The Adirondack Park Agency will hold its monthly meeting at its headquarters in Ray Brook on Thursday, September 12th and Friday September 13th, 2019. Both sessions will convene at 9 am.
The meeting will include consideration of an amendment to a timber harvesting project in Westport, a review of public comments on the replacement of utility poles, consideration of amendments to the Town of Chester Local Land Use plan, a presentation on the final Sentinel Range Wilderness Unit Management Plan, rules for constructing and siting primitive campsites and more. » Continue Reading.
The Sacandaga River valley has been used as a transportation and communication corridor since before Europeans arrived. It was a native trail, a military road, and a proposed canal and railroad route. Today it’s home to Route 30. The river is a provider of power and recreation, and a powerful force of nature.
Just after the Civil War, a N.Y. Canal Board report (known as the McElroy Report) noted the damage along the Hudson River caused from annual flooding and suggested reservoirs upstream for flood relief and water power. Proposals were made at that time to dam many of the tributaries of the Upper Hudson, including the Sacandaga, but the New York State Legislature took no action.
In 1874 Farrand N. Benedict and Verplanck Colvin issued the Adirondack Storage Report, detailing areas where storage or containment dams could be constructed to minimizing Hudson River flooding in the spring and retain water for late summer and early fall release and use when it was needed in the communities downriver. » Continue Reading.
My coworkers and I completed the installation of green infrastructure demonstration projects at the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District office in Lake Pleasant including a rain garden, a bioswale and two rain barrels.
Local homeowners and municipalities have the opportunity to see the benefits of stormwater pollution prevention practices. The projects are designed to protect and preserve water quality as essential aspects of public health, a vibrant local economy and a flourishing ecosystem. » Continue Reading.
The Herkimer County Legislature has named Friday “French Louie Day” in honor of the noted French-Canadian Adirondacker Louis Seymour. A celebration is planned for Saturday in the Town of Inlet.
Friday marks the 100th anniversary of the death of Seymour, who made the wilderness between Inlet and Lake Pleasant his home from the 1860s until his death in Newton’s Corners (now Speculator) on February 27, 1915. Seymour’s name became legend after the 1952 biography Adirondack French Louie: Life in the North Woods by Utica author Harvey Dunham, which portrayed him as a man of hard work, determination and humor. » Continue Reading.
Aquatic biologist Peter Tobiessen (shown at left) had found spiny water flea in his morning sample of Sacandaga Lake’s water, and by noon on October 10, 2014 he had several specimens under his microscope for us all to see. The occasion was the 4th annual meeting of Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve at Camp Fowler in Lake Pleasant.
This small aquatic “invader” from Europe has concerned lake ecologists since it first showed up among the zooplankton in southern Adirondack lakes around 2010. Spiny water flea, about ½ inch long, is related to native water flea, Daphnia, but it has a very long spine at the end of its body, reproduces rapidly and can dominate the large filter-feeder level of the lake’s food web at the expense of native species. Its long spine also gets tangled in fishing lines and can clog fishing rod guides. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve gathers for its 4th Annual Meeting of members, friends and supporters on Friday, October 10th (10:30 am – 4 pm) at Camp Fowler on Sacandaga Lake in Lake Pleasant.
Adirondack Wild has helped lead the statewide commemoration of the the 50th Anniversary of the National Wilderness Preservation System Act of 1964 and the fact that New York’s “forever wild” Constitution inspired the Act’s principal author and chief lobbyist, Howard Zahniser. » Continue Reading.
Since 2003, I have been battling purple loosestrife, an invasive plant that may be gorgeous but overruns wetlands, and outcompetes native plants that wildlife and waterfowl depend on for food, shelter, and nesting grounds. After 11 years of manual management, populations along the Route 8 and Route 30 corridors in Hamilton County have decreased. This is good news for native plants that fill in areas where invasive purple loosestrife used to grow.
This August I focused on rights-of-way along Routes 8 and 30 in the Town of Lake Pleasant and the Village of Speculator. I snipped each flower with garden clippers before plants went to seed for reproduction. All plant material was bagged and allowed to liquefy in the sun before being delivered to a transfer station.
It is exciting to fight invasive plants for over a decade and see promising results like this. Manual management is tedious, but persistent efforts have helped stop the spread of purple loosestrife and remove these invaders from the environment. » Continue Reading.
