co-funding the project, will make presentations to the press on Thursday, July 23rd.
The Wild Center project includes programs to monitor system performance and measurements of emissions as well as a full exhibit on the system for the public, including a see-through series of tubes that will let visitors see the fuel being delivered to the system.
Take a look at the Wall Street Journal slide show on the new technology.
Neighbors of the Cold Spring Granite Company recently received notice from the Adirondack Park Agency that the company hopes to expand its quarry in Au Sable Forks. Cold Spring Granite is one of the largest stone manufacturers in the world and it continues to thrive, even in this tough economy. (In fact they are currently looking to hire a hand polisher and installer – apply in person at 13791 Route 9N in Au Sable Forks). Cold Spring Granite supplies products ranging from building facing, to countertop slabs, grave markers, and mausoleums. It has been privately held by the Alexander family for three generations. Cold Spring (of Minnesota) established the (subsidiary) Lake Placid Granite Company in 1957. Local residents complained over the mine’s expansion by 25 percent in 1988.
Here is the APA’s project description:
The project is a greater than 25% expansion of pre-1973 mineral extraction (Quarry) with a 70.10± acre life of mine. The applicant proposes the extraction of a maximum of 10,500 cubic yards of consolidated mineral, on an annual basis during a five year permit term in conjunction with the Department of Environmental Conservation permit. A total of 41.60± acres will be affected in the next five year term. The proposed mining operation will operate year-round, May 1-September 30, Monday through Friday, 6:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Saturday’s 7:00 a.m. to 12 noon, and October 1- April 30, Monday through Friday, 7:00 a.m. to 400 p.m., and Saturday’s 7:00 a.m. to 12 noon. Proposed blasting hours are year round Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Crushing and breaking of rock will occur during hours of operation. There will be no rock crushing, rock breaking, or blasting on Saturdays. On occasion there will 24 hour operations for the cutting of stone. The equipment to be used in the mining operation includes front-end loaders, bulldozers, dump trucks and portable rock crusher, excavators, generators and rock cutting saws.
The quarry shares a border with the Ausable Acres residential community. Public comments are being taken until July 23, 2008 and should be addressed to:
Michael P. Hannon Adirondack Park Agency P.O. Box 99 Ray Brook, NY 12977 (518)891-4050
Include the Project Number (2008-229) in any correspondence.
Many Adirondack homes have been languishing on the market, For Sale signs weathering on the lawn. Yes, a lot of real estate is overpriced and a lot of people are nervous about buying, but maybe some of these places would be snapped up if they weren’t under-insulated oil-sucking money pits.
If you’re thinking of selling, or are in the business of selling homes, or are just interested in learning more about how you can reduce fossil-fuel use in your own household, there’s a daylong program in Saranac Lake Thursday, September 24 you might want to sign up for. Local can-do person Gloria Volz has arranged to bring the Green Build Science (GBS) training program to the Adirondacks. The course is designed mostly for Realtors and building trades professionals, including contractors, interior designers and home stagers. However anyone, including home and business owners, are welcome to learn more about sustainable building practices, energy efficiency and energy-saving tax credits.
An greenhouse gas inventory of the Adirondack Park commissioned last year found that out of 45,965 year-round homes here, 18,000 are “badly in need of insulation.” About 60% of the energy in every home is wasted through inefficiencies, according to Community Energy Services (CES), based in Canton. A few nationwide numbers: the USA Green Build Council says 92% of people surveyed said green features are important when buying property, and 40% of new homes are being built with green features. That last percentage is depressingly low, actually.
The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) offers a Chinese menu of cash incentives for all kinds of ways to improve home efficiency, from insulating to replacing appliances, to tapping in to clean sources of energy like sun, wind and geothermal, or carbon-neutral local sources like wood and pellets. Sometimes it’s daunting to figure out how to take advantage of these programs, so the September 24 seminar might help with that. If you’d like to start right away, CES is set up to help Adirondack homeowners navigate their way to better home finances and Earth stewardship.
After months of discussion and evaluation, the decision was made on Saturday to formally consolidate the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks (AFPA) with the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks (RCPA) and to form a new organization called Protect the Adirondacks. The new organization will continue a better than 100-year history of protecting the Adirondacks so I thought I’d take a moment to take a look at the new group and how it developed historically.
At their annual meeting last Saturday at Heaven Hill Farm outside the Village of Lake Placid, the memberships of both organizations voted in favor of consolidation, which enables the process to move through the final legal steps of incorporation. The membership of the Residents’ Committee voted 83-0 in favor of the consolidation. The membership of the Association voted 111-2 in favor. » Continue Reading.
Baseball and blooms are both in full season, so we’ll let Christy Mathewson field the July wildflower date observations (May and June lists here and here).
