Posts Tagged ‘fishing’

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Batten Kill Named A National ‘River to Watch’

The National Fish Habitat Action Plan has unveiled the 2011 list of 10 “Waters to Watch”, a collection of rivers, streams, estuaries, watershed systems and shores that will benefit from strategic conservation efforts to protect, restore or enhance their current condition. Included in the list is the Batten Kill in Washington County.

The 10 waters represent a snapshot of this year’s larger voluntary habitat conservation efforts in progress. These and other locally driven conservation projects are prioritized and implemented by regional Fish Habitat Partnerships that have formed throughout the country to implement the National Fish Habitat Action Plan. The objective of the Action Plan is to conserve freshwater, estuarine and marine habitats essential to the many fish and wildlife species that call these areas
home.

The 10 “Waters to Watch” are representative of freshwater to marine habitats across the country including rivers, lakes, reservoirs and estuaries that benefit through the conservation efforts of these Fish Habitat Partnerships formed under the Action Plan-a bold initiative implemented in 2006 to avoid and reverse persistent declines in our
nation’s aquatic habitats.

The initial Action Plan’s 10 “Waters to Watch” list was unveiled in 2007 and in 2011 will feature its 50th project. Since 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has provided $12 million to support 257 on-the-ground Action Plan projects in 43 states, leveraging $30 million in partner match, to address the priorities of Action Plan Fish Habitat Partnerships. Additional funds have been provided by several other State
and Federal agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and industry partners.

“Our approach-teaming local, state, tribal, and federal agencies with private partners and stakeholders-is helping to bring these waters back to life in most cases…in a faster more strategic way,” said Kelly Hepler, Chairman of the National Fish Habitat Board. “By watching these 10 models of our nation’s aquatic conservation efforts underway, we can see real progress, in both avoidance and treatment of causes of fish
habitat decline. Too often we have focused on treatment of symptoms with limited success. Through sound science and on-the-ground locally driven partnerships, these select Action Plan projects can be held high as a vision of what quality habitat should and can be, and how it benefits all people throughout the United States.”

BATTEN KILL RIVER – Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture

The Batten Kill project is a high profile fisheries and watershed restoration project that has galvanized local, regional and national groups and partners. Once a famous, world-class recreational trout fishery, the river experienced a steady decline in its wild fish population over the past two decades. Since 2000, there has been widespread grassroots support and effort to restore the fishery to its former status.

Purpose of the project: In-stream and riparian habitat restoration for Eastern brook trout in the Batten Kill watershed, have been based on scientific assessments and
monitoring that have led to strategic on-the-ground implementation of
restoration practices.

The goals are to deliver as much short term habitat restoration work as possible through the installation of in-stream cover and shelter along with replanting the riparian zone, while making long term investments in quality habitat by improving river dynamics, conserving existing buffers, and planting buffer zones where vegetation is deficient.

There is also the essential component of fostering good stewardship by educating landowners in river-friendly practices and supporting easements or other conservation protection of riparian areas where appropriate.

Project Timeline: Projects to install cover and shelter structures combined with in-stream structures to improve river dynamics (according to established Natural Channel Design Techniques) began in 2005 and continue in earnest today.

There are two teams implementing assessments and restoration: one in Vermont, one in New York. Each team restores about a half a mile of stream each year. So far, the partnership has accomplished:

26 miles of fish habitat inventory and assessment.
27 projects totaling 10.5 miles of riparian and stream habitat restoration.
21 miles of stream geomorphology and bank erosion surveys.
15 scientific/biological investigations & assessments and fishery studies.
Multiple river stewardship and public outreach and education projects.

The project is considered a good example of cooperation between Federal, State,
and local agencies, organizations, communities and streamside landowners, in both states, to develop and implement a scientific-approach and community-driven restoration effort. Monitoring shows a 400% increase in the number of yearling trout in the affected pools and 100% increase in affected riffles.

Partners include:
Batten Kill Watershed Alliance of New York and Vermont
US Fish & Wildlife Service
Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program
Fisheries Program
US Forest Service, Green Mountain National Forest
Natural Resources Conservation Service
New York Department of Environmental Conservation
Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department
Washington County (NY) Soil and Water Conservation District
Bennington County (VT) Natural Resource Conservation District
Windsor County (VT) Natural Resource Conservation District
Clearwater Chapter of Trout Unlimited
Adirondack Chapter of Trout Unlimited
Southwestern Vermont Chapter of Trout Unlimited
The Orvis Company
National Wildlife Federation
University of Vermont
University of Massachusetts
Dartmouth College

The rest of the 10 “Waters to Watch” for 2011 include:

Alewife Brook/Scoy Pond, NY (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership)

Au Sable River, Michigan – (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Great Lakes Basin Fish Habitat Partnership)

Barataria Bay, Louisiana – (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Southeast Aquatics Resources Partnership)

Cottonwood Creek, Alaska – (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Mat-Su Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership)

Duchesne River, Utah – (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Desert Fish Habitat
Partnership)

Llano River, Texas – (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Southeast Aquatic Resources
Partnership)

Manistee River, Michigan- (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Great Lakes Basin Fish Habitat Partnership)

St. Charles Creek, Idaho – (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Western Native Trout Initiative)

Waipa Stream, Hawaii – (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Hawaii Fish Habitat Partnership)

The Action Plan has met its objective of establishing at least 12 Fish Habitat Partnerships by 2010 to help identify the causes of habitat declines and implement corrective initiatives for aquatic conservation and restoration, with 17 Fish Habitat Partnership currently working on the ground in aquatic conservation.

