A new study on roadway de-icing in the Adirondacks describes an antiquated, ineffective, expensive, and environmentally damaging system in need of revision. Commissioned by the non-partisan political action committee AdkAction.org, the science was compiled by Daniel L. Kelting, Executive Director of the Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) at Paul Smith’s College, and Corey L. Laxson, Research Associate. The findings are available online [pdf] and are being distributed to the New York State Department of Transportation and local governments responsible for salting Adirondack roadways. » Continue Reading.
Posts Tagged ‘fishing’
Today we were going to list the Ten Most Influential Adirondackers, based on input from you, the Almanack readers. We’ve decided to keep nominations open for one more week (please make your recommendations here). In the meantime, one of you suggested, “How about the Adirondacks’ ten biggest asshats? . . . [T]hat’s one discussion I’d like to read.”
So, scroll through for a list of ten all-star Adirondack jerks and a-hats, in no particular order. » Continue Reading.
A new book on Teddy Roosevelt by New York Times bestselling historian Douglas Brinkley is described by the publisher as “a sweeping historical narrative and eye-opening look at the pioneering environmental policies of President Theodore Roosevelt, avid bird-watcher, naturalist, and the founding father of America’s conservation movement.” For those interested in the Adirondack region, this new biography helps put TR’s Adirondack experiences into the lager context of wilderness protection and wildlife conservation history.
Brinkley draws on never-before-published materials for his look at the life of what he calls our “naturalist president.” Launching from conservation work as New York State Governor, TR set aside more than 230 million acres of American wild lands between 1901 and 1909, and helped popularize the conservation of wild places.
Brinkley’s new book singles out the influential contributions of James Audubon, Charles Darwin, and John Muir in shaping Roosevelt’s view of the natural world. Some of the most interesting parts of the book relate to TR’s relationship with Dr. C. Hart Merriam, who reviewed the future president’s The Summer Birds of the Adirondacks in 1877; Merriam’s own The Mammals of the Adirondacks Region of Northeastern New York, published in 1884, was duly praised by TR.
Merriam and Roosevelt later worked successfully to reverse the declining Adirondack deer population (they brought whitetail from Maine), and to outlaw jack-lighting and hunting deer with dogs and so helped establish the principles of wildlife management by New York State.
During his political stepping-stone term as 33rd Governor of New York (1899-1900) TR made the forests of the state a focus of his policies. He pushed against “the depredations of man,” the recurrent forest fires, and worked to strengthen fish and game laws. Roosevelt provided stewardship of the state’s forests and the Adirondack Park in particular, that led to the most progressive conservation and wilderness protection laws in the country.
TR also worked to replace political hacks on the New York Fisheries, Game, and Forest Commission (forerunner of the DEC), according to Brinkley, and replaced them with highly trained “independent-minded biologists, zoologists, entomologists, foresters, sportsman hunters, algae specialists, trail guides, botanists, and activists for clean rivers.” To help pay the bill he pushed for higher taxes on corporations while also pursuing a progressive politics – what Brinkley calls “an activist reformist agenda.”
The book ranges with Roosevelt to Yellowstone, the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Dakota Territory, and the Big Horn Mountains. It does capture Roosevelt’s time in the Adirondacks, but its’ strength is in putting that time into the larger context of Roosevelt’s life as a wilderness conservationist. For example, TR’s opposition to the Utica Electric Light Company’s Adirondack incursions is only mentioned in passing, though Brinkley’s treatment of the relationship between Gifford Pinchot and TR is more developed. An index entry – “Adirondack National Park” – is lightly misused bringing into concern how much Brinkley really appreciates the impact of Roosevelt’s Adirondack experiences (both in-country and in Albany) on his wilderness ethic.
All in all, however, Wilderness Warrior is a well written collection of the strands of Roosevelt’s conservationist ideas, woven into a readable narrative. Considering TR’s role in so many disciplines related to our forests, that’s no mean feat.
It’s time to haul that albino jack-a-lope out of the attic; time to dust off that high quality deer butt door bell, or other animal rump art, and head down to the big city to show ’em how its done. Yes – it’s strange taxidermy time and “Science Geeks, Nature Freaks, and Rogue Geniuses” will be gathering Sunday, November 15th at the 4th Annual Carnivorous Nights Taxidermy Contest at the Bell House, a 1920’s warehouse converted into a music and events venue in Gowanus, Brooklyn. The event is hosted by the Secret Science Club, which bills itself as a “lecture, arts, and performance series.”
