Tag Archives: Environmental History

What A Wonderful Life:Lowville’s Erwin Eugene Lanpher


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Research has taken me to more cemeteries than I can remember. Surrounded by hundreds of gravestones, I frequently remind myself that every person has a story. What often impresses me is that many people who are largely forgotten actually made a real difference in other people’s lives. Uncovering those stories from the past is humbling, carrying with it the realization that I’ll probably never approach the good works done by others.

Sometimes those good works seem to escape notice, and that was the sense that engulfed me as I read the obituary of Erwin Eugene Lanpher of Lowville. It reminded me of George Bailey from It’s A Wonderful Life, a regular guy who, as it turned out, was darn important to a lot of people.

Lanpher’s life seemed accomplished, but average—born in 1875; schooled at Lowville Academy, Union College, and Cornell; a year working as a government surveyor on the Panama Canal; working as an engineer for the Atlantic City water bureau; and a twenty-six-year career in the engineering department caring for Pittsburgh’s water system.

The Lanpher family was remarkable in at least one sense: Erwin’s great-great-grandfather moved from Rhode Island to Lowville in 1801, so they were among the earliest settlers of the region. Otherwise, Erwin appeared to have led the life of an average man who excelled at his job. In fact, Lanpher was revered in Pittsburgh for his long-term dedication to developing the city’s water system. In performing at such a high level, he affected the lives of thousands in a very positive way.

But Erwin Lanpher’s reach went far beyond developing an adequate system of delivering water to a city of over a half million people. Evidence reveals that the tremendous effect of his work is undeniable, yet incalculable. After all, who can measure the changes in the world from saving one life, let alone hundreds, or even thousands?

Lanpher was a stickler for quality. Besides designing an efficient system of distributing water to thousands of homes and businesses, he developed revolutionary methods of purification that drastically improved the process. The results were indisputable.

In 1904, at the age of 29, he began working on Pittsburgh’s water system. One of the main issues affecting water quality was the frequent turbidity of the Allegheny River, causing tons of mud to enter the city’s water system on a regular basis. Disease was a major consideration, and typhoid was a prime enemy, spread by ingesting contaminated water.

Erwin Lanpher attacked the problem, and in retrospect, his incredible value to society can be summed up in three simple lines. The third line reveals statistics from Lanpher’s tenure.
1873: Pittsburgh population—133,000. Deaths from typhoid fever, 191 (143.6 per 100,000).
1907: Pittsburgh population—535,000. Deaths from typhoid fever, 648 (125.2 per 100,000).
1927: Pittsburgh population—665,000. Deaths from typhoid fever, 12 (1.8 per 100,000).

Another important set of statistics addresses the overall illness rate. In 1907, the Pittsburgh area had 5,652 cases of typhoid fever; in 1927, the population had risen by 130,000, but the total cases of typhoid fever had declined to 78 due to Lanpher’s work. Many cities sought his guidance to duplicate the results and dramatically enhance the quality of life.

The numbers are astonishing. Imagine the huge negatives that were avoided—the physical pain, the financial cost to patients, the pressure on the health care system, and the grieving for the deceased—all of it diminished as a result of Lanpher’s efforts. A decline in deaths from 648 to 12 during a 20-year period, with hundreds, perhaps thousands, of lives saved along the way. Amazing—and that’s just in one city.

Erwin died in 1930 at the age of 55. Seven months later, the city of Pittsburgh recognized and honored his legacy, unveiling a stone marker at one of the reservoirs he built and re-christening it the Lanpher Reservoir. Eighty years later, it still bears the same name.

Pittsburgh’s mayor and all the top city officials joined the Lanpher Memorial Committee for the ceremony, noting that, “… the city has published an official memorial book containing Mr. Lanpher’s speeches and public record. Mr. Lanpher was nationally known as a water works engineer and was consulted frequently by directors of water systems from all over the country.”

Now there’s a man who made a difference.

Photo Top: Erwin Eugene Lanpher.

Photo Bottom: Location of the Lanpher Reservoir in Pittsburgh.

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

Frederick Law Olmsted:Abolitionist, Conservationist, Activist


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Da Capo Press has recently published Genius of Place: The Life of Frederick Law Olmsted by Justin Martin, the author of biographies of Alan Greenspan and Ralph Nader.

Frederick Law Olmsted is arguably the most important historical figure that the average American knows the least about. Best remembered for his landscape architecture, Olmsted was also an influential journalist, early voice for the environment, and abolitionist credited with helping dissuade England from joining the South in the Civil War.

Frederick Law Olmsted is best remembered as the pioneer of landscape architecture in the United States. From the US Capitol grounds and Boston’s Emerald Necklace to Stanford University’s campus and New York’s Central Park, Olmsted was an artist who painted with lakes, shrubs, and wooded slopes. His stature and importance as an architect has been paramount in previous biographies, but his role as a social visionary, activist, and reformer has been frequently overlooked until now.

Justin Martin’s research shows Olmsted’s life to be a striking blend of high achievement, prodigious energy, and personal tragedy. He played a crucial role in the early efforts to preserve Yosemite and Niagara Falls, and designed Boston’s Back Bay Fens not only as a park, but also as America’s first wetlands restoration. As a former sailor, scientific farmer, and failed gold-miner, Olmsted brought wildly varied experiences to his works and career. His personal achievements were shadowed however by misfortune — a strained marriage, tense family life, and psychiatric institutionalization.

Olmsted accomplished more than most people could in three lifetimes. As a park maker, environmentalist, and abolitionist he helped shape modern America. At a time when open space is at a premium, he’s left a green legacy in city after city across North America. His early understanding of our need for open spaces, as well as spiritual and physical restoration in nature, has been a significant motivator for generations of environmental conservationists since.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Call for Papers: Land Use and Ethics Symposium


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The SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry’s Northern Forest Institute At Huntington Wildlife Forest invites submissions for a symposium of interdisciplinary scholarship in land use and ethics, to be held at Huntington Wildlife Forest, Newcomb, Essex County, NY on June 1-3, 2012. The deadline for submissions is November 30, 2011.

