The Paul Smith’s College VIC has issued their schedule for the remaining winter season. The VIC is located at 8023 State Route 30 in Paul Smiths. For more information about the events listed here or the VIC in general contact Brian McDonnell at (518) 327-6241
Sunday, Jan. 8 through Sunday, Feb. 19 – Winter Wonders Art Show and Sale
Local featured artists will display their nature themed art from 1-3 p.m. at the VIC. The first show of the new year, we will feature 8 artists showcasing their art in a variety of mediums including photography, watercolor, oil, and pastels. This will be the first show of the year. Each month, on the new moon, we will offer a new exhibit featuring 2 local artists. » Continue Reading.
Cross-country skiers and snowshoers will have even more terrain to explore at the Paul Smith’s College VIC this winter. “We’ve made some significant upgrades,” said Brian McDonnell, the VIC’s director. “We’ve almost doubled the size of the trail system, and we now have trails to suit both classic and skate skiers.” A groomer purchased by Paul Smith’s College last winter will be used to maintain the expanded trail network. Since the college acquired the VIC from the state in January, it has made improvements to the building and grounds. To help defray the cost of the trail improvements and the purchase of grooming equipment, VIC patrons will be required to purchase a day or season pass to the trails. Access to the VIC trails will remain free during the non-winter months.
“We’re trying to improve the trail system for the community, but we need to cover our expenses,” McDonnell said. “We’re on a five-year plan to make the VIC self-sustaining.”
Three categories of trails, for snowshoeing, classic and skate skiing, will be maintained and marked for daily use from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Classic-ski trails will typically be groomed 4 feet wide with a track for both snowshoeing and classic skiing, while skating ski trails will be cut 7 to 10 feet wide and groomed to accommodate both skate and classic skiers. Snowshoe trails will be packed primarily for snowshoeing but may also be skied on when conditions permit.
Some trails will also be designated for skijoring, or dog-drawn skiing. Leashed dogs are allowed on the snowshoe trails at anytime, as well.
Trail users will be asked to register at the visitor’s building. Trails will be monitored by a trained volunteer first-aid ski patrol, and a courtesy patrol to assist people with directions.
McDonnell said the trail network is likely to be expanded next year. The VIC staff has scouted a network of potential trails that could be added to the nature center, which covers nearly 3,000 acres.
“This is a transitional year, and future expansion will depend on how much interest we have from the community for the varied ski-trail network,” McDonnell said.
Under 6 years old: Free Child (6-17): $5 Adult (18-64): $10 Senior (65+): $5 Current Paul Smith’s faculty, staff and alumni: $5 Current Paul Smith’s students: Free Other college students: $5 Groups of 10 or more: $8 each
Under 6 years old: Free Child (6-17): $50 Adult (18-64): $75 Senior (65+): $ 50 Current Paul Smith’s faculty, staff and alumni: $50 Current Paul Smith’s students: Free Other college students: $50 Family: $150 (Buy 2 adult season passes and children under 18 in the household ski free.) Guest pass: Add an additional $25 to any season pass and bring a guest.
Individual day pass: $5 Individual season pass: $50
Additionally, the VIC will rent cross-country skis for $25 a day and snowshoes for $15. Trail fees will be included in the cost of the rental.
Trail pass holders will be eligible for discounts on weekend events and program at the VIC, including bird watching walks; natural-history themed walks and events; and backcountry snowshoeing led by VIC staff up the Adirondack Low Peaks. Several other weekend programs are in the works.
For more information, call the Paul Smith’s College VIC at (518) 327-6241. Photo: The pack sprints from the starting line during a snowshoe race at the Paul Smith’s College VIC (photo provided).
A researcher who has studied the endangered bog turtle will discuss ways to save their habitat in an upcoming lecture at Paul Smith’s College.
According to the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, the bog turtle is the state’s smallest. It reaches a maximum length of 4.5 inches. While considered threatened nationwide, they are endangered in New York; development in the southeastern part of the state, the species’ primary habitat here, has hindered the turtle from moving into new areas as existing habitat is lost. Dr. Kevin Shoemaker will lead off this fall’s Fisheries & Wildlife Science Seminar Series on Friday, Sept. 23, with “Scaling Up Bog Turtle Conservation in New York.”