“Show off your beloved moose head, stuffed albino squirrel, sinuous snake skeletons, jarred sea slugs, and other specimens,” the event announcement reads, “Compete for prizes and glory!” There will be a “feral taxidermy talk by beast mistress Melissa Milgrom,” author of the forth-coming book, Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy and an appearance by the Grand Master of Taxidermy, Takeshi Yamada. But the highlight of the event will be a juried taxidermy show judged by a panel of “savage taxidermy enthusiasts” that includes Robert Marbury, co-founder of the Minnesota Association of Rogue Taxidermists, and Secret Science Club co-curator Dorian Devins.
The contest is open to any and all taxidermy (homemade, purchased, and found), preserved and jarred specimens, skeletons, skulls, and gaffs and beyond. The organizers are quick to point out this year that wet specimens must remain in their jars. Prizes will be awarded for categories that include best stuffed creature, most interesting biological oddity, and more.
Entrants need only contact [email protected] to pre-register, and arrive at 7 pm on the night of the contest.
The contest was begun in 2005 by Secret Science Club co-curators Margaret Mittelbach and Michael Crewdson as a promotion for this taxidermy-inspired book Carnivorous Nights: On the Trail of the Tasmanian Tiger. “The event has since taken on a life of its own,” the organizers tell us, after first-year winners Andrew Templar and Jim Carden (co-owners of the Bell House) began providing a permanent home for what has been dubbed a “beastly annual smack-down.”
Photo: Mike Zohn of Obscura Antiques received the 2008 Order of Carnivorous Knights Grand Prize for his “shadowbox mise en scene” of albino weasels posing as miniature polar bears.
Navigation through the Adirondack backcountry can be difficult. Out of the way rivers, streams, geologic features, ponds and even mountains are not always accessible by paths or readily described in books. The internet provides a number of valuable visual resources that help take some of the guesswork out of locating and navigating to a remote location. Some of the most helpful sites include ortho-imagery (aerial photographs digitally adjusted for topography, camera tilt and other details), latitude/longitude specifics, compass orientation and 3-D modules.
Flash Earth displays the latitude and longitude in relation to an on-screen crosshair. These details can be input into a GPS to further narrow the margin of error. Several satellite aerial photograph choices with scaling allow an in-depth study of the earth’s features. A compass in the upper right of the screen provides accurate orientation as well as map rotation if desired.
Terra Server USA adds a topographic map to the mix, but narrows the aerial photo choices to one source. Latitude and longitude information is displayed and can be used to display a general location. The lack of a cross-hair or other relative on-screen marker makes it a bit more difficult to tell what section part on the map corresponds to the latitude/longitude.
Virtual Earth uses either a “road” view or an “aerial” view with several powerful features. Latitude, longitude and altitude correspond to the cursor’s location on the image and work in both the two and three dimensional modes. The 3-D module allows the user to truly study the area’s topography by using the zoom, tilt, rotate, pan and altitude functions. A special “Bird’s Eye” view overlays photographs (where available) of specific areas.
State Lands Interactive Mapper or SLIM is located on the Department of Environmental Conservation’s site. Map details are manipulated by about twenty different layer options that can either be added or removed from the map via the map contents pane. Layer choices include trails for mountain bikes, hiking, snowmobiles, horses and cross country skiing. Waterways, roads and areas accessible by persons with disabilities may also be selected. Several boundaries including state land boundaries help the back country explorer avoid private lands. Ortho-imagery or topographical maps may be chosen as well.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced proposed changes to the state’s freshwater fishing regulations. The agency will be accepting public comments on the changes until November 2, 2009. According to a DEC press release: “The proposed regulations are the result of careful assessment of the status of existing fish populations and the desires of anglers for enhanced fishing opportunities. The opportunity for public review follows discussions held with angling interest groups over the past year.”
The following are highlights of the proposed changes in the Adirondack region provided by DEC:
* Apply the statewide regulation for pickerel, eliminating the “no size” limit regulation in: Essex, Hamilton, Saratoga, Warren and Washington County waters.
