Just got back from the Tupper Lake Hardwood mill, the only hardwood mill left in the the Adirondack Park. Our guide, a sixth generation Canadian mill worker, told us that the company is facing tough economic times. Of their three mills only two are currently operating and the Tupper mill is only running one shift a day (16 employees).
The mill sells almost everything that comes onto the lot. Chips are sent to the International Paper mill in Ticonderoga for fine-grade paper, the sawdust is sold for bedding and other specialized uses. The worst grade of lumber (3 Common) goes into pallets and the better grades are shipped mostly to Europe and Asia (55%) and around the United States (after being trucked to Montreal to be kiln dried). The mill produces about 9 million board feet a year when running at full capacity, but is currently running at half that. The logs are all supplied by about 60 suppliers from within about 50 miles of the mill; minimum log size is 9 inches.
Quite a place – we also took the time to try out some tree scaling and grading.
We’re about to start tree identification. I’ll try to post again after dinner.
This morning we heard from DEC forestry and wildlife representatives from Region 5 (which covers most of the Adirondacks). Tom Martin, DEC Forester, kicked it off with a discussion of the explanation of the role the agency plays in local forests, public and private. Martin was followed by a DEC Wildlife Biologist who pointed out a number of important resources for landowners, including a few cool internet tools.
Region 5 contains more potential commercial forest land (about 3 million acres) than forest preserve land. The region has three part-time people who handle private land services who are basically foresters who help people develop land management plans. Martin reviewed recent large land transfers in Region 5. “Every single large forest products company has sold their land,” he said. Those include Champion, International Paper, Domtar, and Finch Pruyn. Lands not bought outright by the state (or a third party like the Nature Conservancy) have been purchased by timber management investment companies which Martin said have much shorter term financial goals (and shorter tenure) than the original owners.
By the way, DEC has paid full taxes on land the state owns in the park since the 1880s. The companies that have sold their land all enjoyed 480a tax breaks that reduced their assessments by 80% (that includes state, county and school taxes).
Following Martin, Region 5 Wildlife Biologist Paul Jensen reviewed DEC resources for forest owners including the agency’s beaver damage management program. The program includes nuisance beaver permits that allow trapping and killing of nuisance beaver and the removal of beaver dams; the DEC no longer traps beaver for relocation. Jensen also briefly touched on whitetail deer management, a significant factor in understory regeneration.
Here are a few resources Jensen pointed us to for getting a closer look at public and private forest lands:
Environmental Resource Mapper – enter your property location and find about wetlands, significant natural communities, and rare plants and animals. Landowner Incentive Program – provides information and access to funds and/or tax breaks for forest land owners whose land contains at risk species.
PDF – provides a lot of information on state lands.
We’re off to Tupper Lake for a sawmill visit, then back here for tree identification. This evening – Adirondack mammals. I’ll report again after dinner.
Well, I’m here at the Huntington Research Forest / SUNY-ESF Adirondack Ecological Center (AEC), checked in, bag unpacked, and we’ve already made some general introductions and had dinner together at the dining hall. Laurel Gailor, Natural Resources Educator for Warren County Cornell Cooperative Extension and Cornell Department of Natural Resources Program Director Gary Goff (who is primarily leading the training) welcomed me with internet access and a map and schedule. There are twenty folks here for the training including large landowners and small representing 3,400 combined acres in Warren, Essex, Hamilton, Tioga, and even Broome County. Most are retirement-age men, but we have a handful of women. The group looks pretty diverse as far as experience. Several have been foresters or in the forestry industry for many years, one dairy and maple producer, three engineers, two corrections officers, one college administrator, one principal, two teachers, an anthropologist and a superintendent of highways. One trainee working on his town’s comprehensive plan.
The highlight of tonight’s session (yes, I said tonight, the schedule runs to 8 or 9 pm each night) was an introduction to the Huntington Forest and the Adirondack Ecological Center by the center’s program director Paul Hai. Hai reviewed the history of the Huntington Forest, so I thought I’d relate some of what he said here.