Shoemaker, a postdoctoral associate at Stony Brook University, studies how wildlife populations are affected by habitat alteration. He hopes to help humans co-exist with wildlife by making those connections understandable.
Two other lectures are scheduled this semester: Dr. Dennis Murray of Trent University in Ontario will discuss “New World Wolves: Confusion, Controversy and Conservation” on Friday, Oct. 14, and Tim McKay of Colgate University will deliver a lecture called “Ecology of North America’s Smallest Mammals: The Shrews” on Friday, Nov. 4.
All lectures will be held at 10:10 a.m. in the Pine Room of the Joan Weill Student Center.
Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve will host an annual meeting of its members, donors and friends at the Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center this Saturday, September 17.
The meeting begins at 10 AM with an overview of Adirondack Wild’s achievements in its first year, a report on its programs, and a brief business meeting to elect officers and directors. The annual meeting is followed by keynote presenter Michael Klemens at 11 AM, and a guided walk of the VIC trails with Ecology Professor Celia Evans of Paul Smith’s College at 1 PM. Participants are asked to bring their own box or bag lunch. Morning refreshments will be provided. The meetings are free of charge, but reservations are appreciated. To reserve, please contact Ken Rimany by email, email@example.com, or by phone at 518-928-4501. The Paul Smith’s College Visitor Interpretive Center (formerly the Adirondack Park Agency VIC) is located off State Rt. 30 one mile north of Paul Smith’s College.
The public is invited to attend a keynote presentation by Michael Klemens, Ph.D. at 11 AM, who will address the question Does Science Matter? Dr. Klemens will offer his thoughts and promote a dialogue about the role of science in advocacy and conservation, and explain why conservation biology is a critical discipline needed to assess the health of wild lands. Dr. Klemens is a conservation biologist with three decades of experience in assessing biodiversity and the impacts of various land use practices and patterns of development on sensitive wildlife species and their habitats. Dr. Klemens founded a not-for-profit that works with planning boards and other local government agencies to increase ecological literacy among local land-use decision makers and to deliver tools to make land use choices that better protect and sustain ecosystem functions.
In the spring, Dr. Klemens was Adirondack Wild’s expert consultant at the Adirondack Club and Resort (ACR) public hearing in Ray Brook and Tupper Lake. He conducted a rapid assessment of amphibian populations in the western portion of the ACR site, and found many salamanders, frogs and habitats that could be negatively impacted by the proposal before the Adirondack Park Agency. For more about his testimony at the ACR hearing, go to www.adirondackwild.org.
Paul Smith’s College’s Celia Evans will help lead a walk along the VIC trails at approximately 1 PM. She teaches General Ecology and Winter Ecology among many other courses at the college.
Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve is a not-for-profit, member supported organization devoted to wilderness and wild nature. Adirondack Wild advances New York’s Forever Wild legacy and promotes policies and land stewardship consistent with wild land values through education, advocacy and research. For more information visit them online.
The Paul Smiths VIC will continue the tradition of hosting the Adirondack Wildlife Festival on August 6 from 10 AM to 8 PM. There will be presentations on all creatures great and small, from Bears to Salamanders, live music with Roy Hurd, storytelling with David Fadden of the 6 Nations Indian Museum, Mark Manske’s bird on hand demonstrations, fun and games, visits to the butterfly house and a special presentation on Loon Conservation in America by Dr. Jim Paruk. Current schedule of activities includes: » Continue Reading.