Research is welcomed from across professions and disciplines on topics related to balancing individual and community priorities with respect to land use and the associated expectations for human and ecosystem stewardship and social and environmental ethics. Submissions should generate conversation around a variety of approaches to land use, the moral implications of these approaches, as well as the ways that they influence the ongoing debate over how to achieve social and environmental justice. Submissions from a range of disciplines and professional fields are encouraged.

All submissions must be submitted as a Word document via e-mail to Symposium Coordinator Rebecca Oyer according to the guidelines below. Acceptance notifications will go out by the first week of January 2012 along with detailed travel and accommodation information (preliminary information is below).

Electronic submissions require the following:
o Submission Title
o Submission Type (including required abstract/proposal as noted below):
o Paper
o Panel discussion
o Poster presentation
o Author(s) Information:
o Affiliation (independent scholars are welcome)
o Full name
o Daytime phone
o E-mail
o Mailing address

Anonymity: Abstracts will be sent via email to the Symposium Coordinator who will respond with an e-mail acknowledgement of receipt. Abstracts will be distributed anonymously to the Symposium Chair and selection committee.

A conference fee of $75 will include housing and meals beginning with dinner on Friday, June
1 and ending with lunch on Sunday, June 3 plus a wine and cheese reception at Huntington Lodge on the evening of Friday, June 1. Coffee and refreshments will be available throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday of the symposium. (Note: This is an estimated rate that may increase by $5-$10).

Accommodations: Rustic accommodations will be provided on Huntington Wildlife Forest.

Traditional Papers: The symposium welcomes work in progress. One aim of this meeting is to
provide a collegial environment for new and in-process work and ideas to be offered for comment and critique. Submissions must include a 250 word abstract. Accepted papers/research in progress will be presented by the author followed by a fifteen minute period of open discussion. Panel Discussion: A panel discussion with at least two presenters should examine specific problems or topics from a variety of disciplinary and professional perspectives on land use and ethics. Panel proposals should include a description of the issue that the panel will address, an explanation of the relevance of the topic to more than one discipline/field and an indication of how each paper in the panel addresses each issue. Panel Discussion proposals should include an abstract of 600 words for the panel as a whole.

Poster Presentations: Proposals for Poster Presentations should be in the form of a description of the research project not longer than 1000 words including a brief outline of the problem or topic presented and its relationship to land use and ethics. Posters will be on display throughout the symposium, with presenters available in the display area for a designated time during the symposium.

Session Chairs: If you would like to serve as a Session Chair, please send a CV to the Symposium Coordinator including your areas of research interest/expertise so that we can place Chairs in the most appropriate session.

Confirmation: Anyone making a submission will receive confirmation of receipt within 48 hours. If you have not received confirmation of receipt and/or notification regarding the Program Committee’s decision about your submission by January 1, please contact Symposium Coordinator Rebecca Oyer.

Scheduling: The Program Committee assumes that it may schedule a paper or session at any time
between Saturday, June 2 at 9am and Sunday, June 3 late afternoon.

For all correspondence regarding submission and/or program content, contact Symposium Chair
Marianne Patinelli-Dubay at mpatinelli@esf.edu

For submission questions, presentation/IT needs contact Symposium Coordinator Rebecca Oyer at
royer@esf.edu

For information on fees, lodging and accommodations contact Business Manager Zoe Jeffery at
aechwf@esf.edu

Photo of Arbutus Lodge, compliments of Huntington Wildlife Forest, Newcomb, NY.

The Epidemic: Power, Privilege, and Public Health


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The Epidemic: A Collision of Power, Privilege, and Public Health by David DeKok tells the story of how a vain and reckless businessman became responsible for a typhoid epidemic in 1903 that devastated Cornell University and the surrounding town of Ithaca. Eighty-two people died, including twenty-nine Cornell students.

Protected by influential friends, William T. Morris faced no retribution for this outrage. His legacy was a corporation—first known as Associated Gas & Electric Co. and later as General Public Utilities Corp.—that bedeviled America for a century. The Three Mile Island nuclear accident in 1979 was its most notorious historical event, but hardly its only offense against the public interest.

The Ithaca epidemic came at a time when engineers knew how to prevent typhoid outbreaks but physicians could not yet cure the disease. Both professions were helpless when it came to stopping a corporate executive who placed profit over the public health. Government was a concerned but helpless bystander.

For modern-day readers acutely aware of the risk of a devastating global pandemic and of the dangers of unrestrained corporate power, The Epidemic provides a riveting look back at a heretofore little-known, frightening episode in America’s past that seems all too familiar. Written in the tradition of The Devil in the White City, it is an utterly compelling, thoroughly researched work of narrative history with an edge.

David DeKok is the author of Fire Underground: The Ongoing Tragedy of the Centralia Mine Fire (Globe Pequot Press), which previously appeared as Unseen Danger. A former award-winning investigative reporter for the Patriot-News in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, he has been a guest on Fresh Air and The Diane Rehm Show.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

New Environmental History: The Nature of New York


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David Stradling, Professor and Graduate Studies Director at the University of Cincinnati, is author of The Nature of New York: An Environmental History of the Empire State. This recent (Fall 2010) survey of over four hundred years of New York’s environmental history has received praise from historians and environmental policy experts.

From the arrival of Henry Hudson’s Half Moon in the estuarial waters of what would come to be called New York Harbor to the 2006 agreement that laid out plans for General Electric to clean up the PCBs it pumped into the river named after Hudson, this work offers a sweeping environmental history of New York State. David Stradling shows how New York’s varied landscape and abundant natural resources have played a fundamental role in shaping the state’s culture and economy. Simultaneously, he underscores the extent to which New Yorkers have, through such projects as the excavation of the Erie Canal and the construction of highways and reservoir systems, changed the landscape of their state.

