Monday, February 19, 2007

Adirondack Bacon

Sometimes other bloggers seem to throw the Adirondacks into their posts, for well, inexplicable reasons. Here’s a sample from Drink at Work:

Things to do with bacon when you’re in the remote Adirondack Mountains without cable

Drink 16 beers and throw raw bacon against the wall to see if it sticks. Repeat until dawn.

Strip naked, slap raw bacon to your face and make a fire in the middle of the living room. Chant whenever you here a snowmobile.

Cook three pounds of bacon, build a snow store front at the end of the road. Collect mad cash.

Hmmmm….


Thursday, February 15, 2007

Valentine’s Day Blizzard of 2007

TourPro has beaten us to the storm round-up here, so we’ll go back to shoveling – it’s time to take Adirondack Musing’s advice and get a Wovel while they are on sale.

Also, while you’re over at Adirondack Musing’s blog, take a look at his recent posts of photos of the 2007 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival’s Ice Palace; Here is our own Adirondack Almanack post about last year’s event (with some Almanack history goodness).

Musing is one of our favorite blogs so here is a list of some recent posts we’ve found interesting:

On Ticonderoga Airport Security:

One can argue that since the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, airline and airport security have been improved significantly. It is also clear that “Homeland” security funds are not being spent in the most logical way.

For example, the Ticonderoga, NY airport is getting fenced in to the tune of $800,000 funded by homeland security funds. One reason for the fencing is to keep local drag racers off the runway. But maybe they are worried that terrorists might take over the old fort in Ticonderoga and wage war on the local populace.

Also from Adirondack Musing:

Low Frequency Noise and Wind Turbines

You Are One of the Richest People on Earth

The Past Was Better and I’m Not a Bigot

Michael Moore’s Promises to Conservatives

On Broadband Internet Penetration in The US

Musing’s Favorite Place – Crown Point on Lake Champlain

Adirondack Musing is just one of the region’s great blogs – check out the other Adirondack blogs at the right and the Bloglines Adirondack feeds here.

On a related note, it looks like the Adirondack Boys have left the room.


Sunday, February 4, 2007

Black History Month: Adirondack Stories

For Black History Month, the Adirondack Almanack presents a list of stories of African-American history in the Adirondacks.

Adirondack Slaves
The first slaves arrived in New Netherlands in the 1620s and before slavery was finally, albeit gradually, abolished in New York in 1827, we have numerous examples of slaves in the Adirondacks. Several were taken captive by French and Indian raiders who attacked the Schuyler plantation (then Old Saratoga, now present day Schuylerville) in 1745. They were transported along the Lake George, Lake Champlain corridor to Canada. Black slaves (and some free blacks) were at the siege of Fort William Henry by Montcalm in 1757 and at the Fort George in 1780. At Whitehall, slaves owned by Philip Skene (who had a daughter that was half African American) probably mined the iron for cannonballs used by Benedict Arnold at Valcour Island in 1776. William Gilliland’s diary frequently mentioned “my negro Ireland” who cleared Gilliland’s land and planted his crops. Census records of the poor house in Warrensburgh noted two former female slaves were residents in 1850. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 22, 2007

Warren County Sheriff Has A File On You

There was a scary revelation in Sunday’s Glens Falls Post Star by Warren County Sheriff Larry Cleveland in a story about Adirondack hermit Alan Como. According to Cleveland, his department has access to your tax records, they know who your relatives are, if you hold any licenses, and your prior addresses – all pretty well expected, but they apparently have ANOTHER 20 PAGES of your life stored away somewhere as well. 20 pages… that’s a lot of info.

“We used one of our global (background) searches on [Alan Como] and found almost nothing — no prior addresses, no relatives, no taxes, licenses, nothing,” Cleveland said. “When you do a search like that on most people, you get back 20 pages. With him we got three. We all looked at it and said, ‘Wow, that’s it?’ There’s nothing there.”

No wonder it takes them so long to.. ahem… “run your license.”


Saturday, January 20, 2007

Aquarium of the Adirondacks

This week news broke of a plan for a Aquarium of the Adirondacks – described in their mission statement as a “unique interdisciplinary attraction as the only aquarium facility of its kind to feature species of the Adirondack Region in addition to aquatic exhibits from around the world.”

In smartly keeping one eye on the Adirondack region, the Aquarium hopes to “foster stewardship by merging culture, history and science to promote learning and understanding of the incredible depth of the Adirondack landscape and a broader appreciation and respect for the global world of water.”

Sure the earth is two-thirds water, but only recently has the underwater world around us been truly explored. Only recently, for instance, have we even discovered that America’s Oldest Intact Warship was laying in the south basin of Lake George.

