During the afternoon of August 28, 2011, we watched a ditch uphill from our house become a ranging stream on our property that borders Styles Brook. The gravel on our driveway washed away. It was not until our closest neighbor from Highland Farm called late afternoon that we realized the seriousness of the rain storm from Tropical Storm Irene. Our neighbor asked if we wanted to stay at their house after informing us that a nearby bridge had just succumbed to the roaring waters of Styles Brook.
On August 28, 2011, Tropical Storm Irene devastated the Ausable River watershed. The following activities are planned to commemorate this time, to acknowledge the force of nature, and to honor the coming together of the communities affected. These in-person events are open to all following CDC guidelines.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation started dismantling Marcy Dam this week, the first step in its effort to remove the wooden structure over the next five years.
Located in the High Peaks Wilderness, the wooden Marcy Dam has been a popular stopping point for hikers, skiers and snowshoers for decades. It was severely damaged by flooding during Tropical Storm Irene in August 2011. » Continue Reading.
Stream restoration work has begun at the popular Keene Town Beach on the Ausable River, across from Marcy Field. With storm recovery funds provided by the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) the old wood and concrete weir, damaged by Tropical Storm Irene, is being removed and replaced.
In its place a natural rock weir and vane is expected to restore the stream’s hydrologic function, provide habitat for native fish, and improve the quality and safety of recreational opportunities. The new weir will maintain the long popular swimming hole. » Continue Reading.
In some respects, Roaring Brook Falls isn’t such a great climb. The rock can be loose, mossy, or wet. And there are places where you can’t find cracks to insert protective gear—cams or chocks that are clipped to the rope to catch a fall. In short, it can be slippery and dangerous.
Nevertheless, R.L. Stolz regards it as an Adirondack classic. Since the 1980s, he has climbed the lower part of the route maybe a hundred times and done the whole 520-foot route about twenty times. “This is a very pretty climb,” says Stolz, co-owner of Alpine Adventures in Keene. “It’s unique in that you’re climbing next to a waterfall. The downside is that it’s a little grungy in places.”
Not just any waterfall. Roaring Brook Falls is a landmark, one of the most well-known (and photographed) cascades in the Adirondacks. It plunges about three hundred feet in full view of passing motorists on Route 73. The base of the falls is reached by a short hike from the Giant Mountain trailhead in St. Huberts.
Since taking up rock climbing several years ago, I have been intrigued by the prospect of ascending the falls. This is not a new idea. In 1938, Jim Goodwin mentioned the climb in an article for the Adirondack Mountain Club. Roaring Brook Falls also was included in A Climber’s Guide to the Adirondacks, the region’s first rock-climbing guidebook, published in 1967. » Continue Reading.
I attended a recent forum in Albany, Facing the Storm: Preparing for Increased Extreme Weather in Upstate New York, and wanted to pass along some of what I heard, or thought I heard. The event was sponsored by the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government.
For a forum concerning the impacts of a changing climate the audience was unusually diverse in terms of backgrounds and professions. As a staff member for Adirondack Wild, I was sitting next to a firefighter from a village in Montgomery County. At the next table were other firefighters and emergency personnel in uniform. Across from me were several members of the League of Women Voters. Initially we all wondered if we were in the right meeting. I think by the end we realized what we all have in common. » Continue Reading.
Most people don’t think about culverts, the large pipes that carry streams and runoff underneath our roads. Even with their essential role in our transportation infrastructure, culverts tend to be in the spotlight only when they fail. In dramatic ways, Hurricane Irene and other recent storms have put culverts (and bridges) to the test. Unfortunately, the high water from these storms overwhelmed many culverts, washing out roads, causing millions of dollars in damages across the Adirondacks, and disrupting life in many communities. For example, the town of Jay sustained about $400,000 in damage to its culverts and adjacent roads as a result of Irene. Across the Northeast, the story is much the same.
Following Tropical Storm Irene, I was part of a team of conservation professionals to assess the performance of road-stream crossings (i.e., culverts and bridges) in Vermont’s Green Mountain National Forest. The peer-reviewed study, published in the current issue of Fisheries, found that damage was largely avoided at crossings with a stream simulation design, an ecologically-based approach that creates a dynamic channel through the structure that is similar in dimensions and characteristics to the adjacent, natural channel. On the other hand, damages were extensive, costly, and inconvenient at sites with stream crossings following more traditional designs. » Continue Reading.
When Tropical Storm Irene damaged Marcy Dam, draining most of the pond behind it, hikers debated passionately whether the dam should be rebuilt to restore an iconic vista enjoyed by tens of thousands of visitors over the years.
It looks like it won’t be.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation recently decided to dismantle the wooden dam in stages over the next five years.
DEC spokesman David Winchell said the cost of rebuilding the dam to modern standards would have been too costly and may have conflicted with the management principles for the High Peaks Wilderness Area. Those principles seek to minimize the presence of man-made structures. » Continue Reading.
Work has began this week on a stream and habitat restoration project at Johns Brook in Keene Valley. This first phase of restoration, addressing the lower third of the impacted reach, should be complete by the end of this month and is intended to speed the stream’s return to pre-Irene character and function, reduce bank erosion and improve wildlife habitat.