Surveying all of New York State since first contact between Europeans and the region’s indigenous inhabitants, Stradling finds within its borders an amazing array of environmental features, such as Niagara Falls; human intervention through agriculture, urbanization, and industrialization; and symbols, such as Storm King Mountain, that effectively define the New York identity.

Stradling demonstrates that the history of the state can be charted by means of epochs that represent stages in the development and redefinition of our relationship to our natural surroundings and the built environment; New York State has gone through cycles of deforestation and reforestation, habitat destruction and restoration that track shifts in population distribution, public policy, and the economy. Understanding these patterns, their history, and their future prospects is essential to comprehending the Empire State in all its complexity.

Note: Books noticed on this site have been provided by the publishers. Purchases made through this Amazon link help support this site.

Preservation Secured for Historic Huguenot Land


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The Open Space Institute (OSI), Historic Huguenot Street (HHS) and the Thomas and Corinne Nyquist Foundation have announced the preservation in perpetuity of the Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary, a 56-acre nature preserve located on Huguenot Street in the town and village of New Paltz.

OSI, through its land acquisition affiliate, the Open Space Conservancy, acquired the Sanctuary for $110,000 on June 21st from Historic Huguenot Street. HHS owns and maintains a National Historic Landmark District which includes a number of historic houses dating to the early 18th century set on ten acres in downtown New Paltz.

HHS acquired the property known as the Harcourt Sanctuary from Hastings Harcourt in 1976 and subsequently established the wildlife sanctuary. In 2009, HHS entered into a Conservation Easement with the Wallkill Valley Land Trust. According to a statement issued to the press, HHS has been focusing its efforts on the historic properties on Huguenot Street and has been searching for a buyer for the Harcourt property. Mary Etta Schneider, President of HHS comments, “It was especially important that we find a buyer that would honor Mr. Harcourt’s original intent to keep the land open to the public and in its natural state. We are delighted to collaborate with OSI and the Nyquist Foundation to make this happen.”

On July 6th, OSI sold the parcel for $55,000 to the Thomas and Corinne Nyquist Foundation. The sale included a restriction requiring the property to be made available to the public in perpetuity for recreational use. Thomas E. Nyquist, chair of the Foundation says, “The acquisition of the Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary reflects a long-existing appreciation of the beauty of the mid-Hudson Valley by the Nyquist family. Through the foundation, the Nyquists are pleased to serve as stewards of the newly-named Nyquist-Harcourt Wildlife Sanctuary.”

The Sanctuary contains the “oxbow,” a complex of ponds and wetlands remaining from a tightly curved meander cut off when the Wallkill River straightened its course hundreds of years ago. It has over 1,300 feet of frontage on the Wallkill River and adjoins the Jewett and Khosla farms, two historic Huguenot farms totaling more than 180 acres that were protected by OSI and the Wallkill Valley Land Trust in the “Two Farms” campaign in 2007. The Sanctuary also adjoins land owned by the village of New Paltz containing the Gardens for Nutrition, a community-supported public gardening area.

“With the generous participation of the Nyquist Foundation, we are thrilled to be able to preserve the Harcourt Sanctuary,” said Kim Elliman, OSI’s president and CEO. “Like the other properties we’ve protected along Huguenot Street, it exemplifies both the rich history and natural resources of New Paltz and the Wallkill River.”

The property has relatively open areas dominated by grasses and herbaceous plants, which provide rich and varied habitat opportunities for a wide range of plants and animals. In 1987 the Town of New Paltz Environmental Conservation Commission created the Huguenot Path, an improved nature trail which loops through the Sanctuary and the adjacent Village-owned property.

The Open Space Institute protects scenic, natural, and historic landscapes to ensure public enjoyment, conserve habitats, and sustain community character. OSI achieves its goals through land acquisition, conservation easements, regional loan programs, fiscal sponsorship, creative partnerships, and analytical research. OSI has protected more than 110,000 acres in New York State. Through its Northern Forest Protection Fund and Conservation Finance Program, OSI has assisted in the protection of an additional 1.8 million acres in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, New York, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina and Georgia. Please visit www.osiny.org for more information.

The Thomas and Corinne Nyquist Foundation is a family foundation founded in 2004 to provide financial support for local initiatives and programs of nonprofit organizations and groups in New Paltz and in Roosevelt County, Montana with emphasis on the communities of Bainville, Culbertson and Froid.

Historic Huguenot Street (HHS), located on the banks of the Wallkill River, is the place where the spirit of individualism that New Paltz is known for today began. Here a small group of French-speaking Huguenots settled in 1678. Just steps from downtown New Paltz, the site features seven stone houses dating to 1705, a burying ground and a reconstructed 1717 stone church – all in their original village setting. HHS offers ten acres of landscaped green space and public programming to the local community and visitors from around the world. For more information about Historic Huguenot Street, visit www.huguenotstreet.org or call (845) 255-1889.

Adirondack Museum Monday Lectures Begin


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The Adirondack Museum will host its annual Monday Evening Lecture Series in July and August. The first evening is with Museum Chief Curator, Laura Rice’s lecture “Night Vision: The Wildlife Photography of Hobart Vosburg Roberts” on July 11. Hobart V. Roberts’ photographs, camera equipment, published articles, and awards are featured in a new exhibit at the Adirondack Museum. Rice will discuss Roberts’ work and the museum’s exhibit in an illustrated presentation.

Lectures continue on July 18 with Robert Arnold’s “Let Loose the Dogs of War: New York in the American Civil War;” and on July 25 with Mark Bowie “s “Night Over the North Country.”



