Monday, September 6, 2010

Saranac Lake: The Allen Mooney Murder

On May 12, 1903, Franklin County attorney Robert M. Moore was at wit’s end. After two years of haggling, all possibilities had been exhausted, and he knew his client was in serious trouble. There was nothing left but a claim of insanity. If that failed, a man was sure to die.

The client was Allen Mooney, and his crime in Saranac Lake became one of the most talked-about murders in North Country lore. It’s not a particularly complex tale, but its salacious and violent aspects guaranteed plenty of media coverage. Legally, it was pretty much a cut-and-dried case. Mooney admitted the shootings, and there was plenty of evidence against him.

However, peripheral factors never mentioned in testimony may have “eased” the jury’s decision. And, there were opinions voiced in court that would never be allowed to reach a modern jury’s ears. It all combined to determine a man’s fate. Not to say that Mooney would have otherwise been found innocent; he was guilty, but his sentence may have differed sharply.

In the early 1900s, Saranac Lake was in some ways like the Wild West. Smuggling, shootings, public drunkenness, prostitution, and murder were subjects bemoaned in the press as far too frequent. Any day was a good day for hell-raising, but Election Day was a particular favorite in many towns. Of course, the folks involved in Mooney’s crime led pretty rough lives. They may well have been clueless that it was Election Day.

The year was 1902, and the principals were: Allen Mooney, 25, a plumber’s assistant; Fred McClelland, 30, a friend of Mooney’s; Charles Merrill, 22, a local laborer and Mooney’s nephew; Viola Middleton, about 30, housemate of McClelland; and Ellen Thomas, about 24, known in Saranac Lake as Ethel “Maude” Faysette, love interest of both Mooney and Merrill.

On Election Day, the group was said to have been drinking and carousing at McClelland’s house. When Mooney eventually became loud and abusive, Fred threw him out. Testimony about the day’s events varied, but there was no disagreement on what happened that evening. Mooney, fueled with alcohol and driven by jealousy over Ellen Thomas, managed to get into the house through a door that had only a chair propped against it (the lock didn’t work properly).

By all accounts, he entered a bedroom and found McClelland there with Middleton. Mooney aimed his gun at McClelland, telling him “If you have anything to say, then say it quick.” After a momentary pause, Mooney fired two shots. One hit McClelland and deflected into Viola Middleton, and the other struck Middleton directly.

Charles Merrill and Ellen Thomas were in another room together. When the shooting began, Merrill hid beneath the bed. Mooney entered, shot the girl twice, and left the room. Charles Merrill was uninjured, and most reports claim he managed to jump Mooney, subdue him, secure the gun, and hold him until the local officer arrived. Both men were jailed (Merrill as a witness), and Mooney was said to have soon fallen into a deep sleep. Upon waking the next morning, he claimed to have no recollection of the previous night’s events.

McClelland’s wounds were serious, but he survived. Ellen Thomas died shortly after the shooting, and Viola Middleton lasted only a few days. In spring 1903, Mooney was indicted on two counts of 1st-degree murder and one count of assault. Awaiting trial, he was held in the bottom floor of the county jail in Malone, in what was referred to as “the cage.”

As usual, the case was tried in the newspapers until the actual trial date arrived. There were stories of Ellen Thomas (as Maude Faysette) having been arrested two days before the shooting, only to be released the next day. And, local bars were taken to task over serving liquor to Allen Mooney, knowing his condition and his reputation.

In May 1903, court testimony confirmed the shooting was done by Mooney in a drunken, jealous rage. Intent was proven by his purchase of a gun and cartridges that afternoon. Upon arrest, he reportedly said words to the effect, “I’ll go quietly. I’ve made a fool of myself.” Attorney Moore, left with no other defense, strove to prove Mooney’s insanity at the time of the shooting.

As evidence, he cited Mooney’s aunt (his father’s sister), who “lost all control of herself” during hysterical fits that kept her confined to a Canadian asylum for many years. And, Mooney himself was said to have suffered epileptic seizures since childhood, often turning violent during the attacks. Doctors said that, due to his physical condition, a small amount of alcohol could cause him to “become violently insane and unconscious of his acts.”

Best of all, though, were the professional opinions about Mooney’s appearance. As one reporter wrote, the doctors said, “From the peculiarities of his head, eyes, and looks, they would classify him as a degenerate who was more susceptible to insanity than a normal man.” Add the booze, and you had a powder keg, but one that was not responsible for its own explosion.

The prosecution was inclined to agree, partially. Four doctors, including one from the Ogdensburg Insane Asylum, upped the ante with this assessment: Mooney “ … represented a low type of manhood and possessed certain peculiarities of degeneracy.” But they also felt he was rational, and based on the same factors cited by the defense—physical condition, appearance, and actions—they believed Mooney was conscious of his acts.

Next week: The verdict; some interesting new friends; Mooney’s introduction to Robert Elliott.

Photo Top: The Franklin County Government Buildings, early 1900s.

Photo Bottom: Saranac Lake in the early 1900s.

Lawrence Gooley has authored eight books and several articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004 and have recently begun to expand their services and publishing work. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.


