Three seniors from Skidmore College’s Environmental Studies and Sciences Program are working with Saratoga PLAN, Open Space Institute, and a group of regional partners to develop a trail from Moreau Lake State Park to the Saratoga Greenbelt Trail in order to promote outdoor recreation, sustainable economic development, and environmental conservation.
They developed a survey to better understand the value of the current trails and recreational pathways in Saratoga County, and the ways the trails are currently being used. They are looking for input from area residents. Particpants will be entered to win one of three $10 Apple gift cards.
Photo provided: Abby Grayburn left) and Alana Pogostin are seniors in the Skidmore Environmental Studies and Science Department conducting a survey for their capstone project. They are looking for input as they seek to evaluate the economic value of outdoor recreation, specifically a trail network through Saratoga County and connecting various established outdoor recreational hubs
The New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) has announced they are seeking public input to improve recreational opportunities and natural resource protection in the Boreal South Management Unit and to inform DEC’s development of a management plan for the unit.
Located in the southeastern foothills of the Adirondacks, just outside the Blue Line of the Adirondack Park, the Boreal South Management Unit consists of six State Forest units totaling 4,096 acres in Warren and Saratoga counties. » Continue Reading.
Under the newly formed Mohawk Mining Company (MMC), the trio of George McDonnell, Lewis Lavery, and Robert Zullo had high hopes of successfully developing uranium deposits they discovered near Batchellerville in Saratoga County. Plans were made for radiometric surveys of the sites, and they began pumping water from two feldspar quarries to examine the deeper rock for additional specimens. Tests were also planned on old piles of mine tailings that caused Geiger counters to react. » Continue Reading.
Emerald ash borer (EAB) has been confirmed for the first time in Saratoga County by the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), the Capital-Mohawk Partnership for Regional Invasive Species Management (PRISM) and the USDA Animal Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS).
DEC staff and the CapMo PRISM coordinator verified the presence of EAB in Waterford, NY after a concerned landowner contacted the organization to report their discovery. Additionally, APHIS confirmed EAB in Ballston Lake as a result of the regular monitoring efforts to detect the beetle.
With the confirmation in Saratoga County, the number of New York counties with EAB has climbed to 34 according to a statement sent to the media by the DEC. A northern portion of Saratoga County lies within the Adirondack Park. » Continue Reading.
An effort latter this month hopes to gather public input about how to diversify and enhance outdoor recreation opportunities in the what organizers are calling the “Great South Woods” – a more than 2 million-acre area of public and private lands in the southern Adirondack Park that includes parts of Oneida, Herkimer, Hamilton, Fulton, Saratoga, Warren, and Essex Counties.
The driving forces behind this new initiative have been Bill Farber, Chairman of the Hamilton County Board of Supervisors, SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF), the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and the Adirondack Park Agency (APA). » Continue Reading.
Before being introduced to First Night Boston years ago, New Year’s Eve celebrations were always a bit of a letdown for me. New Year’s Eve seemed to be a search for something better with enough alcohol to make waiting for the ball to drop remotely palatable. After experiencing First Night Boston, I knew if I were to leave the comfort of my home it would be to welcome in the next year surrounded by art, music and quality events. We have since gone to First Night events in Burlington and Binghamton and most consistently, Saranac Lake.
Last year was the first time my family attended a First Night celebration in Saratoga Springs. Traveling through Saratoga Springs and making the stop was one of the best New Year’s Eve decisions to date. All First Night celebrations offer families an opportunity to bring in the New Year with creative events and hands-on activities. » Continue Reading.
A few years ago, a Planning Board Member in Clifton Park, Saratoga County posed a question I have never heard asked by anyone at the Adirondack Park Agency : how much carbon dioxide will be released by this subdivision, and what can we do about it?
As it turns out, the carbon dioxide released due to simply clearing forest land for subdivisions is eye-popping, and we know that the Adirondack Park Private Land use and Development Plan law gives the APA a lot of leverage in regulating subdivision design, lot layout and forest clearing – if they choose to use it. » Continue Reading.
