Few incidents in nineteenth-century Adirondack history have been more often recounted than the famous Philosophers’ Camp at Follensby Pond. The story of how Ralph Waldo Emerson and an assortment of VIPs from the Concord-Cambridge axis camped for several weeks in 1858 on the shores of a virtually untouched lake deep in the wilderness has become a familiar chestnut in the Adirondack canon. » Continue Reading.
In 1858 some of the leading lights of American art, literature, and science camped together on Follensby Pond near Tupper Lake at what is now known as the Philosophers’ Camp.
The gathering was organized by Willam James Stillman, artist and editor of acclaimed art magazine of the time, The Crayon. It included transcendental philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson, the poet James Russel Lowell, Harvard scientist Jean Louis Agassiz, and others.
The meeting at Follensby was widely covered in the popular press of the time and fueled an interest in the Adirondacks and retreating into the wilderness to write, make art and discuss the issues of the day. » Continue Reading.
In one traditional method of lake-trout fishing, an angler holds in his or her hand a weighted line while trolling from a boat. To collect the line, the angler uses a jerry-rigged Victrola record player with a spool in the middle.
“As they pulled in the line, they turned on their [hand-cranked] Victrola,” said Joe Hackett, a fishing guide from Ray Brook. “Lake-trout fishing is so specialized. That’s something you learn from your father, or uncle, or grandfather.” » Continue Reading.
The pond offers the perfect opportunity to research lake trout at the southern end of their range, to determine how these large and ecologically important fish could best be managed and protected given rising temperatures and other environmental changes. » Continue Reading.
Governor Andrew Cuomo visited the Adirondack Park on Thursday September 26th and devoted a full day to discussions with various parties about the looming decision by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) on the Forest Preserve classification of 21,000-acres of former Finch Paper lands along the Hudson River and around the Essex Chain Lakes.
I give the Governor high marks for making the trip and holding these meetings. (In the interest of full disclosure no one from Protect the Adirondacks was invited to these meetings. We are, after all, suing the Cuomo Administration with two pretty big lawsuits.) With Joe Martens, Commissioner of the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), in tow, the Governor met at Follensby Pond (his second trip there) with the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, the Adirondack Council and ADK. Those most closely aligned with the Cuomo Administration, who supported for the Adirondack Club & Resort project and/or the NYCO land swap, get to go fishing with the Governor.
The Governor then went to Gore Mountain and met with seven local government officials as well as Senator Betty Little and Assemblyman Dan Stec. At Gore, the Governor held a press conference. » Continue Reading.
The Raquette River, from Raquette Falls to the State Boat Launch on Tupper Lake, is one of the nicest stretches of flat-water anywhere in the Adirondacks. Paddling this river corridor under a clear cerulean blue sky, on a sunny autumn day with the riverbanks ablaze in orange and red, is exquisite. For me, though, the river’s history is as captivating as its natural beauty.
Countless people have traveled this section of river over the centuries. There were native peoples who hunted, fished, and trapped, the hinterlands of Long Lake and further into the Raquette Lake area, long before whites appeared on the Adirondack Plateau. There were the early farmers and families wanting to start a new livelihood. There were the guides and their wealthy “sports”, (and later the families of these sports) desiring adventure and recreation. There were people seeking better health and relief from the despair and disease of the cities. There were merchants, hotelkeepers, charwomen, day labors, ax-men, river drivers, and a host of others. There were the famous, the not so famous, and the down-and-out.
All of these people, and many others, used the Raquette ( Racket or Racquette ) River as a transportation highway. The number of footfalls on the carries at and around Raquette Falls is limited only to the imagination. In his book Adirondack Canoe Waters: North Flow, Paul Jamieson refers to the nearby Indian Carry, at Corey’s separating the Raquette River system from the Sacanac River system, as the “Times Square of the woods.” ( Note: In the Adirondacks one “carries” around rapids and waterfalls, one does not “portage.” ) » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Council urged state lawmakers to increase funding for environmental priorities in the FY2013-14 NYS Budget in testimony today at the legislature’s budget hearing. The Council cited the recent loss of a $2.5 million grant secured to aid the purchase of the Follensby Tract as a sign that New York’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF) needs an expedited increase in funding.
Adirondack Council Legislative Director Scott Lorey called for an additional $11 million to be added in the EPF and also urged Governor Andrew Cuomo to rebuild the staffing at key regulatory agencies whose budgets have been cut in recent years, including the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Adirondack Park Agency. » Continue Reading.
A few months back one of my colleagues here at the Almanack wrote a fine post that raised the question of whether or not it is feasible for New York State to acquire Follensby Pond and surrounding lands.
