Condolences go out to the families of Dr. Angelo Mariana and Addie Shields, two Plattsburgh community icons who passed away last weekend. Their presence, commonly found along the banks of the Saranac River, will be greatly missed.
Doc "Angie" Mariana retired after a long career as a music professor at Plattsburgh State, but he remained a regular contributor to the Champlain Valley music scene.
I remember Doc best from the days we shared casting for salmon and brown trout at the mouth of the Saranac River in Plattsburgh. Short in stature, but strong of heart, Doc could cast a fly with the best of them. He always amazed me with his stamina to remain in the cold, hard flow of the Saranac after nearly all the other anglers had left. He knew the river well, understood the fish he sought and was always willing to share his information with anyone that asked.
Addie Shield possessed a comparable knowledge of the river and its rich history. She freely shared this knowledge with many while serving as Clinton County's official historian. Although I knew her from a research project that I had conducted during my college days, I was fortunate to become reacquainted when I worked with Addie on developing a map of the Saranac River section for the Northern Forest Canoe Trail.
She could relate stories of the old Redford Glass operation or point to a bend in the river where arrowheads were often found. Although much of Addie's knowledge was recorded, there will be no way to capture the depth of her enthusiasm for local history and her willingness to share it with others.
Hunter education for the
In a concession to the attraction of modern technology, the Vermont Fish and Wildlife Department is now offering a Web-based alternative to the traditional hunter safety education program.
The Vermont effort was designed to attract a younger generation of hunters by providing an alternative to the traditional hunter education format in hopes that online learning will make it more accessible to them.
The new approach will offer students the option of completing the workbook portion of the hunter education course through home study. Students must still register for a course and are still required to successfully complete a field day, which includes live fire and firearm handling.
Developed by the International Hunter Education Association, the online course is free of charge. The program is nearly identical in content and organization to the traditional hunter education manual.
Students will spend at least 10 hours online (at homestudy.ihea.com) and provide printed documentation showing that they completed all 14 of the online quizzes All basic firearm education students, regardless of the type of course, must attend the field day.
How soon can New York youth expect a comparable opportunity?
"(The state Department of Environmental Conservation) is considering the use of online hunter safety education," said Region 5 spokesman Dave Winchell.
DEC does provide a link on its Web site to a course offered by the International Hunter Education Association (at http://www.dec.ny
.gov/outdoor/9187.html), but only to give students a head start on the DEC Hunter Education course. DEC has also partnered with the National Bowhunter Education Foundation (NBEF) for an online course (at www.bowhunter-ed.com).
"We are running this as a pilot program in DEC Region 9 for bow hunters, similar to the program in Vermont," Winchell said.
Prospective bow hunters in Region 9 can take the course online for $20. If they pass, they get a ticket to a field day that's good for a year. Bow hunting education instructors in Region 9 will accept these on-line students for a day of field instruction.
"It has been slow to take off at this point," Winchell said. "We hope it grows in the future as more instructors offer field days."
New York's Sportsman Education Instructors had a very successful 2009 season, teaching more than 100 "traditional format" classes in the eight counties that comprise DEC Region 5.
In an effort to address the growing problem of childhood obesity, many school districts now provide "Life Skills Education" rather than traditional physical education curriculums that emphasizes team sports.
A number of area school districts have allowed hunter education programs in their schools and some have even created after school programs based around the courses.
Although traditional sports venues such as gymnasiums, football fields and hockey rinks aren't always available to our youth, the outdoors are always open for those who possess the skills, equipment and knowledge to enjoy them.
Piranha in Otter Creek, Vt.?
From Vermont comes a story that illustrates the dangers of exotic species. Employees of Vermont Marble Power recently spotted an odd-looking fish in Otter Creek near their plant in Proctor Falls.
The fish was brought to a VF&W fisheries biologist who identified the 15-inch, 2.5-pound fish as a Pacu, a native of the Amazon river basin of South America.
Pacu belong to a fish family that includes various species of Piranha and it can grow up to 36 inches or more, even in captivity.A popular aquarium fish species, Pacu are widely found in pet shops across the country.
Sadly, exotic fish species can outgrow the owner's ability to care for them and are often released into nearby waterbodies. Such releases are responsible for over 38 species of unwanted fish and dozens of plants, crayfish and snails that have become established in waters of the U.S.
Their impact affects native aquatic ecosystems, as well as the economy and recreational activities that rely on these ecosystems. Eurasian milfoil and the northern snakehead fish likely originated from aquarium sources.
Vermont waters have also yielded an Oscar, another fish species from the Amazon region, found in Rutland County and a tropical catfish in Addison County's Lake Dunmore.
Report moose sightings
The Saranac Lake-based Wildlife Conservation Society has issued a call for hunters, hikers and other woodland wanderers to submit reports of moose observations for an ongoing study of the creature.
The Adirondack moose population, estimated at between 300 and 500 individuals, is considered an established breeding population. Biologists believe the population is increasing at a rate of 10 to 15 percent each year.
The study, conducted by Katie Haase, a graduate student at SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry, includes a Web site that permits the public to submit moose observations in the Adirondacks. The Web site was created in conjunction with the DEC and Wildlife Conservation Society to collect data that will help to estimate the current moose population.
The site is located at sites.google.com/site/adirondackmooseobservations.
New York State Conservation Council Web site revamped
For more than 76 years, the New York State Conservation Council Inc. has been a leader in advocating the wise use and management of New York's valuable natural resources to ensure that they are protected for our children's children.
The Council maintains an extensive statewide volunteer committee system to administer a wide variety of conservation and environmental programs in conjunction with various state, local and federal agencies that are responsible for managing natural resources.
The Council works closely with the DEC on decisions regarding the administration of the New York State Conservation Fund and the management of natural resources and related legislation.
The NYS Conservation Council's web page is located at www.nyscc.com.
Northern Forest Canoe Trail auction
The Northern Forest Canoe Trail is a 740-mile Blueway that stretches from Old Forge to Fort Kent, Maine.
Their 5th Annual Online Auction began on Wednesday and runs through Dec. 4, 2009.
Featuring a vast collection of the finest in paddling and outdoor gear, trips, meals and accommodations, the annual NFCT online auction is one of the organization's major fundraising efforts.
The auction offers a great way to pick up quality gear at a fair price, while also making a contribution to a nonprofit organization that has helped to reopen, connect and maintain traditional paddling trails through the states of New York, Vermont, Hew Hampshire, Maine and the province of Quebec.
Visit their Web site at www.NorthernForestCanoeTrail.org for further information.