The aquarium’s developers are looking for a location for a 60,000-square-foot aquarium with parking and outdoor features. Our suggestion? The old Gaslight Village property – how about a creative facility that is nothing like the poorly designed Lake George Forum (notice there are no photos of the crappy building on their site), but rather includes native architecture, integrated convention / aquarium / wetlands space – just onshore from one of America’s greatest wreck dives – the 1758 Land Tortoise radeau. An option on the land has just lapsed. Think of it, Lake George Steamboat Company, a National Historic Landmark and New York State Submerged Heritage Preserve, and the Queen of American Lakes.

The most important draw we have in the Adirondacks is our natural environment. Developing the Adirondacks as the premier location to experience the natural world is a good idea – the Adirondacks has the potential to be the greatest living natural history center in the east – that’s a sustainable and laudable environmental and economic goal.

Here’s hoping the Aquarium of the Adirondacks joins the Adirondack Wild Center in promoting it.


Tuesday, January 16, 2007

The Way Back Machine: Old Timey NCPR and More

Just stumbled on a note from one of our regular readers, christyanthemum (check out her blog, and her online bookstore), pointing us to old versions of North Country Public Radio’s web page. The Internet Archive’s Way Back Machine lets you look up old versions of web sites going back to 1996 (85 billion so far).

These are quite a blast from the NCPR past:

November 1998 (Old School Style)
April 1999 (Old But Improved Style)
June 2001 (In The “New” Style)

The Internet Archive also houses an incredible collection of moving images, live concerts, audio, and texts. Some Adirondack related examples include:

A circa 1936 educational film from the National Tuberculosis Association (founded by Edward Livingston Trudeau, described as the man who introduced “the modern method” of treating TB) entitled On The Firing Line.

A live recording of the Jacob Fred Jazz Odyssey at the Adirondack Mountain Music Festival at the Moose River Campground in Lyons Falls on May 31, 2003.

“Twilight” a recording of ambient drone chaos made in the mountains.

A down-loadable copy of Seneca Ray Stoddard’s 1874 Adirondacks Illustrated.

UPDATED 1/18/07: Ellen Rocco, Station Manager for NCPR, writes to us with this comment:

As for our website, aw, c’mon, this reminds me of the question I’m often asked about our former studio space in Payson Hall on the SLU campus: “Don’t you miss that charming old building with the double open staircase and 100-year old woodwork?”

My unequivocal answer: No!

It may have appeared charming to the casual visitor, but for those of us who used the space, charming was not the way we described the cramped quarters, wall paint chips on documents and tape, noise issues–including having to stop recording when trucks passed on the street outside or someone flushed the toilet over the production studio, etc. As with the old building, I have zero nostalgia for the old website. Now, users can find thousands of archived news stories and features, 22 topical series (I know the number because Dale Hobson, our web guru, just counted them yesterday) on things like rural homelessness, land-use, the justice system…, playlists and reading lists, blogs, regional concert hall and art gallery, links to all kinds of great websites, national/international news sources and on and on.

But it’s nice to know people are visiting ncpr.org…keep coming.

Ellen


Monday, January 15, 2007

Adirondack Hacks

Randomly organized links to ideas for making life in the Adirondacks just a little bit easier – technology tools and tips, do-it-yourself projects, and anything else that offers a more interesting, more convenient, or healthier way of life in our region.

Make A Toy Digital Infrared Camera

Build A Generator With An Old Lawn Mower And Alternator

Learn To Speak 19th Century

Make A Ethernet Temperature Monitor

Build A Cardboard Box Upright Bass

Find Your Favorite TV Shows Online

Adirondack Hacks is an occasional feature of Adirondack Almanack. Take a look at previous editions of Adirondack Hacks here.


Tuesday, January 9, 2007

Commentary: Adirondack Winter Sports Under Threat

If it wasn’t painfully obvious before, weather for this early January week that stretched into the sunny 60’s at some Adirondack locations should serve as a reminder that global warming is going to have serious impacts on the Adirondack region. Unfortunately, few here in the mountains seem to understand the gravity of the situation for our local economies.

Our friends working at Gore Mountain Ski Resort have been hardly working at all and consequently spending a lot less on dinners out, winter gear, and even beer and other important winter supplies. The few trails open on Gore are so crowded (with even the small crowd that’s there) that the die-hards refuse to make runs for fear of being run-over. Whiteface in Lake Placid has been forced to cancel its annual World Cup Freestyle competition (now being held at Deer Valley, Utah) and has virtually no beginner trails open.

