“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.
With the opening of the entire Erie Canal in 1825, a call for more canals and other internal improvements arose from all over New York State. People in many legislative districts thought that if the state could build a canal that had already shown its great value, it could also provide infrastructure projects to help regional economies to connect with the artificial river that joined the interior Great Lakes and the global market through Albany and New York City. This was also the case coming from the legislative representatives from Montgomery County and although many lateral canals would be subsequently surveyed, planned and some would even be built, perhaps the most intriguing was one that never had a shovel turned.
As early as 1826, citizens from Montgomery County were calling for a plan to connect the Erie Canal – which already ran through the county on the south side of the Mohawk River – to the industrializing area around the county seat of Johnstown and further into the wilderness to the north for raw materials. Inhabitants of Montgomery and Hamilton Counties formally called upon the New York State Senate through the Canal Commission for a survey to be conducted and a planned canal from Caughnawaga (present day Fonda) up the Sacandaga River Valley (Journal of the NYS Senate 49 Sess 1826). The original intention was to have a canal of over 30 miles and elevation increase of 350 feet that would connect the Erie Canal to the waters of what is now known as the lower Adirondacks. That could therefore be connected to the head waters of the Hudson River and also through a series of lakes to the Raquette River and the St. Lawrence River. Senators knew that in order to populate that region of the state and exploit its natural resources, some forms of improvements would be necessary. However, their concerns grew over the expense and circuitous route the canal would need to travel. The senate forwarded the recommendation to the committee on canals were it apparently lay dormant. » Continue Reading.
This Columbus Day weekend I decided to put the issue of overuse in the High Peaks region to a little test. I visited three of the most crowded trail heads in the area and hiked from two of them. I also investigated the State’s grand relocation of the Cascade trail and parking.
What I saw confirmed a working theory I have been informally discussing with both private folks and local and state government employees. The theory isn’t mine, indeed a number of people have the idea. It’s a simple concept, really: back country overuse can be mitigated in large part simply by addressing parking issues. In other words, we can manage recreation capacity by more effectively managing transportation capacity. » Continue Reading.
New York State Department of Transportation and the State Department of Environmental Conservation have released a draft comprehensive plan for managing state highways in the Adirondack Park. Comments on the plan are now being sought.
An announcement sent to the media said The Draft Generic Travel Corridor Unit Management Plan for State Highway Corridors in the Adirondack Park (TCUMP), “is the result of collaboration between the New York State Department of Transportation, the State Department of Environmental Conservation, the Adirondack Park Agency, the State Department of State, local government groups, and organizations that promote protecting the Adirondacks.” » 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.
Overuse in portions of the High Peaks is a real and growing problem, exacerbated by trends in social media and the expanding desire to count-off summits. It has been documented extensively here in the Almanack. But in the last few weeks these discussions have reached a rolling boil with a bit too much hyperbole for me. A range of ideas has been raised, a number of them falling under the general concept of limiting access to the High Peaks, including permit systems, licensing schemes, daily caps and so on. Some of these limiting suggestions have been accompanied by exclusionary rhetoric with which I strongly disagree, along the lines of “Why are we trying to get more people here?” or “I like my (town, street, access) the way it is, without all the visitors.” I agree that increasing use in parts of the High Peaks is a real issue, and I have written about various aspects of the problem for several years. But the exclusionary sentiments I’m starting to hear are where I draw the line. » 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.
Although commercial steam-boating began well over 200 years ago, it was in 1817 that Lake George began to utilize the service as a means to connect its small shoreline settlements. Now 200 years later, The Lake George Steamboat Company is still operating pleasure cruises along the shores of Lake George.
After the Civil War the steamboat company became part of the Delaware and Hudson Railroad. This merger allowed passengers traveling between New York City to Canada to take the railroad from Glens Falls to Lake George and then cross the lake to Ticonderoga for the continuation of their train journey.
Through the Great Depression the business slowly declined until World War II brought the commercial side of the business to a close. The business was downsized and changed hands before landing with Captain Wilbur Dow. After renovating and rebuilding the traditional steamboats, the Lake George Steamboat Company passenger service was reinvented and is still owned and operated by members of the Dow family. » Continue Reading.
When my parents came to the Adirondacks in 1956, they believed they were moving to a place far removed – culturally and politically as well as geographically – from the cities in which they had worked as left-wing journalists.
Beyond the Adirondacks lay “the big world,” as our neighbor Peggy Hamilton called it. (It was a world she was familiar with, having been the companion of Vida Mulholland and, like Vida and her more famous sister Inez, an early advocate of women’s rights.) » Continue Reading.
The state is considering buying the only two parcels it doesn’t own in the 34-mile rail corridor between Lake Placid and Tupper Lake, which would remove a legal impediment to replacing the train tracks with a recreational trail. Another option is to obtain an easement that would allow the public to use the parcels.
Evidently, though, some kind of agreement with the landowners needs to be reached for the state to go ahead with its controversial plan to remove the tracks.
The Adirondack Railway Preservation Society, which for years has operated a seasonal tourist train out of Lake Placid, has gone to court to block the removal of the rails.
After a hearing in late January, acting State Supreme Court Justice Robert G. Main Jr. asked the state to provide more information on the ownership of the corridor. Assistant Attorneys General Marie Chery-Sekhobo and Nicholas Buttino complied with the request in a memorandum of law sent to the judge last week. » 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 colorful name Devil’s Kitchen has been used in numerous book titles, restaurant names, and for hiking destinations in at least seven states. Close to home in upstate New York, we have a Catskill version, described here as “quite possibly the most hellacious [bicycle] climb in New York State.” The same area, with cliffs, numerous waterfalls, and slippery slopes, has seen many hiker deaths as well.
But there’s another Devil’s Kitchen farther north, located about midway on Route 9 between Chestertown and Warrensburg. Despite lacking the cliffs and stunning landscapes featured at other identically named places, deaths have occurred at the Adirondack site—which today exists in name only. » Continue Reading.
Work on the Lake George Gateway project along Route 9 in the town of Lake George is expected to be largely complete by this fall, while minor work is expected to continue into June, 2017.
The $6.95 million project, designed by the town of Lake George and administered and constructed by the New York State Department of Transportation, is making streetscape improvements for users of all modes of transportation along one mile of Route 9, east of Adirondack Northway Exit 21. The work includes the installation of shared-use and designated bike lanes, new sidewalks, landscaping, raised center medians with pedestrian refuge areas, new lighting, crosswalks and drainage. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Regional Airport has announced the return of Hertz Rent-A-Car to their list of services.
According to an announcement sent to the press, Hertz was encouraged to return after a year’s absence from the location as a result of the efforts of a coalition that includes the Harrietstown Town Board, regional tourism businesses and airport management. » Continue Reading.
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