Monday, September 6, 2010

APA Revised Boathouse and Dock Regulations

The Adirondack Park Agency’s (APA) revised regulatory definitions for “boathouse” and “dock” will become effective on September 21, 2010. The agency board approved the dock regulation at its May 2010 board meeting and the boathouse regulation at the June 2010 meeting.

In response to public comment, the board delayed implementation of the revised regulations until after the 2010 summer construction season. Therefore this definition change does not apply to new boathouses with in-water components such as support piers substantially underway pursuant to a Department of Environmental Conservation permit or docks lawfully in place on the effective date of September 21, 2010. In addition, the board modified the proposed regulations applying Lake George Park Commission dimensional requirements for boathouses and docks built within the Lake George basin.

The regulatory change is prospective only. Lawfully existing boathouse structures may be repaired or replaced pursuant to Section 811 of the APA Act within the existing building envelope. An APA variance is required, however, to exceed the size parameters or expand a larger existing boathouse. Standard shoreline cutting and wetland jurisdictional thresholds still apply in all cases.

The revisions were undertaken as part of a statutorily required, five-year review and clarification of APA regulations following the 2002 promulgation of the current definitions. Additional changes were made as a result of public comment received during the rulemaking process.

The new regulatory definitions are:

Boathouse means a covered structure with direct access to a navigable body of water which (1) is used only for the storage of boats and associated equipment; (2) does not contain bathroom facilities, sanitary plumbing, or sanitary drains of any kind; (3) does not contain kitchen facilities of any kind; (4) does not contain a heating system of any kind; (5) does not contain beds or sleeping quarters of any kind; (6) does not exceed a single story in that the roof rafters rest on the top plate of the first floor wall, and all rigid roof surfaces have a minimum pitch of four on twelve, or, alternatively, one flat roof covers the entire structure; and (7) has a footprint of 1200 square feet or less measured at the exterior walls (or in the absence of exterior walls, at the perimeter of the roof), and a height of fifteen feet or less. For the purpose of this definition, the height of a boathouse shall be measured from the surface of the floor serving the boat berths to the highest point of the structure. The dimensional requirements specified herein shall not apply to a covered structure for berthing boats located within the Lake George Park, provided the structure is built or modified in accordance with a permit from the Lake George Park Commission and is located fully lake-ward of the mean high-water mark of Lake George.

Dock means a floating or fixed structure that: (1) extends horizontally (parallel with the water surface) into or over a lake, pond or navigable river or stream from only that portion of the immediate shoreline or boathouse necessary to attach the floating or fixed structure to the shoreline or boathouse; (2) is no more than eight feet in width, or, in the case of interconnected structures, intended to accommodate multiple watercraft or other authorized use, each element of which is no more than eight feet in width; and (3) is built or used for the purposes of securing and/or loading or unloading water craft and/or for swimming or water recreation. A permanent supporting structure located within the applicable setback area which is used to suspend a dock above water level for storage by means of a hoist or other mechanical device is limited to not more than 100 square feet, measured in the aggregate if more than one such supporting structure is used. A dock must remain parallel with the water when suspended for storage, unless the size of the total structure does not exceed 100 square feet. Mechanisms necessary to hoist or suspend the dock must be temporary and must be removed during the boating season.

Contact APA’s jurisdictional office at (518) 891-4050, or email aparule@gw.dec.state.ny.us with any questions about the new definitions.

The APA statutes and regulations are meant to protect water quality and the scenic appeal of Adirondack shorelines by establishing structure setbacks, lot widths and cutting restrictions. Boathouses, docks and other structures less than 100 square feet are exempt from the shoreline setback requirements.

Shorelines are important to the Adirondack Park’s communities and environment. The dynamic ecosystems that edge Adirondack Park lakes, wetlands, rivers, and streams are critical to both terrestrial and aquatic species. Well-vegetated shorelines serve as buffer strips, protecting banks from erosion, safeguarding water quality, cooling streams, and providing some of the Park’s most productive wildlife habitat.

Large structures and intensive use at the shoreline cause unnecessary erosion and adverse impacts to these critical areas.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

Ampersand Mountain Salamander Research Expedition

The Wild Center’s Assistant Curator Leah Filo and Staff Biologist Frank Panero will lead an off-site research project to look for salamanders on Ampersand Mountain on Saturday, September 11th at 9 am. Participants will be hiking off trail surveying for salamanders and species richness. This is a great opportunity to learn about the ecology of salamanders in the Adirondacks, participate in an active research project, as well as get a chance to meet some of these elusive creatures up close.

Two-thirds of all salamanders live in North Eastern North America. The Wild Center’s research project is part of a larger, ongoing salamander study that has existed since 1999. Participants should be prepared to hike off-trail over rough terrain. This program is free and open to the public however registration is requested. Group size is limited to 12 people.

The program will start at 9 am at the Ampersand Mountain trailhead located halfway between Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake on Rte. 3. Register at www.wildcenter.org or call Sally Gross at 518-359-7800 x116. This program is suitable for participants ages 12 and up.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

The Adirondack Museum’s Rustic Furniture Fair

The Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake will be hosting the 23rd annual Rustic Furniture Fair on September 11, 2010 from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., and on September 12, 2010 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. More than sixty artisans, including fifteen new craftsmen, will showcase their rustic creations. This year’s show will include handcrafted furniture, furnishings and Adirondack paintings.

