Posts Tagged ‘Hamilton County’

Monday, August 23, 2010

The Murder of Adirondack Guide Eula Davis

In late 1928, the life of an Adirondack guide came to an unfortunate, premature end. Like many of his brethren who died from accidental shootings over the years, the victim succumbed to a serious gunshot wound. But the demise of Eula Davis was no accident. Clearly, this was a case of murder, and the beginning of a twisted saga that kept all eyes glued on the Lake Pleasant region for some time.

The story began on November 30 when local handyman and guide Ernest Duane, 34, reported to police in Speculator that he had found Davis, 60 (also a handyman and guide), dead. The body was located in the Ernest Brooks cabin on Whitaker Lake, several miles northwest of Speculator village. Duane offered to accompany them to the site, but the lawmen opted to investigate on their own, a decision that would prove vital as the case developed.

A sad scene awaited them. Davis’ corpse was frozen solid; apparently, he had died of exposure and/or loss of blood. A gaping bullet-wound in the lower back was the overriding cause, and Davis had not died easily. Unable to rise after being shot, he had dragged himself across the floor. His body was partially covered with a quilt, and a pillow had been drawn close to Eula’s head, signifying an attempt to keep warm and somewhat comfortable. He had used rags to form a rough tourniquet, and had broken a pencil tip while trying to write a note.

Further investigation revealed an empty wallet in Davis’ pocket, punctured by the fatal bullet.

Davis had many friends in Speculator, and they began searching for the killer while police worked to develop certain clues. Within a few days, they focused on one suspect: Ernest Duane.

An autopsy had uncovered bits of paper money embedded in the body, revealing that Davis’ wallet had not been empty prior to the shooting. Finding the damaged money would surely lead to the killer. But why would Duane kill a popular local man known to be his friend?

Davis, said to have guided for boxing champion Gene Tunney several months earlier, had done quite well financially. It was public knowledge that he had earned several hundred dollars, and had recently purchased winter provisions in town. Questioning of local merchants yielded critical information: in the past few days, someone else had been shopping. Among the legal tender used for payment was a $10 bill with two neat holes in it. The customer was Ernest Duane.

He was brought in for questioning, and after being confronted with evidence, Duane finally confessed to the crime. He offered a lengthy tale, including the decision to rob the old man, who was deaf. When Duane entered the cabin and saw Davis facing away from the door, he shot him in the back. He then took the old man’s wallet and headed for home. On the way, Duane said, he removed only one bill and then flung the wallet into the woods.

Since the empty wallet had already been found in Davis’ pocket, police knew Duane was lying. (He really didn’t seem to have much of a plan. Why admit the shooting but lie about the robbery?) At any rate, a search crew with rakes went to Whitaker Lake in hopes of finding the missing cash buried beneath new-fallen snow. They found nothing.

The next day, police returned to take evidence photographs of the crime scene—but it was gone! That’s right—the entire crime scene was no more. In one of those great Adirondack mysteries, the remote cabin had burned overnight. Arson by Duane’s sympathizers seemed the only plausible explanation.

A day later, Ernest told police where the money was hidden, admitting he had emptied the wallet and placed it back in the victim’s pocket. In Duane’s woodshed they located a roll of bills, pierced by what appeared to be bullet-holes. Employing a bit of trickery, they told him they hadn’t found the money, so Ernest provided written directions. The successful ruse created physical evidence that might later prove valuable.

Police also discovered that Duane owed $200 in fines for game law violations. With a motive and a confession, they now had what appeared to be an open-and-shut case.

But appearances can be deceiving. Still, Duane would go on trial, though under unusual circumstances. Neither the Hamilton County district attorney nor the county judge were lawyers. That unprecedented situation was addressed by Governor Al Smith, who appointed a special prosecutor and assigned a judge. In the meantime, Duane enjoyed cowboy novels in his cell and visits from his new bride, a 14-year-old that he married only a month before the Davis murder.

The prosecution played a powerful hand in the trial, led by impressive witnesses. Doctors dismissed Duane’s epilepsy as a non-factor, and Leonard Egelston, a police officer, introduced some surprising evidence. Early in the investigation, he had taken photographs inside and outside of the cabin. The apparent arson was, as it turned out, a futile attempt to destroy evidence.

The prosecution also offered Duane’s signed confession, along with the note directing officers to the hidden stash of bills. The note was presented as proof that Duane was sane and clear-headed enough after the murder to hide the stolen money and remember where it was hidden.

The defense focused on proving Duane’s supposed mental abnormalities, which they claimed had been exacerbated by the lonely life of a woodsman who often spent long months alone. It seemed like a weak argument at best, but then came the kicker: Duane’s epilepsy, seized upon by his attorneys in a strategy described as the “dream defense.”