The Paul Smith’s College VIC has issued their schedule for the remaining summer season. The VIC is located at 8023 State Route 30 in Paul Smiths. For more information about the events listed here or the VIC in general contact Brian McDonnell at (518) 327-6241
July 29 – August 28: “Life on the Lakes” Juried Art Show
The Paul Smith’s College VIC has asked Caroline Thompson, Executive Director of The Arts Council of The Northern Adirondacks, to be the juror of our first juried art show. Artists from around the region have been invited to submit their works for consideration. The Opening Reception will take place from 5 to 7:00 PM on July 29th in the Great Room of the VIC. In addition to the juror selected awards, a “People’s Choice” selection determined through visitors voting for their favorite artist’s work. The balloting will be a fundraiser to support the development of art programming at The VIC. July 30 – NOLS Comes East
The National Outdoor Leadership School, based in Lander, Wyoming, has utilized the Paul Smith’s College VIC as its eastern outpost for the month of July. NOLS is the recognized leader of “hard skills” in outdoor education and recreation. Come listen to Jack Drury, a former NOLS instructor and well known outdoor educator, give a historical perspective of NOLS followed by a presentation by Adirondack based NOLS logistics coordinator Lindsay Yost on plans for NOLS coming East with their wilderness programs.
August 6: Adirondack Wildlife Festival
The Paul Smith’s College VIC will continue the tradition of hosting the Adirondack Wildlife Festival on August 6 from 10 AM to 8 PM. There will be presentations on all creatures great and small, from Bears to Salamanders. We’ll have live music with Roy Hurd, Native American storytelling with David Fadden of the 6 Nations Indian Museum, Mark Manske’s bird on hand demonstrations, fun and games, visits to the butterfly house and a very special presentation on Loon Conservation in America by Dr. Jim Paruk, The Director of Biodiversity Research Institute’s International Center for Loon Conservation and Research. August 12: Mindfulness Meditation Yoga Walk
Mary Bartel, ERYT, of Inner Quest Yoga and Wellness Center, will lead a silent walk from 10 AM to Noon to awaken your senses and participate in gentle flowing yoga movements on the trails at The VIC. Preregistration is required. The fee is $25. August 13: Joe and Jessie Bruchac
Father and son Abenaki singers and storytellers, Joe and Jessie will perform their Native American themed stories and music in the Whispering Pines Amphitheatre at The Paul Smith’s College VIC at 2 PM. Sponsored by the Adirondack Center for Writing.
August 19: Adirondack Plein Air Festival Paints the VIC
Come out to the VIC on Friday August 19th to view artists in various locations around the VIC. The public is welcome to visit artists as they create art on the trails and in the woods. Three of the Plein Air artists have donated paintings to the VIC to raise awareness of the festival and to generate funds for the center. We thank them for their generous commitment to growing The Arts presence at The VIC. We will sell tickets at the front desk. The drawing will take place at the Plein Air Festival. August 28: Monarchs in The Meadow
The benefit concert will start at 2 PM, and outdoor fun all afternoon for friends and families of the Paul Smith’s College VIC. Join us in the meadow next to the butterfly house to celebrate the migration of the Monarch butterfly and wind down the summer in style.
Regular programs and Activities:
Check out the goods under the pavilion from local farmers on Fridays from 2 to 5 PM.
The Paul Smith’s College VIC Butterfly House
The popular butterfly house is open and staffed 7 days a week from 10:00 to 4:00 PM throughout the summer. Visitors can view native butterflies up close and learn about the life stages and migratory patterns of these colorful insects. The Butterfly House is made possible with significant support from the Adirondack Park Institute (API.) For more information contact The VIC at 327 – 6241.
The Paul Smith’s College VIC Fun Runs – Every Wednesday
Every Wednesday of the summer The Paul Smith’s College VIC offers Free Fun Trail Runs from 6:00 to 7:30. Join area runners on the great trails at The VIC. Sarah Keyes will talk training, nutrition and techniques for adding distance to your running.
First Sunday Series of Trail Races
The “First Sunday” Series will continue with a “Predator and Prey 10K” on August 7. Every month the distance for the First Sunday Series will progressively increase. September 4th we will offer a 15k Trail Race and on October 2nd we’ll offer a 13.1 mile half marathon. There will be also be a 5k option every month. “First Sunday Series” Trail Races begin at 9:00 AM. Register: www.active.com Sponsors include Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, Mac’s Canoe Livery and Paul Smith’s College. For more information contact The VIC at 327 – 6241.
Naturalist led Back Country Paddles – Every Tuesday of the summer.
