Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Natural History Along the Hudson River

For several years I have been a contributor to the Hudson River Almanac, a publication put out by the Department of Environmental Conservation’s Hudson River Estuary Program that follows the changes of the seasons all along the 315 miles of the Hudson River, from its headwaters here in Essex County to the Atlantic Ocean. It’s an impressive collection of natural history observations made by scientists and laypeople alike. For a naturalist, this is a fascinating journal. If these waters could talk, what a tale they could tell! » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Abenaki Candidates to Address Voters Saturday

Denise Watso, a descendant of the legendary Abenaki Chief Louis Watso who lived in Lake George Village for a time and figures prominently in 19th century Native American life there, sent the Almanack a press release (below) about an upcoming candidate forum in Albany on Saturday, October 24.

This is a significant event in the history of the Abenaki Nation. It was only within this decade that the substantial membership of the Odanak Abenaki First Nation living in the Albany area have been able to vote for their chief and council members. This is the first election in which off-reserve Abenaki are able to run for office as well as vote.

Here is the press release:

The Capital District will host one of three forums for Abenaki voters to hear directly from candidates for Chief and Council of the Odanak Abenaki First Nation. The forum will be held from 12-4 PM, Saturday, October 24 at the German-American Club, 32 Cherry Street, Albany, NY 12205. This is an exciting time in the history of the Abenaki people – all Abenaki enrolled at Odanak are invited and encouraged to attend with their families.

Two additional forums will be held during the election season at Sudbury, Ontario, and on-reserve at Odanak. Elections will be held Saturday, November 28, 2009, although voters may also cast their ballots by mail.

The Abenaki are the aboriginal people associated with homelands in much of northern New England and adjacent parts of New York, Massachusetts and Quebec, as well as with the Odanak (Saint Francis) and Wôlinak (Becancour) reserves in central Quebec (and historically with the Penobscot Nation in Maine, too). Abenaki derives from Wabanaki (“people from where the sun rises,” “people of the east,” or “people of the dawn”), and this latter term is often used in a general sense to refer collectively to the Mi’kmaq, Malecite, Passamaquoddy, Penobscot and Abenaki peoples.

While many Abenaki have been thought of as “Saint Francis Indians,” living at Odanak, in truth many Abenaki families have maintained part-time or full-time residence within their homelands south of the border continuously since the American Revolution. In fact, the first election held by the Odanak First Nation under the Indian Act, the legislation regulating aboriginal affairs in Canada, occurred January 18, 1876, after many Abenaki (and their Indian Agent) complained that the three chiefs serving the community at the time – Louis Watso, Solomon Benedict and Jean Hannis – were away from the reserve so often that two additional chiefs were required to ensure adequate representation. (The aged chief Louis Watso was actually living at Lake George, where a good deal of his family resided.) Samuel Watso and Lazare Wawanolett were chosen from a field of six candidates, and elections for office have been held at regular intervals ever since.

Abenaki history on the upper Hudson dates to at least the late 17th century when many ancestors of the modern Abenaki people lived at Schaghticoke, near the mouth of the Hoosic River. Continuing Abenaki presence in New York State is attested to by such notable 19th century Adirondack Abenaki as Sabael Benedict, Mitchell Sabattis, and the late 19th/early 20th century Indian Encampments at Saratoga Springs, Lake George and Lake Luzerne were primarily occupied by Abenaki. Despite a lack of recognition by the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs, these Abenaki families have persisted within and beyond their homelands: today, the Albany metro region is a major Abenaki population center. Other significant concentrations of Abenaki people are located in Waterbury, CT; Newport, VT; and Sudbury, Ontario.

This will be the second time that a formal forum for candidates for Chief and Council has been held in Albany. Approximately 60 people attended a similar event two years ago, and an even higher turn-out is expected this weekend. Off-reserve Abenaki were not allowed to vote in Odanak’s election until after the Supreme Court of Canada’s 1999 Corbiere ruling struck down the voter residency requirement of Canada’s Indian Act.