Medical experts and Ernest’s brother, Joe, testified about his condition, bolstering claims that he had committed the crime, but had done so “in a fit of insanity.” Supporting the argument was his dismissal from military service during World War I due to a mental disorder (again, epilepsy).

Contrary to what had been earlier announced, Ernest finally took the stand in his own defense. Despite his detailed confession and the note leading officers to the stolen money, Ernest now claimed a seizure had enveloped him as he entered the clearing near the cabin that day, and it subsequently erased all memories of the next several hours. If he had killed Davis and stolen the money, he had no recollection of having done so. (Forty-five years later, serial killer Robert F. Garrow would make the same claim in the same courtroom for the same crime of murder.)

But there was more to Ernest’s story. Later that night, he suddenly awakened, believing he had shot and robbed Davis. Frantically, Duane jumped out of bed and searched his pockets for money. Finding nothing, he concluded it had been nothing more than a terrible nightmare, and went back to sleep.

In the morning, Ernest went out to cut some firewood. Reaching into his jacket pocket for a match, he instead found a wad of bills. With an earnestness befitting his given name, he told the court, “Then I knew that what I had dreamed was true.” During final summation, his attorney cited “the murder dream which turned out to be reality.”

The jury struggled, and early on, one member promised his vote for acquittal would never change. (So much for an open-and-shut case.) Eventually, they found Duane guilty. Supreme Court Justice Christopher Heffernan was reluctant to pronounce sentence, but he had no choice.

Through a breaking voice, and with tears flowing, he said, “I have but one duty to perform. I have wished it would never come to me, but Mr. Duane, you stand convicted of murder in the first degree, for which the punishment is death.” Seated nearby, the judge’s wife wept openly.

At 3 am, Ernest Duane was removed from his cell and sent off to Sing Sing to await execution. The odd hour was chosen to avoid an expected rescue attempt by Duane’s family and friends.

The defense appealed the verdict, causing an immediate stay of execution. When the appeal was denied, a new trial was sought, but that too was disallowed. Ernest was scheduled to die the week of January 15, 1930. Only one hope remained—commutation by the governor.

Just 24 hours before his execution time, word arrived that Governor Franklin Roosevelt had commuted Duane’s sentence to life in prison. Among other things, the governor felt that a person denied military service due to a mental disorder should not be put to death for that same disorder. When the message was relayed by his keepers, Ernest’s comment was a flippant, “Then I guess I’ll lose my chicken dinner,” the last meal he had requested. He was removed from death watch and assigned to work in the prison shoe factory.

Was it really an out-of-character, spur-of-the-moment decision for Ernest Duane to shoot and rob Davis? Perhaps not, if the “apple-doesn’t-fall-far-from-the-tree” theory holds water. Duane’s father, with a wife and seven children at home, had once pursued and married the 15-year-old daughter of the man with whom he was boarding. That offense netted him five years in Dannemora Prison for bigamy. He later was convicted of game violations.

Ernest had been arrested for drunkenness, game violations, and had married a 14-year-old girl. His character witness and brother, Joseph Duane, had been arrested for car theft and fighting, and he and Ernest had been arrested together for operating a “Disorderly House” (their hotel was used for prostitution).

The Duanes earned plenty of notoriety in their time. With this writing, perhaps Eula (Ulysses) Davis will escape relative anonymity, having suffered a terrible, undeserved fate.

Photo Top: Map of the Speculator-Lake Pleasant-Whitaker Lake area.

Photo Right: L to R: Speculator today remains an outdoor playground.

Lawrence Gooley has authored eight books and several articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004 and have recently begun to expand their services and publishing work. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing


Thursday, August 19, 2010

American Mountain Men Return to the Adirondack Museum

The grounds of the Adirondack Museum at Blue Mountain Lake, New York will become a lively 19th century tent city with an encampment of American Mountain Men interpreting the fur trade and a variety of survival skills this
weekend, August 20 and 21, 2010.

The group will interpret the lives and times of traditional mountain men with colorful demonstrations and displays of shooting, tomahawk and knife throwing, furs, fire starting and cooking, clothing of both eastern and western mountain styles, period firearms, and more. This year’s encampment may include blacksmithing as well as a beaver skinning and fleshing demonstration.

All of the American Mountain Men activities and demonstrations are included in the price of regular Adirondack Museum admission. There is no charge for museum members. The museum is open daily from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m.

Participants in the museum encampment are from the Brothers of the New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, and Massachusetts segment of the national American Mountain Men organization. Participation in the encampment is by invitation only.