Meanwhile, two of the largest developments in Adirondack history are expected to be rammed through the Adirondack Park Agency by pro-development George Pataki appointees. The most bizarre part of these projects is that they, believe it or not, have relied on development of two area ski resorts to appease locals and persuade some that the good they’ll provide for the local economy by way of skiing will outweigh the damage to the park.

Fred LeBrun noted in his column today:

[Tupper Lake project] developer Michael Foxman’s mega-vision to create the high-end Adirondack Club and Resort, which would include 700 expensive units on 6,400 acres, much of it in back country, has been highly controversial since it was proposed three years ago. Part of the plan, a sop to the locals, is reopening Big Tupper Ski Center as an economic engine.

In North Creek (Warren County), local politicos and real estate agents are pushing (with the help of newly appointed APA member, Warren County Board of Supervisors Chair, and Johnsburg Town Supervisor Bill Thomas) a project called – get this – Ski Bowl Village at Gore Mountain that would include exclusive trailside housing, an equestrian facility, retail shops and restaurants, a major hotel, two smaller inns, a spa, a private ski lodge, and a 9-hole golf course, on 430 acres, some of which on what was a town-owned park and before that the historic North Creek Ski Bowl where downhill skiing an early start in New York State.

Folks – skiing in the Adirondacks in the future will be all but dead. If there hasn’t been a proper ski season for Adirondack resorts in at least four years, and the experts agree that the coming year will be the warmest on record (again), it’s time to see the forest for the trees – no project tied to the ski season has a hope of being successful on that basis in the long run.

A recent regional global warming meeting reported that:

In the Northeast, the climate may be changing even more rapidly, particularly in winter. Compared to 1970, there are now 15 to 30 fewer days of snow on the ground in the Northeast, one study found. Some regional models also show an increase in average temperatures of 1.4 degrees over 102 years, but a spike of 2 to 4 degrees over the past 30 years.

“Climate has always been changing, so we can’t talk about climate change as something new,” said Art DeGaetano, director of the Northeast Climate Data Center at Cornell University. “Clearly, the temperatures we’re seeing today … are much warmer than we’ve seen for the last 1,000 years. Clearly, there’s warming almost everywhere.

“Climate change is upon us,” he said. “Climate is going to warm, so we do have to act and we do have to prepare.”

If there are any segments of the Adirondack economy that you can count on to take a nose dive in the next 20 years it’s winter sports. It doesn’t take a genius to understand “15 to 30 fewer days of snow on the ground” means that investing hundreds of millions in Adirondack skiing and snowmobiling industries is not a good idea. Despite the ignorant claim by Mike Halpert, head of forecast operations at the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration’s Climate Prediction Center that there is “No cause for alarm. Enjoy it while you have it,” you might also forget large investments in ice fishing shanties and winter carnival concessions in case you needed to be told.

So why – oh please tell us why – are state and local governments spending so much money on these debacles?

Let’s start with ballsy developers:

The [Tupper Lake] developer is calling for the Franklin County Industrial Development Agency to come up with $50 million to $60 million for infrastructure costs. In essence, that would require the county taxpayers to guarantee the bonds for his private venture. That is a stupefying request. Even more mind-boggling is that there are those in the town and county who are ready to go along with the developer.

And add a dose of misguided Republican cronyism:

Gov. George Pataki, down to his final weeks in office, announced plans Friday for a $7 million expansion of the state-run Gore Mountain Ski Center that will enable the Johnsburg attraction to boast having the eighth-largest vertical drop in the eastern United States.

The state will spend an additional $3 million to complete the railroad line connection between [Republican] Saratoga Springs and [Republican] North Creek.

Skiers from Saratoga Springs, as well as the Albany and New York City areas, will be able to take the train to North Creek and leave their personal vehicles at home, Pataki said.

“You’re not going to have the traffic; you’re not going to have the pollution, and you’re not going to have the congestion. But you are going to have the economic growth,” he said during a press conference at the North Creek train station.

Bill “Snow Is All We Have” Thomas:

When completed, skiers from New York City and elsewhere could take a train up to North Creek, delivered within a half-mile of the ski bowl area, Thomas said. “It’s very important to tourism in Johnsburg,” Thomas said of the resort plans. “I see it as a big catalyst for Main Street businesses.”

Betty “I’m Not Running For Congress” Little:

“Gore Mountain is a tremendous asset for the state and for our region. All of us here today share the desire and realize the importance of making an already great skiing experience at Gore Mountain even better. That requires sizable investments by New York State.”

Ahhh… Betty… New York State doesn’t make “sizable investments,” the people of New York State do.

