The new draft General Permit for clearcutting being readied for approval this week by the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) is a flawed document for a number of reasons. It’s simply bad public policy, bad legal work done in the rush to get it approved, bad public process as it willfully ignores overwhelming public sentiment, and bad science as it seeks to dramatically expand the amount of clearcutting in heavily cut forests.
All of this, of course, will lead to a bad outcome for the APA and for the Adirondack Park.
But, there’s a better way. The APA could slow down this train. It should postpone action on the draft General Permit or deny it outright and then begin a better process towards a better outcome. The APA should fully investigate the legitimate issues facing large-scale forest managers across the Adirondacks. It’s important for the Adirondack Park to keep our working forests working well. » Continue Reading.
Like most people, I sometimes make decisions that I regret. Last week I made one of those decisions, and I have been regretting it ever since. The decision I made was to shave off my beard. On the coldest day of the year. It’s not that I’m worried about my ability to grow another beard, but it’s been, well, cold and for some reason I seemed to forget how much insulation I get on my face from the beard. In hindsight, it was a horrible decision.
I made another decision recently which is turning out to be much better though. I bought a double-bit ax for use around the property, and I could not be happier. » Continue Reading.
The Northern New York Agricultural Development Program (NNYADP) 2013 Maple Research Project is in search of maple producers for research on improving sap yields and maple business profitability. The deadline to respond is Friday, February 1. NNYADP-funded maple research is designed to support the idea that Northern New York can double its maple income to more than $10 million, based on a survey by Cornell University Northern New York Maple Specialist Michael Farrell.
Farrell, director of Cornell’s Uihlein Maple Forest in Lake Placid, says research data from maple tap spout-and-dropline combination trials at the Uihlein forest since 2010, and from similar evaluations conducted at Parker Family Maple Farm in West Chazy, NY, in 2011 and 2012 have shown promising results for improving yields by as much as 100 percent in some cases. A dropline is the length of tubing that runs from a spout on the tap into the tree to the lateral line that collects sap. » Continue Reading.
Several weeks ago, it was reported in the Almanack that the Adirondacks might be a potential location for mountain lion reintroduction. Over the past few decades, various types of wildlife have been restored to their former numbers in the Park, and over the past several centuries, many non-native species of flora and fauna have become established, either accidentally or on purpose in our environment.
During this present century, there will undoubtedly be a massive influx of life forms occurring throughout the region in response to the changing climate. While the mountain lion elicits much interest and emotion, its return would not have the same ecological impact as the formation of scattered patches of red oaks, white oaks, basswood, shagbark hickory, sweet birch and other trees that typify woodlands to our south. » Continue Reading.
It’s twenty-four degrees below zero outside, and even though it’s warm in the cabin, I’m still going to be wearing longjohns under my jeans all day. I had a problem with the wood stove last night. One of the metal grates that keeps the fire and coals up above the ash trap got knocked off kilter. Not wanting what was sure to be a very hot fire sitting in the ash pit all night, I attempted to put the grate back into its proper place. Even with a big metal poker and heavy leather welding gloves, I still managed to burn my thumb pretty bad. The smell of burnt leather and flesh made for an aroma that was… unpleasant.
Last week, I wrote about my plans to build a new wood shed this summer. I estimated that I will burn a little more than four cords of wood this year, and so I would like to cut, split and stack at least five cords of wood for next winter. My supply this year is getting pathetically low. I have a lot of extra soft wood that I can burn when the hardwood runs out, but on nights like the last couple, I want nice big hunks of cherry and maple roasting in the stove, not pine and poplar. » Continue Reading.
Well, the January thaw made for a nice weekend, even though the skiing suffered a little bit. It was warm enough last Sunday that I actually was able to get the four wheeler going and plow the driveway. I only had to hike in for a week or so, and can now once again drive all the way up to the cabin. I really didn’t mind the hike and since the four-wheeler won’t start unless the temperature is about forty degrees, I’m sure I’ll be hiking in again before winter’s over.
It was also a nice break for the wood stove, and more importantly, my wood supply. Or more specifically, my dry hardwood supply. The stacks of wood were definitely in need of a break. » Continue Reading.
Back in November, Tom Colarusso of the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service asked me if I would like to join forces to organize and host an invasive insect forest survey workshop.
I thought this was an excellent idea. I whipped-up some posters and sent some promotional emails. Fourteen concerned land owners and agency professionals came from as far away as Albany and Ray Brook for the workshop held at the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District’s office in Lake Pleasant. » Continue Reading.
Trees are about half water, maybe a little less in winter. And if the temperature drops low enough, the water in even the most cold-hardy tree will freeze.