A Kayaker’s Guide to Lake George, the Saratoga Region & Great Sacandaga Lake (Blackdome Press, 2012) is the latest effort by Albany writer Russell Dunn, a licensed guide and author of 10 books on the great outdoors of eastern New York and western New England. The guide includes detailed directions, information on launch sites, maps, GPS coordinates, photographs, safety and comfort tips, a wealth of historical and geological information, and directories of paddling outfitters, organizations and clubs.
The 352-page book features 58 paddling adventures in the southeastern Adirondacks, including Lake Desolation, the upper Hudson River, Lake George, Lake Luzerne, Great Sacandaga Lake and the Sacandaga River, the Champlain Canal and Glens Falls Feeder Canal, Kayaderosseras Creek, Round Lake, Saratoga Lake, and Ballston Lake. » Continue Reading.
Looking to expand our research to the outer reaches of the Adirondack Park, we set the GPS for Northville and opted for the scenic route through Stony Creek to Sacandaga Lake. Low speed limits and even slower drivers allowed us a leisurely opportunity to observe the views around the Sacandaga and glimpse the lakefront homes. Sport Island Pub, our targeted destination, proved to be easy to find. Its lakefront location, barely off the beaten path, is surrounded by summer homes. Decks on two levels visible from the parking area, wood sided with three dormers poking through the roof, the textured cinder block building left us curious about what we would find inside. » Continue Reading.
Public wild lands protected by law in New York State can fall under the public jurisdiction of a variety of state agencies. Some of them are part of the system of state parks administered by the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP). In northern Saratoga County and across the Hudson River in Warren County lie more than 4,000 acres of beautiful and protected public wild land, part of the Moreau Lake State Park. Much of this land was acquired by the nonprofit Open Space Institute from Niagara Mohawk, and then sold to the public in 1998.
Moreau Lake State Park tripled in size at that time, and is now the largest state park in the region. The six million-acre Adirondack Park north of Moreau Lake, of course, has a completely different legislative history and legal context. It is not part of the OPRHP system of state parks. This past week, I joined an enthusiastic group of state park officials, staff, park friends, volunteers and concerned citizens at Moreau Lake State Park. The occasion was an Earth Day ribbon cutting at the park’s new nature center, led by NYS Parks Commissioner Rose Harvey. Moreau Lake State Park’s director, his educational staff and the volunteers of Friends of Moreau Lake were given appropriate credit for this new space and added capacity to work with school groups, some of the 400,000 annual visitors to this park. The facility “showcases State Parks’ commitment to environmental education…shared by experienced and passionate outdoor educators,” said the Chair of the Saratoga-Capital District State Park Commission Heather Mabee.
This was visible progress. I once worked as a part-time naturalist and recreation staffer at Moreau Lake and Saratoga Spa State Parks, so it was gratifying to see the greatly improved educational facilities, interpretive exhibits, and dedicated staff that did not exist in the mid-1980s. On the other hand, even in those days I experienced a strong connection to the Adirondack Mountains and the solitude and beauty of the wilderness each time I went to Moreau for a program or a hike. The forests at Moreau do, in fact, act as a transition between the Appalachian oak-pine forests and the northern mixed hardwood forests of the Adirondacks, while the elevation gains to the park’s ridge trails resemble those on many Adirondack hikes.
I was invited to the ribbon cutting for a different reason. Four years ago, Saratoga County Water Authority’s water intake and pipeline from the Hudson River were constructed through a section of Moreau Lake State Park, in violation, we felt, of our State Constitution’s “forever wild” clause that protects the Forest Preserve as defined in State law. Saratoga County is one of 16 counties in the state that fall within the legal definition of Forest Preserve. The vast majority of Forest Preserve lies within the boundaries of the Adirondack and Catskill Parks, but some falls outside these boundaries in the named counties.
Moreau Lake State Park was no legal exception, and it certainly has public wild lands characteristic of the Forest Preserve, so we challenged OPRHP’s allowance of the county water line’s construction through parts of this park. As readers know, the State Constitution’s Article 14 states that lands constituting the forest preserve “shall be forever kept as wild forest lands,” and “shall not be leased, sold or exchanged, or be taken by any corporation, public or private…” The Saratoga County Water Authority, a public corporation, had, in our view, unconstitutionally taken parts of Forest Preserve at Moreau Lake State Park.
