Every winter brings its annual a-salt on roads and walkways. In icy conditions, salt may be necessary for safety, but too much of it is worse than a bad pun. Cars, equipment, and concrete suffer in obvious ways, but damage to trees and other woody plants is less visible. Salt injures trees and shrubs by several means.
When road-salt spray hits twigs, buds and, in the case of evergreens, foliage, such direct contact causes yellowing of needles, and subsequent death of evergreen twigs and limbs. It also leads to stunted or deformed growth, such as witches’ brooms, on hardwoods. Severe or repeated direct exposure, especially for sensitive species like white pine or cedar, can kill the whole tree. » Continue Reading.
Scientists in the 1970s began to notice and be alarmed by the abnormally acidic lakes and streams they were discovering throughout the Adirondacks. In some cases, fish populations were disappearing. Their groundbreaking work coined the term acid rain, caused by fossil-fuel emissions that drifted on high-altitude winds and were flushed down in cloud bursts.
Today, just as science-driven rules limiting industrial and vehicular emissions have helped our local waterways begin to recover, evidence we are seeing supports new approaches to safely managing snow and ice on roadways, driveways, and sidewalks while protecting our freshwater resources. » Continue Reading.
Adirondack Lakes Alliance (ALA) will present new initiatives to address road salt use, contamination issues and remediation efforts at their 4th Annual Symposium from 9 to 3:30 on August 8 at Paul Smith’s College, Joan Weill Student Center.
Venetia Lannon, New York State’s Deputy Secretary for the Environment, will deliver the keynote address at this year’s conference. She will speak about strategies the State is implementing to help protect water quality.
In addition to Lannon, Dan Kelting, PhD, of Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) will provide an overview of a newly-completed scientific study conducted by AWI with AdkAction and The FUND for Lake George on wells contaminated by road salt and issues unique to the Adirondack Park. » Continue Reading.
Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky has called road salt “the acid rain of our time.”
Now, a newly-completed study of Adirondack wells claims that most wells that receive runoff from state roads are contaminated with salt.
The study conducted by the Paul Smith’s College Adirondack Watershed Institute comes on the heels of an earlier study that argued that 84% of the contamination of surface waters by road salting could be attributed to state practices. » Continue Reading.
The Ausable River Association (AsRA) and Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) have released the 2017 Water Quality Report for Mirror Lake.
The lake serves as a focal point for the Village of Lake Placid. For the past three years, AsRA and AWI have been studying the water quality of Mirror Lake with a goal to provide science data for decision making. » Continue Reading.
“Salt Reduction by 50% by 2020” – among local governments, highway superintendents and environmental protection groups on Lake George, that’s the buzz phrase of the season.
“30,000 metric tons of salt are deposited every year within the Lake George basin,” said Eric Siy, the executive director of The Fund for Lake George. “But we know we can reduce its use. We can apply salt smarter and make our roads safer.” » Continue Reading.
The Cary Institute in Millbrook, NY in the Lower Hudson Valley, has announced a management-based forum exploring the impact that road salt has on natural areas and drinking water supplies, with a focus on successful salt reduction strategies being used regionally and nationally. » Continue Reading.
Conservation organizations and communities are looking at a variety of options for reducing road salt, including improved technology on salt trucks, improved monitoring of road conditions, and the use of alternatives to salt.
David Wick, executive director of the Lake George Park Commission, said the towns of Lake George, Bolton, and Queensbury and the village of Lake George will experiment with using a brine — a solution of road salt and water — this winter. Brine is applied to roads prior to winter storms to reduce the formation of ice and hence the amount of salt that must be applied after the storm. » Continue Reading.
Research and monitoring work on Mirror Lake over the past two and half years by the Ausable River Association has yielded some alarming results.
Association Science and Stewardship Director, Dr. Brendan Wiltse, recently presented his research work at the Mirror Lake Water Quality Workshop. Here are a few key findings he presented: » Continue Reading.
The FUND for Lake George will host the 3rd Annual Salt Summit will be held on October 5th, 2017, from 8 am to 2:30 pm at the Best Western Plus Ticonderoga Inn & Suites.
The Summit is a free day-long program designed for public and private winter road maintenance professionals in Lake George and across the Adirondack region.
The agenda features industry leaders presenting latest methods and equipment for safely reducing the use of road salt — considered the “acid rain of our time.” Unlike acid rain, organizers say, this problem can be solved here and now. » Continue Reading.
