Hunters, fishermen, and those interested in taxidermy may find my recent post at New York History interesting. The story includes the “world’s largest mounted fish, maybe the largest piece of taxidermy in the world” – a 73-year-old, 32-foot, mounted whale shark caught off Fire Island in 1935 and believed to have weighed about 8 tons (16,000 pounds). It also includes a short history of taxidermy and the covers the role of Carl Akeley whose lifelike creations were installed in dioramas at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
The Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and the Adirondack Land Trust are holding their Annual Membership Meeting and Field Day on August 16, 2008, at Heaven Hill Farm in Lake Placid, New York. The event, featuring keynote speakers Pete Grannis, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner, and Charles D. Canham, Ph.D., Forest Ecologist, is open to the public. Preregistration is required. Prior to becoming DEC Commissioner, Grannis was a NY State Assemblyman for 30 years. During that time, he was an active member of the Environmental Conservation Committee and received recognition from a variety of environmental organizations for his role in enacting laws addressing such issues as acid rain, clean air and water.
Now, under Grannis’s leadership DEC is making history in the Adirondacks with his Smart Growth initiatives and the integral part it is playing in protecting the ecologically and economically significant Finch lands.
Dr. Canham, Senior Scientist with the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY, earned his doctorate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University (1984). Widely recognized as a leader in his field, Dr. Canham’s research papers have appeared in numerous scientific journals. His most recent, Neighborhood Models of the Effects of Invasive Tree Species on Ecosystems Processes (2008), can be found in Ecological Monographs, a publication of the Ecological Society of America.
Dr. Canham’s Adirondack research has taken him deep into the forests of the Five Ponds Wilderness and to hundreds of remote lakes and ponds. He is also a board member of the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and the Adirondack Land Trust and chairs the groups’ Conservation Committee.
Pre-registration is required for this event, which will run from 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Cost per adult is $20, children under 12 are free. Heaven Hill Farm, not ordinarily not open to the public, is just west of the village of Lake Placid, with a magnificent view of the high peaks. To register, or obtain more information, contact Jeff Walton at (518) 576-2082 ext 166 or jwalton[AT]tnc[DOT ORG]
The Nature Conservancy is a leading international, non-profit organization working to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. Since 1971, the Adirondack Chapter has been working with a variety of partners in the Adirondacks to achieve a broad range of conservation results. The Chapter is a founding partner of the High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program, dedicated to the protection of alpine habitat, as well as the award-winning Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, which works regionally to prevent the introduction and spread of non-native invasive plants.
The Adirondack Land Trust, established in 1984, protects open space, working farms and forests, undeveloped shoreline, scenic vistas, and other lands contributing to the quality of life of Adirondack residents. The Land Trust holds 45 conservation easements on 11,174 acres of privately-owned lands throughout the Adirondack Park, including 15 working farms in the Champlain Valley.
Together, these partners in Adirondack conservation have protected 556,572 acres, one out of every six protected acres park-wide.
Adirondack Almanack periodically forwards press releases like this one to our readers.
There was an interesting story in Sunday’s Press Republican about Gordon Oil in AuSable Forks. The company was founded by Clifford Gordon in 1921 and is now in it’s third generation. Part of the story was a tiny detail at the end that says a lot about our current economic environment:
“Starting out as Standard Oil of New York — or SOCONY, as the sign on top of the display [at Gordon’s main office] states — in the 1920s it became Mobiloil and then, in 1931, Socony-Vacuum.
Following 1955, every decade or so the parent company underwent business transformations, which included Socony Mobil Oil Co., Mobil Oil Corp., Mobil Corp. and, in 1999, ExxonMobil…
Lewis [Gordon, who operated the business with his brother Waxy for 50 years) recalled the big tanks they used to have, which were cut down for steel during World War II.
“There used to be storage in Plattsburgh,” he said. “Big barges would come through Whitehall and unload up there, and we would go get it.