Since 1995, the state has poured $70 million into the Olympic Regional Development Authority. If we assume about 100,000 year-round residents, that’s $700 per person! And that doesn’t count state and local tax discounts, increased costs of services for local communities serving ski resorts, the higher costs of goods and services priced for the tourist market, county funds (like the Tupper Lake 50 or 60 million), and who knows what else. According to NCPR, “This year, Lake Placid’s sports and tourism venues received more than $40 million in state subsidies. That’s roughly $15 thousand for every man, woman and child living inside the village limits.”

Developers, local politicians, ill-informing media – go outside! See, that there is no snow, and not likely to be regular snow at anything near historic levels in our lifetimes. Stop pushing fantasies that hide your real motive – unlimited development of the last great wilderness area east of the Rockies.

And while we’re at it – we received an e-mail from Bill McKibben today announcing a “a day of demonstrations for April 14” – a great idea (info at Stepitup2007.org).

It’s going to be an unusual day. People will be rallying in many of America’s most iconic places: on the levees in New Orleans, on top of the melting ice sheets on Mt. Hood and in Glacier National Park, even underwater on the endangered coral reefs off Key West and Hawaii. But we need hundreds of rallies outside churches, and in city parks, and in rural fields. It’s not a huge task — assemble as many folks as possible, hoist a banner, take a picture. We’ll link pictures of the protests together electronically via the web—before the day is out, we’ll have a cascade of images to show both local and national media that Americans don’t consider this a secondary issue. That instead they want serious action now.

If you are planning to organize an event, please let us know – we’ll list events as they’re organized – wouldn’t events at local closed ski resorts be something?

UPDATE: Pam Mandrel, over at BlogHer, has linked to this post and included some other posts about global warming’s impact on the American ski industry. Thanks Pam for a great follow-up.


Wednesday, January 3, 2007

2006: An Adirondack Look At Last Year, And Next

From behind the blue line of the Adirondacks, the rest of the world sometimes seems amazing, and at other times, well, just strange. So continuing our new, New Year tradition of Lists to just one more, we decided to post a little tour of 2006 by way of the of the amazing and weird from the internets, Adirondack and otherwise, and include some of the best lists of 2006.

Prepare to be amazed hearty reader for the 2006 tour via internet link awaits!

You could start with the Wikipedia 2006 (year of the dog) page – but be prepared to spend some time. Definitely check out the 2006 Deaths, and while you are at it, the much smaller 2006 Births. Now that many local Adirondack newspapers have begun charging for obituary listings, maybe 2007 could emerge as the year of the public wikibituary.

Or, 2006 could be the “Year of the Wiki” more generally. The serious debate on top 2006 search engine terms notwithstanding, wiki and Wikipedia were one of Google’s top searches for the Year. This year we’ve seen all kinds of new wiki possibilities, including wikis for mixed drinks, food, and the TV show Lost. It’s become standard to look up almost anything using “[search term] wiki” – all that said, have you contributed to the Adirondack Mountain Wikipedia entry lately? The page on the Execution of Saddam Hussein is a remarkable example of how wikis can work – in a single day it was a lengthy piece on collective scholarship / reportage.

Locally, Adirondack Base Camp has offered an interesting look at business blogging, which he says will “Likely… be a major theme for Adirondack Base Camp in 2007.” Some of that “business blogging” is bound to be nasty – take for example the Albany Eye, once a notable regional blog from the state capital, but now apparently (after at least three changes in editor) taken over by a local media company. Perhaps it’s true, blogging will peak in the coming year.

Even if 2007 doesn’t emerge as the year the mainstream old media figures out Web 2.0, one thing for sure – media will be increasingly central to the Adirondack experience. During the next 12 months, according to Jeff Haig, from the University of Vermont, “Americans are projected to average more than 9 1/2 hours a day with the media.” While you are at it, check out Jeff’s recent pieces on the death of the American newspaper (1, 2). According to Forbes Magazine, the best papers will learn to be online.

Also for your linky enjoyment:

General
The New York Times Top Ten Top Ten
BBC’s 100 Things We Didn’t Know Last Year

Science
The Top Science Stories of 2006
Top Ten Astronomy Images of 2006
The Top US Traffic Headaches of 2006
Top Ten Photos of 2006 From National Geographic News
Top Ten Animal Stories of 2006 From National Geographic News

Media / Internet
Top Google News Searches
Top 100 Internet Newspaper Sites
LifeHacker’s Top Ten Non-Google Map Innovations
Top Ten Urban / Internet Myths and Scams of 2006
Top Social Networks of 2006
PC World’s 20 Most Innovative Products of 2006
ProBlogger’s Hundreds of Submitted Reviews and Predictions
Top Ten Online Media Stories of 2006

From May of this year, PC World’s Top 25 Worst Tech Products of All Time – AOL (America Online) deserves its number one ranking for sure, but they’ve also got WebTV, Iomega Zip Drives, Internet Explorer, and products from Disney, Priceline, Macintosh, Gateway, Compaq, IBM, and more. If you still use one of these products, you should consider just giving up on the whole tech thing and just go back to snail-mail.

