Posts Tagged ‘Tupper Lake’

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Dave Gibson: Water Resources and the Adirondack Resort

Of all the issues out in the media about the Adirondack Club and Resort application and hearing now under review by the APA, there has been a surprising lack of information and discussion about water – sewage from all those homes, potable water supply, run-off, impacts on streams and Tupper Lake itself, and impacts on the Village of Tupper Lake’s public water and sewage delivery and treatment systems.

These are hardly glamorous issues, but they are of intense concern to local residents, village officials and to Park advocates alike, as well as to our public permitting agencies. Tupper Lake, into which a good deal of the sewage effluent will flow, is an extremely important Adirondack freshwater lake, and an important water source for the Village and Town of Tupper Lake.

One of the problems in reporting and discussing these matters is that water issue jurisdiction is split between the APA and the Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), and it is not at all clear to the public where one agency’s jurisdiction over water issues ends and the other’s begins. What is clear is that the ACR applicant, Mr. Foxman, has not completed his applications for the four or five DEC permits he must have to begin construction. These applications pertaining to water supply, sewage and wastewater treatment, and storm water run-off and pollution prevention were all noticed by DEC as being incomplete in a long letter to the applicant’s consultant, the LA Group, dated October 18, 2010.

The DEC water-related permits are completely separate from the APA permit. Indeed, the DEC letter states that only after the water applications are deemed complete and published to allow for public comment, and only after those comments are analyzed can the department judge whether or not to hold a separate DEC public hearing on ACR water issues. So, even if APA issues a permit, ACR is hardly home free. Mr. Foxman noted this in recent interview. Then, there are the necessary Industrial Development Agency hearings required before the IDA can issue the private revenue bonds to build the sewer and water systems, but that’s a whole other story.

The contents of that DEC letter have long been eclipsed by the APA public hearing, but they are significant. For one thing, the department seems very concerned about the applicant’s stormwater pollution prevention plan (so-called “SWPPP”) as well its wastewater treatment plant proposed just south of Cranberry Pond. As much as possible, DEC seems to want ACR to dispose all its sewage effluent in the Village of Tupper Lake’s sewage treatment plant, and not on site. During 2010, DEC developed new stormwater standards based on a policy of non-degradation of receiving waters. In other words, Tupper Lake can not receive more pollutants from storm and sewage runoff after developing the ACR than it receives currently without the ACR development. And there is the question of current conditions. How is change measured? DEC is not comfortable with the adequacy of current water quality data – as a baseline for measuring change in the watersheds affected by the ACR. DEC may demand that Mr. Foxman conduct a thorough baseline examination of current water quality conditions in the streams and “receiving waters” such as Cranberry Pond and Tupper Lake.

Of the applicant’s August 2010 stormwater plan update (SWPPP), DEC writes that the applicant’s plan is “inadequate for addressing stormwater runoff from the proposed development….the significance of the post construction stormwater discharges and the extent of the proposed changes to the natural conditions of the drainage area raise a concern to prevent the receiving waterbodies from potential impact. The plan is not presenting any water quality analysis, water balance analysis, or downstream analysis particularly to the most immediate water courses feeding to the down gradient streams or lakes. Discharges to small lakes and headwaters in the stream network raise the question of cumulative impact of the development on these types of waters. The primary concern is the impact of increased flow volume and nutrients due to runoff from new development.”

So, DEC has a long list of technical issues the applicant must address for stormwater, including new design standards, reducing the total amount of runoff, and greater use of “green infrastructure” to handle the runoff. To further quote from the twenty page letter: “Due to the large areas of steep slope being disturbed as part of this project and the number of sensitive receiving waters located at the project site, the individual SPDES (State Pollutant Discharge Elimination System) permit is going to require the owner to hire a dedicated erosion control team whose primary role will be repairing, maintaining and upgrading the erosion and sediment control practices that will be used at the site.”

This part of the DEC letter is interesting because it seems to conflict with the APA staff’s conclusion that Mr. Foxman has avoided building on steep slopes, and that “implementation of proposed grading, drainage, site layout, erosion and sediment control, on-site wastewater treatment, road and stormwater plans will serve to protect soil, surface water and groundwater resources” (APA Draft Conditions). Those APA draft conditions merely note in one sentence that the applicant has to comply with updated DEC stormwater runoff design standards.

There are a host of sewage related concerns in the DEC letter. First, the letter states that the applicant has yet to provide engineering details about how the new sewage plant would operate, or the wetland treatment system downstream of the plant which the applicant says will “polish” the effluent. Second, DEC feels the applicant has yet to evaluate alternatives to the current proposal to send some sewage to the village plant, send some to a new plant to be constructed above Cranberry Pond, and build septic tanks and leach fields for about half of the 39 proposed Great Camps. Alternatives are “a critical component of the Department’s review because the Department must ensure that the project conforms to the State’s water quality anti-degradation policy…At this time, it appears that connection to the municipal sewer system remains a viable alternative.” The letter notes that one new proposed plant near Cranberry Pond, designed to treat up to 150,000 gallons per day of sewage, is not the preferred solution. A new on-site sewage system should be “the treatment option of last resort. Due to phosphorus in the wastewater, subsurface discharges are the preferred alternative.”

The letter notes this concern: “Phase 1 of the proposed development is anticipated to generate 12,448 gallons per day of sewage. The Department is concerned that during low occupancy periods, the wastewater treatment plant will experience flows well below this rate and will have difficulty operating properly. Please provide an evaluation of how the plant will perform during periods of low flows and also during cold weather periods.”

DEC is very concerned about long pipes or mains serving infrequently occupied residences far from the source of water or the treatment of the sewage. Having sewage, for instance, sit for long periods in the long, small diameter force mains and grinder pump stations necessary to reach some of the Great Camps will result in serious operation and maintenance problems, the letter notes. Only when the DEC is convinced that there is no possible on-site septic opportunities for all of the Great Camps will it allow this type of sewage development, it states. At present, ACR plans to sewer the 15 western Great Camps because, in APA’s opinion, bedrock makes it infeasible to develop septic systems there.

“There are inherent operational problems in running long water supply mains” to serve the Great Camps, the letter states. DEC concerns are that water stagnates in these long pipes, and that this stagnant water will lack contact with chlorination or other disinfectant agents, and that secondary chemical byproducts could form in the water. DEC recommends that no Great Camps be served by the project’s water district, and all be served by on-site wells. This recommendation appears to conflict with the current proposal that has gone through the APA hearing, whereby at least 15 western Great Camps are planned to be served with public water supplies.