Since its launch six years ago, the Action Plan has received wide public support. To date nearly 1,700 partners have pledged their support including a range of organizations and individuals interested in the health of the nation’s fisheries such as fishing clubs, international conservation organizations, federal agencies, angling industries and academia.

These ten habitat conservation efforts highlighted in 2011 are a small sample of the many habitat conservation projects implemented under the Action Plan. The 2011, as well as past 10 “Waters to Watch” lists can be viewed at www.fishabitat.org along with
complete information on the scope of the Action Plan.

Illustrations: The Batten Kill in Arlington, Vermont; below, the Batten Kill and its tributaries. Courtesy Wikipedia.


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

2009-2010 Fisheries Annual Report Released

The 2009-2010 Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Bureau of Fisheries Annual Report has been released [pdf].

The report features a compilation of highlights and accomplishments of activities and efforts carried out for the 2009-2010 fiscal year by DEC Bureau of Fisheries staff located in nine regional offices, two research stations, twelve fish hatcheries, one fish disease laboratory, as well as DEC’s Central Office in Albany.

The report provides summaries of fish culture and egg take outcomes, coldwater and warmwater fish research surveys, angler catch and effort reports, new public access site developments, habitat protection efforts, and more.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Adirondack Fishing Expo in Old Forge

The Adirondack Fishing Expo will be held May 21 and 22 in Old Forge. It will be at the Community Center on Park Ave, located behind Souvenir Village at the “Five Corners.” Hours are 9 – 4 daily. It is sponsored by Souvenir Village and the New York State Outdoorsmen Hall of Fame with proceeds to benefit Hall of Fame youth programs.

There has been a renewed interest in fishing the Adirondacks but many people are unaware of the potential that exists here, or the methods to take advantage of it. With exhibits, demonstrations, and seminars the attendees at the Expo can gain a better idea of where to go and how to fish for the species they desire.

There will be exhibitors ranging from canoe and kayak sales, fishing tackle vendors, Adirondack guides, outfitters such as canoe rentals or seaplanes, fly tyers, conservation organizations, tourist information, wildlife artists, and craftsmen. You will have the chance to meet and talk with award winning artist and outdoorsman Tom Yacovella and hear his methods for brook trout fishing.

Throughout the day there will be seminars and presentations on Adirondack bass fishing, brook trout fishing, kayak fishing, fishing remote trout waters, trolling techniques and lures, fly fishing, and photography. Learn and sample fish cooking techniques from the masters Nick Bankert and Jim Holt. Professional photographer Angie Berchielli will share her tips for taking better fish photos.

There will be information on fishing various lakes, ponds, and rivers, as well as free “fish finder” maps available from FishNY.com. Explore the options of getting to fishing waters ranging from roadside boat launches to flying in by seaplane, packing in by horseback, or traveling by canoe. Meet the outfitters and learn from their presentations on what to take and how to pack.

There will be fly fishing demonstrations, clinics, or lessons. Participants will have the chance to meet popular authors and get autographed books.

Seminars and demonstrations will include kayak fishing (10 am), floatplane (10:30 am), Yacovella on brook trout (11 am), fly tying demo (11 and 2), fly casting clinic (11:30), back country brookies (12 noon), fish cooking demo (1 pm), bass fishing (1:30 pm), better fishing photos (2:15), pack in by canoe (2:45 pm) and trolling techniques and lures (3 pm).

See the New York State Outdoor Writers Association Hall of Fame website for more information.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Aerial Photos Capture Champlain Sediment Plumes

A series of remarkable photographs issued by the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) shows shoreline erosion and sediment and nutrient loading of Lake Champlain as a result of the flooding that continues to occur around the region. The lake has reached historic levels that have accelerated shoreline erosion and sent dark plumes that likely contain contaminants into open water.

The filling of historic wetlands, channeling streams and development along watersheds that empty into the lake have increased storm water run-off and added what is considered an unprecedented about of contaminants – pollution, nutrients and sediment – into the Lake Champlain ecosystem according to the LCBP.

“While there will be time in the future for a careful assessment of the flooding of the many tributaries and of the Lake itself,” an LCBP press statement said, “it already is clear that the impact on water quality (in addition to the immediate human distress) will be very significant.”

Among water quality managers’ concerns is controlling run-off phosphorus pollution from household cleaning products and lawn fertilizers, believed critical to managing and reducing water pollution. Increased phosphorus pollution is linked to the growth of potentially toxic and economically disruptive algae blooms.

During unseasonably warm weather last July health warnings were issued in New York and Vermont for algae blooms in Lake Champlain (including some near Westport, Port Henry, and Crown Point). At the time health officials recommended avoiding all contact with the affected water including swimming, bathing, or drinking, or using it in cooking or washing, and to keep pets and livestock from algae-contaminated water.

The water quality issues come at a time when Plattsburgh is celebrating its 10th year of hosting professional fishing tournaments on Lake Champlain. According to Dan Heath, writing in the Press Republican, Plattsburgh has hosted more than 50 tournaments that included some 25,000 anglers since 2001. More than 3,000 bass anglers are expected for this year’s tournaments which together will offer $1,8 million in prizes. “Lake Champlain has earned a reputation as one of the best smallmouth bass fisheries in North America,” Heath wrote.

The tournament season will kick off withe the American Bass Angler’s Weekend Series on June 11th.

