We have good news! AdkAction just received its first grant from the New York State Pollution Prevention Institute to continue our work of reducing road salt across the region (You can view the full press-release here). We are also launching the "Hold the Salt" campaign today! Every new member of AdkAction receives a free vehicle magnet to help spread the message that we are all fed up with the overuse of road salt in the Adirondacks. You can see a preview of the car magnets a bit further down in this email.
Another fantastic announcement: Programming for the Adirondack Pollinator Project will kick-off during National Pollinator Week, June 19-25th! Pollinators, like bees and butterflies, are a non-threatening topic for discussion, and yet when the conversation begins, we invariably find ourselves talking about deeper issues like insecticides, pesticides, industrial agriculture, and climate change. We are excited to inspire more of these conversations across the Park this summer.
Finally, I want you all to consider visiting Keeseville this July for our first annual Keeseville Plein Air Festival. Keeseville is a small hamlet (population 1,784) in the Champlain Valley. The hamlet features breathtaking historic bridges and buildings, the famed "AuSable Chasm", and a budding sustainable agricultural district. You are invited to join us for a Special Preview Party and Sale on July 16th from 6 - 9 pm at the renovated Block Gallery on Front Street. Come view freshly-painted art and enjoy wine and cheese to support community revitalization efforts.
Our goal is to entice 100 wonderful people to join AdkAction this summer, providing the support we need to continue our work on important Adirondack projects. We are offering three free gifts for new members, including a 6-month subscription to Adirondack Explorer, a "Hold the Salt" car magnet and free pollinator-attracting seeds. You can choose to receive just one or all three. Just click this link and fill out the simple form to get started.
The arts festival will showcase Keeseville’s mix of natural beauty and historic architecture and hopefully attract a wide range of artists, which in turn will assist the community’s revitalization. Artists and local sponsors are signing up but we are in pursuit of more of both. If you or someone you know is interested in an artist slot, registration is available at adkaction.org/art. If you would like to support this project with a donation, you can do so here.
Pollinators need diverse pollen and nectar sources, so the Adirondack Pollinator Project has ordered 30,000 seed packets to help the Adirondacks bloom with hope for our pollinators. The seeds are a mix of annual and perennial wildflowers that are appropriate for our region. Get yours today!
We continue to grow stronger as an organization because of all the wonderful connections we are making around the park. As our name promises, 2017 is shaping up to be a year of strong action for our organization. We are planning several major new projects, including a summer “Adirondack Pollinator” event series drawing attention to the vital importance of pollinators to our landscape and food security, a Plein air painting festival in Keeseville, NY July 13-16th as part of our Keeseville Community Revitalization Initiative, and exciting new technology in the classroom partnerships.
Important progress on the road salt issue continues with research underway on two critical studies and public awareness on the rise. We’ve had the opportunity to present the latest evidence of road salt pollution in Adirondack ground and surface water to town supervisors and county legislators all over the park, as well as to the DEC Commissioner in Albany. The broadband initiative continues to provide a valuable point of connection for local communities and service providers, and we have some great news to share about the $170 million in FCC broadband infrastructure funding that almost left the state.
All of this great work is possible because of our dues-paying members, so thank you so much for your generosity and commitment to a better future for the Adirondacks. Thanks to all of you who have joined or renewed already! If you haven't done so yet, we now offer convenient monthly membership billing plans to increase the ease and affordability of joining our efforts. You can become a member for as little as $7/month!
1. Keeseville Plein Air Festival
Following our very successful sponsorship of the Adirondack Plein Air Festival in Saranac Lake in 2016, we have decided to organize and host another Plein Air Festival as part of our Keeseville Community Revitalization project. The 2017 Keeseville Plein Air Festival is a new event designed to share the immense beauty of Keeseville with artists far and wide while aiding in community revitalization efforts in the hamlet. Mark your calendars for the weekend of July 13 - 16th, and stay tuned for a full schedule of events.
2. Adirondack Pollinator Project
AdkAction, along with our project partners The Wild Center, The Lake Placid Land Conservancy, and Common Ground Gardens are delighted to announce a preliminary program of activities and events for the Adirondack Pollinator Project. Mark your calendars now for these events, and watch the trailer for our feature film showing, "More than Honey."
3. Road Salt
We have two studies underway and have been busy presenting findings to decision-makers across the state. We have begun a multi-phase project to research and quantify the economic impacts of road salt with our partner at Adirondack Research, and we are partnering with Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) and The FUND for Lake George to test 400 private wells in the Adirondacks.
4. Broadband Update
On January 26th the FCC voted to provide $170 million in federal funding from the Connect America Fund to expand broadband deployment in unserved rural areas of New York State. You may remember that Verizon turned down the $170 Million from the FCC in 2015, and there was uncertainty about whether or not the funds would return to New York.