So how do trees survive below-freezing temperatures? They can’t move south or generate heat like a mammal. Sure, the below-ground parts of a tree are kept insulated by a layer of snow, and that is important to winter survival, but the exposed parts of a tree are not so protected. » Continue Reading.
During this season of giving, it is only right to include the environment on your list of those that need a gift. While a tie, sweater, or a pair of socks is not appropriate for Mother Nature, the item that many individuals should consider bringing to our fields and forests is the ashes that are produced by wood stoves, fireplaces and outdoor wood boilers, as this material is one of the most precious commodities that our environment can use.
The off-white, powdery ash that is produced from the combustion of wood contains a variety of compounds that are beneficial to the soil, especially in the Adirondacks. Wood ash has been known for centuries to act as a fertilizing agent, and its importance in agriculture during the colonial era is well documented. The preparation of wood ash for commercial use was routinely conducted by treating the ash in large pots and creating a compound that was obviously labeled “potash”. (In 1790, Samuel Hopkins developed a more effective process for producing potash from wood ash and was granted the first patent. The U.S. Patent Office, a small government agency at the time, required final approval from both President George Washington and Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson for a patent.) » Continue Reading.
It’s simple physics. In a cold environment, small objects lose heat at a faster rate than large objects. This is why most warm-blooded animals that reside in a northern climate tend to be large in size. Yet, for every rule, there is always an exception and when considering birds, the golden-crowned kinglet is a perplexing anomaly.
The golden-crowned kinglet is the smallest perching bird to inhabit the Adirondacks, as this delicate, olive colored creature is not much larger than a hummingbird, (which is classified in a group that is related to the swifts rather than the perching birds.) However, unlike our other small birds, like the warblers, vireos and wrens, the kinglet often remains in the Adirondacks throughout the dead of winter, traveling in small, loosely knit flocks in dense evergreen forests. » Continue Reading.
During our time at Lost Brook Tract one of our great pleasures has been discovering and measuring larger examples of the old growth trees that cover most of the land. There are four canonical species of tree in our boreal wonderland: red spruce, balsam, white birch and yellow birch, plus an occasional mountain ash. Both the red spruce and yellow birch impress in old-growth form, the latter in girth more than height.
Our catalog of giants includes a yellow birch with a diameter over three feet and multiple red spruces with heights over eighty feet and diameters in the two-foot range. One red spruce, just a little bit down slope from our property, exceeds a hundred feet by a good margin. At our elevation trees like these are impressive and very rare in the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
In the northern hardwood forest, climate change is expected to reduce the viability of the maple syrup industry, encourage the spread of wildlife diseases and invasive species, and impact timber resources and the winter sports economy.
Accurately gauging the pace of change in the Adirondacks has been challenging, owing to the relative dearth of long-term local data. Now, a new study published by 21 scientists that reviews 50 years of data from Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest in the White Mountains of New Hampshire concludes that our current models of climate change don’t account well for surprising real world changes taking place in local forests. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency is currently seeking public comment for a new General Permit to address Silvicultural treatments inside the Park and amendments to an existing General Permit which addresses the management of Aquatic Invasive species. The Public Comment period will run through December 28, 2012.
During the November Agency Meeting, the Board authorized staff to seek public comment for General Permit 2012G3 and General Permit 2008-G1B. General Permits are designed to allow for efficient Agency review of eligible projects. The general permits are available for viewing on the Agency’s website. » Continue Reading.
It’s one of the pleasures of fall: walking in the woods on a warm day, scuffing my feet through a deep layer of newly fallen leaves. Looking down, I notice the gold coins of aspen leaves against the bread-knife serrations of brown beech leaves. My feet make that “swoosh, swoosh” sound that takes me back to when I was a kid.
It’s November and the color blast has faded. The woods are gray and brown. The much admired “fall foliage” has drifted earthward to become the more prosaic “leaf litter.” I understand the term, but the word litter grates a little. It connotes trash, yet leaves are just the opposite of trash. Their contribution to forest health, to the ecosystem, is incalculable. They help make the forest what it is. » Continue Reading.
If you’ve seen a well-developed clinker polypore (inonotus obliquus) protruding from a tree, there’s a good chance that you remember it. This fungus causes large, black, cinder-like growths, sometimes neatly conical, but often rough and ragged. Also called the birch polypore, you can find these conks on all species of birch, as well as on hophornbeam and occasionally on other hardwoods. By the time the fungal tissue is visible on the outside, the inside of the tree is likely to be rotten to the core.
Much is yet to be learned about this organism, but it seems that infection often occurs after another fungus, called Nectria, has invaded a tree. Injuries, too, allow the clinker polypore to get a foothold, and once it has settled in, death – though sometimes a slow death – seems to be inevitable. » Continue Reading.
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