The Lake Champlain Basin Program has posted the aerial photos (taken on April 29-30, 2011) online; the photos are also linked to Google Maps. It’s likely a similar situation is occurring on many of the Adirodnack region’s lakes and reservoirs.

Photos: Above, sediment plume from the Ausable River and Dead Creek; Below, headland erosion and suspended sediment north of Mooney Bay. Photos courtesy the Lake Champlain Basin Program.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Commentary: Oversight Needed for Conservation Easements

Conservation easements are real property arrangements designed for the insider. Specialists predominate before and after an easement is consummated in private, including the negotiators to the terms of the easement (the seller, donor, buyer, or grantor and grantee and their lawyers), the appraiser of the easement’s value, and an ecological specialist who conducts baseline surveys of the land in question. There is rarely, if ever, a public meeting to discuss the details of the easement. The public may learn about easements through after the fact press releases, but their specific provisions and public benefits may be unclear for years. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

New Baitfish Regulations Proposed

The Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced changes to current state regulations banning the overland transport of uncertified baitfish by anglers, including baitfish that are personally collected. The proposed revisions in the Notice of Proposed Rule Making filed today would allow for the overland transport of personally collected baitfish within three specified transportation corridors, as long as the baitfish are used in the same waters from which they are collected.

“We are responding to concerns that regulations adopted in 2007 to protect New York’s world class fish stocks were overly restrictive,” Commissioner Joe Martens said in a prepared statement. “While we are pleased to relax the current ban within defined corridors along specific waterbodies, we are counting on full support of anglers for the Department’s efforts to limit the spread of fish disease organisms throughout the state.” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Adirondack Brook Trout

After a long, cold, snowy winter, it is time to search out the majestic Adirondack Brook Trout. Many of the best trout fishing and viewing locations are still experiencing high flow conditions, making accessing them difficult. Due to these conditions, stocking of bodies of water within the Adirondacks will not take place until later in the month. It is anticipated that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will stock 147,000 Brook Trout into Adirondack waters.

Brook Trout, Salvelinus fontinalis, our state fish, is one of the easiest species to recognize. The white leading edges on the fins, wormlike vermiculation and the red spots on their sides haloed with blue, make this fish unique. The Brook Trout, like the Lake Trout is actually a char. They can serve as an indicator of the health of an aquatic ecosystem.

Brook Trout live in lakes and streams throughout the Adirondacks. Being a cold-water species, they prefer, small streams with cool temperatures, as well as lakes and ponds that are cold and well oxygenated. During the fall, Brook Trout will migrate to the spawning redds, generally in streams or in the shallow bays within lakes on gravel beds. The majority of spawning takes place midday. During courtship both sexes defend the spawning redd by chasing away intruders. Females will lay between 40 to 79 eggs per pit. The female will spend up to 2 days digging the pit. While she is digging the male will approach her, touching her sides. When the female is ready, she will move into the center of the pit, the male will curl himself around her to hold her in position. The pair will then vibrate together, releasing eggs and milt. Both sexes will spawn multiple times.

Brook Trout are voracious eaters and will feed on aquatic insects, invertebrates, salamanders, tadpoles, small mammals and other fish. Within the Adirondacks, there are native strains of Brook Trout that are unique to the body of water in which they are found. These strains are termed Heritage strain Brook Trout. The most commonly known are the Horn Lake, Little Tupper Lake and the Windfall Pond strain. The average size of a Heritage Brook Trout is 9 to 16 inches. They reach maturity between 2 to 3 years of age and can live for up to an average of 6 years.

The New York statewide fishing regulations for Brook Trout are: Open season starts April 1 and runs till October 15; however their may be regulations for specific bodies of water. The minimum length that may be kept is, any, with a daily limit of 5. The state record Brook Trout is a 5 pound 4.5 ounce fish caught in Raquette Lake in 2009.

Brook Trout populations within the Adirondacks have declined from historical numbers; this is due in part to non-native fish species, degradation of water quality and acid deposition.

Photos: Brook Trout, Courtesy Blueline Photography, Jeremy Parnapy.

Corrina Parnapy is a Lake George native and a naturalist who writes regularly about the environment and Adirondack natural history for the Adirondack Almanack.


Thursday, March 31, 2011

Trout and Salmon Fishing Opens April 1st

Trout, lake trout and landlocked Atlantic salmon seasons all begin on April 1st, but unlike last year when opening day trout anglers were greeted with relatively tranquil conditions, this winter’s heavy snows and resultant high, cold stream conditions will not be friendly to early season trout anglers. Early season anglers should use caution, as ice melt can create swift flow in high waters, unstable ice layers and unstable hiking terrain – particularly in higher elevations where winter snow is returning Friday.

“After a long, cold and snowy winter, we know that anglers are anxious to hit the water,” said DEC Commissioner Joe Martens. “Unfortunately, a good portion of the state remains covered with snow, which may restrict access to streams and cause very high stream flows making early season angling difficult.” » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 24, 2011

Current Conditions in the Adirondack Park (March 24)

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

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

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

SPECIAL NOTICES FOR THIS WEEKEND

** indicates new or revised items.

** WINTER CONDITIONS AT ALL ELEVATIONS
Winter conditions still exist throughout the area with one to two feet of snow on the ground, more in higher elevations. Ice may be found on summits and other open areas. These conditions will require snowshoes or skis at all elevations and crampons on exposed areas. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports just under 4 feet on the ground at the cabin. Snow cover is good on all trails. Colder temperatures have brought about lower water levels. Higher elevations waters are still iced in and covered with snow. Lower elevation waters may be open.