The Paul Smith’s College VIC offers a guided back country canoe trip every Tuesday of the summer. Trips are suitable for families. MAC’S Canoe Livery, in Lake Clear, will furnish the boats and equipment. Trips meet at The VIC at 10 AM and return by 4 PM. Trip fee is $75 for adults. Reservations are required. For a complete schedule, more information or to make a reservation for these popular trips 327 – 6241. Explore the Adirondack ALPS – Every Thursday of the summer.
The Paul Smith’s College VIC offers a series of day hikes up the “Adirondack Low Peaks” in close proximity to The VIC. Trips meet at The VIC at 10 AM and return by 4 PM. Trip fee is $50 for adults. For a complete schedule, more information or to make a reservation for these popular trips, contact The VIC at 327 – 6241. Naturalist led hikes and paddles at The VIC – Every day of the summer
Come explore nature at The Paul Smith’s College VIC! The trails are open and free to the public all the time! To enhance your experience, join one of The VIC naturalists for an investigative two hour hike in the woods or paddle on the waters of The VIC. Groups meet at 10 AM and 2 PM daily. Trip fee is $20 for adults. For a complete schedule, more information or to make a reservation for these popular trips, contact The VIC at 327 – 6241. “Fun with Fungi” Mushroom walks
The Paul Smith’s College VIC will host naturalist led mushroom explorations on the trails and in the woods of the 3000 acre VIC campus. Come investigate “anything fungal” with mushroom specialist Susan Hopkins on Thursday, July 21, and August 4. We will meet at the VIC Visitor’s Building at 10:00AM for an introduction on what you might expect to see at this time of year; followed by a two hour walk of identification and collection. After the walk we will return to the center and those interested can sort out and discuss the various fungi collected on the tour. Susan will explain the various field guides and simple keys she uses to identify the various local mushrooms. The Fun with Fungi Interpretive Workshop is $20 per person. Preregistration is required. Yoga on the deck at The VIC
Jackie Foster, RYT, will lead sessions on the deck at the VIC to awaken your senses to the natural world. Wednesdays through 8/31 from 9:30 to 10:45 AM. $15 per session
Boaters on Adirondack waterways will be a lot more likely to be questioned about whether they are transporting invasive species at local boat launches this year thanks to a boost in funding for two water steward programs. The Watershed Stewardship Program at Paul Smith’s College will nearly quadruple its workforce across the central Adirondacks this year while the Lake George Association is also expanding its coverage at Lake George.
With the help of a grant from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, Paul Smith’s stewards will help protect three major recreational areas: Saratoga Lake; the Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake region; and the Fulton Chain of Lakes in the Old Forge area. The Lake George Association’s Lake Steward Program on Lake George will also significantly expand over last year’s level thanks to new funding provided by the Lake George Park Commission. » Continue Reading.
Paul Smith’s College and the Adirondack Center for Writing are proud to present Sapphire, poet and best-selling author of the novel Push — the inspiration for the Academy-Award winning film, “Precious” at the Paul Smith’s VIC on April 19, 2011 at 7pm. The reading is free for students and faculty, $5 for all others. Sapphire’s books will be available for sale, which the author will sign.
Famed in the worlds of literature, poetry, and literacy—and an extraordinary public speaker—Sapphire is first and foremost a poet and performer. She is the author of American Dreams, cited by Publisher’s Weekly as, “One of the strongest debut collections of the nineties;” and Black Wings & Blind Angels, of which Poets & Writers declared, “With her soul on the line in each verse, her latest collection retains Sapphire’s incendiary power to win hearts and singe minds.” Sapphire’s bestselling novel, Push, about an illiterate, brutalized Harlem teenager, won the Book-of-the-Month Club Stephen Crane Award for First Fiction, the Black Caucus of the American Library Association’s First Novelist Award, and in Great Britain, the Mind Book of the Year Award. Push was named by The Village Voice as one of the top twenty-five books of 1996 and by TIMEOUT New York as one of the top ten books of 1996. Push was also nominated for an NAACP Image Award in the category of Outstanding Literary Work of Fiction. It was made into a major motion film, “Precious: Based on the Novel Push by Sapphire”, produced by Oprah Winfrey.