One could go on and on. APA still has received no septic system plans for many of the Great Camps, and many of these may not be feasible to be built. Impacts on Cranberry Pond from sewage effluent, from stormwater runoff and from use for snowmaking are very much up in the air. Many citizens are worried about all of the pharmaceuticals that ACR residents will flush down their toilets, which will end up untreated in Tupper Lake and Cranberry Pond.

Then, there are unanswered questions about how any of the ACR’s sewage will get to the Village treatment plant. While Village officials and DEC seem to agree that the recently upgraded Village Sewage Treatment Plant has sufficient capacity to handle ACR, the sewer collection system will need a major upgrade to get ACR sewage to the plant. A new four-six inch force main will have to be built under the Rt. 30 causeway across the Tupper Lake marsh, and DOT is adamant not to dig up the road again. Outside of the road, one side is Forest Preserve, and all is freshwater marsh. Mr. Foxman had the chance to put a new force main in when Rt. 30 was freshly dug up in 2006-2007, but refused to pay for it. A new main will be needed at Wawbeek Street. Then there are the necessary upgrades to the pump stations and gravity lines.

To sum up: DEC now requires far lower biological oxygen demand in waters receiving sewage effluent, meaning that treatment must remove much more of that demand before downstream release. How, in the cold Adirondack climate with strung-out infrastructure on and far beyond Mt. Morris will ACR achieve this? DEC requires more precise water quality measurements before development takes place to measure “non degradation of receiving waters.” When will ACR conduct these measurements? Through the DEC applications, the stormwater run-off performance of all of ACR’s housing and roads will be subjected to individual scrutiny. Meanwhile, there may be significant differences between what APA considers approvable, and what DEC deems sufficient from a water quality perspective. The public won’t learn much about all this during the APA’s current permit deliberations. But the other shoe, taking the form of costly final DEC permit submissions and possible hearings, will eventually drop.

Photos: Above, Mt. Morris from Cranberry Pond in winter; below, Mt. Morris from the Rt. 30 causeway.


Monday, December 12, 2011

Adirondack Resort at the APA this Week

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, December 15 and Friday December 16, 2011 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. The meeting starts at 9:00AM. The normal monthly meeting agenda is changed to focus on the Adirondack Club and Resort project. The meeting will be webcast live; go to www.apa.ny.gov and click Webcasting from the Contents list. The public is also invited to view the webcast live in Tupper Lake at The Wild Center.

This month the Agency continues its three consecutive monthly meeting cycle to deliberate project 2005-100, the Adirondack Club and Resort. This residential/resort project is proposed for lands in the Town of Tupper Lake, Franklin County. The Board began its review at the November 17-18 meeting. The Board continues its deliberations at the December 15-16 meeting. A decision is expected at the conclusion of the January 19-20, 2012 meeting.

On Thursday morning December 15, the Full Agency will convene at 9:00 for remarks from Chairwoman Ulrich and Executive Director Martino. Thursday’s meeting will conclude at 5:00. The Board will reconvene on Friday morning at 9:00 and conclude its business at 4:30. http://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gifhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif

Detailed December meeting agenda can be found online [pdf], as can additional December meeting materials (link).

The Agency’s Public Comment Policy does not allow any public comment related to matters before the Board for action. Therefore, during these meeting on the Adirondack Club and Resort project, the Agency can not accept any public commentary on Project 2005-100.

The Agency requests that anyone planning to attend the December meeting at the Agency’s Ray Brook headquarters please RSVP to Deborah Lester at 518-891-4050 by December 14, 2011.

People interested in viewing the webcast at the Wild Center are encouraged to contact Sally Gross at 518-359-7800 extension 116.


Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Sandra Hildreth: A Local Lesson in Art History

What follows is a guest essay by Sandra Hildreth, a member of the Adirondack Artists’ Guild. The Guild is a cooperative retail gallery with 14 member artists, located at 52 Main St. in Saranac Lake. Gallery hours are 10 – 5, Tues – Sat, and 12 – 3 on Sundays. 518-891-2615.

The current featured artist exhibit at the Adirondack Artists’ Guild in Saranac Lake could easily be a lesson in art history. Nancy Brossard is a well known local artist who lives between Tupper Lake and Childwold. Brossard primarily paints Adirondack landscapes in the tradition of “en plein air” artists, that is, outdoors, on location. Her works interpret the environment in wonderful animated brushstrokes, reminiscent of some of the French Impressionists, but faithful to the Adirondack views they portray.
» Continue Reading.


Monday, November 28, 2011

Dave Gibson: Important ACR Testimony Excerpts

Today I select what I consider to be important excerpts from the testimony in the public adjudicatory hearing on the Adirondack Club and Resort. These particular excerpts come from testimony contained in the official hearing record delivered by four experts in the fields of wildlife science, conservation biology, and the ecological sciences.

These experts are Dr. Michael Klemens, Drs. Michale Glennon and Heidi Kretser, and APA scientific services staff director Dan Spada. In future posts, I plan to cite hearing testimony from experts in fiscal and community impacts and economics. The testimony was provided during the 19-day long Adirondack Club and Resort adjudicatory public hearing which spanned the period between late March and late June, 2011.

This testimony is part of the hearing record, which closed in late October. The members of the Adirondack Park Agency must make a determination about the project based solely upon that official record. The members anticipate reaching a decision at their January, 2012 meeting. Their deliberations continue during the APA’s December 15-16, 2011 meeting, which is open to the public.

ACR is the largest subdivision and development proposal to come before the APA in 35 years. It’s comprised of 706 residential units, 332 buildings, a new ski lodge, restaurant, gymnasium, marina, equestrian center, and 15 miles of new roads, sewer, water and electrical lines spread over 6235 mostly undeveloped acres on rugged, forested terrain several miles from the Village of Tupper Lake.

Some of the testimony that I cite is pre-filed written testimony, and some is direct testimony and response to cross-examination during the hearing.

Dr. Michael Klemens, conservation biologist

During the April 27, 2011 hearing in Ray Brook, attorney for the applicant cross- examined Dr. Klemens about how extensively he had reviewed the application. Dr. Klemens responded:

“I looked at the overall layout of fragmentation on the site created by the distribution of the proposed uses, which snake all over the site, which are — basically I call sprawl on steroids. What you call the Great Camps, I call not-so-great camps. They’re basically large scale sprawl. I looked at the interface of the roads and the houses packed onto steep slopes above wetlands basically without any understanding of the biology, the ecology of the site. Yes, those things can occur on the site, but are they in the right place on the site? We don’t know because you haven’t provided us with any kind of information to make an informed planning decision based on science. This site reflects basically the hopes and aspirations of the developer, not any scientific understanding of the site.”

