Lake Champlain was a corridor for warfare beginning with Samuel de Champlain’s exploration, but perhaps no moment in the Champlain Valley was as important as the Battle of Plattsburgh, something recognized by both Roosevelt and Churchill. Although other, more famous, engagements of the War of 1812 were ruses meant to divert U.S. troops away from the prize – Plattsburgh. The Chesapeake Campaign for example, which included the British capture of Washington, DC, the bombardment of Fort McHenry captured in the National Anthem, was intended, as Donald Graves notes, “as a large raid to draw off American troops from the northern theatre of the war.”
The northern theatre, which saw the most desperate fighting and bloodiest engagements of the war, was the pathway to cut the colonies in half. Not surprisingly, the battles at Plattsburgh, are considered by historians to have been crucial to securing peace between Great Britain and America in 1814. Author Keith Herkalo retells stories of the battles at Plattsburgh in a concise and readable narrative, The Battles of Plattsburgh: September 11, 1814 (2012, History Press). » Continue Reading.
Pico. What a lucky mutt. As far as anyone can tell, he is half border collie and half Australian shepherd. Seems good to me, and he really doesn’t care what you call him.
A couple of weeks after I moved to Florida, I realized that living with my brother was the first place I had ever lived where I could have a dog. So I went out and got a dog. I checked the local shelters and there were no border collies, so, I went on to Petfinder. There were border collies galore on the site. Most people think they want a border collie until the dog begins outsmarting them and gets bored and starts destroying things. » Continue Reading.
The Lake Champlain Basin Program will be hosting the Lake Champlain Basin Flood Resilience Conference Monday, June 4th through Tuesday, June 5th at the University of Vermont. The results of this conference will provide Vermont, New York and Québec governments with technical and policy information about the flood events from Lake Champlain’s spring 2011 record high water level and tropical storm Irene last August. Speakers from all three jurisdictions will share their knowledge with researchers, government officials and the public.
Bill Howland, LCBP Program Manager noted, “This two day conference draws information from two technical workshops held in Quebec in February and New York in May.” Howland stated that many topics will be covered including flood response for rivers and lakeshores, emergency response, flood vulnerability assessment, as well as impacts to agriculture, and more. It is through the cooperative effort of many lake and river partners, including the Great Lakes Fishery Commission and the office of U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy, that this conference will be made possible. » Continue Reading.
The ranks of those who love nature and history were badly diminished earlier this year with the loss of an old friend. I found out about it in terrible fashion a few days ago. The subject of my next book had been narrowed down to three possibilities. The one I was leaning towards was Clinton Prison at Dannemora. An old school friend had urged me several times to get to work on it, and at the top of my list of contacts that day was his name, Charlie Barney.
I began the day as usual with a brief scan of the headlines in a few online newspapers. After a quick look at the local obituaries, I would reach out to Charlie. I knew he would be a big help, and he’d be happy that I was finally doing it. » Continue Reading.
There was a loon swimming off the beach this morning, its haunting call reminding me of years past. In college, I lived on one of the several Loon Lakes here in the Adirondacks. It was great until the loons showed up, all six pairs of them. They wouldn’t shut up all night.
I know from experience that loons are smart animals. As large as a goose, but barely able to walk, their black and white body with red eyes are an iconic part of the Adirondacks. I used to monitor banded loons and their nests, and after a few weeks of kayaking around them, I was often treated to the loons swimming under my boat and tagging along on the weekly paddles. » Continue Reading.
From the power of a turtle-crossing sign to the secret of the “Coon Mountain panther,” from the healing potential of a hike to the 1.5 tons of Vidalia onions sold in Willsboro, the 11 final entries for the second CATS Travel Writing Contest offer a taste of the riches that the Champlain Valley offers.
“We invite everybody to visit our website, read the articles, and vote for their favorite,” said Chris Maron, executive director of CATS. “People can read the stories describing trails, local businesses, and the enjoyment of this area at our website (www.champlainareatrails.com).” » Continue Reading.
I’m sitting on a picnic table on the shore of Lake Champlain. Valcour Island is in front of me, the sun is shining and the birds are chirping. Tonight is the calm before the storm so to speak, as the campground opens tomorrow.