5. Cycle Adirondacks
Cycle Adirondacks has released the 2017 route and it includes more extended stays for riders, meaning more adventures and more time in our communities. This year's ride includes stops in Schroon Lake, Keene Valley, and Saranac Lake. The event brings over 350 cyclists to experience the unique beauty of our natural and built environment, and we are pleased to continue to be a sponsor of this great event that gives us the opportunity to help spread our mission and projects around the park.
A big "thank you" to all of our friends and members who volunteered to host an artist for the Adirondack Plein Air Festival in Saranac Lake this summer. We have passed along your information to the event's organizer, and she will be in contact with our hosts. We are excited to continue to be a major sponsor for this event that brings so many talented artists into the Adirondacks each year.
Announcing Our New Board Members
7. Paul Lamparski
Paul and wife Lee have been enjoying the Adirondacks for 20 years and purchased a home in Lake Placid in 2013 to become year-round residents. Originally from the Philadelphia area, Paul is a CPA and has served as Chief Financial Officer for two software firms. He recently retired from Bentley Systems, Inc., which develops engineering and design software. He served on the board of the Chester County Economic Development Council and was an adjunct professor in accounting at West Chester University. Paul earned a B.S. in Business Administration from Drexel University and his M.B.A. in Technology and E-Commerce at West Chester University. Paul will be working on our local arts promotion projects. Email: email@example.com
8. Carol Blakeslee-Collin
Carol, a retired broadcast journalist, and her husband Jimm have been pulled to the Adirondacks since a 1992 trip. In 2004, they moved fulltime to Keeseville, N.Y, and can often be found at their yurt in Keene Valley during the summer. Carol’s career in journalism began in local television, followed by the Watergate hearings, stints in various documentary units, ABC News 20/20, twenty-one years at the MacNeil/Lehrer NewsHour and NewsHour with Jim Lehrer, and Mountain Lake PBS. She has a B.A. from Trinity College (DC), a Benton Fellowship from the University of Chicago, and an M.A. in Education from SUNY Plattsburgh. Carol will be working on our community revitalization and Plein Air project in Keeseville, NY. Email: Carol@adkaction.org
Thank you for being a friend of AdkAction.org. This e-newsletter is brought to you by the Marketing Committee of AdkAction.org: Steve Maikowski, Chair; Carol Blakeslee-Collin, Joan Grabe, and Betsy Minehan.
Note from Brittany Christenson, Executive Director
The cool crisp air, sunny days and vibrant fall leaves of autumn are upon us, and the slower pace of life in the Adirondacks is bringing much-needed rest to many. For some that means vacation, for others, it signals more time at home or with family. Many of our members and friends have made their seasonal transitions to their homes away from the Adirondacks, and to you, we say “Farewell and see you next year!” For all of us at AdkAction.org, the transition to fall has signaled a planning stage.
Our board of directors and staff at AdkAction.org gathered on September 26th for a strategic planning retreat at Heaven Hill Farm. We spent a full day talking about our strengths and weaknesses, the status of our projects, and planning for the future of our organization. As many of you know, we are a member-driven, project-based group that focuses on creating vibrant communities in the Adirondacks. We address unmet needs by providing a responsive platform for passionate people to work on issues that affect communities all over this 6 million-acre park. In discussing our future, it is more pressing than ever to get you—our members, partners, and community advocates—to become more involved in our projects.
We are working to build coalitions around each of our projects, because there are so many important ways to make a difference. We currently have seven active projects, and we invite you to become more engaged. If one of our projects is important to you, please join a project committee. We are specifically looking for leaders in the following areas: Technology in the Classroom, Cultural Symposium, Promoting Adirondack Art, and Community Revitalization. Please get in touch and we will put you to work! If you are short on time but long on passion, you can also make a difference by becoming a member, renewing your membership, or finding new members. Please click one of the buttons below to help.
We would also like to hear your feedback on our newly drafted mission statement that came out of the strategic planning process. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your comments.
AdkAction.org creates projects that address unmet needs, promote vibrant communities, and preserve the character of the Adirondacks.
As always, thank you for your support. Our work is only possible because of your generosity and interest in creating a better future for the Adirondacks.
AdkAction.org Launches new “Pollinator Project”
with The Wild Center
Building on the outstanding recent success of AdkAction.org public education efforts on the ecology of the monarch butterfly, we plan to expand on the monarch project in a major partnership with The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, NY.
Slic Network Solutions* recently received external funding and is now aggressively moving forward to complete fiber network installations in Schroon Lake, Bellmont North, and Lyon Mountain. This working capital is critical for moving these projects forward as the North Country Regional Economic Development project grants...