Mountain men are powerful symbols of America’s wild frontier. Legends about the mountain man continue to fascinate because many of the tales are true: the life of the mountain man was rough, and despite an amazing ability to survive in the wilderness, it brought him face to face with death on a regular basis.

The American Mountain Men group was founded in 1968. The association researches and studies the history, traditions, tools, and mode of living of the trappers, explorers, and traders known as the mountain men. Members continuously work for mastery of the primitive skills of both the original mountain men and Native Americans. The group prides itself on the accuracy and authenticity of its interpretation and shares the knowledge they have gained with all who are interested.


Kid next to water
Thursday, August 12, 2010

Antiques Show and Sale at the Adirondack Museum

The Adirondack Museum will host its annual Antiques Show and Sale this weekend, August 14th and 15th. Forty-five of the country’s top antique dealers will offer the finest examples of premium vintage furnishings and collectables. For a complete listing of dealers, visit the “Exhibits and Events” section of the Adirondack Museum web site at www.adirondackmuseum.org.

Show hours will be 11:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. on August 14, and 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. on August 15. The Antiques Show and Sale is included in the price of general museum admission.

The 2010 Antiques Show and Sale will include: vintage Adirondack furniture, folk art, historic guideboats and canoes, genuine Old Hickory, taxidermy, books and ephemera for the collector, fine art, oriental and Persian rugs, camp and trade signs, Olympic advertising, and everything camp and cottage.

A shipping service will be available on each day of the show. Porters will be on site to assist with heavy or cumbersome items.

Rod Lich, Inc. of Georgetown, Indiana will manage the show. Rod and his wife Susan Parrett have 32 years of experience organizing premier antiques shows throughout the country. To learn more about Rod Lich, Inc. visit www.parretlich.com.

The Antiques Show Preview Benefit will be held on August 14 from 9:00 a.m. until 11:00 a.m. Guests will enjoy exclusive early access to the show, a champagne brunch, and music. Proceeds from the benefit will support exhibits and programs at the Adirondack Museum. Preview benefit tickets are $125 and include admission to the Antiques Show and Sale on Saturday and Sunday. To reserve tickets call (518) 352-7311, ext. 119.


Thursday, August 5, 2010

‘Dog Days’ at Adirondack Museum Saturday

Dogs will be welcome at the Adirondack Museum this Saturday, August 7th. The now legendary celebration of all things canine — “Dog Days of Summer” — will return for a fourth year. In 2009, 159 dogs of all shapes, sizes, and breeds participated in this event.

Visitors and their pets can explore all that the Adirondack Museum has to offer and enjoy a variety of dog demonstrations, programs, and activities. All dogs are welcome when accompanied by well-behaved owners.

The event will include a few simple rules and regulations for pups and their people: dogs must be leashed at all times; owners must clean up after their pets – special bags will be available; dogs will only be allowed on the grounds – not in the exhibit buildings; Doggie Day Care will be available throughout the day at no charge, with the understanding that dogs cannot be left for more than an hour; poorly behaved or aggressive dogs will be asked to leave the museum grounds with their owners.

Sheep herding demonstrations will return this year. Sarah Todd of Dog Days Farms will herd with a variety of breeds including a Belgian sheep dog, Bearded Collie, German Shepherd, an Old English sheep dog, and an Appenzeller. Visitors can watch these amazingly skilled animals work at 2:30 and 4:00 p.m.

“Dog Days” demonstrations will include “Dancing With Dogs” at 12:00 noon. An informal workshop for visitors and their own dogs will follow. Join members of the Adirondack High Peaks Training Club for fast-paced routines. The talented dancing dogs include German Shepherds, Corgis, Labs, Rotweiller, Border Collie, and Australian Shepherd.

Watch a variety of skilled dogs and their handlers, the “JAZZ Agility Group,” go through their paces on an agility and obstacle course featuring hurdles, weave poles, and tunnels, at 10:00 a.m. and 12:00 p.m.

The annual “pooch” parade will include a costume contest this year. The parade will begin at 1:00 p.m. Gift certificates from Benson’s Pet Centers will be awarded category winners, and there will be participation prizes for all. Benson’s Pet Centers are located in Queensbury, Clifton Park, and Albany.

The Lake Placid Pub and Brewery will sponsor an “Ubu Look-Alike” contest as part of the festivities. Not that long ago, Lake Placid, N.Y. was home to Ubu, a legendary chocolate lab with a nose for great beer. Ubu’s story is still going strong, thanks to Ubu Ale, the brewery’s signature beer named in honor of the dog. Is your “best friend” an Ubu double? Chocolate labs can vie for the honor and a gift certificate for the Lake Placid Pub and Brewery.

Lake Placid Pub and Brewery will also offer samples of Ubu Ale and other craft beers at “Dog Days.” Participants must be twenty-one years of age.