The importance of the off-reserve vote has been increasing with each passing election. This election, however, may bring about even greater change as it will be the first time since the Indian Act was enacted that off-reserve Abenaki will be eligible to accept a nomination for office (per the 2007 Federal Court of Appeals’ Esquega decision). The potential impact of this development places an even greater spotlight on the role of off-reserve voters in the civic affairs of the Abenaki Nation.

It is also a point of pride for many Abenaki who think of both Odanak and the Albany area as home. Susan Marshall, a lifelong resident of Albany and Rensselaer, is looking forward to attending the candidate’s forum and voting for her first time. “I just wish my mom (Mary Jane Nagazoa) was here to see this, knowing how proud she would be.”


Wednesday, October 21, 2009

What Paterson’s Deficit Proposals Mean For The Adirondacks

Late last week Governor David Paterson announced a two-year, $5.0 billion deficit reduction plan that he claims would “eliminate the State’s current-year budget gap without raising taxes, as well as institute major structural reforms.” The plan includes a second raid on the state’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), which the Governor swept clean of $50 million at the end of 2008, and a raid on the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative’s (RGGI) carbon allowance auction proceeds. Those funds, amounting to about $90 million, had been slated for energy conservation and clean energy development.

“Energy conservation and clean energy development,” says Adirondack Council spokesman John Sheehan, “are two areas where the investment would have provided both real savings for the taxpayer and clear benefits to the environment and public health.” None of the money collected from the carbon auctions since the New York began participating in January has been spent on energy programs according to Sheehan, who added that “this may be the first time in history that a dedicated fund was actually raided for another purpose before one cent of it was spent on its intended purpose.”

The proposed $10 million dollar raid on the EPF is the second within a year. About $500 million has been diverted from the fund for non-environmental purposes since 2003. The EPF is supposed to fund major environmental projects and provide local tax relief for landfill closures, municipal recycling facilities, conservation agreements, and expansion of the state Forest Preserve.

“A month or so ago, we wondered aloud why the Governor wasn’t spending the Environmental Protection Fund money that had already been collected since April 1,” Sheehan wrote in a recent e-mail to the media, “Now we know why.”

The governor’s announcement comes just a week after he said he would cut ten percent from the budgets of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Adirondack Park Agency (APA). The Governor’s plan announced late last year to cut state property tax payments to Adirondack municipalities that host state lands was rejected by the State Legislature this spring.

EXCERPT FROM GOVERNOR’S PRESS RELEASE:

Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (RGGI)/EPF Transfers
(2009-10 Savings: $100 million; 2010-11 Savings: $0 million)

This proposal would transfer $90 million in RGGI proceeds and $10 million from the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) to the General Fund. It is currently expected that RGGI proceeds through the end of 2009-10 will total $220 million, allowing the state to meet its $112 million commitment to the recently passed Green Jobs legislation, as well as this $90 million General Fund transfer. Additionally, it is fully expected that after implementation of the DRP, the State would still be able to meet its original 2009-10 EPF cash spending plan of $180 million, which is equal to record 2008-09 levels.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Adirondack Family Activities: The Pines

To us, Big Game Season means something other than hunting. I’ve never been hunting and make an active choice not to be part of the hunted. With that decision comes the autumn neon wardrobe introduction and fashion faux pas but I am doing what I can to keep my family safe. Our lovely orange vests are kept conveniently in the car so I can cloak child or dog in festive array. In the Northern Adirondacks, Big Game Season starts this Saturday (October 24) and runs through December 6th.

The first of many safe walks I’ll be posting is the 12-acre lot in the heart of Saranac Lake called The Pines. The Pines is an area dedicated to the memory of Dr. Lawrason Brown, a pioneer in tuberculosis in the late 19th Century. The 12-acre plot is owned by the Saranac Lake Voluntary Health Association (SLVHA) and was deeded in 1937 to the organization while it was still called the Saranac Lake Tuberculosis Society, Inc., hence the connection to TB and Dr. Brown. SLVHA is a not-for-profit organization established in 1897 that continues to provide healthcare initiatives and scholarships for Saranac Lake residents.