Ultimately, the water line was constructed. Although the coalition did not go to court on these grounds, we came to a legally binding agreement with OPRHP that commited $300,000 of public funds to build educational facilities, like the park’s nature center; other funds to add to the park’s wild land acreage; and a commitment to manage large segments of the park as if it were Forest Preserve – although OPRHP is reluctant to name it what I think it truly is. A professional management plan is in place at Moreau, most of the wild land is managed appropriately as Park preserve land, and there is a visible educational and passive recreational emphasis at the park. There are well-advertised hikes, an educational staff is in place, and an active friends group helps the small staff serve the public, including area schools and youth groups.
In short, I am glad we reached the agreement we did. On the other hand, vigilance is still called for. All state agencies responsible for New York’s “wild forest land” should understand and embrace those responsibilities, and resist any kind of taking and exploitation of our wilderness for commercial or expedient ends. After all, our wilderness is a big part of what distinguishes New York State; and our “forever wild” Constitution is the envy of every other state, and every other country on earth.
Photos: Hemlock grove; springtime on the trails; nature center at Moreau Lake State Park.
I recently spent my Sunday in the Emergency Room due to a classic “target” shaped bite that showed up on my ankle after an Earth Day weekend of clearing trails and picking up roadside garbage near Westport, N.Y.
Not only did I get to spend my leisure time with the ER staff but I, usually so diligent with tick searches, did everything wrong regarding my own health. So to save you a trip to the ER and a bothersome dose of antibiotics, here are some safety tips for tick prevention. » Continue Reading.
For the first time since sustaining deep staffing cutbacks late last month, the Post-Star has reassigned reporting beats to fill the gaps in its lineup. In the process, the troubled newspaper has officially abandoned Saratoga Springs as an anchorage for its southern reporting.
• Primary responsibility for reporting news for Washington County—the beat covered by recently laid-off reporters Jamie Munks, David Taube, and (in part) Tom Dimopoulos—now falls to Jon Alexander, who will continue to cover Northern Warren County as well as the rest of the Adirondacks. It is an utterly insane beat divided in the north by the length of Lake George—by far the largest coverage map of any of the remaining Post-Star reporters. • Dave Canfield, who shared the Saratoga Springs bureau with Dimopoulos, will now be principle principal correspondent for the Saratoga County Hudson River communities of Moreau, South Glens Falls, Fort Edward and Hudson Falls
• Business reporter Blake Jones will now add the Village and Town of Lake George to her portfolio.
• Crime and Public Safety reporter Don Lehman will also take on Warren County government in the shift.
• Both Omar Aquije and Maury Thompson will keep their beats covering Education issues and Glens Falls /Queensbury respectively.
The move away from on-the-spot Saratoga Springs coverage marks a significant departure for the Post-Star. With great fanfare the newspaper opened a collaborative bureau in the spa city with television station WNYT-News Channel 13 in March 2004. As reported by then Post-Star business reporter Dan Higgins, Saratoga Springs was a key battlefield in the regional circulation wars before the recession: the Post-Star the Daily Gazette of Schenectady, and the Times Union all staffed bureaus there in hopes of finding new readers among the booming population. The Gazette Saratoga Springs office has since closed (though they still have a bureau in nearby Ballston Spa) and the Times Union shuttered its bureau in March of last year.
In other personnel shifts at the Post-Star, Donna Smith has joined the advertising department replacing Matthew Gonroff, and Christine Scrivner has joined the paper in the newly created position of Circulation Sales Manager. The new position might prove to be a hot seat as the region’s newspapers brace for the semi-annual Audit Bureau circulations reports due out next week.
New York State keeps detailed motor vehicle accident statistics, compiling them year-to-year and county-by-county. Those data as well as the aggregate state figures compiled since 2001 are available online at safeNY.gov. The standards for data collecting and reporting have remained consistent since 2003, the year New York lowered the blood alcohol content standard for drunk driving, and the year the Glens Falls Post-Star initiated its policy on publishing names of teenagers busted for drinking. Data in the following comparison are derived from police-reported accidents—collisions resulting in fatalities, personal injury or property damage. These records are more uniform within each region and over time than DWI ticketing, for example (another standard measure), which varies regionally and seasonally, skewed by periodic local crack-downs, check points, etc.