SUNY-ESF is the oldest college in the US solely dedicated to the study of the environment. It was founded in 1911 as the College of Forestry at Syracuse, although Cornell University actually established the first New York State College of Forestry in 1898 under Bernhard Fernow. It was the first professional college of forestry in North America but didn’t last long. Fernow established a research forest near Saranac Lake (I’ve written about that in the past), but opposition from local wealthy landowners and pressure applied to the state legislature forced the closure of both the research forest and Cornell’s Forestry School in about 1909.
Syracuse took up the mantle in 1911 and in 1932 the Huntington family (famed for their connection to the trans-continental railroad and first owners of the Pine Knot Great Camp) donated some 15,000 acres to the College of Forestry. The Huntington Forest allows “research on a landscape scale,” according to Hai, largely because it is private land and therefore outside the constitutional “forever wild” clause. The goal at Huntington is to study the wildlife and biology of the Adirondack / Northern Forest Ecosystem, but also the dynamics of a healthy forest products economy. The AEC has been conducting one of the longest whitetail deer studies in America, and more recently they have been studying how road salt affects amphibians.
In the 1950s cutting-method blocks were established in the Huntington Forest, and later this week we’ll be able to walk through a half century of forestry methods in just a few miles.
I’ll be reporting regularly this week beginning Wednesday evening from Cornell Cooperative Extension’s New York Master Forest Owner (MFO) training at SUNY ESF Adirondack Ecological Center in Newcomb. The program, which is being held in the Adirondacks for the first time, combines classroom and field experience in general forestry. My goal is to simply learn a little more about the variety of local forestry issues we cover here at the Alamanack. Forest ecology, wildlife management, water quality issues, timber harvesting and management, invasive species, sugar bush management, and more are all on the schedule. The MFO website explains why the program is valuable:
Over 14 million acres of woodland in NY State are privately owned by approximately 500,000 nonindustrial forest owners. That’s over 3/4 of New York’s total forest area! It is estimated that less than 1/4 of the state’s private forest holdings are purposefully managed despite the educational programs and technical services available. In order to reap the benefits of this vital resource, sound stewardship is necessary. Stewardship objectives involve management practices that ensure ecologically sound forest productivity. Forests represent a precious commodity that, if wisely managed, can generate a variety of economic, ecological, and aesthetic values to forest owners and their communities, generation after generation.
I’ll regularly report my experiences and some of what I learn here at the Almanack, as I did with the Wild Center’s climate conference in November 2008.
You can find out more about the program and training schedule here.
The DEC has announced the opening of limited public access for recreation to three parcels of conservation easement land formerly owned by International Paper Company and currently owned by Lyme Timber. The public will be able to access the lands for non-motorized recreation now; motorized access will be allowed in the future. The three parcels are the 17,125-acre Black Brook Tract in the Town of Black Brook, Clinton County; the 7,870-acre Altamont Tract in the Town of Tupper Lake, Franklin County; and the 19,000-acre Kushaqua Tract in the Towns of Brighton and Franklin, Franklin County. The parcels are part of one of New York State’s largest land conservation projects – 256,649 acres of land – which was announced on Earth Day in 2004.
The Black Brook, Altamont and Kushaqua Tracts had a five year waiting period before the properties could be opened to the public, which expired on April 22. The three tracts are open to public access for non-motorized recreation only- on foot, mountain bike, on horse, or canoe/kayak. According to the DEC “The full array of recreation rights purchased will not be available at this time due to lack of resources.” Currently permitted recreational activities include hiking, horseback riding, rock climbing, mountain biking, hunting, fishing, trapping, wildlife viewing and canoeing/kayaking. Camping and campfires are also prohibited until camp sites are designated.
Parking lots, trails, and trailheads, have not been buit and there is no signage yet. Trails for motorized recreation will be developed in the future following a planning process. Access to the property is by adjoining public highways and the DEC has asked that users avoid blocking any gates or obstructing traffic when parking.
These lands are privately owned and actively managed for timber. The landowner also leases private recreation camps. Lessees have the exclusive right to use one acre of land surrounding their camp which are not open to ANY public use or access. The one-acre camp parcels, however, may not block public access to or use of main access roads, trails, streams or ponds.
Visitors to these lands may encounter logging and construction equipment used in forest management and motorized vehicles, including ATVs, belonging to the landowner, their employees or camp lessees. The DEC asks that the public respect the rights of the landowner, camp lessees and their guests when using the property.