AdkAction.org has set its sights on Keeseville, NY, as the next focus area for our Community Revitalization Project. You might remember that in early August, our organization sponsored Roger Brown, Creative Consultant and Architect, to visit Keeseville and provide professional insight as to how our efforts for revitalization might be best spent.
Road Salt Campaign SUCCESS!
“Adirondack Gives” Campaign Reaches $4500 Goal
AdkAction.org is grateful to everyone who helped us reach our goal of $4,500 towards funding continued research on the “Hidden Costs of Road Salt.” We had twenty-five contributors who donated amounts between $20 and $1,500. This is a wonderful success, and we couldn’t have done it without all of you.
Thank you to the following donors that have made it possible for us to forge ahead on vitally important road salt research (In no particular order):
Melody Blackmore, Tom Booth, Peter Collinge, Kristen D’Eramo, Phillip Forlenza, Ethan Friedman, Jerry Hacker, Bob Holder, Catherine Kraft, Lower Saranac Lake Shore Owner’s Association, Willie Janeway (Adirondack Council), Lee Keet, Judith Landes, Michelle and Kelley Maggs, Andrea and Steve Maikowski, Betsy Minehan, Mike Preis, Jim Schoff, Marsha Stanley. Kathleen Stewart, David Thomas-Train, Jacob Vennie-Vollrath, Alice Vera, Claire Warren, and Dave and Holly Wolff.
If you would like to know more about winter road maintenance in NYS, attend the Salt Summit in Lake George on October 24th:
AdkAction.org will be giving a presentation on the “Economic Impact of Road Salt” at the 2016 Salt Summit on October 24, 2016 at the Fort William Henry Conference Center in Lake George, NY. The day-long program is free to attend and designed for public and private winter road maintenance professionals in Lake George and across the Adirondack Region. To register, visit:
Note from Brittany Christenson, Executive Director
At AdkAction.org we pride ourselves on being a member organization, and we know that our work would not be possible without the ideas, energy, and contributions of our members. Over the past few months, as part of an effort to build membership outside of the Tri-City area, I have been traveling the Adirondacks meeting with people who are interested in our projects, and enlisting new members. I’ve been to Bolton Landing, Lake George, Old Forge, Newcomb, Northville, North Creek, and Blue Mountain Lake attending rotary club meetings, farmers' markets, and community arts events. The biggest lesson I have learned on the road is that our projects address issues that really matter to people in the Adirondacks. From supporting the arts to working towards fast, reliable internet for all, our projects are relevant to every community in the park.
We are looking for new members and new communities to serve. If you know of anyone who would be interested in our projects, please let me know and I will personally reach out. We are currently in the process of developing a student membership to help students become involved in shaping the future of the Adirondacks. We will be welcoming Hamilton College students to Great Camp Wenonah in late September with a presentation on our current projects to kick-off the student membership efforts. If you are involved with a local college contact us and we would be happy to create a special experience for the students in our area.
Other Membership Development Initiatives
As part of our broader membership development efforts that are directly tied to our current projects (see below), we are delighted to be a sponsor of the annual Cycle Adirondacks, a 7-day cycling tour of the Adirondacks that highlights seven of local towns and villages. Over 350 cyclists from all over the country (and world!) will participate in the event. As a sponsor, AdkAction will have many opportunities to highlight for both riders but especially local residents in each community two of our key projects: monarch conservation and community revitalization. We will be setting up a booth at several of the nightly entertainment spots along the ride to tell riders and locals about these and other AdkAction projects. We will also be organizing and speaking at a special “Farm to Table Dinner” in Keeseville on August 22.
We have five tickets to the Farm to Table Dinner in Keeseville on Monday evening. If you would like to join us for a beautiful and completely local meal, please let us know ASAP (email email@example.com). The first 5 AdkAction.org members to respond will get the seats! In exchange for dinner, you can make a contribution to AdkAction.org in any amount you choose. Come see AdkAction.org in action!
AdkAction.org was proud to sponsor the Adirondack Plein Air Festival’s Special Preview Party. We are proud to have been a sponsor for such a successful event that has a large positive economic impact on the local community and provides an opportunity to showcase the breathtaking beauty of the Adirondacks through the work of 70 artists. We also sponsored the "People's Choice Award," a very special prize of $500 given to the viewers' favorite artist at the event. The winner was artist Patrick McPhee!
AdkAction.org’s work on providing high-quality broadband access to all residents of the Park continues with outstanding progress.
On August 3rd, Governor Cuomo made 3 major Broadband related announcements:
The New NY Broadband Program Phase 1 awards were announced. Roughly $54 million of the Program's $500 million in funding was awarded to 25 applicants. Four awards were made that cover census blocks in the North Country.
