In the closing stages of its efforts to strengthen dam safety across the state, New York’s Department of Environmental Conservation has posted for public comment amended regulations proposed following the failure of a southern Adirondack dam in 2005.
The proposed regulations would more than double those sections of New York’s Codes, Rules and Regulations devoted to dam safety (and here, and here), implementing a regimen of inspections and record keeping requirements for owners of dams across the state. The the amended proposed regulations would also strengthen the State’s enforcement capacity, allowing the DEC to undertake repairs of privately-owned dams in cases of imminent peril to the public. » Continue Reading.
For your Sunday afternoon reading pleasure comes this delightful press release from Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky. The FUND for Lake George and the Waterkeeper are working together to support state legislation to ban the sale of high phosphorus household cleaners and fertilizers. According to Navitsky, studies find 50 percent of phosphorus in stormwater runoff comes from lawn fertilizers and nine to 34 percent of phosphorus in municipal sewage treatment plants is from household cleaning products. New York law would follow laws in Minnesota, Maine and Wisconsin and a law just enacted in Westchester County. You’ve got a lot of science and policy reading ahead of you, so enjoy! Lake George – The FUND for Lake George and Lake George Waterkeeper support new state legislation to ban the sale of high phosphorus products used for household (and commercial) cleaning supplies and in lawn fertilizers. The impact of the widespread use of these products is that they contribute to water pollution across New York. In this action, New York follows successful legislative efforts of the state of Minnesota, which passed similar legislation in 2005, and Maine, which started its law on January 1, 2008, and Wisconsin, which just passed similar legislation in April 2009. Local laws banning phosphorus in household cleaning products and lawn fertilizers have passed a number of counties in Michigan, Florida, and Illinois, among other states such as Maryland and Vermont. In New York, Westchester County recently passed a phosphorus product sale ban in order to protect the water quality of its public drinking water supply reservoirs and the Long Island Sound. Studies of the Minnesota law found 97% compliance in retail establishments, no higher costs for consumers, and found an overall decrease in phosphorus loading to state waters.
“One pound of phosphorus can make 50-60 pounds of algae in a lake or pond” said Peter Bauer, Executive Director of the FUND for Lake George. “This state legislation would have a positive impact on Lake George where overall phosphorus levels have continued to rise due to poor lawn management, lack of stream buffers, poorly designed and managed septic systems, and high volumes of stormwater runoff. Limiting the amount of phosphorus used in fertilizers and in household cleaning products used primarily for dishwashing, is an important tool to help protect the water quality of Lake George.”
This legislation prohibits the sale or distribution of household/commercial cleaning products used in dishwashers that contain 0.5% by weight of a phosphorus compound, reduced from 8.7%, and to prohibit the use of such products in commercial establishments as of July 1, 2010. High phosphorus household cleaning detergents often include as much as 9% phosphorus and are often responsible for between 9 – 34% of the total phosphorus in municipal water treatment plants. The legislation bans the sale of fertilizers that contains 0.67% by weight of phosphorus. The NYS Department of Environmental Conservation estimates that fertilizers can be responsible for 50% of the total phosphorus in stormwater runoff. Phosphorus loading continues to negatively impact Lake George.
“It’s important to limit the amount of phosphorus that is being loaded into Lake George” said Chris Navitsky, the Lake George Waterkeeper. “Each time it rains, improperly managed stormwater loads phosphorus into the lake. Phosphorus in fertilizers is being washed into Lake George, is not being absorbed into the soils and becoming absorbed into soils and is failing its intended use.”
The issue of phosphorus loading into Lake George has long been identified as a major long-term problem facing the lake. The 2001, the Lake George Park Commission published a report “Total Phosphorus Budget Analysis for the Lake George Watershed” by Sterns & Wheler, which concluded that “The majority of phosphorus loading is from surface water runoff, with a disproportionate amount of runoff derived from developed area round the lake as compared to undeveloped (forested and agricultural) areas. Although developed areas only account for 5 percent of the land area in the watershed, they produce 43 percent of all the phosphorus that enters the lake as surface runoff.” The report also calculated that Lake George is receiving 300% of the amount of phosphorus that it can naturally process.
