As a teenager, my son had a saying, whether original or borrowed I don’t know (the saying, that is), which went something like “All things in moderation. Especially moderation.” It would seem Mother Nature took that to heart, and dispensed with moderate rainfall and snow melt this spring. If not her, then maybe it was Creepy Uncle Climate Change. At any rate, the resultant flooding has been heartbreaking to observe.
While I am of course sensitive to the anguish of those people affected by the record-high waters, as an arborist I cannot help but think about the suffering trees as well. » Continue Reading.
Visiting a forest along one of our major rivers, such as the Connecticut River, in late spring, is like entering a special world. Big silver maples tower overhead, with arching branches and roots reaching deep underground. Cottonwoods up to five feet in diameter and vase-shaped American elms are scattered about. Scars on the upstream side of some tree trunks bear testament to the chunks of ice that crash through when the river floods every spring. Silt stains on the trunks and dead leaves, trash, and other debris caught in crotches of trees show the height of the floodwaters. Many trees cannot withstand flooding, but the species in this forest are flood-tolerant and thrive in the nutrient-rich sediments brought by floods. » Continue Reading.
A few years ago, Paul Smith’s College scientist Curt Stager came across a rare find that he says helps tell the story of climate change in the Adirondacks: the journal of Bob Simon, a retired engineer and longtime resident of Cranberry Lake.
Simon, who died in 1991, kept a meticulous journal with entries for temperature, wind direction, barometric pressure, water level, ice cover, when loons arrived, and when thunderstorms occurred. He made entries twice a day, morning and night, for the last thirty-two years of his life. Stager received the journal from someone who found it in Simon’s former home, years after the man died. » Continue Reading.
A new kind of culvert is being installed on an Ausable River tributary in Wilmington. The project is part of a initiative led by the Ausable River Association (AsRA) and the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy (the Conservancy) to improve stream connectivity, fish habitat, and community flood resilience in the Ausable watershed by replacing road-stream crossings with designs engineered to allow for natural stream pattern and flow. » Continue Reading.
The Ausable River Association is concerned that an enormous pile of ice below the Wilmington Dam could exacerbate spring flooding and may have hurt the trout population.
The ice pile on the West Branch of the AuSable River was created in recent weeks by construction crews working to replace the Wilmington Bridge, built in 1934 and located just upstream. The crews broke up ice and moved it below the dam in order to create open water so they could work off river barges. » Continue Reading.
On Thursday January 8, 2015, the Warren County Soil and Water Conservation District (SWCD) and the Warren County Office of Emergency Services (OES) will present a program on Hazard Mitigation from 6 to 7 pm in the Christine L. McDonald Community Room at the Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls.
In Warren County significant natural events impact communities and residents including flooding from severe rains, and beaver dam failures, land slides and high winds. » Continue Reading.
Several nonprofits from across the Adirondack region have partnered to raise funds to rebuild the historic and iconic Wanakena Footbridge in the Clifton-Fine community. The suspension bridge was destroyed in January, 2014 when an ice jam on the Oswegatchie River broke and slammed into its side.
Built in 1902 by the Rich Lumber Company, the footbridge provided pedestrian access to residential and commercial areas of Wanakena. It was placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1999. Estimates put the full cost of construction at $250,000.
The Wanakena Historical Association has already raised nearly $38,000, but to extend the campaign’s, reach the Adirondack North Country Association (ANCA) has partnered with other local nonprofits to establish an online Adirondack Gives crowdfunding effort. The Wanakena Footbridge campaign can be found on the Adirondack Gives website. » Continue Reading.
I attended a recent forum in Albany, Facing the Storm: Preparing for Increased Extreme Weather in Upstate New York, and wanted to pass along some of what I heard, or thought I heard. The event was sponsored by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government.
For a forum concerning the impacts of a changing climate the audience was unusually diverse in terms of backgrounds and professions. As a staff member for Adirondack Wild, I was sitting next to a firefighter from a village in Montgomery County. At the next table were other firefighters and emergency personnel in uniform. Across from me were several members of the League of Women Voters. Initially we all wondered if we were in the right meeting. I think by the end we realized what we all have in common. » Continue Reading.
