Posts Tagged ‘Water Resources-Clean Water’

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Phil Brown: Quantifying Irene

How much rain fell during Tropical Storm Irene? Seems like an easy question, but it’s not.

The National Weather Service relies on volunteers to collect rainfall, and given the variance in rainfall and the finite number of volunteers, there are bound to be gaps in the data record.

For the current issue of the Adirondack Explorer, Nancy Bernstein created a rainfall map based on the Weather Service’s own maps. It shows that more than seven inches of rain fell in Keene, Jay, and Au Sable Forks. But how much more? The Explorer’s publisher, Tom Woodman, measured eleven inches at his home in Keene. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Volunteers Sought for Ausable Tree Planting

Landowners and volunteers are being sought to participate in planting trees along river and stream corridors in the Ausable River Valley on Friday, October 14. The tree planting will be part of an event to kickoff a new program to restore and protect river and stream corridors in the Lake Champlain watershed by the USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC).

Landowners with property along the Ausable River, either of its branches or any their tributaries that need trees along the river and stream banks can receive free trees from the DEC Saratoga Tree nursery planted by volunteers. The trees will shore up eroded stream banks, protect property from flood damage and improve wildlife habitat.

Volunteers are being sought to join federal, state and local officials in planting trees along stream and river banks. Volunteers will meet at Marcy Field along Route 73 in the Town of Keene at 10 am on October 14. Refreshments will be available at that time. After hearing about the new program and receiving encouragement and instruction from officials, volunteers will be assigned to teams and plant trees under the instruction of a team captain. DEC and others will be providing transportation for volunteers and the trees.

The tree planting will wrap up by 4 pm, or when all trees or sites have been planted. Volunteers do not have to stay until end, they can plant for as much time as they desire. Volunteers are asked to dress properly for the being outside and the weather conditions for that day as the event will take place rain or shine. Sturdy hiking shoes or boots will be needed. Volunteers should also bring the following items:

* Work gloves;
* Shovel (if possible, there will be some shovels available );
* Water bottle;
* Snacks (if desired); and
* Lunch (if you plan to work into the afternoon).

Landowners and volunteers are encouraged to contact their local town office or the DEC (897-1291) before close of business Thursday, October 13, if they plan to participate. In the Town of Keene contact Supervisor Bill Ferebee at 576-4444, and in the Town of Jay contact Supervisor Randy Douglas at 647-2204.

The Lake Champlain conservation projects are part of President Obama’s America’s Great Outdoors (AGO) initiative and these conservation projects are receiving $1.3 million dollars. On October, 12 the Obama Administration is releasing a report which details how AGO is opening up access to lands and waters, restoring critical landscapes, and supporting thousands of jobs and billions of dollars in economic activity. The report outlines combined conservation and recreation successes, including gains in youth employment, new trail designations, the creation of urban campgrounds, and historic investments in large landscapes from Lake Champlain to the Florida Everglades.

Photo: A recent Ausable River tree planting volunteer effort (Courtesy Ausable River Association).


Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Adirondack Legislative Watch List

With the New York State Legislature wrapping up another session, I thought it would be a good idea to take a look at some of the bills making their way through the process. This list is not complete, but contains those items that are important in one way or another to the Adirondack Park.

There are two online systems that provide information about latest legislative actions and the status of bills. The NYS Senate’s Open Legislation system is still in Beta, but is apparently up to date, includes the latest Assembly info as well, and has the easiest user interface. The older system, the Legislative Research Service system, claims to offer “up to the minute” information.

Prohibiting NYS From Purchasing Land for Forest Preserve
Betty Little’s bill to prohibit the state from purchasing forest land in fee title and to only allow purchases by conservation easement. Killed just after 4 p.m. today in the Senate Rules Committee, a final stop on the way to a floor vote. (S. 1501 Little)

National Grid Land Exchange
This legislation will complete the Constitutional Amendment authorizing land swap that was approved by voters in 2009, allowing the New York Power Authority and National Grid to complete the Route 56 Tri-Lakes power line project. In exchange for receiving six acres of State Forest Preserve, National Grid is buying and giving to the public 20 acres that will be included in the Adirondack Forest Preserve. The bill is in the Ways and Means Committee in the Assembly and on the floor in the Senate. (A. 8214 Sweeney / S. 4861-A Griffo)

EPF Revenue Enhancer
This bill would, over the next four years, add the unclaimed nickel deposits from “bottle bill” revenues as an additional source of money for the Environmental Protection Fund (EPF). The EPF provides grants for land acquisition, invasive species control, smart growth projects and water quality improvements. This legislation is currently in the Ways and Means Committee in the Assembly and Finance Committee in the Senate. (A. 7137 Latimer / S. 5403 Grisanti)

Defines Adirondack ‘Community Housing’
Defines “community housing” for purposes of the Adirondack Park to mean four dwelling units not exceeding 1500 square feet of floor space each, located on one contiguous parcel within a moderate intensity use or low intensity use land use area, and meeting certain other defined land use criteria. Advanced to Third Reading in both the Senate and Assembly on Tuesday; Senate vote expected today. (S. 4165-A LITTLE / A. 8303 Sweeney)