Adirondack storyteller Bill Smith will tell “Tall Tails,” humorous stories about people and their dogs at 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m. Chris Shaw will provide music at 2:00 and 4:00 p.m.

Special presentations will be held in the Mark W. Potter Education Center. At 11:00 a.m. Lois, Alea, and Andy Rockcastle will offer “From Sprint Mushing to the Iditarod: Tales of the Trails.” At 11:30 a.m. Lisa Godfrey and Elizabeth Folwell, contributors to the Shaggy Dog Press publication Dog Hikes in the Adirondacks, will talk about their favorite trails and experiences hiking with dogs.

In addition, Ralph Holzhauer will offer “Fur Under the Desk,” based on his book of the same title. The book tells the real-life story a teacher and dog lover who introduced dog therapy and dog-assisted special education at his school. Finally, Museum Curator Hallie Bond will discuss “Canine Tourists in the Adirondacks” at 3:00 p.m. Historic photographs from the collection of the Adirondack Museum of dogs on vacation over time will illustrate Bond’s presentation.

From 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m. “Doggy Booths” featuring great regional working dogs and organizations will be open. Participants include: Champlain Valley K-9 Search and Rescue Dogs; the Schenectady Chapter, Therapy Dogs; Tri-Lakes Humane Society; North Country SPCA; and Canines Can Do. Dog owners and representatives will answer questions about the training, care, and work of special dogs.

“Dog Days of Summer” will also include an expanded agility course for visiting dogs, “Say Woof,” a photo opportunity for dogs and owners, and special story hours for puppies and kids at 11:00 a.m., 2:00 p.m. and 4:30 p.m.

Visitors are asked to bring a donation of food, toys, or cleaning supplies to the museum on “Dog Days.” A drop-off spot will be located in the Visitor Center. The museum will deliver donations to regional animal shelters.

This year’s “Dog Days of Summer” event was made possible by generous support from Nancy and Lawrence Master.

Photo: “Everybody Smiles Here,” The Antlers Hotel on Lake George ca. 1930. Photo by Alfred Santway; collection of the Adirondack Museum.


Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Moose River Plains Changes in the Works

The New York State Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) today announced three public hearings to discuss changes proposed for the Moose River Plains Wild Forest.

Located in the central and southwestern portion of the Adirondack Park, the Moose River Plains Wild Forest offers many year-round recreational opportunities including hiking, fishing, canoeing, skiing, mountain biking, snowmobiling, horseback riding, hunting and camping, making it an ideal destination for recreationists with varied interests and abilities. You can read more a short history of the Plains by the Almanack’s John Warren here; all our coverage is located here. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Adirondack Family Activities with Diane Chase: Raquette Lake Durant Days

By Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities

Raquette Lake will be a buzz of activity as community and guests enjoy the annual celebration honoring William West Durant. Tours, boat rides, fireworks and concerts are just a few of the activities everyone can enjoy this weekend.

William W. Durant is most commonly known as the founder of the Adirondack Great Camp. The most recognizable elements of the Great Camp style are rough hewed log construction, local stonework and decorative work using twigs, bark and branches. The camps were self-sufficient mega complexes that provided all means of entertainment for its guests from teahouses to bowling alleys. In the 1800s his father, Thomas C. Durant, had owned thousands of acres of Adirondack property turning the Raquette Lake acreage over to William to manage.

William West Durant first built the Great Camp Pine Knot that would eventually be owned by Collis Huntington and other properties including Camp Uncas (owned by J.P. Morgan 1895) and Sagamore Lodge (built in 1897 and purchased by Alfred G. Vanderbilt in 1901). Durant supervised the building of over 100 buildings on the properties, a town, a railway and two churches (St. Williams and St. Huberts) and was responsible for hundreds of workers while spearheading these Great Camp endeavors. The rampant development of these large-scaled projects eventually led to his bankruptcy. These three camps are now National Historic Landmarks as advocates of history have worked hard to preserve this golden Adirondack era.

Currently Pine Knot is owned by SUNY Cortland and not open for public tours except on July 30th during Durant Days. Not only is Durant known for the founding of a classic architectural style but also for creating a town named in his honor that provided employees and families a place to congregate. The town of Durant no longer exists. The renovated store and St. William’s Church are all that remains of a once thriving waterway community on the north shore of Long Point.

With the opening of the railway line in 1900, the post office was moved from Durant to what is now the hamlet of Raquette Lake.

Event coordinator and caretaker of St. Williams’s On Long Point Andrea Monhollen says, “On Thursday nights we have free concerts here and the Raquette Lake Boys’ Camp and Girls’ Camp meet people at the dock and offer free boat rides to the events. It is a wonderful way to bring the community together.”

