The internet is doing for snowmobiling what Warren Miller films have done for skiing for 50 years. On YouTube you can now watch your Adirondack neighbors performing outlandish, sick and sometimes illegal stunts on sleds. Here are just a few:
Most sledders don’t do such badass stuff, of course. And the people in these videos don’t seem to be endangering anyone but themselves.
But this one is scary: “Coming from the Tap Room in Raquette Lake, NY.” The helmet-cam video would actually be boring if it weren’t for the tension created by those words, “coming from the Tap Room,” and the fact that the driver passes a car and other sleds on a public road while going 67 miles per hour.
As my father often says, these guys are dearly wanted in heaven. Thirteen so far in the state this winter. No more, let’s hope.
The Wild Center will be presenting a program by Jim Juczak on “Alternative Power sources for Your Home: Wind, Solar, and Wood” tomorrow Saturday, February 21st at 1 pm in the Flammer Theatre. There is a lot of information on alternative energy systems available and it’s hard to know what works and what doesn’t. Jim Juczak will describe how wind turbines, photovoltaic panels and wood heaters work and how they can be installed in your community or on your own home. As the cost of non-renewable energy rises, using locally produced, renewable energy systems will become much more important. This program will attempt to demystify and simplify your understanding of these important sources of power. James S. Juczak is from Adams Center, NY has been a middle school and high school shop teacher for 26 years, with a strong focus on teaching his students practical skills. He and his wife, Krista, founded Woodhenge in 1997- it is an off-grid, mortgage-free intentional community. Their property is intended as a living museum for alternative energy, alternative structures and alternative food production systems serving as a working example in sustainability for local communities. They grow and preserve more than half of their food using traditional methods. Jim is on a leave of absence from his public school job in order to write, lecture and farm. His book: “The High Art and Subtle Science of Scrounging” will be published in the Spring of 2009. He was featured by the Science Channel’s Invention Nation program on building wind turbines from scratch.
For more information visit www.wildcenter.org or call 518-359-7800. The program is free for members or with paid admission.
The Adirondacks’ largest species of venomous snake will be featured at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake this Sunday (and three more Sundays to come). The Wild Center’s resident herpetologist Frank Panaro will present a program about the timber rattlesnakes found in Adirondacks which are listed as threatened in New York and are only found in limited areas in the region.
This event brings up a little historical note from Flavius J. Cook’s 1858 Home sketches of Essex County: Ticonderoga: Elisha Belden was a near neighbor of Mr. [Gideon] SHATTUCK’s [at the south end of Trout Brook Valley – presumably in present day Hague near the Ticonderoga town line], . .closely following him in time of settlement , tastes and occupations… Father Elisha was famous for hunting rattle-snakes, which he sent from the Rattle-snake’s den near Roger’s Rock, as curiosities to various parts. The stories of his captures of that reptile with a crotched stick, and of his particular power over them, are no less wonderful than well authenticated. In one of his trips to the den, on a Sabbath afternoon, he was badly bitten, but he said “it was because the varmints did not know him, as he was dressed up and had on white stockings – they thought he was Judge [Isaac] KELLOG.” At last going out one day alone, to fill a basket with this dangerous game, the old man did not return. When found he was sitting upon the rocks, leaning back, frightfully swollen and blackened with poison – dead. A snake, cut to pieces with his jack-knife, lay by his side, with fragments of flesh, thought to be a remedy for poison, which he had applied to the bite beneath his arm, to which, it is supposed, the chafing of his side against the cover of the basket, as he carried it had let out the heads of the reptiles. It was said, as before, that a change of clothes he had lately made put it beyond the wisdom of the rattlesnakes to recognize him, and hence his power over them was lost, but a better explanation was a half empty whiskey-bottle found near the spot whose contents had so fatally palsied the truly remarkable courage and skill of the old hunter.
Rattlesnakes were once a more common sight in the Adirondacks – Elisha BElden was a well-known entertainer with rattlers on the Lake George Steamships (he was on the John Jay when it sunk, for instance). Today we have few opportunities to see these amazing animals. Frank Panaro’s presentation will also include information concerning venomous snakes and venom in general in addition to a snake handling demonstration and a chance for you to ask questions. One of the Museum’s timber rattlesnakes will be in attendance for a close up view on the special live camera that lets you see the snake closer than you would ever see one in the wild.
The Timber Rattlesnakes of the Adirondacks program will also be held on Sunday, February 22nd, March 8th, and March 22nd at 1 pm.
