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.
For more information or to register for the course, visit greenbuildscience.net or Volz’s site.
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.
Now is the time for the ultimate light show. I’m not talking about the fireworks that lit up the sky over the 4th, nor those gossamer curtains that dance across the heavens when sunspot activity is just right (although, I must say that northern lights are a real contender). No, I’m referring to fireflies, those dancing lights that must’ve been the inspiration for many a faerie legend. First off, we must set the record straight: fireflies are not flies. They are beetles. It may be a small thing, but it is important that we start off on the right foot. Insects with hard wing covers are beetles. Fireflies have hard wing covers. Insects with two wings are flies. Fireflies have four wings: the two forewings are the wing covers, and beneath them are are the two delicate back wings. Still, to suddenly start calling them “firebeetles” would probably confuse a lot of folks, so we’ll stick with tradition and call them fireflies. (We could go with their alternate name, lightning bugs, but we run into the same problem: they are not bugs. Bugs are actually a specific Order of insects known as True Bugs. But I digress.)
So, you find yourself standing in your back yard on a balmy night in June or July. The sun has long set, and there above the grass, above the shrubs, you see a flash of light. Then another. A couple flashes glint from down in the grass. Some of the lights zigzag, others form an ephemeral “J”. Some go up, others go down. Some flash high in the air, some flash at medium height, and some flash close to the ground. Some flash all night, some flash for only a few minutes. The more you watch, the more variations you see. What does it all mean?
Perhaps it is best we start simply. Only male fireflies fly. Therefore, any flashing you see above the ground is a male firefly. The females do not fly (they don’t have wings), so they flash from the ground.
Now it gets more difficult, for there are many species of fireflies and each has its own flash pattern, which can vary in color, brightness and timing. Some species flash early in the night, while others prefer a later hour. Each species also claims a preferred height above the ground at which to make its display. If you learn all these characteristics, you are well on your way to knowing which fireflies like your yard.
Let’s take a look at a very common firefly, Photinus pyralis (sorry – they don’t have common names). You can recognize this firefly’s pattern easily: it is bright yellow and its flash is an upward rising light, forming a “J”. In the early part of the night, P. pyralis flashes close to the ground, but as the night progresses, he moves higher. He starts off by giving a set of flashes, each about six seconds apart (depending on the temperature; the warmer the night, the closer together the flashes will be). The female will respond with a flash about two seconds after the male flashes. If he sees this, he flies towards her, the two repeating their sequences until they meet.
After a tete-a-tete, the female will be off to lay her eggs (in some species the eggs glow), from which will emerge larvae that we call glowworms. The larvae lurk underground until spring, hunting voraciously for subterranean prey. Some species will stay as larvae for a second year. Anyway, come spring, they pupate and emerge as adults.
But what about that light? Where does it come from? Does it burn? The glow of the firefly is a natural light called biolumenesence. Biolumenesence is a cool light, meaning that the energy that is released in its making goes almost entirely into making light – little to no heat is produced. If only mankind could replicate this! In these insects the light is the result of a chemical reaction that takes place within the light organs on the underside of the abdomen. The firefly produces two of these chemicals: luciferin and luciferase. Added to these is ATP (adenosine triphosphate), a chemical that all living things have. The final ingredient is oxygen, which the firefly acquires through small openings along its abdomen. Once in contact these chemicals and voila! there is light. It’s like magic.
Seeing fireflies in your yard, catching fireflies in a jar, it’s a kind of rite of passage that every child should enjoy. This summer it seems like we have an abundance of fireflies, which is a wonderful thing. Some areas, though, are suffering a derth of fireflies. The southeastern US has seen a decline upwards of 70% in firefly populations. Biologists have been researching the cause for this, and light pollution seems to be the culprit. Street lights and house lights are huge contributors to this, but the new fad of solar lights along walkways and gardens seems to have been the “one straw too many.” Now even those dark(er) corners of yards have been lit up. With all this light, fireflies either a) don’t know it is night and therefore are not signaling for mates, or b) can’t see the lights of potential mates because they are overpowered by all the artificial lights man has turned on. If there is no mating taking place, there will be no future generations of fireflies.
It is a blessing to live in the Adirondacks, where we still have a fair bit of dark sky and can see the fireflies and stars before we go to bed.
Adirondack Park Agency Chairman Curt Stiles announced today that Terry Martino will become executive director of the state land-use oversight agency in August.
Martino, a resident of Onchiota, has been involved in economic and community development projects throughout the park as director since 1991 of the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA), an independent agency that helps obtain grants and build networks for woods-products businesses, farmers, artisans, tourism entrepreneurs and related municipal infrastructure. The APA has operated under the interim staff leadership of Mark Sengenberger and Jim Connolly since the retirement of Richard Lefebvre, of Caroga Lake, two years ago. Martino will earn a salary of $90,800. Following are details about the Martino appointment from an APA press release:
“Terry Martino brings an incredibly rich background and understanding of the Adirondack Park, its people and its needs,” said Chairman Stiles. “We are extremely fortunate to have someone with Terry’s established management abilities, leadership skills and demonstrated success in the key leadership position at the Agency,” he concluded.
Terry Martino said, “I would like to thank Governor Paterson, Chairman Stiles and Agency Commissioners for this opportunity to work with them, Agency staff and all stakeholders to address the future of the Adirondack Park. Throughout my career I have recognized the tremendous value of balancing economic and community development with environmental stewardship inside the Park.”