Food
Wine Spectator’s 100 Best Wines of 2006

Politics
Foreign Policy Magazine’s Top Ten Missed Stories of 2006
The Nation’s 2006: The Year of Living Dangerously
A Look Back From the Year 2017

AlterNet spent a lot of time on 2006:
The Most Popular Top 10 Lists of 2006
The Top Ten Most Popular AlterNet Articles of the Year
Most Outrageous Right Wing Comments of 2006
Top Ten Iraq Myths for 2006
The 2006 You Didn’t Hear About
Top 10 Sex and Relationships Stories of 2006

And finally,

2006: United Nations International Year of Deserts and Desertification

Oh yeah.. and Slog’s Best Songs of 1996


Saturday, December 30, 2006

Adirondack Almanack’s 10 Most Read Stories 2006

#10 Ticonderoga Plane Crash: Murder Suicide?
#9 Lake George Cruise Boat Ethan Allen Sinking
#8 Lake Placid’s “With Pipe and Book” Closes
#7 Local Adirondack History Up In Flames
#6 Adirondack and New York State Map Round-Up
#5 Adirondack Earthquake Anniversaries
#4 Adirondack Mining Accidents
#3 Thin Ice: Some Strange and Tragic Stories from Frozen Lakes
#2 Naughty Nurses and the Cult of Halloween Sex

and drum roll please…

the most requested story of 2006…

The Ten Deadliest Accidents in the Adirondacks

Thanks for reading, and thanks for contributing your e-mailed comments, and for supporting the Almanack through purchases from the Almanack Store and the suggested reading links.

And while we’re at it – we’d like to thank the top five referring Internet denizens – these folks sent more readers our way than any other spots on the net (save for the search engines). Thanks for the links and we wish you well in the coming year!

#1 North Country Now
#2 York Staters
#3 North Country Public Radio
#4 NYCO’s Blog
#5 Adirondack Musing


Sunday, December 24, 2006

Most Important Adirondack Stories of 2006

#10 The Wilderness Trail Race Debate – For the second straight year The Mountaineer, a sporting goods store in Keene Valley, held the Great Adirondack Trail Run – the results were way too many people using wilderness area trails as a race course.

#9 Northway Bus Crash – Five passengers on a Greyhound Bus are killed when a tire blows out to cause one of the deadliest accidents in Adirondack history on the Northway near Exit 31 (Elizabethtown).

#8 More Adirondack Landmarks Burn – Most notably, in Warren County where the Pottersville Episcopal Church, the Brant Lake General Store, and a block of Lake George businesses all fell to the flames.

#7 Convention Centers – It seemed that everywhere in our region local business people and the politicos in their pockets have plans for ill conceived convention center boondoggles. Plans floated this year included Lake George, Lake Placid, Plattsburgh, Glens Falls, and Saratoga Springs.

#6 Snowmobile Trail Debate – When the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation released its long-awaited report on Adirondack snowmobile trails it included the expansion of the trail system, the movement of some trails from interior wilderness areas, and the establishment of better connector trails for Adirondack communities along existing transportation routes.

#5 Adirondack Wind Energy – The first wind farm in the Adirondack Park was a subject of major debate this year. The results? Even the staunchest supporters of the environment stand divided.

#4 New Adirondack Species – Moose are on the rise, although no one seemed to notice until this year when Adirondackers started running into them in record numbers with their cars. As important to Adirondack diversity, was the discovery (by Heather Root) of several new species in Newcomb.

#3 Adirondack Media in Transformation – Everywhere in the Adirondacks media has begun to transform itself. New Adirondack blogs have emerged (notably, Adirondack Base Camp, Adirondack Attic, Adirondack Boys, and Adirondack Wal-Mart) but old Adirondack online forums have closed, and newspapers such as the more than 50 year old North Creek News Enterprise and the Plattsburgh Press Republican have been turned over to corporate buyers – oh, and the Ticonderoga Sentinel has risen from the dead.

#2 Development, Development, Development – Particularly in Tupper Lake and North Creek, where large housing developments seem to be inevitable. There was, however, also the defeat of the Tupper Lake Wal-Mart, and the failure to stop a Lowe’s in Ticonderoga from running rough-shod over the Adirondack Park Agency.

#1 Congressman John Sweeney Melts Down – In one of the most surprising turns of Election 2006 – with no-doubt dramatic consequences for the coming years – Republican John Sweeney loses to Democrat Kristin Gillibrand in a heavily Republican district that stretches into Essex County. Sweeney then melts down, refusing to concede and congratulate, to support the transition to our new representative, or to attend to the people’s business more generally – oh, and he complains of a bug in his brain.