* Apply the statewide regulation creel limit of 50 fish per day for yellow perch and sunfish for Clinton, Essex, Franklin and Hamilton Counties, as well as for Schroon Lake, as this limit will help protect against overexploitation.
* Eliminate special regulation prohibiting smelt fishing at Portaferry Lake in St. Lawrence County as no smelt runs have been reported in many years.
* Delete the 5+5 brook trout special regulation (Regions 5, 6 & 7), which allows for an additional 5 brook trout under 8 inches as part of the daily limit, as there is no basis for retaining this special regulation for this species.
* Prohibit fishing from March 16 until the opening of walleye season in May in a section of the Oswegatchie River in St. Lawrence County to protect spawning walleye.
* Ban possession of river herring (alewife and blueback herring) in the Waterford Flight (Lock 2-Guard Gate 2) on the Saratoga County side of the Mohawk River, where blueback herring, declining in numbers, are especially vulnerable to capture.
* Allow the use of alewives and blueback herring as bait in Lake Champlain, Clinton County, Essex County, Franklin County, Warren County, Washington County and Canadarago Lake (Otsego County).
* Add new state land trout waters to bait fish prohibited list for Essex, Hamilton, and Washington Counties to guard against undesirable fish species introductions and preserve native fish communities.
* Allow ice fishing for rainbow trout in Glen Lake, Warren County.
The full text of the proposed regulation changes are available on DEC’s website at http://www.dec.ny.gov/regulations/57841.html.
Comments on the proposals being submitted by e-mail should be sent to [email protected] or mailed to Shaun Keeler, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Bureau of Fisheries, 625 Broadway, Albany, NY 12233-4753.
After full review of the public comments, the final regulations will go into effect October 1, 2010.
Artwork of Brook Trout by Ellen Edmonson from Inland Fishes of New York, a publication of Cornell University and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation
According to a just-released U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) study, scientists detected mercury contamination in every fish sampled in 291 streams across the country. About one fourth of the fish sampled were found to “contain mercury at levels exceeding the criterion for the protection of people who consume average amounts of fish, established by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,” according to USGS. More than two-thirds of the fish exceeded the U.S. EPA level of concern for fish-eating mammals.
Mercury contamination of fish, ospreys, loons, and other aquatic-feeding animals continues to be a concern in the Adirondack region where the problem is the most acute of all New York State. New evidence in the Northeast shows mercury contamination in animals that only feed on land, spreading the concern from water based ecosystems to terrestrial ones as well. » Continue Reading.
Fly-fishing enthusiast Tom Coe will demonstrate the art fly tying at the Adirondack Museum from July 23 through July 27, 2009. The demonstration will be held in the Mark W. Potter Education Center from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. and is included in the price of general admission. Coe will tie flies and display hand-tied flies including saltwater patterns and those suitable for bass, trout, and panfish. Visitors will discover the specialized tools and varied materials needed to tie flies as well. Coe will also offer environmental displays of fish habitats. Games, activities, and a hands-on tying station will help youngsters learn more about fish and create a fishing fly of their own.
Tom Coe has taught fly tying classes through extension offices, at nature centers, and at Morrisville State College – where he managed the Campus Aquaculture Facility for eighteen years. He has done fly tying demonstrations at outdoor shows, and has been the focus of television features that highlighted his fly tying. Coe was photographed fly-fishing on
the AuSable River many years ago for an article about the Adirondacks by Dr. Anne LaBastile.
Fly tying is part of a summer-long series of craft and trade demonstrations at the Adirondack Museum. To see a complete listing, visit the museum’s web site www.adirondackmuseum.org and click on “Special Events.”
DEC’S Free Fishing Weekend this Saturday and Sunday is a great opportunity to introduce new anglers to the classic outdoor pastime of fishing. This weekend, June 27 and 28, anglers able to fish in New York’s lakes, rivers and streams without a state license. According to the DEC: “The annual free fishing weekend is the perfect time for residents and vistors to share the sport of fishing and create lasting memories with a friend or family member out fishing for the first time, or to reignite interest among those who may not have taken to the water in recent years. DEC first held the weekend in 1991 to allow all people the opportunity to sample the incredible fishing New York State has to offer.”