Lake George is buffered somewhat as compared with other lakes across New York as its watershed is 95% forested. The undeveloped natural forest systems around Lake George load phosphorus to the lake. This happens as leaves and twigs that fall into the lake decay and as sediment is carried to the lake as part of the natural stream bed load, among other ways. A healthy Lake George needs phosphorus to function. Excess phosphorus causes water pollution and the natural aging processes are accelerated.
The Sterns & Wheler report stated that undeveloped areas around Lake George, which includes 95% of the entire watershed (some 141,500 acres), produces as much phosphorus as the developed 5% of the watershed (some 7,500 acres). Just 5% of the watershed around Lake George is developed with houses, roads, parking lots, barns, stores, parks, sewers, yards, and a whole lot more, whereas. 95% is still relatively wild, either in private forest lands, a backyard forest, or as part of the state’s Forest Preserve. From this 2001 study the developed areas deliver phosphorus to the Lake George at a ratio of 15-1 when compared with natural forest areas. This is consistent with research around the U.S. that compares developed areas with non-developed areas. Use of household cleaning detergents and fertilizers are part of the overall phosphorus loading problem.
As mentioned above, Lake George receives 300% more phosphorus than it can process naturally. What happens to phosphorus-rich waters? They steadily lose water clarity as transparency in the water is lost as microscopic algal life is stimulated. They stimulate greater plant growth, which is turns creates more decayed matter on the lake bottom thus changing the aquatic system as this matter accumulates. Phosphorus rich waters are also very hospitable to invasive aquatic species, such as Eurasian Watermilfoil (EWM), which require high levels of nutrients. High phosphorus rates are also a human health issue as this can make water not safe to drink. High levels of phosphorus also contribute to creation each summer of a “dead zone” on Lake George where oxygen levels are depleted due to high nutrient levels making large parts of the lake unable to support fish life. Lake George has been experiencing a slow, steady decline in water quality. Land use changes and poor land use practices on just 5% of the land areas around the lake have changed the lake’s water quality.
“Legislation to control phosphorus pollution from household cleaning products and lawn fertilizers is critical to help manage and reduce water pollution across New York. Lake George is enormously important to the local economy. In many ways, Lake George is the engine of the Warren County economy. The high property values, robust tourism season, sport fishing and boating industries, among others, all require clean water” said Peter Bauer.
“If this legislation is unsuccessful at the state level, we would explore whether or not it’s feasible for the Lake George Park Commission to undertake a similar effort within the Lake George watershed” said Chris Navitsky.
Congratulations to five Lake Placid residents who won the team category in the Tuckerman Inferno pentathalon Saturday. The course links running (8.3 miles), downriver kayaking (7.5 miles), bicycling (18 miles), hiking (3.5 miles) and finally a 600-foot climb-up/ski-down of Tuckerman Ravine, the spring backcountry ski mecca on the side of New Hampshire’s Mount Washington. The Inferno combines the April recreation options of hardcore Northeastern mountain jocks. Team Lake Placid finished in 3:46:21, ten minutes ahead of a second-place group from Vermont. The Lake Placid crew comprised people who manage to stay seriously fit despite serious day jobs: Marc Galvin (run), Charlie Cowan (kayak), Edward Sparkowski (bike), Jeff Erenstone (hike) and Laurie Schulz (ski).
Also Saturday fourteen club cyclists with Team Placid Planet finished the punishing 65-mile Tour of the Battenkill in southern Washington County, the largest bike race in the United States. The loop includes about 15 unpaved miles and attracts both amateur and pro riders with its challenging hills. Among Adirondackers competing were Keith Hager, Dan Anhalt, Bill McGreevy, Charlie Mitchell, Jim Walker, Bruce Beauharnois, Ed Smith, Dan Reilly, Bill Schneider, Bill Whitney, Tim Akers, Shawn Turner, Darci LaFave and Susanna Piller.
