Governor David Paterson’s budget would zero-out money for land acquisition and impose an apparent two-year moratorium on state land purchases. Other components of the Environmental Protection Fund would also be reduced (33 percent across the board), but land conservation is the only category proposed for elimination.
This would leave the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy extended on many millions of dollars worth of land that the state has agreed to buy for the Forest Preserve. The tracts involved are 65,000 acres of former Finch Pruyn land spread across 27 towns, and 14,600 acres surrounding Follensby Pond, mostly in the town of Harrietstown. State payment on an easement on 92,000 acres of former Finch land is also pending. » Continue Reading.
The towns of Newcomb, Long Lake, and Indian Lake are all developing plans to purchase parts of the Nature Conservancy’s Finch Pruyn lands according to the just-released annual report of the conservation organization’s Adirondack Chapter & Adirondack Land Trust.
Newcomb plans to purchase about 970 acres of the Finch Pruyn lands within its hamlet to expand the High Peaks Golf Course and provide housing for student teachers. Long Lake is planning the purchase of about 50 acres for a municipal well and Indian Lake is looking at the purchase of approximately 75 acres near its downtown for “community purposes,” according to the Conservancy’s annual report. » Continue Reading.
It’s 4 a.m. on a chilled morning in early June. Still three hours away from sunrise so my weak headlamp casts an eerie and unnatural glow to the trail as I pick my way through rock, stream, and unseen balsam fir branches. I’m heading to the summit of Wright Peak in the Adirondack High Peaks Region. Nearing the summit I must first stop every 250 meters from a predetermined point on my map. Here I listen for any bird song that might be heard and then record it in my notes. I chuckle as I think that it’s more like the first “yawn” I hear from these birds. Over a 30-day period myself and dozens of other crazy but doggedly determined volunteer birders are assisting an organization to acquire desperately needed information on some bird species that live on the mountains.
Fast-forward to the end of June, still early morning, and I’m slogging my way through a blackfly-infested bog in the wild regions of the Santa Clara Tract. I’m nearing an area known as the Madawaska Flow. Here I’m still listening for, identifying, and counting bird species but now I’m in a completely different habitat. This lowland environment reveals new species that need to be counted for another study. » Continue Reading.
The discovery of elevated levels of mercury in the spiders and songbirds of Dome Island has led the Nature Conservancy of Eastern New York and the Dome Island Committee, the organizations responsible for the island’s preservation, to test for mercury contamination on Crown Island and protected shorelines.
That will help the groups determine how pervasive mercury and its toxic form, methylmercury, is in Lake George, said Henry Caldwell, the chairman of the Dome Island Committee. Researchers from the BioDiversity Institute of Gorham, Maine, which conducted the original studies of Dome Island’s birds and spiders, returned to Bolton Landing earlier this week to begin the broadened study.
“No one expected to find mercury pollution at these levels on Lake George,” said Caldwell. “Working with the Nature Conservancy of Eastern New York, which is the island’s owner, we decided to take the next step and look beyond Dome Island.”’
In July, the Dome Island Committee received a draft of a study by the BioDiversity Institute of Gorham, Maine, that found that “mercury concentrations in spiders from Dome Island represent some of the highest recorded in the Northeast.”
That study followed one conducted in 2006, which concluded that “mercury levels in songbirds sampled on Dome Island rank among the highest in New York and across the region.”
The island’s spiders, which the birds feed upon, may be the source of the elevated mercury levels found in birds, the scientists surmised.
From Crown Island and a site on the mainland, researchers will collect spiders of the type sampled on Dome Island and subject them to mercury tests, said David Buck, an aquatic biologist with the BioDiversity Institute.
The researchers will also test crayfish, Buck said.
“Crayfish reflect mercury in their immediate surroundings and provide a useful yardstick for comparing mercury levels throughout a specific watershed,” said Buck.
Results of the studies should be available by next spring, Buck said.
“I’d be surprised if we found that mercury contamination was limited to Dome Island,” said Buck.