August begins with Bill McKibben on August 1 and “The Most Important Number in the World: Updates on the Fight for a Stable Climate;” August 8 with Robert Demarest and “Traveling with Winslow Homer;” August 15 with David Wagner and “John James Audubon, Arthur Fitzwilliam Tait and American Wildlife Art.” The summer series concludes on August 22 with Elisabeth Hudnut Clarkson and “The Lost World of Foxlair and the Valentino Summer.”

The presentations will be offered at no charge to museum members; the fee for non-members is $5.00. For full descriptions of the lectures, please visit www.adirondackmuseum.org.

Finger Lakes Museum Presents Inaugural Program


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The Finger Lakes Museum will present its inaugural program series, “Back from the Brink: The Story of Hemlock and Canadice Lakes”, at Keuka College in three separate installments during the month of July. The first part of this series will begin with the telling of one of North America’s most fascinating conservation stories. Parts 2 and 3, which are scheduled for later in the month, complete this chronicle series. Each of the programs will be held at the Lightner Library.

Part I – From the Brink of Extinction: On Saturday, July 2nd at 2:00 p.m., bald eagle specialist Mike Allen, who recently retired from the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, will talk about the discovery of the last remaining pair of nesting bald eagles in New York State in 1965 and the decades-long endeavor that ensued to restore their population. The original pair nested at the south end of Hemlock Lake. While telling his story, Mike will also present his original photographs and will be accompanied by Liberty, a magnificent live bald eagle.

Part II – Blue Blood to Blue Water: On Thursday, July 14th at 7:00 p.m., Lima Town Historian Douglas Morgan will present a forgotten view of what Hemlock and Canadice Lakes—the only two undeveloped Finger Lakes—looked like between 1875 and 1945. It is a remarkable story of cottages, summer homes, resort hotels, and steamboats—and the City of Rochester’s need of a new source for clean drinking water. Doug will include a slide presentation of antique photographs that help tell his story.

Part III – Lakes Go Wild: On Thursday, July 28th at 7:00 p.m., Jim Howe, executive director of the Central New York Chapter of the Nature Conservancy; Don Root, the Hemlock-Canadice Watershed Conservationist for the last 30 years; Steve Lewandowski, founder of the Coalition for Hemlock and Canadice Lakes; and Paul D’Amato, Regional Director for NYS DEC Region 8—all longtime advocates for the permanent protection of Hemlock and Canadice Lakes—will present this program. They will tell about watershed protection efforts that began more than a century ago and detail the trials and tribulations that eventually evolved into the 7,000-acre Hemlock-Canadice State Forest in 2010. A slide presentation will accompany this final program chapter.

Each of the “Back from the Brink” presentations is free and open to the public but pre-registration is requested. Donations are encouraged. For more information or to pre-register, see www.fingerlakesmuseum.org.

Note: This series will also be taking place at the Finger Lakes Wine Center in Ithaca on August 6th, August 18th, and September 1st.

Environmental Historian Cumbler at Chapman Museum


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This Wednesday, May 25, at 7 pm, noted environmental historian John Cumbler will present a talk entitled Mills, Water Power Dams and the Transformation of the Environment at the Chapman Historical Museum in Glens Falls. The lecture is the first in a series of programs, funded in part by a grant from the New York Council for the Humanities, which expand on the themes of the Chapman’s current exhibit, Harnessing the Hudson: Waterwheels & Turbines, a history of waterpower on the upper Hudson River. The program is free and open to the public.

John T. Cumbler, who earned his Ph.D. at the University of Michigan, has taught at the Univ. of Louisville since 1975, specializing in United States Environmental History and Economic History. Professor Cumbler is the author of numerous books including: Northeast and Midwest United States: An Environmental History (2005) and Reasonable Use: The People, The Environment, And The State, New England 1790-1930 (2001). In his talk he will explore the impact of industrialization on rivers and the history of how people have responded to that degradation.

The Chapman Historical Museum is located at 348 Glen Street, Glens Falls. The exhibit Harnessing the Hudson will be on view through September 25th. Public hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm, and Sunday, noon to 4 pm. For more information call (518) 793-2826 or visit www.chapmanmuseum.org.

Chapman Opens ‘Harnessing the Hudson’ Exhibit


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The Chapman Historical Museum in Glens Falls has opened a new major exhibition, Harnessing the Hudson, which explores the history of how people in the region have harnessed the renewable energy of the Hudson River from early sawmills to hydroelectric generators.

In 1903, the Spier Falls hydroelectric dam, located on the Hudson eight miles upstream from Glens Falls, began to produce electricity. Touted at the time as the largest dam of its type in the United States, the dam supplied electricity not only to surrounding communities but also to the large General Electric plant in Schenectady 50 miles away. The dam quickly became part of a network of power plants and transmission lines that supplied power for factories, transportation and lighting in the Capital region.

The brainchild of Glens Falls attorney, Eugene Ashley, Spier Falls was a project that captivated the interest of people far and wide. They were familiar with water power, but electricity was a very new phenomenon at the beginning of the 20th century, and many people were not convinced of its potential. Little did they suspect how much it would change their lives.

The exhibit features archival materials and artifacts principally from the Chapman’s Spier Falls collection but also from other regional archives. Of particular note are photographs provided by the Schenectady Museum and Science Center, which houses thousands of images that document the history of GE and the development of electricity. For those unfamiliar with the physics of water power, a hand-cranked generator and other interactive elements provide greater understanding of the science involved.

In conjunction with the exhibit, which will run through September, the museum plans to hold a series of public programs relating to the theme of Harnessing the Hudson. These will include talks about the history of hydropower on the upper Hudson, the development of the electric grid, a driving tour of mill sites, and kayak tours that explore the river ecology around Spier Falls.

This project is supported by: Brookfield, The Leo Cox Beach Philanthropic Foundation, the Waldo T. Ross & Ruth S. Ross Charitable Trust Foundation, National Grid, the New York Council for the Humanities and general operating support from the New York State Council on the Arts, a state agency.