Their property, known as The Pines, consists of a network of trails and old roadways easily accessible from any of three points. The first entrance is on Pine Street diagonally across from the railroad track crossing. Entrance two and three are on Forest Hill Road and Labrador Lane, off Moody Pond.

The trails are a mild walk with the most challenging hill being the entrance on Pine Street. The Pine Street entrance is a moderate incline to a then flat open path that runs along as esker. There is no view along these wooded paths, just a beautiful trail under a canopy of trees.

Somewhere hidden in the forest is the stone foundation of an old social club. There is no trail map or marked path available, but it doesn’t seem to make a difference. Each path seems quite short, less than a ¼-mile, intersecting and weaving together. The wide, flat path is easy enough to maneuver a jogging stroller or even the toddler venturing out on his/her own.

Volunteers maintain the trails so please carry out what you carry in, even the half-full coffee cup set carefully to the side of the trail.

The Pines is open to the public, though some restrictions do apply like no camping or motorized vehicles. Please be respectful of other people’s land as private property surrounds The Pines. Please heed the No Trespassing signs. For more information contact SLVHA at 518-891-0910.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Hunting: Deer Season Opens in The Adirondacks

On Friday my friend Todd was seen stocking up at Blue Line Sports Shop in Saranac Lake. That could only mean muzzleloading season was opening Saturday.

Muzzleloaders, or black-powder hunters, are older school than their “regular” shotgun and rifle counterparts. Maybe they’re more interested in the pursuit than the kill; they’re definitely more process-oriented and Daniel Boone-like. It’s no surprise that muzzleloading interests Todd, a guy so deeply into fly-fishing that he learned to scuba dive so he could see for himself how fish behave. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Saranac Lake Community Store Closer to Funding Goal

Last week we received word from the people behind the Saranac Lake Community Store project that a recent fundraising surge has brought investment capital to $395,000. They need to sell $500,000 worth of shares to launch the store.

If organizers don’t reach half a million by the initial offering deadline of December 17, board vice-president Gail Brill said they will apply for an extension on the offering. “We are so close,” she said in an e-mail, “and light years ahead of Greenfield, MA, which started well before we did.”

Shares cost $100 each and may be purchased by residents of New York State only. Individuals may buy up to $10,000 worth of shares. Organizers had hoped to have the store open by this summer but the economy appears to have rescheduled those expectations. When $500,000 is reached, backers will choose a location, hire staff and purchase inventory.

The business is expected to be about 5,000-square-feet, located downtown and carry department-store-type retail items not currently available in Saranac Lake. Organizers say they will ask local people what they want the store to sell. The village has been without a department store since Ames closed in 2002 but citizen groups have thwarted efforts by Wal-Mart to open a big box. Hardware and drug stores have been filling some of the retail gap.


Monday, October 19, 2009

More Moose in the Adirondacks

Moose are becoming increasingly common in the Adirondacks. An Adirondack Almanack post dated September 2006 stated an estimated population of 200-400. The latest statistics show the population at roughly 500 for the state park. The number of resident moose is growing and, according to some, reaching a stage at which they may increase more prolifically. Whitetail deer and turkey enjoyed the same numeric spike in recent decades.

Some accounts have placed sightings near Copper Kiln Pond and along the Hardy Road in Wilmington. The northern section of the Northville Placid Trail to Duck Hole and beyond harbors moose as well, based on moose droppings spotted along the trail. Reports also placed a moose and calf along Route 73 between Lake Placid and the Cascade Lake area. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 19, 2009

Adirondack Events for Saturday’s Day of Climate Action

Several local events calling for drastic reductions in fossil fuel emissions are planned for Saturday, October 24. They’re all part of an international day of climate action organized by 350.org.

In the Adirondacks so far nine actions have been announced. People are invited to hike a High Peak, kayak Lake Champlain, carpool, attend seminars, stack firewood, make a mural, and gather at a ski area, among other things. They will stand together for group photos that’ll be displayed on 350.org’s Web site to send a message to policymakers. 350.org hopes grassroots activism will encourage world leaders to enact a meaningful global climate treaty this year at their meeting in Copenhagen. Below are in-park event locations with links to more information, including how to participate.
 