FTTH = Fiber to the Home
The new Time Warner Communications-Charter company will complete upgrading its roughly 2 million NYS subscribers to 100 mbps by the coming winter, two years earlier than promised in January 2016. The company also submitted the addresses of the 145,000 additional households that it will add to its network throughout the state over the next 4 years.
Phase 2 of the New NY Broadband Program was announced with applications being accepted from October 17 thru November 30. This phase is design to fund the expansion of high-speed broadband access to the many underserved and unserved areas in the North Country.
On August 11, Dave Wolff, Chair, presented an update on the status of Broadband Access in the North Country at the quarterly meeting of the Population Health Improvement Program of the Adirondack Health Institute. It is a NYS Department of Health-funded program that is charged with improving the health of communities in Franklin, Clinton, Essex, Hamilton, Warren and Washington counties. Lack of Internet access is viewed as one of the factors that impedes the health of North Country residents.
AdkAction.org continues to host a monthly Broadband Conference Call to encourage communication between community members, state and local government officials, and service providers.
On August 3, eminent monarch scientist Dr. Lincoln Brower delivered a lecture at The Wild Center in Tupper Lake, painting a starkly cautionary outlook for the long-term survival of the wondrous Eastern migration of the colorful insect.
It was Dr. Brower’s second lecture at The Wild Center, both sponsored by AdkAction.org as part of our butterfly initiative.
The survival of the monarch species itself is probably not in jeopardy, Dr. Brower said, but their 2,500-mile-or-more journey from winter sanctuaries in Mexico to Texas, the Midwest, Canada and our Adirondacks is highly threatened.
As recently as February, monarchs seemed to be on the rebound. Scientific estimates of their numbers in the fir forests in high mountains west of Mexico City showed an impressive increase to 10 acres, more than three times what was counted in 2015, but still a drastic decline from 20 years ago. Right at the time when monarchs were rousing from their winter torpor to fly north, a harsh storm of snow, ice and winds estimated at up to 70 miles per hours struck the sanctuaries. Butterfly scientists were not allowed access to study the loss, but some have estimated a 50% to 80% mortality rate of the butterflies.
Since the storm, Mexican officials have allowed large-scale “salvage logging” in the butterfly sanctuaries. Dr. Brower showed pictures of long convoys of logging trucks hauling trees out of the area. The impact on this vital habitat for monarchs will not be clear until next year’s population count in February.
Journey North, an online network which tracks monarch sightings as they spread north into the U.S. and southern Canada, is reporting low numbers this year. Loss of milkweed habitat in the Midwest continues with near-ubiquitous use of GMO corn and soybean crops immune to the effects of Roundup and other pesticides, which are deadly to milkweed, on which monarchs totally depend on for reproduction.
However, Dr. Brower reported some bright spots.
Texas, the key state for monarch re-establishment in the U.S. every spring, has been a leader in restoration of habitat.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service appears to be taking a close look at a petition spearheaded by Dr. Brower and others seeking to have monarchs added to the threatened species list. A decision is due in 2017.
Public awareness and action to protect and restore monarch habitat has soared.
If you missed the lecture, you can watch it here on The Wild Center’s website.
Caption: Brittany Christenson, Director of AdkAction.org, presenting Willie Janeway, Executive Director of the Adirondack Council, with the “Rusty Spike Award,” for being the largest contributor to our study. Willie was so confident in our efforts that he contributed $500 to our new road salt study on behalf of the Adirondack Council.
AdkAction.org continues to be a regional leader in the fight against road salt. We have created a new road salt working group comprised of town supervisors, government agency representatives, and nonprofit leaders that are ready to join our road salt reduction efforts. The timing of the formation of the working group is ideal, as public awareness of the many harmful impacts of road salt continues to grow. The Watertown Daily Times published several recent articles (see especially: http://www.watertowndailytimes.com/news03/the-problem-with-salt-road-salt-contamination-a-plague-across-the-state-20160807) highlighting the many problems with road salt use in New York State over the past 40 years.
AdkAction.org is committed to continuing to reduce the harmful use of road salt on our roads. AdkAction.org’s new campaign, “How Much is Road Salt Costing Us?” is utilizing crowdsourced fundraising in order to fund a study to document the many harmful economic impacts of road salt, particularly the rusting and destruction of roads, bridges, and other transportation infrastructure. Since launching this campaign, we have raised $3,130 of our $4,500 goal. We need your help to raise the remaining $1,370 by September 6th. To donate on-line, please click the button below.