In the wake of Tropical Storm Irene in August of 2011, nearly half a mile of Johns Brook was dramatically altered by local officials from its natural state – from the Route 73 bridge upstream. The work was done in the spirit of public safety to remove stream blockages and protect property. Unfortunately, flattening (removing cascades and filling in pools) and straightening the stream channel reduced its ability to dissipate the water’s energy and the faster moving water causes additional flooding and erosion problems. Furthermore, the stream’s trout habitat was drastically diminished. » Continue Reading.
A spectacular white scar snakes 900 vertical feet down into the rugged defile of Hunters Pass on the west side of Dix Mountain. The Buttress Slide, triggered in 2011 by Tropical Storm Irene, adds to the multitude of slides already decorating the High Peaks. This diverse backcountry challenge begins just below the crest of Dix’s southwest buttress and wishbones into dual tracks about halfway down to the pass. The debris reaches with a few hundred feet of the marked trail.
I dare say it is one of the Adirondack’s most adventurous and difficult slides, one that bridges the gap between scrambling and fifth class climbing. If you’re comfortable with rock climbing, enjoy bushwhacking and are drawn to remote locations, perhaps this slide is for you. » Continue Reading.
Volunteers can now sign up for the second annual “I Love My Park Day” on May 4th – a statewide effort to help clean up and beautify New York’s state parks and historical sites. At last year’s event, thousands of New Yorkers pitched in to paint, plant, clean, build, and make repairs across the state.
This year’s volunteer effort is especially important as many parks are still recovering from damage caused by Hurricanes Sandy and Irene. New York’s parks are one of our state’s most treasured assets, and this event helps ensure that New Yorkers and visitors to our state can continue to enjoy and appreciate New York’s natural beauty.
To find an event near you and sign up, click here.
With a late spring snowfall, at least by the standards of the past few years, and with the nation focused on the showdown over President Obama’s looming decision on whether to greenlight the Keystone XL pipeline, this seems like a good time for a climate change update.
For starters here’s a cool graphic that shows the amount of carbon dioxide that has been released into the atmosphere to date, shows annual releases, and amounts that could be released that are currently stored in existing fossil fuel reserves. » Continue Reading.
More than a year after Tropical Storm Irene wreaked havoc in the Adirondacks, two trails in the High Peaks Wilderness remain closed and several bridges are still out. The state Department of Environmental Conservation has no immediate plans to reopen the trails, but hikers can continue using them at their own risk, according to DEC spokesman David Winchell.
The trails in question are the Southside Trail along Johns Brook and the Cold Brook Pass Trail between Lake Colden and Indian Pass. Neither was ever especially well traveled.
“We’re not looking at doing anything with them right now,” Winchell said. “They’re on the back burner.” He added that DEC has not decided whether to permanently abandon the trails. » Continue Reading.
This fall the Lake George Association will begin a project to stabilize a long section of streambank in the village of Lake George, on West Brook, which was severely eroded during last August’s Tropical Storm Irene. A $10,000 grant from the Lake Champlain Basin Program is making the project possible. The project will also restore some of natural sinuosity of the stream to protect the streambanks in that section of the brook. Once complete, the project is expected to keep exposed sediment from further eroding into West Brook, and ultimately into Lake George.
“Because West Brook is one of the major tributaries to Lake George,” said LGA Project Manager Randy Rath, “it is a very high priority for us. In the last 30 plus years, the delta in Lake George at the end of West Brook is estimated to have grown to over 7000 square meters. We would like to limit as much additional growth as possible,” he continued. » Continue Reading.
The Wild Center will host climate experts and authors of a recent New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) report on the State’s adaptation recommendations regarding “Responding to Climate Change in New York State” or “ClimAID” on Thursday, March 29, 2012.
Scientists will highlight pertinent findings of the ClimAID report and then Adirondack region scientists and members of the Adirondack Climate and Energy Action Plan (ADKCAP) network will discuss local efforts to prepare for and slow the changing climate. The event coincides with the Association of Science and Technology Center’s (ASTC) participation in the international “Planet under Pressure” conference in London, where The Wild Center’s Executive Director, Stephanie Ratcliffe, a member of the ASTC board, will join the ClimAID event by Skype or phone to share the international perspective. The event will be streamed live on the Internet and light refreshments will be provided by The Wild Center.
NYSERDA’s new ClimAID report on responding to climate change in New York State says we’re likely to see more intense rainstorms that could flood roads and wastewater treatment plants, cause power outages, and disrupt telecommunications, inflicting the kinds of severe damage that Irene did last year. Repairs could be costly. So could business interruptions.
Protecting key features of the environment that contribute to flood control can help build resilience to future floods.http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif
You can learn more about how climate change may affect our region at The Wild Center’s March 29 ClimAID presentation on Thursday, March 29, 2012 from 10:00 am to noon and other upcoming ADKCAP/NYSERDA ClimAID discussions.
The ClimAID presentation will be held in the Flammer Theater, The Wild Center, 45 Museum Drive, in Tupper Lake.
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