Despite several major snowstorms over the past few months, the woods lacked an adequate base to allow travel by skis. Last week's storms finally provided adequate cover to enable backcountry travelers the opportunity enjoy the skiing off trail, without the need for rock skis.
Unfortunately, travelers attempting to cross area lakes or ponds will still need rubber boots. Although there is over eight inches of safe ice, most of the region's lakes are still quite sloppy for travel, whether by foot, ski or sled.
Alpine skiers are enjoying some of the finest conditions of the season at Whiteface Mountain and with the recent opening of new terrain, which reclaims sections of old Marble Mountain trails, the crowds are well dispersed.
With the addition of the new sections of intermediate level trails, skiers will no longer be confined to just one side of the big hill.
Sportsmen and the state budget
As New York legislators continue to prepare a very, austere state budget, there are many lingering questions. One of the most contentious issues surrounds the closure of the state Department of Conservation's Reynolds Game Farm in Dryden.
Reynolds Game Farm is the sole remaining game farm in the state and the property has supplied pheasants to 4-H Cooperator programs, corrections facilities, sportsman's alliances and federations.
In turn, the various cooperator programs raised the chicks and supplied adult birds for release into the wild. The birds were central to events hosted for youth, women and other special programs.
Recently, the Rensselaer County Conservation Alliance Inc. has announced the filing of an injunction against the DEC to cease the proposed plan to close the Reynolds Game Farm.
Howie Cushing Jr., President of the Rensselaer County Conservation Alliance is asking sportsmen and women for their support in the effort, stating that, "Not only, is the pheasant program in danger, but this is a test of what the stakeholders of the Conservation Fund will pursue and what the future of fishing, hunting and trapping means to New York staters."
Contact Mr. Cushing at 674-2961 or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
In late December, Gov. David Paterson announced the closure of the Reynolds Game Farm and authorized the DEC to donate nearly 8,000 of the farm's remaining pheasants to needy families.
The state has made arrangements for the pheasants to be transported to a New York farm for processing and packaging. After that, the pheasants will be donated to a food bank in the Southern Tier for distribution to hungry families in the region.
Sportsmen's advocates, including a former DEC commissioner, have suggested that since funds collected by the federal government through a excise tax on hunting and fishing gear was included in the state's Conservation Fund, those funds must be spent on sportsmen.
The state budget will also offer a proposal for developing a Marine fishing stamp or a possible salt water license. The Coastal Conservation Association of New York has come out against the proposal since the funds generated by the new stamp would not be dedicated to the Marine Resources Fund but rather to the state's General Fund.
Others argue that if the state doesn't step in to offer either a Marine license or saltwater stamp, the federal government soon will. And, the funds from the federal program will remain in Washington.
While such a program would certainly affect the Long Island angling community, the initiative would also include all of New York's coastal/tidal waters.
As a result, anlgers along the Hudson River, which is considered a tidal estuary as far upriver as the Tappan Zee bridge, would also need to purchase the new license.
For most local anglers, the inclusion of a $10 trout/salmon stamp proposal would add to the cost of a regular fishing license. But, when considering what a meal of fresh salmon fillets or roasted brook trout would cost at a restaurant or fish market, the additional funds aren't much of a hit.
However, it is vital that funds generated by trout/salmon or salt water stamps be dedicated to the Conservation Fund rather than the state's General Fund. New York's legislators can not expect to plug budgetary holes on the backs of sportsmen and women. There simply are not enough of us to make a difference.
Sports shows and seminars
Seeking relief from the cold, but still interested in pursuing outdoor adventures? There are a number of upcoming events which may provide relief during the dog days of winter while offering an outdoor fix.
Topping the list is the fourth annual Adirondack Outdoorsman Show set to take place at the Johnstown Moose Club on Saturday, Feb. 14 from 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. and Sunday, Feb. 15 from 9 a.m. - 6 p.m. The hall is located at 109 South Comrie Avenue/Route 30A North in Johnstown.
The show is geared towards the tastes of hunters, anglers and other outdoors enthusiasts with over 60 exhibits containing hunting and fishing gear/supplies, guns, archery, trapping, boating, camping, hiking, snow shoeing, guides and charter services, taxidermy, snowmobiling, ATV's, collectable knives, antique hunting, fishing gear, wildlife art and Adirondack furniture.
New this year is the Adirondack Sportsman's Show, to be hosted at the Adirondack Sports Complex (The Dome) at 326 Sherman Avenue in Queensbury.
The show, scheduled to run from Friday, Feb. 28 through Sunday, March 2, will be a three-day celebration of hunting, fishing, camping, power sports and outdoor adventure. For further information, visit www.adirondacksportsmensshow.com
Unfortunately, the very popular New York Whitetail Classic, which has been hosted annually since 1991 in the Lake George region, has been canceled for this year.
Citing competition for venues and vendors from other outdoor shows, Tony McCutcheon, the event's organizer has stated that he still has plans to host the annual awards banquet which was a highlight of the show.
However, deer hunters should take heart. Renowned whitetail expert Charles Alsheimer, field editor for Deer and Deer Hunting magazine, host of their national television show Deer Hunting TV and a contributing editor for Whitetail News, will be in the region this winter.
Alsheimer, who is also an award-winning outdoor writer, nature photographer, lecturer, and whitetail consultant, will be the keynote speaker at the Adirondack Sportsman's Dinner to be hosted in Schroon Lake on Saturday, March 14. For information and registration visit www.mountainsideny.com/
The annual event will feature a variety of outdoor experts including Paul Temblay, Gary Hodgson, Marty Simons, Bill Kozel and Mark Brown with topics ranging from Flies for the Dog Days of Summer to Hunting with a Flintlock Rifle, Wildlife Photography, Backcountry Brook Trout, Deep Woods Bear and Deer Hunting and more.
Paddle sports enthusiasts will have the opportunity to jumpstart their pursuits indoors this season as well. And it won't be just by practicing Eskimo Rolls in the school pool.
Mountainman Outdoor Supply Company based in Inlet and Old Forge, organizers of the highly successful, annual Adirondack Paddlefest, have announced the First Annual Northeast Paddlesports and Outdoor Expo.
The event will be hosted from March 6-8 at the Saratoga City Center in Saratoga Springs.
The event, billed as the first major paddlesports expo and sale in the Nation, will feature hundreds of canoes and kayaks, accessories, gear and a host of clinics, guest speakers and demos.
For further information please visit the show's website at www.NEPaddlesportsExpo.com