Additional studies will permit scientists to assess the environmental impacts of mercury pollution on Lake George, said Buck.
The Dome Island and Lake George studies will become part of more comprehensive studies of air pollution and its impacts on ecosystems and biodiversity in the northeast, said Mark King of the Eastern New York Nature Conservancy.
“Our focus should be making people aware of how widespread mercury contamination is,” said King. “We have an opportunity here to show how mercury moves through the ecosystem; Dome Island and Lake George are pieces in the big picture.”
For more news from Lake George, read the Lake George Mirror
Bill McKibben, author of The End of Nature, has been rallying support from around the world to call for a fair global climate treaty. Wildlife biologist Al Hicks trying to prevent the extinction of bats in the Northeast. McKibben (left) will be the keynote speaker at the annual meeting of the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and the Adirondack Land Trust on Saturday, August 15, at the Newcomb Central School in Newcomb, NY. Hicks’s lecture, The End of Bats in the Northeast?, is one of three field trip/educational opportunities being offered before the meeting formally kicks off at 1:00. The event is free and open to the public. Participants are asked to register in advance. McKibben is founder of 350.org, which according to the website, “is an international campaign dedicated to building a movement to unite the world around solutions to the climate crisis–the solutions that justice demand.” Their stated mission is to”inspire the world to rise to the challenge of the climate crisis–to create a new sense of urgency and of possibility for our planet.” The number 350 refers to parts per million, and represents the level scientists have identified as the safe upper limit for CO2 in our atmosphere.
The meeting will also feature a conservation update from Michael Carr, delivering the latest news on historic land protection projects involving the former Finch, Pruyn & Company lands and the Follensby Pond tract—175,600 acres in all. Attendees will find out how sustainable forestry fits into part of the conservation plan.
At 11:00 a.m. in the Newcomb Central School Auditorium, state wildlife biologist Al Hicks will give an up-to-the-minute account of “white-nose syndrome,” a mysterious affliction causing bat populations in the Adirondacks and at least nine northeastern states to plummet. Hundreds of thousands of bats, including animals from well-established colonies in the Adirondacks, have already died. Hicks has been on the frontlines of this environmental crisis since the outbreak was first discovered in 2007.
Participants should plan to arrive around noon for the annual meeting, or before 11:00 a.m. to attend the special lecture. Bring a bag lunch or call ahead to reserve an $8 lunch from Newcomb Central School students raising money for their trip abroad.
To register for this event, reserve a bag lunch, or obtain more information, contact Erin Walkow at (518) 576 – 2082 x133 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy gets a lot of attention when it completes a landscape-scale protection deal like the 161,000-acre Finch Pruyn purchase, or when it buys a place with a hallowed name like Follensby Pond.
But for decades it has also been working among the little farms and forests of the Champlain Valley with a larger picture in mind.
“The goal is to provide safe passage for species—a way for a moose, say, to go from the Adirondacks to Vermont with little risk of being struck by a car, or a salmon to make it far enough upstream to spawn without being blocked by a dry culvert,” Michael Carr, executive director of the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy, said in a press release Monday. “Where are the most important habitat linkages and how do we work do we protect them? To date, we’ve raised several hundred thousand dollars in grants for this initiative in the Champlain Valley, which is a critical piece of a larger effort.” » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Nature Conservancy has been the 2009 ‘Conservationist of the Year’ at their 25th Annual award ceremony at Woods Inn in Inlet. The award was presented at the Adirondack Council’s annual Forever Wild Day celebration. Adirondack Council Executive Director Brian L. Houseal stresses that while the Adirondack Council is a “vocal, politically active environmental advocacy organization that presses federal, state and local government officials to protect the Adirondack Park’s natural resources. The Conservancy is an international science-based, conservation organization that often buys land to protect it for nature and people.” » Continue Reading.
It’s a fresh new month and time for an update to our bloom-dates table. But first, my friend Gerry Rising, Nature Watch columnist for the Buffalo News, reports that phenologists are asking regular jamokes to share their observations of trees and wildflowers. You can become a citizen scientist by noticing when chokecherries or even dandelions bloom in your back yard.