On this Tax Deadline Day 2009, residents of New York’s 20th Congressional District are stuck in unrepresented limbo. Two weeks after the balloting in the special election to fill the house seat, both sides have doubled-down, adding lawyers and recount strategists to their campaign payrolls. The lawyers have been challenging absentee ballots right and left (mostly right). Of the votes cast at the polls on Election Day, Republican candidate James Tedisco held a 65 vote (.04%) edge over Democrat Scott Murphy. And that right there is about where the pavement ends. Here are a few signposts to look for on the rest of the journey: Timing is Everything Though the partisan challenges make too spongy a foundation for solid analysis of the numbers, in most counties Murphy seems to have increased his margins in the absentee count over the Election Day machine count. One possible explanation for this phantom trend may be in the timing of the votes: any number of absentee votes may have been cast before the last week and a half of the campaign when Tedisco surged on his efforts to associate Murphy with the AIG executive bonuses.
The Saratoga Stakes Domestic absentee ballots—due last week—have been tabulated and reported in eight of the ten counties in the district. The other two counties, Saratoga and Washington (both containing Adirondack voting precincts) have withheld progress reports while the ballots are being tabulated, awaiting a full and final tally.
Of the 6726 absentee ballots returned throughout the district, Saratoga County accounts for 1842 (twenty-seven percent). Capitol Confidential blog reports 714 (thirty-nine percent) of Saratoga’s absentee ballots have been challenged and must await a court ruling on their validity before being counted. The importance of every other skirmish in the recount hinges on the resolution of these challenges and the count of these votes. On Election Day, Tedisco won the machine count in Saratoga County with over fifty-four percent of the vote. If he manages to increase that margin in the absentee count (defying Murphy’s possible edge in early votes) then he may win the race without resorting to other stratagems. If not, go to plan B . . .
Pray for Reinforcement On Monday, Tedisco petitioned to prolong the period for the return of military ballots to the district. Bear in mind this would not extend the postmark deadline for military voters—that was and remains March 30th. Apart from signaling a dim faith in the Pentagon’s capacity to fight two wars and deliver mail in a timely manner all at once, there seems to be little advantage in this maneuver other than the buying of time. Which brings us to the final signpost.
When in Doubt, Stall Tedisco has pretty much put his career on the line in this race. It has already cost him his minority leadership position in the New York Assembly. If he loses here, he will be increasingly vulnerable to a challenge in his Assembly district should he stand for reelection. Fundraising for his next race will be tough enough without having to deal with the enormous debt this race will dump on him (which he will have to deal with even if he prevails). In short, Tedisco has nothing to lose by playing this recount out as long as possible, raising as much GOP money as he can while the national spotlight remains on him. Even if it means letting the residents of New York’s 20th Congressional District go a few more weeks or months without representation in Washington.
UPDATED @ 1:00 PM In the cliffhanger race for New York’s 20th congressional district seat, sixty-five votes separate Leader Scott Murphy from James Tedisco, with between six and ten thousand absentee votes yet to be counted. In the northern block of the district, inside the Adirondack Park boundary, conventionally regarded as reliable conservative turf, order was somewhat upended by yesterday’s vote. In Essex, Warren and Washington counties, Scott Murphy took 51.5% of machine votes cast in towns inside the Blue Line. Murphy found strongest support up north where he won Keene and North Elba by 69% and 60% respectively, and the town of Dresden on the east shore of Lake George where he took over 55%. Jim Tedisco’s best showing in this region came in the towns of Schroon and North Hudson where he garnered 59% of votes cast, and Stony Creek where 57% favored the Republican/Conservative. Turnout across Essex County was 26.5% of registered and active voters.
Saratoga County was the only Adirondack County in the district for which town-by-town results were not available.
* All votes for the town of Fort Ann, which straddles the park boundary, were included in our count.
Candidates for New York’s 20th congressional district battled to a draw last night, extending the month-long special election campaign by two weeks at the very least. With 100 percent of the voting precincts reporting from the tripod district that covers portions of ten counties, Democrat Scott Murphy led Republican James Tedisco by 65 votes, out of a total of more than 154,000 votes cast by machine. The results do not include write-in votes or paper and absentee ballots. Absentee ballots will be counted on April 7, with ballots received by overseas military personnel to be counted April 13. The bottom line of this election, as viewed on this April Fool’s Day: Expect a recount that is longer and more expensive than the original campaign.