The Adirondack Museum’s Rustic Furniture Fair is recognized as the premier “rustic” show in the country. This gathering of talented artisans includes both traditional and contemporary styles of furniture design, handcrafted from natural materials.

Alternative parking will be available Saturday and Sunday on Route 28 in the village of Blue Mountain Lake, at the museum’s Collections Storage and Study Center. Look for signs. A free shuttle to and from the museum will be provided.

Rustic Fair activities and demonstrations are included in the price of regular museum admission. All museum exhibits will be open. The UPS Store of Lake Placid, N.Y. will provide shipping service for items purchased at the Rustic Furniture Fair.

An original work of art by Barney Bellinger of Sampson Bog Studio, Mayfield, N.Y., will be sold via silent auction. The painting, Rodney’s Camp, is in an antique Victorian frame with extensive antique fly rod embellishments. Bid sheets will be available in the Visitor Center. The winner will be announced at 3:00 p.m. on September 12, 2010.

On Saturday, September 11, bluegrass music will be provided by Adrenaline Hayride – Chris Leske, Arlin Greene, Ralph Lane, and Dave Bevins. The band plays a mix of traditional and contemporary bluegrass/newgrass music. Sample their sound online at www.adrenalinehayride.com.

Sunday, September 12 will feature traditional fiddling by Frank Orsini. For many years, Orsini has been one of the prominent acoustic musicians on the Upstate New York music scene, playing fiddle, viola and mandolin. A sampling from Frank’s repertoire includes: Celtic music, Elizabethan or early music selections, old-time fiddle tunes from the Southern mountain tradition, New England and Canadian dance tunes, bluegrass and country classics, Cajun, and blues selections, as well as Urban and Western swing standards.

Also on Sunday, hear the sounds of hammered dulcimer, played by Jeff Fedan of West Virginia. Fedan’s music features the tunes of Appalachia, particularly those of northern West Virginia. In addition to performances, he also teaches workshops at music festivals and privately, and plays other events throughout West Virginia and parts of Pennsylvania.

On Friday, September 10, the museum will host the Rustic Fair Preview Benefit from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. The Preview is an exclusive opportunity to explore the Rustic Fair and purchase one-of-kind treasures. The museum will be closed to the public on Friday, September 10, 2010 for the Preview. For tickets, call (518) 352-7311 ext. 119.


Sunday, September 5, 2010

APA, DEC Extend Moose River Plains Comment Period

The New York State Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) have extended the public comment period for the comprehensive, integrated management actions proposed for the Moose River Plains Wild Forest.

The agencies recently held three public hearings on these actions and determined, based on public input, that additional time is warranted for public comment. The public comment period is now extended to September 17, 2010. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Changes Proposed for Game Harvest Reporting

DEC is proposing changes to regulations that would extend the mandatory reporting period for a harvested deer, bear or wild turkey from 48 hours to 7 days. Many hunters hunt in remote areas that lack cell phone coverage or internet access or both, and they often stay in those locations for a week or more during the hunting season. According to the DEC, the purpose of these changes is to provide greater flexibility for reporting the harvest of these species, while continuing to mandate those reports to enable the accurate compilation of annual take.

You can review the text of the proposed regulation online (under Part 180, Section 180.10 – Game Harvest Reporting at the bottom of the web page).

Also, find out how to submit comments, which will be accepted through October 4, 2010.


Saturday, September 4, 2010

Reptiles: Adirondack Turtles

I love turtles. I know, it seems I start a lot of articles with expressions of extreme admiration for whatever the featured species is that day. What can I say – I find nature to be endlessly fascinating. That said, I think turtles are special, and the more I learn about them, the more amazing they become.

On the surface, we all know that turtles are animals with shells. They plod along on land, or swim gracefully in the water. Some live in the oceans, some in the deserts – what wonderful extremes they have come to inhabit. They have been around for over 200 million years – since the late Triassic. Some species can live well over a hundred years. Digging deeper, though, we find even more fascinating information.

Four species of turtles live within the Blue Line: snapping turtles, wood turtles, painted turtles (eastern and midland species), and Blanding’s turtles. Let me share with you a little bit about each of these species before detouring into some generalized nifty turtle traits.

Snapping turtles, those truly dinosaurish turtles, are probably the turtle we see most often. Every spring the females leave their watery homes in search of the perfect sandy spot in which to dig holes and lay eggs. Most of these eggs will be eaten by predators, but the survivors hatch by late summer. Sometimes the newly hatched turtles leave the nest immediately, while others opt to remain in the relative safety of the nest over winter, which explains why baby snappers are found on the move in both the spring and the fall. When they aren’t out searching for nest sites, these turtles are most often lying low in the muddy substrate of shallow, slow-moving waters, which is why their shells are “mossy” – these turtles are not baskers. Despite the apparent commonness of the species, recent population studies show that snapping turtles are in decline across New York State, mostly a result of fatal encounters with motorized vehicles.

Wood turtles are close to my heart. I see them every spring as they, too, search for perfect nest sites along the sandy shoulders of our roads. Their populations are considered sporadic, possibly because they are terrestrial and often on the move. One of our larger turtles, the wood turtle stands out among its brethren on two accounts: it has brilliant orange markings along its neck, forelegs and tail, and it is considered to be quite intelligent. Sadly, these turtles are frequently exploited in the pet trade, which compounds their losses to fast-moving traffic.