Restricting APA Powers Over Campgrounds
Prohibits the Adirondack Park Agency from promulgating or implementing any rule, regulation or land use and development plan, related to campgrounds, which is inconsistent with the provisions of any rule or regulation of the department of health relating thereto. Third reading in the Senate; Environmental Conservation Committee in the the Assembly. (S. 343 LITTLE / A. 149 Sayward)

Re-defining ‘Campground’ in the Adirondack Park
Redefines “campground” for the purposes of the Adirondack Park and regulation by the Adirondack Park Agency; defines such term as a parcel of land with 5 or more campsites, including buildings and accessory structures; provides that recreational vehicles may be kept at a campground or campsite, with the consent of the owner of the campground, during periods of time when they are not in use, so long as they are not used in a manner which violates the campground permit. Passed Senate, referred to Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee on Monday. (S.345 LITTLE / A. 151 Sayward)

Requiring APA Appointments from Approved List
Requires the governor to appoint the five members of the Adirondack park agency who reside in the park, from a list established by the legislative bodies of the counties in the Adirondack park and the Adirondack Association of Towns and Villages. Referred to Finance in Senate; Environmental Conservation in Assembly. (S.822 LITTLE / A. 511 Sayward)

Removing Land Use Planning Power of APA
Makes state lands within the Adirondack Park subject to the local land use plan of the municipality in which the land is located. Betty Little Senate bill sent to Senate Finance Committee in May; there is no Assembly bill. (S. 5188 LITTLE)

10 Year APA Enforcement Statute of Limitations
Establishes a ten year statute of limitations to enforce violations of rules and regulations of Adirondack Park Agency committed within the Adirondack park. senate bill moved to Finance committee in May; Assembly bill in Codes committee since January. (S. 823 LITTLE / A. 512 Sayward)

“Adirondack Sportsmen’s Club Preservation Act”
Requires that state acquisition of open space shall remain subject to the leases of sportsmen’s clubs thereon. “Sportsmen’s clubs shall be deemed to retain exclusive access to and usage rights for hunting and fishing, while allowing public access to the land for other recreational activities.” In Senate Finance Committee. Betty Little bill in the Senate (S. 2487); no corresponding Assembly bill.

Opening Backcountry Waters to Disabled Veterans on Floatplanes
Directs the development of a permit system to provide disabled veterans access to certain restricted bodies of water in the Adirondack park through the use of float planes. Passed the Senate; in Assembly Environmental Conservation committee (S.824 LITTLE / A. 518 Sayward).

Public Right of Passage on Navigable Waters
Codifies the public right of passage upon navigable waterways of the state for purposes of commerce or recreation. Referred to the Assembly Codes Committee in May; no bill in the Senate since February, 2002 in deference to Senator Betty Little. (A370-2011 HOYT)

Boat Launch Preservation Act
Requires that one percent of the 4 cents per gallon gasoline surcharge on gasoline which is used on waterways but not more than 5 million dollars per fiscal year is to be deposited in the dedicated boat launch site fund; moneys of such fund shall be disbursed for design, construction, maintenance and improvement of boat launches and boat access sites. Referred to Assembly Ways and Means Committee in February; no sponsor in the Senate. (A5546 ENGLEBRIGHT)

Requiring Large Water Withdrawal Permits
Would grant DEC permitting abilities for withdrawals of large amounts of water (over 100,000 gallons per day) from lakes, rivers, streams or underground sources. Exemptions exist for agricultural water sources. The bill has passed the Assembly and is currently awaiting action on the Senate floor. (A. 5318-A Sweeney / S. 3798 Grisanti)

Creating ‘Non-Trail Snowmobile’ Registration
Establishes a non-trail snowmobile registration for snowmobiles which shall be used solely for the purpose of gaining access to hunting and fishing areas. Referred to Transportation Committee in both the Senate and Assembly in January. (S1206 GRIFFO / A 1141 Magee)

Requiring A DEC Wildlife Economic Impact Report
Requires the Department of Environmental Conservation to prepare a report on the economic impact of hunting, fishing, and wildlife-associated activities in New York. In Senate Finance Committee since January; no Assembly sponsor. (S653 VALESKY)

Extending DEC Northern Zone Special Muzzle-Loading Powers
This bill would extend DEC’s authority to establish, by regulation, management measures for muzzle-loading firearm big game special season in the Northern Zone until October 1, 2015. In the Adirondacks, concern about lower deer numbers might result in a short, early muzzle-loading season. Passed Assembly but modified in Senate; returned to Assembly June 6. (S4967 GRISANTI / A 6953 Gunther)

Allowing Fishing With Three Lines
Environmental Conservation Law would authorize an individual to angle for fish with up to 3 lines in freshwater until December 31, 2013. Currently one person may operate not more than two lines on any waters. Passed by Senate, amended and now at Third Reading. Codes committee in the Assembly. (S.2462-B LIBOUS / A.3480-B Russell)

Gift Cards for Hunting and Fishing Licenses
Directs the commissioner of environmental conservation to create gift cards for hunting and fishing licenses. Ordered to Third Reading in the Senate yesterday and on today’s Senate Floor calendar; Referred to Assembly Environmental Conservation Committee in May. (S. 5161 RITCHIE / A. 7576 Gunther)

Extending Coyote Season from March 28 to May 31
Establishes the open season for hunting coyotes as October 1 through May 31 (currently march 28). Sent to Environmental Conservation committee in January; currently no Assembly sponsor. (S2486 LITTLE)

Bear Gall Bladders
Senate version at third reading: “Prohibits the possession, sale, barter, offer, purchase, transportation, delivery, or receipt of bear gallbladder, bile, or any product, item, or substance containing, or labeled or advertised as containing, bear gallbladders or bile; exempts federal and state government and individuals with a valid hunting license from transporting one bear gallbladder.” In several committees in the Assembly.

