The Northville-Placid Trail Chapter of Adirondack Mountain Club is sponsoring a NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) approved 3-hour chain saw safety course on Sunday, April 29th, from noon to 3pm in Colonie, near Albany. This is the course that is required as a minimum chain saw training to obtain a chain saw certification for chain saw use on state land. This is for trail stewards and other trail workers who have chain saws and want to use them during the chain saw window from April 1 to May 24th each year. the training will be held at the Littles Lake cabin in Colonie, at the south west corner of Route 377 (Van Rensselaer Blvd) and Route 378. Participants should bring their chain saws and safety equipment. The training will include outside hands on training. The cost is $30 and participants will receive a certificate of training to provide to the DEC forester for your section along with your first aid, blood borne pathogens and cpr certifications (not being provided at this course) that are needed for chain saw use on state land.
If you plan on attending contact Tom Wemett, Chair of the NPTrail Chapter at [email protected], or call 518-524-8875.
I raised the binoculars to my eyes and stared into the tree canopy above me. Carefully scanning the bare winter branches, nothing out of sorts was noted. I continued down the trail searching for clues that invasive insects may be lurking in the forest.
As Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District’s Conservation Educator, part of my job entails monitoring and managing lands and waters for invasive species. I can’t do it alone, and partnerships are essential to detect invasions early and deploy a quick response. Since 2009, the District has teamed up with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to survey our forests for invasive insects that cost the United States vast amounts of money in economic and ecological damage each year. » Continue Reading.
There are several natural disasters that can alter the ecological make-up of an area. Wide spread tree disease, severe winds and intense ice storms can all seriously damage or destroy the dominant members of a forest community. However, the most catastrophic force of nature is fire, as a major blaze can significantly impact more than just the composition of trees that cover a given location. Unlike other natural calamities, fire can wipe out most of the plants that root in an area. In an ice storm, or a major wind event, it is primarily the older and taller trees that are subject to the greatest devastation. Seedlings, saplings, the various shrubs that form the understory and the array of herbaceous plants that grow on the forest floor often benefit from the increase in sunlight that result when the canopy has been drastically thinned or eliminated. During an intense fire, however, the entire plant community can be obliterated. » Continue Reading.
This year, the sap flow has arrived a little sooner than usual, and some began tapping in and boiling in January – but most maple producers (at least near where I live in Washington County) are having or have had a decent run. Some have even boasted a banner year for production. Others at higher elevations are reporting production down a third or more.
This past Friday, the ceremonial tapping of the sugar maple took place at Mapleland Farms in Salem, NY. As soon as I left my car, I could smell (and feel) the heavy sweet-smelling steam flowing out of the sugar house as it filled the air. » Continue Reading.
Logging by hand has to be one of the most pointless and inefficient activities I have engaged in so far. I have been “cleaning the woods” as it were, dragging out large limbs and cutting dead trees to get wood for next year’s firewood supply. This year’s supply is large, but the quality of the wood is not that good.
When we moved here in the fall, my then-roommate and I didn’t have the money to buy firewood, and since we had fifty acres at our disposal, we figured we could cut, haul, and split our own wood. Luckily, we found a pile of logs that had been cut three years ago. It was mostly soft wood like white pine, spruce, and poplar (aspen), but it was free and dry. » Continue Reading.
For more than fifty years, woods walkers in the Adirondacks and elsewhere have learned not to take the beautifully smooth, “thin-skinned” bark of the American beech tree (Fagus grandifolia) for granted. Our grandparents grew up suddenly missing the American chestnut as the blight of 1900 quickly decimated that species as a dominant tree in our eastern woodlands, along with its innumerable cottage and industrial uses, and its sustenance for so much of our native wildlife. » Continue Reading.
The Town of Newcomb has completed its purchase of 348 acres for a total of $256,591.00 from The Nature Conservancy. The town officials hope the purchase will boost economic development and public access, particularly along the Route 28N travel corridor, and other community objectives outlined in its Comprehensive Plan, which was updated in 2009. “There are all kinds of options for these lands,” said Newcomb Supervisor George Cannon. “Now that the transactions with The Nature Conservancy are complete, we look forward to exploring those options. The log yard parcel is probably the most important acquisition; it is an excellent site for a potential business.” Cannon has been a vocal opponent of state land purchases in the past. » Continue Reading.
Global warming has been the topic of numerous articles, lectures and books over the past decade, and while some of these works focus on its causes and on possible ways to slow this impending climate shift, others discuss the consequences of an altered weather pattern on the environment. While I have only limited insight into this extraordinarily complex phenomenon, I do have some opinions with regards to the potential impact that a more thermally energized atmosphere would have on the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.
With timber prices at historic lows, tax bills to be paid and the real estate market languishing, many owners of forest land are having a hard time making their woodlands pay their own way. The decisions involved can be anguishing, especially for those whose families have owned their land for several generations.