We’ve received the following press release from the John F. Sheehan, Director of Communications at The Adirondack Council:
NYS Darrel Aubertine, D-Watertown, and Assemblywoman Roann Destito, D-Rome, introduced legislation creating the New York Wood Products Development Council to help steer attention and federal dollars into programs and investments that will spur the development of new products and markets.
The legislation was introduced [yesterday] at a 12:15 p.m. press conference hosted by the Northern Forest Center and the Empire State Forest Products Association. Also on hand for the press conference were Assemblyman David Koon, Brian Houseal, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council; John Bartow, Executive Director of the Tug Hill Commission, Jeff Williams of the New York Farm Bureau and others. » Continue Reading.
Cornell Cooperative Extension is looking for small-forest owners to volunteer to meet and work with their neighbors through the New York Master Forest Owner (MFO) Volunteer Program. The MFO program is entering its 19th year and a new volunteer training is scheduled May 13-17 at SUNY College of Environmental Science & Forestry, Adirondack Ecological Center in Newcomb. Volunteers who complete the four-day workshop will join the corps of 175 certified volunteers across the state [pdf of current volunteers]. Participants can commute daily, or accommodations are available at the AEC. A $50 registration fee (upon acceptance into the program) helps defray lodging, publications, food, and equipment costs. The workshop combines classroom and outdoor field experiences on a wide variety of subjects, including tree identification, finding boundaries, forest ecology, wildlife and sawtimber management, water quality best management practices, communication techniques, timber harvesting, and invasive species identification and management.
The goal of the program is to provide private forest owners with the information and encouragement necessary to manage their forests to enhance ownership satisfaction. MFOs do not perform management activities nor give professional advice. Rather, they meet with forest owners to listen to their concerns and questions, and offer advice as to sources of assistance based on their training and personal experience.
If you are interested in obtaining an information packet and application form, send your name and address to:
CCE Warren County 377 Schroon River Road Warrensburg, NY 12885 518-623-3291 or email: email@example.com
I received this week from John Sheehan, Director of Communications for The Adirondack Council, the following interesting history and analysis of the recent Nature Conservancy sale and what it means to the history of logging in the backcountry. I’m reprinting it here in its entirety for the information of Adirondack Almanack readers:
When the ATP Group, a private investment company that handles pension funds for the Danish government, made its first major investment in the United States Monday, its purchase of 92,000 acres of commercial forestlands from The Nature Conservancy brought to an end the era of the industrial ownership of the Adirondack Park’s vast, private backcountry. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Mountain Club has just announced the final death of Governor Paterson’s plan to cap tax payments on state owned land. The state will now continue to pay its fair share of local taxes on Forest Preserve lands in Adirondacks and Catskills and on other state-owned forest and park lands statewide.
Since 1886, in recognition of the impact of large state land holdings on local tax rolls, New York has voluntarily paid local property and school taxes on Forest Preserve lands. Over the years, the Legislature has extended the payments to other areas with large tracts of state forest or park land. In 2007-08, New York paid more than $170 million in local taxes on more than 4 million acres. Under the Executive Budget, those payments would have been frozen at 2008-09 levels, which would have caused double-digit property tax increases in some rural communities and severely undermined local support for open-space protection programs statewide. Local governments have the right to veto most state land deals financed through the Environmental Protection Fund. The proposed payment freeze was stricken in a budget deal last week, but it was not officially dead until the state Senate passed the relevant bill late Thursday.
While the tax freeze has been widely viewed as an Adirondack and Catskill issue, the fact is that half of the state tax payments in 2007-08 went to communities outside the 16 Adirondack and Catskill counties. For example, the state pays full property taxes on Harriman State Park, Sterling Forest and Allegany State Park, and pays school taxes for the site of Sing Sing Correctional Facility in Westchester County. In 2007-08, the state made $33 million in local tax payments in Rockland County, $19 million in Suffolk County, $11.9 million in Orange County, $4.8 million in Cattaraugus County, $3.2 million in Putnam County, $3.1 million in Chenango County, $1.8 million in Dutchess County and $1.2 million in Allegany County. The tax freeze would also have hampered efforts to protect New York City’s Catskill/Delaware watershed, which provides drinking water to 9 million New Yorkers.