“Now it all has to be trucked in. All the big companies had their tanks there in Plattsburgh. It’s kind of too bad.”
When the company switched to electrically operated pumps years ago it gave it’s older pumps to a local farmer who used them for many years. That’s the kind of localism we’ve lost and it’s to our detriment.
Localism – involvement in local politics, local economies, an understanding of local culture and the environment, underlies much of the Green movement. It’s not just politics and the environment, it’s about supportive communities of neighbors working together to protect each other from the sometimes ravenous capitalist economy (seen most recently in energy and food costs). It’s what was happening when Gordon Oil gave over those pumps to that farmer. It’s what was destroyed when those tanks were taken down and not replaced.
Localism is also the future we face. I was recently talking with a local hardware store owner, part of the True Value chain. He sells lumber, paint, the usual goods (plus his simply built furniture). He was telling me that he needed a special piece of lumber that he didn’t stock. He took his truck to pick it up at the Home Depot in Queensbury; they were out of stock, so he went to the Lowe’s and found what he was looking for. The piece of lumber cost him an additional $30 in gas for the truck, plus about two hours of time away from his shop. That piece of lumber could have been boughten for a fraction of the price not a quarter-mile away – albeit at a competing lumber store.
The story of the fuel oil storage facilities and the local hardware store owner are revealing for local businesses. They once stocked nearly everything a household needed. As corporations took over our world, local supplies (seen on store shelfs and those Plattsburgh tanks) have had to pared down their stocks as consumers have opted to drive long miles to shop at big box stores (or shippers have turned to trucking and on-demand wharehousing).
That is something that we’re going to see come to an end, although it make take a while for our neighbors to break their old habits. Even if the price of oil goes down before the election (as we argued it would), the damage has been done, and Adirondackers have started turning local out of necessity. That necessity is something local greens have been vociferously saying was bound to happen since the late 1980s, even as they argued for serious political efforts toward locally sustained communities.
The trend toward localism has already begun in a number of segments of Adirondack society – especially among small farmers and local wood products producers – but now we are going to see a much more general trend. Already Chestertown, North Creek, Schroon Lake, and surrounding areas have taxis – that’s right, cabs, right here in the North Country above Warrensburg. Not just a single car either, several companies that range widely through the mountains. You don’t need a taxi unless you are going someplace local.
James Kunstler (recently interviewed locally here) has been the most public area voice for localism. His books are a must-read for people interested in what future local economies could look like:
One thing Kunstler makes clear, is that it’s not just about energy – food is as important, and there are several ways to get informed about going local.
NCPR recently celebrated 10 years of the Warrensburg Riverfront Farmers’ Market, and new markets have been established around the region in recent years. Local Harvest does a good job online showing where you can find local farmers and farmers markets in our region, but eating local means more than local farmer’s markets. It means connecting with a local CSA (Community Supporter Agriculture) farm, it means growing your own food (alone and in cooperation with your neighbors), and it means shopping locally for locally produced goods.
Speaking of growing your own, Cornell Cooperative Extension has a program for beginning framers that has recently expanded on the web. According to NCPR who recently reported the news, the new site:
…guides new farmers, and farmers changing crops or marketing strategy, step by step through starting a farm business: from setting goals and writing a business plan, to evaluating land, to taxes and permits. There’s a frequently asked questions section, worksheets to download, and an ongoing forum. The website is the latest offering from the New York Beginning Farmers Resource Center. The center is based at Cornell, but its roots are in the North Country.
We need to get to know our local farmers. The Wild Center is holding two more “Farmer Market Days 2008” on September 11th, and October 2nd “in celebration and promotion of the wonderful local food producers in the Adirondack Region.” Naturally we can’t live on the mostly fancy foods the Wild Center’s program seems to focus on, but their effort is a good start to introducing local farm operations to the Adirodnack community at large.
