We got a great laugh around the house here a couple weeks ago when my neighbor Mike — a guy who’s full of Adirondack lore — began extolling the virtues of eating Adirondack beaver. A quick search turned up actual beaver recipes. It turns out, unlike deer which are hung in woodsheds, barns and garages all over the North Country during hunting season, beaver needs to be soaked overnight in salt water to remove the blood from the meat — trapped beaver don’t bleed out.
So much discussion of beaver got me thinking about the history of Castor canadensis — North America’s largest rodent and the second largest in the world — which was driven to near extinction in the Adirondacks around the turn of the last century, but whose reintroduction was astoundingly successful. » Continue Reading.
Cornell Cooperative Extension is looking for small-forest owners to volunteer to meet and work with their neighbors through the New York Master Forest Owner (MFO) Volunteer Program. The MFO program is entering its 19th year and a new volunteer training is scheduled May 13-17 at SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry, Adirondack Ecological Center in Newcomb. Volunteers who complete the four-day workshop will join the corps of 175 certified volunteers across the state [pdf of current volunteers]. Participants can commute daily, or accommodations are available at the AEC. A $50 registration fee (upon acceptance into the program) helps defray lodging, publications, food, and equipment costs. The workshop combines classroom and outdoor field experiences on a wide variety of subjects, including tree identification, finding boundaries, forest ecology, wildlife and sawtimber management, water quality best management practices, communication techniques, timber harvesting, and invasive species identification and management.
The goal of the program is to provide private forest owners with the information and encouragement necessary to manage their forests to enhance ownership satisfaction. MFOs do not perform management activities nor give professional advice. Rather, they meet with forest owners to listen to their concerns and questions, and offer advice as to sources of assistance based on their training and personal experience.
If you are interested in obtaining an information packet and application form, send your name and address to:
CCE Warren County 377 Schroon River Road Warrensburg, NY 12885 518-623-3291 or email: [email protected]
Saranac Lake has an inside man in the former Soviet republic of Georgia at a time when the country’s conflict with Russia remains intense and political opposition is taking to the streets in a bid to oust president Mikheil Saakashvili.
Jacob Resneck, who worked three years here as a reporter for WNBZ, the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, NCPR, the Press-Republican, Adirondack Life and the Adirondack Explorer, departed in February to hitch-hike and couch-surf his way across Europe and Asia, gaining entree into local culture with gifts of Adirondack maple candy. His route has taken him into Ukraine, Armenia, Abkhazia, Transinistria and Nagorno-Karabakh. “Admittedly, I’ve developed somewhat of a penchant for quasi-independent nation states,” the native northern Californian and erstwhile Adirondacker writes on his blog, jacobresneck.com.
With local journalism students acting as interpreters, Resneck is reporting in Georgia for Free Speech Radio News. The informal dispatches on his blog are available to all of us and give insight into life in some complicated places.
Resneck plans to move on in May to Turkey and then India, where we trust that his talent for friendship and train-hopping will serve him well. We’ll follow his writing with interest.
The Adirondack Museum has announced a new exhibit, “A Wild, Unsettled Country: Early Reflections of the Adirondacks,” which will look at the early efforts to convey the Adirondacks visually to the wider world. The exhibit will open on May 22 — meaning that year-round Adirondack Park residents should be able to catch the exhibit for free the last week of May.
The first Europeans to see the Adirondack landscape of northern New York State came to explore, to document important military operations and fortifications, or to create maps and scientifically accurate images of the terrain, flora and fauna. These early illustrations filled practical needs rather than aesthetic ones. The exhibition will showcase approximately forty paintings from the museum’s exceptional art collection, including works by Thomas Cole, John Frederick Kensett, William Havell, John Henry Dolph and James David Smillie.
Also featured are fifty of the engravings and lithographs of Adirondack landscape paintings that brought these images to a wider audience and provided many Americans with their first glimpse of the “howling wilds” that were the Adirondack Mountains.