The Wild Center and Cornell Cooperative Extension have partnered on a beginner gardening series at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Aspiring gardeners can join the crew from Cornell Cooperative Extension and The Wild Center for a series of presentations focusing on gardening skills for people who want to start or expand their gardens. Getting a successful garden going can be tough, especially in the North County, and this series is designed to help people get past the first few hurdles that stop too many area gardens before they get going. Participants will find out what to plant, where to plant it, and how to keep plants alive. The series includes practical ways to start growing vegetables, berries and/or herbs in your own backyard. The beginners gardening workshops will be interactive and packed with information you can take home and put to use. Veteran gardeners are welcome to join in and share their knowledge. 1/17 – Let’s get started! 1 pm in the Flammer Theatre Do you have a great garden in mind but aren’t sure where to begin? One of the first steps is to plan your gardening space and decide if you should plant in open soil, containers, or in raised beds. Join Anne Lenox Barlow, from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Clinton County, to learn what gardening layouts are most appropriate for your yard, lifestyle and needs. Proper planning prior to the start of the planting season will put you on track to have a bountiful harvest this summer and fall. Following a detailed presentation, Anne will facilitate small group conversations and allow time for you to talk with an Adirondack gardening expert.
2/7 – How to pick what to plant? 1pm in the Flammer Theatre Do you dream of fresh tomatoes? Lettuce galore? Luscious berries? Join Amy Ivy, from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Clinton County, as she explores your gardening selection possibilities and makes suggestions for easy-to-grow plants for beginners. Following a detailed presentation, Amy will facilitate small group conversations and allow time for you to talk with an Adirondack gardening expert.
3/7 – How Can I extend my gardens growing season? 1 pm in the Flammer Theatre Potential gardeners shouldn’t be scared away by the short growing season in the Adirondacks. Join Richard Gast, from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Franklin County, to discuss some techniques for extending the growing season that have been successful in the North Country. There are devices that can add a few weeks to the front end of your growing season and again in the fall as well as ways to make the most of our short growing season. Following the detailed presentation, Richard will facilitate small group conversation and allow time for you to talk with an Adirondack gardening expert. 3/28 – Trouble Shooting and Trouble Prevention 1pm in the Flammer Theatre Are you worried about battling beetles, deer or groundhogs in your garden? Are you wondering how veteran gardeners manage their insect, disease, or weed problems? These gardeners have learned ways to help their plants thrive while protecting the environment. Emily Selleck from Cornell Cooperative Extension of Essex County, will share her knowledge of tips and ideas to make your garden healthy and productive. Following a detailed presentation, Emily will facilitate small group conversations and allow time for you to talk with an Adirondack gardening expert.
This program is free for members or with paid admission. No pre-registration is required. For more information on The Wild Center and its programs, visit www.wildcenter.org or call (518) 359-7800.
The Wild Center has unveiled final plans for the Adirondack Climate gathering, describing the economic focus of the event. The conference, open to the public, will take place November 18 and 19 at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake. Officially titled ‘The American Response to Climate Change – The Adirondack Model: Using Climate Change Solutions to Restore a Rural American Economy,’ the event has been in the planning stages for more than a year. The Conference will include the release of a major study by the Wildlife Conservation Society compiling information on the current impacts of climate change on the Adirondacks and showing detailed projections for the region in the near future. The goal of the Conference according to organizers is to develop a local plan to boost the region’s economy in a world changed by climate related economics. Mickey Desmarais, who is the Mayor of Tupper Lake, is part of the Conference planning team. “We are all in agreement that new type of green power production is exciting,” he said, “but the biggest and most effective thing we can all do is to conserve what we have. It has to be done at every level, town, village, and in each and every home. We have never had this cost incentive before–-now we do and we are paying attention. We need to keep educating ourselves and the discussion at the conference will help us do that. We know our winter weather is more severe than other parts of the state so that is all the more reason to be smarter about energy. ”
The Adirondack Conference will include groups focused on energy-efficient buildings that will reduce area energy bills and create new jobs through retrofits of existing buildings and new construction, alternative fuels including cellulosic biofuels and forest by-products, small scale power generation technologies and how they could be developed in the region, the development of new local businesses that will benefit from the expected new cap on national carbon emissions, and the role of natural resources, such as clean water and forests. With water shortages predicted by many climate models, the Adirondack supply may have special future value. There is more information about the conference at its official website, www.usclimateaction.org.
“Many of us think this is the best place in the world to live and raise families,” said Ann Heidenreich, Executive Director of Community Energy Services and another of the Conference organizers. “The people here know how to do things. We like to be independent, we get things done ourselves. I don’t see any reason in the world that we can’t get together as Adirondackers and take this opportunity to have the rest of the country say, ‘wow, those guys figured it out.’ I think we can figure out how to put energy money back into our own neighborhoods instead of sending it to Canada or Saudi Arabia for oil.”
Kate Fish, a Lake Placid resident who is Conference Director for both the National and Adirondack Conferences, said that the Adirondack gathering could have immediate impact, and said that many grassroots organizations were already helping to boost the region. “There is something big already happening here. People are looking into the future and seeing that the age of cheap energy is over – that means a possible new day for local food, for locally-generated electricity, for local materials that used to be priced out of the market because it was cheaper to truck something from Mexico than to buy it from a local maker, and when all that changes, a place like the Adirondacks could actually come out ahead.” She cited a study that says that every dollar spent locally circulates between 5 and 14 times in the local community. Fish said that last year Essex County residents alone spent $15 million on fuel oil to heat their homes, 70 percent of it imported. “That’s a lot of money to send away, and a lot that could be invested it in local power generation or savings.”