The exhibit will be on display at the Chapman Historical Museum through September 25, 2011. The museum is located at 348 Glen Street, Glens Falls, NY. Public Hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am to 4 pm, and Sunday, noon to 4 pm. For more information call (518) 793-2826

Photo: Construction workers installing a 12’ diameter penstock at Spier Falls Hydroelectric Dam, 1901.

Climate Justice The Focus of John Brown Day


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Climate Justice will be the focus of this year’s annual John Brown Day on Saturday, May 7, 2011. A tradition dating back to the 1930s, John Brown Day is held each year at the John Brown Farm State Historic Site in Lake Placid, to honor one of the nation’s most influential abolitionists on the anniversary of his birth in 1800.

Dedicating his life to eradicating slavery, Brown eventually risked all attacking the federal arsenal at Harper’s Ferry, Virginia, in 1859. Captured by troops led by Robert E. Lee and J.E.B. Stuart, Brown’s trial and execution are considered by many historians as a spark that help ignite the Civil War 150 years ago.

Climate Justice is a growing global movement that recognizes that poor and disenfranchised peoples around the world bear the least responsibility for climate change but face a disproportionate burden from its attendant effects, such as compromised health, economic hardship from rising energy costs, and displacement, destruction of property, and death due to extreme natural disasters. Here in the United States, the global campaign for Climate Justice is deeply linked to the Environmental Justice Movement, which is entering its third decade of militant opposition to environmental racism.

John Brown Day keynote speaker and Environmental Justice leader Cecil Corbin-Mark will describe the evolution of the Climate Justice Movement and give voice to the rights and concerns of the people who are usually the first and often the hardest hit by the impacts of global warming.

Corbin-Mark is Deputy Director of the Harlem-based organization, WE-ACT for Environmental Justice. In addition to his work in New York, Corbin-Mark has been active in United Nations and alternative global climate conversations from Copenhagen to Cochabamba to Cancun.
“Like slavery in antebellum America, climate change is one of the most important moral issues of our time,” said Martha Swan, director of the freedom education project John Brown Lives! which organizes the yearly event.

“Brown surely would have recognized that it is the world’s poor who disproportionately bear the brunt of climate change, so it is fitting that Climate Justice will be the focus of John Brown Day 2011. In this Sesquicentennial Year marking the start of the Civil War, we are honored that Cecil will be with us at this critical time.”

Other speakers at the annual event include David Goodman, brother of civil rights activist Andrew Goodman, murdered by the Ku Klux Klan during Mississippi Freedom Summer in
1964, Alice Kesey Mecoy, great-great-great granddaughter of John and Mary Brown, and Brother Yusef Burges. A trustee of the Children & Nature Network and an outdoor educator, Burgess will speak about the power of nature to transform youth. A frequent paddler on Adirondack waterways and former outreach and diversity coordinator for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, Burgess works to connect Albany-area youth with the natural beauty and environmental issues of the Adirondacks.

John Brown Day 2011 is possible with the cooperation of the John Brown Farm State Historic Site. The event is free and open to the public, and will be held outdoors under a tent.
For more information, contact Martha Swan, Director of John Brown Lives!, at 518-962-4758 or johnbrownlives@westelcom.com.

Union College to Aquire Adirondack Library


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Union College has entered into an agreement with the private conservation group Protect the Adirondacks! (PROTECT) to purchase a building complex in Niskayuna that includes the former home of the noted Adirondack conservationist Paul Schaefer (1908-1996) and a modern addition that houses the Adirondack Research Library.

The decision to acquire the two-acre property on St. David’s Lane and preserve and expand its use as an educational learning center “reaffirms and builds upon the College’s long connection to the Adirondacks,” college officials said in a prepared statement.

“This is an exceptional opportunity to provide a home for and advance the College’s curricular and co-curricular offerings related to mountains, wilderness and waterways in general and to the Adirondacks in particular,” said College President Stephen C. Ainlay. An anonymous donor has made it possible for the College to purchase the property.

The property is located on a two-acre parcel of land, three miles from the Union College campus, adjacent to the adjacent 111-acre H. G. Reist Wildlife Sanctuary, which is stewarded by the Hudson-Mohawk Bird Club. The complex includes a 2,400 square-foot Dutch replica home built by Schaefer in 1934 used for offices and meetings and a 3,900 square-foot addition completed in 2005 that houses additional offices, conference rooms, and the Adirondack Research Library.

The library, which contains more than 15,000 volumes, as well as extensive collections of maps, photographs, documents and the personal papers of some of the region’s foremost conservationists, was the creation of Paul Schaefer. The building is surrounded by award-winning perennial gardens that have been maintained by Garden Explorers of Niskayuna and a bluestone amphitheatre used for public lectures and musical events.

PROTECT was incorporated in 2009 following the consolidation of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks with which Schaefer was associated for many years and the Residents’ Committee to Protect the Adirondacks. “PROTECT has elected to focus its activities within the Adirondack Park, prompting the organization to begin exploring appropriate uses for the building and protection of the highly respected library,” the College’s statement said.

President Ainlay noted that Schaefer once taught a course on the Adirondacks at the College and in 1979 was awarded doctor of science degree for his conservation efforts. Union alumni and members of the faculty have been involved in the Adirondacks for well over a century. Numerous faculty members have conducted research in the Adirondacks and incorporated it into their courses. The College also has hosted a number of academic conferences and symposia centered on the Adirondacks, and the six-million-acre Adirondack Park is a destination for student field trips.

The College will explore collaborative partnerships with other colleges and universities involved with the Adirondacks, as well as museums and preservation groups the statement said.

According to David Quinn, treasurer of PROTECT, when the transaction is complete the Adirondack Research Library will be transferred intact to the College on permanent loan, to be managed by Union’s Schaffer Library.