UPDATE 12/29/2007: NYCO has posted a list of New York State’s top stories, which links to a Buffalo region list and one from Syracuse (in the comments).


Saturday, December 16, 2006

Ten Great Adirondack Related Books for Xmas

This holiday season we’ve decided to offer a list of books that every Adirondack fan should have – remember that if you buy through the Adirondack Almanack a small portion of the sale supports the blog.

The War Against the Greens: The “Wise-Use” Movement, the New Right, and the Browning of America

David Haelvarg ($12.92)
Local Politics: Provides the first full accounting of the extremist right wing “property rights” movement in the Adirondacks. Implicated in a rash of arson, physical attacks, death threats, and more, and connected to organizations like the John Birch Society, organizations like the Citizens Council of the Adirondacks (CCA) and the Adirondack Solidarity Alliance (ASA) waged a battle against environmentalist, locals who supported zoning, and the APA.

Contested Terrain: A New History of Nature and People in the Adirondacks

Philip Terrie ($14.56)
Local Politics : We’re lucky to have Terrie as a regular reader of the Adirondack Almanack. This book on the politics of the park and the struggle over the land is a seminal piece of Adirondack scholarship and a great follow-up to Terrie’s Forever Wild: A Cultural History of Wilderness in the Adirondacks.

Building Adirondack Furniture: The Art, the History, and the How-To

John Wagner ($10.61)
How-To: Get out to the woodshed and produce some of< your own locally inspired furniture. Geared for beginners, this book include drawings, photos, and diagrams to help even the most amateur wood worker build classic Adirondack designs.

50 Hikes in the Adirondacks: Short Walks, Day Trips, and Backpacks Throughout the Park

Barbara McMartin ($12.74)
Local Guides: The late Adirondack historian’s perennial favorite – a great book for the Adirondack newbie, visitor, or that person who has been doing a lot of talking about finally doing some hiking.

Birds of the Adirondacks: A Field Guide

Alan Bessette, William Chapman ($16.95)
Local Guides: Over 200 species of birds are categorized into the eight basic groups. Also includes sections on feeding, attracting, and photographing along with a checklist and place for field notes.

Adirondack Waterfall Guide: New York’s Cool Cascades

Russell Dunn ($10.61)
Local Guides: An excellent guide to some of the Adirondacks most geologically interesting spots. Everyone loves waterfalls and this guide will get you to them.

The Adirondacks: A History of America’s First Wilderness

Paul Schneider ($11.56)
History: Almost ten years old now, Schneider’s history of the Adirondacks still stands as the most recent well-written and engaging general history of the region.

The Adirondacks, 1830-1930 (Images of America)

Donald R. Williams ($15.59)
History: Part of the Images of America series, this Adirondack picture book is a must have that provides amazing photographs taken from all kinds of sources. A nice, affordable photo history of the Adirondacks.

The Adirondack Atlas: A Geographic Portrait of the Adirondack Park

Jerry Jenkins, Andy Keal ($24.12)
Local Gems: Now that the price has come down considerably, pick up this heavily researched atlas of life in the Adirondacks.

Adirondack Life 2007 Calendar

The Editors of Adirondack Life ($35.57)
Local Gems: Adirondack Life’s famous imagery in calendar form.


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Timing of Pataki’s APA Appoints Questioned

We just received this press release from the Adirondack Council and thought it was worth sharing, in light of our last post. Also, Adirondack Base camp has an interesting post on the APA and what needs to be done.

Timing of Pataki APA Appointments to Park Agency Could Boost Chances of 800-lot Tupper Lake Subdivision

Governor Pataki has appointed (and the Senate confirmed at 2:15 p.m. today) two Adirondack Town Supervisors to serve on the 11-member Adirondack Park Agency Board of Commissioners. The board has regulatory authority over all major development projects in the six-million-acre Adirondack Park.

The Adirondack Council is disappointed by these two appointments at this time, for two related reasons. First, both gentlemen are being asked to serve two masters. Both are the chief financial officers for their towns, as well as being representatives of their towns on their respective County Board of Supervisors. How, then, can they be impartial judges of development projects that might bring needed revenue into their communities, but would also harm the environment?

Worse, the two are from Warren and Hamilton counties, which together comprise more than one-third of the entire Adirondack Park, making a conflict of interest more likely. The Park Agency has no formal rules or guidelines to clarify what commissioners should do when faced with such conflicts. In some cases, commissioners have recused themselves, while in others they have not.