Sacandaga Inland Waterway
This bill would add the Sacandaga River to a list of inland waterways which are eligible to receive funding through the Department of State’s Waterfront Revitalization Program (part of the Environmental Protection Fund). It was already passed in the Assembly and waiting for consideration on the Senate floor. (A. 7241 Sayward / S. 4763 Farley)

Commemorate Adirondack Medical Center 100th
What is known today as the Adirondack Medical Center began as two separate hospitals, the General Hospital of Saranac Lake, and the Placid Memorial Hospital of Lake Placid. Built at the top of Winona Avenue, the General Hospital of Saranac Lake was founded in 1911; The Placid Memorial Hospital Fund, was organized in 1947, and plans for construction of a new hospital to be located on a Church Street parcel were developed. Doors were opened at the Placid Memorial Hospital of Lake Placid on February 4, 1951. Referred to Finance yesterday. (J. 2567 LITTLE)

Creates A Constitutional Right to Hunt, Fish, and Trap
Prohibits counties and other local municipalities from regulating hunting, fishing, and trapping. Both referred to Attorney general for Opinion in May. (S2382-A SEWARD / A 6864-A Gunther)

Soil & Water Conserv Dist Invasive Species Program
Authorizes a public information and education program for soil and water conservation districts and relates to the spread of invasive species. Passed Senate in May; Sent to Assembly’s Environmental Conservation Committee the same day. (S2839-A YOUNG / A 3555 Magee)

Establishes Invasive Species Stewards, Paddling Fee
Establishes the aquatic invasive species volunteer steward program within the office of parks, recreation and historic preservation; such program shall use volunteers to collect information on alien plants and animals in state water, and educate boaters thereon; imposes an annual $6 permit fee upon non-motorized vessels and requires the revenue to be deposited into the I love NY waterways vessel access account. Referre to Senate Finance Committee in February; no assembly sponsor. (S3519 JOHNSON)

Repeals Defunct Water Quality Compacts
Repeals the Champlain Basin Compact, the Mid-Atlantic States Air Pollution Control Compact and the Delaware River Basin Water Commission Compact. To clean up and clarify the Environmental Conservation Law by repealing certain outdated sections which relate to proposed interstate compacts that were never established. These include: a 1966 law which proposed a Champlain Basin Compact; a 1967 law which proposed a Mid-Atlantic States Air pollution Control Compact; and a 1952 law which proposed a Delaware River Basin Water Commission Compact (not to he confused with the existing Delaware River Basin Compact). Refereed to Senate Environmental Conservation Committee in May; no Assembly sponsor. (S5139 FARLEY)


Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Continued Impacts of Lake Champlain Flooding

Although water levels have finally dropped below flood stage on Lake Champlain this week, a Flood Warning remains in effect and facilities and businesses near low-lying shorelines continue to be heavily impacted by high waters.

The Ausable Point Campground remains closed, as is the campground access road. Many Valcour Island campsites and access points are still flooded and due to the high waters, floating docks have not been installed and bathrooms are closed at Peru Dock, Port Douglas, Willsboro Bay and other boat launches. Vermont closed all access to Lake Champlain except for Tabor Point, malletts Bay, Lamoille River, Converse Bay, and Larabee’s Point. Quebec closed all access and shut down boating to prevent further shoreline erosion due to wakes. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Lake George Lake Steward Program Expanding

The 2011 Lake Steward Program on Lake George, managed by the Lake George Association, will significantly expand over last year’s level thanks to new funding provided by the Lake George Park Commission (LGPC).

Lake stewards, posted at several Lake George boat launches throughout the summer, inspect incoming boats for invasive species, remove suspicious specimens, and educate boaters about the threats of invasive species and how to prevent their spread. The Commission’s marine patrol is contacted whenever stewards encounter a boat being launched that has obvious signs of invasive species and is unwilling to be inspected. » Continue Reading.


Friday, May 20, 2011

Lake George Water Tests Reduced Over Funding

The Darrin Fresh Water Institute’s (DFWI) annual program of testing waters near municipal beaches and town shorelines for coliform contamination will be less extensive this summer than in years past, according to Larry Eichler, a DFWI Research Scientist.

According to Eichler, The Fund for Lake George has withdrawn its financial support for the program.

While some municipalities may assume the costs of sampling waters near beaches, no organization has stepped forward to fund the monitoring of shorelines, Eichler said.