The following notes are verbatim from a hand-written list compiled by the pitcher in 1922, when the charter Hall-of-Famer was in Saranac Lake trying to recover from tuberculosis. He died there in 1925. July 2 Water Avens Yarrow or Sneezewort (White Rays, also Pink Rays!!!!!) Common Milkweed Indian Poke or False Hellebore Purple Flowering Raspberry Fireweed; Great Willow Herb July 4 Cow Parsnip July 5 Common Elder Yellow Avens or Field Avens July 12 Great Mullein Meadowsweet St. Johnswort (Hypericum perforatum) Bull Thistle Common Parsnip yellow July 15 Day Lily (H. fulva) July 16 Water Lily: Water Nymph Maiden Pink (D. Deltoides) Yellow Loosestrife (Lysmachia terrictris) July 17 Canada Thistle Early Goldenrod (S. juncea) Loosestrife (in swamp) (Lysimachia stricta?) Broad-leaved Arrow Head Joe Pye Weed Shinleaf Daisy Fleabane? Lance-leaved Goldenrod Hardhack: Steeple Bush (S. tomentosa) Chicory? Asparagus July 20 Catnip Blue Vervain Bellflower (C. rapunculoides, Linn) Tansy, Bitter Buttons Elecampane Bouncing Bet July 22 Pickerel Weed (P. cordata) Narrow-leaved Arrow Head Ladies Tresses Jewel-weed: Spotted Touch-me-not Monkey Flower July 22 Blue Aster (A. sagittifolius?) Potato (Irish) Lettuce (L. interfrifolia? purplish) Turtlehead (C. glebra) July 24 Water parsnip Golden Ragwort – Squaweed Smaller Purple-fringed Orchis Monkey Flower (M. Ringens) Ladies Tresses (S. ceruns) July 26 Dalibarda (D. repens) Fetid Currant Pipsissewa or Princess Pine Common Evening Primrose (Oe. biennis?) July 31 Bedstraw (Galium triflorum) Mad-dog Skullcap (S. lateriflora) White Aster (A. acummatus and umbelatus) August 1 Bedstraw (G. asprillum) Bottle Gentian Wild Cucumber, Wild Balsam Apple August 3 Skullcap (S. galericulata) Bladderwort (U. vulgaris) August 4 Climbing false buckwheat
Some of the common plant names Mathewson noted have faded from use in this region (hardhack, sneezwort, wild balsam apple). My posthumous crush on this guy deepens every time I look at his list. His excitement over pink rays in the yarrow (!!!!!) and uncertainty over a species of primrose (?) are endearing. It’s hard to imagine a contemporary pro athlete taking such careful notice of the natural world.
Photo: Christy Mathewson attends a town league game in Saranac Lake, 1920s. Courtesy of Historic Saranac Lake.
Local county fairs start this week, so here is our full list of Adirondack county fairs, listed according to opening date. As usual, I’ve included a few of the most important regional fairs as well. See you at the fair!
Restoration work on the Crown Point Pier and Champlain Memorial Lighthouse has been completed and both facilities are once again open to the public. Restoration work on the pier included reenforcement of the bulkhead and piers, removal of zebra mussels, refurbishing of the metal trusses and decking, repair of the roof — including replacement of broken slate shingles, thorough cleaning of exterior and interior surfaces and placement of new signs.
Work on the lighthouse included restoration of the Rodin sculpture, thorough cleaning and repair of outer stonework and thorough cleaning, resealing and painting of the interior. The Rodin sculpture has not been placed back on the lighthouse, but will be prior to the Quadricentennial Celebration in September. » Continue Reading.
I took a few moments this morning to read the comments on past posts to the Almanack (thank you, all) and found a potentially distressing note on my deer-proofing post. I had mentioned that a good deer proof plant to include in your arsenal was hawthorn, and someone commented that we need to be careful about invasive hawthorns. Invasive hawthorns? I didn’t know there were such things, so I had to look it up.
Lo! and behold, the anonymous commenter was correct: there is an invasive hawthorn out there. It is Crataegus monogyna, the oneseed hawthorn, aka: English hawthorn. This plant has become quite the pest out in California, but it seems to have made inroads throughout the West as well as the East. According to the range map I saw, the middle of the US seems to be free of this invasive so far. » Continue Reading.
Mining was once a major industry in northern New York State. Small iron mines and forges appeared along Lake Champlain in the late 1700s. In the 1820s, the industry began to grow rapidly, reaching its peak in the mid-to-late 1800s. The story of mining is much more than minerals found and ores extracted. This Monday, July 13, 2009 Dr. Carol Burke will explore human aspects of Adirondack mining in an illustrated program entitled “The Adirondack Mining Village” at the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake.
Part of the museum’s popular Monday Evening Lecture series, the presentation will be held in the Auditorium at 7:30 p.m. There is no charge for museum members. Admission is $5.00 for non-members. Burke’s presentation reflects an ongoing project that documents accounts of the daily lives or ordinary people who lived and worked in the now abandoned mining villages of Tahawus and nearby Adirondac (known in the 1950s as “The Upper Works”). Dr. Burke will share photographs and recollections of everyday life in these former company towns.
Carol Burke, a Professor at the University of California at Irvine, is a folklorist and journalist whose ethnographic work has produced books that document the lives of Midwestern farm families, female inmates in our nation’s prisons, and most recently, members of the armed services. Six months ago she was embedded with an army unit in northern Iraq.
Dr. Burke spends her summers in the Adirondacks and is currently documenting the everyday life of the once-flourishing mining village of Tahawus. Before joining the faculty at the University of California at Irvine, Professor Burke taught at Vanderbilt University, Johns Hopkins University, and the United States Naval Academy.
The broad story of mining in the Adirondacks is one of fortunes made and lost, of suicide, madness, and ambition, and the opening of one of America’s last frontiers. Mining shaped the physical and cultural landscape of the Adirondack Park for generations. The Adirondack Museum plans to open the completely revitalized exhibit “Mining in the Adirondacks” in 2012 to share this incredible history.
Photo: Adirondack Village, Near the Upper Works. From Benson J. Lossing’s The Hudson, from the Wilderness to the Sea, 1859.