Two Web sites collect this information: the National Phenology Network and Cornell University’s Project Budbreak. Plant and animal life cycles can be susceptible to climate variations, so phenologists (the people who study seasonal patterns) are interested in your observations.
Following are median bloom dates for June from Mike Kudish’s Adirondack Upland Flora. Mike says the dates are most accurate for 1,500-to-2,000-foot elevations (the “Adirondack upland”). June 1: Jack-in-the-pulpit, chokecherry, Solomon’s plumes June 2: Low sweet blueberry June 3: Wild sarsaparilla June 5: Clintonia, bog rosemary June 6: Bunchberry and white baneberry June 7: Canada mayflower and bog laurel June 9: Starflower and black chokeberry June 10: Fringed polygala, three-leaved false Solomon’s seal, nannyberry June 12: Labrador tea, Indian cucumber, small cranberry June 13: Pink lady’s slipper June 14: Hooked buttercup (Earliest sunrise, 5:13 a.m.) June 15: Blue-eyed grass June 17: Wild raisin, common cinquefoil June 20: Sheep laurel (June 20-23: Longest days of the year, 15 hours, 41 minutes) June 26: Bush honeysuckle and tall meadow rue June 27: Wild iris June 29: Wood sorrel
The late naturalist Greenleaf Chase made a list for the Nature Conservancy of rare blooms on some of its Adirondack protection sites. On alpine summits he found Lapland rosebay aflower in early June, Diapensia, Labrador tea, bog laurel and mountain sandwort in late June. Greenie would visit the Clintonville pine barrens in early June to see Ceanothus herbacea (prairie redroot). Viola novae-angliae (New England blue violet) also flowers in early June on the Hudson River ice meadows near North Creek; Listera auriculata (a native orchid called auricled twayblade) blooms there in late June.
Lastly is a list of plants that amateur botanist and hall-of-fame pitcher Christy Mathewson identified around Saranac Lake in June 1922: wild carrot, bunchberry, mountain laurel?, sheep laurel, wintergreen, trailing arbutus, labrador tea, star flower, moss pink, forget-me-not, heal-all, ground ivy, bluets, ox-eye daisy, dandelion, hawkweed, Canada hawkweed, spring beauty, yellow pond lily, live-for-ever, horsetails, blueberry, twin flower, red berry elderberry, hop clover, harebell, yellow wood sorrel, sundrop, dewberry, wild red raspberry.
Boys, take note: being good at sports is nice. Being good at sports and knowing your wildflowers? That’s hot. Special thanks to Adirondack Daily Enterprise columnist Howard Riley for finding Mathewson’s handwritten list in the Saranac Lake Free Library archives and sending me a copy.
I received this week from John Sheehan, Director of Communications for The Adirondack Council, the following interesting history and analysis of the recent Nature Conservancy sale and what it means to the history of logging in the backcountry. I’m reprinting it here in its entirety for the information of Adirondack Almanack readers:
When the ATP Group, a private investment company that handles pension funds for the Danish government, made its first major investment in the United States Monday, its purchase of 92,000 acres of commercial forestlands from The Nature Conservancy brought to an end the era of the industrial ownership of the Adirondack Park’s vast, private backcountry. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, February 12 and Friday February 13, 2009 at the Adirondack Park Agency Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. The meeting will be webcast live. The webcast can be found here: http://www.apa.state.ny.us
The Full Agency will convene on Thursday morning at 9:00 for the Acting Executive Director’s monthly report. » Continue Reading.