Our current Community Revitalization Project brings us to Keeseville, NY. On August 9th and 10th, we sponsored Roger Brown, a Creative Consultant and Architect from Rochester, to visit Keeseville and share his expertise and ideas for the charming agricultural community. Roger Brown and AdkAction.org’s Director, Brittany Christenson, met with the two town supervisors for the hamlet of Keeseville and learned about the opportunities and challenges facing the recently dissolved village that is now a hamlet. Stay tuned for more information about Roger’s insights and potential plans for AdkAction.org to be a part of the revitalization.
Annual Membership Meeting
We want to thank all of our members for contributing to our very successful annual meeting on Thursday, July 21 at Heaven Hills Farm. A spectacular summer evening saw almost 100 members in attendance, a presentation by Brittany Christenson, our new Executive Director, and a record $5,800 in silent auction proceeds. This revenue will provide a boost to various current AdkAction projects in need of additional revenue support.
Election of New Officers and other Board News
At a recent Board meeting, the following Board members were elected or re-elected to these positions:
Dave Wolff, Chair
Steve Maikowski, Vice-Chair
Mike Preis, Secretary
Tom Boothe, Treasurer
Also, three Board members, Airlie Lennon, Fred Schwartz, and Mark Kurtz have recently left the Board. We want to thank them for their tireless work, strong advocacy, and many years of outstanding service for AdkAction.org.
The next AdkAction.org sponsored annual Tax Assessor’s Conference will take place in late November or early December 2016. Details to follow in the next e-newsletter.
Brought to you by the Communications Committee: Steve Maikowski, Chair; Members: Joan Grabe, Betsy Minehan, and Holly Wolff.
AdkAction.org, established in 2011 by a small group of local residents, is celebrating its 5th anniversary. Its core mission remains getting things done for the Adirondacks by taking on non-partisan projects with widespread support that will benefit both permanent and seasonal residents.
Originally formed to look at fair and consistent property assessments, the group has contributed to the Adirondacks via projects as diverse as Monarch butterfly preservation through sponsorship of “Flight of the Monarch” at the Wild Center and promoting reduced roadside mowing to promote milkweed growth; a first-ever Park-wide symposium bringing together 83 arts organizations which resulted in a shared arts calendar; and sponsorship of regional road salt conferences as well as stream monitoring equipment, which contributed to a reduction of 30% salt use per mile.
“What differentiates our organization is that we identify projects that need action, and quickly through concentrated effort make change happen. We also collaborate with other organizations here to increase our joint impact,” according to Dave Wolff, a founding Board member and current Board Chair, Members of the Board include local and seasonal residents with diverse professional backgrounds in cardiology, biological science, philanthropy, engineering, law, construction, marketing and sales, management consulting, and photography and art.
Current projects include:
Bringing universal access to high-speed broadband to the Park
Sponsoring a multi-stage research study to document and quantify hidden costs of the use of road salt, hoping to bring to light the economic impact of the overuse of road salt
Promoting Adirondack art, including the placement of banners in various local communities
Protecting water quality and controlling invasive species in the regions lakes
Developing local village revitalization initiatives
Sponsoring school teacher education in the use of technology in the classroom.
Our successful work on these projects has been recognized by local leaders:
"Dave Wolff and AdkAction.org have been instrumental in raising the awareness of how important affordable, high speed broadband is for economic development and education in the Adirondack Park. As the Village of Saranac Lake explored options for bringing fiber optic broadband into Downtown, Dave's insights helped us find a solution that will benefit residents and businesses in the Village for years to come."
-Jeremy Evans, AICP, Community Development Director of Saranac Lake.
With so many recent successes, and recognizing that its ability to grow membership and take on new projects was limited by scarce resources and a lack of full-time senior staff, the organization has just hired a new full-time Executive Director (see article below). “While we have accomplished much in these past five years, the Board felt that adding an experienced full time Executive Director would allow us to significantly grow membership, which is the key to increased funds that will allow us to take on more projects, to provide a more focused approach to fundraising and grant writing, and to improve marketing and publicity campaigns,” explained Board Chair Wolff.
New Full-Time Executive Director Hired
After a careful search, AdkAction.org hired Brittany Christenson. Mrs. Christenson will be well known to many local residents. For the past several years, she has served as the Administrator to one of the best known local farms in our area, Fledging Crow Vegetables, in Keeseville, NY. While with Fledging Crow, she managed packing and logistics while overseeing a staff of up to 20 seasonal employees. She was at the Saranac Lake and Adirondack Medical Center farmers’ markets weekly throughout the summer, and she helped grow Fledging Crow’s CSA membership by 65% in two years. She also secured state grants to support innovative sustainable growing techniques on the farm.