To get a sense of how the Glens Falls region’s statistics for underage drivers involved in alcohol-related accidents stacked up against the average statistics across New York, we set the number of alcohol-related-accident drivers aged twenty and younger both regionally and statewide against the number of alcohol-related-accident drivers from all age groups and compared the resulting percentages. A consistent drop in the regional percentage against the statewide percentage would suggest that the campaign was influencing underage drinking trends favorably.
The Results While eight years of data form no solid basis for statistical analysis, the regional numbers—despite countervailing swings in the middle years of the range—seem to track overall with the statewide norms (even to the point of convergence with state figures in 2009 and 2010, the most recent years evaluated). While this may not be enough of a statistical sample to determine failure of the Post-Star’s policy and overall campaign, there is nothing here to encourage their advocates, either.
Not surprisingly Post-Star editors have not brought statistical analysis to bear on their policy of shaming teenage drinkers. Nor have they cited the statistics in their periodic recommitment to the campaign. If anything they seem to be spurred onward by their own often overheated editorial rhetoric on the subject: “Underage drinking is dangerous and if you don’t believe me, I will show you the headstones.”
Ken Tingley publicly declared his own immeasurable standard for continuing the crusade:
“If there is one young person who learns the lesson, if there is one young person who gets grounded for life for embarrassing their parents, if there is one young person who pauses to consider whether to accept a beer at the next party because they don’t want to see their name in the newspaper, then it is worth it.”
There is little doubt, given the power and range of the Post-Star’s editorial voice, that the shaming policy and Mr. Tingley’s angry bluster have successfully reached any number of kids (and/or their parents). On the same token, given the contrary nature of so many adolescents, can anyone doubt that as many kids may have reacted (sadly) predictably to Mr. Tingley’s bullying and ignored the grim statistics, or worse, headed defiantly in the opposite direction?
The lack of movement of the underage drunk driving numbers against the backdrop of statewide figures suggests, at the very least, that some neutralizing backlash may be at work here.
The Broader Picture One of the more troubling aspects of the Post-Star policy is its selective and asymmetric targeting of underage drinkers for the sake of reducing the deaths of young people in motor vehicle accidents.
In 2010 alcohol was the primary cause of 30.5% of all motor vehicle fatalities throughout all upstate counties across all age groups. Speed, by comparison, was the primary cause of 29.2%. The statistics in the three counties served by the Post-Star were quite different: In Saratoga, Warren and Washington counties alcohol was responsible for 20.6% of motor vehicle fatalities, claiming seven lives, while speeding was responsible for 35.3% of motor vehicle fatalities claiming twelve lives. Moreover, in 2010 speed caused 439 injuries across the three counties (31.9%), while alcohol caused only 174 (11.3%).
When you add to that the fact that teenagers are far less likely to drive drunk (accounting for 9.3% of all drivers in alcohol-related accidents statewide) and far more likely to speed (accounting for 22% of all speeding-caused accidents statewide), the math becomes clear: speeding—and not drinking—is by far the deadliest behavior by drivers young and old on our roadways. It comes as no surprise that the Post-Star is devoting none of its diminishing resources to publishing the names of speeders in an effort to embarrass them and their families in a misguided effort—no matter how well-intentioned—to alter their behavior.
Two final thoughts on this subject This challenge to (and argument against) the Post-Star’s policy of publishing names of teenagers fined for drinking should not be interpreted in any way as condoning the behavior. While it may be a rite of passage—as even Ken Tingley concedes—it remains reckless as it ever was. When combined with driving it has abundant potential to be life-destroying. The sole concern of this post is that the approach undertaken nine years ago by the editor of the Post-Star to combat the issue may simply have made matters worse.
The Post-Star is in many respects a fine newspaper. It is, to be sure, a troubled newspaper belonging to a troubled corporation in a troubled industry in a weak economy. The last thing the editors and publisher of the paper should be doing at this stage is alienating its future readers and subscribers in a way that from any angle looks like a double standard. The Post-Star needs to descend from the bully pulpit and get back to its number one responsibility to the community: reporting news.