Adirondack Harvest is a buy local food group that was started 7 years ago. They recently received a $50,000 grant to expand their program, which they describe on their site:
Since its inception in 2001, Adirondack Harvest has grown to encompass Clinton, Essex, Franklin, Hamilton, and Warren counties in northeastern New York. These counties contain major sections of the Adirondack Park and the Champlain Valley. Our focus has been on expanding markets for local farm products so that consumers have more choice of fresh farm products and on assisting farmers to increase sustainable production to meet the expanding markets.
A more direct path to lessening food costs and supporting local farms comes from Adirondack Pork, aka Yellow House Farm and a member of Adirondack Harvest, where you can buy a whole or half locally raised pig (or go in on one with another family). A whole pig serves a family of four for about 6-9 months, depending on your eating habits. They raise a pig for you until it weighs about 200-225 pounds. Your pork is prepared for you by a local butcher – you tell them any special cuts, wrapping, etc., you want. Your meat comes to you wrapped, labeled and frozen. It takes a lot less freezer space then you would imagine, and its cheaper.
The bottom line is the economy is changing and the sooner we accept that it true and end our reliance on the big box stores filled with products from half a world away and their corporate partners. They have a stranglehold on our local economy and it’s time we fought back.
Here is a disturbing story from Glens Falls blogger (i am alive) who was arrested for trespassing after signing the register at the gatehouse at the Adirondack Mountain Reserve’s Lake Road entrance and attempting to hike to Dial and Nippletop mountains:
…we were approached by an armed man. other than his name tag, he was not dressed as a security officer, but he was carrying a silver pistol. he had a digital camera bag around his neck and had a small bleeding wound on his face. without explanation, he took out the camera and began taking pictures of us. as soon as he began speaking, we knew our hike was over… …he proceeded to escort us back to the gatehouse and detain us. he called in another security guard from the Ausable Club and summoned a state officer by radio. we sat being totally cooperative, providing identification and surrendering adam’s weapons (he had a leatherman and his new kershaw knife). inside my head i am thinking, “this is just to scare us, he can’t really arrest us….right?”…
…here we waited for over an hour until a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation Officer could arrive to deal with all of our lawlessness. i actually felt bad for the EnCon officer. seriously, did he need to come all that way to deal with us? we would have quietly left the property if mr. cowboy said that we really couldn’t have the dog and had to turn around. he never gave us that chance. so in his generosity, mr. cowboy decided only to “arrest” one of us. oh yeah, you guessed it…it was me.
Amazing. That should be good for regional economic development. I guess it’s not surprising, even their web page is off limits – that is, unless you want to serve them.
What does this say about Sandy Treadwell, who claims AuSable Club owner William Weld as his surrogate? Does Treadwell condone arresting his constituents for through-hiking?
UPDATE: Apparently this is not an uncommon experience. Check out what happened to Press Republican outdoors writer Dennis Aprill in June of this year here.
Check out the orderly books of Captain Amos Hitchcock’s Connecticut provincial companies during the French and Indian War – great primary, albeit difficult, reading [pdf]. Here is a description from the New York State Library, which holds the original volumes:
Orderly books are the companies’ official record of all military orders, and include courts martial, disciplinary actions and promotions. These are the orderly books of Captain Amos Hitchcock’s Connecticut provincial companies during the French and Indian War. The volumes also provide a record of troop movements in northern New York and Canada, and encampments at Albany, Fort Edward, Lake George, Crown Point and Fort Ontario.
NEWCOMB, NY – The history and culture of rocks in the Adirondack Mountains will be celebrated on Saturday, Aug. 9 during the Adirondack Park’s first-ever geology festival, Rock Fest 2008, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Adirondack Park Agency Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) in Newcomb.
The VIC staff is teaming up with the Adirondack Museum and SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry’s Adirondack Ecological Center to present this historic event, which will include exhibits, lectures, field trips and children’s activities. Free and open to the public, Rock Fest was designed to be a day-long exploration to increase appreciation and understanding of regional geology. Exhibits and lectures at Rock Fest will focus on the geological history of the Adirondack Mountains and man’s relationship with the natural resources of the Adirondack Park. The human history will be provided by Adirondack Museum educators.
