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.
One of the biggest Adirondack issues of the year will be the debate over how to classify the Boreas Ponds Tract. Anyone who has paid attention to land-use squabbles in the Adirondacks for the last fifty years can describe the lineups on either side just as well as I can: recreation, access and the welfare of local communities on one side and wilderness preservation, aesthetics, non-mechanized travel and ecological protection on the other.
But what if this debate is false, predicated on outdated ideas and a fading history? What if adherence to this old narrative is detrimental to the natural world and to the residents of the Adirondacks in equal measure? Suppose instead that Wilderness protection and the welfare of local communities is in fact a synergy ripe with opportunity? Lots of evidence from across the country tells us what ought to make sense looking at how Lake Placid, Keene and Keene Valley thrive: proximity to grand wilderness is an economic asset, and the grander and better protected it is, the more valuable the asset. » Continue Reading.
A few years ago I learned of a fascinating but rather forgotten individual in Adirondack history. Along with his slightly older mentor Ebenezer Emmons and his younger contemporary Verplanck Colvin, he was among the first to accurately survey much of the Adirondacks. His name was Farrand Benedict.
Farrand Northrop Benedict was born in New Jersey in 1803, the oldest of seven. His parents died in the early 1830s and he became something of a father figure for his younger siblings. Graduating from Hamilton College in 1823, Benedict studied law and engineering and taught surveying and mathematics in Virginia and in Western New York before taking a professorship at the University of Vermont in Burlington in 1833. Teaching mathematics and surveying, Professor Benedict was known affectionately as “Professor B” or “Little Ben”.
Farrand Benedict first arrived in the Adirondacks in 1835, exploring and working in the Adirondacks, often bringing his wife and his brothers. He visited every year, often several times a year, until 1855. » Continue Reading.
The Adirondack Park is already experiencing the impacts of climate change. Lakes and ponds are covered with ice for fewer days than they were a century ago; spring is starting earlier in the lower elevations; and storms are becoming more intense and frequent.
Scientists predict that in the future the Park will be a much different place. Wildlife species that can’t adapt to the warmer weather are expected to move northward or to higher elevations. Buildings that remain in floodplains are expected to be more vulnerable to flooding. Plant communities, especially those on high summits and boreal lowlands, could change significantly or even disappear. » Continue Reading.
A program on the early 20th century trolley route from Warrensburg to Glens Falls will be presented at the Richards Library in Warrensburg on Sunday, May 15, at 3:30 by Paul Gilchrist, PhD.
Warrensburg was the northern terminus of the Hudson Valley Railway’s trolley line from 1902 until 1928. The presentation of photographs, maps, and aerial photos will follow a ceremony unveiling a roadside plaque marking the location of the Schroon River hydroelectric plant that supplied the trolley line » Continue Reading.
Shortly after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, it was realized that airmarks could be used by enemy planes, so the order was given to remove 2,500 airmarks that stood within 150 miles of the nation’s coasts. Six weeks later, those marks were obliterated, undoing six years of labor—but shortly after, the blanket order was modified. Why? The absence of airmarks was causing military pilot trainees to become lost. The new order allowed airmarks within 50 miles of flight training airfields.
The national program resumed after the war, with improved methods (including government-supplied plywood templates for lettering) and greater participation, but it’s truly remarkable that despite historic advances in communications and airplanes, the airmark system remained in use into the 1970s.
If you’re old enough to have flown locally back then, you might recall some North Country rooftop markings, some of which are listed below with their year of origin. Most were maintained until the system became outdated. » Continue Reading.
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