** SNOWSHOES OR SKIS
The use of snowshoe or skis is required in the Eastern High Peaks where ever snow depths exceed 8 inches, as is currently the case, and is recommended elsewhere in the Adirondacks. Using snowshoes or skis prevents “post-holing”, avoids injuries, and eases travel through snow.

** HIGH WATERS
Colder temperatures have brought about lower water levels. Higher elevations waters are still iced in and covered with snow. Lower elevation waters may be open. If temperatures warm next week it could result in high water conditions with some stream crossings possible impassable and some trails along streams flooded.

** EXPECT BLOWDOWN
Recent storms and strong winds have caused blowdown – trees, limbs, and branches may be found on and over trails, especially lesser used trails which have not yet been cleared.

** AVALANCHE CONDITIONS
Everywhere snows have accumulated to sufficient depths to create conditions conducive to avalanches and DEC has issued an Avalanche Warning and several have occurred. The danger of avalanches is highest shortly after a significant snowfall, and avalanches can occur anytime there is a deep snow cover made up of multiple layers of snow. The risk of avalanche depends on a number of factors and can not only change from day to day, but also change over the period of the day as temperatures, humidity and solar warming all influence the character of the snowpack. Avoid traveling on open areas with slopes between 25 & 50 degrees and no vegetation. Never travel alone, carry proper safety equipment; and inform someone where you will be traveling.

** Snowmobiles
Many of the region’s snowmobile trails are still open snowmobiles are operating on designated snowmobile trails. Skiers and snowshoers using designated snowmobile trails should keep to the sides of the trail to allow safe passage. See the weekly snowmobile trails report below for more information about the condition of local snowmobile trails.

Thin Ice Safety
Always check the thickness of ice before crossing and at several points along the way. Ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Be cautious of ice near inlets, outlets and over any moving water. Remember, ice that holds snow may not hold the weight of a person. Each year a number of people fall through thin ice. One has already died and many more have gone through the ice. Use extreme caution with ice.

Carry Extra Winter Gear
Snowshoes or skis can prevent injuries and eases travel in heavy snow. Ice crampons should be carried for use on icy trails and mountaintops and other exposed areas. Wear layers of wool and fleece (NOT COTTON!), a winter hat, gloves or mittens, wind/rain resistant outer wear, and winter boots. Carry a day pack complete with ice axe, plenty of food and water, extra clothing, map and compass, first-aid kit, flashlight/headlamp, sun glasses, sun-block protection, ensolite pads, a stove and extra fuel, and bivy sack or space blankets.

Know The Latest Weather
Check the weather before entering the woods and be aware of weather conditions at all times — if weather worsens, head out of the woods.

** Fire Danger: LOW
NOTE: We’re entering the state’s historically high fire risk period from mid-March until mid-May.

** Central Adirondacks Lower Elevation Weather
Friday: Chance of snow, partly sunny, high near 23. Wind chill to -5.
Friday Night: Chance of snow, mostly cloudy, low around 4. Wind chill to -7.
Saturday: Slight chance of snow, mostly sunny, high near 22. Windy.
Saturday Night: Partly cloudy, a low around 1.
Sunday: Sunny, with a high near 24.

The National Weather Service provides 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]

** Snow Cover
There is currently 1 to 2 feet of snow at lower elevations across most of the Adirondack Park. The Lake Colden Interior Caretaker reports just under 4 feet on the ground at the cabin. Trails are in good shape with a hard pack and crusted snow covered by some fresh snow. Lake Colden and Avalanche Lake are frozen over as are waters in the higher elevation. Marcy Dam Pond and other waters below that elevation are beginning to thaw and may have open waters. Ice may be found on summits and other open areas. These conditions will require snowshoes or skis at all elevations and crampons on exposed areas such as summits. The latest snow cover map from the National Weather Service provides an estimate of snow cover around the region.

** Downhill Ski Report
Conditions vary depending on elevation from spring conditions, loose granular, frozen granular and machine groomed, to packed powder. Mountains relying only on natural snow have begun to scale back their operations and some have closed for the season, including Big Tupper, Mt. Pisgah in Saranac Lake, and Oak Mountain in Speculator. West, Hickory, Macaulay and Titus are expected to be open this weekend and there is still plenty of snow at Gore and Whiteface with a two to four foot base.

** Cross Country Ski Report
Most of the region’s cross-country ski areas are still open. With 12-15 inches of hard, crusty snow on the ground at most lower elevations the most reliable skiing is at groomed ski centers. The Jackrabbit Trail is skiable its entire length, with about a 10 to 20 inch base. The entire trail has good cover, but the hills will be hard and fast when temperatures fall below freezing. Paul Smiths College has been grooming the VIC trails, including the Esker Loop. Complete and up-to-date cross-country conditions are available [here].

** Backcountry Ski Report
Snow cover is suitable for skiing on all trails with just under four feet at Lake Colden and more at higher elevations. Use old hiking trail to reach Marcy Dam from ADK Loj. Truck trail has open brook crossing 1/4 mile past the register, but it can be crossed via a narrow snow bridge or a detour upstream to a beaver dam. The bridge is out on the trail to Marcy, see below for details. Snows have accumulated to sufficient depths on Adirondack Mountain slopes to create conditions conducive to avalanches and DEC has issued an Avalanche Warning. The Avalanche Pass Slide is closed to skiing and snowshoeing during the winter months.