Most people don’t think about culverts, the large pipes that carry streams and runoff underneath our roads. Even with their essential role in our transportation infrastructure, culverts tend to be in the spotlight only when they fail. In dramatic ways, Hurricane Irene and other recent storms have put culverts (and bridges) to the test. Unfortunately, the high water from these storms overwhelmed many culverts, washing out roads, causing millions of dollars in damages across the Adirondacks, and disrupting life in many communities. For example, the town of Jay sustained about $400,000 in damage to its culverts and adjacent roads as a result of Irene. Across the Northeast, the story is much the same.
Following Tropical Storm Irene, I was part of a team of conservation professionals to assess the performance of road-stream crossings (i.e., culverts and bridges) in Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest. The peer-reviewed study, published in the current issue of Fisheries, found that damage was largely avoided at crossings with a stream simulation design, an ecologically-based approach that creates a dynamic channel through the structure that is similar in dimensions and characteristics to the adjacent, natural channel. On the other hand, damages were extensive, costly, and inconvenient at sites with stream crossings following more traditional designs. » Continue Reading.
When Tropical Storm Irene damaged Marcy Dam, draining most of the pond behind it, hikers debated passionately whether the dam should be rebuilt to restore an iconic vista enjoyed by tens of thousands of visitors over the years.
It looks like it won’t be.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation recently decided to dismantle the wooden dam in stages over the next five years.
DEC spokesman David Winchell said the cost of rebuilding the dam to modern standards would have been too costly and may have conflicted with the management principles for the High Peaks Wilderness Area. Those principles seek to minimize the presence of man-made structures. » Continue Reading.
On the morning of July 11, 2013 those living along Foster Brook which enters Lake George at Hulett’s Landing were surprised by the sudden raging water of a beaver dam breach. The upstream pond held back by the dam was estimated at about 9-acres and was all but entirely drained after the dam washed away.
The resulting flood downstream caused significant damage to parts of Foster Brook as well as some damage to homes and roads along the brook. One area severely impacted by the flooding waters was the offline sediment basin along Foster Brook near the Mountain Grove Church. The flash flood came down the mountain severely eroding streambanks and the rock vane built last year to address chronic erosion issues. » Continue Reading.
One of the many cars caught by the flood on Route 73
Fifty years ago, on June 29, 1963, a thunderstorm stalled over Giant Mountain. Heavy rain saturated the thin soil near its summit, gradually weakening its hold on the smooth anorthosite surface.
It was a Saturday: several hikers and campers were on the mountain. Three thousand feet below, traffic – some of it from a wedding just over in Keene Valley — passed up and down the long hill on Route 73 that offers a glimpse of Giant’s Roaring Brook Falls. » Continue Reading.
The Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) has released a new report, Flood Resilience in the Lake Champlain Basin and Upper Richelieu River. The report presents results of an LCBP flood conference held in 2012 at the request of Vermont Governor Shumlin and Quebec’s (former) Premier Charest, following the spring 2011 flooding of Lake Champlain and the Richelieu River Valley. The report provides a review of the 2011 flooding impacts and includes specific recommendations to help inform flood resilience policies and management strategies to reduce the impact of major floods anticipated in the future. » Continue Reading.
The Lake Champlain Basin Program, created by the Lake Champlain Special Designation Act of 1990 to coordinate the implementation of the Lake Champlain management plan, has released its 2012 Lake Champlain “State of the Lake Report”. The report, which is issued every 3-4 years, concludes that the water should be treated before drinking or bathing, most of the lake is safe to swim in most of the time, and some fish may be eaten, if “consumed responsibly” according to fish consumption health advisories.
Phosphorus levels and the potential threat of toxic algae blooms remain elevated. Mercury and PCB contamination in fish is declining, but new chemical threats are on the rise. Invasive species remain a serious problem, especially to game fish and native mussels, but biodiversity projects such as fish ladders, and wetland and riparian habitat restoration or enhancement has made progress in protecting sensitive ecosystems in some areas. » Continue Reading.
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