I know we have painted turtles in the Park, but I seldom see them. Most likely this is because they like particular types of wetlands, of which I am also quite fond, but I don’t get into them nearly enough to encounter painted turtles on a regular basis. Common and widespread, the painted turtle is the one we all know by sight: dark with red and yellow lines “painted’ along its neck, legs, tail and shell.

Our fourth turtle is the Blanding’s. This may not be a species most people have heard of, which isn’t too surprising. In New York it is a threatened species; I’ve only seen two in my life, both of which were in captivity. The first had been hit by a car and the facility where I was working was taking care of it until it could be returned to the wild. The second, which I saw this summer, was a “pet” belonging to a herptetologist. Blanding’s turtles are on the largish end of the land turtle scale, smaller than the snappers, but comparable to wood turtles. What stands out about these turtles is their highly domed shells and their yellow chins. If necessary, the Blanding’s turtle (named for William Blanding, by the way, a physician and naturalist from Massachusetts, who collected the original specimen in 1830) can close the front end of its shell, ala box turtle, for protection. (Box turtles can actually close both the front and back ends of their shells.)

And now, some of the fascinating things we should all know about turtles.

First, it takes an awfully long time for a turtle to become reproductive (ten or more years). It is currently believed that this is because after birth young turtles put most of their energy into developing their shells. The turtle’s shell is its means of protection, and until the advent of the motorized vehicle, it served the animals well. Once completely developed, the turtle’s shell is a formidable defense. There aren’t too many natural predators that can kill a turtle. A good shell, therefore, is imperative to survival; offspring can come later.

Next, there’s the method by which a turtle breathes. Like reproduction, a turtle’s breathing is tied in to its shell. Anyone who has seen a turtle shell sans turtle has noted that the animal’s ribs are fused to the inner carapace (the carapace is the upper portion of the shell; the plastron covers the belly). You and I manage breathing because our rib cages can expand with our lungs. Not so the turtles. Instead, they have a special musculature that, as so eloquently put in The Reptiles and Amphibians of New York State, “ sloshes the internal organs back and forth to draw air in and out of the lungs.” Curious about this, I did a little more digging. One set of respiratory muscles pulls all the internal organs outwards towards the edges of the shell. This allows the lungs, which are located near the top of the shell, to fill with air. The second set of muscles pushes everything back inwards, pressing against the lungs to expel the air. How wonderfully adaptive!

Temperature affects sex. That is, temperature determines the sex of the animal . When I first learned this, I thought it was just amazing. It seems that the warmer eggs develop into females, while the cooler eggs, which tend to be toward the bottom of the nest, develop into males. Depending on climate, some years nests can hatch out mostly female turtles, while other years the balance tips in favor of males. Will climate change affect this? If most nests yield females, how will our turtles find enough males to reproduce? Interesting question.

It breaks my heart that so many species of turtles are in decline. We (as a species) eat them, capture them for the pet trade, toss them aside as by-kill in the fishing industry, and run them over with our cars. Their homes are lost to development and pollution. I sometimes wonder if this ancient line of animals, who have survived so much, will ever survive humans. So, perhaps it isn’t too surprising that I experience great joy every time I see a turtle.

Wild turtles shouldn’t be pets, and pet turtles, which may not be native species, should not be released into the wild when the novelty wears off. If you see a turtle trying to cross the road, slow down – don’t run it over. If traffic is slow, pull over and assist the turtle in its journey. Never pick a turtle up by its tail (I don’t care what popular belief is – this can/will injure the turtle). Be cautious around the business end of a snapper – its name is well deserved.

I encourage everyone to enjoy turtles, and with a little common sense, it is easy to do.


Friday, September 3, 2010

This Week’s Adirondack Web Highlights

On Friday afternoons Adirondack Almanack compiles for our readers a collection of the week’s top weblinks. You can find all our weekly web round-ups here.

Subscribe! More than 3,000 people get Adirondack Almanack each day via RSS, E-Mail, or Twitter or Facebook updates. It’s a convenient way to get the latest news and information about the Adirondacks.


Friday, September 3, 2010

Lake George Asian Clam Invasion Appears Localized

The colony of Asian clams discovered in Lake George last week appears to be confined to an area between English Brook and Pine Point in the Village of Lake George.

“As far as we can tell, the population is contained within a relatively small area,” said Peter Bauer, executive director of The Fund for Lake George. “More research will follow this week and next to verify this. We’ll also survey other areas that appear to be suitable habitat for the species. But if we’re lucky and maybe this is an isolated infestation that we caught early, then eradication of this invasive species is a strong possibility.” » Continue Reading.


Friday, September 3, 2010

This Week’s Top Adirondack News Stories

Each Friday morning Adirondack Almanack compiles for our readers the previous week’s top stories. You can find all our weekly news round-ups here.

Subscribe! More than 3,000 people get Adirondack Almanack each day via RSS, E-Mail, or Twitter or Facebook updates. It’s a convenient way to get the latest news and information about the Adirondacks.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (Sept. 2)

This announcement is for general use – local conditions may vary and are subject to change.