Paved roads, electricity and hot showers are now plentiful, as is the wildlife. There are three osprey nests within a half mile of my new cabin, and of course, the raccoons are around a lot. Pico has been marking the yard, and that’s keeping them away for now, but the cats still aren’t going outside. » Continue Reading.
After many months of planning the Lake Champlain Bridge Community (LCBC) will host its two-day Grand Celebration which celebrates the re-opening of the Lake Champlain Bridge and the re-connected New York and Vermont communities that surround it. The bridge re-opened to traffic on November 7, 2011, but the celebration was postponed until now.
The Grand Celebration will take place on Saturday and Sunday, May 19 and 20. Saturday’s events begin at 9 a.m. with an opening ceremony and end at approximately 10 p.m. after a street dance. Sunday’s events begin at 6 a.m. with a sunrise ecumenical service and close with a fireworks show at dusk. All events will take place at or near the Chimney Point State Historic Site, Addison, Vermont and the Crown Point State Historic Site, Crown Point, New York. All of the weekend’s events are free and will take place rain or shine. » Continue Reading.
The town of Essex has a coastal New England charm, from the centuries old brick homes and diagonal street parking, to the waterfront buildings in colors to rival the Atlantic coast. The Essex Inn, grand in comparative scale to the federal and Greek revival style architecture that defines the hamlet, is the centerpiece of Essex. With a full-length front porch, imposing white columns and freshly painted yellow siding, the Essex Inn’s cheerful facade is warm and inviting.
Management of the 200-year-old Essex Inn was undertaken by Gladys and Josh Archer in 2010 after it was meticulously renovated and restored in a year-and-a-half-long process by Rick and Karen Dalton, who initially purchased it to house the College for Every Student (CFES) organization. » Continue Reading.
Conservation Partnership Program grants totaling $1.4 million were awarded to 53 nonprofit land trusts across the state according to a statement by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the Land Trust Alliance. The grants, funded through New York State’s Environmental Protection Fund (EPF), will be matched by a total of $1.2 million in private and local funding.
The purpose of the grants is to increase the pace, improve the quality and ensure the permanence of voluntary conservation of private lands, which is expected to result in environmental and economic benefits for communities throughout New York. » Continue Reading.
A short booklet, From Forest to Fields: A History of Agriculture in new York’s Champlain Valley published by Cornell Cooperative Extension (CCE) of Essex County and the Lake to Locks Passage Scenic Byway highlights the rich history of the Champlain Valley with a focus on the region’s farms and fields.
From Forests to Fields is authored by Anita Deming, who has more than 30 years experience as an agricultural extension agent with CCE, and Andrew Alberti, Program Manager for Lakes to Locks Passage since 2008 (where he focuses on 21st century technology applications and local and regional interpretation and planning). Alberti is also editor for the Lakes to Locks Passage and National Geographic Geotourism website. » Continue Reading.
The nonprofit Friends of Camp Little Notch have signed an agreement with the Open Space Institute to lease, with an option to purchase, the site in Fort Ann where many of the group’s members attended summer camp as girls.
In addition, the Friends have announced that the camp will be reopening this summer for the first time since 2008. The Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York had operated the camp for 70 years previously. The protection of Camp Little Notch, which is located between Lake George and Lake Champlain in the southeastern corner of the Adirondack Park, began two years ago and has unfolded via a series of creative partnerships since.
In November 2010, the Open Space Conservancy, OSI’s land acquisition affiliate, purchased the 2,364-acre Camp Little Notch, a former Girl Scout camp, from the Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York. In March 2011, OSI sold 1,921 of the acres to Meadowsend Timberlands Limited, a sustainable forestry company.
The third phase of the project, which is hoped to ensure the long-term protection of the property, is to sell the remaining 443 acres to the Friends of Camp Little Notch, a nonprofit group created by former Little Notch campers, counselors and supporters. The sale of the camp, like the sale of the forest tract to Meadowsend, will be subject to a conservation easement that limits development while permitting camp uses.