A special event will take place on Saturday on St. William’s on Long Point with a free water taxi from the town dock with a free afternoon concert from “Wide Variety” billed as Jersey’s premier A Cappella Group. Other activities commence throughout the day culminating with a band on the village green, boat parade and fireworks.

The Great Camp experience is also available through a free 10:00 a.m. tour of Camp Sagamore on Sunday, August 1st. All other guided tours are fee-based. The planned activities end with free vester service at St. Hubert’s.

photo and content © Diane Chase, Adirondack Family Activities ™. Diane is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recent released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates) This is the first book of a four-book series of Adirondack Family Activities. The next three editions will cover Plattsburgh to Ticonderoga, Long Lake to Old Forge and Newcomb to Lake George. 


Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Common Ground Alliance to Focus on Jobs

The Adirondack Common Ground Alliance will hold its fourth annual summer conference at the Sabattis Pavilion in Long Lake on Wednesday (July 14) in an effort to hammer out a strategy for building long-lasting, private-sector employment in the 103 towns and villages that comprise the Adirondack Park.

The Common Ground Alliance is a forum for public-private collaboration. State and local governments, nonprofit organizations, business owners, stakeholders, and residents of the Park participate as equals. The Alliance works to promote the common good of the communities, residents, and resources of the Adirondack Park, not to further specific organizational, institutional, or individual agendas. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, July 3, 2010

"Picnic in the Park" at the Adirondack Museum

The Adirondack Museum will celebrate National Picnic Month on July 10, 2010. Activities are planned from 10:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. All are included in the price of general museum admission. Children twelve years of age and younger will be admitted FREE of charge as part of the festivities.

“Picnic in the Park” will include displays, tableaux, special presentations, music, a Teddy Bear’s Picnic just for kids, cookbook signings, demonstrations, menus, recipes, hands-on opportunities, and good food, as well as the museum’s new exhibit, “Let’s Eat! Adirondack Food Traditions.”

Visitors are invited to bring their own picnic to enjoy on the grounds or purchase sandwiches, salads, beverages, and desserts in the Cafe. Picnic tables are scattered throughout the campus.

The event will showcase “Great Adirondack Picnics”. Ann S. O’Leary and Susan Rohrey will illustrate how the use of design and menu planning can create two Adirondack picnics. A Winter’s Repast, En Plein Air – an elegant New Year’s Eve celebration will be set in a lean-to. The Angler’s Compleat Picnic will feature local products in a scene reproduced from a vintage postcard. Both women will be available from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. to speak with visitors, and provide menus and recipes to take home.

To round out the elegant picnic theme, Chef Kevin McCarthy will provide an introduction to wines and offer tips on how to best pair wines with picnic foods. The presentations will be held at 1:00 p.m. and 4:00 p.m.

Special presentations will be held in the museum’s Auditorium. Curator Hallie E. Bond will offer “Picnics Past in the Park” at 11:00 a.m. and 3:00 p.m. Varrick Chittenden, founder of Traditional Arts of Upstate New York (TAUNY) will present “Good Food Served Right: North Country Food and Foodways” at 1:30 p.m.

In addition, Sally Longo, chef and owner of Aunt Sally’s Catering in Glens Falls, N.Y. will offer “Fun Foods for Picnicking with Kids” in the Mark W. Potter Education Center. “Savory Foods and Snacks” will begin at 11:30 p.m. “Sweet Treats and Desserts” will be presented at 3:00 p.m.

Museum visitors can create their own Adirondack picnic fare at home. From 11:00 a.m. until 3:00 p.m., regional cookbook authors will sign and sell their work in the Visitor Center. Participants include the Upper Saranac Lake Cookbook with Marsha Stanley; Good Food, Served Right, with Lynn Ekfelt; Northern Comfort with Annette Neilson; Stories, Food, Life with Ellen Rocco and Nancy Battaglia; and Recipes From Camp Trillium with author Louise Gaylord.

Tom Phillips, a Tupper Lake rustic furniture maker, will construct a traditional woven picnic basket in the Education Center from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Visitors will discover displays about “Picnics and Food Safety” as well as the many uses of maple syrup (recipes provided) with the Uihlein Sugar Maple Research and Extension Field Station staff.

Guided tours of the exhibit “Let’s Eat! Adirondack Food Traditions” are scheduled for 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., and 3:30 p.m.

Singer, songwriter, and arts educator Peggy Lynn will give a performance of traditional Adirondack folk music under the center-campus tent at 2:00 p.m.

The Museum Store will be open from 9:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m., featuring a wide array of North Country-made food products as well as a special “farmer’s market.”