Asked how Dr. Klemens would define the term “ecological footprint,” Dr. Klemens responded on April 27 as part of the following Q&A:

“It’s the zone of impact and influence …– which will disrupt the
environment writ large by a development. You can put — for example, …– a road is a great example. A road is a rather linear impact. It has a cleared area. It has swales or underdrains, and that. But the impact of a road, depending on the intensity of its traffic — and there’ve been lots of studies on this — the impact can extend a quarter to half a mile on each side of the road through road mortality, noise, and disruption. So that’s what impact analysis is — to understand how a layout on any development project or any use will actually spill over through lighting, through noise, through all those other variables into the ecosystem.”

Q. In looking at the materials that you did review concerning this
application, can you describe in a little bit of detail what you perceived in your expert opinion to be the ecological footprint of this project?

A. It’s extremely large. I haven’t calculated, but it’s large because of the amount of roads and the amount — and the way the development is spread across the site.…– it’s a fairly large footprint. And again, that footprint will vary dependent upon also the species. The species respond — if you’re talking about wildlife, they’re responding at different scales. Birds respond at a different scale to amphibians, to a different scale to area sensitive carnivores. So it’s not — the impacts are at different scales. But this is a fairly spread out development. I mean basically to me …– it is sprawl. It is sprawl — the Great Camps are what I consider very, very large lot residential subdivisions in a sense. They’re very large. There’s one that’s actually – maybe approaches what? A thousand acres? But these things generally –…– it’s not unlike many suburban developments. These large dispersed developments give people the illusion …– of greenery and ecological integrity. In fact, they spread the impacts out with a huge amount of edge effect and a huge amount of impact. And — … that’s why you want to think about trying to make it more compact. And we heard excellent testimony yesterday about how making the development more compact would — … meet a variety of objectives.”

“There are large zones of influence on wildlife which will be disrupted by the project. People look at wildlife. They think wildlife moves in corridors. Wildlife moves across the landscape almost like sheet flow of water. There’s movement all through the landscape. And that continues for some species, less effectively in a logged landscape, but it continues, and there’s recovery. Once you put on a hard landscape of roads, development, and other amenities, you fragment that sheet flow of wildlife and organisms across the landscape.”

“I would anticipate based on my rapid amphibian assessment that there would be at least fifteen species of amphibians breeding on the site. For their small size, amphibians pack an ecological wallop because they control so much of the energy transfer in and out of ecosystems. Amphibians are bi-phasic, meaning that they breed in vernal pools and move to uplands the rest of the year. Wetland protection alone will not protect these species. The habitats of these animals are linked to uplands.”

Drs. Michale Glennon and Heidi Kretser, ecologists for the Wildlife Conservation Society’s Adirondack Program in Saranac Lake

Asked whether the proposed ACR would create an undue adverse impact on Resource Management lands, Dr. Glennon answered “Yes.” She wrote in prefiled testimony:

“An alternative design which reduced the spatial extent of the development associated with the great camp lots would have a much higher likelihood of reducing negative impacts to wildlife.”

“Biotic integrity is very likely to decline on the project site, and will decline more so than it would if development were primarily directed at the Moderate Intensity lands within the site.”

ACR is “likely to result in an increase in human-adapted, generalist species, with a concurrent decrease in those species which are more specialized and most likely those which are rare in New York State.”

“Cumulative impacts are significant.”

“Those species which tend to be negatively impacted by residential development are those which the APA Act intends to protect, such as species which are generally rare, many of them restricted to the Adirondack Park within NYS.”

“The proposed ACR development will negatively impact the majority of large forest blocks present on the RM lands because the large lot sizes associated with the great camp development result in the sprawl of homes and associated roads and driveways across a large proportion of the site, and in large core forest blocks being divided into smaller areas.”

“Among rare songbirds in NYS, more than half are forest birds and the majority of them are boreal and conifer specialists which are confined to the Park within NYS…They are iconic of the region, they are rare..and they are specialists on boreal and core forest habitats. Because we know they occur on or near the ACR property, the project will impact Key Wildlife Habitats.”

Asked whether there would still be undue adverse impacts even if the large eastern Great Camp lots were on “substantial acreages,” Dr. Glennon replied on June 24 as part of the following Q&A:

“Yes, I think it’s possible.”
Q. And based on the current state of the science?
A. Yes.
Q. Would the impacts from those eight houses, if they were located on resource management lands, be significantly reduced if they were located so that their zones of ecological impact — I believe you called it — overlapped with each other and they were on short driveways close to a public road?

A. Yes, very definitely. And there’s probably lots of different ways in which they can be condensed – with fewer impacts on the landscape.”

Asked if the project as designed met the basic purposes of Resource Management lands, Drs. Glennon and Kretser both replied “No.”

Dr. Kretser wrote:

“The project as designed does not meet the basic purposes of RM lands. As evidenced by my colleague’s testimony, it does not protect the delicate physical and biological resources. The proposed project does not encourage proper and economic management of forest because the entire property is divided into smaller parcels…The proposal does not maintain the unique character of the Adirondack Park. The number of residential structures being proposed…represents more than have been added to the majority of townships in the park in the years between 1990-2004.”

Daniel M. Spada, biologist and staff director of NYS Adirondack Park Agency’s resource analysis and scientific services division

Asked on June 23 about the impacts to natural resources, and whether alternatives could be developed that avoided those, Mr. Spada replied:

“My current concerns on the resource management parcels, both on the large Great Camp lots and the smaller Great Camp lots is that those impact zones have not been collapsed. They haven’t been overlapped to the greatest extent possible, in my opinion. There are still some areas, I think, where driveways can be shortened, dwellings can be moved closer to roads, to existing roads, and that sort of thing.”

Mr. Spada was then asked “Are there other modifications that you think could reduce the impacts?” He responded:“Certainly. A reduction of the number of units.”

Q. Reduction of which units would you recommend as reducing the impacts?

A.”If you look at this map, Exhibit 244, and the resource management areas, it becomes been pretty obvious where there’s a high density of units in a given area. For instance, with the west face expansion, with the next seven hundred and fifty foot zone, it — it pretty well blocks out that area as far as being of utility for wildlife habitat. So that might be a spot where either units could be reduced in number or they could be reconfigured…I think we need to balance the number of units, the configuration of the units, and resources on the project site.”