Mrs. Christenson also worked at the North Country Healthy Heart Network as their Community Nutrition Coordinator where she learned how to build community buy-in and develop innovative program evaluation metrics. Her experience there prepared her to work well with a board of directors and collaborate with other non-profits in the Adirondacks. Mrs. Christenson, who some may still know by her maiden name Harris, received her BA in mathematics from Carroll College in Helena, Montana and also has extensive experience in marketing, social media development, publicity, and website development.
For Ms. Christenson, the opportunity to join AdkAction.org was exactly the sort of challenging career step she was looking for in the Adirondacks.
“I am passionate about this land and this place, and when I saw the accomplishments of AdkAction.org, and was presented with the needs and the ambitious new goals of the organization, I knew this was the perfect fit for me. I am really delighted to be joining such a dedicated group of local residents who are working on projects to directly improve the lives of my neighbors, friends, and everyone in this remarkable Park.”
Among Ms. Christenson’s new goals will be to significantly expand its membership by extending the reach of AdkAction.org beyond its current strengths in the Saranac Lake/Lake Placid/Tupper Lake region into other areas of the Park, especially the southern tier and the Old Forge/western regions.
AdkAction.org is sponsoring a lecture by Lincoln Brower, emeritus professor at Sweet Briar College, to be held at The Wild Center, August 3, 2016 at 6 pm. There will be a short reception with refreshments following the lecture.
Professor Brower will discuss the current status of the monarch population, which dropped drastically due to the use of herbicides such as Roundup and subsequent scarcity of milkweed plants—the plants the butterflies depend on for food and for their propagation. Last winter the numbers of monarchs appeared to rise a bit only to be decimated once again by a late winter storm this past spring just as their migration from Mexico began.
AdkAction.org has continued its efforts to prevent further decrease in the numbers of this fascinating insect. Once again a letter was sent in April, 2016, to all highway superintendents in the Adirondacks requesting they not mow the road sides between late June and mid-September so as to give the migrating monarch crucial access to the milkweed. AdkAction.org continues to distribute milkweed seed to those wishing to plant it in the Adirondacks.
Road Salt Project Update
ADKAction.org has sponsored three road salt seminars in partnership with Paul Smith's College. The “Road Salt Management Conference” focused on educating responsible state and local officials on the many harmful impacts of road salt, and actively worked on developing and implementing new winter road maintenance methods by the NYSDOT. The result: a 30% reduction in the use of environmentally harmful road salt! But there is much more to be done.
Our current efforts are focused on economic motivations for reducing road salt use. We recently funded a study showing that the data indeed exists to demonstrate costs associated with road salt damage to personal vehicles, DOT Vehicles, and bridges/NYS infrastructure. We are working with Adirondack Research to produce a study on the "Hidden Costs of Road Salt"; The full study will need to be grant funded, but in order to justify a grant, we need to sponsor a smaller preliminary research effort as an example of the type and quality of work we intend to produce.
The preliminary phase of research is focused on calculating the cost of rehabilitation or replacement of bridge decks over a five-year period for each region and county in New York. AdkAction.org will match new dollars raised in an ADK Gives campaign to reach our goal of raising $9000 to pay for the research necessary to show that road salt is not only an environmental concern, but an economic concern as well. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know if you are willing to donate towards this very important project.
At the state and regional levels, much is happening in the world of broadband, and ADKAction.org continues to play a strong role in the effort to bring greater internet access to the residents of the Adirondacks. As you may remember from our last e-newsletter, the NY Public Service Commission approved the merger of Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications earlier this year, and the New NY Broadband Program was officially launched. In early May, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) gave final approval of the merger. As a condition of the merger approval, by mid-summer Time Warner Cable will be required to identify an additional 145,000 households in its current franchise areas that it will add to its network.
Funding through the New NY Broadband Program was announced to connect all un-served and under-served households in the state at speeds of at least 100 Mbps. The funding is to be released in phases. The application deadline for Phase 1, focused on the areas in brown on the map above, was April 15th, and winning providers will be announced in the coming months. Requests for Proposals for Phase 2 funding will be let during the summer.
Of great importance at the federal level is the status of the $170 million in federal aid that was offered to Verizon to expand broadband in rural areas of New York through Connect America Funds. Verizon declined to accept the funding, and now the $170 million may be auctioned off to another state. Board Chair Dave Wolff recently co-signed a letter authored by the Adirondack Council supporting Senator Schumer, Senator Gillibrand, and Governor Cuomo’s request to the FCC to reconsider diverting the funds and to instead offer them to other service providers in New York State.
AdkAction.org continues to host a widely-attended monthly Broadband Conference Call to encourage communication between community members, state and local government officials, and service providers.