The Domtar land purchase – now known as Sable Highlands and located in Franklin and Clinton Counties near Lyon Mountain – has been finalized with the protection of 104,000 acres, an area seven times the size of Manhattan. New York State purchased a conservation easement from the Lyme Timber Company on December 24, 2008 and that transaction ended four years of efforts to preserve the acreage once owned by Domtar Industries in the northeastern corner of the Adirondacks. In addition to the continuation of sustainable forestry, the conservation easement also includes access to nearly 30,000 acres that have been off-limits to the public for decades, including Sugarloaf Mountain, the Norton and Plumadore Ranges, and Barnes, Grass, Figure Eight, and Fish Hole Ponds. Combined with the 20,000 acres of new state lands, the public now has access to about 50,000 acres in a part of the park that has had limited opportunities for public recreation in the past. The Sable Highlands includes 220 miles of permanent and seasonal streams, 2,600 acres of wetlands, and 20 lakes and ponds in the St. Lawrence and Lake Champlain drainages. Among the lands protected in the Domtar deal are Lyon Mountain (14,400-acre habitat for Bicknell’s thrush), Ellenburg Mountain (1,700-acre tract of roadless forest that adjoining 7,100 acres of Forest Preserve lands), Whistle Pond / Keniston Meadows (920-acre tract adjoining existing state Forest Preserve), and East Chazy Lake.
In December of 2004, Domtar sold all of its Adirondack holdings in Clinton and Franklin Counties to the Lyme Timber Company and The Nature Conservancy. Working in partnership with Lyme, the Conservancy, and local community leaders, New York State has now fulfilled an agreement to secure the permanent protection of those properties.
A few months ago, the state made an outright purchase of 20,000 acres as new public lands from The Nature Conservancy. The purchases help foster the Adirondack Park’s role as a conservation model for the world and is another important investment in the local forest products industry. Last week, the state purchased a conservation easement to protect 84,000 acres owned by Lyme Timber. This “working forest” easement promotes sustainable forest management and timber harvesting, restricts residential development and subdivision, and creates a balance of public recreational access and continued private recreational leasing on the property.
The recent state expenditures were previously budgeted to the Environmental Protection Fund from money provided primarily from a real estate transfer tax. Private contribution to The Nature Conservancy’s Sable Highlands Campaign since 2004 totaled some $4 million and also helped to offset the overall costs of conservation.
Connie Prickett is Director of Communications, for the The Nature Conservancy’s Adirondack Chapter & Adirondack Land Trust in Keene. I sent her five questions about the impending sale of more then 90,000 of the 161,000 acres of Finch Pruyn lands the Conservancy recently purchased; here are her responses.
AA: Does this sale mean that all 90,500 acres will be logged off?
CP: The lands are being offered for sale subject to a conservation easement that specifies the land will be managed on a sustainable basis for forest products; restricts both private and commercial development; and will provide for some public access in the future. The objective is to keep these lands as commercial working forests. The property is currently managed under two “green” certifications: Forest Stewardship Council and Sustainable Forestry Initiative. Maximum annual harvest levels are determined by things like soil, slope, species composition, and growing conditions. There is a fiber supply agreement in place that requires pulp wood from this property to go to the Finch Paper mill in Glens Falls, New York. » Continue Reading.
Some of the biggest news this summer has come out of the Nature Conservancy. First there was the announcement at the end of August that it will list for sale — under conservation easement — about 90,000 acres of the 161,000 acres of former Finch, Pruyn lands it acquired in June 2007.
Now comes the news that the Conservancy has purchased Follensby Pond for $16 million. The pond was the location of the Philosopher’s Camp where Ralph Waldo Emerson, William James Stillman, Louis Agassiz, and others helped birth the Transcendentalist movement, often cited as a important precedent for the modern environmental movement. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Mountain Club (ADK) Professional Trail Crew has completed work on a new hiking trail to the 3,830-foot summit of Lyon Mountain, one of the most popular hiking destinations in the northern Adirondacks.
Lyon Mountain, an isolated peak just west of Chazy Lake in Clinton County, features a fire tower and a spectacular, 360-degree view. On a clear day, hikers can enjoy views of the skyscrapers of Montreal to the north, the Adirondack High Peaks to the south and Lake Champlain and Vermont’s Green Mountains to the east. The old, 2.5 mile Lyon Mountain Trail was very steep and difficult. It was also vulnerable to erosion. ADK’s Professional Trail Crew recently completed work cutting a new 3.5 mile trail that takes a more leisurely route, incorporating 11 switchbacks in some of the steepest sections. Two new bridges were also constructed. The new trail section provides a more scenic walk and passes many exposed bedrock outcrops.