“Union College will provide the quality of stewardship the place deserves,” said Quinn. “The building and library and the history they represent will be associated with a first-rate institution of higher learning and the public and park will be the ultimate beneficiaries.”

Hudson River Viewshed Symposium Saturday


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The Olana Partnership will celebrate the Hudson Valley’s extraordinary natural and designed landscapes in a symposium on Saturday, April 16, 2011. Framing the Viewshed: The Transformative Power of Art and Landscape in the Hudson Valley will take place at Columbia-Greene Community College, just outside of Hudson, New York. The panel discussion will feature three leading experts in the fields of art history, conservation, and landscape design who will discuss the Hudson Valley’s unparalleled viewsheds and their cultural context.

Olana, now the Olana State Historic Site, was the home and creation of Frederic Edwin Church (1826-1900), one of the most significant artists of his day, and a leader of the Hudson River School, America’s first native school of painting. As a young artist, Church studied under Thomas Cole who lived just across the Hudson River. Church fell in love with the area and, when he became successful he bought a farm, which eventually became one of America’s most important designed landscapes.

Frederic Church designed Olana, planting trees, building a lake, and orchestrating the paths and carriage drives that lead up to the iconic Persian-inspired castle at the top of the hill. From this vantage point, with Church’s 250-acre Picturesque style landscape in the foreground, and the larger, borrowed landscape stretching to the horizon, today’s visitor can enjoy a vista largely unchanged in the 110 years since Frederic Church died.

This vast area comprises the Olana viewshed. (Fittingly, Columbia-Greene College, site of the symposium, is itself part of this viewshed.) “Olana represents a rare American convergence of art, conservation and landscape themes,” said Mark Prezorski, trustee of The Olana Partnership. “It makes perfect sense for the Olana Viewshed to serve as a backdrop for a broader Hudson Valley discussion.”

The panel discussion will be moderated by David Schuyler, the biographer of Calvert Vaux, who assisted Church with the design of the house. Art historian Linda S Ferber will speak on the four Hudsons of Wallace Bruce, the author of a 1901 travel guide: the Hudsons of Beauty, History, Literature and Commerce. Vassar Professor Emeritus Harvey K. Flad will discuss the “Art of Protecting Scenic Views: Nineteenth-century Artists and the Preservation of Modern-day Landscapes.” Landscape architect Laurie Olin, whose designs for public and private landscapes have won him international acclaim, will speak on the use of contemporary design in historic settings.

The concept of viewsheds is one in which many organizations are involved, several of which are participating in this symposium by either helping sponsor the conference or having representatives on hand to talk about their work. Sara Griffen, President of The Olana Partnership, said, “Partnerships are key to understanding and preserving views. The Olana Partnership is pleased that the Hudson Valley Greenway and National Heritage Area are sponsors of the symposium, and that representatives of Scenic Hudson, the Open Space Institute, and the Columbia Land Conservancy will be available to describe their respective roles in the preservation of views. The Olana Partnership also acknowledges the critical work of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation as well as the Estuary program of the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and the Department of State, and the support of our partners at the American Society of Landscape Architects and the Cultural Landscape Foundation.” WDST is the media sponsor of the symposium.

Citing some reasons why his organization with its partners have preserved more than 2,000 acres in the Olana viewshed, Scenic Hudson President Ned Sullivan said, “These vistas are good for the soul and the economy. The land that inspired Frederic Church’s art today lifts the spirits of all who see it. Keeping this treasured landscape intact helps Olana bring $8 million to the local economy each year and contributes strongly to Columbia County’s tourism industry, which generates $105 million in spending annually and is responsible for 1,500 jobs. I applaud Olana for holding this symposium to have more people appreciate and support preserving the valley’s natural beauty.”

The symposium will be held from 1:00 to 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, April 16, at Columbia-Greene Community College, 4400 Route 23, Hudson, NY. Registration starts at 12:30 p.m. Tickets are $40 each for members of The Olana Partnership, $50 for non-members. Continuing Education Credits, LACES 3.5 Non-HSW (NYS) will be available for registered landscape architects. From 10:00 a.m. to 12 noon, Olana is offering tours of the Bell Tower (which is not usually open to the public) to symposium participants. The tour is free to members, $40 for non-members; space is limited so guests must pre-register. For additional information or to reserve tickets, go to the Olana website, www.olana.org or call (518) 828-1872, extension 103.

Another feature of this symposium is a collection of statements on the subject of viewsheds that will be provided to attendees. In addition, these statements are posted on Olana’s website, along with an opportunity for the public, through Facebook, to create their own statements about views.

Following the symposium, participants can enjoy the sunset by attending a Viewshed Benefit Party with wine and hors d’oeuvres, from 6:00-8:00 p.m. at Oak Hill in Hudson, NY (town of Livingston). Oak Hill was built around 1793 by John Livingston (1750-1822), son of Robert Livingston, the third Lord of Livingston Manor. Grandly sited on a Hudson River bluff, it commands intimate river and mountain views, as well as a singular view up toward Frederic Church’s house and painting studio. Oak Hill is one of more than a dozen family homes built along the Hudson River and has remained in the Livingston family since it was built. Sponsor tickets for the benefit are $250, members $90 and non-members $100 and are available by calling (518) 828-1872, extension 103 as well as via Brown Paper Tickets.

Photo: Peter Aaron/Esto.

Sixth Annual Canal Clean Sweep, April 15-17


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In recognition of Earth Day 2011 and in preparation for the upcoming 187th consecutive navigation season on the New York State Canal System, the New York State Canal Corporation is partnering with Parks & Trails New York, and the New York State Environmental Facilities Corporation (EFC) to sponsor the Sixth Annual Canal Clean Sweep during the weekend of April 15th-17th, 2011.