** Ice Climbing Report
The big news this week is that the North Face of Gothics is in good shape and the Trap Dyke is in. Additional climable areas include Chapel Pond, Cascade Pass, and the North Side of Pitchoff which is a always good bet this time of year. There have been no recent reports from Underwood Canyon or Multi-Gulley, but they are likely to sport a few lines. Mineville Pillar and Chillar Pillar are likely top-ropeable but the conditions there will be day-to-day. Poke-O-Moonshine is pretty much done, as is Roaring Brook Falls, Pharaoh Mountain, and the Palisades on Lake Champlain. Additional Adirondack ice climbing conditions are supplied by Adirondack Rock and River Guide Service.

** Ice Fishing Report
Ice fishing is officially open, but recent heavy snows and warm weather have left very slushy conditions last week which have frozen over to crusty ice. While higher elevation waters (above 2500 feet) are still iced in and covered with snow, lower elevation waters are beginning to open up. Portions of lower elevation waters are opening during the day and refreezing at night. Be cautious around inlets, outlets, shoreline seeps and over moving water. Ice shanties were required to be removed from the ice by March 15. Tip-ups may be operated on waters through April 30, 2010. General ice fishing regulations can be found in the in the 2010-11 Fishing Regulations Guide.

** Snowmobile Trails Report
After one of its longest seasons in recent memory, the snowmobile season is winding down. Spring conditions are the rule. There is still some riding to be had in out of the way areas, but at least some trails are closed in all trail systems throughout the region. Washouts, water holes, fallen snow bridges, and open stream crossings can be expected around the region but some areas, such as the south central Adirondacks, including the town of Webb and Speculator, are reporting trails in fair to good condition with about a 10 inch to 1 1/2 foot base. Some trails systems, however, like most of those in Warren and Washington counties, officially closed their gates this week. In the Western Lake George Wild Forest the gates on the following snowmobile trails have been closed: Gay Pond Road, Prospect Mountain, Lily Pond Road, Palmer Pond Road, Jabe Pond Road [to be closed 3/28]. Contact a local club for specific details in their area.

The Moose River Plains Snowmobile Trail is completely open again, snowmobilers may travel between the Cedar River Headquarters and the Limekiln Lake gate. The water levels on Cellar Brook have dropped and the Town of Indian Lake has re-graded and groomed the trail so snowmobiles can once again cross safely. The waters of the Miami River have subsided and the C4/C8 snowmobile trail is open between intersections HM114 and HM6. As always, conditions throughout the region vary depending on elevation, nearness to large lakes, and latitude. So far this year one sledder has died in Washington County, one in Franklin County, one in Jefferson County, one in Herkimer County, and four in Lewis County. Avoid riding on lakes or ponds, and excessive speed. Ride safely. More Adirondack snowmobiling resources can be found here.

** Most Rivers Are At Or Above Normal
Waters in the region are running at or above normal levels for this time of year. The Raqutte, Indian, Bouquet, and Schroon are running above normal. Use care and consult the latest streamgage data.

** Hunting Seasons
All hunting seasons are now closed or will close next week, with the exception of late snow goose. March 27th is the final day for hunting Coyote and March 28th, the final day to hunt crows. Hikers should be aware that they may meet hunters bearing firearms while hiking on trails. Recognize that these are fellow outdoor recreationists with the legal right to hunt on Forest Preserve lands. Hunting accidents involving non-hunters are extremely rare.

Furbearer Trapping Seasons
Nearly all furbearer trapping seasons are closed with the exception of beaver (closed April 7th), mink, and muskrat (close April 15th). Body gripping traps set on land can no longer use bait or lure.

** Trout Season Opens April 1st
Trout (brook, rainbow, brown and hybrids, and splake) season is just around the corner. The season opens statewide April 1, but the season is expected to get off to a slow start with so much snow and ice on the banks of local streams, once all that snow and ice melts streams will likely be too high. Lake Trout and Landlocked Salmon season also opens. For catch and size limits view the freshwater fishing regulations online.

ADIRONDACK LOCAL BACKCOUNTRY CONDITIONS

NORTHVILLE PLACID TRAIL

The Northville Placid Trail (NPT) is the Adirondack Park’s only designated long distance hiking trail. The 133 mile NPT was laid out by the Adirondack Mountain Club in 1922 and 1923, and is now maintained by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. Up to date NPT trail condition information can be found online.

Upper Benson to Whitehouse: Just north of the Mud Lake lean-to there has been significant blow-down in several areas across the trail that happened sometime in early December that requires several bushwhacks to get around.

West Canada Lakes to Wakely Dam: The bridge over Mud Creek, northeast of Mud Lake, has been washed out. Wading the creek is the only option. The water in Mud Creek will vary from ankle deep to knee deep.

ADIRONDACK CANOE ROUTE / NORTHERN FOREST CANOE TRAIL

Personal Flotation Devices Required: Users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

HIGH PEAKS

** Snowshoes or Skis: The use of snowshoe or skis is required in the Eastern High Peaks and is recommended elsewhere in the Adirondacks. Using snowshoes or skis prevents “post-holing”, avoids injuries, and eases travel through snow.

Avalanche Conditions: Everywhere snows have accumulated to sufficient depths to create conditions conducive to avalanches. Avoid traveling on open areas with slopes between 25 & 50 degrees and no vegetation. Never travel alone, carry proper safety equipment; and inform someone where you will be traveling. DEC has issued an Avalanche Warning.