“The FUND for Lake George has contributed more than $300,000 in cost sharing for this program over the past 25 years,” said Eichler. “But while still supporting the efforts of this program, The Fund is unable to fund this program due to other committments.”

Those other commitments, explained Peter Bauer, the executive director of The Fund for Lake George, include exterminating invasive species like the Asian clam and financing the West Brook Conservation Initiative, which will protect the lake’s south basin from urban runoff.

“Unfortunately, we are unable to continue funding the program,” said Bauer. “While it’s time for The Fund to transition out of the program, the importance of monitoring public beaches should motivate local governments to adopt at least that part of the program.”

Bolton, Lake George Village, the Town of Lake George and Hague have agreed to consider adopting monitoring programs, said Eichler.

“Evaluation of bathing beach water quality provides a reminder that water quality is not guaranteed and that proper maintenance and surveillance of swimming areas remain critical,” said Sandra Nierzwicki-Bauer, the executive director of the Darrin Fresh Water Institute.

According Larry Eichler, DFWI can test sampled waters for Total Coliform (TC), Fecal Coliform (FC), and Fecal Streptococcus (FS) for as little as $30 per week. The Towns would be responsible for the costs of collecting the water samples.

New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation has tested the waters near state-owned beaches since the late 1980s, after the Million Dollar Beach was closed for three days in 1988 because of an excessive fecal coliform count.

The Darrin Fresh Water Institute has tested waters near municpal beaches every summer since 2002.

“The program was a low cost mechanism to provide assurances that the public beaches on Lake George posed no threats to the public,” said Larry Eichler.

“We continue to believe that this program provides a valuable service to the Lake George community through assurance of water quality at our public bathing beaches.”

Even before it began testing municipal beaches for coliform contamination, DWFI was sampling sites around Lake George for coliform bacteria, which are generally viewed as indicators of sewage leaks or other sources for nutrients, such as storm water.

“The Lake George Coliform Monitoring Program was designed to be a proactive water quality program,” said Eichler. “Prompt identification and remediation of wastewaters entering Lake George is one of the most efficient ways to protect water quality.”

Waters were evaluated at sites with chronically high levels of coliform bacteria or in areas where algae appeared, Eichler explained.

“We’re disappointed that The Fund could not continue to support the program, but we understand fiscal realities,” said Eichler.

Eichler said grants may permit the Darrin Fresh Water Institute to re-establish the colliform monitoring program in the future.

Photo: Darrin Fresh Water Institute

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror or visit Lake George Mirror Magazine.


Thursday, May 19, 2011

Batten Kill Named A National ‘River to Watch’

The National Fish Habitat Action Plan has unveiled the 2011 list of 10 “Waters to Watch”, a collection of rivers, streams, estuaries, watershed systems and shores that will benefit from strategic conservation efforts to protect, restore or enhance their current condition. Included in the list is the Batten Kill in Washington County.

The 10 waters represent a snapshot of this year’s larger voluntary habitat conservation efforts in progress. These and other locally driven conservation projects are prioritized and implemented by regional Fish Habitat Partnerships that have formed throughout the country to implement the National Fish Habitat Action Plan. The objective of the Action Plan is to conserve freshwater, estuarine and marine habitats essential to the many fish and wildlife species that call these areas
home.

The 10 “Waters to Watch” are representative of freshwater to marine habitats across the country including rivers, lakes, reservoirs and estuaries that benefit through the conservation efforts of these Fish Habitat Partnerships formed under the Action Plan-a bold initiative implemented in 2006 to avoid and reverse persistent declines in our
nation’s aquatic habitats.

The initial Action Plan’s 10 “Waters to Watch” list was unveiled in 2007 and in 2011 will feature its 50th project. Since 2006, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has provided $12 million to support 257 on-the-ground Action Plan projects in 43 states, leveraging $30 million in partner match, to address the priorities of Action Plan Fish Habitat Partnerships. Additional funds have been provided by several other State
and Federal agencies and Non-Governmental Organizations (NGOs) and industry partners.

“Our approach-teaming local, state, tribal, and federal agencies with private partners and stakeholders-is helping to bring these waters back to life in most cases…in a faster more strategic way,” said Kelly Hepler, Chairman of the National Fish Habitat Board. “By watching these 10 models of our nation’s aquatic conservation efforts underway, we can see real progress, in both avoidance and treatment of causes of fish
habitat decline. Too often we have focused on treatment of symptoms with limited success. Through sound science and on-the-ground locally driven partnerships, these select Action Plan projects can be held high as a vision of what quality habitat should and can be, and how it benefits all people throughout the United States.”

BATTEN KILL RIVER – Eastern Brook Trout Joint Venture

The Batten Kill project is a high profile fisheries and watershed restoration project that has galvanized local, regional and national groups and partners. Once a famous, world-class recreational trout fishery, the river experienced a steady decline in its wild fish population over the past two decades. Since 2000, there has been widespread grassroots support and effort to restore the fishery to its former status.

Purpose of the project: In-stream and riparian habitat restoration for Eastern brook trout in the Batten Kill watershed, have been based on scientific assessments and
monitoring that have led to strategic on-the-ground implementation of
restoration practices.