Here are the Rock Fest 2008 lectures and field trips:
-10 a.m. Lecture: Introduction to Geology, with Matt Podniesinski, Division of Mineral Resources, NYS DEC -10:30 a.m. Lecture: Adirondack Geology, with William Kelly, State Geologist, NYS Geological Survey -11:15 a.m. Field trip: Rocks in Place, with Matt Podniesinski and William Kelly -1 p.m. Lecture: Historical Use of Minerals Resources, with Adirondack Museum staff -1:45 p.m. Lecture: Contemporary Use of Mineral Resources, with hris Water, Barton Mines Company -2:30 p.m. Lecture: Shake, Rattle, & Roll: Seismology, Earthquakes and New York State, with Alan Jones, SUNY-Binghamton -3:15 p.m. Lecture: Rocks in Everyday Life, with Matt Podniesinski -4 p.m. Field trip: Of Mines and Men: The McIntyre and Tahawus Mines, with Paul B. Hai, SUNY-ESF’s Adirondack Ecological Center
Exhibitors will include: the Adirondack Park Institute, the Adirondack Museum (making sandpaper with kids), Natural Stone Bridge and Caves, High Falls Gorge, the Rock Shop/Waters Edge Cottages (Long Lake) , the Slate Valley Museum, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.
The Adirondack Museum, located in Blue Mountain Lake, tells the story of the Adirondacks through exhibits, special events, classes for schools, and hands-on activities for visitors of all ages. For information about upcoming exhibits and programs, call (518) 352-7311, or visit online at www.adirondackmuseum.org.
The Adirondack Ecological Center (AEC), located in Newcomb, is the leader in ecological sciences in the Adirondack Mountains and a major contributor to the science internationally. Established in 1971 by the State University of New York College of Environmental Forestry in Syracuse, the AEC provides the science that underpins the management of Adirondack Park as one of the world’s foremost experiments in conservation and sustainability.
The New York State Adirondack Park Agency operates two VICs, in Paul Smiths and Newcomb, which are open year-round from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily except Christmas and Thanksgiving. They offer a wide array of educational programs, miles of interpretive trails and visitor information services. Admission is free.
The Newcomb VIC is located 12 miles east of Long Lake on Route 28N. For more information about the VICs, log on to the centers’ Web site at www.adkvic.org.
Another announcement forwarded to you from Andy Flynn:
PAUL SMITHS, NY – The increasing need for wind energy in New York state and the exploding moose population in the Adirondacks will top the list of Adirondack Wildlife Festival programs on Sunday, Aug. 10 at the Adirondack Park Agency Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) in Paul Smiths. The annual event, held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., will also feature children’s activities, live music, wildlife exhibits, food, trail walks and live animal demonstrations. » Continue Reading.
Dubbed “The largest conservation and financial transaction in the history of The Nature Conservancy in New York,” the recent purchase of former Finch and Pruyn wild lands in the heart of the Adirondacks includes more than 80 mountains and over 250 miles of rivers and shorelines (70 lakes and ponds) in the towns of Newcomb, Indian Lake, North Hudson, Minerva, and Long Lake. It also includes the Essex Chain lakes, the Upper (Upper) Hudson Gorge, OK-Slip Falls (itself a natural wonder), the Opalescent River headwaters, and the Boreas Ponds.
In terms of flora and fauna the area includes rare ferns and mosses growing around even rarer limestone outcroppings and includes 95 significant plant species (37 of which are rare in New York and 30 rare or uncommon in the Adirondacks). The area is also home to the Bicknell’s Thrush and the Scarlet Tanager – the purchase was important enough to make to Adirondack Almanack’s list of Seven Natural Wonders. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) has published a new edition of Adirondack Trails: Eastern Region, and the book is now available for purchase from ADK and from bookstores and outdoor retailers throughout the Northeast.