Stephanie Ratcliffe is executive director of The Wild Center where the idea for the national climate conference held last June and the regional conference was created. Ratcliffe says the conferences were custom-made for the new Museum. “We’re here in part so people can come together to dig into ideas that are important for how the Adirondacks work. We do need a better economy here, and we don’t need a snowless winter. The Adirondack idea of people living with nature works when our kids don’t have to move away to find jobs, and when we can still swim in clean lakes, this Conference gets at both those issues.”
The Adirondack Conference will take place after the election. “Washington won’t start to move until 2009,” said Lake Placid Mayor Jamie Rogers, one of the Conference co-chairs. “The more you look at this the more you see two things. We actually can do this. We can become more independent, and then you see that we’re in great shape to be out in front in the Adirondacks. We don’t have billions of dollars of skyscrapers that all have to be redone. I think of someone in New York City trying to get local food, or a local hydro dam or cutting the waste in their water system, boy it would be tough. We’ve already cut our electric use in Lake Placid by enlisting the scouts to sell energy efficient light bulbs instead of candy.”
The Adirondack Conference will be attended by members of the following businesses, academic institutions, and organizations: New York State Tug Hill Commission, New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, Wildlife Conservations Society, The Nature Conservancy, Adirondack Park Agency, New York State Department of State, Workforce Development Institute, Adirondack Community Housing Trust, Adirondack Council, Union of Concerned Scientists, SUNY – ESF, St. Lawrence University, Houghton College, Hamilton College, Paul Smith’s College, Community Power Network, Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks, Adirondack Mountain Club, Energy $mart Park Initiative, and the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks.
The Conference is open to the public. To register, please visit www.usclimateaction.org
We normally keep our post here at the Adirondack Almanack to regional concerns. But it’s time for Governor Pataki’s State of the State Address – and while the Pataki Administration has been piling it high and deep, a more sober assessment, relevant for those of us inside the Blue Line, comes from the People’s State of the State. A rally is planned in Albany for tomorrow to urge New York lawmakers to do something about poverty in New York including its “skyrocketing heating bills, lack of access to affordable quality health care, and high housing costs.”
Some highlights from their press release:
Food lines at food pantries and soup kitchens remain at historically high levels and expect the situation to worsen following federal budget cuts and changes in the federal TANF program.
If we look back in time 25 years, a few of our local churches were beginning closet pantries. Today we have 43 food pantries and 22 soup kitchens in Albany and southern Rensselaer County alone, serving more than 2 million meals each year. Programs do not have the resources to do what they are being asked to do,” noted Lynda Schuyler, Director of the Food Pantries of the Capital District.
Anti-hunger advocates are seeking an increase in state funding for the Hunger Prevention and Nutrition Assistance Program from $22.8 million to $30 million. State funding is down $2 million from four years ago. Groups are also concerned about Congress’ elimination of all funding for the Community Food Nutrition Program, the main federal funding for anti-hunger organizations.
Unfortunately, there is probably no one monitoring the poverty situation in the Adirondacks (one of the poorest regions in the state) and no visible advocates for working poor families. There’s more here.
Another disturbing trend for our area is the effective elimination of the DEC ability to monitor our environment and deal with corporate polluters and exploiters. From Inside Albany this week we learned that nearly 800 staff positions have disappeared from the agency since the mid-1990s:
[Environmental Committee Chair Thomas DiNapoli, a Nassau county Democrat] invited DEC commissioner Denise Sheehan to answer questions about how the agency was coping with its severely reduced staff. However, she faxed her testimony, saying she was unable to appear. Sheehan gave no reason and didn’t send an assistant commissioner to read her testimony.
DiNapoli asked Assembly staffer Rick Morse to read Sheehan’s statement. It ran down a list of nearly a dozen examples of Governor Pataki’s “leadership” on the environment. They included the governor’s greenhouse gas initiative to cap carbon dioxide emissions. Also on the list were Pataki’s open space acquisitions. He counts 932,00 acres of land toward his goal of preserving a million acres. The statement did not mention the department’s decline in staff.
Not only were the numbers down, [Environmental Advocates] Tim Sweeney said. Governor Pataki’s general hiring freeze combined with early retirement incentives had stripped the agency of valuable knowledge. Valuable expertise and institutional memory had been lost in the retirements. The trend is likely to get worse. A comptroller’s report estimated that 38% of the department’s staff will be retirement-eligible by 2007. About a thousand more could go by then.
Worse indeed. More large scale developments like those at North Creek and Tupper, enormous development pressures on Warren and Essex counties, proposed wind farms in the park, roads being turned over to ATVs, snowmobile trails expanding every year, more visitors every year, all while year round residents deal with a serious lack of affordable housing, generations of local poverty, closing public schools, low-wage tourism jobs – the one state agency that should be taking a lead role on life in the Adirondack Park is asleep at the wheel.
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