Q. And to your knowledge, were those types of alternatives evaluated by the sponsor?

A. Not to my knowledge.”

In his pre-filed testimony, Mr. Spada wrote:

“While I agree that existing development and use of the project site already affects wildlife habitat, in my opinion the proposed project would increase the significance and duration of the impacts…the impacts from the changes to the existing roads in amount and seasonality included increased levels of habitat fragmentation and direct wildlife mortality.”

“The Great Camp Lots are arranged across the landscape in a relatively uniform configuration and the three-acre development envelopes are relatively widely separated from each other as in classic exurban development. To adequately protect the forest resources, the development should occur in a configuration that reduces impact zones from the development by overlapping them.”

Mr. Spada goes on to define Ecological Impact Zones (EIZ), assess the extent of impacts on wildlife, and discuss alternatives to the ACR layout. He writes:

“When the actual footprint and its EIZ for the components of this project are considered, the amount of wildlife habitat that would not be impacted by the project is considerably less than the amount of open space reported by the Project Sponsor…Over the entire site, 63% of existing wildlife habitat will be preserved.”

“In my experience this process (of identifying alternatives) can be short-circuited by identifying a preferred alternative prior to conducting the analysis. That is what has occurred in the case of this proposed project. In my opinion, the analyses noted above do not constitute a true alternatives analysis. Different scenarios were not described and impacts were not compared…In my opinion there has not been an organized and rational discussion of reasonable, potential alternatives.”

“Good design collapses and overlaps the zones of impact from the development activities to minimize negative effects…The twenty-seven small Great Camp Lots in RM are not clustered as tightly as possible, nor are their zones of impact overlapped to the greatest extent possible.”

“One alternative would be to eliminate the eight large Great Camp Lots east of Simon Pond, and reduce the size and spatial spread of the smaller western and eastern Great Camp Lots in RM. It’s possible under such a scenario that the eight large Great Camp Lots eliminated from east of Simon Pond could be relocated closer to the small eastern and western Great Camp Lots and closer to the ski resort. This would reduce road mileage and infrastructure costs, minimize loss of open space, minimize habitat fragmentation and allow for continued effective sustainable forest management east of Simon Pond. This alternative scenario, although suggested by Agency staff, was never proposed by the Project Sponsor nor was it evaluated to the same level as the existing proposal.”

Asked whether he agreed with the project sponsor’s contention that the area is currently highly fragmented by logging activity and the proposed development will decrease habitat fragmentation because logging activities will cease, Mr. Spada replied:

“No. The broad statement about the current state of the property is not supported by data and the conclusion that habitat will be improved is not justified by current research or scientific understanding. Logging disturbances are temporary, whereas structures and roads are permanent. Logging disturbances are also periodic and on discrete sites within the property, not constant and evenly distributed. There is one major logging road through the part of the property east of Simon Pond. The road is and will remain unpaved. It is used sporadically and traffic volume is low. It is unclear whether the proposal to access the eight larger Great Camp Lots on a year round basis has potential for greater impact than existing road use by two hunting clubs with many members on a typically seasonal basis.”

“Based on my experience and my review of recent research concerning habitat fragmentation [Exhibit 90, APA hearing staff response to Protect the Adirondacks, Discovery Request, Item 11: Glennon and Porter (2005) Trombulak and Frissell 2000, Hansen et al. 2005)], it is my opinion that bird community biotic integrity is not influenced by forest management as generally practiced in the Adirondacks. I believe that biotic integrity does respond positively to roadlessness and negatively to development. It is my opinion that long roads dividing undeveloped areas are of concern for fragmenting wildlife habitat. These impacts can be mitigated by minimizing the length, width and frequency of use of the roads and locating them near the periphery of undeveloped blocks of land. In reviewing this proposed project, Agency staff have asked the Project Sponsor to consider modifications to the proposed project and alternatives to the proposed project that would minimize these impacts.”

Photos: Above, from Mt. Morris looking at Tupper Lake; below, from Mt. Morris looking toward the Village of Tupper Lake.


Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Alternatives to Black Friday

Thanksgiving is about tradition. Our family sits down to a huge meal that my mother-in-law cooks while the rest of us try to stay out of her way. She is an amazing force to be reckoned with. We overeat. We rest. We eat more. We attempt a family-against family touch football game to prepare us for leftovers. It all comes down to spending time with each other. We are extremely fortunate.

Every family has their own customs so for those looking for a time-honored ritual; North Country Ballet Ensemble continues a Thanksgiving tradition with performances of The Nutcracker in Plattsburgh on Friday and Saturday (November 25-26) at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. with a 2:00 matinee on Sunday. All performances will be held at the Hartman Theatre, Myers Fine Arts Building at SUNY Plattsburgh. Subsequent performances will be held at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts on December 3 at 7:30 p.m. and December 4 at 1:00 p.m.

Just as family-friendly and with a different type of magic, the Adirondack Center for the Arts will open with Rogers and Hammerstein’s classic musical rendition of “Cinderella” in Indian Lake (November 25 and 26 at 7:30 p.m. at the Indian Lake Theatre) as part of the annual Country Christmas Tour. (Don’t forget about all the events going on in Inlet and Old Forge

Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts Director Stephen Svodboda says, “Our presentation of Cinderella is a classic ‘underdog’ holiday show filled with dancing, singing, and a little bit of magic. This timeless fairy tale is one that is close to the hearts of everyone and, illustrating a true sense of community, the actors in our show come from all over the Adirondacks ranging in age from 4 to 80 years old. The resulting production is an amazing performance that is sure to inspire. We hope you will join us this holiday season!”

To make the “slipper fit” with everyone’s busy schedule, performances of Cinderella run through mid December at various locations around the Central Adirondacks. Admission is $15/$10 members, children 12 and under/$5 accompanied by a parent.

Another substitution for Black Friday madness is the Wild Center Family Day on November 25. Packed with activities from book signings to live music, The Wild Center staff has made sure that you can work off your meal with nature walks and museum activities.

“We are going to have art and nature projects geared toward children but a lot of other activities such as a book signing with Carl Heilman. Children are going to love the maple syrup on snow demonstration, seeing it made and then being able to eat it right here at the Wild Center,” says Josh Pratt, Wild Center Store/Admissions Manager.

I know this barely covers all that is going on for Black Friday. I hope it offers a few choices for some Adirondack fun. Happy Thanksgiving!

Photo: Cinderella (Colleen Pine) surrounded Stepsister (Kierstyn Natter), and Prince Charming (Lucas Greer) of the cast from the Adirondack Lakes Center for Arts production of Cinderella. Photo provided.