The latest edition in ADK’s comprehensive Forest Preserve Series of guides includes completely updated trail descriptions for the region extending from Lake Champlain on the east; to the High Peaks, Hoffman Notch Wilderness and Schroon Lake in the west; and Lake George and the Pharaoh Lake Wilderness in the south. Each Forest Preserve Series guide covers all New York state trails in its region, and they include complete information on lean-to shelters, campsites, water access, distances, elevations and road access. Detailed driving directions make it easy to find each trail.
This 3rd edition was edited by Neal S. Burdick and David Thomas-Train, and produced by ADK Publications staff Ann Hough of Keene, Andrea Masters of Ballston Spa and John Kettlewell of Saratoga Springs.
Purchase of this and other publications helps support ADK’s programs in conservation, education, and recreation. Also available are hiking, canoeing, rock-climbing, and cross-country skiing guides; natural history guides; and cultural and literary histories of the Adirondack and Catskill Parks.
To place an order contact ADK, 814 Goggins Road, Lake George, NY 12845, (518) 668-4447, (800) 395-8080 (orders only), or visit ADK’s Web site at www.adk.org.
The DEC has officially announced that the historic Masten House (at left), on the site of the former iron mines in Tahawus in Newcomb, Essex County, will be the site of “a new leadership and training institute that focuses on the research and management of northern forests.” Northern forests is intended to mean the area that “extends from Lake Ontario at Tug Hill, across the Adirondacks to northern Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine.”
The project is a cooperative effort that will enhance forest preserve and wildlands management research and contribute to the local economy. ESF will run the Northern Forest Institute (NFI) on a 46-acre portion of a property owned by [Open Space Institute’s] Open Space Conservancy and leased on a long-term basis to the college for $1 a year. Establishment of the institute is being aided by a $1 million grant from Empire State Development to OSI and $125,000 from DEC to ESF. In addition, DEC has committed $1.6 million over the next four years to ESF scientists who will conduct three research projects on visitor demand, experiences, and impacts, as well as a training program for DEC employees responsible for managing recreational visits to New York State forest preserve lands.
The NFI will focus on meeting the educational and research needs of professional audiences, including representatives of state agencies, business leaders, and educators. The institute will also serve the general public, particularly college and secondary school students.
Here is some history of the Masten House from DEC:
Masten House is within the state historic district that encompasses the former town of Adirondack at the southern entrance to the High Peaks Wilderness area. The town was settled in 1826 and was home to one of the region’s first iron mines and early blast furnaces. The village was resettled in the late 19th century as the Tahawus Club…
The eight-bedroom Masten House was built in 1905 near secluded Henderson Lake and was used as a corporate retreat by NL Industries, which operated a nearby mining site. Masten House is within the state historic district that encompasses the former town of Adirondac at the southern entrance to the High Peaks Wilderness area. The town was settled in 1826 and was home to one of the region’s first iron mines and early blast furnaces. The village was resettled in the late 19th century as the Tahawus Club. Then-Vice President Theodore Roosevelt was staying at Tahawus in 1901 when he learned that President William McKinley had been shot. [Actually, as is noted by a commenter below, Roosevelt already knew McKinley was shot, he thought that the President would be OK and so went to Tahawus].
The mid-1800s Natural History Survey of New York has been posted online at the New York State Library here. According to a recent note from the Library’s staff:
The Natural History Survey of New York, undertaken in the mid-1800s, covered zoology, flora, mineralogy, geology, agriculture and paleontology. The NYS Library has digitized the first three components of the survey so far. » Continue Reading.
Caroline M. Welsh, Director of the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, New York announced today the receipt of a $1.3 million bequest to the museum from the estate of the Mr. and Mrs. Horace N. Holbrook of Schenectady, N.Y.