The goals are to deliver as much short term habitat restoration work as possible through the installation of in-stream cover and shelter along with replanting the riparian zone, while making long term investments in quality habitat by improving river dynamics, conserving existing buffers, and planting buffer zones where vegetation is deficient.

There is also the essential component of fostering good stewardship by educating landowners in river-friendly practices and supporting easements or other conservation protection of riparian areas where appropriate.

Project Timeline: Projects to install cover and shelter structures combined with in-stream structures to improve river dynamics (according to established Natural Channel Design Techniques) began in 2005 and continue in earnest today.

There are two teams implementing assessments and restoration: one in Vermont, one in New York. Each team restores about a half a mile of stream each year. So far, the partnership has accomplished:

26 miles of fish habitat inventory and assessment.
27 projects totaling 10.5 miles of riparian and stream habitat restoration.
21 miles of stream geomorphology and bank erosion surveys.
15 scientific/biological investigations & assessments and fishery studies.
Multiple river stewardship and public outreach and education projects.

The project is considered a good example of cooperation between Federal, State,
and local agencies, organizations, communities and streamside landowners, in both states, to develop and implement a scientific-approach and community-driven restoration effort. Monitoring shows a 400% increase in the number of yearling trout in the affected pools and 100% increase in affected riffles.

Partners include:
Batten Kill Watershed Alliance of New York and Vermont
US Fish & Wildlife Service
Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program
Fisheries Program
US Forest Service, Green Mountain National Forest
Natural Resources Conservation Service
New York Department of Environmental Conservation
Vermont Fish & Wildlife Department
Washington County (NY) Soil and Water Conservation District
Bennington County (VT) Natural Resource Conservation District
Windsor County (VT) Natural Resource Conservation District
Clearwater Chapter of Trout Unlimited
Adirondack Chapter of Trout Unlimited
Southwestern Vermont Chapter of Trout Unlimited
The Orvis Company
National Wildlife Federation
University of Vermont
University of Massachusetts
Dartmouth College

The rest of the 10 “Waters to Watch” for 2011 include:

Alewife Brook/Scoy Pond, NY (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Atlantic Coastal Fish Habitat Partnership)

Au Sable River, Michigan – (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Great Lakes Basin Fish Habitat Partnership)

Barataria Bay, Louisiana – (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Southeast Aquatics Resources Partnership)

Cottonwood Creek, Alaska – (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Mat-Su Basin Salmon Habitat Partnership)

Duchesne River, Utah – (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Desert Fish Habitat
Partnership)

Llano River, Texas – (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Southeast Aquatic Resources
Partnership)

Manistee River, Michigan- (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Great Lakes Basin Fish Habitat Partnership)

St. Charles Creek, Idaho – (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Western Native Trout Initiative)

Waipa Stream, Hawaii – (National Fish Habitat Partnership – Hawaii Fish Habitat Partnership)

The Action Plan has met its objective of establishing at least 12 Fish Habitat Partnerships by 2010 to help identify the causes of habitat declines and implement corrective initiatives for aquatic conservation and restoration, with 17 Fish Habitat Partnership currently working on the ground in aquatic conservation.

Since its launch six years ago, the Action Plan has received wide public support. To date nearly 1,700 partners have pledged their support including a range of organizations and individuals interested in the health of the nation’s fisheries such as fishing clubs, international conservation organizations, federal agencies, angling industries and academia.

These ten habitat conservation efforts highlighted in 2011 are a small sample of the many habitat conservation projects implemented under the Action Plan. The 2011, as well as past 10 “Waters to Watch” lists can be viewed at www.fishabitat.org along with
complete information on the scope of the Action Plan.

Illustrations: The Batten Kill in Arlington, Vermont; below, the Batten Kill and its tributaries. Courtesy Wikipedia.


Thursday, May 5, 2011

Aerial Photos Capture Champlain Sediment Plumes

A series of remarkable photographs issued by the Lake Champlain Basin Program (LCBP) shows shoreline erosion and sediment and nutrient loading of Lake Champlain as a result of the flooding that continues to occur around the region. The lake has reached historic levels that have accelerated shoreline erosion and sent dark plumes that likely contain contaminants into open water.

The filling of historic wetlands, channeling streams and development along watersheds that empty into the lake have increased storm water run-off and added what is considered an unprecedented about of contaminants – pollution, nutrients and sediment – into the Lake Champlain ecosystem according to the LCBP.

“While there will be time in the future for a careful assessment of the flooding of the many tributaries and of the Lake itself,” an LCBP press statement said, “it already is clear that the impact on water quality (in addition to the immediate human distress) will be very significant.”

Among water quality managers’ concerns is controlling run-off phosphorus pollution from household cleaning products and lawn fertilizers, believed critical to managing and reducing water pollution. Increased phosphorus pollution is linked to the growth of potentially toxic and economically disruptive algae blooms.

During unseasonably warm weather last July health warnings were issued in New York and Vermont for algae blooms in Lake Champlain (including some near Westport, Port Henry, and Crown Point). At the time health officials recommended avoiding all contact with the affected water including swimming, bathing, or drinking, or using it in cooking or washing, and to keep pets and livestock from algae-contaminated water.