Diane Chase is the author of the Adirondack Family Activities Guidebook Series including the recently released Adirondack Family Time: Tri-Lakes and High Peaks Your Guide to Over 300 Activities for Lake Placid, Saranac Lake, Tupper Lake, Keene, Jay and Wilmington areas (with GPS coordinates).


Saturday, November 19, 2011

Adirondack Wild: ACR Project ‘Sprawl on Steriods’

What follows is a recent press release from Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve, a not-for-profit, member supported organization devoted to wilderness and wild nature. Adirondack Wild seeks to advance New York’s Forever Wild legacy and promote policies and land stewardship consistent with wild land values through education, advocacy and research. Adirodnack Wild has been among the most vocal opponents to the Adirondack Club and Resort project now under review by the Adirondack Park Agency. The group argues that the resort development “threatens to undermine 38 Years of Adirondack public policy to preserve backcountry for forest management and open space recreation”. What follows is a press release issued by Adirondack Wild, in its entirety.

This Thursday, the NYS Adirondack Park Agency (APA) began its review of the adjudicatory hearing record of the proposed Adirondack Club and Resort (ACR) near Tupper Lake. That review is expected to take several months, and poses a severe test for APA Chairwoman Lani Ulrich and Governor Andrew Cuomo.

The test is whether APA commissioners will seriously examine the public hearing record, honor their statute, and the APA’s past track record for addressing similar large subdivisions. If the commissioners do all three, they will deny a permit for this damaging, illegal and precedent-setting project.

ACR is the largest subdivision and development proposal to come before the APA in 35 years. It’s comprised of 719 residential units, 332 buildings, and 15 miles of new roads, sewer, water and electrical lines spread all over 6235 mostly undeveloped acres with sensitive water resources on rugged terrain several miles from Tupper Lake in the heart of the Adirondack Park.

As a party to the hearing, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve is asking the APA to deny the project a permit without prejudice to the applicant’s resubmission of an alternative, conservation design which would be compatible with the conserved character of the Adirondack Park and would minimize risks to local taxpayers and service providers.

“The Adirondack Park Agency has served as an institutional advocate for the protection of large tracts of private forest land since 1973,” stated Adirondack Wild’s Dan Plumley. “This is fully in keeping with the APA Act’s requirements for the park’s back country lands. The ACR project, however, if approved in its sprawling, fragmenting design would drastically change all that. If approved during Governor Andrew Cuomo’s watch, this one project would radically upend the protection of the park’s open space resources that all other Governors before, including Governor Mario Cuomo, sought to protect.”

“The 125 conditions listed by the APA hearing staff do not make this an approvable project,” added Adirondack Wild’s David Gibson. “They do nothing to materially alter the subdivision design, or to protect a large contiguous block of the backcountry, or to avoid many undue adverse impacts on the Park’s sensitive natural ecosystems, water resources and iconic wildlife.”

The adjudicatory hearing record is replete with evidence that ACR will cause undue adverse impacts to the Park’s natural resources, and undue financial risks to the community, including:

– ACR is deficient and defective in its required survey of biological resources.

– Wildlife characteristic of the Park, but either uncommon or not found elsewhere in NYS would be seriously impacted.

– ACR violates the purposes, policies and objectives for land classified Resource Management, 77% of the project site.

– ACR is unmarketable as presented, speculative, fails to take its competition into account, can not be completed as projected, understates fiscal vulnerabilities to the community and overstates employment and economic benefits.

– The application fails to present meaningful alternatives, as required by the APA regulations.

Adirondack Wild wrote in its closing statement: “Not once in our professional experience has the APA contemplated permitting 82 new principal buildings, and associated roads, driveways (some as long as half a mile), guest cottages, outbuildings and infrastructure spread all over 4800 acres of Resource Management land…A permit for APA Project 2005-100 risks violating the fundamental purposes and objectives of Resource Management…constituting well over a million acres of the Park’s private backcountry.”

In its closing statement, Adirondack Wild described seven large-acreage subdivisions reviewed by the APA between 1988 and 2009. These were:

1. Patten Corporation, 1988-89
2. Butler Lake, 1991, APA Project 89-312
3. Veteran Mountain Camp, 1992
4. Whitney Park, 1996, APA Project 96-138
5. Oven Mountain Estates, 1995, APA Project 91-110
6. Diamond Sportsmen’s Club, 2001, APA Project 2001-217
7. Brandreth Park Association, 2009, APA Project 2007-117

All of these projects were located either on Resource Management or Rural Use land classification. All were substantially reconfigured or modified by the APA as a result of information revealed through public hearings or staff review. All ensured that large, contiguous forest acreages were preserved for open space recreation and forestry, and all concentrated housing within one relatively small area on the project site. These past projects reveal an APA responsive to its legal mandate to protect areas which the legislature directed to be reserved largely for open space recreation and forestry in order to conserve the special character of the Adirondack Park.

The Adirondack Club and Resort application stands in stark contrast with these past projects. None of the proposed “open space” is contiguous, and large housing developments fragment natural resources by spreading across all 6200 acres, making forest management infeasible, hunting impossible, and threatening those species of native wildlife which require large, undeveloped blocks of forest. Resort housing is not concentrated where the law says it belongs in the Moderate Intensity Use areas near the Big Tupper Ski Area. Furthermore, there is no adequate wildlife inventory or assessment. A respected conservation biologist, Michael Klemens, testified at the hearing that “the club and resort is classic sprawl on steroids. It spreads negative ecological impacts out across the landscape. It is a train wreck resulting from a process that does not allow for understanding natural systems in the first place.”

Hearing evidence also showed highly inflated sales projections. The application alleges that annual sales of raw forest lots in Tupper Lake would exceed those in well-established Stowe, Vermont. An independent ski and resort development expert, David Norden, said the project is founded upon the applicant’s promises and “does not possess the primary characteristics of resorts most likely to succeed as we come out of the recession.” With sales likely to fall well below projections, Norden and others said the tax revenues projected to be reaped by local taxing districts are also likely to fall well below the applicant’s projections. Investment in Big Tupper Ski Area, the most broadly supported local objective, has been relegated to latter phases of the development. Funding for project infrastructure and payments in lieu of taxes also remain highly problematic aspects of the proposal.


Sunday, November 13, 2011

Final Deliberations of ACR Project to Begin

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) will hold its regularly scheduled monthly meeting on Thursday, November 17 and Friday November 18, 2011 at APA Headquarters in Ray Brook, NY. The meeting starts at 9:00 AM. The normal monthly meeting agenda is changed to focus on the Adirondack Club and Resort project. The meeting will be webcast live. In addition, the public is invited to view the webcast live in Tupper Lake at The Wild Center.