The Canal Clean Sweep highlights the growing significance of the Canal System and the Canalway Trail System as a recreational and tourism destination across the state by encouraging communities, not-for-profit organizations and volunteers to engage in cleanup and beautification activities along the Canal System and the Canalway Trail.

More than 90 communities, service groups, and businesses across the New York State Canal System are participating in the Canal Clean Sweep by hosting local clean up activities in Canal parks, along public promenades and on Canalway Trail segments in their region.

The New York State Canal System is comprised of four historic waterways, the Erie, the Champlain, the Oswego and the Cayuga-Seneca Canals. Spanning 524 miles across New York State, the waterway links the Hudson River, Lake Champlain, Lake Ontario, the Finger Lakes and the Niagara River with communities rich in history and culture.

For more information on the Sixth Annual Canal Clean Sweep or to help coordinate an event in your community, please visit www.ptny.org or contact Wally Elton with Parks & Trails New York at 518-434-1583 or welton@ptny.org.

Youth Mini-Camps at John Jay Homestead


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From Monday through Thursday, April 18th through 21st, John Jay Homestead State Historic Site will host Spring School Break Mini-Camps for children aged 5 to 10. Each day’s activities will be two hours long, and be operated as a drop-off program.

The first mini-camp, starting at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, April 18th, will be Here, There, and Everywhere! How did people get around 200 years ago? What types of transportation did they use? How did travel expose people to new and fascinating discoveries? Children will answer these questions while exploring the bedrooms of John Jay and his daughter, Nancy. They will then make a shell craft to take home.

Starting at 1:00 p.m. on Tuesday, April 19th, the program will be The Artist in You! Do you like art? Do you know the difference between a painting and a print? Or how long it took to have your portrait painted 200 years ago? Children will explore the extensive art collection at the Homestead, and then try their hand at printmaking.

Beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, April 20th, the morning will be devoted to Birds of a Feather. Calling all birdwatchers! Come and explore the Homestead’s beautiful grounds and learn about the birds that live here. See how many different types of birds you can find. Children will then make something to help the birds that live in their own backyards.

Starting at 1:00 p.m. on Thursday, April 21st, the program will be Clean As a Whistle. How did people keep clean, bathe, and do their laundry 200 years ago? How often did they take a bath? If there was no indoor plumbing, where was their bathroom? Children will tour William Jay’s bedroom and the cellar kitchen to learn about personal hygiene 200 years ago, and make their own soap.

The cost of the mini-camps is $15 per child per day; members of the Friends of John Jay Homestead will receive a $3.00 discount. Reservations are required, and can be made by phoning John Jay Homestead’s Education Department at (914) 232-5651 x101.

John Jay Homestead State Historic Site is located at 400 Route 22 in Katonah, N.Y. (Westchester County). It is one of six state historic sites and 13 parks administered by the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation—Taconic Region. For more information about New York State Parks, log onto www.nysparks.com.

Former Northern NY Military Rifle Range Inspections Set


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The National Guard Bureau will surveying old National Guard rifle range in Ticonderoga, Malone, Glens Falls, and Saratoga Springs for the presence of environmental poisons this summer. The ranges are among 23 former New York Army National Guard training sites used between 1873 and 1994 that the National Guard Bureau will be inspecting for potential environmental hazards.

The program is being conducted worldwide to address human health, safety, and environmental concerns at former non-operational defense sites. This includes over 400 sites in 48 states and two territories formerly used by the National Guard. The training sites in New York vary in size from 3.7 to 939 acres.

Currently, the New York National Guard has three training sites located in Guilderland, Youngstown and at Camp Smith, near Peekskill. Soldiers also train regularly at Ft. Drum, near Watertown.

Current property owners are in the process of being asked to allow contractors on their property to conduct this check which although mandated by the Department of Defense Military Munitions Response Program, will only include soil samples from a depth “less than two to three inches.” The survey will also a visual inspection and checks with hand-held metal detectors. According to a press release issued by the Guard, “the inspectors will collect the samples with disposable plastic spoons, which are about the size of an ice cream scoop.”

A preliminary assessment to identify locations, research historical records, land usage and past incident(s) in the area was completed in 2008; this summer’s site inspections are expected to collect additional information, data and samples necessary to determine if following actions are warranted.

About the sites:

The Malone Small Arms Range was used from about 1895 to 1985. The range was approximately 43 acres; the range layout and boundary are unknown, as are the types of ammunition used there. The former range is located on state land, redeveloped for a correctional facility, northwest of Malone.

An older Ticonderoga Small Arms Range measured about 406 acres and was used from about 1950 to 1973; the newer one measured 105 acres and was used from about 1986 to 1994. The layouts and boundaries of the ranges are unknown, as are the types of ammunition used at them. The former ranges are located between Vineyard Road and Corduroy Road.

The Glens Falls Small Arms Range was used from about 1878 to 1955. The range was approximately 876 acres; the range layout has been verified, but the types of ammunition used there are unknown. The former range is located on forested, municipal property north of Peggy Ann Road.

The Saratoga Springs Small Arms Range was used from about 1878 to 1951. The range was approximately 100 acres; the range layout has been verified, but the types of ammunition used there are unknown. The former range is located on residential properties and forested land east of Weibel Avenue.

Anyone who has documents, records or photographs of the range are encouraged to contact Master Sgt. Corine Lombardo at corine.lombardo@us.army.mil or (518) 786-4579.

Photo: New York Army National Guard Soldiers from the 2nd Battalion, 108th Infantry, conduct weapons training at the Guilderland Weekend Training Center.

Women and Conservation History at Adirondack Museum


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March 2011 marks the centennial celebration of International Women’s Day. Although women have long been dedicated and progressive history makers, their actions were slow to receive international attention. Adirondack Museum Educator Jessica Rubin will offer a presentation entitled “Women and the Conservation Movement” as part of the museum’s popular Cabin Fever Sunday series on Sunday, March 27, 2011.