More curious is the timing of the appointments, one day before the Adirondack Park Agency is set to rule on whether it will accept as complete the application of failed savings & loan executive Michael Foxman for a sprawling 800-lot subdivision on the slopes around Big Tupper Ski Center. We are very much opposed to the project. However, the co-applicant for the project is the Town of Tupper Lake, causing us some worry that the appointments were made to grease the skids for the Tupper mega-development.

The appointees are Frank Mezzano, Supervisor of the Town of Lake Pleasant, Hamilton County, and Bill Thomas, Supervisor of the Town of Johnsburg (North Creek is the biggest community) in Warren County.

There are two more interesting twists here. One: We and many other environmental advocates think Bill Thomas will, over time, be a good commissioner. He’s a smart guy and a dedicated public servant. We had suggested his name to the next administration, but cautioned that they wait until his tenure as Town Supervisor had ended in January 2007 (to avoid pressure and conflicts as commissioner). His appointment fills the seat vacated by Deanne Rehm of Bolton, who resigned at the end of her term this summer. Thomas’s term will run until 2010.

Two: Frank Mezzano resigned from the APA Board of Commissioners in the summer of this year, stating he would not serve out his term. He said some bitter things about the APA and the way commissioners made decisions. Yet, here he is again. He has been appointed to fill the vacancy left by his own resignation. This appointment is good only until June.

Thus, our suspicion that the Pataki Administration is scrambling to pack the APA board of commissioners prior to the Thursday/Friday vote to determine the fate of the Tupper mega-development. If the APA says the application is complete and sets a date for the first public hearing, the entire project could be ready for a final decision on the permit before June.

Keep in mind that Governor-elect Spitzer will have the authority to appoint his own chairman of the APA board, but cannot remove a sitting commissioner without just cause (proof of malfeasance, misfeasance or nonfeasance). He will have to await new vacancies to appoint his own commissioners.

John F. Sheehan
Communications Director
The Adirondack Council


Wednesday, December 13, 2006

North Creek: Center of the Adirondack Universe?

Lame duck Representative John Sweeney has gone over the edge, into debt, and apparently, on vacation from the rest of the duties Adirondack voters once hired him to carry out. Rumors are also circulating at the Times Union’s Capitol Confidential blog that his house is for sale and he’s moving to DC – meanwhile, he has apparently never called Gillibrand to concede the race or to assist in the transition.

In North Creek, the bar owned by Sweeney spokesperson Maureen Donovan (Casey’s North), is up for sale. Donovan is now a two-time loser. She was let go from the Warren County Economic Development Corporation last January but landed on her feet as Sweeney spokesperson. We wonder if they’re both headed to the K Street lobbyists, for their next bite of our pie.

All of this saddens the North Creek New Enterprise. The NCNE was once a great little paper that was published in North Creek – was that is, until it was taken over by Denton Publications entitled “Local leaders hope for the best with this summer and became a mouthpiece for the Sweeney crowd. There was a funny article after the election on November 18thGillibrand.” Here’s a great quote:

Bill Thomas, Chair of the Warren County Board of Supervisors, said the election showed that people felt they wanted a new direction.

“I was very, very satisfied with everything John Sweeney did for us,” he said. “He was a great Representative for me, the Town of Johnsburg and Warren County, and I hope this new person will do the same.”

You “hope this new person will do the same”? Bill – her name is the Right Honorable Representative from New York, Kirsten Gillibrand. I mean, come on, you can’t even say her name? And how proud are you of Sweeney now that you know he intends to blow off the rest of the job we hired him for because he’s a sore loser?

And speaking of North Creek and Bill Thomas. The Press Republican (now also under new owners) is reporting that Thomas (who has also served as Johnsburg Town Supervisor for-ever) will be appointed to the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) in a flurry of last minute Republican appointments by George Pataki. Thomas has been a major proponent of the Gore Mountain – North Creek Ski Bowl connection – he says he’ll recuse himself.

The Ski Bowl Village at Gore Mountain is planning upscale trailside housing, an equestrian facility, retail shops and restaurants, a major hotel, two smaller inns, a spa, a private lodge, and a 9-hole golf course, all on 430 acres adjacent to the town’s Historic Ski Bowl Park, the original site of skiing in North Creek (and one of the first in the nation). The proposal has drawn tremendous opposition from locals who resent the Johnsburg Town board’s (led by Bill Thomas) turning over part of Ski Bowl Park to sweeten the developer’s deal (they’re from Connecticut).

The Olympic Regional Development Authority (ORDA) – the state authority that operates Gore Mountain – has recently come under fire from some local business people (including Bill Donovan, Maureen Donovan’s husband) who objected to a 20-year contract that gave ORDA the rights to the Ski Bowl Park Base Lodge’s concessions, and use of a new lodge in winter – the Donovans apparently think that money from the sale of soda pop at the Ski Bowl should have went to them.