This month the Agency will begin a three consecutive monthly meeting cycle to deliberate project 2005-100, the Adirondack Club and Resort. This residential/resort project is proposed for lands in the Town of Tupper Lake, Franklin County. The Board will review the project at the November 17-18 meeting, December 15-16 meeting and the January 19-20 meeting. A decision is expected at the conclusion of the January meeting.

Executive Director Martino said, “The review of the Adirondack Club and Resort project has drawn significant public interest. The Agency is very thankful to The Wild Center for their generous offer to allow the general public to view the webcast at the Natural History Museum in Tupper Lake. Given space limitations at APA Ray Brook headquarters, we encourage the public to take advantage of the opportunity to watch the webcast in Tupper Lake.”

On Thursday morning November 17 the Full Agency will convene at 9:00. At the start of Project 2005-100 deliberations, Executive Director Terry Martino will provide opening remarks followed by Advice of Counsel.

At 10:15, the Board will hear the project description followed by Board determinations on appeals of the Administrative Law Judge decisions rendered during the Adjudicatory Hearing.

At 12:30, the Board will review the Order for Project Hearing and discuss hearing issues ordered by Administrative Law Judge O’ Connell.

At 12:45 the Board will begin to review the record and deliberate the hearing issues. Thursday’s meeting will conclude at 5:30PM.

On Friday morning at 9:00, the Board will reconvene to continue working through the hearing issues. The Friday meeting will conclude at 3:00PM.

See the November meeting agenda for the time schedule and hearing issues descriptions [pdf].

The Agency’s Public Comment Policy does not allow any public comment related to matters before the Board for action. Therefore, during the three consecutive meetings planned for the Adirondack Club and Resort project, the Agency can not accept any public commentary on Project 2005-100.

The Agency requests that anyone planning to attend the November meeting at the Agency’s Ray Brook headquarters please RSVP to Deborah Lester at 518-891-4050 by November 16, 2011.

People interested in viewing the webcast at the Wild Center are encouraged to contact Sally Gross at 518-359-7800 extension 116.


Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Third Adirondack Youth Climate Summit This Week

As preparations for the third Adirondack Youth Climate Summit, on November 9th and 10th, are reaching a crescendo, science centers around the country and the world are in touch with The Wild Center in Tupper Lake to talk about using the Youth Summit model to create a shared summit platform that would allow students in different locations to share ideas and successes. The Summit will bring together more than 170 participants from 30 high schools and colleges across the Adirondacks and ultimately effect more than 25,000 students.

The Summit is the only one of its kind in the country and has already led to financial savings and shifts in mindsets across the Park. Students who participated last year returned to their schools implementing change – creating school gardens to provide food for their cafeterias, expanding recycling and composting programs, replacing power strips with energy smart strips, examining energy saving opportunities by conducting carbon audits for their schools and presenting to school boards about their activities and financial savings. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 24, 2011

Dave Gibson: ACR Myths and Impressions

As Brian Mann recently reported on North Country Public Radio, Adirondack Park Agency (APA) commissioners recently toured the Adirondack Club and Resort (ACR) site. In addition, parties to the hearing have less than a week to make any final reply to the closing statements or legal briefs. In November, Adirondack Club and Resort’s public hearing record will close, and be delivered to APA. This winter, the commissioners will have to render a decision on the application based on that record, and only upon that record. Eight years of pre-hearing review and debate will reach some kind of conclusion.

For those unfamiliar, ACR is a resort proposal comprised of 719 dwellings in 14 separate areas proposed to sprawl across 6200 acres a few miles southeast of Tupper Lake Village, on the slopes of Mount Morris above Tupper Lake and Lake Simond, and just west of Follensby Pond. The subdivisions are proposed for 4800 acres of lands classified by the APA as Resource Management (the most protective land use area under the APA) and 1200 acres of lands classified as Moderate Intensity Use, with a few hundred acres classified as Low Intensity Use. This is the largest second home development proposal to come to the APA since the mid-1970s.

In future posts, I may focus more on the ACR hearing record, but for now I write about several personal impressions, as well as myths about the hearing and the APA law.

Impression 1: All of us involved in this hearing had the privilege of appearing before a truly competent, unbiased, helpful law judge in control of the proceedings, Daniel O’Connell of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation’s Office of Hearings and Mediation Services. For newcomers to a full-blown adjudicatory hearing, Judge O’Connell regularly coached and talked parties not represented by lawyers through our frequently awkward efforts to cross-examine witnesses. Sometimes, he suggested how we could reword our questions to avoid objection. He was assiduous about maintaining the record and exhibits, reasonable about the hearing schedule, insisted upon decorum at all times, patiently listened to all motions and explained his rulings. Most significantly, he gave all parties an equally liberal opportunity to present evidence, admitting into evidence many items that opposing lawyers argued should not be in his effort to assure the APA commissioners with as full a record as possible.

Impression 2: My colleague Dan Plumley and I have watched the APA closely since 1987, and observed past agency staff developing a hearing record. Therefore, we were regularly surprised – and occasionally shocked – by the premature lengths agency hearing staff went in this hearing to argue that various draft conditions on a permit would mitigate demonstrated or potential adverse impacts of the ACR. One day early in the hearing, the agency hearing staff member seemed less interested in what a witness had to say about actual or potential visual impacts of the subdivisions, and more interested in how draft staff conditions had already addressed the problems. How could this staff person know to propose a solid mitigation measure if he wasn’t completely listening to the witness? Wasn’t developing the hearing record more important than presenting draft conditions to a permit so early in the proceeding before the evidence was presented? Isn’t the agency by law and regulation supposed to avoid and minimize impacts before it simply accepts them and attempts to mitigate the damage? I know that the hearing staff are not offering any recommendation to the commissioners as to whether or not to issue a permit, a permit with conditions, or a denial. I also realize that some of the proposed conditions may constitute effective mitigation. However, hearing staff appeared overly eager to condition a defective application and bend to the project sponsor’s aspirations during the proceeding, and even in their closing brief.

Myth 1: APA balances environmental with economic issues. Some media and project proponents portray the 1973 APA Land Use Plan as a balance between resource protection and economic benefits. It wasn’t, and it isn’t. The law’s section 809 states that the agency, in rendering a determination, must find that a given project “would not have an undue adverse impact upon the natural, scenic, aesthetic, ecological, wildlife, historic, recreational or open space resources of the park, or upon the ability of the public to provide supporting facilities and services made necessary by the project, taking into account the commercial, industrial, residential, recreational or other benefits that might be derived from the project.”