Saturday, June 26, 2010

APA Extends Comment Period For Jessup River UMP

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) has extended the public comment period for the Jessup River Wild Forest Unit Management Plan (UMP) amendment. The APA will continue to accept public comments on Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan (APSLMP) compliance for the Jessup River Wild Forest unit management plan (UMP) amendment until August 2, 2010. A proposed final UMP amendment was completed by the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). It was subject to a series of public meetings and public input. The Agency will accept public comments on the proposals contained in the UMP amendment until 12:00 PM on August 2, 2010.

This amendment addresses changes to the Jessup River Wild Forest snowmobile trail system. Proposals are in accordance with DEC and APA adopted snowmobile trail guidance and the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan. Jointly adopted guidance established a “community connector” snowmobile trail class. Community connector trails can be 9-feet in width which is one foot wider than previously allowed under DEC snowmobile trail maintenance policy. The new guidance also calls for the elimination of trails that lead onto ice-covered water bodies and dead-end trails while promoting snowmobile trails near the periphery of Wild Forest units.

The Jessup River Wild Forest lies in the south-central Adirondack Park. It sits entirely within Hamilton County in the Towns of Arietta, Wells, Indian Lake, Lake Pleasant and the Village of Speculator. The DEC estimates the size of the planning area at 47,350 acres. The area includes Snowy Mountain, the highest peak in the southern Adirondacks – elevation 3,899 feet, more than 24 ponds and lakes – the largest being Fawn Lake and approximately 73 miles of rivers including parts of the Cedar, Indian, Jessup, Miami and Sacandaga rivers.

The UMP amendment is available for viewing or downloading from the Adirondack Park Agency website.

All written comments pertaining to State Land Master Plan compliance should be addressed to:

Richard Weber, Assistant Director, Planning
Planning Division, Adirondack Park Agency
P.O. Box 99
Ray Brook, NY 12977

Or e-mail: [email protected]

The Adirondack Park Agency Board is currently scheduled to consider a compliance determination on the Jessup River Wild Forest UMP amendment at the August 12 and 13 Agency meeting. Any written comments received by 12:00 PM on August 2, 2010 will become part of the public record. Written comments received after 12:00 PM on August 2, 2010, will be provided to Agency Board members on meeting day but will not be part of the Agency meeting materials mailed to the members or posted on the APA website.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Commentary: On Roads and DEC Conspiracies

I guess the conspiracy theorists were wrong.

When the state Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) announced it would not open the dirt roads in the Moose River Plains Recreation Area, some in the blogosphere suggested that DEC was using the state’s fiscal crisis as an excuse to cut off motorized access to the Plains. Supposedly, DEC was in cahoots with environmental groups.

Of course, DEC has since announced that it will open most of the roads after all. It agreed to do so after local communities offered to share in the expense of maintaining the roads.

I do find it curious, though, that the DEC will keep closed the Indian Lake Road, which forms the border between the Moose River Plains Wild Forest and the West Canada Lake Wilderness.

Several years ago, I attended a meeting at which DEC discussed a proposal to close this five-mile road permanently to motor vehicles. The rationale for the closure was that it would safeguard the West Canada Lake Wilderness against motorized incursions and the negative impacts of overuse along the border.

Interestingly, DEC argued that the closure would be a boon for floatplane operators as it would make Indian Lake, which is located at the end of the road, an attractive destination for their customers. As long as people can drive to the lake, it makes no sense to fly there.

I need to clarify that we’re not referring to the big Indian Lake associated with the hamlet of the same name. The Indian Lake in the Moose River Plains is an eighty-two-acre water body on the edge of the West Canada Lake Wilderness Area. It once held brook trout, but acid rain killed most of the fish. DEC’s intention is to restock it with trout once the lake’s pH improves.

I don’t know what became of DEC’s proposal, but it seems like a good idea. A few years ago, I visited Indian Lake during a four-day backpacking trip from Forestport to Lewey Lake. Indian is a beautiful, wild lake, but its shoreline has been damaged by overuse. By closing the road, DEC would be limiting use and keeping out most of the litterbugs. In time, Indian Lake would recover its pristine appearance.

Incidentally, the purpose of my backpacking trip was to trace part of the proposed route of the North Country National Scenic Trail. When finished, this trail will stretch 4,600 miles from North Dakota to Crown Point. The trudge along Indian Lake Road was the most boring part of my trek. This section of the Scenic Trail would be more appealing if it were allowed to revert to a motorless pathway.

No doubt some people would oppose closing Indian Lake Road. If you’re one of them, let us know your thoughts.

Whatever you think of the proposal, it shows that DEC recognizes that environmental groups are not its only constituency. In this instance, the department was looking out for the interests of floatplane operators—just as it did during the controversy over Lows Lake.