I had great fun weighing-in on an element of philosophical gamesmanship that Phil Brown touched on related to Aristotle’s notion of begging the question. A short while later, I was describing what I thought had been my clever contribution to a friend who asked “yes, but what was your position?” Well I never! No really, I never even considered entering the conversation with my position on the situation. As a philosopher, much of my work involves drawing out the views of others into a constructive space where disagreement operates alongside mutual respect for differences of opinion. In this process I act as facilitator, offering my own opinion only when it might help to further the discourse. This method is useful, at the same time it is almost entirely without risk. Whereas others who participate in a dialog (say around Adirondack land acquisition) lead with their position and without the safety of neutral ground. This came up for me during a recent conversation with a few colleagues who work in the field of environmental education.
We were talking about how much of what we believe can and should we reveal when talk turns to issues that are invariably fraught with tension and where perspectives, and ultimately the people who hold them, are judged by what they believe. In other words, how much of our personal and ideological positions can we show up with while taking care to subject ourselves to the least amount of ire?
Each of us enters into a private negotiation to gauge this type of risk countless times a day. And the stakes are particularly high when viewpoints push past our personal belief into a professional space where often unspoken expectations about who we are and what we think are nearly written into our job descriptions as environmental educators, ecologists, biologists, and naturalists etc.
But what happens when our personal and public personas don’t seamlessly match, or when I hold to a belief that might put the two in conflict? What are the boundaries of my duty or the limits of my professional responsibility when what I believe isn’t consistent with what I am expected to believe? Am I duty bound, as German philosopher Immanuel Kant believed, to conduct myself with an artificial unanimity when I am in service to an institution or organization acting in the interest of the community? In this case is Kant right to call for obedience or submission to a disciplinary or professional agenda?
Maybe, but as members of the whole community or of a society of world citizens and thus in the role of a scholar he can argue without hurting the affairs for which he is in part responsible. In other words, as citizens and public intellectuals we are indeed obligated to speak our minds. Kant’s adamant belief in our responsibility as public and private citizens comes from his belief that freedom and righteousness always operate in concert. He envisions a landscape where we emerge as independent thinkers who value our own worth and every man’s vocation for thinking for himself where a greater degree of civil freedom appears advantageous to the freedom of mind which fosters the propensity and vocation to free thinking.
One of the local officials who supported an investigation of the Adirondack Nature Conservancy’s sale of land to the state says he still thinks the state’s land-acquisition policy needs to be reformed–even though the probe found no wrongdoing.
Fred Monroe, executive director of the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board, continues to question why the state paid $3.7 million more for the land in 2008 than the Nature Conservancy paid four years earlier. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is fighting for federal monies to help pay for the acquisition of Follensby Pond near Tupper Lake.
The Adirondack Nature Conservancy bought Follensby Pond and its surrounding forest—some 14,600 acres, in all—for $16 million in 2008 with the intention of selling it to the state. The property had been on the wish list of preservationists for decades. » Continue Reading.
It has been suggested that the philosopher must go to school with the poets in order to learn the art of exploring one’s own mind. As a philosopher I have a preference for the narrative and the poetic method, and since the Adirondack Park is the landscape of our philosophical inquiry it seems fitting to begin with our patron poet. Ralph Waldo Emerson reflects on his time at Follensby Pond: » Continue Reading.
Recently, Adirondack politicians have intensified their effort to block the state’s acquisition of Follensby Pond and some sixty-five thousand acres once owned by Finch, Pruyn & Company.
In the past two weeks, the Adirondack Park Local Government Review Board and the Franklin County legislature adopted resolutions opposing the purchases. The Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages is expected to vote soon on a similar measure, and it stands an excellent chance of passing.
The opponents say the purchases would cost forestry jobs, force traditional hunting clubs to disband, and in general harm the local economy. But their ace in the hole is the claim that the state simply cannot afford to buy these properties. » Continue Reading.
What do violet variable dancer, Johnny darter, magnolia warbler, peppered moth and painted turtle have in common? Each is among the more than 430 species recently cataloged during a “BioBlitz” event at Follensby Pond. Learn more about this BioBlitz and The Nature Conservancy’s (TNC) recent purchase of the historic Follensby Pond property on Friday, August 20th, 2010 from 10:30 a.m. – 3 p.m. at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake.