Spiny waterflea, a tiny invasive species that can have a significant impact on the aquatic food chain of waterways, is spreading in the Adirondack Park.
First discovered in the region in Great Sacandaga Lake in 2008, spiny waterflea is also in Stewarts Bridge Reservoir, Peck Lake, Sacandaga Lake, Lake George, and the Glens Falls Feeder Canal. Recent surveys detected populations in Hamilton County in Lake Pleasant, which adjoins Sacandaga Lake, and nearby Piseco Lake. » Continue Reading.
Editor’s Note: This tribute to Lake George’s Winnie LaRose was written by the late Robert F. Hall and republished in his 1992 collection of essays, Pages from Adirondack History. He included this piece in the collection because, he wrote, “Winifred S. LaRose, who died on December 6, 1979, was the very embodiment of the environmentalist – a person whose love of her own native place and whose determination that its beauty would not be spoiled led her to the forefront of the environmental movement, not only in Lake George, but throughout New York State.”
Governor Hugh Carey proclaimed August 21, 1980, as Winnie LaRose Day, but any day would have served because that lady was busy every day of the year for the past 30 years in battling for the environment.
The governor chose that date because it coincided with a memorial service to the late Mrs. LaRose at the Fort George Battleground Park on the Beach Road at Lake George. This was an appropriate site for the service because Winnie, more than anyone else, was responsible for turning this swampy piece of ground into a park for people to enjoy. But it was done not only for people. As Victor Glider, a good friend and now retired as director of Environmental Conservation Field Services, told the gathering, Winnie insisted on clearing away the brush so that the statue of the martyred Father Jogues would have a good view of the lake where he served his mission in the 17th century. » Continue Reading.
In January 2010, the Weekly Adirondack reported that the St. Regis Mohawk nation agreed to be a “consulting party” for the East Side Pumping Station project, a station to be built along the Moose River behind the American Legion building in Old Forge. The tribe was contacted because a member was buried in the proximity, on the opposite side of the river, about one hundred eighty years earlier. That person, Peter Waters (a.k.a. Drid), was shot fatally by Nathaniel Foster, Jr. on September 17, 1833 at a location known alternately as Murderer’s Point or Indian Point, where the channel from Old Forge meets First Lake.
Less than twenty years (1850) afterwards, the events preceding the shooting and its aftermath were described in great detail, including trial testimony, by Jeptha Simms in Trappers of New York, which remains the primary source for that part of John Brown’s Tract history today. While the events surrounding the shooting have become a part of history and folklore, influenced by changing attitudes about Foster and toward Native Americans, another parallel story can be told about the graves of these two men. The remains of the two men who were opposing forces when alive, shared unsettled treatment after their burial. » Continue Reading.
For over a decade, I have been battling purple loosestrife, an aggressive wetland invasive plant that has cost the United States millions of dollars in damage, and is known to impede recreation and degrade wildlife habitat. As a Conservation Educator for Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District, my efforts include manual management and a new biocontrol program. On June 26, my coworker and I released 500 beetles along the Sacandaga River in the Town of Lake Pleasant to take a bite out of purple loosestrife. » Continue Reading.
Please join us here at the Adirondack Almanack in welcoming Caitlin Stewart as our newest contributor. Caitlin is Conservation Educator at the Hamilton County Soil and Water Conservation District (HCSWCD). One of HCSWCD’s largest programs is their Invasive Species program and Caitlin will be sharing her field experiences, as well as the efforts and results of forest surveys, and monitoring and management.
Caitlin has deep roots in Hamilton County as both her grandparents purchased property on Sacandaga Lake and Lake Pleasant in the 1960s. Her parents met and were married in Lake Pleasant, and she spent summers and vacations there. She’s been a full time resident since 2008, and is planning her September wedding in Lake Pleasant. Caitlin is also an avid hiker, skier, paddler, runner and biker.
A bridge on an important snowmobile connector trail on the Perkins Clearing Conservation Easement Lands was replaced in time for the upcoming snowmobile season, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation has announced.
The new bridge replaces the old, deteriorating Mossy Vly Snowmobile Bridge on the Carpenter Hill Trail which connects the Mud Lake Road and the Jessup River Road in the Town of Lake Pleasant, Hamilton County. The Mossy Vly Brook snowmobile bridge provides a critical link between snowmobile trails on the conservation easement property. Historically, the bridge has been used as a bypass route around winter logging activities on the conservation easement property. Replacing the bridge eliminates the need for hazardous ice crossings by snowmobilers. » Continue Reading.