** Opalescent River Flooding: Due to ice from previous flooding incidents of the Opalescent River, the Day Glow South camping area below the Lake Colden Dam, including the Opalescent and McMartin lean-tos, remains unusable. Campers are advised to use other campsites at this time

Marcy Brook Bridge: The Marcy Brook Bridge, below the junction of the Avalanche Pass and Lake Arnold trails, was damaged by ice during the recent thaw. The bridge is still usable but one of the railings is bent making the path over the bridge narrow. Skiers may have some problems crossing.

** Johns Brook Valley: Lean2Rescue, in cooperation with DEC, will be undertaking several lean-to projects in the Johns Brook Valley over the course of the next several months. DEC will post notifications at the Garden trailhead prior to work being started. Beginning the weekend of March 18-20 the Deer Brook will be moved and the Bear Brook lean-to will be removed.

Avalanche Pass Slide: The slide is closed to skiing and snowshoeing.

Western High Peaks Wilderness: The unpaved section of Corey’s Road, the main entrance to the Western High Peaks Wilderness, is closed for mud season.

Western High Peaks Wilderness: Trails in the Western High Peaks Wilderness are cluttered with blowdown from a storm that occurred December 1st. DEC has cleared blow down in most areas accessed from the Corey’s Road, although not along the Northville-Placid Trail.

Ampersand Mountain Trail: There is heavy blowdown on the Ampersand Mountain Trail as far as the old caretakers cabin – approximately 1.7 miles in. Finding the trail may be difficult after fresh snows. Skiing will be frustrating as there are so many trees down. Past the cabin site the trail is good but snowshoes are needed. There is aprox 3 feet of snow near the summit.

Elk Lake Conservation Easement Lands: The Clear Pond Gate on the Elk Lake Road is closed and will remain closed until the end of the spring mud season. This adds 2 miles of hiking, plan trips accordingly.

Bushnell Falls: The high water bridge at Bushnell Falls has been removed, the low water crossing may not be accessible during high water.

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.

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.

CENTRAL AND SOUTHERN ADIRONDACKS

** Great Sacandaga Lake: A section of North Shore Road in Hadley, which runs along the Great Sacandaga Lake, fell into the lake Friday night just south of the Conklingville dam. The Batchellerville Bridge in Edinburg has alternating one-way traffic.

** Perkins Clearing / Speculator Tree Farm Conservation Easement Lands: The waters of the Miami River have subsided and the C4/C8 snowmobile trail is open between intersections HM114 and HM6.

Moose River Plains Wild Forest: The Moose River Plains Snowmobile Trail is completely open again, snowmobilers may travel between the Cedar River Headquarters and the Limekiln Lake gate. The water levels on Cellar Brook have dropeed and the Town of Indian Lake has re-graded and groomed the trail so snowmobiles can once again cross safely.

Chimney Mountain / Eagle Cave: Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain will be closed to the public from Nov 1 till March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. It is being closed to recreational spelunking to avoid disturbance of hibernating bats. DEC is closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easments to protect the bat population.

Pigeon Lake Wilderness: DEC Forest Rangers and trail crew have been working to clear blowdown from trails. The following trails are cleared and ready for skiing and/or snowshoeing: Shallow Lake Trail (well-marked with some minor blow down), West Mountain Trail (well-marked, some blowdown remains on section east of the summit), and Sucker Brook Trail

SOUTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

** Snowmobiles: The majority of the snowmobile clubs in Warren County have stopped grooming and gates on both private and public trails are in the process of being closed. If you are planning to ride in the southeastern portion of the Adirondack Park please check with the local snowmobile club regarding trail closures or contact the DEC Warrensburg Office at 518-623-1265.

** Lake George Wild Forest (Western): Gates on the following snowmobile trails have been closed: Gay Pond Road, Prospect Mountain, Lily Pond Road, Palmer Pond Road, Jabe Pond Road [to be closed 3/28].

Eastern Lake George Wild Forest: The Town of Fort Ann has closed the Shelving Rock Road for mud season.

Hudson River Recreation Area: Gates on the Buttermilk Road Extension in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area), in the Town of Warrensburg remain shut and the roads closed to motor vehicle traffic.

Hudson Gorge Primitive Area: Ice has formed on all waters. Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

NORTHERN ADIRONDACKS

Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands (former Champion Lands): All lands are open to all legal and allowable public recreation activities beginning January 1. The gate to the Pinnacle Trail remains closed until after the spring mud season.

Santa Clara Tract Easement Lands: Due to logging operations the Madawaska Road and Conversation Corners Road will be closed to snowmobiles and the Snowmobile Corridor C8 has been rerouted.

Whitney Wilderness / Lake Lila: The gate to the Lake Lila Road is closed. Public motorized access to the road is prohibited until the gate is reopened after the spring mud season. Cross-country skiers, snowshoers and other non-motorized access is allowed on the road. Trespassing on lands adjacent to the road is prohibited.

NORTHEASTERN ADIRONDACKS

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: Numerous cross country skiing and snowshoeing opportunities exist on the Public Use Areas and Linear Recreation Corridors open to the public. Skiers and snowshoers are asked not to use the groomed snowmobile routes. Signs on the trails and maps of the snowmobile routes instruct snowmobilers on which routes are open this winter. Portions of these routes may be plowed from time to time so riders should be cautious and aware of motor vehicles that may be on the road. These route changes are a result of the cooperation of Chateaugay Woodlands, the landowner of the easement lands, and their willingness to maintain the snowmobile network. The cooperation of snowmobilers will ensure future cooperative reroutes when the need arises.