The day will include a number of events for the whole family, plus a short film on Follensby Pond and a talk by Michael Carr, Executive Director of the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy at 1 pm. Carr will discuss Follensby as a unique conservation legacy. In addition to large-scale habitat protection, the tract offers cultural ties to the development of a uniquely American conservation ethos as the site where, in 1858, the leading intellectuals of the day retreated for the “Philosophers’ Camp”. A BioBlitz is a rapid inventory of critters, plants, fungi, dragonflies—you name it. It provides the perfect excuse to look for the wild things—whether common or rare, large or small, in your own backyard or in a vast forest. It’s also a way to call attention to some of the intricate parts of the working ecosystems that give us clean air, fertile soil, and fresh water.
“We usually hear the word “biodiversity” in regard to rainforests with their vast number of species. Yet the diversity of life in our own backyards is phenomenal,” said Jen Kretser, Director of Programs for The Wild Center. “We are excited to host this event.”
The upcoming fun and educational event at The Wild Center will include hands-on activities – starting at 10:30 am with a bird walk – for people of all ages led by experts in various fields including mushroom identification, wildflowers, aquatic insects, moths and butterflies, small mammals and reptiles. It’s an opportunity to ask questions, get some field tips on how to look for and identify wild things, and try out some tools of the trade. Display tables, activities, naturalist walks, demonstrations, and more will be part the day.
A short film of the Follensby Pond BioBlitz will premiere at 12:30 pm as part of this special event. “It was truly inspiring to see scientists, naturalists, and students deeply engaged in discovery at Follensby Pond,” said Michael Carr, Executive Director of the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy, which purchased the 14,600-acre property in September 2008. “Not only will this film convey the collective enthusiasm shared by the participants, it will also help to introduce people to a very special property that has been capturing the hearts and minds of adventurers and intellectuals alike for more than a century.”
“This event truly epitomizes the goal of the Adirondack All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (ATBI) to bring scientists and citizens together in sharing their passion for the incredible diversity of life found in the Adirondack Park. I can’t think of another event where you will have some of the State’s experts in so many different groups of organisms all working together in the same place. Whether it’s dragonflies, fungi, or black bears you’re interested in, this event is sure to satisfy and inform,” said David Patrick, Director for the Center of Biodiversity at Paul Smith’s College.
The Wild Center, the Adirondack All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory project at Paul Smith’s College, SUNY ESF’s Adirondack Ecological Center at Huntington Forest, and The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter are pleased to offer this event in celebration and recognition of 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity.
The Bioblitz movie premiere and Follensby Pond lecture are free and open to the public. All other events and exhibits are free for members or with admission. For a full schedule please visit www.wildcenter.org
Mini-Bioblitz Schedule of Events at The Wild Center
From 10:30 am to 3:00 pm, peruse displays in the Great Hall and outside stations featuring different taxonomic groups surveyed during the June 18th and July 9th BioBlitzes that took place at Follensby Park. Participate in hands-on activities perfect for all ages. Experts on moths, small mammals, plants, and more will share the research and surveying techniques used to assess plant and wildlife diversity within the Follensby Pond property. See live specimens like the ones found during the BioBlitz.
10:30 am Local birding expert Brian McAllister will lead a walk down The Wild Center trails in search of as many different bird species as possible. The walk will result in a list of all birds sighted and heard on the property, using the same methods employed in the Follensby Pond ATBI.
At 11:00 am, 1:30 pm, and 3:30 pm, staff-led Animal Encounters in the Great Hall will introduce you to reptiles, a bird, and a mammal that you can find in the wild in the Tupper Lake region. Meet live representatives of Adirondack animals that were counted during the Follensby Pond BioBlitz.
11:30 am Join noted author and naturalist Peter O’Shea for a trail walk highlighting the aspects of the 2010 BioBlitz. Learn some of the plants and animals surveyed in the Follensby area that you can also find on The Wild Center grounds and consider the vast diversity of plant life throughout the region.
12:30 pm Join us in Flammer Theater for the premier of the BioBlitz film shot on location at Follensby Park this summer. Beginning with an introduction by Dr. David Patrick, Director of the Adirondack Center for Biodiversity. See scientists in action as they survey Follensby Pond for particular taxonomic groups and share their contagious enthusiasm, and get a look at this beautiful property currently closed to the public.
1:00 pm (Revised) Join Michael Carr, Executive Director of the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy for a talk about Follensby Pond as a unique conservation legacy.
2:00 pm Mushrooms are popping up all over the place at The Wild Center! Mycologist Susan Hopkins will take you on a tour of fungi. Search for mushrooms and other fungi found on-site and then compare these to some specimens found at Follensby Pond.
3:00 pm Naturalist John Sayles will share tips and hints on identifying plants specimens as well as look at natural succession during this walk.
Throughout the day there will be outdoor stations on identifying Adirondack Ferns, Aquatic insects, and Dragonflies.
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