Past authors featured in the Visiting Author Series sponsored by Paul Smith’s College and Adirondack Center for Writing have included Rick Moody, Andrea Barret, Terry Tempest Williams, William Kennedy, and Alistair McLeod. The Adirondack Center for Writing is an independent non-profit, 501(c)3 organization dedicated to promoting literature and providing educational opportunities and support to both aspiring and established writers in the Adirondack region. We provide workshops, conferences, and readings throughout the year in locations all around the Adirondack Park. Paul Smith’s College also generously donates office space and in-kind office services to the Adirondack Center for Writing.
An expert in developing energy-efficient buildings will speak at Paul Smith’s College this Friday, Feb. 25, at 10:10 a.m.
Greg Pedrick, a project manager in the Building R&D Sector of the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority (NYSERDA), will give a talk in the Pine Room of the Joan Weill Student Center. The event is free and open to the public.
Pedrick will discuss sustainable energy use and green construction, including residential construction techniques for both new and existing buildings. Pedrick developed and runs NYSERDA’s Advanced Buildings Program, which focuses on the development and demonstration of high-performance residential buildings and helps the building industry incorporate those advances in the real world.
An engineer with more than 23 years of experience, Pedrick has designed and managed the construction of a high-efficiency, 1,600-square-foot timber-frame home in the Adirondacks. His recent work has focused on high-performance building shells and dehumidification systems that do not require compressors.
The talk is sponsored by the college’s Natural Resources Sustainability program and the School of Forestry and Natural Resources.
Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and Paul Smith’s College officials announced today that the transfer of the Paul Smiths Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) facility is complete. Paul Smith’s College will now own and operate the over 24,500-square-foot main building and accessory structures. A long-standing lease of the College’s land by the APA was also ended.
The APA operated the Visitor Interpretive Centers at Paul Smiths and Newcomb since 1989 and 1990 respectively with a mission to “enhance public awareness of Park resources and the Agency’s role in their protection.” Paul Smiths VIC staff provided interpretive services to nearly 75,000 students participating in on-site school field trips since 1989 according to APA officials. The APA closed the Newcomb and Paul Smiths VICs late last year as New York State’s fiscal crisis worsened. “This transfer is good news for both the community and the VIC,” according to Dr. John W. Mills, President of Paul Smith’s College. “We’re excited that this great resource has been preserved.” he told the press in a prepared statement, “We will continue to look for ways to integrate the center into our academic programs, and explore additional possibilities for community involvement at the VIC.”
The Adirondack Park Institute, a volunteer, not-for-profit group that supports educational programming at the VIC, has taken the lead role in those efforts and has already raised more than $40,000, a press release said, noting also that “the college intends to maintain public access to the VIC’s extensive trail network.” “The trails, which are on college-owned land, attract thousands of hikers, cross-country skiers, snowshoers and other outdoor enthusiasts to the area every year,” the release said.
Paul Smith’s is expected to announce plans for the VIC, including programming, staffing, hours of operations, public visitation, special programs for the community, groups and schools, off site programs and outreach, in the near future.
The transfer of the Paul Smiths VIC to Paul Smith’s College ends the APA involvement with the Visitor Interpretive Centers. In July 2010 the APA transferred the state-owned buildings and equipment at the Newcomb VIC to SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF). SUNY ESF plans to integrate the facility with the Adirondack Ecological Center and the Northern Forest Institute and maintain public access. You can read more about those plans here.
The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) has announced that The Paul Smiths Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) will end public programs during what the agency is calling “a transitional period pursuant to state budget mandates.”
The VIC will close to the public on October 10, 2010. For the time being, APA staff will continue to work at the main building but will no longer provide public interpretive programming or provide general information to visitors. The outside trail system will remain open to the general public seven days a week. Rest room accommodations will be available Monday-Friday.
“During the transitional period, the Adirondack Park Agency will continue to explore alternatives for the potential reuse of the facility,” APA spokesman Keith McKeever said. The VIC will no longer be funded by the state after December 31, 2010.
In July, officials from the Adirondack Park Agency (APA) transfered ownership of the state-owned buildings and equipment at the Newcomb VIC to the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF). ESF will manage future Newcomb VIC programs, but current employees of the VIC fear layoff at the end of the year.
