Posted on August 30th, 2010 Add a comment >>
A state forest ranger last week killed a black bear that had been harassing people at the Eighth Lake State Campground. This was the first nuisance bear shot by the state this year. In 2009, state officials killed seven bears (a camper killed an eighth). Click here to read the full story in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.
It’s too bad this happened. Another reminder that feeding bears at campgrounds (or anywhere) s a bad idea.
Posted on August 27th, 2010 7 comments Add a comment >>
Six men filed suit in federal court this week to force the state to allow the disabled to fly into wild lakes by floatplane or helicopter.
The plaintiffs contend that banning aircraft from tracts of Forest Preserve classified as Wilderness, Primitive or Canoe violates the federal Americans With Disabilities Act.
Before the adoption of the Adirondack Park State Land Master Plan in the early 1970s, floatplanes regularly flew in and out of lakes where they are now banned. The plan prohibits nearly all motorized use in Wilderness, Primitive, and Canoe Areas.
The Explorer will run a story on the lawsuit in a future issue. Meanwhile, you can read this account in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise.
The plaintiffs in the suit are military veterans. Some suffered grievous injuries in war that prevent them from hiking or paddling to remote lakes.
It’s hard not to feel sympathy for them, but I spoke today with one disabled person who opposes the lawsuit. He is Michael Washburn, the former executive director of the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks.
“I don’t believe my rights as a disabled person should extend in a way that deprives others of their rights,” said Washburn, who is legally blind. “The citizens of New York have a right to a wilderness experience without the intrusion of motors.”
He also argues that many disabled people support wilderness regulations. He points to a federal study (pertaining only to federal lands) that found “the majority (76 percent) of the respondents with disabilities do not believe that the restrictions on mechanized use stated by the Wilderness Act diminish their ability to enjoy the wilderness.”
Washburn said organizations such as Adirondack Adaptive Adventures (he sits on its board) can help the disabled access and enjoy wild lands where motors are banned.
Furthermore, he said the Forest Preserve contains dozens of lakes where floatplanes are allowed.
As mentioned, we’ll run a fuller account in the Explorer, with opinions from both sides.
Incidentally, the plaintiffs’ lawyer is Matt Norfolk of Lake Placid, who defended Jim McCulley after he was ticketed for driving a pickup truck on an old woods road in the Sentinel Range Wilderness. Norfolk won that case.
Posted on August 17th, 2010 9 comments Add a comment >>
A rock climber from Lake Placid fell to his death yesterday evening at the Upper Washbowl Cliff in the Giant Mountain Wilderness.
Dennis Murphy, who was thirty-five, slipped while walking along the top of the cliff after ascending Hesitation, a classic route on the popular climbing cliff.
Murphy and his partner, Dustin Ulrich, planned to rappel from an anchor at the top of another climbing route called Partition, according to State Police Lt. Scott Heggelke. The trooper said Ulrich was setting up the rappel when Murphy lost his footing and fell more than two hundred feet onto the rocks below.
It’s believed that Murphy died instantly.
The state Department of Environmental Conservation was notified about the accident about 6:10 p.m., according to DEC spokesman David Winchell.
Murphy, a passionate climber, had worked at the EMS store in Lake Placid for the past four years.
“He was an awesome, strong, great guy,” said Anita Sayers, a floor supervisor at the store.
Ulrich also worked at the outdoors store.
The base of the cliff is about a half-mile from Route 73. DEC forest rangers and wilderness rescuers from the Keene Valley and Keene fire departments reached the body within an hour of the emergency call, according to Ron Konowitz, a volunteer rescuer from Keene. He said Murphy was already dead. A State Police helicopter flew the body out of the wilderness.
Konowitz, who has climbed Upper Washbowl, said he didn’t think Murphy did anything wrong. “He was just walking along the top and slipped,” he said.
Hesitation is a 325-foot route of moderate difficulty, rated 5.8 on the Yosemite scale. It was established in 1958 by John Turner, a well-known climber, and two partners, according to the guidebook Adirondack Rock.
Jim Lawyer, the co-author of the guidebook, said he believes this is the sixth climbing fatality in the Adirondacks and the second at Upper Washbowl. There have been three deaths at Wallface, the region’s highest cliff, and one at Poke-O-Moonshine.
The last fatality occurred in October 2007 when Dennis Luther, an experienced climber, fell about two hundred feet in a rappelling accident on Poke-O. He was fifty-four.