While tourists were flocking to Saratoga Springs in the 1830s, few ventured north into the “lofty chain of granite” visible from Lake George. One guidebook described the mysterious forms as “a wild repulsive aspect.” Little was known of these yet-unnamed mountains.
In 1836, the New York State legislature authorized a survey of the state’s natural resources. Artist Charles Cromwell Ingham was asked to join geologists Ebenezer Emmons and William C. Redfield during one of the first exploratory surveys. During the trip, he painted the Great Adirondack Pass “on the spot.” The original painting will be shown in the exhibition.
The exhibit will also include photographs — stereo views and albumen prints — sold as tourist souvenirs and to armchair travelers. William James Stillman took the earliest photos in the exhibition, in 1859. These rare images are the first photographic landscape studies taken in the Adirondacks. Photos by Seneca Ray Stoddard will also be displayed.
Significant historic maps will illustrate the growth of knowledge about the Adirondack region. In 1818, it was still a mysterious “wild, barren tract . . . covered with almost impenetrable Bogs, Marshes & Ponds, and the uplands with Rocks and evergreens.” By 1870, the Adirondacks had become a tourist destination with clearly defined travel routes, hotels, beaches, and camps.
A Wild, Unsettled Country will be on exhibit in the Lynn H. Boillot Art Galleries. The space includes the Adirondack Museum Gallery Study Center — a resource for learning more about American art. In addition to a library of reference books, a touch-screen computer allows visitors to access images from the museum’s extensive fine art collection.
The Gallery Study Center will include a media space as part of the special exhibit. The documentary film “Champlain: The Lake Between” will be shown continuously. The film, part of the Lake Champlain Voyages of Discovery project, has aired on Vermont Public Television in recent months.
A Wild, Unsettled Country is not just for adults. Family-friendly elements include Looking at Art With Children, a guide for parents as they investigate the arts with youngsters; the Grand Tour Guide, a colorful and engaging map that encourages exploration of the Adirondack sites shown in the paintings; and ten different Wild About! guidebooks that urge kids to be “wild” about maps, prints, history, and more.
Photo caption: View of Caldwell, Lake George, by William Tolman Carlton, 1844. Collection of the Adirondack Museum.
Stewart’s Shops triumphed over the Northville-Placid Trail to claim the inaugural Blue Line bracket title, proving beyond doubt that you do not necessarily need to be from the Adirondacks to be a champion of the Adirondacks. The winner will receive a suitably framable certificate replete with name, date and the colorful Adirondack Bracket logo, along with invaluable bragging rights for the next twelve months. Reached for comment, Stewart’s marketing manager Tom Mailey said, “The Adirondacks are such an asset and we are thrilled and privileged to be a part of the experience. Our opponent, the Northville-Placid Trail, put up quite a battle. It could have gone either way, heads or tails, and when the dust and the coin had settled . . . we won and you can still hear the sounds of high fives throughout our shops.”
The last word goes to Karen, a staff member recently on duty in the Saranac Lake store, who divulged the champion’s secret weapon: “Its the customers. The customers are great.”
For 45 years the cornerstone of any Adirondack library has been TheAdirondack Reader, compiled and edited by Paul Jamieson. The anthology, published by Macmillan in 1964, collected pivotal and perceptive accounts of how people have experienced these woods since the arrival of Europeans 400 years ago.
Any true Adirondack geek already has a copy of the Reader, but now you need another. The Adirondack Mountain Club last month published a third edition that adds 30 entries written since the second edition came out in 1982. Another reason to covet this update: pictures! A 32-page color insert of drawings, photographs, engravings and paintings spans Adirondack history, from William James Stillman and Winslow Homer to contemporary painters Laura von Rosk and Lynn Benevento. The original Reader had some black-and-white plates; the second edition had none.
It’s a hefty 544-page tome, but any book that attempts to get at the essence of the Adirondacks is going to be epic. Holdovers from earlier editions (six entries had to be cut to make room) include many “there I was” accounts, starting with Father Isaac Jogues’s 1642 description of having his fingernails bitten off by Mohawk captors (“our wounds — which for not being dressed, became putrid even to the extent of breeding worms”) and becoming the first white man to see the Adirondack interior — the first to live to tell anyway. Hard to top that kind of journey narrative, but almost every piece in the Reader commands attention. Entries weave back and forth between fiction, history, essay and poetry organized into ten subject categories Jamieson established nearly a half century ago.