While no DEC fishing license is required during free fishing weekend, other fishing rules and regulations remain in effect. To learn more about New York’s regulations and information on how and where to get a fishing license, visit this DEC website.
A couple of nice events this weekend at the Wild Center. It starts on Saturday with a new “Walking With Wild Birds” series. Designed for beginners and experts alike, these morning walks will explore mountain and boreal bird habitat as well as introduce people to bird watching. Then on Father’s Day, Sunday, the center is pulling together a fly-fishing program with local experts and hands-on opportunities to learn to tie flies and improve your casting skills.
Here are the details from the Wild Center: » Continue Reading.
The Ausable Two-Fly Challenge will be held on the banks of the West Branch of the Ausable River, Saturday, May 16. Now in its 10th year, the tournament brings together fly fisherman from across the United States, who want to test their skills on the acclaimed river, while at the same time promote the 35-mile long river as a fishery and raise money to protect it.
Rules for the catch and release tournament are simple. Anglers are allowed to bring two barb-less hook flies, of any combination or patterns and once the flies are lost or unusable… you’re out. Anglers must fish with a partner and each must record the total number of fish caught, the length of each fish and the cumulative number of inches. Only fish handled by the angler and successfully released will count as caught fish.
The Two-Fly Challenge begins Friday night, at R.F. McDougall’s, with a fly tying demonstration and the opportunity to rub elbows with some of the best fly anglers from around the country. Anglers are asked to gather Saturday morning at the Whiteface Mountain Regional Visitors Bureau at 6:30 a.m. and the Challenge begins at 7.
The Ausable River Two-Fly Challenge is not a professional contest, but it will feature a pro-division. The pro-division applies to anyone who gets paid to fly-fish, including guides and anyone who professionally competes for money. Prizes will be awarded to winning anglers in both the amateur and pro divisions during the banquet dinner, which will also feature a guest speaker, raffles and auctions.
Registration is open to the public and for more information, contact the Whiteface Mountain Regional Visitors Bureau at 946.2255, or through e-mail at [email protected]
Tomorrow is the traditional April 1 opening day for New York’s trout and salmon fishing seasons so DEC has issued tips and reminders for anglers heading out on opening day. Early season trout angling in the Adirondack region may be slow due to lingering cold weather and melting snow. Since many Adirondack ponds are likely to remain frozen for opening day, anglers should scout out areas beforehand. Here are DEC’s opening day fishing tips:
Slow presentations using spinners or minnow-imitating lures and, where permitted, live bait, work well in the early season. Those preferring to fly fish will find that similar slow, deep presentations using weighted nymphs and streamers can be effective. Trout and salmon fishing on lakes and ponds is often best immediately after ice-out. Prime areas to fish are those locations that warm the earliest, including tributary mouths and near surface and shallow shoreline areas. Afternoons can be better than mornings during the early season, as the sun’s rays can significantly warm surface waters. Early season anglers are reminded to be extra cautious as high flows, ice and deep snow can make accessing and wading streams particularly hazardous. Remember that ice fishing is prohibited in trout waters, except as noted in the Fishing Regulations Guide.
Several hatchery improvement projects were completed last year. Most significant among these was the completion of an extensive pole-barn complex covering hatchery ponds at the Rome Fish Hatchery to reduce trout predation by birds. It is estimated that this project will save 50,000 to 100,000 fingerling trout annually from predatory birds and will lead to more efficient hatchery operations. Additional hatchery rehabilitation projects are planned for this upcoming year including the rebuilding of the main hatchery building at Rome. Rome Hatchery is one of DEC’s oldest and largest hatcheries, growing and stocking more than 650,000 yearling brown and brook trout annually.
Spring is a busy season for the DEC Hatchery System. From mid-March through mid-June, nine trout and salmon hatcheries stock fish five days a week using 30 state-of-the-art stocking trucks. Stocking of catchable-size trout generally commences in late March and early April in the lower Hudson Valley, Long Island, and western/central New York, and then proceeds to the Catskills and Adirondacks. This year, DEC plans to stock more than 2.3 million legal-size brook, brown, and rainbow trout in 304 lakes and ponds and roughly 3,000 miles of streams across the state. Approximately 100,000 two-year-old brown trout ranging from 12 to 15 inches in length will also be stocked into lakes and streams statewide.