Blue Mountain Lake

Keene

Lake Champlain (Westport)

North Creek

Paul Smith’s College and neighbors

Saranac Lake

Tupper Lake

Parkwide (cool commute)

Also, the coordinator of the Adirondack High Peaks Summit Steward Program is planning a hike up Mt Marcy to take photos with a banner. Others are invited to participate, though pre-registration is necessary because of group-size limits in the High Peaks Wilderness. Contact Julia Goren via [email protected]

“As NY’s highest peak, Mt. Marcy seemed like an obvious choice of an iconic location for this event,” Goren e-mailed. “The Adirondack High Peaks Summit Steward Program is a partnership of the Adirondack Mountain Club, the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, and the NYS DEC. We work to protect alpine vegetation atop the highest peaks, so the effect of climate change on this special ecosystem is of particular concern. We will discuss some of these effects during the hike. ADK will also be participating in the 350 event on October 24th at the Heart Lake Property as well.”

Read here for information on why some scientists think 350 parts per million of atmospheric CO2 is an important threshold for all life on earth, or read here for an explanation of the number’s significance.

For more information see 350.org, founded by End of Nature author and former Johnsburg resident Bill McKibben. Late-breaking events may pop up on that site during the week, or you can organize and list your own action.


Monday, October 19, 2009

The Last Days of John Brown: Defeat And Capture

As the first full day of John Brown’s raid dawned almost no one in the village of Harpers Ferry knew what was happening. Charles White for instance, a Presbyterian minister who had spent the evening the raid began on an island between the rifle works, and the armory and arsenal reported that he “knew nothing until daylight when the gentleman with whom we were staying came into our room and notified us.” » Continue Reading.


Sunday, October 18, 2009

Have Dinner With Samuel de Champlain Oct. 24th

Rogers Island Visitors Center in Fort Edward is hosting dinner with Samuel de Champlain on October 24th at the Tee Bird North Golf Club (30 Reservoir Road, Fort Edward). Local Chefs, Neal Orsini owner of the Anvil Restaurant in Fort Edward and Steve Collyer, researched the stores list aboard Champlain’s ship, the Saint-Julien, to develop a dinner menu using European, 17th century ship and New World ingredients. Some menu items were standard fare aboard 17th century ships, but the Saint-Julien was 500 tons, carried more than 100 crew and had a galley which meant that even livestock was brought on board aboard, if only for the captain and officers.

Don Thompson, who has spent this Quadricentennial year traveling throughout New York, Vermont and Canada portraying Samuel de Champlain, will serve as a special guest presenter bringing the story of de Champlain’s North American explorations to life.

There will be a cash bar at 5 pm; and dinner served at 6 pm. The price is $22 for Rogers Island VC members, $25 for non-members and $8 for children under 12. Special prize baskets have been donated for a raffle.

For reservations call Rogers Island Visitor Center at 518-747-3693 or e-mail [email protected] Proceeds benefit the Rogers Island Visitor Center.


Saturday, October 17, 2009

2010 Adirondack Mountain Club Calendar Now Available

The 2010 edition of the Adirondack Mountain Club’s (ADK) calendar, featuring the work of photographer Nancie Battaglia is now available. Here is the announcement from the ADK:

The monthly photographs favor scenes of outdoorspeople and wildlife in settings throughout the Adirondacks, ranging from Pitchoff Mountain and The Brothers to Little Tupper Lake, Raquette Lake and Lake Champlain. The ADK calendar has won over a dozen awards in the Calendar Marketing Association’s national awards program.

A resident of Lake Placid and avid outdoor enthusiast, Battaglia has been documenting Adirondack lifestyles, scenes and sporting activities for over 25 years. She is a frequent contributor to Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) publications. Her stock and assignment photography have also appeared in The New York Times, National Geographic Adventure, Sports Illustrated, Outside, Ski and USA Today, among others. Her collection exceeds 100,000 images reflecting nature’s beauty, human energy, rustic charm, life in the mountains, the spirit of place and the hardy people that live there. She has photographed nine Olympics and is credentialed for Vancouver 2010.


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



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