This New Year’s Day, the 10th anniversary of First Day Hikes is taking place in New York State parks, historic sites, wildlife areas, trails, and public lands across the North Country (With some minor limitations for COVID-19).
The event includes options for hikes ranging from self-guided to small staff and or volunteer-led hikes on Friday the 1st, or the following Saturday or Sunday of January. The extended hiking schedule is to allow hikers time and space to social distance while enjoying nature.
All hikes are family-friendly, ranging from one to five miles dependant on location and conditions. Hikes are being offered at 61 state parks, historic sites, DEC state lands, wildlife areas, Forest Preserve trails and environmental education centers.
Paul Smith’s College, working in conjunction with USA Nordic and US Biathlon, is in the position to have its new five-kilometer Nordic Trail network approved by the International Ski Federation FIS and the International Biathlon Union IBU for elite level racing.
Once the project is completed, Paul Smith’s will be the sole collegiate facility in the US with sanctioned trails for Nordic Skiing and a biathlon range on campus. This will set Paul Smith’s College on route towards its goal of becoming the top Nordic and biathlon school in the country.
The Adirondack 46ers have increased their support of critical stewardship programs in the High Peaks Wilderness after another busy year in the Adirondacks. Last week they announced a $41,000 commitment to the ADK’s (The Adirondack Mountain Club’s) professional trail crew. This pledge was the second from the 46ers, announced shortly after a pledge of $75,000 to be distributed over three years from 46ers, effectively doubling down on their efforts to support the ADK Mountain Club’s stewardship program. The Stewardship Program is managed in partnership with the NYS DEC, and the Adirondack Chapter of the Nature Conservancy.
Over the last 20 years, the 46ers have donated nearly $350,000 to the ADK’s trails program, $298,000 of which in the last 8 years alone, when visitor use has reached its peak.
New York Sea Grant has redesigned, enhanced access, and added resources to the New York State Invasive Species Clearinghouse website at http://nyis.info to support NY’s watercraft inspection steward programs as well as water enthusiasts and recreational boaters. The site is also now a mobile-friendly gateway to science-based information, publications, news, events, and tools for those engaged in managing terrestrial and aquatic invasive species (AIS).
New additions to the New York State Invasive Species Clearinghouse include links to:
Getting fresh air is more important than ever this coming summer during the public health crises, but it would be wise to remember that both ticks and people are going to be active and outside. Laura Harrington, a professor of entomology, vector biologist, and Director of the CDC Northeast Regional Center for Excellence in Vector Borne Diseases (NEVBD) has shared some tips on how to avoid ticks.
A bacterial infection that causes Lyme disease is the most important tick-borne human infection in the U.S., with around 200,000-300,000 reported cases per year. The blacklegged tick or ‘deer tick’ is the vector of Lyme disease in most of the U.S. It can also transmit other pathogens to people and pets, including the agents that cause babesiosis, anaplasmosis and Powassan disease. Blacklegged ticks are most common in forested areas and shaded trail edges with abundant leaf litter and shrubby plants, Harrington says.
Harrington recommends a few personal protection measures to keep ticks from biting, such as tick repellent, first and foremost. She also recommends light-colored clothing, and to tuck your pantlegs into your socks. It also wouldn’t hurt to treat your clothing with permethrin, or to purchase permethrin-treated clothing. Remember to check yourself for ticks often as well, both while hiking and after you get home! It only takes 24-48 hours after the tick attaches before it can begin to transmit Lyme disease. For other pathogens like the Powassan virus, transmission can happen quickly, so it is good to check as often as possible.
Check for ticks all over your body, including your back, neck, and hairline. If you happen to find a tick, carefully remove it with sharp tweezers by grasping as close to the point of attachment as possible and pulling. Once you are back inside, place your clothes in the dryer for at least 20 minutes, and take a shower (a good place to perform a tick check). You can also place your clothes in a sealed garbage bag to dry later.
The Town of Keene is prohibiting spill-over hiking parking, in order to reduce health risks during the governor’s “New York State on PAUSE” directive. Access to the Garden, a jumping off point for all major trails into John’s Brook Valley and the Great Range, will remain open to local hikers and visitors, but once the 46-car lot is full, no more parking will be allowed. There will be signs and barricades to mark where it has been made illegal to park and violators of the new restrictions will have their vehicles towed.
As we move closer to summer, many attractions that were closed last summer are looking ahead to reopening this year. Same goes with the many annual events that people have come to expect throughout the summer and fall months.
For example, The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. While they have been open, visitors have been limited to outdoor attractions such as the Wild Walk. The facility will close for maintenance in April and reopening in May. The museum will remain an outdoor experience through June and reopen on July 1.
“The summer is going to be chock-a-block full with outdoor activities, fishing experiences. We’ll have some surprises for people, but it will be another wonderful get-outside experience,” said Hillarie Logan-Dechene, deputy director. For now, the Wild Center will continue to use its ticket reservation system for people to schedule their visits in advance, and masks will still be required.
Here’s a look at what’s in store for some other attractions and events around the region.
We’ll be adding to this list as we go. Send announcements and updates to [email protected].
Great Escape Water Park/Lodge (Queensbury) https://www.sixflagsgreatescapelodge.com/ – The lazy river, Tak-It-Eesi-Creek & children’s activity pool, Tip-A-Kanu-Beach are now open Friday through Sunday. The remaining attractions in the indoor lodge opened up March 26, Monday through Friday from 9am to 9pm.
April 1 marked the beginning of trout season, and while getting fresh air and exercise outside is essential to your health and happiness, it’s important to remain proactive in preventing the spread of COVID-19 among your fellow anglers. The DEC has these recommendations:
First, make sure to get your fishing license. Due to the closure of locations where a license would normally be available, you can order one online by visiting this link, or over the phone by calling 1-866-933-2257.
Once you have your license, make sure you follow the fishing regulations. Requests for hardcopies are currently delayed due closures of the town clerk offices, but a PDF version of the 2020/2021 regulations is available for download from the DEC’s website. If you want to receive a hardcopy, just email [email protected] and include your physical mailing address.
Remember to socially distance yourself, and to avoid crowded fishing spots!
The state has launched a new #RecreateLocal hashtag and issued guidance that encourages people to recreate responsibly, practice social distancing, and stay near their homes during the COVID-19 outbreak, according to a recent press release.
The guidance includes recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the state Department of Health for reducing the spread of infectious diseases.
The Lake Placid Land Conservancy and Antioch University New England are cohosting a “Socially Distant BioBlitz” on Sunday, April 5.
The BioBlitz is a way of documenting biodiversity through recording plants, animals, fungi and other organisms within a 24 hour time period at a location of your choice. Any living organism can be included, just snap a photo and upload it using your Inaturalist account, a free app available through major phone platforms. There is no time commitment to this event, so take as many photos as you want and upload them any time, day or night, on the 5th. LPLC is cohosting this event with other conservation partners throughout New York and New England.
Learn more about the event and sign up by clicking here.
(Photo courtesy of the Lake Placid Land Conservancy)
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