The trail took the crew, which averaged five members, 10 weeks to complete. It was the longest trail that the Professional Trail Crew has built since it was created in 1979, Lampman said. ADK’s Professional Trail Crew builds and maintains backcountry hiking trails in the Adirondacks, Catskills and other wild areas of New York under a $217,500 contract with the state Department of Environmental Conservation. Scouting and design of the new trail were completed in 2006 with funding from ADK’s Algonquin Chapter.
Lyon Mountain is on property owned by The Nature Conservancy, which eventually plans to sell it to New York state. The trail is currently not marked, but is easy to follow, and there are signs indicating the beginning and end of the trail.
To get to the trailhead from the Northway Exit 38N, take state Route 374 west 23.2 miles to Chazy Lake Road (County Route 8). Drive south 1.8 miles on Chazy Lake Road to an unnamed gravel road on the right. At the beginning of the gravel road is a black and white sign indicating it is a seasonal, limited-use highway with no maintenance from Nov. 1 – May 1. Follow the gravel road about a mile to the parking area.
The Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and the Adirondack Land Trust are holding their Annual Membership Meeting and Field Day on August 16, 2008, at Heaven Hill Farm in Lake Placid, New York. The event, featuring keynote speakers Pete Grannis, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Commissioner, and Charles D. Canham, Ph.D., Forest Ecologist, is open to the public. Preregistration is required. Prior to becoming DEC Commissioner, Grannis was a NY State Assemblyman for 30 years. During that time, he was an active member of the Environmental Conservation Committee and received recognition from a variety of environmental organizations for his role in enacting laws addressing such issues as acid rain, clean air and water.
Now, under Grannis’s leadership DEC is making history in the Adirondacks with his Smart Growth initiatives and the integral part it is playing in protecting the ecologically and economically significant Finch lands.
Dr. Canham, Senior Scientist with the Cary Institute of Ecosystem Studies in Millbrook, NY, earned his doctorate in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology from Cornell University (1984). Widely recognized as a leader in his field, Dr. Canham’s research papers have appeared in numerous scientific journals. His most recent, Neighborhood Models of the Effects of Invasive Tree Species on Ecosystems Processes (2008), can be found in Ecological Monographs, a publication of the Ecological Society of America.
Dr. Canham’s Adirondack research has taken him deep into the forests of the Five Ponds Wilderness and to hundreds of remote lakes and ponds. He is also a board member of the Adirondack Chapter of The Nature Conservancy and the Adirondack Land Trust and chairs the groups’ Conservation Committee.
Pre-registration is required for this event, which will run from 10:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. Cost per adult is $20, children under 12 are free. Heaven Hill Farm, not ordinarily not open to the public, is just west of the village of Lake Placid, with a magnificent view of the high peaks. To register, or obtain more information, contact Jeff Walton at (518) 576-2082 ext 166 or jwalton[AT]tnc[DOT ORG]
The Nature Conservancy is a leading international, non-profit organization working to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. Since 1971, the Adirondack Chapter has been working with a variety of partners in the Adirondacks to achieve a broad range of conservation results. The Chapter is a founding partner of the High Peaks Summit Stewardship Program, dedicated to the protection of alpine habitat, as well as the award-winning Adirondack Park Invasive Plant Program, which works regionally to prevent the introduction and spread of non-native invasive plants.
The Adirondack Land Trust, established in 1984, protects open space, working farms and forests, undeveloped shoreline, scenic vistas, and other lands contributing to the quality of life of Adirondack residents. The Land Trust holds 45 conservation easements on 11,174 acres of privately-owned lands throughout the Adirondack Park, including 15 working farms in the Champlain Valley.
Together, these partners in Adirondack conservation have protected 556,572 acres, one out of every six protected acres park-wide.
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