Yes, DEC listens to environmentalists, but it also listens to pilots, hunters, fishermen, snowmobilers, business owners, and the list goes on. The department can’t please everyone all the time, least of all conspiracy theorists.

Photo of Indian Lake Road by Phil Brown.


Monday, June 7, 2010

APA: Moose River Plains, General Permits, Zoning Changes, Boathouse Definition

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, June 10, 2010 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. The June meeting will be one day only and will consider the creation of a Moose River Plains Intensive Use Camping Area, renewing four previously approved general permits on wetlands, communications towers, hunting and fishing cabins, and development rights, amendments to the Town of Hague, Bolton, and Westport local zoning programs, and revisions to the definition of “boathouse,” and easing the permitting process for businesses, among other topics. Meeting materials are available for download from the Agency’s website.

The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 for Executive Director Terry Martino’s report which will include a resolution recognizing the contributions of long serving past Agency Board Member, James T. Townsend.

At 9:30 a.m., The State Lands Committee will hear a second reading for the Jay Mountain Wilderness and the Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area Unit Management Plans. These plans are actionable items; however, the Board will not act on the fire tower proposal included in the Hurricane Mountain Primitive Area at this time.

APA staff will request authorization from the Board to proceed to public hearing on reclassification proposals for state land in Herkimer and Hamilton Counties including a proposal to create a 2,925 acre Moose River Plains Intensive Use Camping Area. The committee will also hear an informational presentation from DEC staff on the working draft for the Moose River Plains Unit Management Plan. Public review of the draft Unit Management Plan will be conducted jointly between DEC and APA as part of a coordinated SEQR review process on both the Unit Plan and the reclassification proposals.

At 11:15, the Regulatory Programs Committee will consider renewing four previously approved general permits which are set to expire on August 12, 2010. The general permits include:

2005G-2 Minor Projects Not In or Impacting Wetlands

2005G-3 Replacement of or Installation of Certain New Telecommunications Antennas on Existing Towers or Other Tall Structures

2005G-4 Hunting and Fishing Cabins Greater Than 500 Square Feet in a Resource Management Area

2005G-5 Subdivision to Convey Two or More Lots Without Principal Building Rights

The Committee will then hear a first reading for a new draft general permit which, if authorized, would expedite APA approval for a change in use in existing commercial, public/semi-public and industrial structures. This proposed general permit is the latest in ongoing efforts by the APA to improve administrative efficiency.

At 1:00, the Local Government Services Committee will consider approving proposed amendments to the Town of Hague and the Town of Bolton’s approved local land use programs. Agency staff will then provide the committee with an overview on local land use controls inside the Adirondack Park.

At 1:45, the Park Policy and Planning Committee will hear a first reading on the Draft Memorandum of Understanding for APA’s review process of DEC projects on State Easement Lands inside the Adirondack Park. The MOU defines working relationships, provides guidelines for outlining new land use and development subject to Agency review and establishes review protocols for future DEC projects proposed on lands with State-owned conservation easements.

Following this discussion, the Committee will determine approvability for a proposed map amendment in the Town of Westport, Essex County.

At 3:00, the Legal Affairs Committee will meet to discuss and act on regulatory revisions for the definition of “boathouses”. The proposed definition is available as a pdf.

At 4:00, the Full Agency will convene to take action as necessary and conclude with committee reports, public and member comment.

The next Agency meeting is July 8-9 2010 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.

August Agency Meeting: August 12-13 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters.


Thursday, May 20, 2010

Adirondack Birding Festivals and Events Kick Off in June

June is birding month in the Adirondacks of Northern New York and avid ornithologists can enjoy the pristine wilderness habitats of several species of birds during one of the many birding events and festivals this spring.

At Great Camp Sagamore, two adventure programs featuring Boreal Birds of the Adirondacks will take place May 25-28 and June 10-13. Space is extremely limited – only 15 people are accepted per program and reservations are required. See and hear the boreal birds (gray jay, white- throated sparrow, black-backed and Northern three-toed woodpeckers, boreal chickadee, etc.) that make their home in and breed in the Adirondacks. Lectures, slide shows and bird-call lessons will prepare you for field trips to two New York State “Important Birding Areas.” $439 per person for this three-night, four-day program. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 10, 2010

Budget Crises Closes DEC Roads, Reduces Staff

Funding reductions to New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) resulting from the state’s historic budget shortfall will limit the agency’s ability to maintain roads in the Adirondack Forest Preserve, delay construction of recreational facilities on easement lands, and prevent the hiring of Assistant Forest Rangers this season according to media materials distributed late last week.