There is a vast difference between taking potential benefits into account, and a legal obligation to balance two very different missions. APA’s is an environmental mission, not a balancing act. The courts have ruled this way for decades. In fact, in Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks v. Town Board of Tupper Lake (3d Dept., 2009), the appellate court wrote that in contrast with the State Environmental Quality Review Act, or SEQRA, “the APA…is not charged with such a balancing of goals and concerns but, rather, is required to ensure that certain projects ‘would not have an undue adverse impact”, etc. “Clearly by placing environmental concerns above all others, the APA’s mandate is more protective of the environment than that embodied within SEQRA.”

Myth 2: The decision by the APA in late 2006 to deem Mr. Foxman’s application complete somehow legitimizes all of the application’s data and information. The applicant argued this all the time during and long before the hearing. It is wrong. The application is a statement about goals, desires, and aspirations. It is an allegation, nothing more or less. The hearing is intended to subject those assertions and allegations to expert scrutiny and the rules of evidence. Those rules say that an applicant must present experts whose testimony is competent, material and relevant. The project sponsor had better come up with experts who can competently and materially defend the allegations in the application, or he or she fails to meet their burden of proof, which leads me to my 3rd myth.

Myth 3: Since Mr. Foxman’s application was deemed complete, and because his hearing lawyer was schooled in the law (he actually was the APA Executive Director at one time), the burden of proof is on other parties to show how the application may fail to meet the statutory and regulatory requirements of the APA. Wrong. The burden of proof is squarely on the applicant. “The burden shall be on the project sponsor to present testimony concerning the matters alleged in the application (emphasis mine)” (Section 580 of APA Regulations). Mr. Ulasewicz tried to switch that burden many times during the hearing, often attempting unsuccessfully to intimidate witnesses about their knowledge of APA law and regulation. “Has so and so expert read the Act?” he would ask. “If he had, he would know that residential development is an allowed use of Resource Management,”etc. Adirondack Wild’s expert, who was a conservation biologist, pointed out that he was not retained to debate whether the Act allows development, but to present evidence about how and where the location, scope and intensity of that development could impact sensitive natural resources.

To go one step further, even an impartial observer – and I readily admit to not being one – would have noticed how poorly Mr. Foxman’s team met its burden of proof about the alleged tremendous economic benefits of the ACR, its alleged vast sales and tax potential, and its alleged immaterial burdens on the community. ACR’s so-called expert witnesses in these arenas often were unfamiliar with the application, or where the data in it came from, or could not disclose material and relevant sources to back up their arguments. I may return to the hearing record in future posts.

Photos: Above, outlook from summit of Mt. Morris, Cranberry Pond and Lake Simond in distance; Below, scene from the hearing in Ray Brook, Judge O’Connell at center.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

‘Conference of the Birds’ Wild Center Theatre Event

The Adirondack Lakes Summer Theatre Festival continues its second season with an encore performance of stage director Peter Brook’s work performed in the Great Hall at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. After performing two sold out performances at St. Williams on Long Point, Conference of the Birds returns due to popular demand at a much-reduced cost. With a single performance on August 8th at 8 pm, audiences will get one last opportunity to see this production.

The storyline of the play focuses on a nation of birds in crisis. Urged on by one of their flock, the Hoopoe, they chart a path to find their king. Above all, the Hoopoe tries to help them conquer their fear of life as the stage becomes an astonishing aviary. Through masks, dance and song, this beautiful adaptation of the 12th Century poem comes to life in a magical evening of theater. Appropriate for all ages. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 31, 2011

Comets, Meteors and More with David H. Levy

On Monday, August 1, David H. Levy and the Adirondack Public Observatory will present “Comets, Meteors and More” at the Flammer Theater at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake, NY. There will also be a celestial observing event in the parking lot after the presentation, weather permitting. David H. Levy will also be doing a book signing after the presentation.

David Levy is an astronomer and science writer who is most famous for his co-discovery of the comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 in 1993, which collided with the planet Jupiter in 1994. Levy began his telescopic comet search, called CN3, on December 17, 1965. David has tied for third place for his number of comets found by an individual at 22 comet discoveries. Levy is probably best known as a comet discoverer who appears on television and radio programs devoted to astronomy. He is an Emmy winner, reveived the award in 1998 as a part of a writing team for the Discovery Channel documentary “Three Minutes to Impact,” and his work has been featured in 35 publications.

Lecture is from 7-8pm and a book signing at 8-8:30pm. I’m looking forward to going and hope other interested in astronomy can make their way to the Wild Center for the event.

This event comes at the perfect time for the Delta Aquarids Meteor shower which peaks on July 28 and 29, although you should still see some meteors into early August. This meteor shower produces around 20 meteors per hour and can be found radiating near the constellation Aquarius. Best time to look for this shower is after midnight to the east. The moon will be a small crescent moon so it shouldn’t cause too many problems due to it’s light.

Photo: The flier posted on the Adirondack Public Observatory website advertising for the David H. Levy presentation

Michael Rector is an amateur astronomer with his own blog, Adirondack Astronomy.


Saturday, July 23, 2011

Solar-Voltaic Boot Camp at the Wild Center

As the cost of home heating oil rises and oil reserves decline, the need for alternative renewable energy sources such as solar has never been greater. You can help kick the oil habit by learning to install solar photo-voltaic systems at The Wild Center, in Tupper Lake. From August 8 – 10, the HeatSpring Learning Institute will host a Solar Photo-Voltaic Installer Boot Camp Training course targeted for electrical contractors, general contractors, roofers, engineers and home installers.

This intensive solar training teaches you to design, install, and sell solar PV (electric) systems, plus helps you pass the North American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners (NABCEP) Entry Level Exam. The training combines 16 hours of online lessons including reading assignments, worksheets and other prep with a three-day classroom based boot camp including hands-on exercises and face to face time with an ISPQ Certified Master trainer. On the last day of the training students take the NABCEP Entry Level Exam. The blended format of this course is designed to keep time off-the-job to a minimum and present the material in a variety of formats to allow for a variety of student learning styles.

The three-day classroom based training follows 16 hours of online study beforehand when you review OSHA and solar safety, electricity basics, solar basics, solar components and solar integration. Learn to design and install solar electric systems from A to Z while earning 40 Board approved hours toward NABCEP certification, a key step to beginning or expanding your solar business.