Listen for the weekly Adirondack Outdoor Conditions Report on Friday mornings on WNBZ (AM 920 & 1240, FM 105 & 102.1) and on the stations of North Country Public Radio.

The Adirondack Almanack publishes occasional Forest Rangers incident reports which form a stern reminder that wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Hikers and campers should be aware of the latest weather conditions and carry adequate gear and supplies.

LABOR DAY WEEKEND: Due to the Labor Day holiday weekend, visitors should be aware that popular trailhead parking lots, camping sites, motels and hotels may fill to capacity. Heavy traffic is expected in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness in particular. This is a weekend to seek recreation opportunities in less-used areas of the Adirondack Park.

DO NOT FEED BEARS: This week a forest ranger shot and killed a bear that was harassing campers at the Eight Lake State Campground near Inlet. Wildlife biologists believe the yearling had been fed by campers and grown not to fear people. This is the first bear killed so far this year by the Department of Environmental Conservation; eight problem bears were killed in the Adirondacks last summer.

Fire Danger: MODERATE – Vegetation is still green, however, the ground and duff are very dry. Be cautious with fire. Be sure campfires are out by drowning them with water. Stir to make sure all embers, coals, and sticks are wet. Stir the remains, add more water, and stir again. If you do not have water, use dirt not duff. Do not bury coals as they can smolder and break out into fire later.

Central Adirondacks Weather
Friday: Chance of showers, high near 85.
Friday Night: Showers likely, cloudy, low around 57.
Saturday: Afternoon showers likely; high near 64; winds gusting to 30 mph.
Saturday Night: Showers likely, low around 45.
Sunday: Chance of showers, breezy, high near 58.

The National Weather Service has begun providing a weather forecast for elevations above 3000 feet and spot forecasts for the summits of a handful of the highest peaks in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties. [LINK]

SPORTSMEN LICENSES NOW ON SALE

The 2010-2011 hunting, trapping and freshwater fishing sporting license year will begin on October 1, 2010 and all sporting licenses are now available for purchase. Find out how to purchase a sporting license on the DEC website. Information about the 2010 Hunting Seasons is also available online [pdf]. All first-time hunters, bowhunters and trappers are required to take and pass one or more education courses. Visit the DEC website to get more information on the Sportsman Education Program and find an upcoming course near you.

GENERAL ADIRONDACK CONDITIONS

Wilderness conditions can change suddenly and accidents happen. Hikers and campers should check up-to-date forecasts before entering the backcountry as conditions at higher elevations will likely be more severe. All users should bring flashlight, first aid kit, map and compass, extra food, plenty of water and clothing. Be prepared to spend an unplanned night in the woods and always inform others of your itinerary.

Firewood Ban
Due to the possibility of spreading invasive species that could devastate northern New York forests (such as Emerald Ash Borer, Hemlock Wooly Adeljid and Asian Longhorn Beetle), DEC prohibits moving untreated firewood more than 50 miles from its source. Forest Rangers have begun ticketing violators of this firewood ban. More details and frequently asked questions at the DEC website.

Bear-Resistant Canisters
The use of bear-resistant canisters is required for overnight users in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness between April 1 and November 30. All food, toiletries and garbage must be stored in bear resistant canisters; the use of bear-resistant canisters is encouraged throughout the Adirondacks.

Low Impact Campfires
Reduce the impact on natural areas by utilizing lightweight stoves, fire pans, mound fires or other low impact campfire techniques. Use only dead or small downed wood that can be broken by hand and keep fires small. Leave hatchets, axes and saws at home. Never leave a fire unattended, don’t burn garbage, and restore the appearance of your fire site; do not move fire rings. Campfires are prohibited in the Eastern High Peaks Wilderness [LINK].

ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS

Labor Day Weekend: Camping at designated campsites in the backcountry is on a first come, first served basis. Campsites in popular areas fill up quickly on weekends so plan accordingly.

All Climbing Routes Have Reopened: Thanks to the cooperation of the rock climbing community and their efforts in monitoring Peregrine Falcon nest sites and refrain from climbing closed routes, in 2010 eight successful nests of Peregrine Falcons in the Adirondacks produced a total of 20 fledglings. CLIMBERS NOTE: There has been an increase in fixed anchor bolts at several cliffs in the Adirondacks, including new bolts placed in close proximity to the eyrie ledge at two locations. DEC urges rock climbers to exercise discretion in placing new anchor bolts.

Blue Mountain Wild Forest: Forest Ranger Greg George has retired after 33 years of service. If you had contacted Ranger George in the past for camping permits, backcountry conditions or for any other purpose, you should now contact Forest Ranger Bruce Lomnitzer at 518-648-5246. For matters regarding Tirrell Pond contact Forest Ranger Jay Scott at 315-354-4611.

Ausable River: There is no public access to area of the East Branch of the Ausable River known as Champagne Falls, where a young boy recently drowned. No swimming is permitted and dangerous rocks and currents are found there. Heed the additional “No Trespassing” and “No Swimming” signs that have been posted. This covers both the Grist Mill and Hulls Falls sides of the River. Parking is being restricted. Law enforcement officers have added this area to their patrols and will be enforcing the law.