“Due to the inability to maintain or patrol roads and nearby recreational facilities, a number of roads will remain temporarily closed to public motor vehicle access,” the DEC announced. “These roads have already been closed for mud season, as they are each year. While gates on these roads will remain closed and locked to prevent access by motor vehicles, the roads and surrounding lands will be open for authorized recreational use by the public.”

Each of the roads that will temporarily remain closed has parking available near the gate. The public is asked not to block the gates or the roads, as DEC may need to access the roads for routine maintenance and emergencies. Road maintenance tasks generally include gravel placement to maintain road surfaces, road grading, culvert replacement and removal of road hazards such as leaning or downed trees. Maintenance of campsites along and near these roads also requires a significant effort by DEC staff, including the removal of trash.

The following DEC roads will remain temporarily closed to all public motor vehicle access:

* Moose River Plains Road System (all roads) in the Moose River Plains Wild Forest, the Towns of Inlet, Arietta, Lake Pleasant and Indian Lake, Hamilton County;

* Lily Pond Road in the Lake George Wild Forest, Town of Horicon, Warren County;

* Jabe Pond Road in the Lake George Wild Forest, Town of Hague, Warren County;

* Gay Pond Road in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area) of the Lake George Wild Forest, Town of Warrensburg, Warren County;

* Buttermilk Road Extension in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area) of the Lake George Wild Forest, Town of Warrensburg, Warren County;

* Dacy Clearing Road in the Lake George Wild Forest, Town of Fort Ann, Washington County.

The following DEC roads will remain temporarily closed to general public motor vehicle access, but may still be accessed by motor vehicle by people with disabilities holding CP3 permits:

* Scofield Flats Road, in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area) of the Lake George Wild Forest, Town of Lake Luzerne, Warren County; and

* Pikes Beach Access Road in the Hudson River Special Management Area (aka the Hudson River Recreation Area) of the Lake George Wild Forest, Town of Lake Luzerne, Warren County.

As in the past, the Bear Slides Access Road will be closed to motor vehicle use by the general public but will remain open to people with disabilities holding CP3 permits.

In addition, ongoing parking lot, road, trail, and public facility projects in the following areas will be suspended pending funding becoming available:

* Black Brook Easement Lands in the Town of Black Brook, Clinton County;

* Kushaqua Easement Lands in the Towns of Brighton and Franklin, Franklin County; and

* Altamont Easement Lands in the Town of Tupper Lake, Franklin County.

The Department says it will provide “reasonable accommodation to individuals with disabilities upon request for access to programs on state lands where roads are closed.” For instance, people with disabilities holding a DEC Motorized Access Permit for Persons with Disabilities (CP3 permit) will be allowed to access recreational programs by motor vehicles on two of the roads that will otherwise be closed to the public. Those with disabilities who wish to access recreational programs in the Warrensburg/ Lake George area should contact Tad Norton in the Department’s Warrensburg Office at (518) 623-1209, and those with disabilities who wish to access recreational programs in the Northville/Raquette Lake area should contact Rick Fenton in the Department’s Northville office at (518) 863-4545.

Questions regarding the temporary road closures, should be directed to the regional DEC Division of Lands and Forests at (518) 897-1276 or the Region 5 DEC Office.


Sunday, May 2, 2010

Black Fly Challenge Draws A Diverse Bike Crowd

The 15th running of the Black Fly Challenge will begin in Inlet, Hamilton County on Saturday June 12, 2010. Started in 1996 by a businessman looking to boost bike rentals, the Black Fly has grown to to some 300 racers. Over half the 40 mile race distance traverses the rugged Moose River Plains Wild Forest between Inlet and Indian Lake on gravel mountain roads with plenty of elevation changes. But it’s not all struggling up and screaming down hills. There are a few relatively flat sections on Cedar River Road and in the Moose River Plains.

For race information and registration info visit BlackFlyChallenge.com, or call Pedals & Petals Bike Shop, 315-357-3281.


Monday, April 26, 2010

Adirondack New Media-Social Media Event May 7th

Adirondack region new media / social media writers and producers are invited to gather at the Adirondack Museum on Friday, May 7, 2010 from 5 until 7 pm for a networking event and backstage tour of the Adirondack Museum’s exhibit “Let’s Eat: Adirondack Food Traditions”.

Local bloggers, Twitter users, social media writers and producers and new media journalists, will be getting together in the Adirondack Museum’s “Living With Wilderness Gallery” for food, drink, and networking, before taking an early behind the scenes look at the Museum’s featured 2010 exhibit.

This event is sponsored by the Adirondack Pub and Brewery and the Adirondack Winery and Tasting Room (both in Lake George), the Adirondack Museum, and Adirondack Almanack.

Please RSVP by May 1st to John Warren at [email protected]



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