Annual Meeting and Party Reminder
AdkAction.org will celebrate its 5th Anniversary at its annual membership meeting/party at:
Heaven Hill Farm
Thursday, July 21, 5:00-7:30 PM
Join us for drinks, great food and conversation, and the Silent Auction. If you're not a member yet, please use one of the buttons below to join so that we can enjoy your company at our annual meeting.
AdkAction.org is seeking an experienced leader who will be the "face of Adkaction.org" promoting our brand. He or she will work with members and potential members across the Park, and will develop effective working relationships with economic development offices, tourism bureaus, lake associations, art councils, and key state and local agencies. The Executive Director will also be responsible for all outreach and communications, including overseeing the management of our web site and our social media program. A key objective of this position is to develop and implement programs to significantly expand the membership and to grow geographically over the next two years.
We believe an executive director will help us increase the number and scope of the projects that we develop for the benefit of the people of the Adirondacks.
This position is full time and requires at least a two-year commitment. Based on travel requirements, the individual should live within the Park, preferably in the Tri-Lakes area. The position will supplement our current part-time staff.
If you know of a candidate, please have them email a letter of interest, resume, and three professional references to email@example.com.
Speaking of New Members
If you are not yet a member, or if you are a member who has not yet renewed your membership, now is the time!
We've told you we are the organization that gets things done. Here's a quick retrospective on what our members' support let us do in the Adirondacks in 2015:
We ran the first-ever Park-wide symposium that brought together our museums, historical sites, performing and visual arts organizations to develop collaborative programs that will better promote and support them all.
Through our continued leadership, recently in cooperation with the Adirondack Council, we have slowed the use of road salt, now the #1 threat to the ecology of our lakes, streams and wells. Our studies have resulted in new practices that have already reduced salt usage in the Park.
Our continued leadership of the Park-wide broadband coalition is bringing high-speed Internet into many unserved and underserved areas such as Long Lake, North Hudson, and other rural areas throughout the Park.
We initiated the restoration efforts for our monarch butterfly population through seedings, education and advocacy, and have successfully pushed for reduced mowing of roadside milkweed plants (and the good news is that they are slowly coming back!).
In September we ran another assessors’ conference, the 3rd, aimed at creating a common method for the various municipalities to assess both private and public lands. The assessors now share best practices and processes, helping make property valuations more equitable across the Park.
In coordination with High Peaks Artists, we hung banners of local artists' work in Keene and Keene Valley.
We have sponsored several projects aimed at revitalizing our local towns through funding teacher training in the use of technology in the classroom, and promotion of the arts.
We are a unique project-based organization; we appreciate and need your support; and we get things done that need doing and that no one else has taken on!
Won’t you take a moment and click here to become a member or renew your membership now?
AdkAction.org has been very involved in bringing high-speed broadband to the North Country. Recently, our Chair, Dave Wolff, was invited to attend a major broadband announcement hosted by Lieutenant Governor Hochul. The announcement had two major components:
The NY Public Service Commission (PSC) approved the merger of Time Warner Cable and Charter Communications.
The New NY Broadband Program (involving a combined $500M state and $500M private investment in broadband infrastructure over the next 3 years) was officially launched.
Conditions imposed on the merger by the PSC will require Charter to make significant upgrades to its network to deliver 100 Mbps by the end 2018, to extend lines to bring high-speed broadband to an additional 145,000 customers within its current franchise areas, and to allow for competitive pricing. The requirements in total will result in an investment by Charter of over $1B.
The combined goal of the two announcements is to deliver at least 100 Mbps broadband service to everyone in NYS by the end of 2018. To put things in perspective, the federal government still defines high-speed broadband access at only 6 Mbps download. The Charter franchise areas are shown in yellow below; and the areas eligible for Phase 1 funding under the New NY Broadband Program are shown in brown.
AdkAction.org is continuing to influence the details of this rollout, which we believe will have a significantly positive economic impact in the North Country. For more detail, go to Broadband Access on our web site.
Killer Salt: AdkAction.org Launches Major New Research Study on the Hidden Financial Costs of Road Salt to Taxpayers
Those of you who have been loyal AdkAction.org members know that we pioneered the attack on New York’s overuse of road salt. We hosted three conferences that were well attended by scientists, environmentalists, state officials, town officers, and others. Our invited speakers included officials from other states that use little or no salt in the winter (e.g., Colorado) and scientists who have studied the problem in other locales. We also funded stream monitors that reported on the change in water chemistry from one side of a highway to the other. And we partnered with the NYSDOT to try new techniques to reduce salt use: lower speeds to reduce splatter; alternate chemicals for sensitive areas; telemetry to monitor a trucks dispersals; a second blade to reduce passes, etc. All of that effort proved fruitful and salt use per mile has been reduced by 30%. Unfortunately, total salt use in the Adirondacks has gone up due to a series of very cold and wet winters.