Mixed in with Ralph Waldo Emerson, Francis Parkman, Robert Louis Stevenson, Theodore Dreiser and Verplanck Colvin are present-day writers Christopher Shaw, Christine Jerome, Sue Halpern, Bill McKibben, Elizabeth Folwell, Amy Godine and Philip Terrie, among others. Neal Burdick contributes an essay on the century-old silence still surrounding the question “Who Shot Orrando P. Dexter?,” a land baron hated by the locals in Santa Clara. Burdick also served as the book’s co-editor, assisting Jamieson, who died in 2006 at age 103.
“It’s still Paul’s book,” Burdick says. “I did the legwork. His name is more prominent on the cover at my request.” Jamieson approved each new writing, and many excerpts and articles were included on recommendations by other writers, Burdick adds. Burdick is editor of the Adirondack Mountain Club’s Adirondac magazine as well as a writer and poet in his own right.
More than any other book, this collection comes closest to defining the Adirondack sense of place we all feel but few can articulate. It’s as much a pleasure to read as an education, and Jamieson’s introductory sections feel prescient. He still seems very much the dean of Adirondack letters (a new edition of his classic Adirondack Canoe Waters: North Flow is also in the pipeline). Jamieson was an author, professor of English at St. Lawrence University, an advocate for Adirondack land preservation and canoe access, and an explorer of this region’s topography as well as literature.
The book is beautiful but alas blemished; sloppy proofreading has allowed typos to creep into the text, in both the older material and new additions. Further printings are planned, perhaps a paperback edition. We hope the copyediting will be brought up to the standards of the writers represented.
The Reader is $39.95 at book and outdoor supply stores, by calling 800-395-8080, or online at www.adk.org.
The New York State Senate introduced three measures, advanced by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA), which the APA argues will “benefit the Park, its residents and improve overall APA efficiency.” The three bills hope to address the issue of affordable housing, to establish regular funding for local planning efforts, streamline the project review process, and expand flexibility for transferring development rights.
Regular APA critic Fred Monroe, executive director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, is first out of the box to question the affordable housing plan. The bill would encourage community housing projects within a three-mile radius of APA-designated hamlets (shown in the map above). In an interview with the Plattsburgh Press Republican Monroe says that that 31 of the 92 towns in the Adirondacks do not have APA-designated hamlets. A look at the map shows he’s exaggerating a bit, as only about a dozen of those towns have any real acreage inside the park and several of those are some of the park’s most remote.
Monroe wants the new law’s hamlet designation to include those areas locally considered hamlet, not just APA-designated hamlets, which are downtowns and population centers where local zoning holds sway. Monroe is the Supervisor of the Town of Chester and Chair of the Warren County Board of Supervisors; Chester and Warren County have some of the highest numbers of APA designated hamlets of all the park’s municipalities. About 3/4 of the Town of Chester would fall into the new designation, enabling development for affordable housing purposes almost anywhere in town.
Here is a description of the three bills from an APA press release (I have pdf briefing documents for anyone interested – drop me a note):
Bill S.3367 would increase affordable housing opportunities within the Adirondack Park on land best suited to sustain a higher density of development. The lack of adequate affordable housing is a problem that must be solved to retain year-round families and ensure community sustainability.
Bill S.3366 would establish a Local Government Planning Grant Program administered by the APA. This would result in steady funding for local government planning initiatives. Grant funding would be sustained through civil penalties, settlement agreements and application fees collected by the APA.
Bill S.3361 would modify the Agency’s project review process to improve Agency efficiencies and reduce unnecessary burden and expense to applicants. This bill would also result in expanded flexibility for transferring development rights. Transferring development potential from more restrictive APA land use areas into less restrictive areas can balance protection of the Park’s unique natural resources with the growing demand for increased development opportunities on land capable of sustaining higher density development.