Posted on August 10th, 2010 17 comments Add a comment >>
No charges will be pursued against three kayakers who paddled through Ausable Chasm in June, the Explorer has learned.
The Ausable Chasm Company complained that the three trespassed on the company’s land on the first weekend that the river was declared open (against the company’s wishes) to whitewater paddlers.
Based on the company’s complaints, state troopers filed “a request for a criminal summons” in the Chesterfield Town Court, according to State Police Captain Brent Gillam. However, Gillam said it was up to the town judge to decide whether to press charges.
Today, Gillam said troopers ended up making no arrests and considered the case closed.
A spokesman for the town court confirmed that no charges were filed.
“It’s not something I would be interested in pursuing, based on the federal court cases,” Gillam said. He added, however, that the judge made the decision to dismiss the case.
Paddlers waged a long legal battle to win the right to kayak through the chasm. This includes the right to portage around rapids and other obstacles and to scout the river.
Read my earlier post for more background about the controversy that erupted on the first weekend of paddling.
Posted on August 5th, 2010 1 comment - Add a comment >>
Bill McKibben wrote much of his pathbreaking book The End of Nature from his home in the Adirondacks, so even though he now lives in Vermont, we like to think of him as an Adirondacker.
In truth, though, McKibben is a citizen of the world, a guy who has been fighting to save the planet from climate change for more than two decades. But he hasn’t succeeded.
McKibben says it’s now time to take off the gloves. In an online article, he vents his anger against politicians who fiddle while the earth burns. He’s not happy with environmentalists, either. Here’s an excerpt:
“For many years, the lobbying fight for climate legislation on Capitol Hill has been led by a collection of the most corporate and moderate environmental groups, outfits like the Environmental Defense Fund. We owe them a great debt, and not just for their hard work. We owe them a debt because they did everything the way you’re supposed to: they wore nice clothes, lobbied tirelessly, and compromised at every turn.
“By the time they were done, they had a bill that only capped carbon emissions from electric utilities (not factories or cars) and was so laden with gifts for industry that if you listened closely you could actually hear the oinking. They bent over backwards like Soviet gymnasts.”
So what should be done now? Click here to read McKibben’s full article.
Posted on August 4th, 2010 8 comments Add a comment >>
Earlier this week, I posted on Adirondack Almanack an article about mountain lions. It includes a photo of a plaster cast of a paw print sent me by Don Leadley, a veteran outdoorsman. Leadley says he tracked the beast for about a mile near his home in Lake Pleasant.
Do mountain lions exist in the Adirondacks? That’s the question raised by the article.
It’s also the question raised in a new website created by the Wild Center in Tupper Lake.
The Wild Center’s site, which goes live today, includes video from two motorists who saw a mountain lion in Russell, just north of the Park, and from Ken Kogut, a state wildlife biologist who pooh-poohs the idea that the big cats are living in the Adirondacks.
Kogut does not mention in the video that he himself once saw a mountain lion bounding across a road. The state Department of Environmental Conservation, however, insists that any mountain lion seen in the region must have been a former pet that was released by or escaped from its owner. Yet DEC says the vast majority of “sightings” are cases of mistaken identity.
Mountain lions—also known as cougars, pumas, or panthers—supposedly were extirpated from the Adirondacks a century ago, but rumors persist that a remnant population remains here.
The Wild Center’s website contains several other cool features, including a map showing reported cougar sightings in the Park, by decade; photos and descriptions of cougar sign; and audio of the cat’s sounds.
It also contains a reader poll.
Do you think mountain lions exist in the Adirondacks? Now you can register your opinion.
Posted on August 2nd, 2010 5 comments Add a comment >>
I paddled the Jessup and Kunjamuk rivers near Speculator this weekend and saw lots of wildflowers on the banks and in the water, including cardinal flowers, pickerelweed, buttonbush, and pond lilies.
I need some help identifying the flowers shown here.
The purplish flower was photographed on the Kunjamuk in a marsh above Elm Lake. I saw it frequently on both rivers. I think I know what it is, but I want to be sure (and don’t want to prejudice anyone with my speculation).
The white flowers to the right also were a frequent sight along the river’s edge, often mingled with alders. The plants often have red stems. There are two opposing leaves just below the flowers and more leaves along the stem.
If you are familiar with these flowers, please let us know.