The Friends have signed an agreement that gives them three years to raise the $1.1 million purchase price. The group’s current lease payments are being credited toward the acquisition cost.
“This landscape has captured the hearts of hundreds of Girl Scouts over the years, and it is fitting that the Friends of Camp Little Notch are involved now in the permanent protection of the site,” said OSI CEO and President Kim Elliman. “This project, through each of its phases, has created jobs and tax revenue for the town of Fort Ann while preserving an Adirondack institution.”
This summer, Camp Little Notch is expected to run three one-week sessions for girls ages 7-17, and a two-week session for girls ages 9-17. Activities include nature exploration, low and high ropes course adventures, hiking, yoga, cookouts, the arts, social consciousness education and aquatics.
Camp Little Notch will also offer wilderness trips for girls ages 14-17, and a three-week Counselor-in-Training program for girls ages 16-17. Interested parties are advised to contact the camp director, Julie Schwartz, by phone at (518) 306-9239 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Camp Little Notch and the surrounding forestlands are dominated by northern hardwoods, an 80-acre lake that is drained by Mount Hope Brook, and a variety of rustic camp structures. Its lands are ideal habitat for a variety of Adirondack flora and fauna, including black bear.
Fort Ticonderoga will a conference on Lake George and Lake Champlain on August 11-12, 2012 that will explore the history, geography, culture, ecology, and current issues related to the Lake George and Lake Champlain region.
The conference will include sessions exploring the 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century history of Lake George-Lake Champlain region, examining the works of 19th- and 20th-century photographers, and detailing current issues of concern related to the ecological well-being of these two important lakes. Programs include a history strand looking at the 1758 “Sunken Fleet” in Lake George by noted underwater archaeologist Joseph Zarzynski and the Steamer Ticonderoga that sailed on Lake Champlain from 1906-1953 by Curator Chip Stulen from Shelburne Museum. Chapman Museum Director Timothy Weidner will discuss the works of Seneca Ray Stoddard related to Lake Champlain while photographer Mark Bowie talks about the photographic works of his grandfather Richard Dean of Dean Color.
SUNY Plattsburgh geologist David Franzi will talk about how the glaciers of the last ice age formed today’s Lake Champlain Basin. Meg Modley, from the Lake Champlain Basin Program, provides an update on the current battle against invasive species in both lakes, and Emily DeBolt from the Lake George Association, talks about lake-friendly landscaping techniques.
Fort Ticonderoga recently received a grant from the South Lake Champlain Fund of the Vermont Community Foundation to support the conference and has also received programming support from the Lake George Association.
Registration for the conference is now open. A downloadable conference brochure is available online.
You can also receive a printed version by contacting Rich Strum, Director of Education, at Fort Ticonderoga, at email@example.com or at 518-585-6370.
Despite the fact that it’s been more than twenty years since I walked the halls of my Adirondack K-12 school, I still consider myself a Westport Eagle.
I’m actually somewhat of a traitor, living in neighboring Moriah. But since our two schools were in different sports leagues (based on enrollment), the people of Westport do continue to welcome me for reunions and the like. (Now, if I lived in Elizabethtown, we’d be having a whole different conversation.) It occurred to me long ago that our Adirondack community rivalries embed themselves early via friendly competition on soccer, baseball and football fields. As we grow older, those loyalties remain.
The competitive rivalries continue today for those who grew up in these communities, and are contagious for those who relocate to them from afar, but the stakes have changed. Instead of a league title, there is a competition between municipalities for County, Region and State attention and funding, and for most, competition for a share of tourism; the greatest economic driver for the region.
It is encouraging and inspiring to see those municipal boundaries disappear, however, courtesy of a threat from a common rival. A crisis such as Tropical Storm Irene, for example, showcased both the communities rivalries AND teamwork. The Town of Jay perceives that it didn’t initially receive the heightened attention from Albany and the media that the town of Keene and the repair to Route 73 received. On the other hand, the ongoing outpouring of hands-on cleanup and monetary support for relief efforts in all of the affected communities from the Adirondack neighborhood was overwhelming and inspiring.