Which brings us to the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks (RCPA), which has filed suit opposing the way the whole Gore-Ski Bowl-Private Development plan is being carried out (much to the dismay, no doubt, of local real estate guy and Johnsburg Planning Board member, Mark Bergman). Peter Bauer, Executive Director of the organization since 1994, to us some time ago that the plan to connect Little Gore and Big Gore was considered separately from the rest of the Ski Bowl development plans rather than as one interconnecting large-scale development as the New York State Environmental Quality Review Act (SEQRA) requires.

And that brings us back to the newly Republican North Creek News Enterprise. This week they are reporting (in screaming HUGE HEADLINES) that “local officials wary of RCPA recommendations” – turns out that Peter Bauer has been named to Eliot Spitzer’s transition team and that apparently upsets the powers that be at the paper and their friend – you guessed it – Bill Thomas.

Of course we don’t take much stock in what the NCNE has to say anymore – back on November they were telling us that Hudson Headwaters Health Network guru John Rugge was “looking a little nervously at the future” – but he’s just been named to Spitzer’s transition team as well.

Keep up the (ahem) good work News Enterprise.

Oh yeah… the reward for the NCNE’s support for Bill Thomas and his crew? The paper gets to be named the official paper for legal notices, something Thomas and the Johnsburg board had refused to do when Denton first took over.

UPDATE 12/17/06: One local resident reports that MARK Bergman (thanks for the first name correction) is not the only real estate agent on the Johnsburg Planning Board. Our tipster also reports that Bill Donovan is on the Planning Board and is using the Front Street (Gore Mountain Village) project as a selling point for Casey’s North. Tipster also reports that the Donovan’s home in Wevertown is also up for sale “for $350,000… about twice what they paid for it a couple of years ago.” And…

I have known Bill Thomas for 20 years and I have a great deal of hope (okay, some hope…) that he will be relatively fair as an APA Commissioner. Especially as he is not running for re-election next year. He does much better when personal political considerations are not on the table… And, I can assure you that Bill Thomas is not at all displeased with Sweeneys departure. He immediately reached out to Gillibrand and I think they will have a good working relationship.

Regarding the NCNE [the North Creek News Enterprise]… they ran no less than 6 pro-Sweeney stories in the months before the election. When Kirsten came to town in September, they ran the story 3 weeks later in the form of a picture caption buried in the middle of the “paper”.

I also have a source deep within the republican party who tells me that Sweeney is in despair because he has no real prospects for his future. K Street likely doesn’t want him. He’s damaged goods with no where to go. Boo freakinhoo!

Thanks tipster… and thanks for reading the Almanack.


Monday, December 11, 2006

Winter Camping in the Adirondacks

Jim Muller of Holland Patent has been backpacking since the 1960s, but about nine years ago he and a few friends (age 20 to 50) began camping in the Adirondacks in the winter months – no bears, no black flies, no mosquitoes. “We have done a wide range of trips, from simple hikes to lean-tos while pulling a plastic sled to backpacking trips and multi-day dog sledding adventures,” Muller told the Adirondack Almanack in a recent e-mail.

We think that winter camping has advantages over summer camping: You can reach areas that are too wet or overgrown during other seasons, and the clear and open view is unparalleled. Winter camping provides solitude and a feeling of exploration; even heavily traveled trails seem like virgin territory when covered by a fresh blanket of snow. Camping in the winter inspires a feeling of independence and gives people confidence in their survival skills.

Winter camping also relieves some pressure from heavily (over) used High Peaks trails. Check out the Winter Campers web site at www.wintercampers.com. The site includes an Expedition Log, a list of winter Leave No Trace principles, winter camping Tips and Tricks, a comprehensive Gear List, along with Gear Reviews, and even some Poetry, and a Discussion Board.

The Outdoor Action Program of Princeton University also offers an outstanding introductory winter camping manual.


Suggested Reading

Bill Ingersoll’s Snowshoe Routes: Adirondacks & Catskills

Backpacker Magazine’s
Winter Hiking & Camping: Managing Cold for Comfort & Safety

Calvin Rustrum’s Paradise Below Zero: The Classic Guide to Winter Camping

Chris Townshend’s Wilderness Skiing & Winter Camping

AMC’s Guide to Winter Camping: Wilderness Travel and Adventure in the Cold-Weather Months



Support the Adirondack Almanack and the Adirondack Explorer all year long with a monthly gift that fits your budget.

Support the Adirondack Almanack and the Adirondack Explorer all year long with a monthly gift that fits your budget.