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Adirondack Explorer

Archive for the ‘Natural History’ Category

March, 2016

Trees: White Pine Bears Important Fruit


The old saw “money doesn’t grow on trees” will remain valid unless bartering ever becomes the norm, in which case fruit and nut growers will be awash in tree-grown currency. Figuring exchange rates would be quite a headache, I imagine. Our eastern white pine isn’t considered a crop-bearing tree and it certainly doesn’t sprout cash, but it has borne priceless ‘fruit’ all the same. The tallest trees this side of the Rockies, white pines of up to 230 feet were recorded by early loggers. The current US champion stands at 188 feet tall, and in New York State we have >>More


March, 2016

Adirondack Wildlife: Weasel Evel Knievels


My friend Gordon Russell sent me a letter recently describing a wildlife encounter. He had been following deer tracks along a stone wall when a movement caught his attention. “Almost before its image could travel to my brain,” he wrote, “the white head of a weasel vanished in between the stones.” The animal popped up again, disappeared, and then revealed itself a third time, next to where Gordon was standing. Gordon looked at the weasel. The weasel looked at Gordon. Gordon squeaked. And then: “my day exploded.” “From the wall, to the ground, to my pant leg, to my shoulder, >>More


March, 2016

DEC Seeks Assistance In Locating Black Bear Dens


New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) wildlife biologists are seeking the public’s help to learn about new black bear dens throughout New York. As part of DEC’s ongoing monitoring of black bears in New York, wildlife biologists routinely check on black bears during the winter den season. The bears may be fitted with a radio collar to help biologists track the bears’ activities throughout the rest of the year and to relocate dens in subsequent years for monitoring cub production, condition, and survival. Bears may den in a » Continue Reading. The post DEC Seeks Assistance In Locating >>More


March, 2016

In Adirondack Forests, Trees Age Differently


Senescence is the decline in vigor that happens to all creatures great and diminutive as they close in on the life expectancy of their species. People my age suddenly find they require reading glasses to see the phone book. Though I suppose by definition anyone still using a phone book is old enough to need glasses, right? The onset of this process varies — you probably know of families whose members frequently retain good health into their 90s, and other families where that is not the case. Of course environment is important. Eating and sleeping well, cultivating gratitude, and laughing >>More


March, 2016

Lake Champlain Sturgeon Program Planned For Thursday


The Lake Champlain Basin Program is hosting “Lake Sturgeon Return!” on Thursday, March 3, 2016 at the LCBP office in Grand Isle. The LCBP will host guest speaker Chet MacKenzie, Vermont Fish and Wildlife Fisheries Program Manager. MacKenzie will share the life cycle of the sturgeon, photos and images of lake sturgeon, and preliminary results of Vermont’s sturgeon tagging program. The lake sturgeon (Acipenser fulvescens), is one of about 25 species of sturgeon, an ancient bottom feeder with a partly cartilaginous skeleton. Lake sturgeons can grow to more than seven feet long and weigh over 240 pounds. Lake sturgeon are >>More


February, 2016

Local Bats and White Nose Syndrome


Context is critical, right? Years ago I took a second job loading trucks at night, and a few guys on the dock had what you might call “white-nose syndrome.” All I had was coffee, so they could work faster than I, though they spent a lot more time in the rest room. I hope they eventually recovered. Addiction is a serious and potentially life-threatening matter, but from a bat’s perspective, white-nose syndrome is something even more devastating. This disease, which is nearly always fatal, has killed 80% of the bats in the Northeastern U.S. in less than a decade. Initially >>More


February, 2016

In Cold, Wet Woods, Needle Ice Sprouts


The bare ground of the trail wound through dead leaves and patchy snow. At a short overhang in the trail, I noticed spiky threads of ice growing up from the soil in crunchy clusters. A careless boot revealed how fragile these formations are; the fine ice threads crumbled readily. This was needle ice, a common sight in the woods this winter. Curious about the phenomenon, I got in touch with Dr. James R. Carter, a professor emeritus from Illinois State University. Dr. Carter has spent the last ten year observing these ice formations. His photographs and descriptions of different examples >>More


February, 2016

Farm Talks: Organic Farming, Woodlot Management


The next two Farm Talk presentations – on organic vegetable farming and woodlot management – will be taking place on March 11, 2016. Rand Fosdick, Farm Manager for Landon Hill Estate Farm, will present “Starting A Small Certified Organic Farm.” Fosdick will be followed by John O’Donnell, Certified Forester for Benchmark Forest & Land Management, who will present “Woodlot Management: It’s In Your Roots”. During the first presentation, Rand Fosdick will discuss the process of starting and building a certified organic mixed vegetable farm. The presentation will entail the background work that goes into becoming and maintaining an organic vegetable farm, >>More


February, 2016

Livingston Stone: Leading 19th Century Fisheries Expert


The American shad is a native fish of East Coast waters like the St. Lawrence and Hudson Rivers, and yet the largest shad population in the world is in the Columbia River on the West Coast, an east-to-west migration of three thousand miles. Humpback whales migrate the same distance in water each year, and caribou do so on land, but the shad of the late 1800s made the trip in style: they took the train. Accompanying them was a man who spent a decade as the leading fish culturist in the North Country. Livingston Stone was born in 1836 in >>More


February, 2016

Front Yard Forestry: Cabling Weak Trees


One of the ways Mother Nature keeps the forests healthy and strong is by “letting” trees with poor structure split during high wind or ice load events. Such trees become decayed and die young. Those with better genetics (or better luck) are the trees that reach maturity. This selection process is great for woodlands, but it doesn’t work quite the same way for trees growing in yards, streets and parks. Trees often develop imperfections. The vast majority of these are benign, but some can be dangerous. To avoid breakage of large limbs and associated flying lawsuits and debris, trees with >>More