Sable Highlands Conservation Easement Lands: A parking area has been built on Goldsmith Road for snowmobile tow vehicles and trailers. The southern terminus of Linear Recreation Corridor 8 (Liberty Road) lies several hundred feet to the east of the parking area and connects to the C8A Snowmobile Corridor Trail (Wolf Pond Road) via Linear Recreation Corridor 7 (Wolf Pond Mountain Road). Construction of the parking area was a cooperative effort of the landowner, the Town of Franklin, and DEC. The Town of Franklin donated time, personnel and equipment from their highway department and will be plowing the parking area.

Sable Highlands / Old Liberty Road / Wolf Pond Mountain Road Snowmobile Trail: Due to planned logging operations by the landowner on lands north of Loon Lake, the western portion of the snowmobile trail (Old Liberty Road/Wolf Pond Mountain Road) that connected with the C7 Snowmobile Corridor Trail (the utility corridor) just north of Loon Lake near Drew Pond and lead to the C8A Snowmobile Corridor Trail (Wolf Pond Road) has been closed this winter. The eastern portion of that snowmobile trail (Wolf Pond Mountain Road) now connects to Goldsmith Road near the parking area. Snowmobiles planning to travel between Franklin County and Clinton County using the C8A Snowmobile Corridor Trail must access C8A at the junction with C7 or use Goldsmith Road and the trail from the Goldsmith Road to C8A (Wolf Pond Road).

Sable Highlands / Mullins Road: The Mullins Road has been opened to snowmobiles to connect County Route 26 (Loon Lake Road) to C7. The road is located approximately halfway between the intersections of Route 26 with C8 (Debar Game Farm Road) and Route 26 with C7.

Norton Peak Cave / Chateuagay Woodlands Conservation Easement Lands: Norton Peak Cave will be closed to the public from Nov 1 till March 31. The cave is a bat hibernacula with white nose syndrome present. It is being closed to recreational spelunking to avoid disturbance of hibernating bats. DEC is closing all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easments to protect the bat population.

GENERAL ADIRONDACK NOTICES

Accidents Happen, Be Prepared
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.

Personal Flotation Devices Required
Paddlers, hunters and other users of small boats are reminded that state law requires all occupants of boats less than 21 feet in length are required to wear personal flotation devices (aka PFDs and life jackets) between November 1 and May 1.

Cave And Mine Closings
White nose syndrome, the fungal disease that’s wiping out bat populations across the northeast has spread to at least 32 cave and mine bat hibernation sites across the New York state according to a recent survey. Populations of some bat species are declining in these caves and mines by 90 percent. White nose was first discovered in upstate New York in the winter of 2006-2007 and is now confirmed in at least 11 states. DEC has closed all bat hibernacula caves on state lands and easements to protect the bat population including Norton Peak Cave in Chateuagay Woodlands Easement Lands and also Eagle Cave near Chimney Mountain. Please respect cave and mine closures.

Practice ‘Leave No Trace’ Principles
All backcountry users should learn and practice the Leave No Trace philosophy: Plan ahead and be prepared, travel and camp on durable surfaces, dispose of waste properly, leave what you find, minimize campfire impacts, respect wildlife, and be considerate of others. More information is available online.

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Warnings and announcements drawn from DEC, NWS, NOAA, USGS, 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, March 24, 2011

Undertanding Fish ‘Winterkill’ on Small Waters

As the ice melts across the state, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) expects to get increasing reports of fish kills in small ponds. Reports of fish mortalities have already been received from some small waters in the southeastern portions of the state.

Whenever large numbers of dead fish are observed, there is concern that a pesticide spill or disease caused the mortality. However, in most cases fish kills that become obvious when the ice melts can be attributed to “Winterkill,” a natural phenomenon that occurs when waters rich in nutrients, algae, and other aquatic plants are covered with ice and snow for long periods of time.

Winterkills occur when ice and snow prevent sunlight from entering the pond and prevent aquatic plants from producing oxygen, necessary to maintain life in the pond. The ice cover also prevents oxygen from mixing into the pond’s waters from the atmosphere. Instead, the decomposition of organic matter and respiration of aquatic organisms in the pond cause a steady decline in oxygen. If the snow and ice cover persists long enough, as was the case in some state waters this year, fish mortalities can occur. Once the ice melts, hundreds of dead fish can be found floating at the pond surface. Winterkills are most common in small, shallow, nutrient-rich ponds with plentiful decaying aquatic vegetation. Winterkills are rare in waters over 20 acres in size and do not occur in larger lakes which have sufficient volumes of oxygen rich water to maintain aquatic life through even the worst of winters.

Winterkills are rarely complete as different fish species and sizes of fish have varying tolerances to low oxygen levels. Some fish also find isolated locations of sufficient oxygen in ponds to hold them through low oxygen periods. Fish populations in these waters often rebound a few years after the fish kill occurred.

Anyone noting a fish kill involving a substantial number of fish that they believe cannot be attributed to Winterkill should contact their local DEC regional office.

Photo courtesy www.nodakoutdoors.com.


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Proposed Pollution Standards Applauded Locally

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has proposed new pollution standards for power plants that are being seen as a major step in reversing the contamination of Adirondack lakes, fish, and wildlife. The rules are likely to be challenged by congressional Republicans, according to a report by John M. Broder and John Collins Rudolf of The New York Times, but nonetheless appear to mark a turning point in the 40-year-long fight to reduce some of America’s worst air pollutants.