White Pine Camp, originally built in 1907, became the Summer White House in 1926 for President Calvin Coolidge. Situated among 35 acres of land, White Pine Camp houses 18 buildings and an interesting architectural history. We walk past the single story guest cottages with asymmetrical rooflines and marvel over the trees growing through the covered decks.
My children run outside the cottages and then back in to confirm that the trees are indeed alive. They are not as interested in the brainstorm siding (rough-hewed clapboards) as in the bowling alley, boathouse and footbridge to the Japanese teahouse. Stuffed animals have a different connotation at White Pine Camp than at our house. Our guide urges us to the Great Room. My daughter wonders about a “great room” full of toys. She quickly returns to us to report her discovery that animals at White Pine are not only stuffed but mounted.
My son tests his navigational skills by returning to the tennis court unattended while I stay at the New Boathouse and review the historical exhibit. Soon after we reunite and start the return trek, passing the Fred Huette Alpine Rock Garden.
Guided tours are available on Saturdays through Labor Day Weekend at 10:00 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.; adults are $10 and children $5. Though White Pine Camp is privately owned, the tours are organized through the Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH). Please call 518-834-9328 for additional information.
“At Adirondack Architectural Heritage, we provide a tour guide as part of our mission to educate people on the history, architecture and the historic buildings of the Adirondack Park. White Pine Camp is an important part of heritage,” says Program Director Susan Area. “White Pine Camp, having been host to President Calvin Coolidge, is a wonderful example of a Great Camp. We appreciate that the owners of White Pine Camp allow us to continue to expose people to this privately owned camp. The funds we do raise go back to our organization to further our mission to educate the public on Adirondack buildings. White Pine Camp is a unique set-up to our other tours.”
Adirondack Architectural Heritage conducts over 30 daylong tours all summer to sites of historical and architectural interest that range from downtown walking tours to planned cottage communities to great camps to industrial and agricultural sites that are all relative to the development of the Adirondack Park.
The historical tour is not the only option. A free guided nature walk is available on Tuesday mornings by calling White Pine Camp directly at 518-327-3030 to reserve a spot.
Edward Kanze leads the free walks. Kanze is a licensed guide and proprietor of the Adirondack Naturalist Company as well as a renowned wildlife photographer. He has authored five books and has written for numerous magazines. He brings his extensive knowledge of the Adirondack wilderness to each interpretive walk. This walk covers the vast lands around White Pine Camp and adds another element to the history of the property. Though the walk is free, reservations are recommended due to the popularity of the event.
To get to White Pine Camp take Route 30 north to the Route 86 junction at Paul Smith’s College. Turn NE onto Route 86 for ½ mile. White Pine Road will be on the left.
I went to the ceremony this week that formally announced plans for a smooth transition of the Adirondack Park Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) in Newcomb from the Adirondack Park Agency to the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry.
It was a great relief to learn that APA, SUNY and the Town of Newcomb had been planning for this transfer of responsibilities even before the Governor’s budget announced plans to close both VICs in 2011. The fate of Paul Smith’s VIC remains very much up in the air, despite a long-held awareness that interpreting the Adirondack environment is a vitally important job and service that should be available to anybody throughout the Adirondacks at low or no cost. The tragedy of the commons holds that all parts of the environment that we share in common is everybody’s to use, perhaps to exploit, and nobody’s to care for. The resource seems abundant, someone is responsible, it just isn’t me. The failure to systematically make the incredibly diverse and exciting natural and cultural history of the Adirondacks accessible to more Adirondackers and visitors to the Park is one of those tragedies.
Interpreting what is in a Park, and how it came to be there, and how it relates to people’s lives is a fundamental mission of the National Park Service, but not of any one agency in the Adirondack Park. It is said that not systematically offering to interpret a place to which so many are drawn, like the Adirondacks, is akin to inviting someone into your own home, and then abruptly disappearing. How many families have come and left the Park without ever encountering an Adirondack expert, in whatever field, who is also well versed in this form of public communication? Well over ten million people visit the Park each year. Less than one percent may seek out or casually encounter someone who can deepen their awareness, understanding and knowledge of Adirondack wildlife, Forest Preserve, unique architecture, or cultural history. This failure to reach more people with expert interpretation remains one of the greatest gaps in the continuing maturation and overall performance of the Adirondack Park.