Through a technicality in a poorly written election law, B. Frank Kathan was renamed Sheriff of Hamilton County in 1901 despite having lost by forty votes. Jim Locke, initially declared the winner, had already moved into the jail. When the decision was reversed, he stayed put, and the county had two men who claimed to be sheriff. Kathan pursued court options, while Locke armed his men and refused to surrender the jailhouse.
At the time, Hamilton County had two prisoners—one held by Locke in the jail, and one held by Kathan in his home. Kathan angrily demanded the right to take office, but Locke remained entrenched, defying anyone to remove him from the building.
If pushed further by the courts, Locke promised to subpoena all the voters in the county to confirm the intent of each individual ballot. The expense to poor, huge, and sparsely populated Hamilton County would be enormous. On March 12, the judge issued a confusing order. He refused to impose punishment on Locke for taking over the jailhouse, but also ruled that Locke had no jurisdiction, no legal right to the office of sheriff, and no power to carry out civil or criminal processes.
Still locked out of the jail under threat of violence, Kathan established a second sheriff’s office and bided his time. With further court action pending, he finally made his move a few weeks later. There are two variations of what happened next, but the violent version was recounted in May when the case went before the state supreme court.
On April 1, Kathan and a few of his men went to Lake Pleasant and staked out the county jail. When darkness arrived, he attempted to enter the building. Surprised to find the outside door unlocked, he stepped inside and faced off against Al Dunham, the lone jailer present.
Kathan, described as “a large and powerful man,” dropped Dunham with one punch and commandeered the office. (A second version of the story was much more benign. It claimed Kathan found the jailhouse unoccupied and simply took over.)
Now Locke was himself locked out. He countered by establishing a sheriff’s office in William Osborne’s hotel at Speculator—and the battle of the dueling sheriffs continued.
One of the sheriff’s duties was contacting jurors on behalf of the county. When the juror list was presented to Kathan (since he was the most recent court-approved sheriff), Locke obtained a certified copy from the county clerk’s office.
Jurors on the list received official notices from both Kathan and Locke, and both men submitted billing to the county board of supervisors for their work. To clear up the mess, the board tried to declare Locke the official county sheriff, but that directly violated the judge’s earlier order.
In response, the judge issued a summons demanding an explanation as to why the board itself should not be cited for contempt of court. It seemed like nobody agreed on anything (sounds suspiciously like today’s political environment).
Locke then filed a proceeding that required Kathan to prove he was entitled to the office. The significance of that move wasn’t lost on Kathan: Locke indeed planned to subpoena all of the county’s voters to court where they could verify the intent of every single ballot cast.
Meanwhile, the state appellate court finally ruled on Kathan’s original filing and declared him the sheriff of Hamilton County. Locke, true to his word, remained in the courthouse and began sending subpoenas to hundreds of county residents.
However, just a few days after the appellate court’s ruling, an unexpected tragedy took much of the fight out of Jim Locke. His write-in candidacy had been initiated by William Osborne, and his sheriff’s office was in Osborne’s hotel. Will Osborne had a reputation as the most fearless man in Hamilton County, a title earned, in part, for suffering a head wound in an intense gun battle during which he shot and captured a very dangerous criminal.
In mid-August, Osborne had been injured in a baseball game. In September, during Locke’s struggle to remain as sheriff, came a stunning announcement—Osborne had died of his injuries. After burying his close friend, Locke resumed the fight, but soon decided on a compromise based on leverage he now held—more than half the county voters had already been subpoenaed.
To avoid the great expense of continued litigation, which one writer said “would have almost swamped the county treasury,” Locke demanded compensation for having served as sheriff for the year since he was elected. The agreement also said, “It is understood that, in withdrawing from the case, Locke was not a loser through any previous legal proceedings.”
It was a confusing decision, but the county and Kathan agreed to the terms. Locke’s office was disbanded and the deputies he had appointed were dismissed. It had been a long, tempestuous year, but Hamilton County finally had one official sheriff. And, hopefully, a new set of rules governing write-in votes.
Photo: A few of the many wild headlines generated by the sheriff controversy.
Lawrence Gooley has authored nine books and many 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.