Instructor Ken Thames is a master electrician, NABCEP Certified Solar PV Installer, ISPQ Certified Master Trainer and founder of Thames Electric Co, in Denver, Colorado. Ken has installed more than 500 solar PV systems since 1994, has deep expertise in battery-backed systems, project management experience on megawatt-scale projects, and teaches courses on the NEC for inspectors.

Each day the course runs from 8 am until 5 pm. With early registration and The Wild Center coupon, the cost for the course is $1,195. The cost includes books, exam fees, field guides, as well as coffee, breakfast and lunch on all three days. Register online for the three-day comprehensive course, at www.wildcenter.org and go to Calendar of Events or contact Andrew Kitzenberg at 1-800-393-2044 x 22.


Thursday, June 30, 2011

Tupper Lake Woodsmen’s Days July 9-10

Tupper Lake Woodsmen’s Days is July 9 and 10 this year. The annual event attracts thousands of visitors for two full days of timbersport events, heavy equipment contests, the Adirondacks’ largest horse-pull and chain saw carving events, as well as a wide range of games and contests for the entire family.

Woodsmen’s Days kicks-off Friday evening, July 8, with the an annual banquet open to the public. The weekend’s events honor woodsmen and women, heavy equipment operators and representatives of the wood products industry. Those wishing to attend the banquet should call the Woodsmen’s office at 359-9444 for a reservation.

The Woodsmen’s Days action begins at 10 a.m. Saturday morning with a miles-long parade featuring over 50 floats, marching bands and pieces of logging equipment through the business district en route to the municipal park where the weekend’s events take place. This year’s parade theme is “Dreams, Wishes and Imagination.”

At noon on Saturday timbersports contests among lumberjacks and ladyjacks begin in the park area; the contests will run continuously throughout the afternoon. Contestants, some of the best in the United States and Canada, will chop, saw, roll and maneuver heavy logs in a number of contests that afternoon in an attempt to garner the highest number of points in each event to be declared the overall winner at the end of the daylong competition. Events will include open and modified chain sawing (four classes), crosscut and buck-saw matches, log rolling, axe throwing, human log skidding, tree felling and horizontal log chop.

Outside the staging area, as well as the lakefront area, various vendors and heavy equipment dealers will display everything from new machinery to t-shirts and caps. Games and contests, food and refreshments and live music will also be offered both days.

As soon as the parade is over, the chainsaws will come alive as they compete in a number of chainsaw carving events, including a 60 minute carving contest, which will be held outside the main grandstand area. Following the event, an auction will be held for the completed work.

Also that afternoon, at 1 p.m. in the heavy equipment area, some of the best heavy equipment operators in the northeast face off in the popular loading competition.

A highlight of the evening will begin at 7 p.m. when youngsters compete in their own games including maneuvering a horizontal greased pole. At approximately 7:30 p.m., men and women will team up in various competitions, including the popular tug-of-war and grease pole climb (also open to women).

At noon Sunday, the Adirondacks’ Largest Horse pull will kick off the afternoon. Over $3,700 will be presented to the top teams of heavy and lightweight horse pull divisions. Also that afternoon, at 1 p.m., contestants will compete in the skidding and truck driving competitions.

For information about this year’s event contact the Woodsmen’s Association at (518) 359-9444.


Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Wild Center Fourth of July BuzzzFest

The Wild Center is kicking off the Fourth of July weekend with an all day festival on Saturday, July 2nd. BuzzzFest will be a day of fun honoring creatures from dragonflies to honey bees and all the buzzing, chirping and crawling things in between.

During Bug Chef David George Gordon’s three live cooking shows he will create culinary masterpieces using ants, grasshoppers, waterbugs, centipedes, scorpions and their kin.

Visitors can help in the cooking and the tasting with the freewheeling naturalist who has been featured in Ripley’s Believe It or Not, National Geographic Kids, The Wall Street Journal and Time magazine. He’s been a guest on Late Night with Conan O’Brien, ABC’s Nightline and The View.

For those who want to hear some bugs and not eat them, The Beatles Revolution, an internationally-known Beatles Tribute Band will be on-hand. They have performed at the Cavern Club in Liverpool and were featured on the BBC. Their four-set show spans the life, music and costumes of the Fab Four. The show runs from Ed Sullivan to Abbey Road.

On the live insect side, The God of Insects is bringing a collection of some of the world’s most astounding insects. No discredit intended to our own black flies and mosquitos, but the God of Insects collection has some of the stars of the insect world, including Madagascar hissing roaches, bess beetles, stick insects, giant millipedes, huge exotic spiders and more.

BuzzzFest will feature honey chicken barbecue and festive Fourth of July food prepared by the Center’s new Executive Chef Phil Smith and plenty of meal offerings from area culinary enterprises.

The new live theater show Unhuggables will premiere at 1pm. It’s all about Adirondack animals with bad reputations. With humor, stories and lots of live animals you’ll be able to see how some creatures that don’t get much love deserve some.

The day will also feature CSI Bugs. Visitors can catch bugs or see the ones collected by staff under the huge microscope. Center staff will be on hand to help you see what’s what in the insect world. You can bring in a mosquito to see exactly how it does its vampire act. The Center’s Butterfly Garden will be open, plus there will be insect races, insect tours, and a live bee hive demonstration with a hive expert to show you how to raise your own bees, and free buzzz cuts for the kids and the willing.

“Bring the family,” said Rob Carr, who is heading up the day at the Center, “and we’ll do everything we can to send you home buzzzing with ideas. We plan to have big day where people can kick back, relax and enjoy a fun Adirondack Fourth…on the Second.”

The Wild Center is open daily from 10 a.m. until 6p.m. between Memorial Day and Labor Day. For more information, visit www.wildcenter.org.


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Adirondack Family Activities: Scenic RR Summer Events

There certainly is controversy about the Adirondack Scenic Railroad being a viable tourist attraction versus the tracks becoming an interconnecting bike path through the towns of Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake.

Those that believe the expense, need and usage isn’t warranted are often pitted against nostalgic train riders who want to ride the rails. For now the Adirondack Scenic Railroad is running full steam ahead for the summer season. For parents wishing for a different type of experience, perhaps this is the way to go.

I have never been sure what made my son stop in his tracks when he heard a train’s whistle. Is it a taste of magic, new destinations or a promise of adventure? For us as we board the Adirondack Scenic Railroad and hear the conductor yell “Ready to button up,” it is a bit of each. With our busy lives this is one Adirondack family activity where we really do get to sit and watch clouds go by. » Continue Reading.



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