Since 1986 Ms Martino has worked for the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA). She served as Program Director before her promotion, in 1991, to ANCA’s Executive Director. As Executive Director she managed the regional non-profit organization that is committed to economically viable communities, environmental stewardship and protecting a rural quality of life.
Ms Martino’s responsibility included oversight of personnel, programs and finances with annual budgets ranging from $600,000 to 2.5 million dollars. She provided community outreach, public communications and developed strong partnerships with numerous municipalities, agencies and organizations including providing administrative support to initiatives such as the Common Ground Alliance. She was also responsible for securing and managing millions of dollars in investment in the Adirondack North Country including; USDA Forest Service Ice Storm Recovery Program, Scenic Byways Marketing Programs, USDA Grazing Lands Conservation Initiative and the Heifer Project International.
Ms Martino was a delegate in Saranac Lake’s successful selection as an All American City in 1998 during the National Civic League Competition in Mobile, Alabama. In 2004, she was appointed as a member to the Northern Forest Lands Council 10th Anniversary Forum. She has been a member of the NYSDOT Scenic Byways Advisory Board since 1992.
She has numerous professional affiliations including: NYSDOT Scenic Byways Advisory Board Director Adirondack Railway Preservation Society Northern Forest Strategic Economy Initiative Adirondack Energy Smart Park Initiative NYSDEC Adirondack Park Advisory Committee Core Team Member – Adirondack Common Ground Alliance Project Manager Adirondack Park Regional Assessment Project Director CBN Connect
Ms Martino received a Bachelor’s Degree in English from Carleton University and a Master Degree in Professional Studies from The NEW School, Graduate School of Management.
The New York State Adirondack Park Agency was created in 1971 by the State Legislature to develop long-range land use plans for both public and private lands within the boundary of the Adirondack Park. With its headquarters located in Ray Brook, the Agency also operates two Visitor Interpretive Centers, in Newcomb and Paul Smiths. For more information, call the APA at (518) 891-4050 or visit www.apa.state.ny.us.
Some very different styles of music are flowing through the North Country this weekend. Seems like everyone ought to find something that will feed their musical soul and give us something to smile about despite all the wet weather. I find that dancing in the rain is a lot more fun than camping in the rain.
On Friday in Saranac Lake Penny Kings Productions is doing their thing at The Waterhole starting at 9 pm. I’ve only experienced the show twice and it was a while back but I have fond memories of the energy these guys create. They get the whole room jumping up and down at the same time – quite impressive as well as fun. It’s loud, it’s Adirondack-grown and it’s hip hop! Also on Friday in North Creek there is a new regular Friday open mic happening at Cafe Sarah. Acts will be performing from 5 to 8:30 pm. Check out the Cafe Sarah website for more information.
On Saturday also at The Waterhole, Greg Merritts Heavy Road will be jamming at 9 pm. This is the kind of band that will hit a groove and not stop until everyone in the room has rotated, at least once, all the parts of their body.
The big festival this weekend is in Chateaugay. The Gibson Brothers and Chateaugay Rotary are hosting the Second Annual Adirondacks Unplugged Music Festival from 1 until 8 pm Saturday. Four other local folk and bluegrass acts besides the Gibson Brothers will be performing. They are; Caroline O’Connor, Crossing North, John and Orion Kribs with Gwen Tracy and in the 4:30pm slot Beartracks. The Gibsons go on at 6 pm. The festival will be held at the Chateaugay Recreation Park on Route 374 – Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door – the gates open at noon.
Loons are the quintessential symbol of wilderness. Just watch any TV show or movie that has a “wilderness” scene and you will hear loon calls in the soundtrack (even if it is in the desert). A stroll through any gift shop in the Adirondacks, Canada or Maine proves that they are probably the number one animal associated with the outdoors (competing only with moose and bears). There is nothing quite like the mournful wail of a loon floating through the night air as you lie in the dark trying to sleep. It is easy to see how people might once have associated them with unhappy or restless spirits. » Continue Reading.
We see them darting about over streams, ponds, and lakes. Sometimes they are cruising the parking lots, or hanging out on the tops of hills or mountains. Dragonflies: they are a marvel of engineering and the “latest thing” to identify.
Every summer I assign myself something new to study. Unfortunately, I find myself distracted by all the options and never settle on just one new thing. But this year I really want to work on my dragonfly identification skills. Afterall, we see them everywhere, and if we can ID warblers and sparrows, how hard can a dragonfly be? There are two good books out there for beginning dragonfliers: Cynthia Berger’s Dragonflies, part of the Wild Guide series, and the Stokes Beinnger’s Guide to Dragonflies. You can also try Dragonflies Through Binoculars, but I found that one to be a bit more of a challenge. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Almanack is a public forum dedicated to promoting and discussing current events, history, arts, nature and outdoor recreation and other topics of interest to the Adirondacks and its communities
We publish commentary and opinion pieces from voluntary contributors, as well as news updates and event notices from area organizations. Contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The information, views and opinions expressed by these various authors are not necessarily those of the Adirondack Almanack or its publisher, the Adirondack Explorer.
General inquiries about the Adirondack Almanack should be directed to editor Melissa Hart.
To advertise on the Adirondack Almanack, or to receive information on rates and design, please click here.