More than 2 million yearling lake trout, steelhead, landlocked salmon, splake and coho salmon also will be stocked by DEC this spring to provide exciting angling opportunities over the next several years. For those who prefer a quieter more remote setting, 325,000 brook trout fingerlings will be stocked in 343 remote lakes and ponds this spring and fall to bolster “backwoods” fishing opportunities. For a complete list of waters planned to be stocked with trout this spring go to www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/30465.html. A listing of waters stocked with all sizes of trout last year can be found at www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/30467.html. In addition to stocked waters, New York State has thousands of miles of wild trout streams that provide excellent fishing opportunities. Regional fisheries offices, which are listed in the Fishing Regulations Guide, can offer specific details about the locations and opportunities offered by these waters.
The general creel limit for brook, brown and rainbow trout is five fish per day and the open season for trout in most New York State waters runs from April 1 through Oct. 15. There are numerous exceptions however, so anglers should review the Fishing Regulations Guide before heading out to their favorite pond or stream.
A New York State fishing license is required for all anglers 16 years of age and older. Those looking to renew licenses can do so at http://www.dec.ny.gov/permits/6101.html or by calling 1-86-NY-DECALS. Fishing licenses can also be purchased from various sporting license outlets located throughout the state (town and county clerks, some major discount stores and many tackle and sporting goods stores).
When purchasing a fishing license, anglers should also consider purchasing a Habitat/Access Stamp, which is available to anyone for $5 from any sporting license issuing agent. Proceeds from sale of this stamp have funded many valuable trout stream access and habitat projects in New York, such as the development of a parking area and footpath on Felts Mill Creek in Jefferson County this past year.
For anglers seeking publicly accessible stream fishing locations, DEC continues to add to its inventory of public fishing rights (PFR) maps that can be downloaded from http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9924.html.
Prevent the Spread of Invasive Species and Diseases – With the recent discovery of the fish disease Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS) in New York, and an invasive species of algae, didymo, in the Delaware River system and the Batten Kill, anglers are reminded of the important role that they play in preventing the spread of these and other potentially damaging invasive species and fish diseases. Please thoroughly dry equipment, particularly waders and wading shoes, for 48 hours before moving from water to water. If drying is not possible, equipment must be disinfected. One of the easiest and safest ways to disinfect gear is by soaking it for 10 minutes in a cleanser/disinfectant containing the ingredient alkyl dimethyl benzyl ammonium chloride. This ingredient is found in most common household antiseptic cleansers such as Fantastic, Formula 409 and Spray Nine. Anglers are also encouraged not to use felt-soled waders as they are more apt to transport didymo and other invasives than other forms of wading soles. For more information on invasive species and disinfection procedures, request a copy of the new DEC brochure “Anglers and Boaters: Stop the Spread of Aquatic Invasive Species and Fish Diseases in New York State” from your local DEC office.
New Baitfish Regulations Established to Protect New York Fisheries – Anglers are reminded that a new “Green List” of baitfish species that can be commercially collected and/or sold for fishing in any water body in New York where it is legal to use fish as bait has now been established in regulation. For a complete discussion of these regulations and how to identify these approved baitfish species, download the new brochure “Baitfish of New York State” at www.dec.ny.gov/docs/fish_marine_pdf/baitfishofny.pdf. Personal collection and use of baitfish other than those on the “Green List” is permitted, but only on the water from which they were collected and they may not be transported overland by motorized vehicle. These new regulations have been established to stem the spread of non-native baitfish and dangerous fish diseases in New York State.
Best Bets for Trout Anglers in the Adirondacks:
DEC Region 5 – Adirondack trout streams are icy and there is plenty of snow in the mountains. A relatively mild thaw should clear the ice, but expect high stream flows until the snow pack is reduced. Best bets for early season angling in the southern part of the region are the Batten Kill, Kayaderosseras and Mettawee rivers. Catch-and-release regulations were enacted on the Batten Kill in 2004 from the Eagleville covered bridge to the Vermont state line. Year-round trout fishing is permitted in the catch-and-release section (artificial lures only). The lower two miles of the catch-and-release section will be stocked with two-year-old brown trout some time in May. A creel census of anglers will be conducted in 2009 to assess the fish population and the effectiveness of the catch-and-release regulations.