The water quality issues come at a time when Plattsburgh is celebrating its 10th year of hosting professional fishing tournaments on Lake Champlain. According to Dan Heath, writing in the Press Republican, Plattsburgh has hosted more than 50 tournaments that included some 25,000 anglers since 2001. More than 3,000 bass anglers are expected for this year’s tournaments which together will offer $1,8 million in prizes. “Lake Champlain has earned a reputation as one of the best smallmouth bass fisheries in North America,” Heath wrote.

The tournament season will kick off withe the American Bass Angler’s Weekend Series on June 11th.

The Lake Champlain Basin Program has posted the aerial photos (taken on April 29-30, 2011) online; the photos are also linked to Google Maps. It’s likely a similar situation is occurring on many of the Adirodnack region’s lakes and reservoirs.

Photos: Above, sediment plume from the Ausable River and Dead Creek; Below, headland erosion and suspended sediment north of Mooney Bay. Photos courtesy the Lake Champlain Basin Program.


Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wetlands: Vernal Pools And Their Inhabitants

What follows is a guest essay from Stacy McNulty Associate Director and Research Associate at SUNY ESF’s Adirondack Ecological Center in Newcomb. Following last week’s story on the destruction of wetlands by ATVs at the 2011 SNIRT rally, the Almanack asked Stacy to provide some background on vernal pools, small intermittent wetlands that are important sources of Adirondack biodiversity.

On a proverbially dark and stormy night in mid-April I climb the hill, flashlight sweeping the ground for obstacles. The first warm, spring rain has been falling and snow piles lie here and there. Faintly I hear a quacking sound up ahead, signaling my target – but what I seek is not a duck, but a frog. Scores of wood frogs swim and call from the pool, their eyes shining in the beam of my light. » Continue Reading.


Friday, April 15, 2011

Review Set For Lake George Mechanical Dredging

The environmental impacts of dredging the deltas that develop at the mouths of Lake George’s tributaries will receive a second look from conservation agencies and advocacy groups.

New York State’s Department of Environmental Conservation has agreed to conduct the new review, which will include a study of methods to be used to dredge deltas around the lake, including those at the outlets of Hague, Finkle and Indian Brooks.

The review will constitute an update of the Draft Generic Environmental Impact Statement for the “Lake George Delta Sediment Management/ Shoreline Restoration Project,” approved by the Lake George Park Commission in 2002.

The Lake George Association has formally requested the new review, said Walt Lender, the LGA’s executive director.

“We were very involved in drafting the original Environmental Impact Statement, and we felt it was necessary to supplement the original by investigating new methods of dredging so they’ll be fully vetted,” said Lender.

The review should be completed by autumn, 2011, said Lender.

The decision to conduct a new review apparently resolves a deadlock over whether to dredge a delta at the mouth of Finkle Brook, in Bolton Landing.

The proposed method of dredging the delta, called mechanical dredging, was not one authorized when the original Environmental Impact Statement was approved, the Lake George Park Commission said in a resolution adopted in September.

The project as designed might have unintended environmental impacts, the Commission stated.

According to Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky, who also objected to the plan to employ mechanical dredging, “While that method – using a steam shovel and scraping the lake bottom – may be the least expensive, it’s one that’s most damaging to the lake.”
Walt Lender said he hoped mechanical dredging would be approved during the supplemental review so that it could be used at Finkle Brook and other sites around the lake.

According to Lender, an excavator builds its own “access pads” of dredged material as it moves out from shore. The excavator is then reversed, removing the sediment as it returns to shore. The sediment is then transported by truck to a nearby landfill.

Chris Navitsky, however, says the access pads are roads constructed in the lake which, even after they have been removed, will damage the lake and shoreline.

Navitsky also claims the dredging will allow nutrients to escape, creating algae blooms.

Photo: A large Lake George delta, this one at the mouth of English Brook in Lake George Village. Courtesy of Lake George Association.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror or visit Lake George Mirror Magazine.


Friday, April 8, 2011

State-Ordered Sewer Upgrades For Lake George

Lake George Village will borrow $1.8 million to comply with orders issued by the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation after a July, 2009 sewer break spilled thousands of gallons of sewage into Lake George.

State laws prohibit the discharge of sewage into Lake George.

“It’s a lot of money, but it has to be done,” said Village Trustee John Root.

According to Mayor Bob Blais, the DEC ordered Lake George Village to repair pipes and the pump station in Shepard Park where the break occurred and complete an Asset Management Plan for the entire wastewater system.

The plan, the order stated, must include: “an inventory of all wastewater collection system assets; an evaluation of conditions; a description of necessary repairs or replacements; the schedule for repairs; costs of repairs.”

Dave Harrington, the Village’s Superintendent of Public Works, said crews from Lake George Village’s Department of Public Works and the construction firm TKC completed repairs to the pump station in Shepard Park and a new section of pipe where the break occurred was installed. Village crews also installed additional alarms within the pump building, Harrington said.

In November of 2009, the Lake George Village Board of Trustees appropriated $5000 to retain C.T. Male Associates to draft the Asset Management Plan.

