It took a while, after a long hard winter, but Spring finally arrived at the end of April. For a while, it looked like we weren’t going to be able to get out to the field on time, and even if we did manage to get out there, getting on the lakes would require an icebreaker. Fortunately, the ice broke up during the third week of April, and there were some warmer temperatures to help things dry out. As the Memorial Day weekend approached, the “bad thing” about spring in the Adirondacks appeared: Black flies.
Over the past few months, I’ve been having some conversations with various people about an Adirondack Park Agency regulation that caught me by surprise when I heard about it. What is it? It’s that all new wilderness camping sites must be at least 150 feet from a water front or trail, and any existing site must be relocated to that distance if it requires reconstruction. Considering that my job does mean keeping up with regulations, it was the first I’d heard of it, hence part of my shock. The other part was being incredulous that it was thought to be a good idea.
One of the things that many people have come to expect in their visiting here is “free camping.” There are spots called “wilderness camping sites” which offer a convenient stopping point for those on hiking or canoe trips, and in various wilderness areas. They’re not much for amenities. They consist of a pit privy (an outhouse), a fire ring, and depending on the particular site, a clear spot to pitch a tent or a lean-to. They’re popular with a set of people, particularly those who want to “get away from it all” or those who just want to camp “for free.” What none of them ever consider is the cost of those sites.
One of the sights you see in spring here in the Adirondacks is that some of the fir trees have big square holes dug into them. The explanation for them is that woodpeckers make them. The question I often had was: Why? You see, it’d be understandable if they were digging out a nesting hole, except that the holes aren’t high up, they’re usually waist level or lower. They’re also not obviously going after something like a grub which would be nearer the bark of the tree. This spring, I finally got my answer as to what was happening.
One of the fond memories I have about my childhood in the Adirondacks was when my parents would decide to take us to a movie at a small theater in a nearby town. It also served as a performance venue for various bands, stage shows, and the community theater. It was always a special treat to go, and to this day, I still love to go to a movie, buy a bucket of popcorn, and watch a movie in the theater. When I moved back here, the theater was still going, until 2006, when the owner decided to close it. After two years of effort and organization, it was taken over by a community group and reopened, to everyone’s delight. But recently, another threat loomed on the horizon, and it wasn’t just this theater that is facing it.
Every year a large number of tourists come to the Adirondack Mountains. One of the popular things to do is to take a canoe trip. There are a number of canoe routes, parts of the Northern Forest Canoe Trail. Some people choose a section to be done in a day or two, while others choose longer journeys. It’s a chance to enjoy nature, to paddle through the lakes and streams, to see nature. Most of them do this without problems, beyond the usual insect bites, sore muscles, and occasional rain. Every now and then, someone runs into serious problems.
At long last, it looks like Spring has come to the Adirondacks to stay. While the snow has (finally) melted, a week ago that was in doubt as a snowstorm hit the area with temperatures falling into the upper 20’s. The leaves are appearing, the birds have returned and are starting to build nests, flowers are starting to appear, and in general things look to be warming. The tourist season starts next week, although trout season is already on us with various enthusiasts lining the local streams trying to catch some nice brook trout or brown trout.
One of the things that has caused me to lose serious respect for many environmental action groups is their hysteria over genetically modified organisms. Their attacks rely on a lot of junk science, and some other things:
Well, it owes to a mishmash of anti-corporatist ideology, natural fallacy (GMOs are not natural!) and precautionary principle extremism. But here’s the odd thing. If you read through the reader responses to the NRO article, you’ll see lots of GMO-fearing conservatives who also hate Monsanto.
Over the years I’ve seen more crap about this than anything else. It doesn’t help at all, and particularly when you have well-known people pushing it through sloppy, plagiarized books and using their reputations as an appeal to authority. It needs to change.
According to the calendar, it’s been Spring for a couple of weeks. According to the “look out the window” around here, it’s still … Winter. Last year at this time, I was looking a greening lawns, trees starting to bud, and warm temperatures. This year?