On Sept. 29 University of Vermont (UVM) Extension, Lake Champlain Sea Grant and the Winooski Natural Resources Conservation District will host a Lake Champlain Watershed Deicing Conference.
This free, day-long educational event will be held from 8 am to 5 pm at the Dudley H. Davis Center on the UVM campus in Burlington. Although open to everyone, it specifically targets municipal road maintenance staff, private winter maintenance contractors and elected officials, businesses and nonprofits tasked with decision-making or public education about deicing roads, driveways, sidewalks or parking lots in local communities. » Continue Reading.
Many of us are familiar with the guilt of hitting an animal while driving. The way that its body weight seems to travel through the frame of the car is difficult to forget.
But the fact remains that we have places to be and even a few well-intentioned road signs cannot slow us down. In our ceaseless efforts to connect our world, we don’t always consider the ways that our road network has fragmented the animal habitats it paves over.
The unpleasant task of shoveling the battered carrion from our roadways falls to local highway departments. But what exactly happens to the bodies from there? I reached out to representatives from a few local county highway departments and it turns out their methods vary, but most are taken to landfills or compost bins. Scavengers remove many of these animals before road crews have a chance to clear the roads, a valuable but underappreciated ecosystem service provided by crows, ravens, foxes, and the like.
A study published in the New Zealand Journal of Zoology found that seasonal peaks in road kill for specific species was dependent upon breeding periods and dispersal. Deer and moose are particularly vulnerable to vehicle collisions during their fall mating seasons, according to a representative for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC). Disseminating information on these predictable changes in animal behavior provides some aid, but the number of incidents remains troubling. This suggests that accommodating for animal behavior could be more effective than attempting to educate human drivers. » Continue Reading.
Over the next several weeks, the buds on hardwood trees and shrubs will open and the forests will again be cloaked in green, providing our many herbivores with a welcome change in their diet. While many plant eaters are able to subsist on woody buds and cellulose laden layers of inner bark throughout winter, leafy matter provides far greater levels of nourishment. The porcupine, a common denizen of the deep Northwood’s forest, is among our region’s first order consumers to ingest greens when they emerge in spring.
In winter, the porcupine settles into a routine of eating only the bark and needles of a very few species of trees in the area around its den. The stomach and small intestine of this rodent contain strains of microorganisms that act on this ultra-high fiber material in order to derive the energy needed to remain alive in this climate. Yet the limited amount of nutrients, particularly nitrogen, in such plant tissues makes this type of food less than ideal for maintaining a healthy diet. Despite ingesting large volumes of woody matter each night in winter, the porcupine often loses weight continuously as this bleak season progresses. » Continue Reading.
North America’s freshwater lakes are getting saltier due to development and exposure to road salt. A study of 371 lakes published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reports that many Midwestern and Northeastern lakes are experiencing increasing chloride trends, with some 44% of lakes sampled in these regions undergoing long-term salinization.
The study is the first large-scale analysis of chloride trends in freshwater lakes. It was conducted by a team of fifteen researchers as part of the Global Lake Ecological Observatory Network (GLEON) Fellowship Program, an initiative that seeks to train the next generation of freshwater scientists and practitioners. » Continue Reading.
Lake shore towns could reduce their salt usage by half simply by applying a liquid solution to roads before a storm arrives, highway superintendents, contractors and town officials were told at a workshop in Lake George in December.
Using the salt and water solution, commonly known as brine, as well as more advanced plows, especially when combined with conservation-minded practices, could reduce the amount of salt spread on local roads and highways even further, perhaps by 75%, said Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky, whose organization co-sponsored the workshop. “The more we learn about the impacts of road salt on the Lake George watershed, the more motivated we are to achieve road salt reductions in the earliest possible time frame,” said Navitsky. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Almanack's contributors include veteran local writers, historians, naturalists, and outdoor enthusiasts from around the Adirondack region. The Almanack is the online news journal of Adirondack Explorer. Both are nonprofits supported by contributors, readers, and advertisers, and devoted to exploring, protecting, and unifying the Adirondack Park.
General inquiries about the Adirondack Almanack should be directed to Almanack founder and editor John Warren.
To advertise on the Adirondack Almanack, or to receive information on rates and design, please click here.