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Mountain & Valley

September 12, 2011
By PETER CROWLEY - Managing Editor ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

BIG TOP OF STEEL - The steel frame of the Adirondack Carousel building cuts an attractive profile in Saranac Lake's William Morris Park, especially when seen from the top of the Church Street hill. With these optics, it seems likely to draw people to that part of the village, which has a lot of potential for infill development. I look forward to it becoming a really cool part of town, especially after the success of Hobofest last weekend.

Even after I attended the Carousel's groundbreaking and watched the ground be dug up and a foundation established, the sight of the steel was still kind of shocking to me. It was bigger than I thought it would be, and better looking. As a neighbor told me the day the frame first went up, "Well, it looks like it's gonna happen."


Article Photos

A grand elm in a front yard on Park Avenue at Circle Street, Saranac Lake, is now dead.
(Enterprise photo — Peter Crowley)

REQUIEM FOR ELMS - All things that live must die, but I wish death hadn't come to some wonderfully huge old elm trees I've enjoyed for many years. The grandest elm I know of is now bare, a gentle giant in a front yard on Park Avenue at Circle Street in Saranac Lake. Also dead is a lovely huge one in the Rite-Aid parking lot that I've regularly walked by on the way to and from the Enterprise office since my first days working here in 1999. There are also big, dead ones by the tennis courts on Lake Flower Avenue and many, many other places - too numerous to name.

Although I can't diagnose the cause of death, one can only assume Dutch elm disease is to blame.

The Dutch elm disease fungus is often spread by a bark beetle that lays its eggs under trees' bark. Over winter, the beetles hatch and develop into adults, and then in spring they emerge, covered with the fungus' spores. As they feed on tree branches, the spores get in their bite holes and thereby into the tree's vascular system. There it grows and ultimately kills the elm by clogging its vascular system and preventing water from getting to the limbs - like clogged arteries in the human body.

Dutch elm disease can also spread through roots from one elm to a neighboring one.

A telltale sign "flagging," in which a limb hangs like a limp flag, leaves dying, due to lack of water. Cutting off such a dead limb can slow or stop the disease's spread.

If you have a dead elm, cut it down sooner rather than later to prevent beetles from spreading the disease to other elms. As for the wood, it's spiral-grained and therefore hard to split, but you should burn, chip or cover it as quickly as possible to keep most of the bugs from escaping.

The good news is that I still see a whole bunch of young elms popping up all over the place - although often where they aren't wanted. Dutch elm disease was first noticed in Saranac Lake in 1958, according to the Enterprise archives; yet we still have many elms. This vigorous species keeps fighting back.



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