That plan has been completed and approved by the DEC, and the improvements to the wastewater collection system can now be undertaken, said Blais.

“We will be lining the pipes along the lake, in line with the recommendations of DEC in the order, to alleviate problems so that something like the 2009 break never happens again,” said Blais.

Where water from basements and drains and other sources is suspected of infiltrating the wastewater collection system, additional pipes will be lined and repaired, Blais said.

New York’s Environmental Facilities Corporation will help fund the $1.8 million loan, said Blais.

Lake George Village will repay it over thirty years, he said.

According to Blais, Lake George Village has also applied for a grant through the state’s Environmental Protection Fund to install equipment at the Wastewater Treatment Plant that will remove nitrogen from effluent.

“That’s not part of the Consent Order, but it is a way for us to upgrade the Wastewater Treatment plant and make it more efficient,” said Blais.

Without a grant from the EPF, the entire project could have cost as much as $3.8 million, said Village Clerk Darlene Gunther.

In return for complying with DEC’s Consent Order, the Village avoided thousands of dollars in fines, said Blais.

“DEC worked with us and was very helpful,” said Blais.

Photo: Aerial view of Lake George Village.

For more news from Lake George, subscribe to the Lake George Mirror or visit Lake George Mirror Magazine.


Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Adirondack Birds: Nesting Time for Canada Geese

The persistent northerly wind that has kept spring at bay this year has also impacted the migration schedule of numerous birds. However, the urge to return to the breeding grounds is extremely strong, and there are always hardy individuals that travel northwards during those brief periods when the headwind dies and the air becomes calm.

Among these impatient migrants are pairs of Canada Geese that have overwintered in the windswept corn fields of southern New York, and across the Pennsylvania and New Jersey countryside where they have found an adequate source of food.

Historically absent from most waterways in the Park prior to the mid 1800’s, the Canada goose has become an abundant species of waterfowl in many sections of the Adirondacks populated by humans. When accompanied by its brood of young, a pair of adults avoids the heavily forested shorelines that characterize most bodies of water throughout this section of northern New York. It is large, open fields, especially those in which the grass is periodically mowed that attract this hefty herbivore. Golf course fairways near a pond or river, large athletic fields adjacent to a marsh or stream, and community parks and sprawling lawns that border a lake are all ideal settings for the Canada goose.

The abundance of grasses, leafy weeds, grains and select soil bugs that serve as food to these honking giants attracts them to such open places. Additionally, this long necked bird is better able to scan the immediate surroundings which provide it with the opportunity to detect a predator when one is still a long distance away.
Even though many of shorelines in the Adirondacks are still covered with snow, and ice continues to exist well out from the water’s edge, pairs of Canada geese may be seen is spots of open water as they begin to return to the region. Upon their arrival, the pair seeks out a secluded location in which to make a nest. A remote section of a marsh along a stream that has caused the ice to disappear for the season is frequently selected. An open, sun-baked patch of low shrubs and collapsed sedges near the edge of a river is another type of setting that might be chosen for a nest, as is the roof of an abandoned muskrat house that sits back from the shore in a snow free spot.

While these sites lack the grasses and other herbaceous plants that typify a well maintain lawn, such marshy communities still contain an assortment of non-woody vegetation useful to this grazer. Because the growing season has not yet started, the older adults that take up residence in such locations for the month long period of building a nest, laying eggs, and incubating them depend on their experience at locating various seeds and other wetland edibles to keep them sufficiently nourished.

Once their eggs hatch, the parents begin the process of relocating the family to a setting in which grasses are starting to grow.

As southerly winds eventually usher in more spring-like weather, flocks of Canada geese can be heard and seen flying overhead in their characteristic “V” shaped formation. These are the birds that are headed much further north than the upper portion of New York State. The Canada geese that have established breeding populations in many sections of the Park over the past several decades have mostly returned from their wintering areas despite the icy conditions that remain along our waterways. While a few pairs may occasionally be seen on scattered patches of open water that currently exist on some of our lakes and ponds, many pairs of Canada geese have already retreated into the semi-open thickets in marshes and other wetlands that they have selected to serve as their home for the next month or so.

The creation of open spaces along lake shores and river edges that are carpeted with lush, green lawns has been an alteration of the Adirondack environment much to the liking of property owners and community residents alike. For the Canada geese it is also a most welcome change to the shoreline, as it provides this large species of waterfowl with the opportunity to raise the young birds that will begin appearing by early to mid May.

Photo: Canada Geese in flight. Courtesy U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.


Tuesday, April 5, 2011

The Adirondack Brook Trout

After a long, cold, snowy winter, it is time to search out the majestic Adirondack Brook Trout. Many of the best trout fishing and viewing locations are still experiencing high flow conditions, making accessing them difficult. Due to these conditions, stocking of bodies of water within the Adirondacks will not take place until later in the month. It is anticipated that the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation will stock 147,000 Brook Trout into Adirondack waters.

Brook Trout, Salvelinus fontinalis, our state fish, is one of the easiest species to recognize. The white leading edges on the fins, wormlike vermiculation and the red spots on their sides haloed with blue, make this fish unique. The Brook Trout, like the Lake Trout is actually a char. They can serve as an indicator of the health of an aquatic ecosystem.