There is an opportunity in the last days of any close, high-stakes political race to gain a clear view of the strategies and, by inference, the internal polling of each campaign. The professional political consultants attached to each candidate reveal their cards on the final weekend when they announce the campaign appearances for the closing days. That moment has arrived in the race to succeed Kirsten Gillibrand in New York’s 20th Congressional District. And the schedule for Republican James Tedisco will interest voters in the district’s Adirondack lobe. The Republican candidate will hold a rally today at 1:30 at the Northwoods Inn in Lake Placid, followed by a walk down Main Street. From there he heads to the Noonmark Diner in Keene (3:30 PM). In a district stretching nearly 200 miles north to south, it is a matter of significance when a candidate invests precious time in the sparsely settled northern reach of the district.
The reason for Tedisco’s eleventh-hour Adirondack schedule may be found in the opinion poll released by Siena Research Institute on Friday.
While Democrat Scott Murphy holds a 2-to-1 lead over Tedisco in Essex, Warren and Washington Counties (combined), that breakdown includes Murphy’s hometown of Glens Falls where it is fair to infer support skews more heavily toward the Democrat. Also missing from the 2-to-1 statistic is the size of the undecided vote. While eight percent of voters across the whole district have not yet settled on a candidate, in Essex, Warren and Washington counties ten percent of voters remain undecided. As with the concentration of support for Murphy, quite likely fewer voters are undecided in the Glens Falls vicinity, leaving a larger percentage up in Essex.
The other area of concern for Tedisco in the north is the three percent of voters who backed the now withdrawn candidacy of Libertarian Eric Sundwall. This figure increased one percentage point since the last poll two weeks ago while Tedisco’s support has slipped by the same margin. In terminating his campaign, Sundwall threw his support to Murphy.
A footnote to Tedisco’s announced schedule: While he will be joined today by Freda Solomon (widow of the former Representative Gerald Solomon) on the stump at West Mountain Ski Center in Queensbury, he is scheduled to appear solo in Lake Placid and Keene. Conspicuously absent is popular State Senator Betty Little, who endorsed Tedisco despite reported dissatisfaction with his selection as the Republican’s standard bearer.
UPDATE: The Post Star reports that Senator Little did accompany Tedisco and Freda Solomon in Queensbury on Sunday.
It was a tough year for the world’s billionaires, Forbes reported today. Hundreds of the world’s wealthiest are merely millionaires now, including Sandy Weill, former CEO of Citigroup and seasonal resident of Upper Saranac Lake. “His Citigroup shares have lost nearly all their value,” Forbes says, estimating that Citi shares have fallen 95 percent in the last 12 months. The financial services conglomerate that Weill built is now the recipient of a $45 billion federal bailout. Weill is prominent in New York City philanthropic circles, but he maintains a low profile in the Adirondacks. Up here his wife, Joan, is much better known, especially for her generosity to Paul Smith’s College, where she serves as chairman of its board of trustees and spearheaded construction of a library (photo above) and student center that bear her name.
A Lake George summer resident, however, is still in good standing on the billionaire list. Forrest Mars Jr., co-owner of the privately held Mars candy company (which also includes Wrigley, Pedigree pet food and other brands), is the 43rd wealthiest person in the world with a net worth of $9 billion and growing, Forbes says. Mars and his wife Deborah Clarke Mars have a camp on the lake’s northeast shore, not far from Deborah’s hometown of Ticonderoga.
The Marses have been locally philanthropic, most notably to Fort Ticonderoga, but they withdrew support for the historic landmark last year after disagreements with its administration.
Meanwhile, Bernard L. Madoff pleaded guilty this morning to defrauding investors of about $65 billion dollars in a Ponzi scheme. The story seems unrelated, but it also has Adirondack connections, particularly for charitable giving. One of the victims on the Madoff list is the New York City–based Prospect Hill Foundation, a longtime supporter of many Adirondack environmental nonprofits. It’s still unclear what the repercussions will be for the foundation and its grant recipients. Also on the Madoff list is Anne Childs who — with her husband the Freedom Tower architect David Childs — owns a hilltop house in Keene.
If you know of other Adirondack connections on the Forbes or Madoff lists, please let us know.
Hulett’s Landing on the east side of Lake George is the subject of a new Adirondack blog, The Huletts Current, and a new book by George Kapusinski whose family operates Huletts-On-Lake-George. It turns out I’m connected by marriage to the Hulett family that established Hulett’s Landing. So I thought I’d offer a little history – one that ties eastern timber rattlesnakes with an early noted librarian and explorer (now that’s a combination!) and at the same time adds a new steamship to the history of Lake George. » Continue Reading.