Raquette River Boat Launch: Rehabilitation of the Raquette River Boat Launch on state Route 3 outside Tupper Lake, also known as “The Crusher”, is complete. DEC expended approximately $190,00 from 2009 EPF Parks Capital Fund to upgrade the parking lots, install a new concrete boat ramp and floating dock, construct a separate launch area for canoes and kayaks and the improve the site so it is accessible for people with mobility disabilities. Paddlers are encouraged to use the canoe and kayak launch and retrieval area which is located just 50 feet upstream of the boat launch ramp.

Moose River Plains Wild Forest: Rock Dam Road and the campsites along it have reopened. The main Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road), the Otter Brook Road up to the Otter Brook Bridge will also be open this weekend. Gates to other side roads, including Indian Lake Road, Otter Brook Truck Trail, and Otter Brook Road, remain shut and the roads closed to motor vehicle traffic at this time.

Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road: DEC will removing culverts over a 2-3 week period on the main Moose River Plains Road (Limekiln Lake-Cedar River Road) at Sumner Stream and Bradley Brook and replace them with bridges beginning the week after Labor Day Weekend. In the next few days, DEC will be posting information on its web page and at the road entrances with more specific information and directions. The work will be done one culvert/bridge at a time so as not to prevent the public from accessing any location within the Moose River Plains. However, the recreational users will only be able to access locations from one of the two entrances.

Shaker Mountain Wild Forest: The lean-to on the south shore of Chase Lake has been removed, and a new one is under construction on the lake’s north shore. A new trail spur leading off the old trail and approaching the new lean-to from the west has been marked. The site of the old lean-to is now a designated tent site.

Lake George Wild Forest / Hudson River Recreation Area: Funding reductions have required that several gates and roads remain closed to motor vehicle traffic. These include Dacy Clearing Road, Lily Pond Road, Jabe Pond Road, Gay Pond Road, Buttermilk Road Extension and Scofield Flats Road.

Lake George Wild Forest: Equestrians should be aware that there is significant blowdown on horse trails. While hikers may be able to get through the trails, it may be impossible or at least much harder for horses to get through. Lack of resources, resulting from the state’s budget shortfall, preclude DEC from clearing trails of blowdown at this time.

St. Regis Canoe Area: The carry between Long Pond and Nellie Pond has been flooded by beavers about half way between the ponds. A short paddle will be required. Also, DEC and Student Conservation Association crews have been working throughout the summer to move 8 campsites, close 23 campsites and create 21 new campsites [online map]. Please respect closure signs. Work is occuring during the week, and only on one or two campsites at a time.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: Beaver activity has caused the flooding of the Stony Pond Road approximately one mile from the trailhead. Use caution if you choose to cross this area.

Chimney Mountain / Eagle Cave: DEC is investigating the presence of white-nose syndrome in bats in Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain. Until further notice Eagle Cave is closed to all public access.

Opalescent River Bridges Washed Out: The Opalescent River Bridge on the East River / Hanging Spears Falls trail has been washed out. The crossing will be impassable during high water.

High Peaks/Big Slide Ladder: The ladder up the final pitch of Big Slide has been removed.

Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail: Much of the blowdown on the Caulkins Brook Truck Trail/Horse Trail between the Calkins Brook lean-tos and Shattuck Clearing has been removed. The trail is open for hikers but remains impassable to horses and wagons. DEC crews continue to work to open the trail.

Calamity Dam Lean-to: Calamity Lean-to #1, the lean-to closest to the old Calamity Dam in the Flowed Lands, has been dismantled and removed.

Mt. Adams Fire Tower: The cab of the Mt. Adams Fire Tower was heavily damaged by windstorms. The fire tower is closed to public access until DEC can make repairs to the structure.

Upper Works – Preston Ponds Washouts: Two foot bridges on the trail between Upper Works and Preston Pond were washed out by an ice jam. One bridge was located 1/3 mile northwest of the new lean-to on Henderson Lake. The second bridge was located several tenths of a mile further northwest. The streams can be crossed by rock hopping. Crossings may be difficult during periods of high water.

Duck Hole: The bridge across the dam has been removed due to its deteriorating condition. A low water crossing (ford) has been marked below the dam near the lean-to site. This crossing will not be possible during periods of high water.

Northville-Placid Trail: Beaver activity has blocked a section between Plumley Point and Shattuck Clearing. Hikers can use a well used, but unmarked, 1/4 mile reroute around the flooded portion of the trail.

Wilcox Lake Wild Forest: Flooding is also affecting the Wilcox Lake Wild Forest, particularly the Pine Orchard Trail and Murphy Lake Trail. Bridges at Mill Creek, approximately 3 miles from the trailhead on Dorr Road has no decking, only stringers, the bridges over Mill Brook, north of Pine Orchard, is not decked, and the Dayton Creek bridge is out on the trail from Brownell Camp (at the end of Hope Falls Road) to Wilcox Lake.

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Forecast provided by the National Weather Service; warnings and announcements drawn from NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and other sources. Detailed Adirondack Park camping, hiking, and outdoor recreation and trail conditions can be found at DEC’s webpages. A DEC map of the Adirondack Park can also be found online [pdf].