Brook Trout live in lakes and streams throughout the Adirondacks. Being a cold-water species, they prefer, small streams with cool temperatures, as well as lakes and ponds that are cold and well oxygenated. During the fall, Brook Trout will migrate to the spawning redds, generally in streams or in the shallow bays within lakes on gravel beds. The majority of spawning takes place midday. During courtship both sexes defend the spawning redd by chasing away intruders. Females will lay between 40 to 79 eggs per pit. The female will spend up to 2 days digging the pit. While she is digging the male will approach her, touching her sides. When the female is ready, she will move into the center of the pit, the male will curl himself around her to hold her in position. The pair will then vibrate together, releasing eggs and milt. Both sexes will spawn multiple times.

Brook Trout are voracious eaters and will feed on aquatic insects, invertebrates, salamanders, tadpoles, small mammals and other fish. Within the Adirondacks, there are native strains of Brook Trout that are unique to the body of water in which they are found. These strains are termed Heritage strain Brook Trout. The most commonly known are the Horn Lake, Little Tupper Lake and the Windfall Pond strain. The average size of a Heritage Brook Trout is 9 to 16 inches. They reach maturity between 2 to 3 years of age and can live for up to an average of 6 years.

The New York statewide fishing regulations for Brook Trout are: Open season starts April 1 and runs till October 15; however their may be regulations for specific bodies of water. The minimum length that may be kept is, any, with a daily limit of 5. The state record Brook Trout is a 5 pound 4.5 ounce fish caught in Raquette Lake in 2009.

Brook Trout populations within the Adirondacks have declined from historical numbers; this is due in part to non-native fish species, degradation of water quality and acid deposition.

Photos: Brook Trout, Courtesy Blueline Photography, Jeremy Parnapy.

Corrina Parnapy is a Lake George native and a naturalist who writes regularly about the environment and Adirondack natural history for the Adirondack Almanack.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Lake George Asian Clam Eradication Efforts

An aggressive plan has been released to attempt an eradication effort of the newest aquatic invasive species to Lake George – the Asian clam (Corbicula fluminea). An ad hoc coalition of environmental groups, scientists, and public agencies developed the Plan to Eradicate the Infestation of Invasive Species Asian Clam in Lake George, which details efforts starting after ice-out next month to try and rid the lake of the Asian clam. This plan, organized by the Lake George Asian Clam Rapid Response Task Force, details the scope of the problem in Lake George, long-term threats from this invasive, options for treatment, and details a plan that will try and eradicate this clam in the lake. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Taking Stock of Adirondack Trout

As the snow melts and the ice recedes from local water bodies around the Adirondacks, the thoughts of some turn to trout. There are a variety of trout species found in the Adirondacks: Rainbow, Brown, and Lake Trout and the king of all fish – in my eyes at least – the Brook Trout. While April 1st marks the opening day of trout season across New York State, many bodies of water in the Adirondacks are open to trout fishing all year long. For specific fishing regulations, check out the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation website.

Brook Trout Salvelinus fontinalis, is actually a char and our state fish. They are easy to identify, having wormlike markings or vermiculation on their backs and brilliant red spots on their sides that are surrounded by blue halos. The most distinguishing feature is the brilliant white edges on their pectoral, pelvic and anal fins. Brook Trout live in lakes and streams in cold well-oxygenated waters and spawn in the fall. The state record for Brook Trout is 5 pounds 4.5 ounces.

Rainbow Trout Salmo gairdneri, are an introduced species originally coming from the Western side of the continent. They are dark olive, almost blue green in color above, lighter on their sides, with a pale yellow to white belly. Adults will have a pink or red band along their sides. Rainbow Trout occur in large streams and lakes where they have been stocked, and spawn in the spring. The state record for Rainbow Trout is 31 pounds 3 ounces.

Brown Trout Salmo trutta, are an introduced species originally from Europe. They are olive green, shading to tan or white on the belly. They have small irregular spots, which are surrounded by pale halos. Brown Trout are primarily a stream fish but can live in lakes. They tolerate higher water temeratures than Brook Trout and spawn in the fall. The state record for Brown Trout is 33 pounds 2 ounces.

Lake Trout Salvelinus namaycush, are a native species of trout. They are silvery gray on their sides and have white on their bellies. Their backs have darker areas with white to creamy spots and vermiculation. Sometimes their fins will have an orange cast to them. Lake Trout are found in deep, cold, well-oxygenated lakes and spawn in the fall. The state record for Lake Trout is 41 pounds 8 ounces.

All species of trout feed on smaller fish species and insects, which is why it is important to conduct a bottom up management approach for fisheries management. Trout are very sensitive to changes in their environment, to maintain a healthy, viable trout population, which is why shoreline and streamside riparian buffers are important.

Photo: Above, Adirondack fisherman shows off a string of trout; Below, Brook Trout courtesy Wikipidia.

Corrina Parnapy is a Lake George native and a naturalist who writes regularly about the environment and Adirondack natural history for the Adirondack Almanack.



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