This takes us to the reason I brought this up; a recent instance in which those community boundaries disappeared in front of my very eyes.
New York State’s tourism promotion program, I Love New York, is run by the the state’s Empire State Development wing. In 2012, they hired a new public relations agency to promote the State’s regions to the traveling public via traditional public relations efforts. The agency, M.Silver Associates, were ushered around the state to meet with tourism promotion agents from each county in meetings set up by region. This was an exercise set up so that the agency could learn as much about the regions as possible in order to develop their strategy for acquiring editorial coverage.
For tourism promotion, the state has been cut into 11 geographic regions, including the Catskills, Finger Lakes, New York City, Thousand Islands-Seaway and Greater Niagara, and the Adirondacks. As communications director for Essex County, I attended the meeting in which they solicited information about the Adirondacks from representatives from the Counties that comprise our region; the Tourism Promotion Agents that make up the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council.
We went around the room, describing the events, attractions, activities and experiences that differentiated our respective Counties as the PR agency staff furiously took notes. As the conversation drew on, however, the comments from the individual counties took on a more collective, regional context. Oddly enough, that change happened right after M. Silver mentioned what they had learned while talking to the “Catskills people”, and that they were headed next to talk to the “Finger Lakes” representatives.
New York State is big, and some of our competition lies within. Suddenly, we were not St. Lawrence, Essex, Warren and Hamilton Counties; we were Team Adirondacks. And when we had finished explaining all the reasons that the Adirondacks should represent most of M. Silver’s promotional efforts versus the other regions of New York State, we then turned our attention to the adjacent states.
As an unintentional catalyst for mayhem, the M.Silver rep asked innocently, “Isn’t Lake Champlain in Vermont?”
An uproar quickly ensued. We replied defensively that the “Adirondack Coast” is collectively promoted from Plattsburgh south to Ticonderoga, despite the vast promotion of “Vermont’s Lake Champlain”. The evidence was stacked up with comments from every side of the table. “Vermont doesn’t own Lake Champlain, and WE produce maple syrup, too,” “Forts Ticonderoga and Crown Point are on OUR side,” and the most convincing: “Everyone knows that Champ, the Lake Champlain monster, lives on the New York side of the lake.”
The conflict over our common asset, Lake Champlain, seems strangely appropriate as one of the most historically significant waterways in America, home to discoveries and events that shaped the Country. And fittingly, the conversation culminated in the proposed creation of a new event in which the Adirondacks wage a battle against Vermont to gain control of Lake Champlain – in tandem with the celebration of the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.
The mission of the Adirondack Regional Tourism Council is to promote the region collectively on behalf of the Counties, and our organization has long subscribed to a regional approach with respect to destination marketing. But this conversation banded us together in a different context, and there is a greater understanding that not just for Essex County’s Lake Placid, or Warren County’s Lake George, but for all of our region’s communities, our competitive advantage is to tie our destinations to the Adirondacks. After all, visitors don’t know when they’ve crossed a county line.
The meeting for me was enlightening and encouraging. In those moments when we were able to shout out our individual differentiators, I learned even more about the visitor experiences that the rest of the region offers.
And now I look forward to seeing what our Team Adirondack uniforms look like. We’ll need them for our war with Vermont.
Illustration: Lake Champlain-River Richelieu watershed. Courtesy Wikipedia.
Kimberly Rielly is the director of communications for the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism based in Lake Placid.
Champlain Area Trails (CATS) has launched its Spring Travel-Writing Contest. “We invite people to write about using the trails, patronizing local businesses, and visiting New York’s Champlain Valley,” said Chris Maron, the CATS Executive Director. “The winner will earn $500. And People’s Choice prize is $250, so it is definitely worth the effort. The top entrees will be on our website and linked to many other websites, making it a good way to promote the Valley and give exposure to writers.”
CATS is coordinating a series of travel writing contests to boost the local economy through outdoor recreation based tourism. “People research vacation destinations online. We want them to see these articles about New York’s Champlain Valley and get inspired to come here, enjoy the outdoors, visit local businesses, and tell others about this beautiful area,” added Maron. » Continue Reading.
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