The new DEC Trails Supporter Patch is now available for $5 at all outlets where sporting licenses are sold, on-line and via telephone at 1-866-933-2257. Patch proceeds will help maintain and enhance non-motorized trails throughout New York State.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Friday Lecture: Of Mice and Moose and Scat

A SUNY Plattsburgh ecologist whose research has taken her from Alaska to the Adirondacks will speak at Paul Smith’s College on Friday, Sept. 3. Dr. Danielle Garneau’s talk, “Of Mice and Moose and Scat,” will launch this fall’s Fish & Wildlife Seminar Series at Paul Smith’s. The lecture will be held at 10:10 a.m. in the Pine Room of the Joan Weill Student Center. It is free and open to the public. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

Hobofest Returns to Saranac Lake Sunday

The second annual Hobofest will be held this Sunday, September 5th, from noon until 10 pm. Hobofest is a free music celebration of the Hobo spirit. It all happens on the lawn by the train station at 28 Depot Street in Saranac Lake, against the backdrop of the Adirondack Scenic Railroad. Hobofest is a grassroots community event bringing performers from near and far. The event is hosted by 7444 Gallery, programmed by Seward’s Folly Productions, and supported by your generous donations and the purchases of Hobofest goods.

Schedule-at-a-Glance
11:45 Hobo fanfare to welcome the first train, led by Kyle Murray (Rainbow Lake)
12:00 Steve Langdon (Saranac Lake)
12:40 Pete Seward & Shamim Allen (North Elba, Saranac Lake)
1:00 Keith Gorgas (Goldsmith)
1:20 Theresa Hartford (Saranac Lake)
1:40 Jamie Savage (Piercefield)
2:00 Pine Ridge Rounders, (Bloomingdale, Saranac Lake)
2:50 Barn Cats (Rainbow Lake/Bloomingdale, Saranac Lake, Montreal)
3:45 Shamim Allen (Saranac Lake)
4:10 Roy Hurd (Saranac Lake
4:40 Mother Banjo (Minneapolis)
5:15 Cracking Foxy (Saranac Lake)
6:10 Steve Langdon – send off for last train of the day (Saranac Lake)
6:30 Roulette Sisters (Brooklyn)
7:45 Frankenpine (Brooklyn)
9:00 Big Slyde (Lake Placid)

Performers:

New-grass-chamber power trio, Big Slyde, plays acoustic music with freshness and a contagious energy. This groove-oriented ensemble offers intricate mazes against delightful lush textures. John Doan: banjo, dobro, Mikey Portal: guitar, Christina Grant: cello. Refined instrumentation yet hardly ever “twangy.”

Frankenpine brings home former Saranac Lakers, Ned Rauch and Colin Dehond. Its “modern waves radiate from the form of piney old bluegrass and country.” (Adirondack Enterprise). Kim Chase: vocals, guitar, Matthew Chase: banjo, Ned Rauch: resonator guitar, mandolin, vocal, Liz Bisbee: violin, vocal and harmony vocals, Andy Mullen: accordion, harmonica, vocal, Colin Dehond: electric bass.

The Roulette Sisters play a hip-shaking blend of American country blues, traditional songs, popular, and old timey music regularly to denizens of the urban environment.Gorgeous 4-part harmonies, and stone cold authentic acoustic blues playing, sweeten their innuendo-laden songs. Mamie Minch: resonator guitar, vocals, Meg Reichardt: guitar, vocals, Megan Burleyson: washboard, vocals, Karen Waltuch: viola, vocals.

Cracking Foxy is making it’s debut appearance at Hobofest, performing vintage jazz, Hawaiian and vaudeville-era tunes. The line up features the three-part harmony of Abbey Curran, Sarah Curtis and Shamim Allen, backed by John Bouman on standup bass, Steve Langdon on guitar and Mark Hofschneider on ukelele and banjo. Dancing is not required but highly encouraged.

The Barn Cats play a bedrock mix of traditional American Roots Music; Bluegrass, Old time, Gospel, Blues and Country. They dwell on the northern slopes of the Adirondacks, and can be found almost any Wednesday night at the Shamrock in Gabriels. Addison Bickford: fiddle, vocals, Peter Reuter: guitar, Daun Reuter: mandolin, Sarah Curtis: vocals, ukelele, bodhran, Joe Costa: banjo, Mike Wanner: bass

The Pine Ridge Rounders are a hard-driving center-of-the tracks Bluegrass ensemble, flavored with a little grit, salt, and coal dust. Ken Casler: vocals, banjo, Kris Casler, mandolin and vocals, Kevin Woolley guitar, dobro, vocals, Peter Reuter: guitar, Jonathan Bouman: bass,

Roy Hurd – A living Adirondack legend and a well-traveled storytelling song man, he has written deftly crafted commercial country hits covered by the likes of The Oak Ridge Boys.This much-loved member of our community endures.

Mother Banjo – Called an “outstanding poet” by Inside Bluegrass Magazine and selected as a Midwest Finalist in the Mountain Stage NewSong Contest, Mother Banjo offers the mother’s milk of song, mixing original indie-folk with traditional folk and gospel music. She is currently touring behind her album The Sad and Found, which was named the #10 album of 2009 by the St. Paul Pioneer Press.