Sen. Carl Kruger (D-Brooklyn), chairman of the finance committee, introduced the affordable housing bill, which proposes a four-to-one density bonus for community housing built for seniors, low income and workforce population.
D. Wigmore Fine Art, in Manhattan, has assembled a show of landscapes by three artists known for Adirondack work as well as one who has come lately to North Country painting.
“Adirondack Art Today,” on exhibit until May 6 at 730 Fifth Avenue, between 56th and 57th Streets, can provide summer residents and estranged Adirondackers with a scenery fix. The artists have deeply observed their subject, and the work is gorgeous, depicting the Adirondack Park in its more-picturesque seasons. Gallery president Deedee Wigmore said she selected the painters Paul Matthews, Thomas Paquette and Don Wynn and the photographer Nathan Farb because they are “artists who I felt really represent the Adirondacks and who have each had more than one museum show.” Jay resident Nathan Farb is known for the painterly detail of his large-format photographs, and his work has been collected by the Museum of Modern Art and the Corcoran Gallery. Don Wynn was the first living artist to have a solo exhibition at the Adirondack Museum; the Metropolitan Museum of Art has one of his paintings. Paul Matthews, a summer resident of Keene, has made a decades-long study of Adirondack light and cloudscapes. Thomas Paquette had been artist-in-residence at several national parks before he began painting the Adirondacks in 2006.
The Adirondack Park’s varied terrain is broadly represented, from the Oswegatchie River to Mount Marcy to Lake George. Wigmore organized the show to complement an exhibition of modern rustic furniture that will fill the gallery later this month; “Rustic Tomorrow” paired six well-known modern and post-modern architects with six Adirondack rustic-furniture makers. The Adirondack Museum, in Blue Mountain Lake, conceived the project, which is on exhibit at Munson Williams Proctor Institute, in Utica, until April 19.
The six innovative, woodsy furniture pieces will then move to D. Wigmore Fine Art, where they will be auctioned May 6. Deedee Wigmore says she expects many of the architects, designers, craftsmen and artists to attend the auction party.
Artwork: Dark Tree, Light Tree by Thomas Paquette, gouache on paper. Courtesy of D. Wigmore Fine Art. More artworks can be seen at dwigmore.com
I received this week from John Sheehan, Director of Communications for The Adirondack Council, the following interesting history and analysis of the recent Nature Conservancy sale and what it means to the history of logging in the backcountry. I’m reprinting it here in its entirety for the information of Adirondack Almanack readers:
When the ATP Group, a private investment company that handles pension funds for the Danish government, made its first major investment in the United States Monday, its purchase of 92,000 acres of commercial forestlands from The Nature Conservancy brought to an end the era of the industrial ownership of the Adirondack Park’s vast, private backcountry. » Continue Reading.
Yowza, Yowza. The stage is set for the final showdown of the 2009 Adirondack Bracket. And we could not have scripted a better narrative for the ultimate contest within the Blue Line. Monday’s championship will pit Stewart’s Shops against the Northville/Placid Trail. In a tournament determined by coin toss what could be more appropriate than a climactic face-off between paragons of the Adirondack Park’s two principal (and often opposing) faces.
Headquartered in Saratoga Springs, Stewart’s shops have spread across the park since the company’s early years in the 1940s. Today, the shops have become a major social and commercial focus for more than twenty Adirondack communities: their bulletin boards and picnic and cafe tables a wellspring of local information, gossip, lore, and right-of-center opinion. Stewart’s employees own one third of the privately-held company. But the pride of Stewart’s Shops is their award-winning fresh and local dairy products: gathered from 50 farms around its Greenfield plant, bottled the same day and available to customers within 48 hours. As well, the company’s many inventive ice cream flavors remain popular year after year, despite the ill-advised discontinuance of lemon meringue in 2002. Finally, as an economic engine, the gas pumps at Stewart’s provide a critical link in the Adirondacks’ carbon-based tourism.