Ken Tingley is back in his bully pulpit. Two Sundays ago in his weekly column, the Editor of the Post-Star defended his newspaper’s policy of publishing the names of teenagers ticketed for violating underage drinking laws. In blunt and patronizing language, the crusading editor took on a recent South Glens Falls High graduate who had dared to leave a comment on the Post-Star‘s Facebook page objecting to the policy:
Mr. Mumblo was probably playing video games and reading comics when we reported the death of 17-year-old Jason Daniels in Warrensburg on May 18, 2003, and four months later, the death of 19-year-old Adam Baker, also in Warrensburg. The policy was best described in a harsh editorial that ran on June 12, 2011, nearly eight years into the campaign:
Underage drinkers get their names in the paper. We publish the names of all kids arrested for consuming alcohol. We hope the embarrassment factor helps serve as a deterrent to parents and their kids. Not only does the kid’s name go in the paper, it goes on our website. And the Internet is permanent. So whatever they get caught doing today will follow them the rest of their lives.
From this it is hard to tell if the editorial board is angrier at the kids or their parents. The editorial proceeds to insult the children it hopes to protect:
Kids fib… Kids are lightweights… Kids are reckless… Kids are terrible drivers.
The final line of the editorial—A dead child is gone forever—reveals that the true target of the editorial (and the policy for that matter) is the parents; the humiliation of the children is merely a baseball bat to the gut to get their parents to pay closer attention.
Some History On June 15, 2003, as New York State prepared to drop the DWI blood alcohol content standard from .1 to .08 percent, and after a succession of fatal underage drunk driving accidents in the region surrounding Glens Falls, Ken Tingley wrote a column outlining the Post-Star‘s policy on reporting crimes:
Here is what are (sic) policies are now:
• We don’t use the name of the child under age 16 charged with any offense – even if it is a felony – but we include the age, sex and town of residence. One exception: We will publish the name of any minor who is being prosecuted as an adult.
• We don’t use the name of the child age 16, 17 and 18 if they are only charged with misdemeanors or violations, but we include their age, sex and town of residence.
• We do use the name of minors age 16, 17 and 18 if they are charged with felonies.
• We do use the name of anyone 19 or older charged with any offense if the crime is deemed newsworthy because of unusual or interesting circumstances.
• We’ve also left it up to the discretion of the editor to print the name of a minor if major crimes or unusual circumstances are involved.
The column concluded with hints of transition:
With the recent debate over underage drinking in our communities, we debated recently whether it might do some good to start listing the names of teens arrested for underage drinking. We currently do not print those names unless there is a felony charge.One of our editors suggested that we should print the name of all teens arrested, that the embarrassment of arrest might be an appropriate deterrent for a young person, that it might even bring a weightier meaning to some parents who don’t seem to take the issue that seriously.It is something we will probably be looking at in the future.
The future arrived less than five weeks later when the Post-Star published the names and ages of six minors from Corinth who were charged with “the noncriminal violation of possession of alcohol by someone under 21.” The policy has remained in effect ever since.
According to data compiled by New York State, in 2003 the number of underage drivers involved in alcohol-related accidents in Saratoga, Warren and Washington Counties stood at 19. The number rose to 25 the following year and dropped to 17 in 2004. In both 2005 and 2006 the number of underage drunk drivers involved in accidents shot up to 42 and has been declining steadily toward the 2004 level since. 2010 is the latest year for which the state has compiled statistics.
In June 2008 after another cluster of alcohol-related traffic fatalities involving minors, the Post-Star ran an exasperated editorial under the headline “Message is not getting through.” It began:
We give up.
No one seems to be listening anyway.
Sanctimonious and preachy? Out of touch with reality? OK, we concede. You’re right. Underage drinking is a rite of passage. A tradition. We all did it as kids. There’s nothing that can be done to stop it. Kids are gonna do what kids are gonna do.So have it your way.
Naturally, the editorial does not give up and charges once more unto the breach to deliver the message. It ends with a poignant appeal to the reader not to let the newspaper abandon the crusade.
By this point, nearly five years along, the policy of outing teenagers charged with non-criminal alcohol violations —despite the absence of any evidence that it was doing any good— was so conflated with the broader cause of stopping underage DWI as to be inseparable. For all practical purposes, under guard of the sharp hyperbole of the Post-Star’s editorial position, unquestionable.