Many regional streams and rivers will be stocked in April and May. However, due to ice conditions, very few streams are stocked prior to opening day. If possible, yearling brook trout will be stocked in the Chateaugay River in Franklin County by April 1. The Chateaugay, Salmon and St. Regis rivers are scheduled for a creel census in 2009 to assess angler use and the fish population in these rivers. Rainbow trout might also be stocked in the Saranac River within the Village of Saranac Lake prior to April 1. Hundreds of smaller streams contain wild brook and brown trout. Fish slowly, especially if the water is cold, high, and swift. Contact the regional fisheries office for a brochure listing many of the wild trout streams in Region 5.
Remote ponds in the Adirondacks are rarely ice-free until mid-April or later, a pattern that is likely to hold this year. Once waters are ice-free and temperatures rise, surface trolling for salmon and lake trout is a good bet on the larger lakes. Brook trout pond fishing is good from ice-out through May. Anglers are reminded that in many Adirondack ponds the use of fish as bait is prohibited. For a list of these waters check the “Special Regulations by County” section in the Fishing Regulations Guide, or contact the DEC’s Region 5 Fisheries Office in Ray Brook at (518) 897-1333. A variety of leaflets are also available from the regional office including stocking lists for Region 5, top fishing waters, a list of reclaimed trout ponds, and others. For up-to-date information on fishing conditions in the region, anglers can access www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/9219.html on the DEC web site. While browsing the Region 5 Fisheries website, be sure to check out the public fishing rights maps at http://www.dec.ny.gov/outdoor/32610.html for many area rivers. These maps can be downloaded and printed out to provide detailed locations for stream sections with purchased and deeded public rights for angling. Maps are also available from the regional office.
DEC Region 6 (Western Adirondacks)
The opening of trout season expands the region’s trout fishing beyond Lake Ontario and a select set of large lakes, to the rest of the region’s great variety of large and small streams, ponds and lakes. Region 6 includes the Western Adirondacks, Tug Hill, and the Black, Mohawk and St. Lawrence river valleys. The region’s wide diversity of water types provide habitat for everything from small headwater brook trout to large deepwater lake trout.
Stocking proceeds from the Mohawk Valley in mid-April north to St. Lawrence County throughout the month of May. The Oswegatchie River below Cranberry Lake is the only river in the region that is stocked prior to April 1, if conditions allow. The popular two-year-old brown trout stocking occurs in early May on some of the region’s larger, more accessible streams. Worms usually produce the best catches this time of year when the water temperatures are colder and the fish are more sluggish. Spinners and salted minnows also are popular lures. For best results, fish the pools and slow, deep riffles. Fishing in the late afternoon after the water has been warmed by the sun is also productive.
Lake Ontario tributaries should also offer good fishing conditions for steelhead. Try Stony Creek, North and South Sandy Creeks, Lindsey Creek, Skinner Creek and the Black River in Watertown, from the Mill Street dam down to the Village of Dexter. Use egg sacs, single hook spinners, wet flies and streamers.
Coldwater anglers in Region 6 should be aware of a few new regulations that are currently in effect. The catch-and-release section for trout on West Canada Creek in Herkimer and Oneida counties has been extended to the Route 28 bridge (Comstock Bridge) and is open year-round. A three-trout-creel limit with a minimum size limit of 12 inches has been established in Beardsley Lake (Montogomery and Herkimer Counties), Kyser Lake (Fulton and Herkimer Counties), and Stillwater Reservoir (Herkimer County). The catch-and-release season for trout on the West Branch St. Regis River in St. Lawrence County has also been extended to all year.
This year, Region 6 staff will be surveying approximately 25 remote brook trout ponds that contain stocked temiscamie hybrids to assess wild reproduction. This information will help guide future management of this unique resource.
Yesterday, the U.S. Supreme Court rejected an attempt by the Bush administration and the utility industry to reinstate a mercury-control regulation that would have allowed increased mercury pollution in the Adirondacks. According to the ADK’s Neil Woodworth, this is the “final nail in the coffin of this ill-advised regulation, which left the Adirondacks and Catskills vulnerable to continued mercury contamination.”