The building and opening of the NYS APA’s VICs at Paul Smith’s and Newcomb in the late 1980s were expected to be the catalyst for the development of a well distributed and coordinated network of interpretive services across the Park. The Commission on the Adirondacks in the 21st century made the “development of a comprehensive interpretive system for the Adirondack Park” one of the core functions of a proposed Adirondack Park Service (see the Commission’s Technical Report Vol. 1, #11 by Thomas L. Cobb, one of the Commission’s staff). Once built, in the 1990s the APA finally selected Adirondack Discovery as its nonprofit partner or arm of the VICs. Discovery featured expert presentations, coupled with field trips covering a wide range of Adirondack subjects, and convened these programs in town halls and libraries throughout the region, thus expanding the reach of the two VICs at very low cost since all expertise and service delivery were volunteered. Discovery’s founder, Joan Payne of Inlet, said at a 1987 conference called Envisioning an Interpretive Future for the Adirondack Park (see Cobb), “the trick in this whole field of interpretation is to bring together people who are receptive and eager to learn with people whose love of the place and all of its components just overflows.” She and Discovery did this very well for 25 years. I was just one of hundreds of people she invited to speak to local audiences throughout the summer months. In my case, I spoke about the Park’s conservation history that dated to the 19th century, and tried to relate that history to current events and threats. These talks and walks introduced me to some great towns and villages, people filled with curiosity and local knowledge, and opportunities for enlisting them in our cause of protecting the Adirondack Park.
Adirondack Discovery has ended its work, Joan died in 2009, and the VICs are threatened with closure. We can be grateful that the Newcomb VIC will in 2011 be under new management which has a similar commitment to “educational resources for both students and visitors so that they can learn about the wonders of ecology in the Adirondacks” (SUNY ESF President Neil Murphy). I walked Newcomb’s Peninsula Trail after the ceremony, feeling the freshness of discovery that I felt in 1990, gratitude for all the staff and volunteers who for 20 years have devoted themselves to enriching the lives of visitors, and the hope that anybody who comes here in future years will be guaranteed the chance to meet a naturalist who can help them gain fresh insights, and rekindle their love of and commitment to this Park that is so unique on planet earth.
Hopefully, Paul Smith’s College and other partners will help maintain and extend the services of the Paul Smith’s VIC. Meanwhile, The Wild Center, Adirondack Museum, Adirondack Architectural Heritage, Adirondack Mountain Club, Adirondack Explorer, and many other diverse institutions are doing wonderful interpretive work. The stubborn questions still remain: who is coordinating and marketing all of those efforts? Who is ensuring that visitors and residents alike receive a schedule of all their program offerings? This continued failure to guarantee a Park-wide system of interpretive services is a gap we all share in common, and a problem nobody has the clear responsibility to solve. As Tom Cobb wrote for the Commission, “the future of education and interpretation in the Adirondack Park hinges on the acceptance of this role as an integral part of park operation and management.”
Photo: From the Peninsula Trail, Rich Lake, Newcomb VIC
This weekend marks the 8th Annual Great Adirondack Birding Celebration, hosted by the Adirondack Park Agency’s Visitor Interpretive Center (VIC) at Paul Smiths. This annual event draws as many as 400 visitors to the region. This year participants have come from throughout the Northeast down to Maryland and Virginia and as far away as Texas. Highlights of the Celebration include field trips both Saturday and Sunday mornings led by local experts to to birding hotspots such as Bloomingdale Bog, Madawaska, Spring Pond Bog, Whiteface Mountain, as well as the Paul Smiths VIC. Birders hope to see boreal bird specialities such as the Black-backed Woodpecker, shown at the left, as well as Spruce Grouse, Boreal Chickadee, Olive-sided Flycatcher, and many northern warblers. More than 160 species have been seen over the eight years of this birding festival. » Continue Reading.
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.
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