The gift has been added to the museum’s endowment, helping to ensure a solid financial foundation in support of collections, exhibitions, and programs for years to come.
The generosity of the Holbrook bequest came as a surprise, although indications of the Holbrook’s enduring interest in the Adirondack Museum have been visible for more than twenty years. Horace Holbrook and his wife Marion visited the Adirondack Museum in the summer of 1984 bearing gifts – original paintings by the artists Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait and Jonathan Bradley Morse. The 1882 work by Morse depicts the Holbrook’s summer residence, Camp Lawrence, on Fourth Lake. The couple became museum members in 1989.
Holbrook, a retired economist for the State of New York, passed away in 1992 and left the bulk of his estate to the museum in trust, receivable upon the death of his wife. The bequest was made in memory of Holbrook’s great aunt, Elizabeth Norton Lawrence of Utica, N.Y.
With the exceptions of a “montage of photos of Camp Lawrence” and the couple’s modest home in Schenectady, there was no sense of the true value of the bequest. Marion Holbrook died in April 2007.
According to the Adirondack Museum’s Director of Institutional Advancement Sarah Lewin, estate planning is sometimes difficult for people to consider. She says that the story of the Holbrook’s forethought and immense generosity shines a light on the impact of planned giving on not-for-profit institutions such as museums.
Donors can realize substantial tax and estate benefits through planned giving. Gifts can take the form of bequests, charitable remainder or lead trusts, retirement plan assets, life insurance policies and tangible personal or real property. To discuss any of these options with the Adirondack Museum, please call (518) 352-7311, ext. 125.
The Albany Times Union ran a story this week that is one of the few looks at the really wealthy in our area:
” ‘It boggles my mind when I give a client a monthly bill for $500,000 and they just open their checkbook and write me a check without flinching,’ said Dean Howland. He’s been building high-end custom homes on Lake George for two decades and recalls only a few buyers who took out a mortgage…”
Today’s buyers typically come from the New York metropolitan area and often own their own business or amassed wealth as CEOs and money managers.
They generally refuse to be identified publicly (fear? humility? shame?) but they include this family:
Howland is building the Assembly Point complex for a Westchester County family in the construction business downstate. The owners, who asked that their names not be used, paid more than $1 million for an undistinguished house on a waterfront lot just south of Diamond Point on the lake’s west side. They tore down the old house and paid $500,000 to blast 10 feet into bedrock for a foundation, terrace the steep slope to the lake and truck in tons of gravel for a storm water management system. An adjoining parcel came up for sale. They bought that, too.
The couple’s 21-year-old daughter desired privacy, so they built a cottage with a loft, deck, gourmet kitchen and bath with Italian glass tile.
A partial tally of their lakefront compound reveals: 15 bedrooms, 13 bathrooms, 6 kitchens, 18 plasma TVs, eight security cameras, one infinity edge pool, one sauna, one steam room, one boccie ball court, one Hummer, one Corvette, one Harley, two horseshoe pits, five kayaks, three Jet-Skis, two canoes, three golf carts and a boathouse with four motorboats.
Stephen Serlin, Glens Falls obstetrician / gynecologist is owner of the 1895 Tudor revival Wikiosco, built for Royal C. Peabody in 1895 (that’s it at left). Peabody was founder of the Brooklyn Edison Co. – one of the country’s oldest electric companies and one that was charged with bilking its customers in 1920. It’s 11,000 sq-ft located just south of the Hearthstone Point, has “seven bedrooms, 10 bathrooms, seven fireplaces, staff quarters, a guest cottage and a 20-car garage. The asking price is $17.9 million.”
Phillip H. Morse, vice chairman of the Boston Red Sox, who got rich developing cardiac catheters, owns a newly built compound on the northern tip of Assembly Point estimated to be worth more than $20 million. The main house is over 10,000 sq-ft.
One wonders large a house it would take to cover the 2.6 million people in New York State without health insurance.
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