In January 2007, ADK filed a brief with the Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia asserting that Environmental Protection Agency’s Clean Air Mercury Rule (CAMR) was an illegal attempt to weaken the strict mercury emission controls set forth in the Clean Air Act. Here is a little history of the legal battle over mercury pollution from the Adirondack Mountain Club:
In February 2008, the Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) won a major victory when the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia threw out the CAMR, a cap-and-trade program that allowed polluters to buy pollution credits and emit mercury without pollution controls. CAMR resulted in regional mercury “hot spots,” and two recent studies have linked coal-fired power plants to mercury hot spots in the Adirondacks and Catskills. The appeals court ruled that the EPA mercury plan conflicted with the clear language of the federal Clean Air Act, which requires each power plant to install the best technology available to reduce mercury emissions by as much as 90 percent.
The Bush administration and the utility industry appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Although the Obama administration withdrew the federal government’s appeal, the industry continued to pursue the case. Today, the Supreme Court dismissed the industry’s writ of certiorari, thus upholding the appeals court’s decision in the case.
The decision means that EPA must now promulgate regulations requiring each power plant to install the most advanced pollution controls to reduce its mercury emissions. Here is more from an ADK press release:
In enacting the Clean Air Act, Congress provided for strict limits on mercury emissions through the installation of maximum achievable control technology, which Congress made applicable to all coal-burning power plants. By contrast, the EPA administrative rule challenged in this lawsuit would have delayed for two decades the elimination of airborne mercury emissions as a source of mercury toxins in the Northeast.
Furthermore, the contested rule would have allowed many of the worst polluters to buy “pollution rights,” continue to release mercury up their smokestacks and perpetuate mercury hot spots in New York and the Northeast.
The Adirondacks and Catskills are downwind of numerous coal-burning power plants, whose mercury emissions contribute significantly to mercury pollution in these regions. A 2007 independent study by the Charles Driscoll and the Hubbard Brook Research Foundation estimated that mercury emissions from U.S. coal-fired power plants are responsible for 40 percent to 65 percent of mercury deposition in the Northeast.
Current levels of mercury deposition in the Northeast are four to six times higher than the levels recorded in 1900. Ninety-six percent of the lakes in the Adirondack region and 40 percent of the lakes in New Hampshire and Vermont exceed the recommended EPA action level for methyl mercury in fish.
Because of high mercury levels in fish from six reservoirs in the Catskills, state health officials have warned that infants, children under 15 and women of childbearing age should not eat any fish from these reservoirs. Mercury is also present in two-thirds of Adirondack loons at levels that negatively impact their reproductive capacity, posing a significant risk to their survival.
New York State recommends that no one eat more than one meal per week of fish taken from any lake, river, stream or pond in New York State. There is a complete (and disturbing) list and map of the Adirondack fish advisories from the New York State Department of Health located here. It lists 55 Adirondack lakes from which “children less than 15 years old and women who are pregnant or who might one day become pregnant should not eat any fish.”
If you want to consider yourself knowledgeable about the Adirondacks you must own and have read Mike Storey’s Why The Adirondacks Look The Way They Do. That’s not hyperbole – that’s a simple fact.
Storey self-published this guide to Adirondack natural history in 2006 and sold out the first printing in the first year. The reason, no doubt, is that it’s readable and relevant. Storey was the former Chief Naturalist at the Adirondack Park Agency (24 years at the APA!) and he wrote the book we all need to keep in our car, backpack, and back pocket. In fact, my only complaint is the book’s format doesn’t make it easy to pack – it could have been a lot smaller, even with all the info and images packed in there!
This book is more than a guide to our local flora and fauna, more than a wildlife guide, it covers geology, geography, forestry, history, cultural anthropology, environmental politics, from the life cycle of the black fly to the problems of upland development. The diagrams, illustrations, photographs, are illustrative beyond comparison. From “Grenville Continent Rifting and the Lake George Rift Valley” to the illustration of a 50-years of a hemlock and yellow birch growing on a rotting log resting on a glacial erratic rock, this book shows you the basics and backs it up with detailed explanations. The tracks of common animals, identifying common birds, leaves, trees, fish, soils, insects, eskers, kettle holes – its all there and more.
This book will do what it says it will – explain, in vivid and easy-going detail, why the Adirondacks look the way they do. I’ve been thinking about doing a “Ten Books Every Adirondacker Should Own,” and when I do, this book will be on that list.
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