On January 14, 2012, a team of industry and academic experts will outline a businesslike approach to managing family forest lands that can help landowners save money and perhaps find new sources of income from their woodlots. The workshop, titled “Forest Finance 2012,” will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Great Escape Lodge on Route 9 in Lake George. However, preregistration is required in order to attend.
Topics to be discussed will include income and property tax strategies, estate planning, business and bookkeeping practices for woodland owners, and forest management systems. Speakers will include Eric Carlson, president of Empire State Forest Products Association, Dr. Steven Bick of Northeast Forests, LLC, and author, and Dr. Shorna Broussard Allred of Cornell University.
The session is sponsored by Cornell Cooperative Extensions, Warren County, The New York Forest Owners Association – Southern Adirondack chapter, the Forest Stewardship Program of Protect the Adirondacks!, and New York Tree Farm.
The registration charge is $25 for this all-day session on Saturday, January 14, 2012 – including lunch. Preregistration is required by calling Cornell Cooperative Extension at 518-623-3291 or 518-668-4881 or email: [email protected]
As a rule, the severity of the winter becomes harsher with an increase in altitude. In the lowlands, around the periphery of the Park, conditions are more favorable for life, as these valley settings are capable of supporting a wide diversity of flora and fauna. However, closer to the summit of the peaks, the weather becomes as inhospitable as at much higher latitudes, such as near the Arctic Circle, where only a handful of extremely hardy forms of vegetation can flourish to grace the rugged, boulder strewn terrain. Among the woody plants that are successful in rooting in the shallow soil of these frigid, wind swept sites is the balsam fir (Abies balsamea), known as our most popular type of Christmas tree. The bitter cold atmosphere that prevails at these locations is incapable of holding much moisture, resulting in extremely low humidity. As this ultra-dry air buffets the needles, twigs, and trunk of the balsam, along with the few other species of trees that grow in this zone, it attempts to draw out whatever water molecules are present in exposed tissues.
Similarly, under the crystal clear skies of the long days of early summer, the intensity of the sun at these higher elevations would quickly bake moisture out of surface cells if they were not somehow sealed. It is intense dryness, rather than exposure to low temperatures, that creates a challenge for the various plants that attempt to gain a foothold there.
The resin that gives balsam its characteristic fragrance is fundamental to the fir’s success, as this gooey sap is highly effective in sealing moisture in and preventing desiccation. Even though the soil may often be saturated with water from frequent periods of rain, and prolonged exposure to water laden clouds that may shroud the slopes for days, once the ground freezes in late autumn, the resulting ice crystals can not be taken in by the roots and transported throughout the tree.
Consequently, it is quite common for plants of this zone to be without access to outside water from mid November through April. Any water that is in a plant at the start of the winter must be held there for the next 5 months, or it could suffer debilitating dehydration, or death.
Because of balsam’s drought tolerance, its needles are far less likely to drop off its twigs after the tree has been cut. When placed in a stand containing water, a balsam fir will remain relatively fresh for several weeks. This is considerably longer than other conifers, as some react to the dry inside air by shedding their needles within a week after being propped-up in a living room corner.
Periodic snowfalls and bouts of rime icing that encapsulate the surfaces of everything at upper elevations not only create a picturesque appearance to the terrain, but also are effective at assisting the plants of this region to deal with the issue of dryness. Being encrusted in a layer of dense snow or ice, the needles and twigs are no longer exposed to the evaporating effect of the air, regardless of how strong the winds may become.
Even though the weight of the snow or ice on the branches occasionally becomes substantial, the limbs of fir are adapted to bend, rather than snap. Despite being entombed in ice for well over a month, the branches spring back to normal once the weight falls off, or melts. This ability of balsam branches to support a fair amount of weight allows people obsessed with hanging hundreds of ornaments to completely cover its boughs with all-types of seasonal decorations and not have the branches break.
Aside from making a great Christmas tree, balsam fir contributes greatly to the wildlife community of those areas in which it grows. The ecological role of balsam was best presented by Ellen Rathbone’s article on balsam fir which appeared in the Almanack almost exactly two years ago.
Please remember that while balsam makes a great Christmas tree, it is one of our most flammable trees, especially after it has been indoors for a few weeks. Caution should always be used to ensure that it is a safe distance from heaters, wood stoves and candles; and when its needles start to fall off, it is time to put it outside.
Have a great Christmas and enjoy your Christmas tree, even if it isn’t a balsam.
Last week the Watertown Daily Times reported that Lassiter Properties had put on the market nearly 2,300 acres in and near the Adirondack Park.
In 1988, Lassiter bought more than ninety-five thousand acres in the North Country, but it has since sold most of its holdings to the state and to other timber companies.