In response to a 2008 U.S. Court of Appeals ordered deadline the EPA has proposed the first-ever national standards for mercury, arsenic and other toxic air pollution from power plants. The new standards would require many power plants to install state-of-the-art pollution control technologies to cut harmful emissions of mercury, arsenic, chromium, nickel and gases that cause acid rain and smog. Currently, only about half of the country’s more than 400 coal-burning plants have some form of pollution control technology installed, and only a third of states have any mercury emission standards. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Taking Stock of Adirondack Trout

As the snow melts and the ice recedes from local water bodies around the Adirondacks, the thoughts of some turn to trout. There are a variety of trout species found in the Adirondacks: Rainbow, Brown, and Lake Trout and the king of all fish – in my eyes at least – the Brook Trout. While April 1st marks the opening day of trout season across New York State, many bodies of water in the Adirondacks are open to trout fishing all year long. For specific fishing regulations, check out the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website.

Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis, is actually a char and our state fish. They are easy to identify, having wormlike markings or vermiculation on their backs and brilliant red spots on their sides that are surrounded by blue halos. The most distinguishing feature is the brilliant white edges on their pectoral, pelvic and anal fins. Brook Trout live in lakes and streams in cold well-oxygenated waters and spawn in the fall. The state record for Brook Trout is 5 pounds 4.5 ounces.

Rainbow Trout Salmo gairdneri, are an introduced species originally coming from the Western side of the continent. They are dark olive, almost blue green in color above, lighter on their sides, with a pale yellow to white belly. Adults will have a pink or red band along their sides. Rainbow Trout occur in large streams and lakes where they have been stocked, and spawn in the spring. The state record for Rainbow Trout is 31 pounds 3 ounces.

Brown Trout Salmo trutta, are an introduced species originally from Europe. They are olive green, shading to tan or white on the belly. They have small irregular spots, which are surrounded by pale halos. Brown Trout are primarily a stream fish but can live in lakes. They tolerate higher water temeratures than Brook Trout and spawn in the fall. The state record for Brown Trout is 33 pounds 2 ounces.

Lake Trout Salvelinus namaycush, are a native species of trout. They are silvery gray on their sides and have white on their bellies. Their backs have darker areas with white to creamy spots and vermiculation. Sometimes their fins will have an orange cast to them. Lake Trout are found in deep, cold, well-oxygenated lakes and spawn in the fall. The state record for Lake Trout is 41 pounds 8 ounces.

All species of trout feed on smaller fish species and insects, which is why it is important to conduct a bottom up management approach for fisheries management. Trout are very sensitive to changes in their environment, to maintain a healthy, viable trout population, which is why shoreline and streamside riparian buffers are important.

Photo: Above, Adirondack fisherman shows off a string of trout; Below, Brook Trout courtesy Wikipidia.

Corrina Parnapy is a Lake George native and a naturalist who writes regularly about the environment and Adirondack natural history for the Adirondack Almanack.


Thursday, March 17, 2011

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Workshops Offered

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) is offering one of its very popular “Becoming an Outdoors-Woman” workshops June 24 through 26, 2011, at the Silver Bay YMCA on Lake George, Warren County.

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman is a program that offers weekend-long, outdoor skills workshops for women ages 18 or older, and is designed primarily for women with little or no experience with outdoor activities. Nearly 40 different classes will be offered at the Silver Bay workshop. These include canoeing, fishing, fly fishing, kayaking, shotgun shooting, GPS, map and compass, backpack camping, turkey hunting, day hiking, wilderness first aid, survival skills, archery, bowhunting, camp stove cooking, reading wildlife sign, muzzleloading, and fish and game cooking. Women can even earn a Hunter or Trapper Safety Education certificate.

The early registration fee ranges from $270 to $290, which includes seven meals, two nights lodging, instruction in four classes, program materials and use of equipment.

Workshop information and registration materials are available on the DEC website. Information is also available by calling DEC at 518-402-8862 or writing to “Becoming an Outdoors-Woman, NYS Dept. of Environmental Conservation, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4754.


Sunday, March 13, 2011

Changes Planned for Baitfish Transport Regulations

The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) will propose revisions to the current rule restricting overland transport of uncertified baitfish. DEC is currently developing a proposed revision to the regulations that would allow baitfish to be transported overland within defined “transportation corridors” for use within the same waterbody from which they are collected. DEC anticipates issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in March to be followed by a 45-day public comment period. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 12, 2011

Dan Ladd: Well Seasoned in the Adirondacks

Author and outdoor journalist Dan Ladd of West Fort Ann, Washington County, has recently released his latest book, Well Seasoned in the Adirondacks: People, Places and Pastimes of Northern New York. The book is a collection of articles and essays, many that have appeared in Ladd’s weekly outdoors column in The Chronicle newspaper of Glens Falls. The book also includes a collection of Laddʼs personal photos.

“Many of my friends in the writing industry, especially those at The Chronicle have suggested I do a book like this,” said Ladd. “In fact, I would encourage any outdoor writer who is regularly published, or has been, to share their experiences and adventures with their readers.”

Well Seasoned in the Adirondacks is organized by the four seasons of the year. Winter features a story on vintage snowmobile restoration as well as others on ice, fishing, small game hunting, skiing and snowshoeing. The Spring and Summer chapters feature everything from fishing, camping and hiking to paddling, including a story about a historic Adirondack canoe trip. The Autumn section is dedicated primarily to hunting and features several of the authorʼs relatives who had an influence on his hunting interest. » Continue Reading.