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Speculator, NY ,

The way things were by Anne Weaver

Wednesday, October 17, 2012 - Updated: 7:55 AM

ABOUT THE WEEK OF OCT. 17, 1963, Lt. Gov. Malcolm Wilson ordered New York state’s dangerously dry forests and fields closed to the public effective Sunday night in an effort to quench an epidemic of forest fires across the state. Even as Wilson’s directive was announced, volunteers returned to a thickly wooded area in western Herkimer County for the sixth straight day to battle a stubborn underground blaze.

The state order would be in effect as long as the fire hazard existed. The proclamation, issued by Wilson because Gov. Nelson Rockefeller was out of the state, also banned all outdoor fires and suspended the hunting, trapping and fishing seasons that were open in the affected areas.

The ban on fires included leaf and trash burning, a spokesman said. Light rain fell on much of the northern Adirondacks Friday, Oct. 11, but the department spokesman said it only dampened the woods lightly.

Although fires had been scattered across the state, the worst had been in the Lake George / Warrensburg area and the Bath region in western New York. Provisions of the proclamation provided that days lost from hunting and trapping would, if practical, be compensated by extending the seasons beyond their regular closing dates by the same number of days.

Golfing at courses within the corporate limits of villages or cities was permitted. Courses outside these limits, private or public, were closed for recreational use under the terms of the proclamation.

No camping permits for state lands were being issued and campers in the woods prior to the proclamation had to come out. Camp owners who were not permanent residents were required to leave and return to their permanent residence during the proclamation period.

Recreational use of boats was prohibited except where direct access to a body of water was gained over a road suitable for normal vehicular traffic. Vehicular travel was limited to normally used highways and suitable access routes. All woods roads and trails were off limits to vehicles, so as not to hamper activities of firefighting personnel.

The weekend of Oct. 12-13 found the curtain going down on the fall foliage season in the Adirondacks, which had been proclaimed as one of the best in recent years. Not only from a business standpoint but also from Mother Nature’s standpoint, the fall was beautiful.

The trees and other foliage were bright and colorful in 1963. The season began a little earlier than usual, so by the past weekend most of it had disappeared. There had been about four weekends of sightseeing and thousands came through the mountains each weekend to view the colors.

As a result, motels, hotels and particularly the restaurants were crowded from Saturday through Sunday each weekend. The proclamation to close the Adirondacks didn’t deter the tourists in the least. Thousands were in the area and long lines of outgoing traffic were in evidence early Sunday evening.

What probably helped more than anything was the unusual summer-like weather the Central Adirondacks had enjoyed all through September and so far during October. Almost every day was bright and sunny, some with a brisk chill in the air.

The warm and sunny weather with only an occasional shower during the previous seven weeks had resulted in the extreme dry condition of the woods which led to its closing. Not only had the good weather attracted many tourists but hundreds of campers had been making additional trips to their property here because of the warm, sunny weekend weather.

A Conservation Department banning of “roadless” penetration of the Forest Preserve by motorized vehicles had been amended to permit the use of vehicles designed exclusively for travel on ice and snow. Conservation Commissioner H.G. Wilm explained the use of specialized equipment such as motorized snow sleds and snow toboggans did not compromise the intent of the original order.

“Motorized equipment designed and used exclusively for on-the-snow travel will not damage the physical character of Forest Preserve lands buried under a protective snow cover,” Wilm said. “In addition, snow vehicles provide access at a time of the year when motor noise will be objectionable to only an extremely small number of persons.”

Under the original order, the department put a stop to all “over-the-land” motorized traffic and selectively closed certain wilderness trails and fire truck roads. Wooden signs had been placed at the entrances to the roads listed in the order.

For emergency reasons, Commissioner Wilm said the amended order did not authorize snow vehicle travel on roads classified as State Fire Truck Trails.

The special 10-day bear-hunting season in northern New York state reduced the ranks of bruins by about 60. That was the estimate made by the Conservation Department, which authorized the bonus hunt in an effort to alleviate problems posed by hungry bears wandering into populated areas.

The special season opened Oct. 1. About 7,000 hunters bought permits to participate. The permits entitled hunters to take one bear each in Essex, Clinton or Hamilton counties or in sections of Franklin, Warren and St. Lawrence counties.

Successful hunters would still be allowed one bear during the regular big game season. Bears bagged during the special season were on the small side, the department reported, weighing between 150 and 250 pounds. Black bear frequently tipped the scales at 600 pounds and beyond.

Assemblyman Joseph R. Younglove had been appointed by Gov. Rockefeller as a delegate to represent the State of New York at the 56th Annual Conference of the National Tax Association in Milwaukee, Wisc. Mr. Younglove was chairman of the Assembly Taxation Committee.

At HAMILTON COUNTY, state Comptroller Arthur Levitt announced the distribution of monies in state motor fuel tax receipts to the 57 counties outside New York City. The total was the share for the three months ending on Sept. 30 that was being returned to the counties in accordance with state Highway Law.

Hamilton County received $23,766.50. In the like period in 1962, its share was $22,343.80.

At INLET, the Inlet Firemen’s Auxiliary held its first meeting of the fall season. Twelve members were present. Plans were made to have a sale of home-baked goods and novelties at the clubrooms over the post office, the proceeds to be used for the municipal Christmas Party.

Mrs. Colonton and Mrs. Dunay each won a Dark Horse prize. Mrs. Redington, Mrs. Young and Mrs. English served a delicious lunch. The next meeting would be held at the home of Mrs. Peters with Mrs. Kalil assisting with refreshments.

At LAKE PLEASANT, approval of proposed Amendment No. 5 by the voters at the statewide general election “will open the way for a renewed effort to halt pollution of our streams, lakes and other priceless water resources,” Frank C. Moore, chairman of the Advisory Board of the State Office for Local Government, told Hamilton County News.

He continued, “Some municipalities are in need of the financial flexibility afforded by the proposed Amendment No. 5 in order to provide essential sewer services in the interests of good community development and sound economic growth.” The amendment had been endorsed by the directors of the State Farm Bureau, the New York Conservation Department and other civic organizations.

Full Home Rule powers of the type enjoyed by cities and large villages would be extended to all towns and to the Village of Speculator if Amendment No. 4 were okayed. John J. Burns, commissioner of the NYS Office of Local Government, said proposed Amendment 4 would for the first time extend Home Rule powers to the state’s 932 towns and the 460 villages with populations under 5,000.


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