Jamie Savage – Sure-footed and grounded in this land, his keen observation and deep intonation tell us of where we live and who we are.

Theresa Hartford – A passionate, sometimes growling, song-mistress who sings of heartbreak, love, and redemption.

Keith Gorgas – Currently a resident in the ghost town of Goldsmith , population eight. Keith has spent five years living as a real hobo; hitchhiking, hopping trains, planes, & boats, and living under bridges.

Shamim Allen – A pivotal figure on the local music scene, Shamim’s rhythmic force propels us forward; her voice soothes with soul-saving promise.

Steve Langdon – Legendary past winter-caretaker in the wilds of Lake Colden, he plays authentic country blues. Witness him go against a locomotive with his bare hands.
Kyle Murray – The Shamrockin’ pied-piper of percussion, spinning his web on an emerald loom.

Directions to DEPOT PARK:

From North (Bloomingdale/Plattsburgh) – Rt 3 south to Depot Street, Take a Right at Light on Depot Street at the Stewarts Shops. Second Building on the right after Robert Morris Park.

From South (Tupper Lake) – Route 3 North to Main Street, Left at light on Main Street, Veer Left onto Broadway, Past Post Office on Left, Right at next light onto Bloomingdale Avenue, First Left at light on Depot Street, Second Building on the right after Robert Morris Park.

From East (Lake Placid) – Rt 86 to Saranac Lake, Left onto Lake Flower Avenue, Right at light on to Church Street, thru stop sign, Straight at next light, Veer Left (straight ahead) at Next light on to Depot Street between Stewarts and Robert Morris Park, Second Building on the right.

From West (Malone) – Rt 86 to Saranac Lake past Kinny Drugs on right, thru first light, left on Bloomingdale avenue at next light, First Left at light on Depot Street, Second Building on the right after Robert Morris Park.


Thursday, September 2, 2010

World Cup Sliding and Skiing to Return to Placid

Many of the world’s best winter athletes will be back in Lake Placid when World Cup action returns this winter. Several of the same athletes who competed in last February’s winter games in Vancouver will also be competing in the World Cup bobsled and skeleton racing, Dec. 13-19, and World Cup freestyle skiing, Jan. 17-23.

American Steve Holcomb is expected to headline the World Cup bobsled field when the world’s top drivers, sliders and teams return to the one-mile long Mt. Van Hoevenberg Sports Complex track. Last February, Holcomb broke a 62-year U.S. gold medal drought when he raced to glory in the Olympic four-man bobsled competition. Holcomb’s teammates, Erin Pac and Elana Meyers, are also expected to race in Lake Placid. The two women enter the 2010-2011 World Cup season as Olympic bronze medalists.

Other sliders in the field could include men’s skeleton Olympic champion Jon Montgomery, of Canada, and American John Napier, who won his first-career World Cup race last season on the 1,455-meter long course. Napier is now serving in Afghanistan as a member of the Vermont National Guard’s 86th Infantry Mountain Combat Brigade.

The World Cup aerial and mogul field promises to be just as deep. Hannah Kearney and Patrick Deneen will headline the U.S. mogul team lineup, while Ryan St. Onge will lead the U.S. aerial squad. Kearney is the reigning Olympic women’s moguls gold medalist, while Deneen carries the title of 2009 world champion into the event. St. Onge has won five-career World Cup aerial events and is also the 2009 world champion.

The Lake Placid event is the only World Cup in the United States and will also serve as a qualifier for the U.S. ski team’s world championship squad. The 2011 FIS Freestyle World Ski Championships are slated for Feb. 2-5 at Deer Valley Resort, in Park City, Utah.

Also on tap this winter, America’s Cup bobsled and skeleton racing, Jan. 9-16 and March 27-April 2. InterContinental Cup Skeleton racing also returns, Jan. 24-29, and the FIBT bobsled drivers’ school is slated for March 21-25. ORDA’s events calendar also features the Eastern Synchronized Skating competition, Feb. 3-6, the Lake Placid Loppet, Feb. 5, and the annual Empire State Games, Feb. 18-20.

For a complete schedule of all of the activities and events taking place on ORDA’s Olympic venues visit the ORDA website.

Photo: Concentration sets in as a Women’s bobsled team gets ready to slide the track at the Olympic Sports Complex at Mt. Van Hoevenberg during the 2005 Bobsled and Skeleton World Cup. Photo Courtesy ORDA.


Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Adirondack Crows, Ravens, and Jays

While most people like birds, some are totally ga-ga over them, while others downright fear them. When it comes to the corvids, though – birds informally known as members of the “crow family” – it seems it’s an either/or situation: either people hate them because they are “cruel,” “mean,” “vicious” birds, or they are intrigued by them because they are “clever,” “intelligent,” and “ingenious.” Somewhere in the mix, the truth lies.

Here in the Adirondacks we are lucky to have four species of corvids: ravens, crows, blue jays and gray jays. A fifth species, the fish crow, is listed as “rare” in the Lake Champlain Basin, so we can consider it an Adirondack possibility, but one exhibiting low probability. A more southern species, it wouldn’t surprise me at all if the fish crow became a more frequent visitor to our region, along with vultures and cardinals, as our climate continues to change. » Continue Reading.



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