Rubin will discuss the role of women and female-centered organizations in the early conservation movement, excellent examples of historic female activism. Groups such as the National Federation of Women’s Clubs and individuals like journalist Kate Field and botanist Lucy Bishop Millington will be highlighted in the presentation to illustrate the unique ways women interacted with and advocated for the American wilderness at a time when most were confined to the “private sphere.”

Rubin will show that women were instrumental in the creation of state and federal conservation legislation and protections long before they had the right to vote. From the Adirondacks to California women were outspoken players in the national conservation crusade.

Held in the museum’s auditorium, the program will begin promptly at 1:30 p.m. Cabin Fever Sundays are offered at no charge to museum members or children of elementary
school age and younger. The fee for non-members is $5.00. Refreshments will be served. For additional information, please call the Education Department at (518) 352-7311, ext. 128 or visit the museum’s website.

Jessica Rubin holds a B.A. in Politics from the University of California, Santa Cruz and will receive a M.A. in Public History from SUNY Albany in the spring of 2011. She joined the staff of the Adirondack Museum in 2008. She previously taught at the Conserve School, a college-preparatory school with an environmental and outdoor focus in northern Wisconsin. Her love for and interest in the environment was greatly influenced by four summers of work in Yosemite National Park.

Photo: Photo by female photographer Katherine Elizabeth McClellan, 1898. Collection of Adirondack Museum.

Being Green in the 1700s at Fort Montgomery


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“Green” in the 1700s at Fort Montgomery: Eco-lutionary: Unintentionally will be a free program presented on Saturday, February 26th, at 1:30 PM at Fort Montgomery State Historic Site, 690 Route 9W in Fort Montgomery, NY (Orange County).

In this slide presentation and hands-on show and tell, Fort Montgomery State Historic Site Interpreter Peter Cutul will present some of the numerous and innovative ways our colonial ancestors reduced, re-used, and recycled. Cutul will demonstrate how the colonials were on the cutting edge or even ahead of the curve of many of today’s green practices. The program will conclude with practical tidbits we can start at home, as well as those practices perhaps better left in the past!

For more information, please call the site at (845) 446-2134.

Fort Ti Education Center Wins LEED Certification


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The United States Green Building Council (USGBC) has recently granted Fort Ticonderoga’s Deborah Clarke Mars Education Center at Fort Ticonderoga Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEEDtm) certification. The prestigious certification is a national accreditation honor given to buildings that have been rated as “green” for their efforts to minimize negative impacts on the environment, and that actually make a positive contribution through their structure and design.

The LEED certification is awarded after the successful completion of a rigorous two-year evaluation based on environmental factors including reduced site disturbance, energy efficient lighting, water conserving plumbing fixtures, and indoor air quality management.

According to Beth Hill, Executive Director, “The biodiversity and natural significance of the Fort Ticonderoga peninsula were just as important to the armies who occupied the site more than 250 years ago as they are today. We are dedicated to programs rooted in all aspects of Fort Ticonderoga’s history and its relevance to today’s issues. By educating our visitors on these matters in a space that clearly reflects our commitment to responsible environmental stewardship, we hope to emphasize the importance of preserving and respecting the natural world for future generations.”

Andrew Wright, the building’s architect said that the feature of the building with the largest reduction in energy use is the geo-thermal heating and cooling system. which takes advantage of the energy in water from three deep wells. The heating and cooling needs of the entire building is met through sophisticated heat pumps. The design and construction team for the Mars Education Center was lead by Tonetti Associates Architects and Breadloaf Corporation with careful oversight of the Fort staff. The certification was achieved through careful selection of materials and building practices.

The building, constructed on the site of the original French magazin du Roi, is a faithfully reflection of the warehouse that preceded it. The interior is a 21st century Mars Education Center providing visitors with new opportunities to understand the Fort’s rich history and includes two classrooms, offices for education and interpretive staff, the Great Room which accommodates 200 guests, and a state-of-the-art exhibition space. The education center opened in 2008.

Hudson Crossing Park to Host Global Work Party


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On Sunday, October 10th between 2pm and 6pm, visitors to Hudson Crossing Park, at Lock 5 in Northumberland, NY will join in the world-wide 10:10:10 Global Work Party – green gardening,
climate solution activities and eco-fashion show.

Participants can start NOW with a Countdown to 10:10:10 Denim Recycling Drive and be part of the solution by donating your old denim clothing to be repurposed for the
10:10:10 Fashion Show and activities. Current drop off locations are The Ice Cream Man in Greenwich, Schuylerville Public Library and Greenwich Public Library. Email info@.hudsoncrossingpark.org subject denim drive or call Valerie Munson at 518.695.3104 to plan individual, business or organization collections.

Then, on Sunday October 10th there will be a 10:10:10 Global Work Party event. It’s a ”Day of doing.” When you arrive be a part of planting over 1,000 bulbs in the HCP gardens. See Master Gardener Martha Haynes demonstrate ‘green’ gardening and putting the garden to bed while she works. Help out if you’d like. Learn about Clothing Choices for Climate Solutions. There will also be interactive projects such as designing a t-shirt or apron to promote climate solutions. Displays, speakers and vendors will offer solutions as to how we can all take part to reduce our carbon foot print. Entertainment will include the premier of a music video inspired by the Park. The event comes to an end with the 10:10:10 Eco-“Jeanious” Runway Fashion Show on the Labyrinth at 5:30.

For more information about world-wide 10:10:10 Global Work Parties go to
www.350.org. For more info about Hudson Crossing Bi-County Park, call Marlene Bissell at 518.859.1462 or visit: www.hudsoncrossingpark.org.

Hudson Crossing is a bi-county educational park project centered on and near the Champlain Canal Lock 5 Island of the Hudson River.