A. It started in the 1940s as a newsletter for logging camps in the Adirondacks and around the Northeast. The founder was the Rev. Frank Reed, who wrote Lumberjack Skypilot. He would include things like who’s cooking at what camp, and which camps have TV or radio. It evolved into an independent trade magazine of the Northeastern Loggers Association and today has a paid circulation of 11,000 from Minnesota to Maine and Missouri to Maryland.
Q. How are Adirondack loggers faring in this economy?
A. The forest products industry is a commodities business so it’s always been subject to large ups and downs. People in this industry are accustomed to doing other things when the woods product business goes in the tank. With that said, this is a serious recession; it’s hard to find alternatives. » Continue Reading.
The following press release, presented here in its entirety, comes from the John Sheehan of the Adirondack Council:
Proposed Cap on State’s Tax Payments to Localities Undercuts 122-Year-Old Compact Between State & Adirondack/Catskill Park Towns, Counties and School Districts
As the deadline nears for Gov. David Paterson to make last-minute changes to his 2009-10 budget plan, more than 100 government and civic leaders from the Adirondack and Catskill parks are urging the governor to discard his plan to cap the state’s property tax payments to local towns, counties and school districts that host state Forest Preserve lands. » Continue Reading.
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced it has proposed making permanent a regulation to restrict the import, sale and transport of untreated firewood to aid in the fight against the spread of tree-killing pests and diseases. A public-comment period on DEC’s proposal runs through Feb. 9, 2009. DEC encourages interested parties to weigh in on the proposal – which can be viewed on the DEC website — at two public hearings or through written comments. » Continue Reading.
The survival of the North Country’s economy — both in New York and New England — is the topic of the Rockefeller Institute of Government Public Policy Forum on Nov. 24 at the Institute, located at 411 State Street. The event begins at 10:30 a.m. and ends at noon.
New York’s six-million-acre Adirondack Park is part of a 70-million-acre contiguous forest running from the coast of Maine to the Tug Hill Plateau, just west of the Adirondack Park. The rural communities Northern Forest share a common heritage and common economic challenges in the years ahead. Rob Riley, president of the Northern Forest Center in Concord, NH, will deliver a presentation on the center’s recent report: Strategy and Recommendations for Economic Resurgence in the Northern Forest. The report includes recommendations to create economic and community development strategies across the region to reinvigorate the rural economies of the Northern Forest.
The panel discussing the report includes: Brian L. Houseal, executive director of the Adirondack Council; Joe Short, from the Sustainable Economies Initiative at the Northern Forest Center; and Todd L. Shimkus, president and CEO of the Adirondack Regional Chambers of Commerce.
Susan Arbetter, host of WMHT-TV’s weekly New York Now, will be guest moderator.
The arrival of the shiny, emerald green beetle, about 1/2 inch long and 1/8 inch wide, in the U.S. may be as serious a threat to white, green, and black ash trees as Dutch elm disease was to the American elm.
Ash trees are a common species; green and black ash grow in wet swampy areas and along streams and rivers; white ash is common in drier, upland soils. Many species of wildlife, including some waterfowl and game birds, feed on ash seeds. Ash is used as a source for hardwood timber, firewood, and for the manufacturing of baseball bats and hockey sticks. The New York State Department of Agriculture and Markets estimates the total economic value of New York’s white ash to be $1.9 billion dollars. » Continue Reading.
New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) Commissioner Pete Grannis announced today that grant applications are now being accepted for projects proposing to eradicate terrestrial invasive species. Terrestrial invasive species is defined as a plant or animal that lives or grows predominately on land. Applications will be accepted until October 31, 2008 DEC is making up to $1 million in state grants available to municipalities and not-for-profit organizations for projects to eradicate and/or permanently remove infestations of terrestrial invasive species throughout the state. The funding for these grants was secured in the 2008-09 enacted state budget, through the Environmental Protection Fund. State funds can be used to pay for up to one-half of the cost of selected projects. Individual grants for terrestrial eradication proposals will be awarded for projects that range from $2,500, up to $100,000. » Continue Reading.
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