The Eisenhower Locks of the St. Lawrence Seaway in Massena. New York is pushing for tougher ballast regulations to help stop the spread of invasive species in New York waters.
After I had spent a full of week respooling fishing lines, oiling reels, sorting tackle and replacing a pile of worn out and rusted flies, the snow began to fall. I didn’t give it much notice, at first, as I figured it was just scattered flurries.
It came down slowly at first, but finally as the snow began to accumulate, I watched the side yard disappear under a cloak of white. “Too little, too late,” I muttered under my breath.
I had spent most of the previous week traveling throughout the North Country, looking for snow, and skiing over sparse cover. Repeatedly, my days on the trail got off to a fast start as I skied over crust and dust conditions. In the late afternoon, the outbound journey typically featured a slow return, on tracks that had turned to slush and mush. Snow fleas often lined the ski tracks, and the maples had already been tapped. As the sap began to flow, it appeared the ski season was ready to go.
After enjoying one last ski jaunt into Great Camp Santanoni, l was ready to relegate the ‘winter that wasn’t’ to the scrap heap. Soon after, I stashed my skis in the back of the garage, and tossed a pair of well worn, boots into storage. Rods and reels quickly replaced the wax and ski pools, and a stack of maps and hydrographic charts decorated the den.
I was so certain March would come in like a lamb, I never considered that winter still had a bit of a lion left in it. Imagine my surprise when the season came roaring back. Better yet, was the fact that it arrived in an appropriate time to provide a wintery playground for The Mountaineer’s 10th annual, Adirondack Back Country Ski Festival.
Scheduled for March 3 - 4 in Keene Valley, the annual charity event supports the Adirondack Ski Touring Council and the New York Ski Educational Foundation, and provides backcountry ski enthusiasts with an opportunity to demo the latest backcountry ski gear, participate in clinics, tours and enjoy a special Saturday evening at The Beaver Dome at Keene Central School.
Celebrity guest athlete, Glen Plake will be the featured guest for the evening’s events. Plake, who has appeared in many of Warren Millers ski movies, is an international skiing sensation. His trademark is a tall, multicolored spike hairdo. Plake is renowned for his flashy skiing style, which will likely be on exhibit at a local hill, as he enjoys the local ski scene.
His visit is sponsored by Julbo, a premier manufacturer of glacier and fashion sun glasses. Other sponsors supporting the event and providing raffle items for Saturday evenings event include Back Country Ski magazine, Dynafit, Primaloft, Voile-USA, Marmot, Madshus, Garmont, Scarpa, Mammut, G3, and adkbcski.com. Guided ski tours and back country ski clinics will be offered by Cloudsplitter Mountain Guides of Keene Valley, and on the snow demos will be available from 10 to 2:30 on Saturday. Plake will be on site for telemark, skinning and avalanche beacon clinics. The location of the demo event will be announced on prior to the event. For further information and registration, please contact The Mountaineer at 576-2281 or visit www.mountaineer.com for further details.
Although both US and Canadian federal environmental protection organizations had previously ratified a set of strict, new standards developed by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) convention, the international standards were not good enough for New York state.
The IMO measures were developed to require all international seagoing vessels to install standard systems of treatment to prevent ballast water from introducing exotic, invasive species into U.S. or Canadian waters, when the ships’ ballast tanks are discharged. Ships will discharge ballast water in order to change the ship’s draft and regulate stability, and often the ballast will include a host of foreign organisms.
However, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation sought to impose stricter ballast treatment requirements than the IMO convention standards.
New York’s tougher ballast standards were the result of an onslaught of invasive species which biologists believe were introduced as a result of international shipping. New York is laced with shipping channels, ranging from the St. Lawrence Seaway to the north to the Hudson River in the south, the Great Lakes of Ontario and Erie in the west, and the Erie and Mohawk Canal which divide the state down the middle.
Since a portion of the St. Lawrence Seaway cuts through the state, enforcement of the stricter standards set by the state of New York would have had a negative impact on the shipping of materials from many Canadian Ports, as well as those in New York and New Jersey.
NYSDEC Commissioner Joe Martens, agreed the state will abide by current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) ballast standards until December 2013, claiming, “New York remains concerned about the introduction and spread of invasive species in the state’s waterways and we hope that a strong national solution can be achieved.”
It has been estimated that more than 180 invasive species currently infest New York waters, including zebra mussels, alewives, sea lamprey, spiny water fleas, round gobi, Eurasian milfoil, Didymo and Viral Hemmorhagic Septicemia. A majority of these foreign invaders found their way into New York waters following the opening of the St. Lawrence Seaway in the 1950’s.
Joe Hackett is a guide and sportsman residing in Ray Brook. Contact him at email@example.com.