View Larger Map With the approach of the 2010 federal census and the ensuing remapping of representative districts for the state legislature and US Congress, New York’s legislative and executive leaders have a rare opportunity to repair the fractured battlefields of our district maps: the result of decades of partisan turf wars.
If lawmakers are looking for a place to start this process, they might consider the case of the Adirondack Park and the north country. At present the Adirondack Park’s Blue Line passes through four congressional districts: The 23rd represented by Republican John McHugh; the open-seated 20th; The 24th represented by Democrat Michael Arcuri; and the 21st (holding just a sliver of parkland in northern Fulton County) represented by Democrat Paul Tonko. Combined, these districts stretch over half the state and contain more than two-and-a-half million residents. Easy enough to see how the interests of the park might become diluted.
The map above advances an alternative: a single congressional district encompassing the entire Adirondack Park plus the balance of St. Lawrence, Franklin, Clinton and Warren Counties, and some parts of Saratoga and Washington Counties beyond the Blue Line. Using numbers from the 2000 census this boundary contains close to the 654,361 New York residents that were required to constitute a district nine years ago. With New York slated to lose one representative in the upcoming reapportionment, and with expected population increases, that 654,361 average will undoubtedly increase for the 2010 redistricting process. As it does, the district can absorb more constituents in Saratoga and Washington Counties (making all efforts to avoid Saratoga Springs, as it would be a pity to deprive Albany’s congressional district of the race track).
There are numerous arguments in favor of a congressional district with the unified park at it’s core. Perhaps the strongest is the intent of federal lawmakers as expressed in the 1965 Federal Voting Rights Act. The law sets out explicit directives that state legislatures create compact and contiguous congressional districts and that they respect natural and artificial boundaries.
This map is merely a starting point. We welcome your comments and any alternative congressional district map you may wish to submit.
The Lake George Park Commission has finally released its draft stream buffer regulations [pdf] for the Lake George watershed. These regulations are the most important environmental action the Park Commission has taken in years and are important to the water quality of Lake George – over half of the water in the lake comes from local streams. The FUND for Lake George and Lake George Waterkeeper are asking folks to submit comments (deadline March 15th) to ensure that the Park Commission does not weaken these new rules. They have also published a special report Clear Choice: The Need for Stream Buffers in the Lake George Watershed [pdf] to help educate and inform the public about this issue. There is a Public Hearing Scheduled for February 24th at 11:00 AM at the Holiday Inn in Lake George. The Albany Times Union recently published an op-ed by FUND Executive Director Peter Bauer on the need for the Park Commission to finalize new stream buffer rules.
This Saturday, September 27, 2008, nearly 100 museums in New York State will participate in Smithsonian magazine’s fourth annual Museum Day – including some in our Adirondack region. Museum Day is an opportunity for museums and cultural institutions nationwide to open their doors free of charge. A celebration of culture, learning and the dissemination of knowledge, Smithsonian’s Museum Day reflects the spirit of the magazine, and emulates the free-admission policy of the Smithsonian Institution’s Washington, D.C. – based museums.
A complete list of New York museums that are participating is located here.
Museum visitors must present Smithsonian magazine’s Museum Day Admission Card to gain free entry to participating institutions. The Museum Day Admission Card is available for free download at Smithsonian.com.
Check out the orderly books of Captain Amos Hitchcock’s Connecticut provincial companies during the French and Indian War – great primary, albeit difficult, reading [pdf]. Here is a description from the New York State Library, which holds the original volumes:
Orderly books are the companies’ official record of all military orders, and include courts martial, disciplinary actions and promotions. These are the orderly books of Captain Amos Hitchcock’s Connecticut provincial companies during the French and Indian War. The volumes also provide a record of troop movements in northern New York and Canada, and encampments at Albany, Fort Edward, Lake George, Crown Point and Fort Ontario.
Jefferson County Fair 7/15 through 7/20; Coffeen Street, Watertown, NY http://www.jeffcofair.org/ Booneville-Oneida County Fair 7/21 through 7/27; Adirondack High School, Booneville, NY http://www.frontiernet.net/~boonvillefair/index.htm
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