The famed Northville-Placid Trail is a ten day, 120+ through-hike into the Adirondack’s wild soul. Starting in Northville, where the Sacandaga River flows into Great Sacandaga Lake, the trail winds through the towns of Northampton, Benson, Wells, Lake Pleasant, Arietta, Indian Lake, Long Lake, Newcomb, Harrietstown and North Elba. The scenery traces a path upward, northward and backward in time, shedding layers of culture from village to hamlet to the hermit haunts of Noah John Rondeau. It offers neither the crowds nor the high-altitude thrills of the 46 High Peaks, but the rewards for the bold and the fit are a feast of the finest land and waterscapes the Adirondacks offer.
Will the Northville-Placid Trail leave Stewart’s Shops blistered and exhausted, hitchhiking home? Or will Stewart’s simply walk all over the NPT? Come back Monday at 3:00 to find out.
The Adirondack Mountain Club has just announced the final death of Governor Paterson’s plan to cap tax payments on state owned land. The state will now continue to pay its fair share of local taxes on Forest Preserve lands in Adirondacks and Catskills and on other state-owned forest and park lands statewide.
Since 1886, in recognition of the impact of large state land holdings on local tax rolls, New York has voluntarily paid local property and school taxes on Forest Preserve lands. Over the years, the Legislature has extended the payments to other areas with large tracts of state forest or park land. In 2007-08, New York paid more than $170 million in local taxes on more than 4 million acres. Under the Executive Budget, those payments would have been frozen at 2008-09 levels, which would have caused double-digit property tax increases in some rural communities and severely undermined local support for open-space protection programs statewide. Local governments have the right to veto most state land deals financed through the Environmental Protection Fund. The proposed payment freeze was stricken in a budget deal last week, but it was not officially dead until the state Senate passed the relevant bill late Thursday.
While the tax freeze has been widely viewed as an Adirondack and Catskill issue, the fact is that half of the state tax payments in 2007-08 went to communities outside the 16 Adirondack and Catskill counties. For example, the state pays full property taxes on Harriman State Park, Sterling Forest and Allegany State Park, and pays school taxes for the site of Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Westchester County. In 2007-08, the state made $33 million in local tax payments in Rockland County, $19 million in Suffolk County, $11.9 million in Orange County, $4.8 million in Cattaraugus County, $3.2 million in Putnam County, $3.1 million in Chenango County, $1.8 million in Dutchess County and $1.2 million in Allegany County. The tax freeze would also have hampered efforts to protect New York City’s Catskill/Delaware watershed, which provides drinking water to 9 million New Yorkers.
The second pairing of the 2009 Adirondack Almanack Bracket is set, pitting two popular Adirondack institutions against each other. Warrensburg’s “World’s Largest Garage Sale” advanced by vanquishing white nose syndrome. It will meet Stewart’s Shops, victor over Canadian drivers. From its humble origins 30 years ago this fall, the World’s Largest Garage Sale is the youngest competitor to reach the Final Four. Still, it boasts some impressive stats, including its draw of 500 to 700 vendors and countless customers annually. Sue Marthins, WLGS coordinator for the Warrensburg Chamber of Commerce, touts the community-wide bazaar’s credentials as a paragon of Adirondack culture with particular emphasis on the event’s economic importance. “People come from literally all over the country,” she said, pointing out that many shoppers will spend a day bargain-hunting and the balance of the colorful October 3-4 weekend exploring deeper into the Adirondack Park. Enthusing about the range of activities and cuisine available to Garage Sale visitors, Marthins was not above engaging in a little trash talk: “Stewart’s just cannot compete with our variety.”
With 22 locations within the park, and countless outlets just beyond the Blue Line, Stewart’s Shops is relying on its full-court coverage and will bring a high-octane, high-energy game to the contest. Marketing manager Tom Mailey guaranteed that Stewart’s would break “lightning fast with a couple cups of coffee,” and display a passing game “sweet as a make-your-own-sundae.” In sum he predicted Stewart’s would lick their opponent, adding a personal message to the World’s Largest Garage Sale: “Bring it on.”
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