However, overuse of salt is not just a problem for the environment. Salt corrosion makes our automobiles rot out prematurely and our bridges, guardrails, culverts and municipal equipment deteriorate well before their useful lives are up.
In order to quantify this hidden cost, we are funding a major research project that will attempt to calculate how much value is lost due to vehicle corrosion and how much is added to our tax bills to replace rusted school buses, municipal trucks, and road infrastructure. This study will look at vehicle inspection data, auto blue book values, and the differences between infrastructure costs for towns and counties (who use just a little salt to keep the sand from clumping) and the state which treats its roads with pure salt (225 pounds of it per mile per lane per application).
So stay tuned: this is a big step that needs your attention and financial support!
Remember: We get things done—things that improve the lives of the residents of the Adirondacks!
Save the Date for the AdkAction.org Annual Meeting/Party. The Annual Meeting for 2016 will be held on Thursday, July 21, 2016. The venue will be announced in a future newsletter.
Please plan on attending this fun annual event.
We’ve told you we are the organization that gets things done. Here’s what your dollars are getting done in the Adirondacks!
Adirondack Cultural Symposium brings together 86 arts representatives toward common goals
On September 10th AdkAction.org hosted an all-day symposium at the Lake Placid Convention Center that brought together 86 Adirondack cultural organizations to discuss and solve common problems. Speakers included Lisa Robb, Executive Director of NYS Council on the Arts (shown below with board member Lee Keet), Gavin Landry who runs I Love NY, and Rich Newman, EVP of Empire State Development.
Despite low population density, the Adirondack region has hundreds of these cultural institutions – performing art centers, theaters, museums, libraries, fine art cooperatives, etc. – that work very little with one another. Yet all face the same challenges: attracting visitors and members, securing grants, promoting programs, and funding operations.
Results:One high priority item was a common event calendaring solution. Dave Warner, Publisher of Art in the Adirondacks agreed to take on this task and has now launched such a calendar.
Click here for more information about the symposium and its results.
Property Tax Assessors
Educational Symposium focuses on
Consistent Lake Front Valuation
On September 17th, AdkAction.org hosted a one day seminar for 65 North Country assessors on the subject of Lake Front Valuation in the North Country. Following the model of the successful 2010 and 2011 seminars, AdkAction.org again teamed with Dave Briggs, shown below. Dave is the assessor for the Town of Cortlandville and past president of the New York State Assessors Association's Executive Board.
By sharing best practices and reviewing proven methodologies to use in assessing the often unique characteristics of lake front properties, the goal of the session was to enable the assessors to approach lake front valuation in a uniform and consistent fashion.
Results: The conference reinforced AdkAction.org’s excellent reputation with the assessors’ community in the North Country and helped broaden its visibility across the Park. The positive feedback suggests progress toward our goal going forward.
Click here for more information, including copies of the presentations.
Teacher Sponsored to attend Building Learning Communities conference
Follow-on to 2014 Wired for Learning
This summer, AdkAction.org sponsored Linda Brousseau, an Earth Science teacher from Saranac Lake High School, to attend the Building Learning Communities education conference in Boston, run by Alan November. You may remember Alan was the keynote speaker sponsored by AdkAction.org at the Wired for Learning Conference held at the Wild Center in 2013. Educators from around the world come to Alan’s education conferences to learn about the best innovative and practical learning resources available for use in the classroom.
Results: Linda came away from the conference with plans to overhaul her lessons and has been sharing her work with her colleagues. We are working with the school administration to build on Linda’s experience to provide professional training for the teachers with a goal of more meaningful teaching and learning enhanced by technology.
Click here for more information about the 2013 Wired for Learning Conference.
Annual Membership Meeting and Party
The annual membership meeting and party took place on July 23rd, 2015 at Camp Wenonah on Upper Saranac Lake. 100 members thoroughly enjoyed the evening at this splendid camp and were most appreciative of our hosts Anne and Jim Schoff, Kathy and David Welch, and Shelley and Kelly Maggs.
Your support of the silent auction is helping us accomplish your priorities in the Adirondacks.
New Board Officers Elected
Airlie Lennon stepped down as chair after completion of a successful two-year term. The newly-elected officers are:
Chair: Dave Wolff
Vice Chair: Jim Schoff
Secretary: Joan Grabe
Treasurer: Linda Tauber.
If you have meant to join us and keep forgetting, or if you forgot to pay your annual dues this year, go online and pay simply and easily by credit card or PayPal. This link makes it quick and simple online. Please help us recruit new members by forwarding this newsletter, with your personal message, to urge your friends and neighbors to join us too.