Most of the 2,300 acres now on the market are located on three tracts just outside the Park in St. Lawrence and Lewis counties. The largest tract, some 1,930 acres, includes a stretch of the West Branch of the Oswegatchie River. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) has released a revised reprint of Forests and Trees of the Adirondack High Peaks Region by the late Edwin H. Ketchledge. First published in 1967, this modest little field guide found favor with Adirondack hikers and naturalists and quickly became a classic. The new printing opens with a biography and tribute to Ketchledge, who died June 30, 2010, at his home in Potsdam.
An acclaimed naturalist and educator, Ketchledge set out to photograph and describe 34 species of Adirondack trees in response to a challenge from Jerome Wyckoff, a geologist and ADK member. The first publication of what was then called “Trees” prompted Ketchledge to expand the volume to reflect his own significantly broadened interests — interpreting the role of these species in the region’s ecology. Thus “Forests and Trees” was born, and with it a greater interest in “reading” the landscape. (Wyckoff’s own book, The Adirondack Landscape, was also published by ADK in 1967.) “Forests and Trees of the Adirondack High Peaks Region” is 176 pages, 4 ½” x 6″, and includes over 70 photographs. It is available in softcover for $9.95 at book and outdoor supply stores, at ADK stores in Lake George and Lake Placid, and through mail order by calling (800) 395-8080.
The Adirondack Mountain Club, founded in 1922, is the oldest and largest organization dedicated to the protection of the New York State Forest Preserve. ADK is a nonprofit, membership organization that protects the Forest Preserve, state parks and other wild lands and waters through conservation and advocacy, environmental education and responsible recreation. For more information about ADK, visit www.adk.org.
Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers.
While walking through the West Virginian highlands, John Davis was struck by the character of the forest: all the trees were middle-aged and the ground was covered with ferns. There were almost no saplings or wildflowers.
“You could almost call them fern glades,” he said. “To the eye, they’re very pretty, but they’re biologically impoverished. These forests just aren’t regenerating themselves.” The problem is that deer are overbrowsing. And the solution, Davis says, is to bring back the cougar.
A former conservation director of the Adirondack Council, Davis this week finished a 7,600-mile, 280-day journey from the southern tip of Florida to the eastern tip of the Gaspe Peninsula in Quebec. He traveled mostly by foot, bike, and canoe. » Continue Reading.
For many Adirondack trees and shrubs, this past growing season was exceptional, as is evident by the quantity of fruits and seeds which our woody plants have produced. While many of these reproductive vessels have already matured and fallen to the ground, a few like the nuts of the beech have only recently finished ripening and are being shaken loose from their twigs by the winds that occur around the opening of deer season.
Beech is one of the most common components in stands of mature hardwoods across northern New York, especially in our wilderness regions. While the buds and bark of this stately looking tree are avoided by nearly all forms of wildlife, the small, 3-sided nuts that it yields in October are among the most nutritious wild edibles produced in our forests. » Continue Reading.
Landowners and volunteers are being sought to participate in planting trees along river and stream corridors in the Ausable River Valley on Friday, October 14. The tree planting will be part of an event to kickoff a new program to restore and protect river and stream corridors in the Lake Champlain watershed by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).
Landowners with property along the Ausable River, either of its branches or any their tributaries that need trees along the river and stream banks can receive free trees from the DEC Saratoga Tree nursery planted by volunteers. The trees will shore up eroded stream banks, protect property from flood damage and improve wildlife habitat. Volunteers are being sought to join federal, state and local officials in planting trees along stream and river banks. Volunteers will meet at Marcy Field along Route 73 in the Town of Keene at 10 am on October 14. Refreshments will be available at that time. After hearing about the new program and receiving encouragement and instruction from officials, volunteers will be assigned to teams and plant trees under the instruction of a team captain. DEC and others will be providing transportation for volunteers and the trees.
The tree planting will wrap up by 4 pm, or when all trees or sites have been planted. Volunteers do not have to stay until end, they can plant for as much time as they desire. Volunteers are asked to dress properly for the being outside and the weather conditions for that day as the event will take place rain or shine. Sturdy hiking shoes or boots will be needed. Volunteers should also bring the following items:
* Work gloves; * Shovel (if possible, there will be some shovels available ); * Water bottle; * Snacks (if desired); and * Lunch (if you plan to work into the afternoon).
Landowners and volunteers are encouraged to contact their local town office or the DEC (897-1291) before close of business Thursday, October 13, if they plan to participate. In the Town of Keene contact Supervisor Bill Ferebee at 576-4444, and in the Town of Jay contact Supervisor Randy Douglas at 647-2204.
The Lake Champlain conservation projects are part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative and these conservation projects are receiving $1.3 million dollars. On October, 12 the Obama Administration is releasing a report which details how AGO is opening up access to lands and waters, restoring critical landscapes, and supporting thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity. The report outlines combined conservation and recreation successes, including gains in youth employment, new trail designations, the creation of urban campgrounds, and historic investments in large landscapes from Lake Champlain to the Florida Everglades.
Photo: A recent Ausable River tree planting volunteer effort (Courtesy Ausable River Association).
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